This guide is meant to provide useful information about the non-academic side of life to new Balliol postgraduate students. It is written and maintained by the MCR committee and is intended as an informal guide to graduate living. It should be read in conjunction with the College Handbook, which is written by College and is the official and comprehensive rule book.

If you have any suggestions about the content of this guide, please contact the MCR IT Officer or a relevant member of the MCR Committee. Be sure to check out our page on Student Life for more information about the postgraduate community.

Holywell Manor Site

The Holywell Manor Complex is physical center of the Balliol MCR, consisting of the Manor building itself, the Martin Building, the Dellal Building, and the Jowett Walk Buildings.

In addition to residential spaces, the Manor Complex contains most MCR spaces and services, as well as providing a base for graduate students living out in private accommodation. 

The Jowett Walk Buildings, A Block, The Masters' Field and the MCR Student Garden are all located across the road from the main Manor building.

The Lodge

You will probably have many reasons to pop into the Lodge, which is located right by the entrance to Holywell Manor. The Lodge is an important source of information of all kinds about Balliol, and should be your first stop when you come to the Manor for the first time.

It has many useful things that can usually be borrowed in exchange for a Bod Card. Additionally, most bookings for rooms, sporting grounds, or other resources at Balliol are made through the Lodge. Feel free to call the lodge or use the booking sheets posted in the hall just outside. 

The Lodge is also the central point of contact in any emergency situation!

It is manned 24/7 except for brief periods of time when the night porter does a security round. Please be patient if there is no Porter in the lodge. The telephone number of the Holywell Manor Lodge is (0)1865 271501 (x71501 from a University phone).

Postroom and Pidgeon Holes
All graduates living at the manor site are allocated pigeonholes at the Manor. (All graduates have pigeonholes at Main site.) At Holywell Manor, there are also larger alphabetical bins for post that cannot be matched to a current resident.

Graduates are expected to check their post regularly, as it is sometimes used for official communications from college. 

An internal messenger service daily takes up to five letters per person to locations within the University free of charge. You should allow two days for delivery. There is a charge of 3p each if you send more than five letters. Post should be handed in to the Lodge. The messenger service collects and delivers twice a day.

Arkwright's (The Lodge Shop)
The Holywell Manor Lodge has a small shop where you can purchase a number of common food and household items.

There is selection of confectionery, crisps, savoury snacks, breakfast and health food bars, canned drinks, fruit juices, milk, iced teas, flavoured milk and bottled water. There is also a stock of stamps and envelopes. The Shop is open from 6.00 am to midnight every day of the week and accepts cash only.

The photocopier is located in the Post Room. Photocopier cards may be purchased from the Shop at the cost of either £1 or £5.

Fax Machine
The fax machine is located in the Lodge and can be reached on (0)1865 271503. There is a fixed charge of 50p per sheet for sending a fax. Graduates are not charged for receiving faxes. These are deposited in your pigeonhole.

Painted Room

The Painted Room is a space between the MCR and the Entrance Foyer of the Manor. It is currently used as a general lounge and study space. The beautifully painted walls of the room have been recently restored and tell the founding story of Balliol College.


In addition to being the collective body of Balliol Graduate Students, the "Middle Common Room" is also a physical space that serves as a living room and social hub for many residents of Holywell Manor.

The MCR subscribes to a range of newspapers and magazines, which are available for communal use in the MCR. Please do not remove them! A yearly poll is taken to determine which subscriptions should be made. After a period, the magazines are placed in a box in the postroom for Living Out Members to take and use.

The MCR is equipped with a coffee machine which can be used by members to make a variety of coffee and milk containing beverages. The prices for various drinks are extremely reasonable and are clearly posted nearby. The coffee machine operates on an honour system; after making a drink, remember to make a note in the coffee book so that you can be charged via battels.

A piano is also available. It can be played until 10 pm during weekdays and 11 pm at the weekend. Any comments regarding the MCR or its facilities should be directed to the MCR Vice President.

The Megaron

As many of you already know, the Holywell Manor Bar (known as the Megaron) is a main centre of graduate life in the MCR. Hold on to your hats kiddos, because this bar is unlike any other!

Firstly, it works on the honour system, and you're extended your very own credit-line. Just take a drink and then mark it down in the book on the sheet with your name on it. At the start of next term you'll find out on your college bill exactly how much you've had to drink . . . hopefully you'll remember it all!

The Megaron is a great place to gather for conversation, snacks, and drinks of all kinds. It has very few rules, but they're important:

1. Please don't steal.
The bar has always worked on an honour system, and this fact is in large part responsible for its laid-back homey atmosphere. Drinks are very cheap, often cheaper than the off-licence, but they're not free. Inside the bar area you will find a large book with a page for every graduate student.
When you take a drink or a packet of crisps, mark it off in the book. You will be charged on your battels (term-bill) at the end of term. You can also pay in cash, at the same prices. A beer, a glass of wine, and a measure of spirits all cost between 80 p and £1.60. Bottled soft drinks and red bull are 80 p. Crisps, chocolates and canned soft drinks are 45 p. During bops only cash is accepted and prices are inflated.

2. Please be respectful of other Manorites.
Try not to make too much noise, especially very late at night, and even more especially not in the garden.

3. Use of the Bar
Opening times are at the Bar Manager's discretion. The bar is usually open in the afternoon and stays open until around 1am.

It is bar policy that at midnight everyone must go to the cockpit to prevent causing disturbance, but the bar can remain open for you to simply get a drink until 2am.

Other than those times, the bar may be opened by anyone on the MCR executive committee, anyone on the Bar Committee, anyone doing a bar shift, or the Bar Manager. Anyone else wanting to open the bar for any reason should call or email the bar manager.

4. The Bar Committee
The Bar Committee is a list of six people who can check out the bar key from the porter's lodge. These people also assist the bar manager infrequently, usually by helping me clean or stock, and by taking shifts at bops. The list will be populated by the bar manager on a first-come basis.

5. Our Premises License (Important Legal Stuff)
The Megaron Bar is licensed by the Oxford Council Licensing Authority, as detailed in our Club Premises Certificate, and required by English Law (Licensing Act 2003).

The Bar license allows alcohol to be consumed between 10.00 and 02.00 the following day.

Alcohol may not be consumed in the garden after 22:00.

The following extra conditions apply to our Certificate:
I. The designated Bar Committee shall take all reasonable measures to ensure that no nuisance is caused by noise emanating form the premises.
II. All external doors and windows must be kept closed, other than for access and egress in all rooms
III. The Premises Certificate shall not include the garden area after 22.00.

The following is especially important to note:
Licensing Act 2003 s.73(4) "any alcohol supplied for consumption off the premises must be in a sealed container." This means that while you may purchase an unopened bottle of beer or wine at the bar and carry it off the premises (to your room, a kitchen, or the bbq), you may not carry an open container off the premises.

6. Enjoy
The bar is a very relaxed and enjoyable place to hang out. There's plenty of
non-alcoholic stuff like juice and soft-drinks and candy available. And there's plenty of beer, wine and spirits. If there's anything you like that isn't being stocked, just email the bar manager.

The Cockpit

The Cockpit is in the basement of Holywell Manor. It is designed as a multifunctional space and is a common venue for larger MCR events. The room contains many moveable leather sofas and small tables. They are usually arranged in small groups so that more than one group can use the room at once. There is a pool table in one corner.

There is an alcove at one end of the room with a dining table and chairs. In combination with the attached kitchen, the Cockpit can be useful for hosting supper parties. 

The room also has a Playstation, an audio system, and a projector with various inputs, including for most laptops. Among many other things, these are used for the Sunday movie nights that occur regularly throughout term.

Members of the MCR may reserve the Cockpit for private events online at Balliol Bookings (single sign-on required). The key to the kitchen and projector controllers can be checked out from the Lodge in exchange for your university card.

TV Room

This room is currently under reservations, check back soon for further details!


There is a multi-gym in the Manor, located in the downstairs area directly off the Cockpit. You must attend an induction session and pay a registration fee (~£10 per term) before using the Gym for the first time. A number of the sessions are usually held in Michaelmas Term.

Keys are available from the Lodge, and can be signed out in exchange for your Bod Card between 6am and midnight. If another person is already in the gym, you must still leave your Bod Card at the Lodge for reasons of health and safety. Users of the Gym must wipe down any equipment that they use and return any portable equipment (free weights, etc.) to their storage positions.

Music Room

There is a music room next to the Cockpit that all are welcome to use between 9am and 11pm. It contains a piano, an electric keyboard and other assorted pieces of musical equipment./p>

It is not necessary to book the room, but those who want to be assured a spot can do so online at Balliol Bookings (single sign-on required). The key can be acquired from the lodge in exchange for your Bod card.

Additionally, there is also a music room at Main Site (in staircase 23, under the Hall) which is larger, more soundproof, and contains three pianos. The key is available from the Main Site Lodge to members of the Balliol Musical Society. Users must first book the room here. To join the Musical Society, either sign up at the Balliol Freshers' Fair or email the General Secretary; please see their website for current contact information.

Garden and Barbecue Pits

The garden behind Holywell Manor is maintained by the college gardeners and is for the use and enjoyment of Balliol MCR members. This small space contains great variety: a small lawn, huge ginko trees, seasonal landscaping, quiet back-woods benches, and a range of modern sculpture donated by former members of the MCR.

While generally private, the Holywell Manor garden is open to the public one day a year under the National Garden Scheme and occasionally throughout the year on an informal basis. Because there are many rooms facing the garden (including the Praefectus' residence), no noisy activity or conversation is permitted in the garden after 10 PM.

The rear of the garden contains a barbecue. MCR members are free to use the BBQ for small groups. The BBQ can be booked online at Balliol Bookings (single sign-on required).

Some BBQ equipment is available, but it is advisable to check that what you need is available before your event. As with all public MCR spaces, please clean up after yourself and ensure that all rubbish you generate is properly disposed of.

Use of the BBQ for larger parties is subject to the same conditions as for other communal spaces, namely that the Praefectus or Assistant Praefectus be notified in advance. The MCR owns a number of folding deckchairs that are available for members to use. These are kept in the room labelled "MCR Store" near the North Wing garden entrance and should be put away after use.

Please note that the Praefectus' garden (between the Manor House and St Cross Church) is private.

For an excellent 360 degree panorama of the front part of the Holywell Manor Garden go here and click play! (Link to external page).

JFY Bike Shed

The James Fairfax Yard bike shed can be found behind the big iron gate on Manor Road, past the Porter's Lodge towards Saint Catherine's College. This area is the home of the MCR bikes, which can be borrowed by members via the Bike Lending System.

There are also additional bike sheds at Dellal Building, in Jowett Walk, and at the main site. Please note that all bikes must be registered at Lodge for a nominal fee before they may be stored in Balliol bike sheds.

MCR Student Garden

A student-run vegetable and herb garden can be found behind the Dellal building. It is part of a broader effort at Balliol to promote environmental sustainability and to widen the Oxford experience beyond just academics. The student garden enjoys fantastic support from the college gardeners and the Praefectus, and is a large part of what makes the Balliol MCR unique among all of the colleges at Oxford.

The students who work on the garden are all volunteers, and everyone is learning and experimenting as they go. Through these efforts, an excellent variety of food and ornamental plants have been grown here, usually with good success. Volunteers have first choice on any harvested plants, but any excess is made available to the MCR at large.

The Garden falls under the auspices of the MCR Environmental Officer, but operational responsibility is sometimes delegated to another student. If you might like to help out (or just looking to eat more vegetables) please look out for e-mails at the start of the school year, or contact the Environmental Officer for more information.

The local climate tends to be varying degrees of cool and damp year-round, which presents some challenges and limits the types of plants that can be grown consistently. Despite this, the following plants were grown during the 2012-2013 academic year:

Rhubarb, Tuscan Kale, Curly Kale, Japanese Spinach, American Spinach, 2 types of potatoes, 3 types of carrots, thyme, mint, dill, sage, rosemary, coriander, curly parsley, flat parsley, Thai basil, European basil, hot chilies, tomatoes, arugula/rocket, corn salad, zucchini/courgette, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, french beans, tatsoi, bok choy, radish, lettuce, black currants, blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries, onions, salad onions/scallions, leeks, calendula, and nastritium.

The Master's Field

The Balliol Sports Field (a.k.a. the Master's Field) is a large field for various sports. It is located between Dellal/Martin Buildings and Jowett Walk, across St. Cross Road from Holywell Manor. There are tennis (hard surface, as well as an extra grass court generally available for use in the spring/summer) and squash courts built around the field. You can book them through the Main Site lodge, and pick up keys from the Manor Lodge.

There is also a full-sized croquet lawn (generally available from late spring) that can also be booked at the Lodge. This court features as the "home turf" for MCR Members for the University-wide Croquet Cup (the biggest, it is said, in the world), which normally takes place around early May.

Depending on the season, the main grassy area serves as a cricket and a football pitch on which the Balliol teams play their home matches: please feel free to come out and support them when they play! Officially, the use of the Master's Field for sports (excluding the squash and hard tennis courts) has to receive the Head Groundsman's prior approval.

A Block and Jowett Walk

The Holywell Manor Complex consists not only of the Holywell Manor itself, but also of two additional buildings: Jowett Walk and A Block

Jowett Walk
The Jowett Walk buildings are located along Jowett Walk, across the Master's Field from Martin and Dellal, and about 5 minutes walk from Holywell Manor. They consist of six "Towers" containing a mix of graduate and undergraduate housing.

The Jowett Walk buildings also house 2 small lecture rooms (the Lin and Von Trott Rooms), as well as a theatre (the Michael Pilch), which can be reserved via the Main Site Lodge.

A Block
A Block is located next to the Jowett Walk Buildings, and can be found on St. Cross Road, across the street from Holywell Manor.

Disabled Access

The Balliol MCR welcomes all students with a disability and undertakes to do everything possible to support them to make the most of their time at the College. The Disability Officer at Balliol College is the Senior Tutor, Nicola Trott. You can also contact the MCR Disabilities Officer with any concerns relating to disability.

Accessibility and accommodation
Wheelchair access into the College is via the metal gates off Magdalen Street East; please make the Lodge aware so that the Porter can operate the automatic gates. The Chapel and Front Quad can then be accessed via the Fellows' Garden and the Chapel Passage. There is accessible teaching space on the main site. It is also possible to arrange car-parking. The Graduate Centre at Holywell Manor can be accessed from Manor Place, linking through the Garden and into the South Wing corridor for access to specially designed rooms and showers. Those who cannot get to the Library in person may request books by email; these will be delivered to their room in College. The College owns several rooms that are specially adapted for disabled students, with disabled showers. There is one on the main site, one in the Graduate Centre at Holywell Manor, and three in Jowett Walk available for graduate students.

Arrangements for examinations
If students need practical help with, or extra time for, examinations because of a disability (for example, if it would be impossible for a student to sit examinations in the Examination Schools, or if a candidate needed to use a computer), the Academic Administrator can seek permission for, and organise, the required special provision.

More information about the University's Disability Equality Scheme and Advisory Service are available in the links below:
University Disability Equality Scheme
University Disability Advisory Service


Holywell Manor itself, Martin and Dellal Buildings, and a small part of Jowett walk form the Holywell Complex that contains the accommodation that Balliol provides for its graduate members.

The graduate room rental contracts can begin at any point between 1 September and the start of Hilary Term. They last 44 weeks, except in Jowett Walk where the contract lasts 36.5 weeks. Extension of the contract to 31st August is often available by arrangement with the Accommodation Manager and is charged separately. Upon arrival students should go to the Holywell Manor lodge where they can pick up room keys and other information 24 hours a day.

The College bills for accommodation in three termly installments on College battels. You are batteled before the 2nd Friday of each term. Up-to-date rents can be found at the Balliol Weblearn site (University Single Sign-On Required). Additional details about college accommodation and the facilities and services available to residents can be found on this dedicated page.