Greyfriars, Oxford

name = Greyfriars
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university = Oxford
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named_for = The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
established = 1224
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Greyfriars was one of the smallest constituent Halls of the University of Oxford in England. It is situated on the Iffley Road in East Oxford. Its previous status as a Permanent Private Hall (or PPH) referred to the fact that it was governed by an outside institution (the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, a Franciscan Order), rather than by its fellows as is a College. In 2007 Greyfriars celebrated 50 years of its PPH status, with considerable flourish. Yet at the end of the 2007/08 academic year, the Order relinquished its licence to run Greyfriars as a PPH, with all students and prospective applicants transferring to Regent's Park College. [ [ Capuchin Friars to leave Greyfriars Hall] ] The existing Fellows, students, and alumni were not consulted in advance about this decision which aroused considerable controversy; serious proposals by the Fellows for the continuation of Greyfriars Hall were rejected out of hand and the pleas of all concerned fell on infertile ground or deaf ears, despite the last minute unprecedented intervention of the Holy See to save the Hall. [] The Capuchin Order will continue to exist in Oxford and the premises will continue to operate as a friary; the order will maintain responsibility for the parish.


The original Greyfriars church and friary was founded by the Franciscans in 1224, but was suppressed during the Reformation in the sixteenth century. The Friars had a long and esteemed history in Oxford, listing many famous alumni, including the English Statesman, Robert Grosseteste, also a theologian and Bishop of Lincoln, who became head of Greyfriars, Master of the School of Oxford from 1208, and the first Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Some time later, the Capuchin branch of the Order established a friary, known as St Anselm's, which was recognised by the University as a House of Studies in 1910. In 1919, the Friars moved to the current site on the Iffley Road - first naming it Grosseteste House after the first Head of the original Greyfriars - and on completion of the present building in 1930, the name of Greyfriars was adopted once more. The status of Permanent Private Hall was conferred upon Greyfriars by the University in 1957 and surrendered in 2008.

Greyfriars has undoubtedly one of the most distinctive buildings in Oxford; it is the only flint-stone Norman-style building in the city, and its green spire is notably visible along the Iffley Road and from the University's famous sports ground.

Friary and Tuition

Greyfriars occupied a unique position in Oxford, in that its University Hall and Franciscan friary were part of the same institution and coexisted on the same site - however, the friars were not usually members of the academic hall (though this was not without exception), nor were the students actually affiliated to the friary (the two groups did, however, mingle, most notably at mealtimes). Furthermore, no religious restrictions were placed on applicants; and, while the Hall had a tradition of noted Theology academics, a wide range of disciplines were studied by students - the most common being English, History, Theology, Geography and Law. While the Hall employed tutors specialising in certain areas of some of these subjects, students generally went to other colleges for the majority of their tutorials. The College most closely linked with the Hall was Balliol, due to a long-standing tradition of sporting links, but Greyfriars students were tutored at a wide number of the University's colleges at some point or another.

Student Life

While Greyfriars was small in terms of grounds and numbers, it boasted a closely-knit community and a lively academic life. Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, undergraduate numbers tended to be around the 30 mark, with an average of between nine and eleven students per year in addition to a handful of visiting and postgraduate students. From around 2003, numbers swelled markedly, and the student population of the Hall when it closed numbered closer to 50.

The Hall annually held a popular summer garden party, and a "bop" that was dubbed 'The Monastery of Sound' in tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the friars. Greyfriars was also influential in the prestigious Oxford Law Society, the Conservative Association, the Dramatic Society, and the Indie Music Society, not to mention rowing, hockey, rugby, tennis and table tennis. Its increasing prominence was very much disproportionate to student numbers, which is testament to their eagerness to get involved in University life.

As with all Oxford colleges, Greyfriars' student community was a JCR, run by an annually-elected committee usually consisting of a President, Secretary, Treasurer and various other Officers as necessary.

Famous Former Students (of the First Foundation)

*Antipope Alexander V (ca. 1339 – May 3, 1410)
*Hamo of Faversham (d.1244)]
*Alexander of Hales, Doctor Irrefragabilis (c. 1170-1245)
*Adam Marsh, MA (d. 1258)
*Robert Grosseteste (c.1175-1253)
*Roger Bacon, DD, Doctor Mirabilis (c. 1214-1292)
*John of Peckham, DD, (c.1225-1292)
*Thomas Docking (d.1270)
*John Duns Scotus, BD, DD, Doctor Subtilis (c. 1264-1308)
*William of Occam, DD, Doctor Invincibilis (c.1300-1394)

Fellows & Senior Staff at the Surrender of the Licence

The Visitor:
*The Most Revd Minister General, OFM CapThe Governing Body:
*The Very Revd Minister Provincial, Fr James Boner, OFM Cap
*The Council of the Minister Provincial
*The Warden of Greyfriars (below)

The Warden (Head of House):
*The Revd Mark Elvins, OFMCap

The Senior Tutor:
*Dr Richard Lawes, MA, D.Phil, (MB, Ch.B, B.Sc. Edin.) M.R.C. Psych.

The Fellows:
*Dr Jane Baun, BA, MA, Ph.D, "Tutorial and Research Fellow in Theology, since 2003"

*Prof Jonathan Black-branch, MA, Dip LATHE, D.Phil, BEd, MEd, Ph.D, "Tutor in Law, since 2005"

*Penelope Cookson, BA, MA, "Tutor in Latin, since 2005"

*Dr Claire Hutton, BA, M.St, M.Phil, D.Phil, "Tutor in English, since 2004"

*Dr Richard Lawes, MA, D.Phil, (MB, Ch.B, B.Sc. Edin.) M.R.C. Psych, "Fellow in English, since 2002"

*Dr Donal Lowry, BA, MA status, Ph.D, FRHist.S, "Tutor in Modern History, since 2000"

*Dr Elizabeth Lowry, BA, D.Phil, "Tutor in English, since 2000"

*Dr Anne Mouron, Licence, M.Phil, D.Phil, "Tutor in English, since 2000"

* Rev'd Dr Aidan Nichols, O.P, "John Paul II Lecturer in Roman Catholic Theology"

*Dr Alan O'Day, (2001), BA, MA, Ph.D, FRHist.S, "Tutor in Modern History, since 2001"

*Revd Fr John Saward, (2003), BA, MA, M.Litt, "Tutor in Theology, since 2003"

*Dr John Stevenson

*Dr John Yocum, BA, BD, MA, D.Phil, "Tutor in Theology 2000-2003"

Honorary Fellows:

*The Revd Dr Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM Cap, MA, Ph.D, "Since 2004"

*Mr Daniel Hill, since 2007

*The Most Revd Vincent Nichols MA MEd STL, Archbishop of Birmingham, since 2007

*Revd Brother Maurice Sheehan, since 2007

Director of Alumni & Development:

*Mr John E. J. James, MA (Oxon)

Past Wardens (Heads of House)

* + The Revd Dr Peter Peacock, OFM Cap, MA, D.Mus.
* + The Revd Fr Cassian Reel, OFM Cap, B.Litt., MA
*The Revd Dr Maurice Sheehan, OFM Cap D.Phil.
*The Revd Fr Thomas More, OFM Cap MA
*The Revd Dr Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM Cap, MA, PhD (1991-2004)
*Dr Nicholas James Richardson, B.Phil, MA, D.Phil (2004-2007)

Greyfriars Society

The Greyfriars Society was established in 1999 and is the official alumni organisation of Greyfriars. The main objectives of the society are to maintain and build relationships with the Hall's alumni and were also to raise money to enable Greyfriars to provide the best possible education for the growing student body.

*His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster

*Prof. The Rt. Hon. The Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Director:
*John E. J. James

Deputy Directors:
*Rupert Abbott
*James Campbell


External links

* [ Greyfriars Society website]

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