ST GILES’, OXFORD

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No. 34: Theology Faculty


34 St Giles

 

Nos. 34 is on the right-hand side of a block of three houses desiged and built by Daniel Evans in 1828/9.

The three houses at 34, 35, and 36 St Giles’ Street are jointly Grade II listed (List Reference No. 1047141).

In 1933 all three houses were sold by Exeter College to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Oxford.

The block is nine bays wide and three storeys high, with attics and basements.

Two eminent builders, Daniel Evans and then his son-in-law Joshua Robinson Symm, lived in this house from 1829 to 1887

Daniel Evans, an Oxford builder who obtained his first college contract in 1820, built this house and its two neighbours in 1829 on a large plot of land leased for 99 years from the Oxford surgeon John Bull. Evans chose to live this house, and let out the other two. The land at the back stretched right around into Little Clarendon Street, where he established his new builder’s yard: this could easily be reached via a gate at the end of his back garden.

In the 1841 census (where Evans is described as brickmaker, builder, and quarry owner) he is shown living here with his wife Elizabeth and their sole daughter (also Elizabeth, born in Bolton in 1804) and his son-in-law and partner in business Joshua Robinson Symm, who had joined him as a stonemason in the 1830s. Also living in the house were a lodger (Miss Anna Juliana Goodenough, described as a fundholder) and three female servants.

34-36 St Giles

Evans died in November 1846 and Symm took over his business, remaining at this house until his death. The 1851 census shows him in this house at the age of 41 with his wife Elizabeth, their five-year-old daughter Hannah, and a cook and housemaid. They kept on Miss Goodenough as their lodger, and she was still living with them in 1861 at the age of 90.

Symm built many of the well-known buildings of Oxford, including Exeter College Chapel in the late1850s and the Wesley Memorial Church in New Inn Hall Street in 1877/8. His building firm grew enormously: in the 1881 census Symm is described as the employer of 155 men. The Symm building firm still survives today.

Symm’s only child Hannah died in 1875, and his wife also predeceased him. He remained in the house until his death on 19 July 1887: a lifelong Methodist, he was buried at the Wesley Memorial Church that his firm had built ten years before. Symm & Co. then purchased the freehold of No. 34 and it was let out to private tenants (initially at £25 a year). In 1902 Peattie & Axtell (a related company) bought No. 34 from the old partnership and continued to let it out.

In 1926 ino. 34 ceased to be a family home and was converted into offices. In 1933 the group of three houses at 34–36 St Giles was sold by Exeter College to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Oxford, but the use of this house as an Income Tax and Land Office remained unchanged.

From 1952 to 1999 No. 34 was the home of the Oxford & County Secretarial College (or “Ox & Cow”) . It is now used by the University of Oxford.

Occupants of 34 St Giles’ Street listed in censuses and directories

1829–1846

Daniel Evans, Builder*

1846–87

Joshua Robinson Symm, Builder*

1889–1891

Bertram Hunt, M.B., M.R.C.S.

1894

Charles Cannan, M.A.

1896–1901

Alfred Denis Godley, M.A.

1902–1907

1902: Mrs Austin
1903–1907: Ware Austin

1909

Philip Edward Homer Adams, Surgeon

1910–1913

Rev. Herbert Louis Wild, Vicar of St Giles

1914–1926

Rev. Charles Fox Burney
Grinfield Lecturer on the Septuagint, Lecturer at St John’s, Worcester,
& Exeter Colleges; later Fellow of St John’s College

1927–1935

Income Tax & Land Tax Office

1937–1939

Unemployment Assistance Board

1952–1999

Oxford & County Secretarial School/College

2000–2009

University of Oxford Humanities Division
(was also Social Science Division to September 2008)

2009–present

Theology Faculty

* See Brian R. Law, Building Oxford’s Heritage. Symm and Company from 1815 (Symm & Company, 1998) for more information on Daniel Evans and Joshua Robinson Symm.

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

Oxford History home