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"