Worcester College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its predecessor had been an institution of learning since the late thirteenth century, even though the current college was founded only in the eighteenth century. As of 2006, Worcester had an estimated financial endowment of £32 million.
The buildings are diverse – especially in the main quad, to the right an imposing eighteenth century building in the neo-classical style; and to the left a row of mediæval cottages which are among the oldest residential buildings in Oxford. These cottages are the most substantial surviving part of Gloucester College, Worcester's predecessor on the same site: this was a college for Benedictine monks, founded in 1283 and dissolved with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in about 1539.
After a lapse of twenty years, the buildings of the old Gloucester College were used in the foundation of Gloucester Hall, in around 1560. In 1714, thanks to a fortunate benefaction from a Worcestershire baronet, Sir Thomas Cookes, Gloucester Hall was transformed into Worcester College. Even then, there were only sufficient funds to rebuild the Chapel, Hall and Library and the north side of the Front Quad, known as the Terrace. The designs were by Dr. George Clarke, who had consulted Nicholas Hawksmoor.
In 1736, Clarke (later Sir George) generously left to the College his great collection of books and manuscripts. These included the papers of his father William Clarke (which are of crucial importance for the history of England during the period of the Commonwealth and Protectorate) and a large proportion of the surviving drawings of Inigo Jones.
Owing to lack of funds, Worcester's eighteenth century building programme proceeded by fits and starts. The west end of the Terrace and the Provost's Lodgings were added in 1773-6 (architect: Henry Keene). The mediæval cottages were to have been replaced by a further classical range, but survived because money for this purpose was never available; the Hall and Chapel, by James Wyatt, were not completed until the 1770s.
In more recent years several new residential blocks for undergraduates and graduates have been added, thanks in part to a series of generous benefactions. The latest of these include the Earl building, Sainsbury Building (which won the Civic Trust Award in 1984), Linbury Building, Canal Building and Ruskin Lane Building (for undergraduates), and the Franks Building (for graduates).
A modern addition to Worcester College, the Canal Building sits next to the north entrance to the college and, as the name suggests, besides the Oxford Canal. It houses fifty students in large en-suite single rooms. The accommodation is usually reserved for third and fourth year undergraduates.
The Chapel Choir is augmented by 12 boy choristers who attend Christ Church Cathedral Choir School.
In the mid-1960s, postgraduate philosophy student Daniel C. Dennett threw what he claims to have been the U.K.'s first frisbee, in the College's grounds. Frisbee games are now explicitly banned in the College gardens.
"Nōs miserī hominēs et egēnī, prō cibīs quōs nōbis ad corporis subsidium benignē es largītus, tibi, Deus omnipotēns, Pater cælestis, grātiās reverenter agimus; simul obsecrantēs, ut iīs sobriē, modestē atque grātē ūtāmur. Īnsuper petimus, ut cibum angelōrum, vērum panem cælestem, verbum Deī æternem, Dominum nostrum Iēsum Christum, nōbis impertiāris; utque illō mēns nostra pascātur et per carnem et sanguinem eius fovēāmur, alāmur, et corrōborēmur. Amen."