A first at the Radcliffe Camera

16 September 2008

RC_windowsThe windows of the Radcliffe Camera are being restored for the first time since the building was opened in 1749. The restoration project which began this summer involves replacing the existing windows with temporary ones, while the original windows are being refurbished before being reinstalled. The temporary windows are exact replicas of the original ones.

Although records found in the library’s archive show that the eight windows of the Radcliffe Camera dome were repaired before, it is the first time they are undergoing such a major restoration. Initially the windows were meant to be plain wood, but the second librarian of the Radcliffe Camera, Dr. Benjamin Kennicott, insisted they should be painted for a better protection against the weather conditions.

The restoration project will last for three years with work being undertaken during each of the Long Vacations in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Andrew Macduff, Support Services Manager, said: 'The Radcliffe Camera is one of the iconic buildings of both the University and the city of Oxford. The window renovation project is part of the Bodleian’s and University’s endeavour to preserve the historic buildings they have inherited for future generations.'

The Radcliffe Library was the brainchild of, Dr John Radcliffe (1650–1714), perhaps the most successful English physician of his day. He left his trustees a large sum of money with which to purchase both the land for the new building and an endowment to pay a librarian and purchase books. Designed by James Gibbs, the dome building of the Radcliffe Camera was built between 1737 and 1748. Finally opened in 1749, the library initially housed the Science Library before becoming part of the Bodleian Library in 1860.

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