Gloucester Hall, Oxford

St Benet's Hall, Oxford

{{Oxford_College_Infobox |
 name = St. Benet's Hall |
 picture =  |
 university = Oxford |
 primary_colour = black |
colours = |} |
 college_name = St. Benet's Hall |
 name_Latin = Aula Privata Sancti Benedicti |
 named_for = St. Benedict |
 established = 1897 (Direct linear descendant of Westminster Abbey, founded 1045–50) |
 sister_college = None|
 head_name = Master|
 head = The Revd Dom Felix Stephens, OSB |
 JCR President = Konstantin Schober|
 MCR President = None (united common room) |
 undergraduates = c. 50 |
 graduates = c. 5 |
 latitude = 51.757952 |
 longitude = -1.260787 |
 homepage= St. Benet's Website|
 boat_club =  St. Benet's
Boat Club
}} St Benet's Hall is a Permanent Private Hall (PPH) of the University of Oxford.

Composition and status

St. Benet's Hall, founded in 1897, is a Benedictine foundation, whose principal historic function was to allow Catholic monks (primarily Benedictines from Ampleforth Abbey, and members of related orders, to study for secular degrees as undergraduates within the University. The Hall continues to have a monastic Master, currently The Revd Dom Felix Stephens, OSB, MA (and the Chaplain and the Theology Tutor are both also Benedictine monks), but it now principally admits laymen both as undergraduates and post-graduates. Lay members of the Hall do not have to be Catholics, but are asked to be supportive of monastic life and values.

St Benet's became a Permanent Private Hall of the University in 1918 when new University legislation created the status of PPH. Unlike some of the other PPHs, the Hall has never been a theological college, although this is a frequently stated misunderstanding. The Governing Body of the Hall are the Trustees of the St Lawrence Education Trust, and a number of functions are also performed by the St Benet's Hall Sub-Committee of the Governing Body. Its chief buildings consist of adjacent houses in St Giles.

As St. Benet's is a PPH of the University, its Fellows do not constitute its Governing Body; but they share with the Master the day-to-day running of the Hall, and elect one of their number to the St Benet's Hall Sub-Committee. The Hall matriculates students to be members of the University, and those of its members who have matriculated are full members of the University, and able to supplicate for degrees on the successful completion of their studies. For most of its members the only noticeable difference made by the Hall's legal status is that it is very much smaller than any of the Colleges.

Members of the Hall are individually members of the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU), but, following a dispute over OUSU's policy on reproductive health, the Hall disaffiliated in 1997, and is not represented in the OUSU Council. Students at St. Benet's are eligible for life membership of the Oxford Union Society.

The Hall is known as "Benet's" within the University, and is now the only constituent body of the University admitting men alone for undergraduate degrees. The recent review of the PPHs conducted by the University concluded that St Benet's had a 'good sense of its place within the collegiate University', and drew attention to the 'commitment and care' of the Hall's academic staff.

See also Alumni of St Benet's Hall, Oxford


The Hall was originally established in 1897. It took on its official name "Aula Privata Sancti Benedicti" ("St. Benet's Hall") in 1918.

Prior to this date, Permanent Private Halls of the University of Oxford took their name from their Master, and the Hall was known successively as Hunter-Blair's, and Parker's Hall.

The Hall was initially set up in October 1897 at 103 Woodstock Road. This house is still in existence, opposite SS Philip and James Church, and is now a guest-house. The Hall lived there until 1904, when it moved to the former Grindle's Hall in Beaumont Street, from which it removed in 1922 to the present buildings of 38 and 39 St Giles. The Beaumont Street houses were demolished in 1938 to make space for the Oxford Playhouse theatre.

From 1879 the present building at 38 St. Giles was the site of Oxford High School, until it moved to 21 Banbury Road in 1881.

The Hall had primarily been a house for monks reading for degrees of the University of Oxford; but, over time, laymen have come to be the majority of the Hall's undergraduate members.

Current subjects in which students are admitted by St. Benet's include Theology, Theology and Philosophy, Classics, History (including both Ancient and Modern), History and Politics, and Oriental Studies.


St. Benet's has had ten Masters since it was established in 1897:

  • Abbot Oswald Hunter Blair OSB (1898–1909)
  • Father Anselm Parker OSB (1909–1920)
  • Father Justin McCann OSB (1920–1947)
  • Father Gerard Sitwell OSB (1947–1964)
  • Father James Forbes (1964–1979) OSB (famed pottery expert and Knight of Malta)
  • Father Philip Holdsworth OSB (1979–1989)
  • Father Fabian Cowper OSB (1989–1990)
  • Father Henry Wansbrough OSB (1990–2004) (Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible)
  • Father Leo Chamberlain OSB (2004–2007)
  • Father Felix Stephens OSB (2007–)

Officers, Fellows, and Lecturers of the Hall

Hall Officers and Staff

Bursar: The Master

Chaplain: Rev Adrian Convery OSB, MA

Senior Tutor and Tutor for Graduates: Dr Santha Bhattacharji MA, PhD (Tutor in English)

Dean and IT Fellow: Mr Julian Borthwick MA MSc MCSE

Junior Dean: Mr Philip McCosker MA MTS

Librarian: Mr Michael Black BSc MSt MBA

College Secretary: Mrs Wendy Bunning

IT Officer: Mr Brian Wright MA


Dr Brian Klug MA PhD (Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy)

Dr Joseph Shaw MA DPhil (Tutor in Philosophy) Dr Stuart Carney MB ChB MPH MRCPsych (Senior Research Fellow in Psychiatry) [

Dr Santha Bhattacharji MA PhD (Senior Tutor, Tutor in English) The Revd Dr Bernard Green OSB MA MPhil DPhil (Tutor in Theology) Mr John Eidinow MA, DipLaw, Barrister (Tutor in Classics) Mr Julian Borthwick BA MA MSc MCSE (Dean and IT Fellow)

The Revd Dr Ian Ker MA PhD HonD.Litt (Senior Research Fellow in Theology) Mr Stratford Caldecott MA (G.K. Chesterton Fellow) Dr Frances Reynolds BA PhD, Shillito Fellow in Assyriology, Oriental Institute (Senior Research Fellow and Tutor in Oriental Studies)

Dr Susan Doran BA PhD (Tutor in History)

Mr Philip McCosker MA MTS (Junior Research Fellow in Theology and Junior Dean)

The Revd John Moffat SJ MA (Chaplain to the University)

Dr Harry Sidebottom BA MA MPhil DPhil (Tutor in Ancient History)

Honorary Fellows

The Very Revd Henry Wansbrough OSB MA STL LSS (Master 1990-2004, Titular Cathedral Prior of Norwich)

The Very Revd Leo Chamberlain OSB MA (Master 2004-07, Titular Cathedral Prior of Gloucester)

Professor Peter Hennessy MA FBA FRHistS (Attlee Professor of Contemporary History, QMUL)

Professor Henry Mayr-Harting MA DPhil FBA (Emeritus Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Oxford)


Dr Jane Baun BA MA PhD (Research Lecturer in Byzantine Studies)

Dr Marina Bazzani MA DPhil (Research Lecturer in Classics; Faculty Lector)

Dr Jonathan Black-Branch MA DPhil BA LLB Med PhD (Professor of Law at Buckingham University) (Lecturer in Law)

Dr Jennifer Cooper BA MA DPhil (Lecturer in Theology)

Dr Yvonne Cornish MA DPhil (Lecturer in History)

Mr Ferdinando Giugliano BA, MPhil (Lecturer in Economics)

Mr Edward Turner MA (Lecturer in Politics)

Dr Cornelia van der Poll BA MPhil PhD (Lecturer in Ancient Greek)


Unlike other Colleges and PPHs, St. Benet's has a united Common Room of which all students at the Hall are members.

The present J.C.R. Committee is:

  • President: Konstantin Schober
  • Treasurer: Oliver Stephen
  • Secretary: Christopher Johnson
  • Social Secretary: Chris Eklund
  • Welfare Officer: Matt McCall
  • Graduate Officer: Nicholas Hanson
  • Food Liaison Officer: Nicholas Wingfield Digby
  • Senior Treasurer: Dr Brian Klug


St. Benet's is noted for its rowing team, the self-proclaimed 'Benet's Bisons'. Despite the small size of the Hall a consistently strong VIII has been put on the river for many years, and in recent years it has an all but consistent record of winning 'blades', the trophy awarded for 'bumping' (rowing past teams ranked above) every day in a regatta. Recently, one of the Light-Weight Blues Team came from St. Benet's.

University life

Despite having a small number of members, St Benet's has a big presence in the University. Several Presidents of the Oxford University Newman Society, a President of the Oxford Law Society, several Officers in the Oxford University Conservative Association, several Returning Officers and Chairmen of the Consultative Committee of the Oxford Union, officers of the Light Entertainment Society, and prominent University sportsmen have come from St. Benet's. The Hall currently has two Blues (Association Football and Golf).


A high standard of catering is provided by a dedicated staff.

Members of the Hall are entitled to invite guests to all meals. Of these, the universally acclaimed Sunday lunch is the most prestigious and keenly attended. A cherished tradition of the Hall is that there is one Common Table for all members, with the result that fellows, lecturers, monks, students, and their guests mix freely at all meals.

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