The Christ Church Library Charity


The restoration plan for the Library, costing £3.1million, is an immediate restoration challenge, which must be met if the contents and fabric of the building are to be secured. Over and above this, to contribute to the long term preservation of collegiate education, the conservation, cataloguing and digitisation of ancient books, the employment of staff, and the funding of new books, an enduring solution of permanent endowment is sought, thus safeguarding the future of the library for once and for all.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from 12:00 AM, 7 December 2009 to 11:59 PM, 11 December 2009

Check mark Match funded

Campaign target





  • Arts/Culture/HeritageArts/Culture/Heritage
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Older PeopleOlder People
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
  • OtherOther



The History: The Grade 1 listed library is one of the largest 18th Century buildings in Oxford. Built between 1717 and 1772, the inspiration for its design was Dean Henry Aldrich’s.The Upper Library is nearly 150 feet long, the interior and fittings mostly date from the 1750s. Amongst the original furnishings are the stools made by Thomas Chippendale, the library steps, and the wrought iron charcoal braziers, which were once the only heating. The collection of early printed books is, after the Bodleian Library’s, the finest in Oxford: there are over 100,000 books printed before 1800, the oldest printed in 1468. There are several hundred medieval manuscripts, over 100 incunabula (books printed before 1501), tens of thousands of rare early pamphlets, and an outstanding collection of manuscript and printed music. To be able to study such works in the historical context of the building designed to house them is remarkable. The chief function of the Library today, however, is to provide books, journals and audio-visual materials for undergraduates and postgraduates. The Broader Context: The history and heritage of Oxford is the most important draw for the nine million tourists who visit the “dreaming spires” annually. Christ Church, with the Cathedral and its many other magnificent historic buildings plays a significant part in this strategy with 269,000 visitors last year. The maintenance, restoration and upgrading of buildings such as the Library is thus of benefit to a far greater constituency than just the College. Christ Church places great emphasis on both physical access to the Library for many more people than just members of the House, and access to its academic treasures through shared interpretation via the excellent Library website, events, open days, exhibitions, group visits and tours. The Newsletter/Journal is available both in hard copy and on line. The Library helps to educate people far outside the confines of the College, University and City through existing cataloguing work.However there is the need for further funding for four major cataloguing projects, book and manuscript conservation, and digitisation. The Restoration of the Library: Extensive stone work is needed on the south elevation; which is in a critical condition; many C18th roof slates need to be renewed, and the whole of the remaining slate roof overhauled. Additionally many of the lead gutters require renewal to prevent further ingress of water. Internally, there is an urgent need for rewiring and a new heating system. There will also be improved access to electronic communications, better book security and lighting, and more sensitive heating controls and fire-detection systems. The restoration project has been planned with the intention of setting the building in first class order for the long term. Phase 1 of the work which is being carried out in 2009 will concentrate on the outside works and will cost £2.2 million. Phase 2, in 2010 will cost £0.9 million and will focus mainly on the internal works. Old Members of Christ Church have already contributed greatly and continue to do so.However with Christ Church’s other outstanding commitments and the present difficult economic climate other support is needed. We are thus seeking additional assistance to keep this vital project on course.