St Hilda’s college has purchased two spacious Victorian homes to convert into accommodation for post-graduate and visiting students. The new properties, 14 and 16 Norham Gardens, were bought at a combined cost of 12 million pounds, being funded by St Hilda’s endowment funds.
The purchase of 14 and 16 Norham Gardens is a further addition to St Hilda’s growing portfolio of student accommodation. In 2022, St Hilda’s bought 11 Norham Gardens and 38 St Giles’, finalising the plan to offer accommodation to all undergraduate students for the duration of their degree.
The property is located in the vicinity of University Parks, surrounded by a landscape garden of 0.6 acres. The building itself has over 1,600 square metres of space. Initially, 14 and 16 Norham Gardens will contain 13 ensuite bedrooms and by early 2024, Norham Gardens accommodation is expected to house up to 45 students following further renovations.
College Bursar, Chris Wood, told Cherwell: “St Hilda’s College has a reputation for providing a welcoming and supportive environment for its students. We aim to provide a platform for our students to succeed, and to improve their experience at Oxford.
“Providing student housing at rents generally lower than those in the private sector is very important in this regard. We now have sufficient accommodation to house all of our undergraduate students for the whole of their courses, if they wish, as well as a good supply of graduate room.”
The Norham Gardens properties were formerly owned by the Catholic Charity, The Society of the Holy Child Jesus. Wood also told Cherwell that the two parties “worked together closely to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes”.
As a former women-only college and as a college founded by a woman, St Hilda’s has been keen to draw attention to the blue plaque found on the walls of the new property, featuring social reformer, Violet Butler. Butler was an advocate for women and young people in Oxford in the early 20th century. Wood told Cherwell that Violet Butler “very much lived her life in the spirit of St Hilda’s motto “non frustra vixi”, which translates to “I lived not in vain.”
On 21 September St Hilda’s announced the purchase of 14 and 16 Norham Gardens on the college website, explaining that the College is continually working to house more postgraduate and visiting students than ever before. St Hilda’s currently has approximately 200 graduate students.
The Norham Gardens properties will act not only as accommodation but the college hopes that they will form a St Hilda’s community in the centre of Oxford.