His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials

Jordan College was one of the twenty-three colleges that formed the University of Oxford.[2] It was a men's college.[3] This was Lyra Silvertongue's home until she left with Marisa Coulter, and she later returned to live here, despite studying at St Sophia's College.[4] The grandest and the richest of the colleges, with the academic prestige to go with it, it was said to be possible to walk to Bristol in one direction and London in the other whilst never leaving Jordan College land.[5] Jordan was one of the 27 colleges that participated in the annual boat races.[6]


List of colleges in the university

The college was adjacent to Brasenose College, an alley separating the two, and opposite St Michael's College on Turl Street, and near to Balliol College and Gabriel College on Broad Street.[7]

The college's buildings were grouped around three irregular quadrangles. The Library filled one side of the Melrose Quadrangle.[5] A corridor connected the Library to the Scholar's Common Room and the Hall, where the Scholars and Under-Scholars ate their meals. At the rear of the Hall was the Retiring Room of the Master and other privileged Scholars. The Lecture Theatre was also located in the college.[8]

The Library led out to the Library Garden. The Yaxley Quadrangle, which also backed onto the Library Gardens, housed some of the oldest buildings in the college, including the Master's Lodging, and was where Lyra Silvertongue had her bedroom during her time at the college.[5] Beyond the main college quadrangle was the Scholars' Garden, with a view above Radcliffe Square from the steps at the back.[9]

Amongst the college's buildings were the Sheldon Building, Palmer's Tower and the Chapel, which included the Oratory and led down to the crypts of esteemed deceased Scholars.[5] The rooms of George Papadimitriou were at the top of Pilgrims' Tower, the highest set in the college.[10]

The Lodge Tower overlooked Turl Street and contained the rooms of Malcolm Polstead when he was a scholar at Jordan; he was one of the few young enough to cope frequently with the stairs. Lyra Silvertongue was given a key to the roof of the Lodge Tower whilst a student at St Sophia's in return for checking the stone and lead for the elderly Porter.[4] Ship Street also led directly to Jordan from Cornmarket Street.[1]


The earliest of the buildings were constructed in the Middle Ages, and the most recent in the mid-18th century. By the late 20th century, the college owned land throughout Brytain and those paying rent to it included dye-works, brick-kilns and atomcraft-works.[5]

By the late 20th century, the college was the leader in the field of experimental theology, unrivalled both in Europe and in New France.[5] After the devastation that the opening of the window in the North had caused, Jordan sponsored an archaeological crew up to Trollesund to perform a dig there.[11]


  • Master: The master oversaw the affairs of the college. The master was Werner Hammond. He succeeded Dr Carne.
  • Sub-Rector: The Sub-Rector was an old man who was nearly blind.[12]
  • Domestic Bursar: The Domestic Bursar would take a photogram of Lyra every year for Lord Asriel.[13]
  • Dean: The Dean was a skeptic.[12]
  • Bursar: The Bursar was in charge of the finances of the college.[5] The Bursar was Raymond Stringer.[14]
  • Librarian: The Librarian was in charge of the college library. The Librarian was Charles, a close friend of the Master.[12]
  • Precentor[12]
  • Solicitor: The solicitor tried to dissuade Dr Carne from unwise investment of the money set aside for Lyra Silvertongue's future.[9]


"There's probably been so many Scholars all down the centuries that there wouldn't be room to bury the whole of 'em, so they just cut their heads off and keep them. That's the most important part of 'em anyway."
—Lyra to Roger Parslow whilst in the Jordan catacombs looking at the skulls of deceased scholars[src]
  • Chaplain: The chaplain was a friend of Lord Asriel.
  • Palmerian Professor: The professor was P. Trelawney.
  • Cassington Scholar: This post is usually given to a free-thinker whose function is to challenge the faith of the scholars.[15]
  • Enquirer


  • Steward: The Steward was the head of the servants. The steward was Cawson.
  • Butler: The Butler reported only to the Steward. The butler was Wren.
  • Porter: The porter was Bill prior to whom there had been an old man named Shuter. The porter in 1986 was said to always gossip.[16]
  • Intercessor: The intercessor was Father Heyst.
  • Stonemasons: The Parslow family were employed by the college as stonemasons for five generations.
  • Housekeeper: The housekeeper at Jordan was Mrs Lonsdale.
  • Manservant: The manservant aided the Master. Dr Carne's manservant was Cousins.
  • Mr Cawston: Cawston had some connection to Roger Parslow, possibly making sure all the kitchen workers were where they should be.
  • Mr Wood
  • Janet: The Bursar's secretary was named Janet.[14]

Behind the scenes[]

  • The location and layout of Jordan College in Lyra's world is analogous to the location of Exeter College,[17] Philip Pullman's alma mater. However, unlike the fictional college, Exeter College is not the oldest (it is the fourth oldest), richest, or most prestigious college of the University of Oxford.
  • In the TV series, Lyra sees the Radcliffe Observatory and claims that this tower is near to where Jordan is in her world. She walks through it and comes out on a patch of land currently in development. This does not tie in with the map attached to Lyra's Oxford, which place Jordan in the same place as Exeter in our world.


Nl 02.jpg
HDM Wiki has 16 images of Jordan College.


  1. 1.0 1.1 La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 16
  2. Arts and Drama — His Dark Materials — Dictionary, BBC Radio 4.
  3. The Secret Commonwealth, Chapter 6
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lyra's Oxford
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Northern Lights, Chapter 3
  6. La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 1
  7. Lyra's Oxford, Map of Oxford
  8. Northern Lights, Chapter 1
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Secret Commonwealth, Chapter 7
  10. La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 17
  11. Serpentine
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Northern Lights, Chapter 2
  13. Northern Lights, Lantern Slide 7
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Secret Commonwealth, Chapter 30
  15. Northern Lights, Chapter 21
  16. La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 6
  17. From Exeter to Jordan, Oxford Today, Volume 14, Number 3, 2002.
Jordan College
Locations ChapelCommon RoomHallJordan catacombsJordan LibraryJordan OratoryMaster's LodgingRetiring RoomSheldon BuildingYaxley QuadrangleLodge TowerPalmer's TowerScholars' GardenLibrary GardenLecture Theatre
Staff Bernie JohansenBillDr CarneCharlesFather HeystMr CawsonMrs LonsdaleP. TrelawneyParslow familyRoger ParslowSub-RectorShuterWerner HammondWrenRaymond StringerJanetSolicitorDomestic BursarCousinsMr Wood
Occupations ButlerMaster of Jordan CollegeSteward