College History

St Cross College was founded in 1965. It is named after St Cross Road - the site of the Old School House and the ‘wooden hut' that formed the first buildings of the College. The establishment of the College, together with that of Wolfson (originally Iffley) College, arose out of pressure on the University during the early 1960s to solve the related problems of the increasing numbers of graduate students who needed a college affiliation, and the substantial number of senior members of the University with full-time teaching or research responsibilities who were entitled to a fellowship but had not been elected to a college.

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Foundation of the College

Following the Second World War, Oxford saw a marked increase in the number of subjects taught at the University, and in the number of graduate students. More people were required to teach these new specialities, most notably in the sciences, but also in fields such as archaeology and the social sciences - subjects that were not part of the traditional teaching programme for undergraduates. It was within this context that St Cross College was founded by the University and located at 10 St Cross Road. W. E. (Kits) van Heyningen was named the first Head of House, from 1 October 1965.

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St Cross Road, the original site of the College

Over the centuries, many changes had transformed the road that by the 1960s was called St Cross Road. On a map dating from 1577, it is an unnamed path, with a church, dating from the 11th century, and a manor house prominently marked on it. By 1874 the road was named Holywell Lane and the church, called Holy Cross Church, had a vicarage along with a schoolhouse attached to the cemetery lodge. By the mid-20th century the road had become St Cross Road. The school and lodge were to form half of the accommodation for the new College.

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The College at St Cross Road, 1965 -1981

On St Cross Road, preparations had to be made before the College could open in October 1965. The old vicarage (10 St Cross Road) was demolished. The schoolhouse and attached lodgewere refurbished to serve as the library and meeting room for the College, while a temporary, single-storey wooden ‘hut' was placed behind the schoolhouse to house the College's dining room/common room, kitchen and offices. By Michaelmas Term of 1966 the buildings were fully functional and the College could welcome its first graduate students (five in number). This mix of permanent and temporary accommodation was to be the College's home until 1981.

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The move to St Giles

In 1976 negotiations began between the College and the Governors of the Dr Pusey Memorial Fund, to consider the possibility of St. Cross moving to share Pusey House's site in St Giles. The result was that St Cross took up a 999-year lease and was able to move from St Cross Road into St Giles in 1981. The transition to St Giles took place during the term of the second Master of the College, Dr Godfrey H. Stafford.

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College expansion

In 1991 construction began on the south wing of the St Cross buildings, designed to house a new Hall, kitchens and student accommodation. It was completed in time for Hilary term 1993. This important addition to the College was constructed during the stewardship of the third Master, Dr Richard C. Repp. The old site on St Cross Road, however, was not abandoned. It continued to be used, initially by the Islamic Studies Centre (at that time an Associated Centre of the College). In the early 1990s the site was developed by the College in collaboration with Brasenose College, to provide two residential buildings, which were opened in 1996.

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St Cross College today

The College's fourth Master, Professor Andrew S. Goudie, began his stewardship in 2003. On 17 October 2007, a new agreement with Pusey House was signed, rearranging some of the allotments of space and providing the College with a much-needed lodge.

The College has now grown into a vibrant and hugely active community. The buildings on the west and north sides of the back quadrangle are now completed, forming student accommodation. Sir Mark Jones FRSE, Master of the College from 2011-2016, was instrumental in the building project and accompanying fundraising campaign.

St Cross now has its sixth Master at the helm. Carole Souter CBE, former Chief Executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, took up the Mastership in September 2016.

For further information on the College and its history, see:
• W. E. van Heyningen, The Founding of St Cross College, Oxford: An Interested Account (Oxford, 1988).
• Kenneth Hylson-Smith, David Sturdy & Brian Atkins, A History of St Giles and the St Cross College/Pusey House Site (Oxford, 1993).
• Kenneth Hylson-Smith, A History of Holywell and St Cross College/Brasenose College Residential Site (Oxford, 1996).

 Professor Emilie Savage-Smith, FBA, Archivist and Former Fellow