Front Quad of Lincoln College, the walls covered in bright green ivy


Lincoln College was founded in 1427, almost 600 years ago. During that time, the College has educated thousands of students, refurbished and developed its historic buildings, and established itself as a place of cutting-edge research. You can explore the College's rich history using the timeline below.

History of Lincoln College

Painting of the exterior of Lincoln College as seen from Turl Street


Lincoln College is founded by Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, and named after his cathedral as 'The College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints, Lincoln, in the University of Oxford, commonly called Lincoln College'.

Bear Lane student accommodation


Emily Carr and her husband give the College property on the High Street.

Engraving of the aerial view of Lincoln College


Generous bequests from benefactors allow for the construction of the Chapel, Library, Hall, Kitchen and a set of rooms in the following decades.

Prostrate statue of Thomas Beckington from his tomb


A bequest from the Will of Thomas Beckington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, allows the College to build the first Lodgings for the Rector.

Portrait of the Bishop Thomas Rotherham


The Visitor, Thomas Rotherham, Bishop of Lincoln, obtains a Charter from Edward IV, which effectively makes him the second founder of the College.

The exterior of the Mitre building


The Mitre Inn is first leased to the College (pictured now).

Original Lincoln College Coat of Arms painted on an old page


The grant of the College coat of arms is confirmed.

Closed bound King James Bible


The Authorized Version of the Bible is published; the latter part of which was translated by Rector Richard Kilby and Fellow Richard Brett.

The College Chapel


The College Chapel is built in the Jacobean Gothic style. It is consecrated on 15 September 1631.

Painting of Lord Crewe in red and white robes


Former Rector, Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, leaves a benefaction to Lincoln, founding 12 new exhibitions as well as improving the College buildings.

Portrait of John Wesley


John Wesley is elected to a Fellowship. During his time here, he was involved with the Holy Club, which laid the foundations for the Methodist Church.

Portrait of Mark Pattison


Mark Pattison, reputed to have inspired the character of Edward Casaubon in George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch, is elected Rector.

Old photo of the Lincoln College Boat Club on the river


The Lincoln College Boat Club is established. Today, there are male and female crews for all abilities.

Black and white photograph of Samuel Alexander


The philosopher Samuel Alexander is elected a Fellow of Lincoln, and becomes the first Jewish Fellow of an Oxford college.

Six students sitting on couches around a table in the Lincoln College JCR


The Lincoln College Debating Society, founded in 1854, is renamed and becomes the Junior Common Room (JCR) for undergraduate students (pictured today).

Theodor Seuss Geisel making sketches of the Grinch


Theodor Seuss Geisel matriculates at Lincoln. He went on to write over 60 children’s books as ‘Dr Seuss’.

Oil painting of Egon Wellesz


Egon Wellesz, composer and musicologist, is elected Fellow after fleeing Nazi persecution in Vienna.

Portrait of Howard Florey


Fellow Howard Florey shares the Nobel Prize with Ernst Boris Chain and Alexander Fleming for the development of penicillin.

Photograph of John le Carre, a man wearing a suit and holding his glasses and a pen in one hand


The author, David Cornwell, better known as John Le Carré, matriculates at Lincoln.

The MCR in the Berrow Foundation Building


The Middle Common Room (MCR) for graduate students is founded, the first common room of its kind in Oxford (pictured today).

The Lincoln College Library


All Saints Church is converted into the College Library. It is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful libraries in Oxford.

1979 matriculation photograph, depicting 6 rows of students in subfusc


The College admits female students for the first time.

Headshot of Susan Brigden, a woman in a blue top and a necklace


The College appoints its first female Tutorial Fellow, Dr Susan Brigden, a historian.

The EPA Centre on Museum Road


The Lincoln-EPA Graduate Centre is opened in Museum Road, providing additional accommodation for 52 graduate students.

The Berrow Foundation Building from the Rector's Garden


The Berrow Foundation Building, designed by architects Stanton Williams, is completed and wins the 2017 RIBA South Building of the Year Award.


Where next?

  • Discover our historic buildingsRead more
  • Find out when you can visit and how to get hereRead more
  • Explore Lincoln with our virtual tourRead more