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Tom Tower, Oxford

4.6
#114 of 253 in Things to do in Oxford
Observation Deck · Hidden Gem · Landmark
Tom Tower is a bell tower in Oxford, England, named after its bell, Great Tom. It is over Tom Gate, on St Aldates, the main entrance of Christ Church, Oxford, which leads into Tom Quad. This square tower with an octagonal lantern and facetted ogee dome was designed by Christopher Wren and built 1681–82. The strength of Oxford architectural tradition and Christ Church's connection to its founder, Henry VIII, motivated the decision to complete the gatehouse structure, left unfinished by Cardinal Wolsey at the date of his fall from power in 1529, and which had remained roofless since. Wren made a case for working in a Late Gothic style—that it "ought to be Gothick to agree with the Founders worke"—a style that had not been seen in a prominent building for a hundred and fifty years, making Tom Tower a lonely precursor of the Gothic Revival that got underway in the mid-18th century. Wren never came to supervise the structure as it was being erected by the stonemason he had recommended, Christopher Kempster of Burford.

In 1732–34, when William Kent was called upon to make sympathetic reconstruction of the east range of Clock Court in Wolsey's Tudor Hampton Court Palace, he naturally turned to the precedent of Tom Tower for his "central ogee dome with its coronet of pilaster-like gothick finials". The tower of Dunster House at Harvard University is a direct imitation of Tom Tower, though its details have been Georgianised, and stones from Christ Church are installed in one of the house's main entryways.

Tom Tower was the inspiration for the Clock Tower (formally the Old Arts Building) at the University of Auckland.
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  • Christ church college has the famous Tom Tower its beautiful and well worth locating while wandering on the inside of the college.  more »
  • It really is difficult to miss TOM Tower as it stands guard at the entrance of Christ Church college Surrounded by stunning architecture Tom Tower is the most stunning  more »
  • We also walked past Tom Tower which is a bell tower in Oxford, named after its bell, Great Tom. It is over Tom Gate, on St Aldates, the main entrance of Christ Church, Oxford, which leads into Tom...  more »
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  • At the top of the college's main entrance is a rectangular Tom Tower, which has a seven-ton Big Tom Bell, suspended in the mid-17th century (1648), when the college had 101 students, and at 9 p.m. every night, the clock would ring 101 times, warning students to start a curfew.
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  • Entrance gate to Christ Church College, Oxford. They filmed Harry Potter. Buildings from the year 1300, sculptures, stained glass, paintings. In it works for students, but there is time for tourists too. Recommend
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