Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is a working library which forms part of the University of Oxford. It is housed in a remarkable group of buildings which form the historic heart of the University, and you can explore the quadrangles of these magnificent structures at no charge.


Different ticket options allow you to visit the interior of some of the buildings, such as the University’s oldest teaching and examination room, The Divinity School (built 1427-88). The guided tours go behind the scenes in the Library, including its oldest research library, The Bodleian, dating from 1602-20.





Standard tours

(Led by a guide. Duration one hour)

This tour shows you the interior of the buildings that form the historic heart of the University. Your guide will describe the wonderful architecture, explaining how the University came into being in the Middle Ages, and how it developed over the centuries.


Explore the Divinity School, built in 1488 for the teaching of theology. With its elaborately vaulted ceiling and its 455 carved bosses, it is a masterpiece of English Gothic architecture. Take a look in the 17th century Convocation House and Court, where Parliament was held in the Civil War.


Visit Duke Humfrey's medieval library, still in use today, but where generations of famous scholars have studied through the ages. These former readers, or users of the Library, include five kings, 40 Nobel Prize winners, 25 British Prime Ministers and writers such as Oscar Wilde, C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien.


Extended tours

(Led by a guide. Duration ninety minutes)

Standard tours + the additional working areas of the Library, such as the interior of the architectural icon of Oxford, the Radcliffe Camera: the first rotunda library built in Britain.

During 2010 the tour will include the underground tunnels and passages leading to the bookstacks, where millions of volumes are shelved. This is a limited opportunity, available until the tunnels close in August, for the refurbishment of the New Bodleian Library at the end of the year.


Mini tours

(Led by a guide. Duration thirty minutes)

Mini tours allow you to view the most beautiful parts of the library in just 30 minutes. 


Audio tours*

(Self guided. Duration forty minutes)

Moving around the external quadrangles and through into the Divinity School, your hand-held audio guide with digital technology is easy to use and allows you to pace the tour according to your schedule, while continuing to interact with others in your group.

*Available in 3 languages: English, French and German


Divinity School visit

(No guide. Duration: self timed)

Admission to the Old Schools Quadrangle is free. Once you reach the Old Schools Quadrangle, the Old Bodleian Library entrance faces west. Through the glass doors behind the statue you enter the Proscholium. From the Proscholium you can access the Divinity School where all tours start.

Good to know:


  • All guided tours are conducted by professionally trained volunteer guides. 
  • Children age 11 and over are allowed into the working areas of the Library however the guided tours are not recommended for young children.
  • Recommended entrance via Catte Street: The Great Gate is the main entrance which provides direct access to the Old Schools Quadrangle and the Old Bodleian Library.
  • The Library is ONLY able to take bookings for the EXTENDED tours in advance, not the STANDARD tours, tickets for which may be bought on the day.
  • Visitors are asked to leave all their bags in secure lockers for the duration of the tour.


Corporate and private hire

Dine in the present,
surrounded by the past...

The Bodleian Library is part of the remarkable group of buildings which constitutes the historic heart of the University of Oxford. They are pleased to offer one of the most stunning venues in Oxford, the medieval Divinity School, for a variety of evening functions.


Bodleian Library welcomes the opportunity to host your event for all types of corporate and private occasions including lectures, presentations, drinks receptions, dinners and wedding receptions. 


They are custodians of these historic rooms of Oxford University and in order to protect them, there are certain regulations that need to be abided by when booking an event with us. Reservations may be made only after a visit and a meeting with a representative from our Events team.

Weddings in the heart of Oxford

If you were thinking about hiring a venue in Oxford for your Wedding, Bodleian Library can offer a perfect historic location for this occasion. They can tailor the evening to suit your particular requirements. The historic venue is available in most Saturdays throughout the year. They can accommodate up to 120 guests for your wedding reception.


Dinner in the historic surrounding
of Oxford University

If you are organizing a conference in Oxford why not highlight your event by organizing a Gala dinner in a spectacular 15th-century academic venue. The medieval Divinity School, the oldest teaching room of the Oxford University can accommodate up to 120 seated guests.

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