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Climbing Great Buildings

Episode 4: New College, Oxford

Duration: 29 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC HDLatest broadcast: on BBC Two England

Dr Jonathan Foyle, architectural historian and novice climber, scales Britain's most iconic structures, from the Normans to the present day, to reveal the buildings' secrets and tell the story of how our architecture and construction has developed over 1000 years.

Jonathan's journey takes him to New College in Oxford. Built in 1379, this college set the blueprint for universities all over the world for the next 600 years.

Jonathan climbs the dreaming spires to investigate how the devastation of the Black Death led to an architectural innovation. He tests his newly-acquired climbing skills by scaling almost 100 feet to reveal how the enduring symbol of university life - the quadrangle - originated here. On his climbs, he discovers the bishop whose vision it was and sees how he literally left his mark all over the college in a medieval PR stunt; discovers carvings of English folk tales in the chapel; and traverses a sheer drop of 80 feet to explore how a new glazing technique, known as 'yellow stain', allowed New College to create some of the most magnificent medieval stained glass in the country. Show less


Jonathan Foyle
Lucy Creamer
Camera Operator:
Ian Burton
Emma Gray
Series Producer:
Adam Barry
Executive Producer:
Emma Read

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