St Hilda's College, Oxford

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St Hilda's College
Sthildas south building.JPG
South Building
Arms of St Hilda's College.svg
Arms: Azure, on a fess or three estoiles gules in chief two unicorns' heads couped, in base a coiled serpent argent.
Location Cowley Place
Coordinates 51°44′57″N1°14′43″W / 51.749162°N 1.245334°W / 51.749162; -1.245334
Latin nameCollegium Sanctae Hildae
Mottonon frustra vixi (I lived not in vain)
Named for Hilda of Whitby
Principal Professor Sarah Springman
Undergraduates400 [1] (2011/2012)
Postgraduates175 [2]
Major eventsSt Hilda's College Ball
Oxford map small.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Oxford city centre

St Hilda's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford [3] in England. The college is named after the Anglo-Saxon saint Hilda of Whitby and was founded in 1893 as a hall for women; it remained a women's college until 2008. [4] St Hilda's was the last single-sex college in the university as Somerville College had admitted men in 1994. [4] The college now has almost equal numbers of men and women at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.


The principal of the college is Professor Sarah Springman, who took office in 2022. [5]

As of 2018, the college had an endowment of £52.1 million and total assets of £113.4 million. [6]


St Hilda's was founded by Dorothea Beale (who was also a headmistress at Cheltenham Ladies' College) in 1893, as St Hilda's Hall and recognised by the Association for the Education of Women as a women's hall in 1896. [7] It was founded as a women's college, a status it retained until 2008. Whilst other Oxford colleges gradually became co-educational, no serious debate at St Hilda's occurred until 1997, according to a former vice-principal, and then the debate solely applied to the issue of staff appointments. [8] After a vote on 7 June 2006 by the Governing Body, [4] men and women can be admitted as fellows and students. This vote was pushed through with a narrow margin and followed previous unsuccessful votes. This led to protests from students because of the "high-handed" manner in which they were held. [9]

In October 2007 a supplemental charter was granted and in 2008 male students were admitted to St Hilda's for the first time. The college now has almost equal numbers of men and women at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In August 2018, the interim Norrington Table showed that 98 per cent of St Hilda's finalist undergraduates obtained at least a 2.i in their degree. [10]

Women's rowing

St Hilda's was the first women's college in Oxford and Cambridge to create a women's VIII in 1911. It was St Hilda's student H.G. Wanklyn who formed OUWBC and coxed in the inaugural Women's Boat Race of 1927, with five Hilda's rowers. In 1969, the St Hilda's Eight made Oxford history when they became the first ever female crew to row in the Summer Eights. They placed 12th. [11]


St Hilda's students were the subject of the Channel 4 documentary series College Girls , broadcast in 2002. [12]

Buildings and grounds

Milham Ford Building by the River Cherwell Sthildas milhamford by cherwell.JPG
Milham Ford Building by the River Cherwell

The college is located at the eastern end of the High Street, Oxford, over Magdalen Bridge, in Cowley Place, making it the only University of Oxford college lying east of the River Cherwell. It is the most conveniently situated Oxford college for the Iffley Road Sports Complex, a focus for Oxford University Sport.[ citation needed ]


Its grounds include six major buildings, which contain student accommodation, teaching areas, dining hall, the library and administration blocks. The first building occupied by the hall was Cowley House built by Humphrey Sibthorp. Together with later extensions it is now known as Hall. In 1921 the hall acquired the lease of Cherwell Hall, now known as South, which was originally Cowley Grange, a house built by A. G. Vernon Harcourt. [7] The lease of Milham Ford, a former school between Hall and South, was acquired in 1958. [13] More recent additions are Wolfson (opened in 1964), Garden (by Alison and Peter Smithson, opened in 1971), and the Christina Barratt Building (opened in 2001). [14] In autumn 2020, a new Boundary Building replaced some of the older buildings, while Milham Ford, which was demolished in 2018, was replaced by a new riverside "Pavilion". [15] [16] The college also owns a number of properties on Iffley Road, and in the Cowley area. [17]

The Jacqueline Du Pré Music Building

The Jacqueline Du Pre Music Building Jacqueline Du Pre Music Building, Oxford.jpg
The Jacqueline Du Pré Music Building

The Jacqueline Du Pré Music Building (JdP) is a concert venue named after the famous cellist who was an honorary fellow of the college. The JdP was the first purpose-built concert hall to be built in Oxford since the Holywell Music Room in 1742. Built in 1995 by van Heyningen and Haward Architects, it houses the Steinway-equipped Edward Boyle Auditorium and a number of music practice rooms. In 2000 the architects designed a new, enlarged foyer space; a lean-to glass structure along the front elevation to the existing music building. In addition to frequent recitals presented by the St Hilda's Music Society, the JdP also hosts concerts by a number of world-renowned performers. Musicians who have performed in the JdP in recent years include Steven Isserlis, the Jerusalem Quartet, the Chilingirian Quartet and the Belcea Quartet. The building has also been used for amateur dramatic performances, since 2008 St Hilda's College Drama Society have been producing several plays a year in the Edward Boyle Auditorium.[ citation needed ]

The Kathleen Major Library

The original library was held within Hall Building but was limited in space and offerings. In 1909, a new basement wing was opened, and more resources began to be added to collections. The college's second principal, Christine Mary Elizabeth Burrows, known as Miss Burrows, is credited with compiling the first catalogue for the library; thus, St. Hilda's first library was named for her. The building saw two more expansions and was completed in 1935, though renovations and expansions would continue through to today. The library was renamed in 2005 for Kathleen Major, former librarian and president of the college, and pioneer of the archive profession. [18]

The library currently holds approximately 70,000 books covering all undergraduate subjects. The library offers specialised collections intended for use by research students, including medieval history and literature and women's studies. The library holds the St. Hilda's College Archives in physical and digital formats. Notable items in the archive include letters from the college founder, Dorothea Beale, and other artifacts pertaining to early women's education at the university. [19] The library also holds a rare books collection of approximately 700 items with content ranging from the 15th century to today. Many of the items in the rare books collection were donated by Dorothea Beale. College archives and rare books collections are held in a secure, temperature- and humidity-controlled facility. [20] Other collections offered at the library include popular fiction, culinary books, and travel books.

The library has three floors, seven reading rooms, and 150 study spaces, and has desktop computers as well as a printer, scanner, and photocopier. The main reading room has an art gallery, as well as views of the River Cherwell and the Oxford spires.


The college grounds stretch along the banks of the River Cherwell, with many college rooms overlooking the river and playing fields beyond. The college has its own fleet of punts, which students of the college may use free of charge in summer months. Unfortunately, this location at times led to problems with flooding in the former Milham Ford building.[ citation needed ]

People associated with the college


NameBirthDeathPrincipal BetweenNotes
Esther Elizabeth Burrows 18 October 184720 February 19351893–1910 [21]
Christine Mary Elizabeth Burrows 4 January 187210 September 19591910–1919 [21]
Winifred Moberly 1 April 18756 April 19281919–1928 [22]
Julia de Lacy Mann 22 August 189123 May 19851928–1955 [23]
Kathleen Major 10 April 190619 December 20001955–1965 [23]
Mary Bennett 9 January 19131 November 20051965–1980
Mary Moore 8 April 19306 October 20171980–1990 [23]
Elizabeth Llewellyn-Smith 17 August 19341990–2001 [24]
Judith English 1 March 19402001–2007 [24]
Sheila Forbes 31 December 19462007–2014
Gordon Duff 27 December 19472014–2021
Georgina Paul (acting)2021–2022 [25]
Sarah Springman 26 December 19562022–date

Former students


Honorary fellows

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  10. "2017/18 Interim Norrington Table". Retrieved 22 February 2019. St Hilda's 1st 37 2.1 69 2.2 2 3rd 0 Other 0 Total 108
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  13. "Pictorial Timeline". St Hilda's College, Oxford. 29 January 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2020. 1958 Milham Ford Building was leased
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  15. "Transforming our Site". St Hilda's College, Oxford. 20 November 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
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