St Anne's College, Oxford

St Anne's College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. It was founded in 1879 and received full college status in 1952. Once a women's college, it has been coeducational since 1979.[2] It has some 450 undergraduate and 200 graduate students. It retains an original aim of allowing women of any financial background to study at Oxford. A recent count shows St Anne's accepting the highest proportion of female students (55 per cent) of any college.[3] The College stands between the Woodstock and Banbury roads, next to the University Parks and Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. In April 2017, Helen King, a retired Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, took over as Principal from Tim Gardam.[4][5][6] Former members include Danny Alexander, Ruth Deech, Helen Fielding, Martha Kearney, Simon Rattle, John Robins (comedian) and Victor Ubogu.

St Anne's College
University of Oxford
ST ANNES LOGO colour high res.jpg
Arms: Gules, on a chevron between in chief two lions heads erased argent, and in base a sword of the second pummelled and hilt or and enfiled with a wreath of laurel, three ravens, all proper
LocationWoodstock Road and Banbury Road
Coordinates51°45′44″N 1°15′43″W / 51.762123°N 1.261974°W / 51.762123; -1.261974Coordinates: 51°45′44″N 1°15′43″W / 51.762123°N 1.261974°W / 51.762123; -1.261974
Latin nameCollegium Sanctae Annae
MottoConsulto et audacter
(Purposefully and boldly)
Named forSaint Anne
Previous namesThe Society of Oxford Home-Students (1879–1942)
The St Anne's Society (1942–1952)
Sister collegeMurray Edwards College, Cambridge
PrincipalHelen King
Boat clubSt Anne's College Boat Club
St Anne's College, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre
St Anne's College, Oxford
Location in Oxford city centre
St Anne's College, Oxford is located in Oxford
St Anne's College, Oxford
Location in Oxford


What is now St Anne's College began life as part of the Association for the Education of Women, the first institution in Oxford to allow for the education of women. It later became the Society of Oxford Home-Students.[7] Unlike other women's associations, the Society had no fixed site, instead offering lodgings in houses spread across Oxford. This allowed students from a range of financial backgrounds to study at Oxford, as the cost of accommodation in the women's halls was often prohibitive.[7] In 1942, it became the St Anne's Society, which received a university charter to be founded as a women-only college in 1952.[8]

Society of Oxford Home-Students (1879–1942)Edit

The society allowed access to lectures and tutorials, as would any Oxford college. In 1910, the Society of Oxford Home-Students, along with the other women's societies, were recognised by the University. In 1912, the society acquired its first tutors, in German, History and English Literature. In the 1920s, the principals of the Women's societies became the first women to receive degrees from the University. By the early 1930s, the society still had no centralised site. However, during this decade, the current location was chosen, and by 1937 construction of Hartland House was under way.[7]

St Anne's Society (1942–1952)Edit

In 1942, the Society of Oxford Home-Students was renamed the St Anne's Society, and given its coat of arms by Eleanor Plumer (Principal, 1940–1953).

St Anne's College (1952 onwards)Edit

In 1952, the St Anne's Society acquired a royal charter as St Anne's College and in 1959 full college status along with the other women's colleges.[8] The then Principal, Lady Ogilvie, pressed for a transition from many disparate dining rooms to a common building. This resulted in the construction of the dining hall, which was completed in 1959, and visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1960. During this period, the student numbers grew to nearly 300, leading to a need for more accommodation. This led to the construction of the Wolfson and Rayne buildings in 1964 and 1968 respectively. In 1977, the decision was made to become coeducational, with the first male undergraduates matriculating in 1979.[9]

Since then, St Anne's has continued to use female words and pronouns to refer to current and former students, as in the word "alumnae". The College explains this: "On 17 June 1979, in the nervous time when the first male Fellows had been elected, and the first male students admitted though they had not yet arrived, a note from the Dean to Governing Body asks hesitantly 'Would Governing Body wish "he" (or "he/she") to be substituted for "she" throughout the College Regulations?' Eventually the question was answered (or perhaps avoided) with the following carefully worded statement which still stands in the preamble to our Regulations: 'words importing the feminine gender shall include the masculine and vice versa, where the construction so permits and the Regulations do not otherwise expressly provide'."[10]

The ShipEdit

The annual magazine for former members of the college is known as The Ship.[11] When it was still the Society of Oxford Home-Students, the college had its first common room in Ship Street, located in central Oxford.[7] The Ship started to be published c. 1910, and by the centenary of the college, 1979, there had been 69 issues.[12] The Ship celebrated its centenary 2010/2011 issue with some anniversary content.[13]

Location and buildingsEdit


Rear of Bevington Road

The college grounds are bounded by Woodstock Road to the west, Banbury Road to the east, and Bevington Road to the north. The college extends as far south as 48 Woodstock Road, and 27 Banbury Road. These grounds house all of the college's administrative and academic buildings, undergraduate accommodation, as well as the hall, which is among the largest in Oxford. The College formerly owned a number of houses throughout Oxford used for undergraduate accommodation, some of which used to be boarding houses of the Society of Oxford Home-Students. Many of these properties were sold off to fund the building of the Ruth Deech Building, completed in 2005.


St Anne's can accommodate undergraduates on the college site for three years of study. Undergraduates at St Anne's are housed in 14 Victorian houses owned by the college and four purpose-built accommodation blocks. The college also supplies accommodation for some of its graduate students. All undergraduates pay the same amount for their rooms, and every student has access to a communal kitchen in their building.[14]

Victorian housesEdit

The college uses 1–10 Bevington Road, 58/60 Woodstock Road, and 39/41 Banbury Road (also known as "Above the Bar") as undergraduate accommodation, typically for freshers. The junior (undergraduate) post room is located in 10 Bevington Road, the college laundry in 58/60 Woodstock Road, and the college bar, including a pool room, in 39/41 Banbury Road. Five additional Victorian houses (27, 29, & 37 Banbury, and 48 & 50 Woodstock) hold teaching rooms, seminar rooms, music practice rooms, and college offices.[14]

Rayne and Wolfson BuildingsEdit

Wolfson Building

The Rayne and Wolfson Buildings were built in 1964 and are Grade II Listed Buildings; they are virtually identical in design, and house administrative offices on the ground floor as well as student rooms.

Claire Palley BuildingEdit

The Claire Palley Building, completed in 1992 and named after Claire Palley (principal 1984–1991), was the first accommodation block to have en-suite rooms. It also houses the Mary Ogilvie Lecture Theatre.

Trenaman HouseEdit

A STACS coffee, in a college branded KeepCup

Trenaman House, built in 1995, holds student rooms as well as communal college facilities including the gym and, since 2008, the St Anne's Coffee Shop (STACS). It was named after Nancy Trenaman, the sixth Principal of the college (1966–1984).

Ruth Deech BuildingEdit

The Ruth Deech Building, which houses the Porter's Lodge

The Ruth Deech Building was named after Ruth Deech (principal 1991–2004) and completed in 2005.[15] It houses extensive conference facilities (the Tsuzuki lecture theatre, seminar rooms, and dining facilities) on the lower ground floor, in addition to a new Porter's Lodge on the upper ground floor, and 110 en-suite student rooms.[16] One of the notable features of the building is the glass lift, which is the only part of the building to exceed the roof line.[17] The building was awarded the 2007 David Steel sustainable building award by Oxford City Council.[18]

Robert Saunders HouseEdit

Robert Saunders House, built in 1996, provides 80 rooms for graduate students in Summertown. It was named after a former bursar of the college, who did much to improve its finances.

Eleanor Plumer HouseEdit

Eleanor Plumer House (known until 2008 as 35 Banbury Road) is named after Eleanor Plumer (principal 1940–1953). It houses the Middle Common Room; facilities include a study area, computer room, and kitchen. It also houses some graduate students.

Hartland HouseEdit

The main entrance to Hartland House, with the college's coat of arms and motto

Hartland House, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, was the first purpose-built college building, finished in 1937 with an additional wing built in 1973. It now houses the old library, the junior and senior common rooms, and administrative offices. It features the college crest above the main entrance, and engravings of beavers, the college mascot.

Dining HallEdit

The Dining Hall, built in 1959, is amongst the largest in Oxford with a capacity of 300. Three meals are served daily in hall apart from weekends, when only brunch is served. It is also used for college collections (internal college exams) and, on occasion, college 'bops' (costume parties).[14]


The college library houses over 100,000 volumes, making it one of the largest in Oxford. It is split over two buildings; the original library in Hartland House, and the Tim Gardam building, which opened officially in 2017.[19]

The Tim Gardam Building

The original college library in Hartland House now houses the law, arts, and humanities collections (Dewey Decimal shelfmarks 340–349 and 700–999).[20]

The new library and academic centre, was named after Tim Gardam (principal 2004–2016) and completed in 2016. It is on the site of the former Founders' Gatehouse, which was built in 1966 and was the college lodge until 2005. It covers the area previously taken by the 54 Woodstock Road cottage.[21][22] The centre provides various study and seminar spaces and 1,500 metres of bookshelves for the college's growing book collection. The plans by Fletcher Priest Architects were inspired by Oxford's historic buildings.[23]

The Tim Gardam Building also features two gardens; a roof garden overlooking the dining hall, and a sunken courtyard accessible through the basement.


The college has relatively few traditions and is rare amongst Oxford colleges in not having a chapel, due to its secular outlook. Formal hall is typically held fortnightly. Gowns are not usually worn, except for official university occasions such as matriculation and certain college feasts. The college mascot has been a beaver since 1913.

College graceEdit

The college grace was composed by former classics tutor and founding fellow, Margaret Hubbard. It involves the Principal reciting the Latin words Quas decet, (Deo) gratias agamus. Amen. ("For what we have received, we give thanks (to God). Amen.") The inclusion of Deo (to God) depends on whether the grace is religious or secular in nature.

Room ballotEdit

The College selects accommodation using a room ballot, with the exception of the first years. Those entering their fourth year select their rooms on the first day, followed by third year rooms on the second day, and second year rooms on the third and final day. Each student is allocated a number denoting their position in the ballot, within their year. This allocation is done on the basis of the quality of their previous year's accommodation. Students then queue, and rooms are allocated one by one. As a room is allocated, it is crossed off a large board listing all available rooms. There is then a period of one week after the ballot where students are allowed to organize mutually agreed swaps.

Sport and societiesEdit

St Anne's boathouse (centre) on The Isis, shared with St Hugh's College and Wadham College

The college has teams for all major sports, and competes in inter-collegiate "Cuppers" tournaments. Fixtures are either played in the neighbouring University Parks, or in the college playing fields on Woodstock Road.

St Anne's College Boat Club (SABC) organises the college's involvement in inter-college rowing events, and the college boathouse, situated on the River Isis in Christ Church Meadow is shared with St Hugh's and Wadham colleges. The college has a joint rugby team with St John's College, which won Cuppers in 2014.[24][25] The women's football team, which is also joint with St John's, was victorious in Cuppers in 2020.[26] Meanwhile, the St Anne's men's football team (known as the Mint Green Army) won the Hassan's Cup plate tournament in 2018.[27]

There is a lot of music-making in the college, with opportunities for singers and instrumental players to be involved in ensembles. In keeping with its secular outlook, there is no sacred choral singing in St Anne's, but there is an informal a cappella group that rehearses weekly, known as Stacappella. The group performs versions of popular and folk songs arranged by music students, and is currently directed by Livi van Warmelo. The college's Director of Music is Dr John Traill, who runs a regular professional recital series and a string orchestra in the college.[citation needed]

The college's geology society, STAGS (St Anne's Geology Society), is a hub of social gatherings for the college's Earth Sciences students. The college's classics society organises a joint symposium with Brasenose College every term, as well as a biennial trip to Lamledra, Cornwall.[citation needed]

Notable peopleEdit

Former membersEdit

As a former women's college, St Anne's still refers to former students, female or male, as alumnae[10] rather than alumni.




  1. ^ a b "Welcome to St Anne's". St Anne's College. 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Statement of Values". About St Anne's College. St Anne's College. 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Oxford 2018 Annual Admissions Report" (PDF). University of Oxford. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Met assistant commissioner announces retirement – UK Police News – Police Oracle".
  5. ^ {{Cite web |url= |title=St Anne's College, Oxford > About the College > Helen King elected as Principal of St Anne's College.
  6. ^ College site.
  7. ^ a b c d "St Anne's History". About St Anne's College. St Anne's College, Oxford. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  8. ^ a b "St Anne's History Brochure" (PDF). Retrieved 2 October 2018. Only in 1959 did the five women's colleges acquire full collegiate status so that their councils became governing bodies and they were, like the men's colleges, fully self-governing.
  9. ^ "St Anne's College: 1952–2012" (PDF).
  10. ^ a b "St Anne's College, Oxford > Alumnæ & friends > Our alumnæ". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  11. ^ "The Ship". Alumnae & Friends. St Anne's College, Oxford. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  12. ^ "The Ship". The Ship. St Anne's College. 1979.
  13. ^ "The Ship". The Ship. St Anne's College. 2011.
  14. ^ a b c "St Anne's College, Oxford > Living & Studying Here > Accommodation and Meals". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  15. ^ "St Anne's College Opens New Building" (PDF). Conference Oxford Newsletter. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
  16. ^ "Ruth Deech Building, St Anne's College". AKT II. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  17. ^ Laura Salmi (10 November 2008). "New school meets old school". World Architecture News. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  18. ^ "David Steel Sustainable Buildings Award". Oxford City Council. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  19. ^ "St Anne's College, Oxford > About the College > Library". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  20. ^ White, Clare. "Oxford LibGuides: St Anne's College Library: Home". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Library and Academic Centre, St Anne's College".
  22. ^ "St Anne's College, Oxford > Alumnæ & friends > New Library and Academic Centre".
  23. ^ "St Anne's College". Fletcher Priest Architects. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Saints Win Cuppers In Dramatic Finale".
  25. ^ "Saints stun Teddy Hall in last gasp Cuppers victory".
  26. ^ "Saints Women's Football Team has won Cuppers for the first time".
  27. ^ "Anne's dominate the Hassan's Cup".

External linksEdit