Balliol students in the MCR at Holywell Manor (photo: Rob Judges)

Holywell Manor Community

The Holywell Manor community — Balliol’s MCR — is one of the main reasons to choose Balliol for your postgraduate course. On this page, past and present members of Balliol reflect on the unique experience that the Holywell Manor community offers.

As an international student, I arrived in Oxford not really knowing what to expect of the MCR. I soon discovered a warm and vibrant community at Holywell Manor. Having spent a year in the Manor, I now understand why it is the envy of every other graduate student community in Oxford.’ — Philip Williams, MPhil Law

Holywell Manor (photo: Stephanie Kelley)

Holywell Manor has, for me, been more than a community of scholars — it is that too — but more importantly it has felt like a family and a home. My time as a member of the MCR has been highlighted, first and foremost, by the friendships I have made, which help to make the Manor feel like more than simply a place to live. The most striking thing is the generosity of every graduate, be it with their time or their unique skills. This generosity is a part of the fabric of the Manor which captures the imagination of all MCR members and makes everyone’s experience here truly life changing.’ — Rahul Nath, DPhil Economics

Being part of the Manor and the MCR has without doubt been the highlight of my Oxford experience. I’ve found it to be an incredibly supportive and intellectually stimulating environment, and I’ve gained a huge amount from rubbing shoulders with brilliant young thinkers from a range of disciplines and backgrounds from around the world.’ — Helen Taylor, DPhil Law

The garden at Holywell Manor (photo: Rob Judges)

Sitting down for dinner and being surrounded by such a variety of people is immensely stimulating. They are enthusiastic, very serious about their studies, and involved in a multitude of activities. There’s so much going on, including academic talks and bops. The diversity of students provides a huge exchange of ideas and I’ve found that I’ve gained a much more rounded knowledge base from my interactions with so many people.’ — Rajdeep Mukherjee, DPhil Computer Science

I lived in the Balliol graduate centre, Holywell Manor, for three years. I was amazed by the historic surroundings and academic environment. I attended many events at the Manor, and made lots of friends.’ — Jing Li, DPhil Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

I have fond memories of my time as a student at Balliol and Holywell Manor. This experience taught me that you can succeed in a different country and language while widening your horizon both academically and personally, which is an exciting challenge. Balliol gave me the safety blanket with which to make this happen, thanks to inspirational mentors and like-minded individuals. The highlight was the mix of disciplines and nationalities, which shaped me enormously.’ — Ute-Christiane Meier, DPhil Clinical Medicine 

Holywell Manor (photo: Stephanie Kelley)

Intellectually [the Manor] is universally regarded as Oxford’s premier graduate institution, admired all over the world … There is a blaze of intellectual activity — two or three informal seminars a week, and innumerable discussions between geneticists and historians, medievalists, poets and computer scientists, with 30 different nationalities …’ — Oswyn Murray (Emeritus Fellow and former Praefectus of Holywell Manor) [from Floreat Domus 2001]

The garden at Holywell Manor (photo: Rob Judges)

Holywell Manor with its historic buildings and beautiful gardens, and its modern murals and sculptures, is one of Oxford’s best-kept secrets … We have over 30 different nationalities here with an even greater variety of subjects. There is a programme of interdisciplinary seminars with distinguished outside speakers of many varieties; and the Middle Common Room organises excellent internal research seminars. We have our own gym, music practice rooms, a common room and other public rooms; the gardens are open to the public occasionally, and host barbecues and the annual garden party. The graduates run their own bar and a lively social calendar, including a traditional Burns night to celebrate Balliol’s Scottish ancestry.

If you want to do your graduate studies in Oxford, this is a very special community.’ — Professor Tom Melham (former Praefectus of Holywell Manor) [from the MCR website]

Holywell Manor (photo: Piers Nye)