The Sheldonian Theatre

The Sheldonian Theatre is a magnificent theatre which is over 350 years old. The Theatre is full of history and is situated in the heart of university of Oxford.

The theatre is used as the official ceremonial hall of the iconic Oxford University where students are admitted to the university, where graduation takes place and it is also the place for congregation.

History of the Sheldonian theatre, Oxford

The site in which the Sheldonian Theatre is situated was acquired by Oxford University and erected between 1664 and 1669. The entire cost of the theatre was met by Gilbert Sheldon who was the Archbishop of Canterbury hence the building is named as the Sheldonian Theatre.

The architecture of the Theatre was carried out by Christopher Wren who at the time was a professor of Astronomy at the Oxford University. The architecture of the building was inspired by the drawings of the Roman theatres. However, unlike the Roman theatres which are open, a roof truss was erected to cover the building. The ceiling has magnificently been painted by Robert Streater during the reign of King Charles II. The building is an iconic building and restoration works continue to take place today.

Planning your visit to Sheldonian theatre

The Theatre offers many amazing views including the structure, architecture and the magnificent ceiling. During your visit you are also able to look at the display boards which illustrate the Sheldonian’s journey from past to present. The Theatre is a popular tourist attraction as it allows the visitors to enjoy the 360 degree panoramic views of Oxford from the Cupola which is a dome like feature.

Opening times

The Sheldonian theatre is open throughout the year to the public and tourists. The only time public access is restricted is when there is an event or a university ceremony.  Before planning your journey, the Sheldonian theatre recommends tourists to check their website for the opening times as these are subject to change.

Tours at the Sheldonian Theatre

The Sheldonian Theatre provides 2 options for tours. These are the self-guided tour and the guided tour.

  • The self-guided tour allows visitors to tour around the Sheldonian at their own pace. You can simply pick up a leaflet at the reception and visit the site alone. Staff will be on hand to answer any questions or queries you may have.
  • The guided tours are the most popular amongst the tourists and visitors. Guided tours allow the opportunity to find out about the history of the University of Oxford. A private guided tour can also be booked with the Sheldonian’s Tour Guide, Oxford City Walks. This guided tour allows the opportunity to learn about the Sheldonian’s past and uncover its secrets. Guided tours can also be booked via Trip Advisor online.

Group Visits

The visit to the Sheldonian Theatre is priced very reasonable. Access to the main theatre, attic and the cupola is at a price of £3.80 to adults and £2.80 for

The Sheldonian theatre welcomes group visits. The visits can be for either educational purposes or a as a family day out. Many groups of schools, students, businesses, group travel organisers, tour guides and other organisations have had the benefit of visiting the Sheldonian theatre.

It is important to note that schools or groups bringing children must complete a risk assessment prior to their visit to the Sheldonian Theatre. In order to book group visits you can contact the Sheldonian theatre on 01865 277299 or email on

Charges for group visits will depend on the group requirements for the visit and this can be discussed when contacting the Sheldonian Theatre when enquiring about the group visit. An incentive to booking group visits is that the tour leaders, blue badge guide holders and coach drivers enjoy a free admission with their group.


The staff at Sheldonian Theatre want to make visits to the Theatre as enjoyable as possible, however with the building being historical it does not meet modern day building requirements and all accessibility requirements. Although the main Theatre itself is accessible, other areas such the cupola, attic and basement are not accessible for wheelchair users or people with restricted mobility. Children visiting with schools or families must also be supervised at all times.

Kabir Family Law is a niche practice which deals with family law only. We are situated approximately 2.4 miles from the Sheldonian Theatre. If you are living around the Oxford area and are experiencing any family law issues, whether this be divorce or separation or child law matters involving child contact or custody then contact Kabir Family Law. We are located at 1 & 3 Kings Meadow, Oxford, OX2 0DP and can be contacted on 01865 411 200. Our family law specialists will be happy to see you during your visit to Oxford to provide you with a free no obligation consultation which is only within a regular bus ride to us.

Directions to Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford

Driving directions from our family lawyers in Oxford can be found below: