Holywell Cottage and Holywell Lodge, St Cross Road

Holywell Cottage

Holywell Cottage

This late seventeenth-century cottage (shown above) is on the west side of St Cross Road (originally called Church Street), on the southern corner of Jowett Walk. It has been owned by Merton College since at least the early twentieth century and is Grade II listed (1047129). It is sometimes numbered 3 St Cross Road.

James Florey, a college servant, was living here at Holywell Cottage by 1861, and from 1889 he and his wife ran a lodging house here. He died in 1895 and was buried in Holywell Cemetery. His wife remained at Holywell Cottage, continuing to run the lodging house until 1903.

In the twentieth century various academics lived at Holywell Cottage. The last was John Jones, Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1978 to 1983, who was asked by Merton College to vacate the house.

In April 2006 Merton College was granted planning permission relating to Holywell Cottage for “change of use from dwelling house to student accommodation for 6 students. New arched doorway opening in boundary wall with cottage and 1 Holywell Street” (07/00247/FUL)

Occupants of Holywell Cottage listed in directories etc.

Survey of Oxford

Uncertain. Possibly the second house listed on the west side with a frontage of 12 yds 2 ft 0 in and occupied by Dr Vansittart next to his bowling green

To 1860

Uncertain. Possibly John Weston, after whom the eight cottages in
Weston's Row, Church Lane, were named


James Florey, who was listed first as a college servant, then from 1880 as a gardener,
and finally from 1889 to 1894 as running a lodging house

Mrs Florey, lodging house from 1895 to 1903


William Parker


John Lyttleton Etty, M.A.


Kenneth King Leys Munsie, M.A.
Fellow & Tutor in Modern History, University College


Ronald C. Johnston, M.A.
University Lecturer in French Philology & Old French Literature


David Whitteridge, D.M.
University Demonstrator in Physiology of Exeter College and later Fellow of Magdalen College

By 1952–1976+

Henry John Franklin Jones, M.A.
Tutor in Law and Fellow & Tutor of Merton College


John Jones
Professor of Poetry

Since 2006

Merton College student accommodation

Holywell Cottage in the censuses


Hard to identify in the censuses, which list all of St Cross Road as “near the Church”.


James Florey (62), a gardener, lived here with his wife Ann (60) and their daughter Mary (27), who was a milliner.


James Florey (70), now described as a college gardener, lived here with his wife Ann (70) and their daughter Anne (33). Another college servant boarded with them.

1891 & 1901

Hard to identify


John Lyttleton Etty (35), an unmarried schoolmaster, lived here alone with one servant.


Holywell Lodge

(This house is sometimes described as Holywell Cottage, which is confusing)

Holywell Lodge was the first of a group of cottages or tenements situated approximately opposite Holywell Cemetery and owned by Merton College.

The Revd Vaughan Thomas, who was Vicar of Yarnton from 1803, lived at Holywell Lodge, and is listed there in Pigot's Directory for 1830 (with the house wrongly but typically described as Holywell Cottage). He had married his first wife Charlotte Williams at St Mary the Virgin Church on 12 October 1811: she was the niece of the Revd Dr John Cooke, formerly President of Corpus Christi College, and the sister of Dr George Williams, the former Professor of Botany. On 31 July 1843 she died at Holywell Lodge, and by mid-1845 the Revd Vaughan Thomas moved to Magdalen Gate House (marrying his second wife Catherine by 1851).

Holywell Lodge was advertised as follows in Jackson's Oxford Journal for 19 April 1845:

TO be LET, at Midsummer Day next,—A large and convenient HOUSE, near Holywell Church, known by the name of HOLYWELL LODGE; consisting of five rooms on the ground floor and five rooms on the second floor, attics and cellaring, water closet and pump in the house, with every other convenience, and a large walled-in garden attached, with or without a close, stabling, &c. adjoining.—For particulars inquire of Mrs. Weston, near Holywell Church, Oxford.

The next tenant of Holywell Lodge was the Revd Edward Meyrick Goulburn, then Vicar of Holywell. In his Reminiscences of Oxford, William Tuckwell writes how in the early 1840s Goulburn“brought his bride to the pretty little Holywell Cottage [i.e. Holywell Lodge], now swept away”.

The executors of the late Mr Weston put up Holywell Lodge for auction on 21 February 1854, and it was described as follows in the advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 4 February:

All that desirable FAMILY RESIDENCE, with large walled Garden; and CLOSE OF LAND adjoining, containing, by estimation, 3½ Acres, situate near Holywell Church, Oxford, for many years occupied by the Rev. Vaughan Thomas, afterwards by the Rev. Dr. Goulburn, and now in the occupation of the Rev. R. Gandell. The house is approached through a small flower garden, and contains entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, and study; four principal bed rooms and dressing room, and attic; capital cellarage, and all suitable domestic offices; together with a large walled garden, coach-house, three-stall stable, and piggeries; and a Close of Pasture Land adjoining, on the north-west side thereof, with separate entrances thereto from the road and footway leading from Long-Wall to the Parks. This property is held by lease under Merton College, Oxford, for a term of 40 years, from the 5th of April, 1840, subject to a reserved annual rent of 3w. 4d., and half a bushel and one peck of wheat, and one bushel and three pecks and a half of barley malt, and a land tax of 1l. 14s. 3d.

On 5 May 1855 the Revd Robert Gandell (who had lived with his wife Louisa Caroline at Holywell Lodge since at least 1851) bought the lease and its adjoining meadow and pasture from Merton College. Eight children were born to the Revd Gandell and his wife Louisa at Holywell Lodge: Florence (2 August 1851), Thomas Pearse Gandell (1853), Beauchamp Macbride Gandell (1854), Mary Kerr Gandell (1857, died the following year), Schomberg Frederick Gandell (1859), Sidney Graham Kerr Gandell (1861), Shirley Mark Kerr Gandell (1866), and William Raleigh Kerr Gandell (1870). On 30 September 1871 Mrs Gandell advertised for a gentleman's son aged between six and eight to be educated in this house alongside her second youngest son.

Gandell was appointed Laudian Professor of Arabic in 1861.

His daughter Florence Gandell (17) was married to the barrister Edward Rees Davies of Merthyr Tydfil at St Cross Church on 7 April 1869, and gave birth to her first child Gwendoline Mary Kerr Rees Davies at Holywell Lodge on 12 June 1870, but she did not survive more than 24 hours. (Florence was widowed by 1876 and married her second husband John George Finch Noyes on 11 March 1876: he died in 1896, and she married for a third and fourth time, dying a widow in 1942.)

Gandell's first wife Louisa Caroline died at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset at the age of 53 within weeks of her husband's appointment as Canon of Wells Cathedral and was buried in Holywell Cemetery on 17 July 1880. On 14 June 1883 he married his second wife, the widow Mrs Mary Anne Platt, at St Cross Church, but the marriage only lasted four years, as Gandell himself died on 24 October 1887 and was buried with his first wife. A forthcoming auction of all his furniture was advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 19 November 1887.

The next occupant of Holywell Lodge was Charles Edward Bickmore, Fellow of New College, who was summoned for allowing his chimney to be on fire there on 12 February 1889. Two of his sons were born there: Charles William Bickmore on 2 September 1888 and Sidney Beaumont Bickmore on 11 April 1890.

In 1891 Merton College sold the row of tenements that included Holywell Lodge (together with just under five acres of land to their rear) to Balliol College: the sale included the agreement that the tenements themselves were to be demolished in order to allow for the widening of Church [St Cross] Road.

Occupants of Holywell Lodge listed in directories etc.

By 1830–1841

Revd Vaughan Thomas (incorrectly listed as being at Holywell Cottage)

Later 1840s

Revd Edward Meyrick Goulburn, Vicar of Holywell


Revd Robert Gandell


Charles Edward Bickmore


Holywell Lodge was demolished

Holywell Lodge in the censuses


The Revd Vaughan Thomas (60) was living at Holywell Lodge with his first wife Charlotte (50) and one male and two female servants.


Robert Gandell (33), described as a clergyman assistant and a tutor of Magdalen Hall, was living at Holywell Lodge with his wife Louisa (24), his sister-in-law Charlotte Pearse, and three servants (a cook, housemaid, and footman).


Robert Gandell (43), described as a clergyman without cure of souls, was living at Holywell Lodge with his first wife Louisa (34) and their children Florence (9), Thomas (7), Beauchamp (6), and Schomberg (2). A governess and four servants lived with them (a cook, nurse, under-nurse, and housemaid).


Louisa Gandell (44) was at home in her husband's house with her three youngest sons Sidney (9), Shirley (4), and William (eight months), plus a French governess and seven servants, including a footman.


[Sidney] Graham Gandell (19) was home alone in his parents' house with four servants.

DEMOLISHED in c.1891

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