No. 21: Part of St John’s College

21 St Giles

No. 21 is the former Black Hall, which Anthony Wood described as “an ancient receptacle for schollers”. Most of the present building dates from the early seventeenth century, and is now part of St John’s College. It lies in St Giles' parish. It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No.1369455), with the walls and piers to the south listed separately (1065706). Also listed is the rubble building attached to the south of No. 22 to the left (1047139), which is shown below.

Black Hall
Black Hall in the 1840s.

“La Blakehall” in the parish of St Giles’ was mentioned in a will of 1361, when J. de Bereford gave certain revenues derived from it to his chantry in All Saints’ church. In 1486 Joan Gille gave it to Rewley Abbey, and they sold it to St John’s College after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

By the time of the 1772 Survey of Oxford, Black Hall was a private house with an adjoining farm, and the occupants were as follows:

  • Mrs Trollope: a house & garden (17 yards 1 foot 4 inches), and a coach-house & stable (8 yards)
  • Mr Ward: a house & yard (20 yards 2 feet), and a stable (5 yards 1 foot 8 inches)

Stable building

The rubble building to the north of 21 St Giles (above) is attached to No. 22 on the left. It dates from the eighteenth century or earlier. It is probably the farmhouse occupied by Richard Ward in 1772.

Below is a Sun Insurance fire mark relating to Policy no. 350271 issued to “Jane Trollope of the Parish of St Giles’s in Oxford” on 25  February 1775. The policy signed by Charles Pole, William Thornton, and J. Mason offered cover of £1000, and it shows that the insurance cover for Mrs Trollope’s house (Black Hall) was eight times that of Richard Ward.

Sun Fire Mark

The insurance cover was made up as follows:

  • On her now Dwelling House only situated as aforesaid stone and slated not Exceeding Four Hundred Pounds: £400.00
  • Household Goods therein only not Exceeding Three Hundred Pounds: £300.00
  • Farm House only near in the tenure of Richard Ward stone and slated not Exceeding Fifty Pounds: £50.00
  • Coach House and Stable in One Building near, stone , timber and slated not Exceeding Fifty Pounds: £50.00
  • Stable Kitchen and Granary over in one Building, Stone and slated not Exceeding Fifty Pounds: £50.00
  • Barn in the Yard stone and slated not Exceeding Fifty Pounds: £150.00.

Jane Trollope died at the age of 98 in February 1827, and on 31 March 1827 an advertisement was published in Jackson's Oxford Journal for “a capital Messuage, Garden, Pleasure Ground, and Out-offices, situate in St Giles's, lately occupied by Mrs. Trollope”, leasehold for years under St John's College.

By 1831 Joseph Parker had retired from his bookshop at 26–27 Broad Street and moved to Black Hall. He restored the building and added a north wing. At the time of the 1841 census he was 67 and living alone in the house with three servants. His son Dr Charles Lewes Parker died at the house where he lived and practised surgery in St Aldate’s on 19 December 1848, and it was soon after that his son’s widow, Mrs Jane Lewis Parker, moved with their children to live with his father in Black Hall. Joseph Parker himself died on 9 November 1850, and the 1851 census shows his widowed daughter-in-law Mrs Jane Lewes Parker (a “Fundholder” aged 35) living in Black Hall with her five children (aged from 2 to 10) and six servants (a nurse, under-nurse, cook, housemaid, under-housemaid, and butler).

By 1852 Frederick Joseph Morrell (1811–1882), the son and partner of the solicitor Baker Morrell of 1 St Giles,was living in the house. On 23 December 1834 he had married Elizabeth Maria Parker, the youngest daughter of Joseph Parker. Initially they lived at 15 St Giles, but after her mother Mrs Jane Parker moved out, Elizabeth moved with her husband back to Black Hall, the house from which she had been married. The 1861 census shows them here with six of their children plus their six servants (a footman, cook, housemaid, nurserymaid, under-housemaid, and kitchenmaid).

By 1881 Frederick J. Morrell had retired to the Grange at Broughton, Oxfordshire with his wife and daughter Helen, and his son Frederick Parker Morrell was now living in Black Hall with his wife Harriette (daughter of the President of St John’s) and their three young children, plus six servants. He remained here until his death in 1908, and then his widow continued to live here until her death at the age of 81 on 9 November 1924.

Black Hall remained a private house until the late 1940s, when it was taken over by the British Council.

Photograph of Black Hall in 1949

In 1958, together with No. 20 next door, it became Queen Elizabeth House (a residential centre for Commonwealth Studies), which later became a department of the University of Oxford. A new building in light brick, desiged by R. E. Enthoven, was added in 1961, and in c.1988 the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the Institute of Agricultural Economics also moved to the site.

In 2005 St John’s College, which had owned Black Hall for c.460 years, for the first time took it over for their own use, and renovated it together with No. 20 next door to provide more academic facilities.

Occupants of 21 St Giles’ Street listed in censuses and directories

By 1772–1827

Jane Trollope


Joseph Parker


Mrs Jane Lowry Parker
(widow of Joseph Parker’s son Charles Lewes Parker)


Frederick Joseph Morrell (1852–1872)
Frederick Parker Morrell, Solicitor (1875–1908)
Mrs Morrell (1909–1924)


Mrs W. Rathbone


Henry S. Souttar, CBE


British Council
South Midlands Area Office


Queen Elizabeth House


Part of St John’s College

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

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