ST GILES’, OXFORD

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Ideas for Improving St Giles’ by the Rev. E. Tatham
(Rector of Lincoln College, 1792–1834)


Proposals for the disengaging and beautifying
the University and City of Oxford (1773)

It were greatly to be wished that the south end of St. Giles-street were cleared of those sorry habitations; and that the parishes of St. Mary Magdalen and St. Michael were thrown together. This would give us a more uncircumscribed prospect of the west front of Baliol [sic]; and a church of modern style fronting St. Giles’ would produce a beautiful effect.

St. Giles, on account of its spaciousness, is capable of being made the most elegant street in Oxford. The trees are out of character, and break in upon the eye; they should by all means be removed, a road for carriages thrown straight down the midst, and on either side a footpath raised, covered with gravel and secured by posts and chains: the space between the foot-paths and houses may be beautifully disposed of in verdure and grass-plots. Or, as the width will admit, a grass-plot with shrubs, or a piece of water extended down the centre with a road for carriages and foot-path on either side, will carry with it an air of elegance.

Out of this street an Avenue should be opened to Worcester, to run in a right line to the front of that College: this should be spacious and roomy, so as to take in the whole front, which will terminate the sight in a beautiful and agreeable manner, and be a considerable addition to the elegance of this part of the town. This College is in a flourishing state and pleasant rural situation; but the misfortune is, you have to go through so much obstruction and filthiness before you arrive at it.

An avenue was indeed opened to Worcester: Beaumont Street was laid out in 1822 and completed in 1833. Trees, however, remain in St Giles's Street, and it has no water feature down the middle.

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Stephanie Jenkins

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