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Decision Summary

This building has been assessed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest. The asset currently does not meet the criteria for listing. It is not listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended.

Name: Cecil Rhodes Memorial Plaque

Reference Number: 1469337


6 King Edward Street, Oxford, OX1 4JL

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire
District: Oxford
District Type: District Authority
Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Decision Date: 11-Feb-2020


Summary of Building

Memorial plaque dedicated to Cecil Rhodes, 1906, by Onslow Whiting.

Reasons for currently not Listing the Building

The Cecil Rhodes memorial plaque, 1906 by Onslow Whiting, commissioned by Sir Alfred Mosely, is not listed for the following principal reasons:

Degree of architectural interest: * although not without merit, as an example of commemorative art it lacks the richness of detail and modelling to mark it out as of national interest for its artistic quality.

Degree of historic interest: * Rhodes is a figure of national significance but there is limited depth to his connection with the place the plaque commemorates and he is a figure whose legacy is already well represented on the List by buildings and sculptural work of greater architectural interest.


Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902) was an imperialist, colonial politician and mining entrepreneur. He has always been the subject of intense controversy, even during his lifetime. He was “revered by his intimates, who regarded him as a towering colossus, and reviled by those who saw him as an unprincipled and unscrupulous adventurer” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Born in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, he was sent at the age of seventeen to the British Colony of Natal to assist his brother in growing cotton. His efforts soon transferred to diamond mining, large reserves of the gems having recently been discovered in the region. The vast wealth which Rhodes amassed during his lifetime was founded on this enterprise, and he was both a great supporter of, and contributor to, a new phase of aggressive imperial expansion in southern Africa in the later C19.

Rhodes' connection with Oxford began in 1873; at the age of twenty he had accumulated enough wealth to return to England and fulfil his ambition of an Oxford education. Gaining a place at Oriel College, he was an intermittent undergraduate, attending for short periods in between developing his business interests in Africa, finally completing his pass degree in 1881. In 1899 he was also awarded an honorary degree by the University. Rhodes’ regard for Oxford, and the education it offered, was expressed in his will. He left a sizable endowment to Oriel and provided for 160 scholarships to Oxford for young men from Canada, Australia, South Africa, Rhodesia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, Bermuda, Jamaica, Germany, and the United States. The scholarship programme continues to run, with beneficiaries known as Rhodes Scholars.

The plaque on King Edward Street was erected in 1906, four years after Rhodes’ death, by his friend, business associate, and medical and educational philanthropist, Alfred Mosely. Located on a building owned by Oriel College, it marks the location of Rhodes’ residence during Michaelmas term in 1881. The plaque is the work of Onslow Whiting (1872-1937), a Letchworth-based sculptor and silversmith who taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London. Whiting is responsible for several listed memorials commemorating those who fell in the Boer War, including one erected by Alfred Mosely, and Letchworth's First World War memorial on Station Place.


The plaque is fixed to the street frontage of 6 King Edward Street, part of a late-C19 terrace.

The plaque is approximately 2m high, situated between a pair of first-floor sash windows. Of cast bronze, it comprises a relief bust of Rhodes within a shallow arched niche surmounted by the Oriel College crest of three lions rampant. Below the bust is a square-framed inscription reading: IN THIS HOUSE THE RIGHT / HON. CECIL JOHN RHODES / KEPT ACADEMICAL RESIDENCE / IN THE YEAR 1881 / THIS MEMORIAL IS ERECT- / ED BY ALFRED MOSELY / IN RECOGNITION OF THE / GREAT SERVICES RENDERED / BY CECIL RHODES TO / HIS COUNTRY, beneath is a laurel wreath cast in relief.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Lee, S (Editor), Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, Vol.III, (1912), pp. 181-191
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for Cecil John Rhodes, accessed 13 Jan 2015 from http://www.oxforddnb.com


National Grid Reference: SP5154806165

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This copy shows the entry on 20-May-2022 at 12:31:51.