Building work on the Radcliffe Observatory began in 1772, paid for by Dr John Radcliffe’s estate that had already financed a new quad for his old college (University College), as well as the Radcliffe Camera and Radcliffe Infirmary. The Observatory, which was equipped with the finest scientific instruments of the day, functioned as such until sold to Lord Nuffield in 1936, who presented it to the hospital authorities that established the Nuffield Institute for Medical Research there. In 1979 the Institute moved to the John Radcliffe Hospital grounds thus freeing the Observatory site for its new owner, Green College.
The octagonal tower in the photograph is known as the Tower of the Winds and although bereft of its original instruments, nevertheless, still contains some of the original furniture as well as a spiral staircase to an upper gallery. Atop the tower are two cast iron statues – one of Atlas and one of Hercules – that support the globe. Below them are the figures of the eight winds: Boreas, Kaikias, Apeliotes, Euros, Zephyros, Livos, Notos and Skiron (Apeliotes can be seen in the photo). Beneath the balcony are 11 zodiac signs: Scorpio and Libra are combined as seen in the photo.
157 Radcliffe Observatory