Oxford St. Peter le Bailey was the westernmost of the medieval parishes within the old city walls. It derived its nickname from being near the bailey of Oxford Castle. It was always one of the poorest parishes in the city, and frequently had to receive financial assistance from the other city parishes to help pay for its poor relief.
The parish was served by three successive churches in all. The medieval church was situated on the north-west corner of what is now Bonn Square, and was destroyed when its tower collapsed
in 1726. A new church was built on the same spot between 1728-1740 (it is illustrated on p.422 of C. Hibbert's Encyclopedia of Oxford), before it was demolished in 1874, in order to widen the road. The third church of St. Peter le Bailey was situated slightly to the north of the old site, on the west side of New Inn Hall Street, and built in 1872-1874.
By the early 20th century, the population of the parish had shrunk, and in 1919 there were proposals to close the church. However, in 1928, F.J. Chavasse, a former vicar of the parish, who had later become Bishop of Liverpool, created a new Hall attached to the University called St. Peter's Hall, and built it around the church. From 1928-1961, the Master of St. Peter's Hall was also the Rector of St. Peter le Bailey, but in 1961, in the same year that St. Peter's Hall became St. Peter's College, the church of St. Peter le Bailey was converted to become the chapel of the new College, and the parish was united with that of Oxford St. Ebbe, which arrangement still holds.
The records of St. Peter le Bailey were deposited at various times with the Bodleian library in 1965 and 1975 (from the Master and Fellows of St. Peter's College), and 1980 (from the Rector of
Oxford St. Ebbe), before their transferral to Oxfordshire Archives a few years later. Appendix I lists the contents of each deposit, and Appendix II gives a concordance for old and new
references. Further records were deposited as Acc 6039 in October 2011.
The Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, Volume III (the University of Oxford), pp.336-338.
The Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, Volume IV (the City of Oxford), pp.401-403.
Catalogued by Robin Darwall-Smith in October 1998 with additions by Alison Smith in June 2014.