Franciscan monks came to Oxford from Italy in 1224 to establish their priory and begin teaching. They were known as Greyfriars because of the colour of their robes, and they gained a reputation for their holiness, poverty and learning. The monks played a crucial part in the growth of the young Oxford University.
Paradise Street is so named because it was originally a footpath through their five-acre monastery orchard and kitchen gardens. Quaking Bridge at the lower end of the street was originally a rickety wooden bridge, in existence since the 13th century and used for the crossing of Castle Mill Stream west of the castle. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1537 the gardens were sold off in small plots for building. Records show that in 1631 there was a building on the site called Paradise House belonging to William Chillingworth, who was Mayor of Oxford. From 1700 the house was leased for a number of years by William Bodley, who renovated the building, adding the porch and the wing closet extension (in keeping with the London fashion for dressing rooms). It is believed that he also added the wood panelling, twisted stair banisters, window shutters and the ornate fireplaces. The wood panelling would have been painted either green or brown and above would have been a sacking cloth covering the walls to hide the stonework from view.
William Bodley was born 1653 in Cornmarket Street, Oxford. He was an ironmonger like his father; a bailiff and an alderman for Oxford. He died aged 63 and there is a monument to him in St Ebbe's church. The building known originally as Paradise House had been renamed as Greyfriars by 1900. Fast forward to the 21st Century, the name has become Greyfrairs Hideaway to pay reverense to the past and also to recognise the location as a hideaway in the heart of central Oxford.