Blackfriars is a hugely supportive and international community which welcomes both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as long as they are aged 21 or above ('mature students'). Thanks to its small size, Blackfriars is known for its close-knit ‘family’ atmosphere. The Hall is run by Dominican friars, although there are also a number of lay fellows and administrative staff. You don’t have to be a Roman Catholic to study at Blackfriars - students come from wide variety of backgrounds, and as such, some members of the Hall are religious believers, while others are not. Two crucial things prospective students should keep in mind are, firstly, that students need to feel comfortable sharing space with the Dominican friars and, more broadly, the community of Blackfriars Priory, and, secondly, that they respect the Catholic community’s values and way of life.
Blackfriars Hall does not provide meals on site. Students have the option of eating 'in hall' at Regent’s Park (2 minutes away from Blackfriars) which also gives them the opportunity to socialise with an even wider range of students. See Regent’s Park College for more details.
All first year undergraduates and visiting students are guaranteed accommodation, with graduate students receiving rooms as space allows. Students are housed in Georgian houses in St John’s Street, 2 or 3 minutes walk from the Hall. There are no en-suites and the rooms are randomly allocated, except for students with disabilities. Laundry and kitchen facilities are available, and all the houses are mixed in terms of year groups.
Blackfriars has quite the active musical and athletic scene for being such a small Hall. There is a choir, who perform during the Sunday mass (among other times) at Blackfriars’ Priory, as well as a musical ensemble which performs at garden parties, and sometimes at other formal events, such as the Blackfriars Oxford Wine Society. This past year, the Hall has only taken part in theatre as members of the audience, but the Hall community is certainly opening to expanding their involvement. Several individuals participated in a play by Chesterton, put on by the Catholic Chaplaincy, and were warmly supported by the members of the MCR. There are also a couple societies going, e.g. the wine society (which, some may say is what Blackfriars is best known for). Athletics are incorporated into Blackfriars through a partnership with St. Benet’s in crew, and an athletics grant provided by the Hall. This grant is frequently used by students to attend the local PureGym, or to defray costs of participating in athletics at the University level.
The senior welfare team is made up of a Welfare Officer, the Chaplain, and the Senior Tutor who are all available for students and are likely to get to know each student individually, given the Hall's small size. The students are represented by a Student Welfare Officer known as the "Welfairy" for some reason lost in the midst of time who is in charge of organising weekly welfare teas involving copious amounts of cake. Further to this team, and given the small size, all onsite senior members and Hall staff can - and do - support students' well-being from time to time on a friendly and informal basis.
Blackfriars is a rather small, but close-knit, PPH. Much of the social activity takes place in the large coomon room of the MCR, which is located on site in the Hall, or within one of the two houses on St. John Street where many of the students live. There is no college bar and, as such, there are no alcohol-related payments. The MCR is very active. Historically, there have been events at least twice a week, and it is looking like this frequency will be increased in the upcoming academic year. Examples of (intended) events for students at Blackfriars include: the annual winter ball, trips to Blenheim Palace, wine and classical music nights, garden parties within Blackfriars, BBQs at St. John Street, trips to the Ashmolean and Pitt-Rivers, the Blackfriars Oxford Wine Society (BOWS), pub nights, trips to the theatre for plays or classical music, a drink reception at the Randolph, punting outings, movie nights in the Aula, a Thanksgiving dinner for all American students, debates (quod libets), a Halloween Bop, and a Christmas party including Secret Santa.
As one of the smallest colleges in Oxford, Blackfriars has a very familiar atmosphere. The hall welcomes and features people from various backgrounds and creeds, which always makes for interesting discussions. I have felt accepted and valued in the Blackfriars community.
I love Blackfriars and would recommend coming here to everyone. Not only do the tutorials intellectually engage and stimulate, but the community in the JCR and interaction with the Dominicans make Blackfriars simply wonderful.
You might also want to take a look at the official college website.