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WILLIAM OF WYKEHAM’S ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF COLLEGE ARCHITECTURE

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by Karim Attia. In 1367 William of Wykeham became both Chancellor of England and Bishop of Winchester.  The former equivalent to prime minister, the latter the wealthiest See in England.  To mark his rise from obscure roots to these heights, William of Wykeham followed several of his clerical predecessors in founding collegiate societies.  Preference for collegiate endowments over monastic ones derived from the growing corruption of the orders, the combination of the collegiate function with that of chantry, and the need for new blood most especially as the quality and quantity of ordinands had been badly affected by the five outbreaks of plague between 1349-82. 50 miles from Winchester, Oxford was the 6th largest and wealthiest city in England.  It was also internationally renowned for its university – a term, which to a modern understanding, would seem a misnomer.  Legally a self-governing corporation, the university lacked any substantial structures, or coherence.  Most undergraduates rented rooms in town, or lived in a ‘hall’ which was merely a multiplication of rented rooms – i.e. a tenement leased by a master.  The ‘schools’ in which classes were given amounted to whatever building of suitable size was available; sometimes churches, sometimes rented rooms.  The most advanced ...