Balliol College Archives & Manuscripts

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Summary catalogue - Other college records



The principal College portraits are described in Mrs RL Poole's catalogue, published 1925; an exhaustive catalogue was compiled and published in 1990, updated 1999 [19].  The Bursars' Books and English Registers contain occasional references to the painting of portraits and there are a number of files of loose papers, including:

  • Correspondence about Archbishop AC Tait's portrait (including autograph letters by Robert Browning and Matthew Arnold, 1885), 1884 - 1929.
  • Correspondence with HR Hope-Pinker about Benjamin Jowett's bust, 1894.
  • Papers concerning AL Smith's portrait by F Dodd, 1914 - 1915.
  • Papers concerning Viscount Grey's portrait by James Guthrie, 1928.


Papers concerning JL Strachan-Davidson's collection of ancient coins, 1880 - 1954.

Seal Matrices

  • The matrix of the 'First Seal', said to be 13th century.  Its first known use was 1341: its last in 1575. See Salter [1].
  • The matrix of the 'Second Seal', said to be 15th century.  No example of its use has so far been identified. See Salter [1].
  • Two similar matrices of the seal in use since about 1580.

The First Seal is a large pointed oval which shows the Virgin and Child above Collegiate buildings, supported by John Balliol and Dervorguilla his wife.  The second seal is also a pointed oval but is much smaller, showing St Catherine standing crowned, holding a small wheel and sword beneath a canopy.  The seal which came into use about 1580 is a large rounded oval showing a buxom crowned St Catherine with no canopy, holding a large wheel and sword.


A survey of the College Silver is given by Willis-Bund [8].

Inventories and Valuations

ca. 30 items, 1598 - 20th century.


A Catalogue compiled by DW Jackson, completed in 1981.  In six volumes: an exhaustive photographic survey with commentary giving weights, dates, history and points of interest.

The College Library - click for detailed list

The Balliol Trinity Laboratories

These laboratories flourished 1853 - 1939, and were towards the end of their life effectively the University Department of Physical Chemistry: see Smith [17].  Accounts, fee books, and attendance records survive, with some loose papers and photographs.


Licences survive permitting the College to have its own Oratory, and subsequently Chapel, 1293 - 1364.  Records relating to Chapel building works have been covered in section II.I.  The 16th and 17th century Bursars' Books have regular entries for Chapel running expenses and minor works.  Such expenses appear in Deans' Books later: these have been preserved for 1740 - 1810 and 1841 - 1881.  There is a considerable amount of Bursars' correspondence concerning fittings, and furniture 19th - 20th centuries.  A few 20th century printed forms of service, termly programmes, etc. have been kept.

Holywell Manor

Holywell Manor, parts of which are of ancient construction, has been a College Annexe since 1930. Balliol has no material relating to it earlier than this.  A brief history was written by Galbraith in 1937 [18].  A further block was built nearby in 1966: the whole complex now serves graduates only. The records comprise the following:

  • Acquisition papers, correspondence, etc., dealing with the lease purchase from Merton, 1929.
  • Fund-raising papers. Mostly 1928 - 1932, including a Register of Contributors.
  • Papers regarding 1930 building works and early days,1930 - 1940.  With some plans.  Papers concerning the murals by Gilbert Spencer and the associated controversy; the layout of the gardens; the opening ceremony; initial administration.
  • 'Records of building works, 1966. Correspondence with Sir Leslie Martin, architect'; accounts and other papers.
  • Accounts. 6 volumes, 1928 - 1949.
  • Administrative papers. 1940 - 1980, including a full inventory of 1955, files relating to the establishment of Holywell Manor as a Balliol-St Anne's College Graduate Institution 1960 - 1970, a file to do with the restoration of the Gilbert Spencer murals in 1979, etc.

Benjamin Jowett's Visitors' Book

The Master's Lodgings Visitors' Book for 1882 - 1893, the last decade of Benjamin Jowett's Mastership.  Guests generally signed against the date; many a famous signature appears, Robert Browning several times.

Vacation Reading Parties

There are a number of files, etc. concerning FF Urquhart's Chalet [24] (Chalet des Mélèzes, near St-Gervais-les-Bains, Haute Savoie, France) and The Mount, Churchill, Oxon.  The latter was, and the former still is, a venue for reading parties: 20th century.

Eastman House

Papers, accounts, correspondence, inventories, etc. concerning the official residence of the George Eastman Visiting Professors (for a list, see the 5th edition of the College Register), 1930 - 1976.

The Balliol College [Annual] Record

The College has circulated an annual magazine, containing College news of all kinds, to old members almost every year since 1910. Indexes covering 1910-1999 are available.

College Stamps

Balliol, following the lead of other colleges, had its own stamps printed for use in the inter-college messenger service in 1885, but they were never issued because there was a clamp-down on this breach of the Post Office monopoly in 1886 [22].  Numerous specimens have appeared on the philately market: there are several examples in the Archives, mostly in strips with tête-bêche pairs in the centre.

- Jo


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Updated 31.viii.15
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