St Anne's College, Oxford

St Anne's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Formerly a women's college, it has been coeducational since 1979.[2] Founded in 1879 as The Society of Oxford Home-Students, St Anne's received full college status in 1952. Formed to enable women from any financial background to study at Oxford, St Anne's continues to strive towards this goal; in the most recent university admissions report, St Anne's accepted the highest proportion of female students (55%) of any college.[3] The college has around 450 undergraduate and 200 graduate students.

St Anne's College
Blazon: 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
Coordinates51.762123°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 Boat Club
Location in Oxford city centre
Location in Oxford

The college is situated between the Woodstock and Banbury roads, adjacent to the University Parks and the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter.

In April 2017, Helen King took up her appointment as Principal, in succession to Tim Gardam. King is a former Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner and was elected to the position of Principal upon her retirement from the police.[4][5]

Alumnae of the college include Danny Alexander, Ruth Deech, Helen Fielding, Martha Kearney, Simon Rattle and Victor Ubogu.


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.[6] 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.[6] In 1942, it became the St Anne's Society, which received a university charter to be founded as a women-only college in 1952.[7]

Society of Home Students (1879–1942)

The society allowed access to lectures and tutorials, as would any Oxford college. In 1910, the Society for 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 site was chosen, and by 1937 construction of Hartland House was under way.[6]

St Anne's Society (1942–1952)

In 1942, the Society of 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)

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.[7] 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.[8]

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 that this is because "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'."[9]

The Ship

The annual magazine for alumnae of the college is known as The Ship.[10] When it was still the Society for Home-Students, the college had its first common room in Ship Street, located in central Oxford.[6] The Ship started to be published c.1910, and by the centenary of the college, 1979, there had been 69 issues.[11] The Ship celebrated its centenary 2010/2011 issue with some anniversary content.[12]

Location and buildings


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.[13]

Victorian houses

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.[13]

Rayne and Wolfson Buildings

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 Building

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 House

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 Building

The Ruth Deech Building was named after Ruth Deech (principal 1991–2004) and completed in 2005.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] The building was awarded the 2007 David Steel sustainable building award by Oxford City Council.[17]

Robert Saunders House

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 strengthen its finances.

Eleanor Plumer House

Eleanor Plumer House (known until 2008 as 35 Banbury Road) is named after Eleanor Plumer (principal 1940–1953 ) and houses the Middle Common Room, and facilities including a study area, computer room, and kitchen. In addition, it houses some accommodation for graduate students.

Hartland House

Hartland House, designed by Sir 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 Hall

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).[13]


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.[18]

Hartland House

The original college library in Hartland House now houses the law, arts, and humanities collections (Dewey Decimal shelfmarks 340–349 and 700–999).[19]

Tim Gardam Building

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 also covers the area previously occupied by the 54 Woodstock Road cottage.[20][21] The new building provides a variety of study and seminar spaces and 1,500 metres of bookshelves for the college's growing collection of books. Designed by Fletcher Priest Architects, plans for the new Library were inspired by Oxford's historic buildings.[22]

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 grace

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 ballot

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 societies

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.[23][24]

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 Joseph Fell. The college's Director of Music is Dr John Traill, who runs a regular professional recital series and a string orchestra in the college.

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.

Notable people


As a former women's college, St Anne's continues to refer to former students, male or female, as "alumnae".[9]



  1. "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. "St Anne's College, Oxford > About the College > Helen King elected as Principal of St Anne's College".
  6. "St Anne's History". About St Anne's College. St Anne's College, Oxford. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  7. "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.
  8. "St Anne's College: 1952 – 2012" (PDF).
  9. "St Anne's College, Oxford > Alumnæ & friends > Our alumnæ". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  10. "The Ship". Alumnae & Friends. St Anne's College, Oxford. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  11. "The Ship". The Ship. St Anne's College. 1979.
  12. "The Ship". The Ship. St Anne's College. 2011.
  13. "St Anne's College, Oxford > Living & Studying Here > Accommodation and Meals". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  14. "St Anne's College Opens New Building" (PDF). Conference Oxford Newsletter. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
  15. "Ruth Deech Building, St Anne's College". AKT II. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  16. Laura Salmi (10 November 2008). "New school meets old school". World Architecture News. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  17. "David Steel Sustainable Buildings Award". Oxford City Council. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  18. "St Anne's College, Oxford > About the College > Library". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  19. White, Clare. "Oxford LibGuides: St Anne's College Library: Home". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  20. "Library and Academic Centre, St Anne's College".
  21. "St Anne's College, Oxford > Alumnæ & friends > New Library and Academic Centre".
  22. "St Anne's College". Fletcher Priest Architects. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  23. "Saints Win Cuppers In Dramatic Finale".
  24. "Saints stun Teddy Hall in last gasp Cuppers victory".
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