A historical house

Brasenose College

Brasenose, which owned lands adjoining, leased the property until around the end of the century. In 1863 part of the property was left to Thomas Randall, who was a member of the town council, like his predecessor Sir William Taunton. From 1869 to 1872 Prince Hassan, son of the khedive of Egypt, was resident while studying law at Brasenose. 

In 1872 Grandpont House was briefly the focus of attention on account of the disturbances over the new Licensing Act. The Act permitted licensing magistrates to put back licensing hours; in Oxford, as elsewhere, they were besieged on the one hand by temperance groups and on the other by brewers, publicans and the drinking public. At their first meeting the magistrates could not come to a decision, but reduced the hours temporarily to 11 pm on weekdays and 10 pm on Sundays, largely as a result of Randall’s opposition to drink. On Saturday 7th September, the first evening the new rule applied, an angry crowd gathered at Carfax as soon as the pubs closed and listened to speeches denouncing the government, threatening to hang the rulers, and so on. They then made for Grandpont House, Alderman Randall’s residence. Fortunately the house — then as now — was not easy to get to, and a body of police under the command of Inspector Soanes held the gate from the towpath. Gathering on the footbridge in front of the house, the crowd began to throw stones at the house. Soanes read the Riot Act from the house and ordered the mob to ‘clear the bridge, allowing respectable persons to pass’. The police then charged the mob and chased them up St Aldates. After Alderman Randall’s death in 1888 his widow continued to live in Grandpont House until J. H. Salter, a Justice of the Peace, moved in in 1895. 

In the early years of the century Grandpont House became the residence of the chaplain of Brasenose, Rev. H. C. Wace. Between 1922 and 1944 it was occupied by another Brasenose Fellow, the eminent scholar William Holdsworth, Vinerian Professor of Law.

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