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Visiting St. Peter's College, Oxford, England: redefining a modern College

Updated on October 23, 2013
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
The lodge (front) of St Peter's College, Oxford
The lodge (front) of St Peter's College, Oxford | Source
Chavasse Building at night
Chavasse Building at night | Source
Carl Albert (left) with President Lyndon Johnson
Carl Albert (left) with President Lyndon Johnson | Source
Allyson Stewart-Allen
Allyson Stewart-Allen | Source
Marc Carney, Canadian banker
Marc Carney, Canadian banker | Source

Old and new juxtaposed

St Peter's College, Oxford is described as a modern college. Within a University that is so old it was never actually founded (it 'emerged' — the operative word — in about 11th century), the fact that St Peter's was formally chartered in 1961 supposedly makes it a modern college.

Well, don't be fooled.

This is England and this is Oxford. Notions of old and new, ancient and modern, are grasped upon a rather different scale from what may be commonly perceived in North America.

Actually, aspects and parts of St Peter's College have a long history. The main entrance to the College is at Linton House, a fine Georgian building, which dates from 1797, in which also the College library is housed.

The College Chapel is housed in a former, 19th century church building, with a conspicuous tower and Gothic window facing New Inn Hall street.

And although it is technically a 'modern' college by Oxford standards, it has already accumulated an impressive list of alumni. These include Carl Albert (1), Mark Carney (2), and many others

Distinguished financial journalist Allyson Stewart-Allen has regularly delivered public lectures at the College.

Like many Oxford Colleges, St Peter's has had a significant Anglican background. Hannington Hall, a conspicuous building dating from about 1830, is named for an Anglican missionary and martyr. The College was founded in 1928 as St Peter's House, then the following year as St Peter's Hall, by Anglican Bishop F J Chavasse of Liverpool, a see which from its inception had a strong Protestant emphasis.

Interestingly, Hannington Hall used to be part of a Medieval foundation known as New Inn Hall. In turn, this establishment was previously known as Trilleck's Inn (3).

Please note also that a College of Cambridge University has also sometimes been known as St Peter's College, although it is usually referred to as Peterhouse; this is one of the ancient Cambridge Colleges, founded in 1284.

A major benefactor of the College was Lord Nuffield, who, as William Morris, founded Morris Motors, which became a very significant part of the economy of the City of Oxford; a prominent building at the College is named for him.

The College is really almost a microcosm of Oxford itself: a special blend of old and new. (A type also of England, perhaps?)

October 23, 2013

Map location of Oxford, in Oxfordshire.
Map location of Oxford, in Oxfordshire. | Source


(1) Fomer Speaker, US House of Representatives.

(2) Governor of the Bank of England and former Governor of the Bank of Canada.

(3) A number of Medieval academic Halls in Oxford survived until the 19th century, when they were mainly absorbed by established Colleges. This is not to be confused with the fact that St Edmund Hall, Oxford is actually a full College of the University, or that at Cambridge University a number of the Colleges are known as Halls.

Also worth visiting

Visitor attractions at Oxford are far too numerous to summarize properly, but a few of these not already mentioned include the Radcliffe Camera and nearby All Souls College, Christ Church (Cathedral and College), Blackwell's Bookstore, the monumental Keble College Chapel, and Oxford Castle.

Bladon churchyard (distance: 13 kilometres) contains the grave-site of Sir Winston Churchill; nearby Blenheim Palace was his birthplace.


How to get there : United Airlines flies from New York Newark to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Distance from Heathrow Airport to Oxford: 77 kilometres. Oxford links by rail with London Paddington station. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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