CALLS for the removal of statue of 19th century imperialist Cecil Rhodes from the side of Oriel College have led to an inquiry, soon due to give its verdict.

The inquiry was set up in the wake of protests last summer to investigate the background of the statue, the grade-II* listed building it sits on, and why people living in Oxford think it should be removed.

The inquiry was originally going to report its findings this month (January), but has pushed back its publication date until the Spring.

Ahead of that date, here's a look at the events which led us to where we are.


Cecil Rhodes was born in 1853 in Hertfordshire, and was sent to South Africa by his family as a young man.

He founded what would become the De Beers diamond mining company, and became very wealthy.

He travelled back to England and was admitted to Oriel College in 1873 and took his degree in 1881. 

He later became a politician in South Africa's Cape Colony parliament.

His advocacy of settling white people in African colonies, and the belief that the Anglo-Saxon race was the 'first race in the world ' have led some historians to describe him as White Supremacist.

He died in 1902, leaving a large portion of his riches to set up the Rhodes Trust, which administers the Rhodes Scholarship that funds international students to study at Oxford.

Early 1900s

Oriel College's Rhodes Building, which faces the High Street, was built in 1911. It is also known as the North Range of the college.

The statue of Cecil Rhodes was commissioned for the face of the building, along with six others.


A protest movement begins in South Africa's University of Cape Town, calling for a statue of Cecil Rhodes to be removed from campus.

The movement, called Rhodes Must Fall, also calls for education in the country to be 'decolonised' to reflect experiences of all people living there.

Rhodes Must Fall aims spread, and protests are also held in Oxford, calling for the removal of the Oriel College statue.


Oriel College's governing body announces the Rhodes statue will not be removed, despite the protests.

It is alleged that wealthy donors to the college threaten to pull their funding if the statue is taken down.


The coronavirus pandemic hits the UK in early March.

In May, George Floyd, an African-American man, is killed by police officers in Minneapolis.

Racial justics protests and riots follow in the USA as part of the Black Lives Matter campaign, and the wider protest movement spreads across the globe.

At the start of June, a statue of slaver trader Edward Colston in Bristol is pulled down by protesters, following years of discussion about whether the statue should be removed.

All eyes then turn to Oxford, with a banner that reads 'Cecil Rhodes - You're Next' left outside Oriel College.

Rhodes Must Fall protests are revived, the first of which takes place on the High Street outside the college on June 9.

Oxford Mail:

A second protest is also held, with those taking part marching from East Oxford across the city.

There is also reaction from local political leaders, with city council leader Susan Brown inviting the college to make 'an early submission of a formal planning application' to have the statue removed.

A commission is set up in July to investigate whether the statue should be taken down, with eight people from different professional backgrounds leading evidence hearings on its fate.

In November and December some evidence hearings are made public via the Rhodes Commission website.


A decision on whether the statue should remain or go is expected in January, but the date is pushed back until Spring.

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