DR RADCLIFFE'S LIBRARY: The Story of the Radcliffe Camera

DR RADCLIFFE'S LIBRARY: The Story of the Radcliffe Camera

STEPHEN HEBRON    Book Number: 88485    Product format: Hardback

Generations of Humanities students at Oxford have whiled away their afternoons in the Baroque splendour of the Radcliffe Camera, which now houses the History Faculty Library. The Camera was the unexpected brainchild of Queen Anne's colourful physician John Radcliffe, a no-nonsense Wakefield man who rose to eminence by preferring experiments over books, and was built with Radcliffe's bequest on a site adjacent to the existing Bodleian Library. Initial plans drawn up by Nicholas Hawksmoor, the brilliant architect who had worked with both Wren and Vanbrugh, envisaged a rotunda added to the Selden End of the Bodleian. An alternative design by James Gibbs, architect of St Martin in the Fields, consisted of a rectangular building on the Catte Street axis. Following Hawksmoor's death in 1736, Gibbs took over and revised Hawksmoor's scheme, creating the free-standing rotunda we know today. A six-foot statue of Radcliffe by Rysbrack, the foremost sculptor of the day, was hoisted into position over the entrance. The library's first visitors would have entered through the basement, under the auspices of a porter named Pudsey Messendine. In the early 20th century an underground bookstore and passageway was constructed, joining the Camera to the Bodleian, and more recently the store has been converted to open-stack library space. The Radcliffe Camera is justly regarded as one of Oxford's architectural masterpieces, and this book, lavishly illustrated with drawings, engravings and some colour photos, does the subject full justice. 94pp, bibliography, numerous illustrations.
Published price: $25
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ISBN 9781851244294
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