Ceiling detail inside St Cross Church

St Cross Church

Balliol celebrated its 750th anniversary in 2013. A leading force in the University since about 1825, its fame has been international for well over a century. As a consequence of its antiquity and reputation, it has acquired outstandingly rich and varied Historic Collections comprising medieval manuscripts, many early and rare printed books, and notable holdings of modern literary, scientific and political papers, besides its own extensive archives. These collections span more than eight centuries, and are part of the National Heritage. 

Interior of St Cross Church from the early 20th c. showing the wall paintings around the chancel arch and inside the chancel

Planning for the project, headed by Dr John Jones for Balliol, involved research and recording of the stained glass and the memorials inside the Church and in the ancient Churchyard. 

The interior of the Historic Collections Centre in St Cross Church 2021

The main works began on 4 January 2010 and were completed a year later, and the collections were moved in during 2011. No burials were disturbed and no memorials moved. Full conservation work was undertaken on the building’s structure and on the stained glass and painted ceilings. The church’s pipe organ was dismantled in early 2009 under the direction of the Reverend Alan Matchett, Rector of Adare, Limerick, and taken to Ireland. 

Access to the collections was suspended and the archivist’s enquiry service limited during the moving period, January — September 2011. In fulfilment of the project’s main objectives, the conditions in which the archives and manuscripts are kept are much improved, and they are more easily accessible to researchers than they were on the Broad Street site. 

For more information about the history of the church and the conversion project, please see Jones: St Cross Church, Holywell.