XXXIV. St Alban's Hall

Commentary
XXXIV. St Alban's Hall

St Alban Hall pre-existed its neighbour, Merton College, as an academic hall owned by the convent of Littlemore. After the convent was dissolved, Merton purchased the hall in 1548, but it remained an independent institution with its own principal and admissions.  After the Selborne Commission ordered the incorporation of academic halls within the existing colleges in 1877, St Alban Hall was incorporated into Merton in 1881, despite fierce protests from its Principal.  Merton’s St Alban’s Hall Quad preserves its name but not most of its buildings: the Oxford Almanack of 1851 depicts the buildings demolished prior to the almost complete rebuilding of the interior of the quad in 1904-10.  But the Hall’s Elizabethan façade and entrance from Merton Street -- built in 1599 from the legacy of Benedict Barnham –
survives to document the extraordinarily tardy arrival of classical architecture in Oxford

Further sources: engraving by W. Radclyffe from a drawing by F. Mackenzie published in the Oxford Almanack of 1851.