Small and friendly, St Benet’s is the nearest equivalent today to the first halls of the University, with close daily contact between tutors and students. Until 2015 the hall admitted only male undergraduates, but now welcomes applications from both male and female applicants.
All members are welcome to attend the daily Office and Mass in the chapel, but no one is obliged to. Students are asked to be respectful of the monastic life, but the atmosphere is unpressurised, warm and friendly.
At 38 St Giles’, close to the very centre of Oxford, in a handsome six-storey Georgian Grade II-listed building.
Accommodation and meals
First-year undergraduates live in; most other undergraduates live out. Students are now accommodated in two buildings: the main building on St Giles’, and a newly acquired building at 11 Norham Gardens, about 7 minutes’ walk away. This extra building provides accommodation for male and female students, along with teaching rooms and common areas. Wherever they are housed, all students eat their meals in the main building on St Giles’ and have access to all its facilities.
Community and hospitality are important in the Benedictine tradition. Tutors, students and monks all eat together at one common table, everyone taking a turn at serving. Guests are welcome at any meal, including three formal meals per week. Once a term there is a Hall Guest Night, where students mingle freely with often eminent guests.
The library provides a focused and up-to-date collection for undergraduate needs, open 24/7. There is also a separate IT centre, and wireless internet access. Students share the main Common Room of the hall with the monks and tutors, and also have a separate Junior Common Room (JCR) with widescreen TV. There is a pleasant enclosed garden and a much-used croquet lawn.
The hall has its own drama club and rowing team. All students can play a wide range of sports with the teams of other colleges as well as University teams, and participate in many University societies. We usually have several Blues* at any one time, as well as officers of the Oxford Union debating club and OUSU, and members of other organisations, orchestras and choirs.
*a student who has represented the University at sport against Cambridge