The Queen's College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford, England. The college was founded in 1341 by Robert de Eglesfield (d'Eglesfield) in honour of Queen Philippa of Hainault (wife of King Edward III of England). It is distinguished by its predominantly neoclassical architecture, which includes buildings designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor.
The college was founded in 1341 as "Hall of the Queen's scholars of Oxford" by Robert de Eglesfield (d'Eglesfield), chaplain to Queen Philippa of Hainault (the wife of King Edward III of England), after whom the hall was named. Robert's aim was to provide clergymen for his native Cumberland and where he lived in Westmorland (both part of modern Cumbria). In addition, the college was to provide charity for the poor. The college's coat of arms is that of the founder; it differs slightly from his family's coat of arms, which did not include the gold star on the breast of the first eagle. The current coat of arms was adopted by d'Eglesfield because he was unable to use his family's arms, being the younger son. d'Eglesfield had grand plans for the college, with a provost, twelve fellows studying theology, up to thirteen chaplains, and seventy-two poor boys. However, the college did not have the funding to support such numbers, and initially had just two fellows.
The college gained land and patronage in the mid-15th century, giving it a good endowment and allowing it to expand to 10 fellows by the end of the century. By 1500, the college had started to take paying undergraduates, typically sons of the gentry and middle class, who paid the fellows for teaching. There were 14 of these in 1535; by 1612, this had risen to 194. The college added lectureships in Greek and philosophy. Provost Henry Robinson obtained an Act of Parliament incorporating the college as 'The Queen's College' in 1585, so Robinson is known as the second founder.
Following the new foundation, the college had a good reputation and flourished until the 1750s. Joseph Williamson, who had been admitted as a poor boy and went on to become a fellow, rose to Secretary of State and amassed a fortune. He funded a new range on Queen Street built in 1671–72. Following a bequest of books from Thomas Barlow, a new library was built between 1693 and 1696 by master builder John Townesend. A further bequest from Williamson of £6,000, along with purchase of the buildings along the High Street, allowed a new front quad to be built and for the remaining medieval buildings to be replaced. This was completed by 1759 by John's son William Townesend. The college gained a large number of benefactions during this time, which helped to pay for the buildings and bring in more scholars from other, mostly northern, towns.
From the 1756, as with other Oxford colleges, standards dropped. The Oxford commission of 1850–1859 revised the statues and removed the northern preference for fellows and most of the students. Over the coming years, requirements for fellows to be unmarried were relaxed, the number of fellows required to have taken orders and studied theology was reduced, and in 1871 the Universities Tests Act allowed non-conformists and Catholics.
Like many of Oxford's colleges, Queen's admitted its first mixed-sex cohort in 1979, after more than six centuries as an institution for men only.