The Steward's House

St Michael's Street, Oxford

Overview

A unique opportunity to stay within the precincts of the Oxford Union, the University’s debating society and one of its most iconic institutions. By special arrangement you can also attend the Union debates and see the Pre-Raphaelite murals that brought us here in the first place.

  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • BathBath
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 1 Twin

Sleeps
2
4 nights from
£360 equivalent to £45.00 per person, per night

In the heart of Oxford University life

Here you are at the heart of Oxford University with privileged access to some of its hidden chambers and rooms. When the Oxford Union Society needed money to repair their first debating chamber (now its library) our founder asked if a place could be found for Landmarkers to stay in return for his help. This apartment is the result, a self-contained floor and a half in the former official residence of the Steward of the Union. The Steward was an important permanent figure who ran the Union facilities and kept order while generations of undergraduates came and went. His spacious house was added, with a new library, in 1910 to the design of W. E. Mills of Oxford. It is a thoroughly Edwardian affair of a kind and quality that we are pleased to look after; and our generously proportioned rooms, particularly the sitting-room, will give you a true impression of the Oxford of that day, while the vigorous and sometimes rather noisy activities of modern Oxford, and of the modern Union, take place around you. Oxford has more architectural pleasures and surprises than anywhere else in Britain, and The Steward’s House is conveniently only a very short walk from the train and bus stations.

Murals by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

The Union was formed as a debating society in 1823 to encourage free speech and speculation, and acquired its site at No.7 St Michael’s Street in 1852. By special arrangement you can attend the Union debates, in which speakers of international renown as well as current students often participate. In 1856 the Union’s first debating chamber, also used as a library, was built to the design of Benjamin Woodward, a disciple of Ruskin. He showed the nearly completed building to D. G. Rossetti and to William Morris, ‘a rather rough and unpolished youth’, and they offered to paint ‘figures of some kind’ in the gallery window bays during the Long Vacation, assisted by their friends, including Edward Burne-Jones. William Morris finished his bay first and began painting the roof. These faded scenes from Arthurian legend by famous painters in their youth, a wonderful possession for the Union, were duly brought back to life, and the building restored.

‘Life-enhancing – that’s all we ask of the Landmark Trust and they deliver.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

The Steward's House is situated in the heart of Oxford, providing the perfect opportunity to explore all the delights that this beautiful, historic city has to offer.

Admire the wonderful, panoramic views of  Oxford, the 'City of Dreaming Spires', by climbing to the top of one of its many towers . Take a tour around some of the colleges  of the unique University of Oxford and visit its many museums, libraries and places of interest. Browse the peaceful grounds of the Botanic Garden, the oldest of its kind in Britain and enjoy the contrasting hustle and bustle of the Covered Market, with its wide variety of enticing stalls, in the lively city centre.

The Pendon Museum of model railways and Didcot Railway Centre offer fun days out for rail enthusiasts of all ages.

About half an hour's drive north of Oxford will take you to Blenheim Palace with its wonderful gardens, maze and range of activites for all.

For more ideas and information on things to see and do during your stay at The Steward's House, take a look at our Pinterest page for our Landmarks at Oxford.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly from the street (steps up to the first floor Landmark flat from street level).
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Oxford – 0.6 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    No – the nearest car park is Gloucester Green car park – please note parking can be expensive, especially for overnight stays.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is gas central heating and a gas fire.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker and a microwave.





  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The internal stairs are relatively steep.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    No.
  • Is there higher than expected background noise?

    The Oxford Union occasionally holds events in the Union building and the gardens.  The property is in a city and at times there will be street noise as well as noise from local bars and clubs.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

Helping towards the restoration of the Old Debating Hall

When the Union launched its appeal for funds to restore the Old Debating Hall, the Trustees of the Landmark Trust were immediately interested. They were in any case more than willing to support the restoration programme, both of the building and of the wall-paintings inside it, but there was the chance too that here was a long-wished-for opportunity to make a Landmark right in the centre of Oxford. So while offering to support the restoration financially, they also enquired whether there was any part of the Union building that was no longer used, and which could be converted into a flat.

It so happened that in 1983 the Steward, Walter Perry, was about to retire and the Committee of the Oxford Union Society decided to take the opportunity to reorganise and reduce their staff. The old office of Steward was to be done away with and his work combined with other jobs for a non-resident House Manager. So the Steward’s House at the end of the north wing and with its own entrance on to St Michael’s Street was to fall empty. Part of it was already used for kitchens and staff offices, but there was no obvious future use for the bedrooms on the first floor and accordingly these were offered to the Trust, with part of the ground floor as well.

A lease on the flat was drawn up in 1985, plans were prepared, and work started in 1986.

For a short history of the Steward's House please click here.

To read the full history album for the Steward's House please click here.

Restoration

Making the flat a separate unit

Only a small amount of exterior work had to be carried out, repairing gutters and adjoining flat roofs to prevent damp entering; and cleaning the stonework of the windows, with some minor repairs. Then there was the work needed to make the flat into a separate unit blocking off communication with other parts of the ground floor and putting up a solid partition between the first floor landing and the main staircase (which also necessitated moving the bedroom door slightly).

After this the only work necessary was to give the interior and services a general overhaul, renewing plaster, installing heating and so on.

A large cupboard was removed on the landing, and the balustrade of the staircase was extended round to the wall. The smallest bedroom became the kitchen, the largest a sitting room. Otherwise everything was left as it was; the main rooms still have their cornices and fireplaces; the doors, complete with furniture, are all original, as is the mahogany flap-table on the landing. The bath has since been replaced.

All that remained to be decided was the decoration and furnishing, and here the choice was to go for a sense of donnish comfort; a don of the era before the First World War who had grown up under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, perhaps even been at the University with Morris and Burne-Jones and looked on at their work in the Debating Hall, and who still clung to their tastes and ideas. So the hall and stairs have William Morris’s Larkspur, the sitting room has Marigold, and the bedroom Sunflower.

William Gill, the Steward who first occupied these rooms, would perhaps have filled them with military trophies and mementos of India; a don would no doubt have covered the floor and the tables with books. You can fill them as you will, with your experience of Oxford.

Experience the Landmark

For up to 2 people

A unique opportunity to stay within the precincts of the Oxford Union, the University’s debating society and one of its most iconic institutions. By special arrangement, you can also attend the Union debates and see the Pre-Raphaelite murals that brought us here in the first place.

Book a stay
Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.