Jordan College, Oxford

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Jordan College is a fictional college of the University of Oxford which appears in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. It exists in the Oxford in a parallel universe to our own, and is the home of the trilogy's young heroine Lyra Belacqua (or Silvertongue).

The location of Jordan College in the parallel universe is analogous to the location of Exeter College, Philip Pullman's alma mater, in the real city of Oxford.

As described by Pullman, the college is something of an exaggerated version of a real Oxford college, rambling above and below ground in a motley selection of buildings, cellars and tunnels constructed over several centuries:

What was above ground was only a small fraction of the whole. Like some enormous fungus whose root-system extended over acres, Jordan (finding itself jostling for space above ground with St Michael's College on one side, Gabriel College on the other, and Bodley's Library behind) had begun, sometime in the Middle Age, to spread below the surface. Tunnels, shafts, vaults, cellars, staircases had so hollowed out the earth below Jordan and for some yards around it that there was almost as much air below ground as above; Jordan College stood on a sort of froth of stone.
(Pullman, Northern Lights)

The following description of the college will be worded as if the college is real.



The college is considered one of, if not the, most prestigious colleges in Brytain. Certainly, in the field of experimental theology, including the study of Dust, it is considered the top college in the world. It has been attended by several notable people, including Lord Asriel. The college itself owns other estates all over the isle, those paying it rent including farms, dye-works, brick-kilns, and atomcraft-works.

Architecture and layout

The college is situated next to St Michael's College and Brasenose College on Turl Street, and Gabriel College and Balliol College on Broad Street. Most visitors enter Jordan College via the Lodge.

The college's buildings are grouped around three irregular quadrangles, the most important of which—the Melrose Quadrangle—is the college Library. The Library on one side leads out to the Library Gardens, and on the other connects to the Scholar's Common Room, which leads to the grand Hall, which is laid out with a table to seat all the Scholars and Under-Scholars. At the back of the Hall is the Retiring Room of the Master and other privelaged Scholars. The Yaxley Quadrangle, which also backs onto the Library Gardens, houses some of the oldest buildings in the college, including the Master's Lodging, and was where Lyra Belacqua had her bedroom during her time at the college.

Amongst the college's buildings are the Sheldon Building, and past the Kitchen, Pilgrim's Tower and the Chapel, which includes the Oratory and leads down to the crypts of esteemed deceased Scholars.


The earliest of the buildings were constructed in the Middle Ages, and the most recent in the mid-18th century.


The college is attended by the Master, the titled Scholars, the other Scholars and the Under-Scholars, as well as various servants and other contributors.

The Master

The Master of Jordan College is the highest-ranking Scholar, and oversees the college's affairs in all sectors.

Past Masters


  • Ignatius Cole, Master 1745-1748
  • 'Francis Lyall, Master 1748-1765
    • Dæmon: Zohariel
  • Simon Le Clerc, Master 1765-1789
    • Dæmon: Cerebaton

The current incumbent Master* is an elderly gentleman with a raven dæmon, who has long kept the college aflot amidst pressures from various sectors of the Magisterium (in particular the Consistorial Court of Discipline and the General Oblation Board).

The Scholars

The Cassington Scholar

Current incumbent*: One of the younger and more energetic Scholars.

The Chaplain

Current incumbent*: A close friend of Lord Asriel.

The Dean

Current incumbent*: A sceptic.

The Enquirer

The Intercessor

An emissary of the Church who leads all the college services, preaches and prays and hears confessions.

Current incumbent*: Father Heyst, a friendly man with a lizard-dæmon.

The Librarian

In charge of the Library.

Current incumbent*: Charles ..., a close friend of the current Master.

The Palmerian Professor

Current incumbent*: A man knowledgeable about the North, having made several expeditions to the Arctic regions.

The Precentor

Current incumbent*: An venerably elderly Scholar.

The Sub-Rector

Current incumbent*: An nearly-blind elderly Scholar with a lot of knowledge of other cultures, including the Tartars.

The Sevants

The Steward

Head of the servants of Jordan College.

Current incumbent*: Mr Cawson

The Butler

Reports only to the Steward.

Current incumbent*: 'Wren'

The Porter

Reports to the Butler.

Current incumbent*: 'Shuter'

The Parslows

The Parslow family have been employed as masons and scaffolders to Jordan College's buildings, and to repair the most delapidated parts of the college, for five generations.

Mr Parslow was teaching his son Roger Parslow his craft.

* As of Northern Lights

See also

  • "From Exeter to Jordan" (, Phillip Pullman, Oxford Today

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