Tuesday 10 April 2018

Cheere Busts, Codrington Library, All Souls College, Oxford University.

Sculpture at The Codrington Library, 
All Souls College, 

Oxford University.

Part 1.

The Set of 24 Life Size Plaster Busts of Former Fellows
by John Cheere.

Commissioned by William Blackstone in 1749.

 Some notes about All Souls and General Overview.

My intention is to list the busts, provide photographs and where possible to determine the sources of the facial features of the busts provided by John Cheere and his workshop.


I am very grateful to Gaye Morgan, Librarian in Charge and Conservator in Charge at the Codrington Library for allowing me access to the Library and for facilitating the photography.

I am also very grateful  to Gaye Morgan for providing the photographs of the Codrington Library busts (below) taken in the early 2000's when the busts were taken down for cleaning.


The payment for the busts is recorded in Acta in Capitulis - All Souls Records, 17 Jan 1750.


For more on the library and All Souls see the Codrington Website

For a very useful short history of the library see -  https://www.asc.ox.ac.uk/library-history

For a good, general history of All Souls see - 

All Souls College by C.Grant Robertson, pub. 1899.

available on line and easily searchable.

see also - https://archive.org/details/allsoulscollege01robe

See also the excellent British History online from the Victoria County History, first pub. 1954.-



For much more on Oxford University if one can be bothered to trawl through it! see - The History and Antiquities of the University -  of Oxford, by Anthony Wood...... edited from the MS by  John Gutch - 1792.

Two Volumes with  separate Appendix

For Volume 1 see -  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wwYVAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false


For the Painted Portraits and Portrait Sculpture at All Souls see -
Catalogue of the Portraits in Possession of the University, City and County of Oxford, Vol. II, by Mrs Reginald Lane Poole, Pub Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1925.

Fully searchable on line at



For as good a place as any to commence research into the finances at All Souls

See - Catalogue of the Archives in the Muniments Room of All Souls College by Charles Trice Martin. F.S.A. - pub. Spottiswood, 1877. Fully searchable online at -



For the most up to date architectural history see - All Souls..... by Howard Colvin, pub. 1989.

see also British History on line -


extract below.

The general idea of the library was adopted with extraordinary promptitude, though Hawksmoor's original design, which included a huge 'Turret' or 'Gothick lantern' in the centre of the building, balancing a similar turret to be built over the junction of chapel and hall, was radically simplified. 

On 19 Feb. 1714/5 it was agreed 'that the library of Col. Codrington should be built as ye Coll. Chappell was according to ye model that was then shown to ye society and that Dr. Clarke and Sir Nat. Lloyd be desired to be inspectors and take care of ye sayd buildings'. 

The exterior of the library is on the west and south sides almost an exact replica of the chapel and the rebuilt hall. Even the irregular plan of antechapel and the stair turret are reproduced. The north windows of antechapel were blocked to match the corresponding blank wall of the library. It was even proposed to remove the mullions from the chapel windows and remodel the tracery of the west window in order to make the correspondence complete. 

Inside, the spaces corresponding to the aisles of antechapel housed each a staircase and three small rooms. The rest of the building forms one vast gallery, broken in the centre by a bay projecting north. 

The site for the library was acquired from the parishioners of St. Mary's in 1714,  and work was begun, according to Gutch, in May 1715. This was presumably clearance only, for a scale of prices was not agreed with Townesend till 12 Mar. 1715/6,  and the foundation stone was laid on 30 June 1716. Hawksmoor personally supervised the work. 

In 1721 'Townsend and Peisley ye Masons were abated in their great bill by Mr. Hawksmoor ye sum of £245 10s.', and Hawksmoor was paid £100 'for his trouble about Cod. buildings' (this sum is entered in the accounts 'for the surveys'). 

 In 1734 the marble statue of Codrington 'habited in the Roman sagum' by Sir Henry Cheere was erected in the bay, but the library was far from finished. The bookcases were probably not begun till some years later. Hawksmoor had designed them in three stories with two galleries, but in 1740 the college felt some doubts about this arrangement and consulted Gibbs (Hawksmoor having died in 1736). His advice to scrap 'the Attick and its gallery' was accepted.  The work still lagged and on 28 Aug. 1748 it was agreed 'that proper Workmen be employed to finish ye Library with all Expedition'. John Franklyn, the dilatory carpenter, was discharged, and a contract made with Richard Tawney to finish the shelves (9 Dec. 1748).  

In 1750, twenty-five bronze vases and twenty-four bronze 'bustoes' of college worthies were ordered from Cheere to decorate the top of the shelves. (fn. 191) On 19 Apr. 1750 a contract was signed with Mr. Roberts of Oxford for the stucco work. He made the ceiling 'with the same mouldings and guiloche as are expressed in his drawings and specimens', the keystones of the windows and the founder's arms in the recess. He also designed and executed ornamental panels in the ceiling, between the windows and over the bookcases; these, though greatly admired in the 18th century, were swept away early in the 19th. 

Finally in 1751 a marble bust of the founder by Roubiliac was placed over the main door 3 Nov 1750 the bust was moved to the hall in 1815 and the library was painted a 'bright olive colour'.

The Codrington account was closed in 1756, by which time £12,101 0s. 5d. had been spent. 


The North range of North Quadrangle. Begun 1716; Dr Clarke and Sir Nathaniel Lloyd as "inspectors", Hawksmoor supervised and Townesend and Peisley were the masons. Alterations and additions made 1838 and1866. Sundial of 1659 (originally on South of chapel) reset on South elevation. Rebuilding of store on North-East, 1949. 

Interior includes platerwork by Roberts, fittings by Richard Tawney, carpenter, and busts by Sir Henry Cheere.


Birds eye view of All Souls College, Oxford, looking North
Prior to the construction of the Codrington Library began in 1716.
from Oxonia Illustrata.
David Loggan.

Image from Victoria and Albert Museum.

Clearly showing the statues of Archbishop Henry Chichele and King Henry VI in the niches above the main gate.

These statues are now in the Chapel at All Souls - they are in remarkably good condition.

I will post photographs of these statues shortly.

Excerpt below adapted from British History online -


On the south face there are three niches. The history of the figures which filled these niches is mysterious. In the Typus the niches appear empty, but in 1633 'the three statues over our gates of our Saviour, of King Henry the sixt and our founder were … polished, smothed and renewed with varnishe and guilt as formerly they had beene'.

How the medieval figures survived the Reformation is suggested by the following entry in the Computus Roll of 1548 (rep. infra), 'pro clavi et reparacione sere ostii domus in qua imagines reponebantur'.

 In 1642 the Parliamentarian soldiers 'discharged at the image of our Saviour over All Soules gate and would have defaced all the worke there had it not byn for some townesmen who entreated them to forbeare'. Loggan shows the big central niche, where our Saviour had stood, empty save for the souls at its foot, but the two lower niches filled by statues.
The 18th-and early-19th-century views do the same. The angel and souls in the upper niche were 'reworked in Bath stone' in the restoration of 1826–7, and the two lower figures were 'repaired and cleaned' at the same time.

The niches were recarved and the statues replaced by modern sculptures by Mr. W. C. H. King in 1939–40

Oxonia Illustrata is available on line from Stanford Library at - http://www.rarebookroom.org/Control/logoxo/index.html

and also at - 


Related image

The Codrington Library, All Souls, Oxford.
Photograph by John Piper.


Extract from the Universal Magazine, 
September 1755.
Listing the busts and their positions.

For convenience sake I have used this list to catalogue the busts.

1. Sir Anthony Sherley. 

Fellow of All Souls, 1582.


2. Sir William Petre.

Fellow of All Souls, 1523.


3. George Clarke.


4. Sir Daniel Dunn.


5. Henry Coventry.


6. Sir Robert Weston.


7. Sir William Trumbull.


8. Charles Talbot.


9. Sir Christopher Wren.


10. Richard Steward.


11. Thomas Tanner.


12. James Goldwell.


13. Gilbert Sheldon.


14. Brian Duppa.


15. David Pole


16. Jeremy Taylor.


17. John Norris.


18. Thomas Sydenham.


19. Thomas Linaker.


20. Sir Clement Edmonds.


21. Sir William Bird.


22. Sir Nathaniel Lloyd.


23. Robert Hovenden.


24. Sir John Mason.



Birds eye view of All Souls College, Oxford.




Related image

Bust of Reginald Heber (1783 - 1826) over the Chimneypiece.


All Souls College, Oxford

Oxford - All Souls

Oxford, All Souls

Oxford - All Souls