The Divinity School, Oxford

Divinity School, Oxford
Divinity School, Oxford

The Divinity School, Oxford

The stunning 15th-century Gothic Divinity School in central Oxford is considered to be among the most impressive of all the University’s buildings, and boasts a rich history both within the University and as a seat of power during the time of the original Putney Debates in 1647.

The building, part of the Bodleian Library, is the oldest surviving purpose-built building for university use, but perhaps more importantly, was used as the site of Parliament several times throughout the seventeenth century and the time of the English Civil War.

The first time the Commons sat in the Divinity School was in 1625, in order to avoid the plague that was then prevalent in London, and then again, nearly twenty years later, Charles I moved his court to Oxford during the Civil War. The Royalist Parliament, comprising about one third of the House of Commons, sat in the Divinity School in 1644, with the Lords in the adjacent Convocation House.

Built between 1427 and 1483 in the Perpendicular style, the Divinity School is renowned for the strikingly rich ornamentation of its spectacular vaulted ceiling, one of the finest examples of gothic fan-vaulted architecture in the country.

This consists of lierne vaulting and 455 sculptural roof-bosses with four hanging pendants in each bay, designed by William Orchard in the 1480s.

Step inside the Divinity School with a 360° virtual tour


The building is located opposite the Sheldonian Theatre in central Oxford, where students matriculate and graduate, and forms an important central landmark in both the local architecture of this historic university city – and the political history of the United Kingdom at one of the most turbulent periods of its development.

How to get to the Divinity School, Oxford

Oxford has great transport links by train, coach and car.

Find out how to get to the Bodleian sites and view maps of the Oxford area


Old Bodleian Library

The Old Bodleian Library site can be accessed via Catte Street (east) and from Radcliffe Square (south). The recommended entrance is via Catte Street, using the Great Gate, which provides direct access to the Old School Quadrangle and the Old Bodleian Library. You can purchase tickets for tours and entry to the Divinity School from the Ticket Office on the right-hand side of the Great Gate.


Bodleian Libraries, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

Old Schools Quadrangle

Once you reach the Old Schools Quadrangle, the Old Bodleian Library entrance faces west. Through the glass doors behind the statue, you can enter the Proscholium (the entrance hall to the Divinity School). From the Proscholium you can access the Divinity School


Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

 Wheelchair access

There is a ramp for wheelchair access.

 Public transport

Oxford has great transport links by bus and rail. Oxford is less than an hour from London and Birmingham by train. The Old Bodleian Library and Weston Library are a 15-minute walk from Oxford train station. The city centre has brilliant bus connections and there are five Park and Ride sites connected to Oxford. For more information visit the Oxford City Council website.


There are limited parking spaces available on Broad Street and Parks Road. If you wish to drive, you will find Park and Ride by far the best way to get into Oxford.

Blue Badge parking

There are five on-street Blue Badge parking spaces near the Bodleian Libraries: one in front of Exeter College; two outside Blackwell's bookshop on Broad Street and two on Parks Road, near the King's Arms pub.

Please refer to the Oxford Tourist Information Centre for more information on disabled parking spaces and procedures.

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