No. 16: St Giles’ House

16 St Giles

St Giles’ House at 16 St Giles was formerly known as the Judge’s Lodgings but is now part of St John’s College. It is a Grade II* listed building (ref. 1485/1530), and Pevsner describes it thus:

Built in 1702, the best house of its date in Oxford. Seven-bay ashlar façade with a pedimented three-bay projection and quoins. Later, rather dull doorway with doric pilasters and a straight entablature. Gatepiers with gorgeous urns. At the back an equally gorgeous decorated shell-hood. The front also originally had a shell-hood. Staircases with twisted balusters, and a plaster ceiling with a fine rich oval wreath of flowers.

Back of 16 St Giles' House
Above: The back of St Giles’ House in May 2006

Garden house, 16 St Giles





Left: The summerhouse in the back garden. The dome is said to be based on the model made by James Gibbs in 1734 for the stone dome he designed for the Radcliffe Camera, which was built between 1737 and 1749.



St Giles’ House was built in 1702 for Thomas Rowney (MP for Oxford, and in 1691 High Sheriff of Oxfordshire). His son Thomas (1693–1759) succeeded him as MP and also lived in the house: he donated the land for the Radcliffe Infirmary, and also paid for the old Town Hall to be rebuilt.

At the time of the 1772 Survey of Oxford, the house was occupied by Mrs Rowney, and its frontage was measured as 28 yards and 2 feet (the widest in St Giles).

From 1852 to 1965 the house (although in the occupation of other people) was used by the Judge when staying in Oxford during the Assizes, and thus became known as the Judge’s Lodgings. In 1965 It was taken over and restored by St John’s College: they use it for receptions and seminars, and have flats on the top floor.

At the time of the 1851 census the house was occupied by Miss Sarah Speakman (aged 60 and described as a proprietor of houses) and her widowed sister, Mrs Elizabeth Webb, with her three children, plus one servant.

In 1861 No. 16 was occupied by the retired boatbuilder Isaac King, his wife Mary, and their widowed daughter Mrs Marianne Herbert and her child (plus a cook, housemaid, nursemaid, and manservant). Their gardener and his family are also listed under No. 16, but they probably lived in the house in its back garden.

On 3 November 1875 Oxford High School was founded in this building. It then had just three forms and three teachers. The 29 girls at the school had to be given a half-day

In 1879 the school moved into 38 St Giles for two years before moving to 21 Banbury Road at the beginning of 1881.

Rear of the Judge’s Lodgings in 1890
(on English Heritage website)

Occupants of 16 St Giles’ Street listed in censuses and directories
1841–52 Miss Sarah Speakman
1861 Thomas A. Lister
1866–75 Isaac King (1866)
Mrs King and Mrs Herbert (1869)
Mrs Herbert (1871–1875)
1875–1879 Oxford High School
Miss Ada Benson, Headmistress
(no one living on premises)
1882–1884 Rev. W. Cape
1887–1891 Edward Augustus Freeman, M.A., Hon. D.C.L.
Regius Professor of Modern History
1893–1894 Vacant
1895–1905 David Watson Rannie
1906–1910 Vacant
1911–1925 Miss Price
1926–1929 John Davidson Beazley, M.A.
Lincoln & Merton Professor of Classical Archaeology & Art
1930–1932 Sir John Wormald, KBE, MICE, JP
(Tel. 3806)
1935–1964 Sir Arthur Cecil McWatters
Additional Professorial Fellow, Trinity College
1968–present Part of St John’s College

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

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