No. 38: St Benet’s Hall

St Benet's Hall

St Benet’s Hall comprises a pair of semi-detached large houses that were originally numbered 38 and 39 St Giles’ Street. (The number 39 has now been transferred to a the smaller house to the south that was built thirty years later).

When they were built in about 1830 these two houses were advertised as residences for persons of the first distinction.They were originally just three-storey houses with basements: the top storey and attic rooms were added by St Ursula’s Convent in 1910.

The houses have cast-iron balconies and railings, the latter with lotus finials. The pair of houses is jointly Grade II listed (ref. 1485/835)

At the time of the 1772 Survey of Oxford, the site of the present St Benet’s Hall and the house to the south was occupied by Coster’s yard and stable, with a frontage measuring 32 yards 2 feet 6 inches. The present buildings were erected on the site in about 1830.

Former No. 38 (north side of St Benet’s Hall)
At the time of the 1841 census, No. 38 was occupied by Philip Bliss (described as a Clerk) his wife Sophia, and their four servants. In 1851 it was occupied by Richard Michell, the Public Orator of the University, his wife Amelia, and six children aged eight and under. They were looked after by two nurses, a cook, a housemaid, and a footman. Ten years later they were still there, with two more children. In October 1878 Oxford High School, which had been at 16 St Giles, negotiated a two-year lease on the building until it could move into its new premises at 21 Banbury Road in early 1881. By the time of the census in the spring of that year, the house was occupied by Charlotte Cotton, a widow of 73 with an income from real estate, her spinster daughter, and their five servants.

Former No. 39 (south side of St Benet’s Hall)
At the time of the 1841 census, No. 39 was occupied by Letitia Pett andher four servants. In 1851 it was occupied by Maria Brown (a widowed fundholder) and her two sons (students at Worcester College), plus their two servants. In 1861 the occupant was Richard Greswell (a clergyman without cure of souls), his wife Joanna, and their daughters Joanna (23) and Helen (20), plus their four servants. Greswell was still in the house at the time of the 1881 census, aged 80, with his two daughters: their servants then comprised a butler, under-butler, nurse, cook, and two housemaids.

Occupants listed in censuses and directories
Date 38 St Giles 39 St Giles
1841–6 Philip Bliss, D.C.L. Mrs Letitia Pett
1852 Rev. Richard Michell
Vice Principal of Magdalen Hall
Mrs Maria Brown

Mrs Greswell (1861)
Revd Richard Greswell (1866–81)
Miss/Misses Greswell (1882–94)

1869 Miss Macbride
1879–81 Oxford High School
1881–2 Mrs Charlotte Cotton
(née Pusey, widow of the Revd Richard Lynch Cotton,
former Provost of Worcester College)
1884–7 Rev. S.J. Hulme
1889 Oxford Eye Hospital
1891–4 St Ursula’s Convent
(Madame de Leobardy)

Charles William Chadwick Oman, M.A.
Fellow of All Souls College
Chichele Professor of Modern History

1909–16 Madame de Leobardy
1918–22 St Ursula’s Convent (Catholic)
High Class Boarding and Day School
1923–present St Benet’s Hall (now numbered just 38)


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Last updated: 27 November, 2010