Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral of the diocese of Oxford, which includes the City of Oxford, England, and the surrounding countryside as far north as Banbury. It is also, unusually, the chapel of Christ Church, the largest college of the University of Oxford.
The cathedral was originally the church of St Frideswide's Priory. The site is claimed to be the location of the abbey and relics of St Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford, although this is debatable.
In 1522, the priory was surrendered to Cardinal Wolsey, having selected it as a site for his proposed college. However, in 1529 the foundation was taken over by King Henry VIII. Work stopped, but in June 1532 the college was refounded by the King. In 1546, Henry VIII transferred to it from Oseney to the see of Oxford. The cathedral has the name of Ecclesia Christi Cathedralis Oxoniensis, given to it by King Henry VIII's foundation charter.
There has been a choir at the cathedral since 1526, when John Taverner was the organist and also master of the choristers. The statutes of Cardinal Wolsey's original college, initially called Cardinal College, mentioned sixteen choristers and thirty singing priests.
Christ Church Cathedral is often claimed to be the smallest cathedral in England, and although it did once hold this distinction there are now smaller cathedrals, as several parish churches were elevated to cathedral status in the 20th century.
The nave, choir, main tower and transepts are of the late Norman period. There are architectural features ranging from Norman to the Perpendicular style and a large rose window of the ten-part (i.e. botanical) type.
Sir Henry Gage (1597–1645) is buried in the Lucy Chapel off the south transept, and the philosopher Bishop George Berkeley and John Urry are also buried in the cathedral (Berkeley's memorial is in the nave).