Holywell Manor, Oxford
Holywell Manor is a building in central Oxford, England. It currently houses the bulk of Balliol College's postgraduate population. It is located on the corner of St Cross Road and Manor Road, next to St Cross Church, which is to become the College Historic Collections Centre.

History
Balliol College has had a presence in the area since the purchase by Benjamin Jowett, the Master, in the 1870s of the open area which is the Balliol sports ground 'The Master's Field'. On the edges of this, along Mansfield Road and St Cross Road, have been built Fellows houses, notably the 'The King's Mound' in 1894. The oldest surviving part of the site is the 16th century farmhouse which now houses the 'Praefectus', i.e., the resident supervising Fellow. It was acquired by Balliol College in 1929, prior to which it had been a convent and home for unmarried mothers (though it was deserted by 1929). The purchase was planned by Kenneth Norman Bell in order to provide accommodation for undergraduates and was funded by donations to the Balliol Society which he had founded expressly for this purpose. The extensive extensions to the original manor were designed by the architect George Kennedy an Old Boy of the College. These include the road facing façade, the entrance courtyard and the grand Queen Anne style wings surrounding the distinctive two rows of Ginkgo trees planted by C. S. Orwin. The Manor opened in 1932 and remained a hostel for Balliol's undergraduates until the 1960s, except for during World War II, when it was lent to St Hugh's College. It then became a mixed graduate community shared with St Anne's College's female graduates. Finally in 1984, after Balliol College had begun accepting women it took its current form as a residence just for Balliol's graduates. A supplementary graduate students accommodation block, built on the opposite corner of the road to the Manor on the 'Master's Field', was opened in 1966 and is officially the 'Martin Building' and known jocularly as Holywell Minor. In 1986 another block next to this was opened as the 'Dellal Building'. Between 2000 and 2008 a group of undergraduate resident Staircases have been developed along Jowett Walk. The building was significantly extended in 1993 with the construction of the James Fairfax Yard block off the manor's north wing. A review of college services led to the decision to close the kitchens and dining room, Manor residents were to use the new facilities at the College Hall, from 2008. This reversed a tendency towards the Manor being regarded as a separate college; Balliol is in fact the fourth largest graduate college in the University by post-graduate student members. This allowed for internal improvements and facilities, notably an additional common space known as the 'cockpit' or 'lounge', and a gym, which are available for use by all College members.

Art
Kenneth Norman Bell was always closely involved with the British art world, and began an association between Holywell and the arts which still continues. What is now one of the Manor's computer rooms is decorated with murals depicting the tradition of the founding of the College painted by Gilbert Spencer, the brother of Stanley Spencer, and the MCR houses many more contemporary works. In addition, the garden contains a fountain by Peter Lyon and a wind sculpture by George Rickey.

The MCR community
The graduate community now housed by Holywell Manor is known as being one of the most vibrant in Oxford, with a strong international feel. The MCR runs a bar and organises regular social events. Much like Balliol's undergraduates, the graduates of Holywell Manor are known for being particularly politically active and the MCR is well represented in other Oxford organisations.

St Cross Church
The church has had a falling attendance for many years, as have many Anglican inner urban parishes. The Church of England has encouraged appropriate alternative uses for these. In February 2008, the Parochial Church Council of St Cross decided unanimously to allow Balliol College to develop a specialist library in the church. In May 2008, the Shirley Foundation contributed £1m towards the College's Historic Collections Centre to be housed in St Cross Church. This shall contain the College archives, its medieval manuscript collection, incunabula and other special items previously located separately and allowing expansion of the main College Library's services. One item dates from circa 1170 having been held by the College since 1276. The collection is the ancient core of the Library collection and not a specialist acquisition as held by more recent foundations, although it is as large as some of these. This is the third library at Oxford University to be converted from a church, the others being All Saints on the High Street ( Lincoln College) and St Peter-in-the-East, Queen's Lane ( St Edmund Hall). The full cost of £3m will be found within the expected development programme period. The Centre will have comprehensive modern research facilities. As a central Oxford church it has other Balliol College connections. John Snell, the benefactor of the post graduate scholarships connecting the College and Glasgow University, was buried in the Church in 1679. In its cemetery are buried the Masters J.L. Strachan Davidson (died in office 1916) and A.L. Smith (died in office 1924).

Famous residents
  • Crown Princess Masako of Japan stayed in the Manor. Correspondence from her household to the Praefectus is displayed in the corridors of the Manor's Centre Wing.


Facilities
  • The "Megaron" Bar " This is unusual amongst college bars both for being student run and for operating on an honesty basis.
  • The MCR " The common room is furnished with seating, is stocked with newspapers and magazines, and has Wi-Fi access.
  • The laundry room
  • Computer rooms
  • TV Room
  • Gym
  • Music practice rooms " These are currently in preparation in the basement area that previously housed the "Cockpit" dining hall.