Holywell Music Room, 34 Holywell Street

Holywell Music Room

Holywell Music Room: above, after restoration in 2009; below: drawn by W. A. Delamotte and engraved by Orlando Jewitt in about 1830.

Holywell Music Room

The Music Room in 1976


Left: The 1876 OS map shows a curved garden behind the Music Room, adjoining the garden of No. 33 to the right.

Holywell Music Room is a Grade II* listed building: List Entry Number 1047232

The construction of the building started in 1742 to the design of the Revd Dr Thomas Camplin (Vice-Principal of St Edmund Hall and Archdeacon of Taunton),at a cost of £1,263 10s. The Music Room opened in 1748, and is probably one of the earliest buildings in Europe erected specially for musical performances.

Pevsner writes that the Music Room “looks exactly like a large Nonconformist chapel, with its white pedimented three-bay front”. Inside, the two chandeliers were hung in Westminster Hall for the Coronation of George IV, and were given by the King to Wadham College. The organ is probably Dutch, of c.1800.

Nineteenth-century directories show that the Music Room then had a resident Keeper or Musician. In the early twentieth century it became the home of the Oxford University Music Club, which moved next door to the Faculty of Music at No. 33 in about 1953.


Holywell Music Room website

34 Holywell Street in the censuses


The 1841 census for Holywell does not give house numbers, but it is possible to deduce where people listed that year lived by examining directory entries between 1839 and 1842 and later censuses

William Dicks (50), an upholsterer, lived here with Mary (60).


William Dicks (60), an upholsterer, lived still here with his wife Mary (73) and their daughter Rhoda (30), who was a teacher of French and music.


William A. Dicks (70), now a widower and described as a gentleman, lived here with his daughter Rhoda (50) and one female servant.


William A. Dicks (75), now described as an upholsterer, lived here with his widowed sister Maria Sheard (65).


William Ellard (47), described as a musician and the Keeper of the Music Room, lived here with his wife Emma (47), his son Harry (14), and his father-in-law William Bishop (a 73-year-old brick and tile maker). The family had one servant, a laundress.


William Ellard (47), now described as a musician, lived here with his wife Judith (42).


Frank J. Sanders (34), a compositor and caretaker, lived here with his wife Annie (30) and his children Wilfred (8), Joy (6), Edgar (3), and Hilda (1).


No listing.

Occupants of the Music Room at 34 Holywell Street listed in directories etc.

Survey of Oxford

Frontage: 25 yds 0 ft 0 in
Musick Room


William Andrew Dicks
Upholsterer; Auctioneer & Appraiser; Insurance agent


William Ellard
“Musician” in 1875 and 1876, and “Keeper” in 1889 and 1894


Oxford University Music Club and Union
Frank James Sanders, Manager (1896–1930)


Holywell Music Room

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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