SHELDONIAN THEATRE

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SHELDONIAN THEATRE

The Sheldonian is the University of Oxford’s theatre and principle place of assembly - used for ceremonial occasions, including graduations, events and performances.  It is also a tourist attraction, with a panoramic view from its cupola across the dreaming spires, and welcomes visitors from around the globe.  It was built in 1664–7, entirely funded by Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury and a former Warden of All Souls.  The architect was a young Christopher Wren, at that time Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, with as yet little practical experience of building. Inspired by drawings of Roman theatres, he adopted their D-shaped plan. However, the open arena of Rome was not suitable for the English climate and had to be covered.  To do this without introducing load bearing columns into the central space, which would ruin the resemblance to an ancient theatre, Wren designed a roof truss able to span the required 70 feet, a technical achievement which gained him great credit in scientific and architectural circles and made the roof of the Sheldonian a landmark in roof construction. From below, this technical ingenuity is concealed from view by a magnificent painted ceiling.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Broad Street
Oxford
County
Oxfordshire
Post Code
OX1 3AZ
Main Historic Period
Stuart
Useful Website Address
Tip/Nearby
Oxford city centre and colleges - handy for the Bodeian
Primary Management
Educational establishment

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