No. 15: St John’s College house

15 St Giles'


No. 15 St Giles dates from around 1800. It is a listed building (List Entry No. 1084344)

The building is owned by St John’s College. It has had varied uses: it has been a family home, a private hall of the University, offices, a branch of Boots the Chemist, and a doctors’ surgery.

It was adapted by St John’s for student accommodation in 2000.

At the time of the 1772 Survey of Oxford there were two older houses on the site of the present No. 15, with Miss Eaton commanding a frontage of 6 yards 1 foot 8 inches to the south and the Duke of Marlborough 3 yards 2 feet 1 inch to the north.

Originally this house belonged to Balliol College, and in 1820 it was described as “lately erected on a piece of ground whereupon heretobefore stood a messuage in the occupation of Walter Powell, gent., afterwards Mrs. Eaton, widow”.

In 1820 Balliol College granted Sir Edward Hitchings a lease of 14 and 15 St Giles; Street for 40 years for a payment of £145 2s 6d. and a rent of 5s. for the former and 20s. for the latter. He moved into No. 14, which adjoins the north side of the Lamb & Flag Inn, and let out this house to Bulkeley Bandinel, Bodley's Librarian.

Dr Bandinel remained there until 1832, when the following advertisement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 22 September 1832:

A very superior House in St. Giles’s, OXFORD
TO BE LET, with possession at Michaelmas next,–That spacious and excellent HOUSE, now in the occupation of the Rev. Dr. Bandinel; comprising breakfast, dining, and drawing rooms, suitable sleeping rooms, and offices; with a good garden; and every requisite for the residence of a most respectable family.

The 1841 census shows Frederick Joseph Morrell (who was a solicitor in practice at 1 St Giles with his father Baker Morrell) living here at No. 15 with his wife and three young sons (Frederick, James, and Baker) and five servants. Ten years later in 1851 these three boys were absent (probably away at school), and there were four more young Morrell children at home. The family then had seven live-in servants (a governess, footman, cook, housemaid, under-housemaid, and two nurses). In the early 1850s this growing Morrell family moved to Black Hall at 21 St Giles.

By May 1854 the house was occupied by George and Josephine Butler (probably at first on a sub-lease), and their second of their three sons, Arthur Stanley, was born here. On 30 July 1855 Butler took out a 14-year lease on this house and opened the first private hall there under the new university statute of 18 May 1855, calling it “Butler Hall”. Unfortunately Josephine’s respiratory problems were exacerbated by the Oxford climate, so George took up the post of Vice-Principal of Cheltenham College in 1857. (They later moved on to Liverpool, where Josephine was to become famous as a social reformer and women’s activist.)

By the time of the 1861 census, the house was occupied by the Registrar of the University, Edward Rowden, and his wife and six young children, plus a manservant, cook, housemaid, and nurse. Mrs Rowden continues to be listed at this house in directories until 1901, but she appears to have let it out, as at the time of the 1881 census it is occupied by William James Herschel, a baronet and widower with two children, living with his sister-in-law, plus their seven servants (a governess, lady’s maid, cook, parlour maid, housemaid, nursery maid, and kitchen girl).

In the twentieth century, the building was used as offices, and then a shop. The St Giles School of English (later known as the Eckersley School of English) was founded here in 1961, and also occupied premises at No. 45 opposite from 1983.

In 1992 No. 15 was converted by T.S.H. Architects into a doctor’s surgery, and it is now student accommodation for St John’s College.

Occupants of 15 St Giles’ Street listed in censuses and directories


Freehold messuage of Sir Edward Hitchings
in occupation of the Revd Bulkeley Bandinel


Leased to the Revd James Hitchings of Wargrave,
George Hitchings of Oxford, surgeon,
Thomas Hitchings of Bayswater, gent,
Thomas Benwell
of Oxford, gent.

By 1841–1854

Frederick Joseph Morrell, Esq


George & Josephine Butler
“Butler Hall”


Rev. Dr Edward Rowden
Registrar of the University
Professor of Civil Law (1861–70)

Mrs Rowden (1871–1901)


Inland Revenue Office


Commercial Union Assurance Company


Boots the Chemists
Eckersley School of English


Elizabeth A. Livingstone
(upstairs, 1980–1998+)


Doctors’ Surgery
(Drs Pyper, Nichols, & Walton)


Student accommodation
for St John’s College

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

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