St Hugh's College, Oxford

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St Hugh's College

St Hugh's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford, England, located on St Margaret's Road, Oxford. It was founded in 1886 as a women's college, and accepted its first male students in 1986. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £27 million.[1] It enjoys a reputation as one of the more attractive colleges because of its extensive, pleasant gardens and as a friendly college, being one of the few where students are permitted to walk on the grass of the grounds.[2]



St Hugh’s occupies a rectangular site in North Oxford. It is bordered by Banbury Road on the east, Woodstock Road on the west, St Margaret’s Road on the north and Canterbury Road on the south. The college is equally accessible via the main entrance on St Margaret's Road and the back gate, which opens onto Canterbury Road.

The gardens of the college cover about ten and a half acres and are noteworthy in particular for the numerous flowering trees and shrubs.[3][4]

History of the college

Founded in 1886, St Hugh's was originally a college admitting only women, becoming co-educational a century later. It was founded by Elizabeth Wordsworth, great-niece of the famous poet, William Wordsworth. Using money left to her by her father, who had been Bishop of Lincoln, she established the college at 25 Norham Road in North Oxford.[5] She named the college after one of his 13th-century predecessors, Hugh of Avalon, who was canonised in 1220, and in whose diocese Oxford had been. Elizabeth Wordsworth was a champion of the cause of women's education, and her foundation was intended to enable poorer women to gain an Oxford education.

There are statues of both St Hugh and Elizabeth Wordsworth, presented to the college as gifts for its Jubilee in 1936, on the Library stairs. St Hugh carries a model of Lincoln Cathedral, which would have been very familiar to Elizabeth Wordsworth, and has his other hand resting on the head of a swan, probably the famous swan of Stow, although the swan is also a symbol of purity. Elizabeth Wordsworth is depicted wearing her doctoral robes.

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