St Anselm Hall Archive

  • Reference
      GB 133 HAH
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 li.m.
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

Extant archive of St Anselm Hall, a University hall of residence in Victoria Park. The archive is not complete, and comparatively few records are present from the period before the University took ownership of the Hall in 1956. In particular, the minutes of the pre-1956 Hall Council and House Committee are not present, and it appears that some of the Hall records used by Lawrenson in the 1950s for his history of the Hall, are no longer extant.

The main constituents of the archive are student society records including the JCR committee (HAH/1), the Library Committee (HAH/2), the History Society (HAH/3),and the Cellar Club (HAH/4). There are small number of Hall prospectuses dating from the inter- and immediate post-war eras (HAH/5). HAH/6 comprises files on the Hall's annual play, which was instituted in the 1920s, and often produced jointly with the women's halls, Ashburne and Langdale. Also present are the records of the Hall Association which represented the interests of Hall alumni (HAH/9) and the Association's newsletter (HAH/10), which is currently incomplete. To date, only a few copies of the Hall's annual Magazine Floreat have been deposited, but more are expected from the Hall (HAH/11).

The Hall archive is of particular interest for the light it sheds on residential student life, and the changing ethos of the Hall during the 20th century. Together with the archives of the other halls held by the University Archives (Hulme, Dalton, Langdale and Ellis Llwyd Jones), it provides invaluable information on the social and cultural history of the University's student body.

Administrative / Biographical History

St Anselm Hall is a University hall of residence located in Victoria Park, Manchester. It was founded in 1907, as a private hostel on the initiative of three Anglican clergymen: T B Allworthy (the first Warden), E Hudson and H J Buxton. Their aim was to provide residential facilities and tutorial support for students reading for Holy Orders, some of whom were taking courses at the University. The founders of the hostel were particularly keen to assist poorer students who were planning to become clergymen. The hostel was initially located in Droylsden Road, but moved to Dickenson Road, Rusholme, which was closer to the University, in 1911. Despite its Anglican connections, St Anselm's was never a theological training college, and it did not have any formal connections with Egerton Hall, the Anglican training college which operated in Manchester until its closure in 1941.

The hostel had been established with very little in the way of an endowment, and it could initially provide only rudimentary facilities for a very small number of students. However, it benefited from the support of the diocese of Manchester, and in 1914 the bishop of Manchester helped purchase Kent House in Victoria Park (the former home of the physicist Arthur Schuster) for the hostel. After its official opening on 14 November 1914, St. Anselm's formally became St Anselm's Hall [the apostrophe was dropped in 1933]. In 1920, the Hall was recognised by the University of Manchester for the residence of its students. Until the 1920s, the Hall was maintained as a diocesan undertaking, but money continued to be tight, and student numbers continued to be very small (in 1921, 13 students). In 1922, the Hall merged with Gartness (Brassey) Hall, a short-lived institution located close to St Anselm's, which provided similar support for Anglican ordinands. Thereafter, the Hall was maintained by the Church of England's Central Board of Finance until it became an autonomous incorporated body in 1933. The Hall was overseen by a Council which included representatives from both central and diocesan Anglican bodies as well as the University of Manchester, while day-to-day matters were managed by the House Committee, and from 1922, the students had formal organisation in a junior common room.

The Hall now saw its main purpose primarily in providing accommodation for University students sympathetic to its Anglican ethos, with a tutorial system which provided additional pastoral and academic students. In the late 1920s, a new wing was added to Kent House to accommodate more students, and a series of external properties in the vicinity were acquired (Elms, Summerfield House and Manor House). The wardenship of Duncan Armytage (1928-1933) saw a sustained effort to build stronger corporate loyalties at the Hall, which in some ways copied the Oxbridge collegiate system. Armytage introduced a senior common room, whose members included senior University academics, both to encourage connections with the student body, and to raise the Hall's profile within the University. He also developed the library, established the History Society, the first of several Hall societies, and introduced various social events. The Hall already had put on an annual play since 1924.

During the War, the Hall provided accommodation for members of the Armed Forces on training courses at the University. In the post-war period, the Hall reconsidered its overall purpose, as the number of ordinands dwindled, and its financial position remained difficult (private halls of residence were not eligible for UGC money for buildings etc.). One option briefly considered was for the Hall to become an Anglican theological college, although it was recognised that the position of such colleges was becoming increasingly difficult. The alternative was to transfer ownership to the University, which would allow expansion, but which might dilute some of the Hall's Anglican character. It opted for the latter course. In 1948, the Rev. Ronald Preston had been appointed Warden, and under his leadership, the Hall saw its full incorporation into the University, as well as a significant expansion of its building capacity.

On 1 August 1956 the Hall was transferred to the ownership of the University of Manchester, the first men's hall to do so. Thereafter the Hall was then overseen by a University committee, St Anselm Hall Committee (and later by a Hall Council as well). A major building project was completed in 1961 with a new accommodation wing and a dining hall, as well as a new chapel. This allowed the Hall to expand to around 100 students, and a decade later there were around 140 students in residence each session. The Hall also developed conference facilities, which helped bolster its financial position.

In 1990 the Hall made a partnership agreement with Ashburne Hall (a women-only hall) to hold joint social activities, including the annual play. St Anselm's remains a hall of residence for men only (a poll of members in 1990 saw 90% support single sex status). In 1992, Canterbury Court, mixed self-catering accommodation, opened opposite the main Hall building; the two institutions have since enjoyed a close practical relationship. The Hall is known colloquially within the University as "Slems"


  • HAH/1 - JCR Committee minutes
  • HAH/2 - Library Committee minutes
  • HAH/3 - History Society minutes
  • HAH/4 - Cellar Club minutes
  • HAH/5 - Promotional documents
  • HAH/6 - Hall plays
  • HAH/7 - Military Service registers
  • HAH/8 - Administrative files
  • HAH/9 - Hall Association minutes
  • HAH/10 - Association newsletters
  • HAH/11 - Floreat
  • HAH/12 - Miscellaneous

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader, unless otherwise stated.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The main archive was retained by the Hall until it was transferred to the Library in November 2014. In addition, a small collection of documents relating to the Hall Association was donated to the Library by William Thompson, a former Hall member, in April 2005. The Hall has retained a small collection of historic photographs.


Further accruals likely.

Related Material

Following its transfer to University ownership, the Hall's governance arrangements changed, and a University committee, the St Anselm Hall committee was established; its minutes for the period 1956-1971 are part of the University Committees archive USC/19.


T E Lawrenson Hall of residence: St Anselm hall in the University of Manchester, 1900-1957 (revised edition 2007)  is a history of the first fifty years of the hall, and is particularly informative on the corporate life of the Hall . A volume covering the post-1957 period is believed to be in progress.

Geographical Names