This is a small but delightful building was built between 1664 and 1668 from a design by Sir Christopher Wren.
It was built to house the secular, and apparently rowdy, graduation ceremonies of 1600s and 1700s Oxford. Previously held in the St. Mary the Virgin on High church, it was felt a more secular environment was needed. Built on a Roman theater design the theatre also features a "geometrical flat floor" roof made of wooden beams bolted together and noted for its long time stability.
The building has been the stage for a number of minor controversies, including an ugly one involving a poetry professor slandering another to get ahead. It was also to be the location of a notable debate between prominent atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins and American Philosopher William Lane Craig about the existance of god. Dawkins was a no show and received some flack in the press about it.
The building features an eight sided cupola from which one can take in one of the best views in Oxford, a magnificent painted ceiling consisting of 32 panels by Robert Streater, court painter for King Charles II, (which underwent an extensive restoration in 2008), a row of large busts portraying different theatrical emotions, and for the inquisitive, a truly memorable experience.
It is often overlooked because of the short hours kept by the staff, but it is certainly worth a visit by any curious traveler. At the entrance there is a small shop selling souvenirs and information.