Radcliffe Square is widely regarded as the most beautiful place in Oxford. It is a quiet oasis in the centre of the city, completely surrounded by ancient University and college buildings: Brasenose College (1509), All Souls College (1438), St Mary The Virgin (1280), the Bodleian Library (1602), yet is just a few paces away from the High Street. The square is cobbled, with the circular Radcliffe Camera at its centre surrounded by grass and railings.
Radcliffe Square and the Radcliffe Camera are named after John Radcliffe, a student of University College and doctor to the King, who bequeathed £40,000 to build a science library (1737-49). The Palladian three-tier circular design of architect James Gibbs was chosen, with eight pedimented projections on the ground tier, a central tier with bays divided by coupled Corinthian columns, and a top tier decorated with a balustrade and vases.
In 1909-12 a two-floor underground book store was added with a tunnel to connect it with the Bodleian Library on the north side of the square. Today, the Radcliffe Camera is used as a reading room for the Bodleian Library and isn’t open to the public. The Bodleian Library holds 11 million books; it is one of three libraries in Britain that receive a copy of every book published.
081 Radcliffe Camera snowman