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The History of the Oxford Union, Part 2: The Smoking Room

The History of the Oxford Union Smoking Room The surviving resources for the Smoking Room are disparate and scattered across the Oxford Union Society and Oxford City in general. For example, the Union holds historic floor plans for: the ground floor, second floor and third floor of its buildings but the first floor, where the … Read more

The History of the Oxford Union, Part 1: The Writing Room

The History of the Oxford Union Writing Room The surviving resources for this research are patchy at best: deeds, campaign pamphlets, partial floor-plans, etc, so it is not always possible to fill in the blanks in the Oxford Union Society’s history. In spite of this, this is what has been uncovered about the Oxford Union … Read more

The King and Country debate

The King and Country debate On the evening of 9 February 1933, Oxford Union members assembled for their regular Thursday night debate to consider the motion That this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country. The fact the motion was carried, by 275 votes to 153, caused outrage amongst some members … Read more

As She Likes It: The Woman Who Gatecrashed the Union (Part 3: After the Gatecrash)

As She Likes It: The Woman Who Gatecrashed the Union Part 3 – After the Gatecrash Back in 1962, a few months after the gatecrash, despite the unsympathetic and the disinterested, Jenny and her supporters eventually achieved their goal. As a result of their campaign, more than two-thirds of the House voted in favour of … Read more

As She Likes It: The Woman Who Gatecrashed the Union (Part 2: NHS Wigs and the Man with Small Feet)

As She Likes It: The Woman Who Gatecrashed the Union Part 2 – NHS Wigs and the Man with Small Feet The next morning, Jenny wrote a note to Howard Preece, the Union President at that time, thanking him for his hospitality and adding that hopefully in the future women could enter the debating chamber … Read more

As She Likes It: The Woman Who Gatecrashed the Union (Part 1: Regarding the Top of the Speaker’s Head)

As She Likes It: The Woman Who Gatecrashed the Union Part 1 – Regarding the Top of the Speaker’s Head In 1959, Jenny … Read more

Previous Oxford Union Anniversary Celebrations

Whilst the Oxford Union is celebrating its bicentenary year, it seems an appropriate moment to look back at how the Society has celebrated in the past. Jubilee anniversary (1873) The 50th anniversary of the Oxford Union Society was marked by a Jubilee banquet with speeches held in the Corn Exchange (located in the courtyard behind … Read more

Uniomachia: The Poem That Saved The Union

Written in 1833 as a humorous account of a conflict within the Oxford Union Society, the poem Uniomachia succeeded in healing divisions and securing the future of the Society. Background From the spring of 1832, the governing Committee of the Oxford Union was controlled by a succession of politically-Conservative members, including Edward Cardwell. In Michaelmas … Read more

A brief history of the Union Library

[M]ay it not be hoped that if the debates were ever to cease, the Union would still survive, attached to a library? Featuring beautiful work spaces, approximately 60,000 books, and a thriving Library Committee responsible for maintaining interesting and relevant collections, the Library acts as a key attraction to Union membership. The Old Library’s Pre-Raphaelite … Read more

Support us

As we reflect on our 200-year legacy, securing our future is tantamount to securing our independence – the freedom to self-govern and the freedom of speech. Central to our ability to retain our independence is our historic grade II* listed debating chamber and other rooms where debates and interactive speaker meetings take place.

We have therefore launched an Urgent Appeal to raise £5M by mid-2024 to carry out essential maintenance works to prevent the closure of the buildings.

The loss of our buildings, however temporary, would pose a serious threat to our ability to operate independently and with legitimacy. Unlike colleges and other higher education institutions, the Union does not receive taxpayer funding.