A routine construction project has unearthed England's Catholic past.
A construction project that would see 30 student flats added to the University of Oxford has made an archaeological discovery. While clearing the area to set the foundation, the team stumbled upon the remains of an ecclesiastical college that was destroyed during the Dissolution of Monasteries, around 1530.
St. Mary’s College
The long lost college in question was St. Mary’s, an Augustinian branch of Oxford that was devoted to educating the clergy. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the college was founded in 1435, but its construction was still not complete by 1520. King Henry VIII briefly sent his chief advisor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. to speed up the process, but this task was not to be achieved.
By 1530, tensions between the king and the Catholic church were high and Wolsey soon fell out of favor with the English court. In 1536, King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of monasteries, which disbanded Catholic institutions in England by 1541. Soon after, the Church of England was established and the grounds of St. Mary’s were left to fall into disuse.