No. 39: House belonging to the University

39A St Giles



The house now numbered 39 was built in a gap between the former No. 39 and No. 40 in 1861. It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1047143). English Heritage describe it as 39A, which was the number it had until 1954. It then took the number 39 that was no longer used by St Benet’s Hall.

The right-hand door of the house led to the diocesan registry of the Bishop of Oxford, a building attached to the back of the house. The main part of the house appears to have been let out at that time.

Arms of Samuel Wilberforce



Right The arms in the garter over the north side doorway are those of Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford from 1845 to 1869.

They depict the See of Oxford impaling argent an eagle sable charged with a mullet argent.

At the time of the 1772 survey of Oxford, the site of this house and St Benet’s Hall was occupied by Coster’s yard and stable, with a frontage measuring 32 yards 2 feet 6 inches. When the large pair of houses to the north were built in 1830, it looks as though the site of this house became part of the garden of No. 40.

At the time of the 1881 census this house was occupied by Mrs Ann Castle, a 79-year-old widow of independent means, with her 37-year-old daughter Catherine and a servant. After her mother’s death in about 1888, Catherine Castle continued to live in the house for another 40 years.

Occupants of 39 (formerly 39A) St Giles’ Street listed in censuses and directories


James Saunders


C. Buckeridge and E.G. Bruton, Architects


Mrs Castle (1868–1889)
Miss Castle (1890–1927)


Ronald Fielding Dodd, ARIBA


Daryl Cedric Corry, Surgeon


Mrs Hogarth


Mrs Burney
(with Miss R.L.B. Moss, D.Litt. from 1943)

By 1973 to 1980+

Richard Ellmann
(Goldsmith’s Professor of English Literature)

Oxford University Gramophone Society at 39A at back 1969–1980+


Ronald Bush
Drue Heinz Professor of American Literature

Software Engineering Centre at 39A at the back since 1999,
now named the Department of Computer Science

Edwin Laming Macadam and his parents were offered a home at this house when they were homeless after the war by “Burney and Moss”, as this pair of Egyptologists and travellers were known. His father was the Egyptologist Miles Frederick Laming Macadam. He writes:

Rosalind Moss was actually trained as an anthropologist, but her great love was Egypt, and she and Ethel Burney (the widow of a Professor of Hebrew) undertook many trips there to verify inscriptions and other matters for various books they wrote together; an indefatigable pair, and fortunately with a private income to enable them to do so. They were also extremely kind to various young academics, Father being one of the objects of their many kindnesses. To some extent he worked with them – at the Griffith Institute mainly…. Father left Oxford in early 1948, when we moved to Durham where he became Reader in Egyptology at the University.

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

Oxford History home