History

The Sheldonian Theatre is the official ceremonial hall of the University of Oxford. It is the place where students are admitted to the University, where they receive their degree and it is the meeting place for Congregation - the University’s parliament. It also provides a venue for other ceremonial events.

The Sheldonian Theatre was constructed between 1664 and 1669. Funded by Gilbert Sheldon, Warden of All Souls College and later Archbishop of Canterbury, the Sheldonian Theatre was the first major design of Sir Christopher Wren. The original roof design was a masterpiece of architectural design. It is made up of a series of timber trusses and complicated cross beams supported by braces and screws without any columns.

Redevelopment and restoration

Over the past 10 years the Sheldonian Theatre has been the subject of a number of major restoration projects. In 2004 the 32 panel painted ceiling was sent away for a four year conservation and repair project. After investigations by architectural paint researchers, Sir Christopher Wren’s original colour scheme was reintroduced, which had last been seen in the 1720s. In 2011 the University won an award from the Oxford Preservation Trust for the Theatre’s redecoration and lighting.