"It was very early on a misty autumnal morning and as I was weighing up whether or not to attempt a photograph, the cleaner let herself into the building and switched on all the lights." J J Marshall
URBANPIX CAPTION for this Oxford card:
The Sheldonian Theatre which was completed in 1668, was the first- ever design of Christopher Wren, and took its name from Gilbert Sheldon who commissioned the building. The building is only 80 feet by 70 feet yet due to its ‘consummate contrivance and geometric arrangement’ can hold upwards of 3,000 people, as evidenced in 1733, when a concert given by Handel was attended by 3,700 people. Although called a theatre it has never been used for drama and was built instead to provide the University with a place for public meetings and ceremonies.
An unusual feature of the Sheldonian is the interior that is made of wood to give good acoustics but painted to look like marble. The ceiling painting consists of 12 separate canvases painted in London and brought to Oxford on a Thames barge.
The façade that faces Broad Street is boundaried by 13 Emperor Heads. The originals were commissioned by Christopher Wren and completed in 1669. They were replaced in 1868 but were of poor quality stone and eroded to such a degree, they had to be taken down in 1970. The current heads were commissioned from Oxford sculptor Michael Black and were erected in 1972.