St Hilda’s College acquires £12m Victorian building to bolster student accommodation
St Hilda’s College, part of Oxford University, has bought a grand Victorian building in the city centre to provide more accommodation for its postgraduates and visiting students from overseas.
This follows the purchase in 2022 of two other properties in central Oxford which allowed the College to offer accommodation to all undergraduates for the duration of their studies for the first time in living memory.
The £12 million purchase of 14-16 Norham Gardens will initially provide 13 ensuite student bedrooms for a mix of graduates and visiting students on full-year licences. That number is expected to rise to around 45 by early 2024, with plans for a £0.5 million refit converting offices, catering areas, and some of the communal space to more bedrooms.
The investment has been financed by the College’s endowment funds.
The College Bursar, Chris Wood, said: “This is a tremendous step forward in our plans to offer a unique and enjoyable experience for visiting students as well as extending the volume of accommodation available for our postgraduates.”
Originally two large family homes, the four-storey property was adapted to become the Cherwell Centre and previously used by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus as a convent, guest accommodation, and conference centre.
Set in landscaped gardens on a 0.6-acre site, close to the University Parks, the building provides over 1,600 square metres of space and is close to several University Departments.
Echoing St Hilda’s College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, 14-16 Norham Gardens features a blue plaque to Violet Butler, a campaigner for better opportunities for young people and women. The social reformer, social work tutor, community activist and researcher lived there from 1884 to 1959.
Last year, the College bought nearby 11 Norham Gardens and 38 St Giles’ at a combined cost of £18 million, to provide 80 student bedrooms and to achieve its long-term goal of accommodating all its undergraduate students throughout their degree.
This new purchase also supports a strategic aim to accommodate more postgraduates and visiting students.