St Aidan's College, Durham


St Aidan's College
University of Durham
St Aidan's College.jpg
St Aidan's College.svg
LocationWindmill Hill, Durham DH1 3LJ
Coordinates54°45′51″N 1°35′02″W / 54.764167°N 1.583889°W / 54.764167; -1.583889Coordinates: 54°45′51″N 1°35′02″W / 54.764167°N 1.583889°W / 54.764167; -1.583889
MottoLatin: Super fundamentis certis
Motto in EnglishUpon sure foundations
Named forSt Aidan of Lindisfarne
PrincipalSusan Frenk
WebsiteSt Aidan's College
JCRSt Aidan's JCR
SCRSt Aidan's SCR
Boat clubSt Aidan's Boat Club
St Aidan's College, Durham is located in Durham, England
St Aidan's College, Durham
Location in Durham, England

St Aidan's College is a college of the University of Durham in England. Founded in 1947 as the St Aidan's Society, but able to trace its roots back to the end of the 19th century, the college is named for St Aidan of Lindisfarne.


Front view of the central building

The college has its origins in the small group of women, known as home students, who were first allowed to study at Durham in 1895.[1] At that time, and indeed until the Second World War, it was considered unsuitable for female students to live in lodgings: they either had to be members of a college or to live at home. The numbers were never very large; for example, in 1936 there were only five. However, a substantial increase in the number of female students after 1945 meant that the former group of home students was reorganised, emerging as the St Aidan's Society in 1947.[citation needed]

The St Aidan's Society had its offices at 24 North Bailey (now the bar and club of the Durham Union Society). Some of the students lived in Shincliffe Hall and others in lodgings. A common room was soon found in 50 North Bailey and chapel services held at the church of St Mary-le-Bow. The first principal was Ethleen Scott,[2] having been "Censor" of the female home students since 1937.[citation needed]

In 1961 St Aidan's was reconstituted as a full "council college", meaning that its governing council is a sub-committee of the university council, the university's governing body. It moved to its present buildings on Elvet Hill in September 1964, becoming one of the first of the university's "Hill" colleges.[3] The college buildings are in a modernist style, having been designed by architect Sir Basil Spence and arranged in a semi-circular arrangement surrounding a central lawn.[4] The original design was intended to represent the hand of God holding a jewel, with the curved corridors as the fingers, the straight corridors as his thumb, and a small chapel as the jewel. However, financial constraints prevented the chapel from ever being built and later extensions to the straight section did not follow the original idea.[citation needed]

In 1963, Scott was succeeded as principal by Dame Enid Russell-Smith,[5] who handed over to Irene Hindmarsh in 1970.[6] It was during her tenure as principal that it was agreed that St Aidan's should become a mixed college. The first male students were admitted in 1981.[4]

John Ashworth took over in 1998, before becoming dean of colleges in 2007, at which point Susan Frenk became acting principal. In 2008 work on improvements to the extensions were started. The aim was to turn previous fresher rooms into ensuite accommodation for finalists and postgraduates. The newly refurbished extensions, named the Elizabeth Pease House, were opened to students in 2009.[7]


St Aidan's College entrance

The college membership divides itself between the senior common room (SCR) and the junior common room (JCR). The SCR is a self-regulating body of senior members of the university, college officers, tutors and postgraduate students. The JCR consists of the undergraduate members of the college and elects its own officers, including a sabbatical president and a bar steward, who liaise on its behalf with the college and university.[8]


The current principal is Susan Frenk, a lecturer in Spanish and Latin-American culture.

  • Ethleen Scott (1947?–1970)
  • Dame Enid Russell-Smith (1963–1970)
  • Irene Hindmarsh (1970–1988)
  • Robert Williams (1991–1997)[9]
  • John Ashworth (1998–2007)
  • Susan Frenk (2007–present)


Boat club

In 1954 St Aidan's College Boat Club (SACBC) was founded. Today the club shares a boathouse with University College Boat Club. The club competes with other colleges, as well as competing in the Durham Regatta.[10]

Association football

St Aidan's College participates in the intercollegiate football league. There are five men's and one women's team representing St Aidan's College, with both A teams featuring in the premiership as of 2016.[11]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Report by the Vice-chancellor and Warden for the year 1960-61. Durham University. 1961.
  2. ^ 'SCOTT, Ethleen Mary', Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 7 April 2013
  3. ^ "Durham, Durham University, St Aidan's College | Canmore". Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b "St Aidans College @ Durham SU". Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  5. ^ 'RUSSELL-SMITH, Dame Enid (Mary Russell)', Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 7 April 2013
  6. ^ 'HINDMARSH, Irene', Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 7 April 2013
  7. ^ "St Aidan's College : Accommodation - Durham University". Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  8. ^ "The JCR | St Aidan's College JCR". 20 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  9. ^ "About - Professor Robert Williams". Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Regatta results - St Aidan's College Boat Club". Durham Regatta. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  11. ^ "College Sport : League Tables – Durham University". Team Durham. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Jon Ashworth MP for Leicester South – on your side". Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Durham University Rugby". DURFC 2020. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  14. ^ Ray, Paul (23 March 2021). "Sir Graham Brady: "The government has gone too far"". Palatinate. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Sir John Deane's College | Sir John Deane's College". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  16. ^ "School Biology Teacher of the Year Award winner announced". 1 July 2013. Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Professor Monica Grady | IAS Durham". Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  18. ^ Durham First (22 June 2016). "Durham First : More than a Buddy". Durham University. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Who's Who". 5 December 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Nick Mohammed's heart "lies in Durham"". The Palatinate. 6 December 2010.
  22. ^ "Durham First issue 31 by Durham University Alumni Relations". 14 December 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  23. ^ Nicolle, Stéphanie Claire, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 7 April 2013
  24. ^ "Burke's Peerage - Preview Family Record". 25 December 2010. Archived from the original on 25 December 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2021.


  • Rodmell, Graham. St Aidans: from Home Students to Society to College. University of Durham, 1997. ISBN 0-9530465-0-8

External links

  • St Aidan's on Durham University website
  • St Aidan's College JCR website
  • St Aidan's College SCR postgraduate student and staff organisation