Former hall of the University of Oxford
St Mary Hall was a medieval academic hall of the University of Oxford. It was associated with Oriel College from 1326 to 1545, but functioned independently from 1545 until it was incorporated into Oriel College in 1902.
In 1320, when he was appointed rector of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Adam de Brome was given the rectory house, St. Mary Hall, on the High Street.
 St. Mary Hall was acquired by Oriel College in 1326: Bedel Hall, which adjoins St. Mary’s to the south, was given by Bishop Carpenter of Worcester in 1455. These two halls, along with St. Martin’s Hall, served as annexes for Oriel College.
In the early 16th century, the college’s St. Antony’s and Dudley exhibitioners were lodged in St Mary Hall and Bedel Hall, and around this time the two halls were united. St. Mary Hall subsequently developed into an independent entity, and in 1545, on the order the Visitor, Bishop Longland of Lincoln, the door between St Mary Hall and Oriel was blocked. The Hall subsequently employed its own lecturers, and the intake of St Mary’s was periodically more than that of Oriel.
In 1552, there were 18 members of St. Mary Hall, excluding the Principal. The Principals of St Mary Hall continued to be fellows of Oriel until 1656. By 1875, the size of St.Mary Hall’s undergraduate body had risen to 60, a large number for one of the University’s colleges at that time.
The Hall was effectively the property of its Principal, who was also Vicar of St Mary’s Church. The last Principal, Drummond Percy Chase, who had been appointed in 1857, created an agreement with Oriel as a consequence of which the Hall became the property of Oriel on his death, which subsequently occurred in 1902, when according to the agreement, the Hall was incorporated into Oriel College. Some agreements created when St. Mary Hall were a separate organisation continue to exist: for example, the benefice of the Vicar of St Mary’s Church includes dining rights at Oriel.
The present St. Mary’s Quad, or ‘third quadrangle’, of Oriel occupies three ranges of the former buildings of the St. Mary Hall. The Principal’s house was demolished for the construction of the Rhodes Building, which was designed by Basil Champneys, and which was completed in 1911.
Notable former students
- John Ball (Puritan), BA 1608
- William Henry Charsley, Master of Charsley’s Hall, Oxford
- Edward Craggs-Eliot, 1st Baron Eliot, matriculated 1742
- Brajendranath Dey, of the Indian Civil Service, matriculated 1875
- Thomas Elyot (alleged)
- Thomas Harriot, 16th-century astronomer, mathematician, ethnographer, and translator
- Theodore Hook, matriculated but did not come into residence; author
- Robert Hues, B.A. 1578
- John Hunter, matriculated 1755
- Sir Christopher Hatton, lord chancellor of England
- James Leith Moody, priest (BA, 1840; MA, 1863)
- Henry Newton, diplomat
- Geoffrey Osbaldeston, High Court judge in Ireland, matriculated 1575
- Robert Parsons, leading Jesuit priest
- George Sandys
- John Marston (poet)
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- Alan Bell, ‘Bliss, Philip (1787–1857)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), online text (subscription site)
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- Knowles, James. “Marston, John”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18164. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)