Grace HADOW (1875–1940)

Educationist, community services pioneer

7 Fyfield Road, Oxford

Grace Hadow
From the archives of St Anne’s College

Grace Eleanor Hadow was the daughter of the Revd William Elliot Hadow, vicar of South Cerney near Cirencester, and his wife Mary, née Cornish. She went up to Somerville College, Oxford in 1900 and after gaining a First in English she taught briefly at Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania. In 1906 she was appointed tutor and lecturer in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She edited The Oxford Treasury of English Literature (1907–8) with her distinguished older brother Sir Henry Hadow and published Chaucer and his Times in 1914. She was a founder member of the Oxford Women Students’ Society for Women’s Suffrage and took part in the embattled great procession of 1908 to the Albert Hall.

She also set up a branch of the National Union of Suffrage Societies in Cirencester. She helped to develop the local Women’s Institute there and joined Lady Denman in setting up the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in 1915. She remained Vice-Chairman for the rest of her life.

In 1917 after the death of her mother she gave up her academic work to help full time with the war effort. She was made Director of the Welfare Department of the Ministry of Munitions, concerned especially with the well-being of women munitions workers, their children, and living conditions. In 1920 she was persuaded to become Secretary of Barnett House, the Oxford town and gown hub of burgeoning social studies and social service, where she was a key figure in setting up the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council, adult education initiatives, and libraries.

In 1929 she was appointed Principal of the Society of Oxford Home-Students (later to be St Anne’s College), not yet a residential community but under Grace Hadow it got its first foothold on the present college site, with the building of Hartland House, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, as a library in 1937. She strengthened the sense of community through personal contact with students and the institution of Friday lunches for tutors at her home at 7 Fyfield Road.

7 Fyfield Road7 Fyfield Road, where Grace Hadow lived from 1929 to 1940

She played a part in University affairs, as a member of the hebdomadal council and the extra-mural delegacy. She served on Oxfordshire’s education committee, the adult education committee of the Board of Education, the advisory council of the BBC, and the national Council of Social Service. She always maintained a strong link between the Home-Students and Barnett House. Her interest in the international role of women prompted her to take sabbatical leave in 1938 to attend the British Commonwealth Conference in Sydney and then to undertake a lecture tour of twenty-two colleges in the USA. The trip proved ultimately exhausting and she succumbed to pneumonia from which she died in January 1940. She has a memorial tablet in the nave of St Mary’s, the University Church.


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, article by Teresa Smith
  • Grace Hadow, H. Deneke (1946)

The plaque was unveiled at 7 Fyfield Road on 29 October 2021 by Mrs Ann Jones, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, and Teresa Smith, Associate Fellow of Barnett House, who gave the main address. Among others attending were Cllr Mark Lygo, Lord Mayor of Oxford; Baroness Ruth Deech, former Principal of St Anne’s College; Professor Christine Gerrard, Principal of LMH; the Rt Hon Baroness Royall, Principal of Somerville; and Ms Clare White, Librarian and Archivist of St Anne’s College, representing the Principal.

Photographs of the unveiling ceremony

Speech made by Teresa Smith at the unveiling ceremony (PDF)

Hadow plaque

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

Scholar, educationist
and community services pioneer
Principal of the Society of
Oxford Home-Students
Pillar of the NFWI
Lived here

Oxford Civic Society

© Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board


Email: oxfordshireblueplaques@gmail.com