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The past royal links of an Oxford college about to welcome a future queen

Lincoln College, Oxford

The future Queen of the Belgians, Elisabeth, is set to study at Lincoln College, Oxford and her admission to this prestigious establishment will add another regal chapter to its already impressive history.

The college, nestled on Turl Street in the heart of Oxford, was founded in 1427 by Richard Fleming who was Bishop of Lincoln and used his cathedral as inspiration for his establishment’s name. Originally called ‘the College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints, Lincoln’, it was set up to educate students to combat the fast spreading teachings of John Wycliffe, seen now as a precursor to Protestantism. At the time Lincoln College was founded, the teachings of Wycliffe were seen as heresy.

Fleming needed royal permission to merge parishes within Oxford under his control to get his college going. He was granted a charter by Henry VI in 1427 but as the king wasn’t quite six years old at the time, his personal involvement was negligible. Over the following decades, generous donations of land and buildings helped the college grow and it continued to flourish. However, its links to the Lancastrian monarch, however little input he had into them, became problematic as the Wars of the Roses continued.

In 1461, Henry VI was deposed and the House of York, under Edward IV, took power. Places like Lincoln, associated however loosely with the House of Lancaster, found themselves threatened with dissolution. Successful appeals meant that Lincoln continued to thrive and in 1478, Edward IV gave it a new charter.

Lincoln continued to build its impressive estate in the very centre of Oxford, as well as its academic reputation, over the centuries that followed. It has educated tens of thousands of people including writers John le Carre and Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) as well as another famous religious reformer, John Wesley. The current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, also studied there as did actress, Emily Mortimer.

Princess Elisabeth will be the first monarch in waiting to be educated at the college and will be its most regal alumnus once she finishes her course there.

The history of this Oxford college just got a little bit more royal.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.