Remodelling the College’s Central Spaces

Our Hall and dining rooms are the core of College activity, where students and Fellows come together to build our community, and our Members gather to reminisce. At the time of their construction in the 1960s, these shared Spaces helped to transform the College into the flourishing institution that it is today.

An extensive update and redesign of central College spaces will deliver a stylish, streamlined community space for our Members, Fellows and staff, essential to meet the needs of a 21st-century College.

Our two-minute video gives you a feel for the remodelling which will take place. Our architects Gort Scott have created this presentation to outline what we have to look forward to.

Although 80% of funds have now been raised, we continue to seek donations to facilitate the build of this £15-16 million project. We will start building work in Michaelmas Term 2020, with a build completion date of June 2022.

The brief for the project was demanding in order to deliver wide ranging improvements in a scheme that transforms the Hall and associated areas into a space that matches the quality and serviceability of the McGrath Centre. Key features of the revitalisation will include reviewing and reversing the Hall layout, repositioning High Table to the opposite end; creating a staff corridor to afford unobtrusive transit through the Hall to other service areas; a review of contingent hospitality rooms and facilities; a review and improvement of the basement area and the modernisation, to latest standards, of the kitchen and buttery areas of the current footprint of our Hall suite. The solution must prioritise addressing the disabled access and audibility limitations of the current Hall.

In the winning architects’ design, enlarged and reconfigured catering areas facilitate improved food production lines in an upgraded working environment. Discreet movement and convenient serveries are seamlessly integrated so that the Hall, SCR, Armitage Room, OCR and new 30-person dining room are all fully accessible and fully serviceable: making the most of existing heritage assets. The Sherlock library will be modified and refurbished to accommodate workspaces for study, and to retain the Library as a beautiful, contemplative space for everyday use. A secure, climate-controlled environment suitable for rare book conservation is to be created as part of this development.

The plans incorporate the addition of a new private dining room to seat up to 30 people, located on the site of the present Buttery. This elegant new room will be named in memory of Dr Sydney Smith, Fellow of St Catharine’s between 1939 and 1988.

For too long the Sherlock library has been a hidden and often inaccessible space. This beautiful eighteenth century library deserves its own access and it is planned that the scheme will include a staircase and lift from Chapel Court up to one of the most inspirational and peaceful rooms in College.

A major pledge in support of remodelling these central spaces has been received (February 2019), meaning this project to refresh the central hub of College life is within our grasp, with a target build start date of Michaelmas Term 2020. The lead sponsors would like to encourage the collaborative engagement of other Members of College to provide support, so that this work can be realised as soon as possible.


Peter (1974) and Christina (2016) Dawson have given a substantial lead gift of £4 million and established a matched funding challenge of equivalent value, to encourage others to support this vital project. Until December 2021, all gifts received for the project will be matched on a pound-for-pound basis, up to a maximum of £4 million. Successful completion of this matched funding challenge will enable the College to complete the remodelling of our central spaces.

Campaign Target

To seek donations to finance this major project, the estimated total cost of which is in the region of £15 – 16 million.

Donor Boards
– in recognition of your support:

Central Spaces – Donors who give £10,000+ can choose to have their name listed alphabetically on the main donor board or:

Sydney Smith Private Dining Room Donors who give £10,000+ and specifically want their gift to be in memory of Dr Sydney Smith can choose to have their name listed alphabetically on the donor board for this room instead.

Make a gift by visiting our donation pages.