St Catherine's College, Oxford

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St Catherine's College

St Catherine's College, often called St Catz or simply Catz, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is one of the largest colleges of the University and its motto is Nova et Vetera ("the new and the old"). As of 2006, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £53m.[1]



St Catherine's College was founded in 1962 by the distinguished historian Alan Bullock, who went on to become the first Master of the college, and later Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. However, the college's roots lie in the previous century.

St Catherine's traces its descent from the Delegacy of Non-Collegiate Students, founded in 1868 to offer university education at Oxford without the costs of college membership. Nonetheless, the social role of a college was re-established by the Delegacy's students, meeting as St Catherine's Club (originally St Catharine's Club), which was named after its meeting place in a hall on Catte Street.[2] The Club was officially recognised by the University in 1931 as St Catherine's Society. It was thus developing the characteristics of a college, and in 1956 the Delegates decided to formalise this change in status.[3]

After acquiring 8 acres (32,000 m2) from Merton College, Oxford on part of Holywell Great Meadow for £57,690, monies were sought from the University Grants Committee who also agreed to supply £250,000 towards the building, and additional funds up to £400,000 for all facilities. By 1960 Sir Alan Bullock raised a further £1,000,000 with invaluable assistance from two industrial notables, Sir Alan Wilson (met by chance on the RMS Queen Mary) and Sir Hugh Beaver. After a total cost of £2.5 million, the college opened in 1962 to male students. St Catherine's admitted women from 1974, becoming one of the first five co-educational non-graduate colleges in the university (Nuffield College, a graduate college, was the first in 1937).


The college is situated towards the east of Oxford, on the bank of the Cherwell river. Its striking buildings in glass and concrete by the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen marry modern materials with a traditional layout around a quadrangle. Jacobsen's designs went further than just the fabric of the buildings, with cutlery, furniture, and lampshades being of his own idiosyncratic design. The dining hall is notable for its Cumberland slate floor. The original college buildings received a Grade I listing on 30 March 1993.[4] Jacobsen's plans for the college did not include a chapel: St Cross church on the corner of Manor Road and Longwall Street used to serve this purpose when required before its decommission in the Autumn of 2008. The St Catherine's Christmas carol concert (2008) was held in Harris Manchester College's chapel. The college has a bell tower however; it is particularly visible since no college building is more than three storeys high. An extra floor was reputedly planned for most accommodation blocks, but due to regulations concerning safe building on marshland, this was removed from the final design.

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