"From those pedestals which intersperse the railing of the Sheldonian, the high grim busts of the Roman Emperors stared down at the fair stranger in the equipage. "
Oxford Students exit the Sheldonian Theatre
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumOxford Students exit the Sheldonian Theatre - Credit: M.L. Costa

The Sheldonian Theatre was designed by the architect Christopher Wren (1632-1723), and built between 1664 and 1668. The building was named in honor of Archbishop of Canterbury Gilbert Sheldon (1598-1677). Sheldon had been a student at Trinity College, and throughout his life he took an active interest in the University. The Sheldonian Theatre was built and endowed at Sheldon’s expense; he became the Chancellor of the university in 1667.


Traditionally, the Sheldonian Theatre is used by the university for its matriculation and graduation ceremonies.  The Sheldonian is surrounded by prominent busts of ancient emperors.