The circular dome and drum of the Radcliffe Camera provides one of Oxford’s most iconic landmarks and is a significant sight in a city full of some very imposing architecture! The camera (the word means simply “room” in Latin) was constructed in the mid 18th century with £40,000 bequeathed by the royal physician, Dr John Radcliffe.

The Radcliffe Camera was intended to house a new library, and designs were called for from several leading architects, including Nicholas Hawksmoor (responsible for much of All Soul’s College) and James Gibbs.

Originally the library in the Radcliffe Camera held both scientific and general books, but those collections were gradually moved to other University libraries, so that today the Camera functions as the main reading room of the Bodleian Library. The finished building holds some 600,000 books in underground rooms beneath Radcliffe Square.


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