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Colleges and libraries

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BALLIOL COLLEGE

Balliol is one of the colleges of Oxford University. It was founded by John de Balliol in 1263, has occupied the same site ever since and claims to be the oldest college in Oxford, and the world. Its attractive buildings are predominantly Victorian, however. Balliol's widow Dervorguilla of Galloway, established a permanent endowment and their son, John, was King of Scotland. Balliol has an impressive list of alumni, which includes writers, politicians and scientists. A few random examples: Boris Johnson, Robert Peston, Herbert Asquith, Harold Macmillan, Edward Heath, Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene and William Beveridge.

Visitors can tour the grounds and some of the buildings, except when college events take place.

Broad Street
Oxford
Oxfordshire
OX1 3BJ
Victorian
Balliol College
Balliol College's website
Oxford city centre
Educational establisment
JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY

The John Rylands Library holds the special collections of the University of Manchester's library. The library was built by Enriqueta Rylands, the widow of wealthy industrialist John Rylands, who died in 1888. It is a fantastic neo-Gothic building, designed by Basil Champneys (with help from Mrs Rylands) and opened to the public in 1900. One of its first acquisitions was the 40,000 volume Spencer Collection, which includes about 3,000 early printed books - including a Gutenberg Bible. The library has undergone various refurbishments. Although a research library, it is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Manchester.

150 Deansgate
Manchester
Greater Manchester
M3 3EH
Victorian
Manchester's John Rylands Library
University of Manchester website
Educational establisment
ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA

The Royal Hospital Chelsea was founded in 1682 by Charles II as a retirement home for soldiers. The architect was Christopher Wren. Today, it is home to about 300 veterans, who have served in the British Army all over the world over the last 60 years or so. Known as Chelsea Pensioners, they can be seen out and about in London in their distinctive red uniforms and three-cornered hats. Tours of the hospital can be arranged, and there is a museum. Particular highlights include the great hall and the Wren chapel. Among those buried on the site are ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis, in the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary, which opened in 2009. The Royal Hospital's extensive grounds are also the location for the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Royal Hospital Road
Chelsea
London
SW3 4SR
Stuart
Website of the Royal Hospital
National Army Museum (next door), Chelsea Physic Garden, Kings Road
Military
St JOHN’S COLLEGE, Oxford

St John's College was founded in 1555 by the Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company in London, Sir Thomas White, using the premises of St Bernard's College, itself founded in 1437 by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, for Cistercian monks studying at Oxford University. The Cistercian college was suppressed in 1536. St John's was the first Oxford college to be founded by a merchant. Alumni include Archbishop Laud, Jane Austen's father, A E Housman, Robert Graves, Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The buildings date from the 15th century. The Chapel was originally consecrated in 1530. The Library dates from the 16th century and holds over 200 medieval manuscripts, 20,000 books printed before 1850, several Middle Eastern manuscripts dating back to the 14th century, 200 modern manuscripts, and important collections of papers and books owned by figures such as Robert Graves, A E Housman and Spike Milligan.

Parts of the college are open to the public at particular times. Check the college website for details.

St Giles
Oxford
Oxfordshire
Stuart
St John's College website
Oxford City Centre.
Educational establisment