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St Edmund Hall is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxfordmarker in Englandmarker. Better known within the University by its nickname, "Teddy Hall", the college has a claim to being "the oldest academical society for the education of undergraduates in any university". As of 2007 St Edmund Hall had an estimated financial endowment of £39m.


The church of St Peter-in-the-East — now the college library
Like the University of Oxfordmarker itself, the precise date of establishment of St Edmund Hall is unknown; it is usually estimated at 1278. The college is named after St Edmund of Abingdon, Oxfordshiremarker, the first known Oxford Master of Arts and the first Oxford-educated Archbishop of Canterbury, who lived and taught on the college site. The name St Edmund Hall (Aula Sancti Edmundi) first appears in a 1317 rental agreement.

St Edmund Hall began life as one of Oxford's ancient Aularian houses, the mediaeval halls that laid the foundation of the University, preceding the creation of the first colleges. As the only surviving mediaeval hall, its members are known as "Aularians". St Edmund Hall took on the status of a college in 1957, though retaining the historical moniker of "Hall".

The college has a history of independent thought, which has brought it into regular conflict with both church and state. During the late 14th century and early 15th century, it was a bastion of the Wycliffe heresy, for which college principal William Taylor was ultimately burnt at the stake, and principal Peter Payne fled the country. In the 17th century, it incurred the wrath of the crown for fostering nonjurors, men who remained loyal to the Scottishmarker House of Stuart and who refused to take the oath to the Germanmarker House of Hanover, whom they regarded as having usurped the British throne.

College colours

Like most academic institutions, Oxbridge colleges commonly have a colour scheme used for college scarves, ties, sports clothing and so on. There is a great deal of confusion regarding the Hall's official college colours which seems to have arisen due to a discrepancy between "official college wear," often thought to be claret and cream, and sporting wear.

On the college's official web-site, the " College memorabilia" section quotes maroon and gold as the colours of official college merchandise, such as the college scarves.

In the vast majority of sporting wear produced the "claret and cream" are often substituted by maroon and gold. This has naturally led to many people assuming that these are the college colours. Confusion may also be caused by the fact that the college's coat of arms has a yellow/gold field.

Coat of Arms

The College Coat of Arms depicts a red cross fleury against a yellow/gold field surrounded by four Cornish Choughs and is blazoned "Or, a cross fleury gules between four Cornish choughs perched proper". The choughs are often mistakenly depicted with white wings.

In the image shown to the left, the College coat of arms is found above the following Latin dedication "sanctus edmundus huius aulae lux", or "St Edmund, light of this Hall".

It is a very common practice within the University to use chronograms for dedications - when transcribed into Latin, they are written in such a way that an important date, usually that of a foundation or the dedication itself, is embedded in the text. This is usually achieved by choosing certain letters in the text which correspond to Roman Numerals which when added, often disregarding the usual subtractive notation, amount to the required date. These numerals are then indicated by being rendered in a larger size than that of the surrounding letters.

In the above dedication, the text is rendered as
sanCtVs edMVndVs hVIVs aVLae LVX
and, in this case, adding the numerals naively gives:

C + V + M + V + V + V + I + V + V + L + L + V + X = 1246

which is a popular, if conservative, estimate for the establishment of the Hall, but is in fact the date of the canonisation of St Edmund of Abingdon.

Locations and buildings

Rear of the buildings on the east side of the Front Quad as seen from the Wolfson Dining Hall.
St Edmund Hall is based on a small central site on the north side of the High Streetmarker. The front quadrangle (see picture) is bordered by the porters' lodge, the old dining hall (1659), the college bar and buttery (containing a mid-15th-century fireplace), the chapel with the old library above (late 17th century), and accommodation for students and fellows. In the centre of the quadrangle is a medieval well. Passages from the quadrangle give access to modern accommodation blocks and dining hall to the east, and the college library (the deconsecrated church of St Peter in the East, 12th century) and gardens (St Peter's churchyard) to the north. The garden contains a seated bronze depicting St Edmund as an impoverished student. The college also owns annexes at Norham Gardensmarker, on Dawson Street, and on Iffley Roadmarker.

Student life

The student body has long been known for prowess in sport, especially rugby. In Hilary Term of 2008, the college made it to the finals of both the football and rugby cuppers competitions, winning in the rugby final against Keble college, with the final in both sports reached again in 2009. The Women's First VIII reached Head of the River in Summer Eights 2006, a title retained through 2007, 2008 and 2009. The men's boat club have also recently had notable successes: in the 2009 Torpids both the 1st and 2nd Torpid were awarded blades, for the first time in College history (see St Edmund Hall Boat Clubmarker). The 2nd VIII went on to attain blades in Summer Eights of the same year, and is now among the highest placed 2nd boats in the University. The Hall has also demonstrated strengths in journalism, drama, mathematics and student politics. In 2007 the college fielded a team in University Challenge scoring one of the three highest scores in the first round.

College graces

The usual college grace given before Formal Hall is Benedictus, Benedicat per Jesum Christum Dominum Nostrum (Blessed is He and may he bless [this food] through Jesus Christ Our Lord) to which the assembly responds Amen. More extended forms of the grace are sometimes given but this is very rare.

People associated with the college

Notable alumni

See also Former students of St Edmund Hall.

Other notable figures


  1. Cowdrey (1988); p. 388, referencing A.B. Emden who in his 1927 (p. 236) work states: "...and St Edmund Hall now survives as the last lineal descendent of the oldest form of academical society designed for the residence of scholars studying in the Oxford Schools."
  2. St Edmund Hall (2007) The College: Published Accounts
  3. Emden (1927), p. 60


  • Cowdrey, H.E.J. (1988) St Edmund Hall, Queen's Lane, In: Hibbert, C. (Ed.) The encyclopædia of Oxford, London : Macmillan, p. 388-391, ISBN 0-333-39917-X. Reproduced online by St Edmund Hall [accessed 1 June 2007]
  • Emden, A.B. (1927) An Oxford Hall in Medieval Times: being the Early History of St Edmund Hall, Oxford : Clarendon Press, Reprinted 1968
  • Kelly, J.N.D. (1989) St Edmund Hall: Almost Seven Hundred Years, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-951559-X

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