List of fictional Oxford colleges

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Fictional colleges are found in many modern novels, films, and other works of fiction, probably because they allow the author greater licence for invention and a reduced risk of being accused of libel or slander, as might happen if the author depicted unsavory events as occurring at a real-life institution. Below is a list of some of the fictional colleges of the University of Oxford.

His Dark Materials[edit]

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials novels feature a number of fictional Oxford colleges:

  • Cardinal's College
  • Foxe College
  • Gabriel College
  • Jordan College
  • Queen Philippa's College
  • St Michael's College
  • St Scholastica's College
  • St Sophia's College
  • Wordsworth College
  • Wykeham College

Inspector Morse[edit]

The Inspector Morse series of books by Colin Dexter is predominantly set within Oxford and its environs, including the University. Consequently, many fictional colleges are named. The derived television series, Inspector Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, continue this practice.

T=TV series

Name Source Details Filmed
Alfreda's College Endeavour T: "Fugue" Trinity
Arnold College Inspector Morse T
Baidley College Endeavour T: "Home" Last episode of Season 1 Keble
Beaufort College Inspector Morse T Named after Henry Beaufort, a Plantagenet royal and Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1397 to 1399
Beaumont College Inspector Morse novels Beaumont Street is a short street in central Oxford. One end emerges opposite Balliol's side entrance, and it extends to the front of Worcester. Beaumont Street was formerly the site of Beaumont Palace, perhaps the "location" of the college.
Benison College Lewis, episode "Intelligent Design" Series 7 episodes 5/6
Carlyle College Lewis, episode "The Soul of Genius" Exeter
Chaucer College Lewis Based on Merton College. Named after Geoffrey Chaucer, whose son Thomas also managed the affairs of Henry Beaufort, Oxford's Chancellor.
Courtenay College Inspector Morse T Based on Oriel. Nuneham Courtenay is a village 5 miles south-east of Oxford; in the 14th century, the village belonged to the influential Courtenay family. Nuneham House now belongs to the University.
Gresham College Lewis, episode "Dark Matter" Stand-in for Lincoln. The "Invisible College" was a group of Oxford scientists (including Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren) who went on to establish the Royal Society. The group met at Gresham College in London.
Lady Matilda's College Lewis episode "Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things"; Endeavour episode "Home" Amalgamation of Lady Margaret Hall and St Hilda's Lady Margaret Hall
Lonsdale College Inspector Morse novels and subsequent Lewis T College attended by Endeavour Morse. Brasenose
Lovelace College Endeavour TV series; "Game", the first episode of Season 4 St Catherine's
Mayfield College Lewis episode "Life Born of Fire" Mayfield Press is based in Cowley Road; the nearest college would be Greyfriars on Iffley Road. In and around Brasenose
Penville Lewis episode "Old School Ties" The leader of the Oxford Union says she usually lives here; this is presumably a reference to her fictional college.
St Gerard's Hall Lewis episode "Wild Justice" Fictional Permanent Private Hall St Edmund Hall and Christ Church; exterior of college filmed at New College, with a barn entrance in New College Lane.
St Jude's College Lewis
St Saviour's College Inspector Morse, episode "Fat Chance" New College
St Sebastian's College Lewis episode "Lions of Nemea" St Edmund Hall
Savile College Lewis In and around Trinity
Trevelyan College Lewis
Wolsey College Inspector Morse
novels and Endeavour
Based on Christ Church: Cardinal Wolsey founded Christ Church.

Jude the Obscure[edit]

Thomas Hardy's novel Jude the Obscure features a number of fictional 'Christminster' colleges, a thinly fictionalized version of Oxford:

  • Biblioll College
  • Cardinal College
  • Crozier College
  • Oldgate College
  • Rubric College
  • Sarcophagus College
  • Sepulchre College
  • Tudor College

Loss and Gain[edit]

Loss and Gain by St John Henry Newman tells the story of the conversion of Charles Reding, an Oxford student, to Catholicism. In the novel, Newman creates the following colleges:

  • Saint Saviour's (the college of the main character, Charles Reding)
  • All Saints
  • Leicester College
  • Nun's Hall

Other works[edit]

Fictional library[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ St Hilda's College History Archived 2010-10-31 at the Wayback Machine,
  2. ^ Motion, Andrew (1993). Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 93–96.
  3. ^ Page, William, ed. (1907). "Colleges: St George, Oxford". A History of the County of Oxford. British History Online. Victoria County History. 2. London. pp. 160–161. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  4. ^ Somerville Stories – Dorothy L Sayers Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Somerville College, University of Oxford, UK.