The College was founded by Bishop Francis James Chavasse (1846–1928), and his son Christopher Maude Chavasse (1884–1962), later Bishop of Rochester, who became the first Master and guided St Peter's through its first precarious ten years of rapid expansion. The original aim was to provide a low-cost Oxford education for promising students of limited means. Bishop Francis James died in 1928. St Peter's thus became a memorial to this much-loved evangelical Bishop, who was the inspiration and prime-mover behind the building of Liverpool Cathedral, and its second Bishop. Sufficient supporters rallied to a memorial appeal launched by his son to raise £150,000 to build student accommodation and modify existing buildings. A frenetic building programme enabled the University Vice-Chancellor to licence St Peter's as a Permanent Private Hall. Thus in 1929 St Peter's Hall was born with 40 students. In 1947, now with 120 students, the Hall was granted the status of 'New Foundation', a significant step in the process of becoming a College. In 1961, with 250 students, the grant of a Royal Charter to 'The Master, Fellows and Scholars of the College of St Peter-le-Bailey' completed the process to full collegiate status. Since then, with the support of alumni and generous benefactors, the story has been one of growth and expansion. Women were admitted for the first time in 1979. Student numbers, including post-graduates, have risen to over 400.
The collection is private and distributed throughout the College and is not on public view. Access is normally restricted to those involved in academic scholarship or research. Applications should be made to The Bursar, St Peter’s College, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford OX1 2DL.
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