The first architect’s drawings of Nuffield College hung in my room for many years. I liked them not so much because they depicted sheep grazing in the precincts, nor because they used up the whole of the canal site, avoiding a grotesquely gargantuan tower (the library stacks), but because they reflected the last moment in the history of Oxford when the social sciences could have been treated as a unity. They housed both Barnett House and the Institute of Economics and Statistics as well as the new rather vaguely defined college to be built from Lord Nuffield’s bequest. The plan never came to stone and mortar. It was a tangled story, as so many Oxford stories are, but the underlying essentials were quarrelling and snobbery. Yet two consequences deserve remark. First, the chapel might have been a casualty had it not been for the persistence of the first fellow, Margery Perham, supported later by Denys Munby and Freddie Madden. Yet, though clearly in the wrong place, it turned out to be one of the prettiest twentieth century contributions to ecclesiastical interiors in Oxford, because the whole thing was done by John Piper.
KeywordsClay Expense Dine Nial Stake
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