St Chad's College

St Chad's College is a college of the University of Durham in England. One of the smallest of Durham's colleges in terms of student numbers (350 undergraduates and 150 postgraduates), it has the largest staff, the most extensive college library facilities, and consistently the highest academic results in Durham. The main part of the college is located on the Bailey next to Hatfield College, occupying nine historic buildings at the east end of Durham Cathedral. It is one of the most competitive colleges to gain entry to and is named after St Chad of Mercia, a 7th-century bishop.


St Chad's was founded as an Anglican hall in 1904, chiefly, though never exclusively, for those considering ordination in the Church of England. The college has its roots in the catholic wing of the Church of England, and those roots are still evident in services in the college chapel. Archbishop Michael Ramsey described the College thus, 'I have always loved Saint Chad's College and it has been a joy to see the college go from strength to strength.... My spiritual home in Durham since 1939, Saint Chad's College represents to me the wholeness of faith and practice so needed in the universities and in the nation'.

The beginnings of the college date back to 1902, when the Rev. F.S. Willoughby, Vicar of Hooton Pagnell, near Doncaster, opened a small hostel in which to prepare men of limited means to enter one of the established theological colleges. The financial support of Douglas Horsfall, a wealthy Liverpool businessman and devoted churchman (who also funded the building of several large Anglo-Catholic churches in his home city) made it possible in 1904 to establish St Chad's Hall at Durham. St Chad's Hostel, Hooton Pagnell, was retained until 1916 as a preliminary place of study to prepare students to qualify for matriculation at Durham. The Hall became St Chad's College in 1919.

The college remains a Church of England foundation. For the first 70 years of its existence a high proportion of students did their undergraduate degree (in any discipline) at St Chad's, and then remained for postgraduate training for ordination. The college ceased formal ordination training in 1971, and its current students still read for degrees across all departments of the University. St Chad's was among the last university colleges in the UK to admit women undergraduates: the final all-male year entered in September 1987.

Academic Profile

Though most Durham colleges are primarily residential rather than teaching institutions, St Chad's has its own research and academic staff. The college includes a number of institutes and research groups: the Durham Policy Research Group, a group of more than a dozen academics headed by Professors Fred Robinson and Ian Stone, which advises on government policy and conducts primary research into regional development and regional economics; the Durham Media Academy, led by accomplished filmmaker Professor Richard Else in conjunction with Triple Echo Productions - a Scottish-based film production firm; the Musike Academy, headed by conductor Jean-Bernard Pommier; and the North of England Institute for Christian Education (independent of the college), headed by Professor Jeff Astley.

Charitable Activities

In addition to its primary charitable object of supporting students and scholars in Durham, the college works closely with Traidcraft, with whom it jointly promotes fair trade practices and offers the Traidcraft Fellowship. The college jointly sponsors the Ruth First scholarship, which annually enables a South African postgraduate student to study at Durham University. To widen participation, the college has its own links with four secondary schools in County Durham and with primary schools in the market town of Crook.

Collegiate Studies

All Durham colleges are interdisciplinary, enabling staff and students to broaden their study and research interests. St Chad's runs a collegiate studies programme, which complements departmentally-based studies. The programme is explicitly justice-orientated, reflecting the ethos and history of the college. Students and staff are introduced to complex social issues in the North East of England through study tours and seminars; they are invited to participate in a weekly programme of training-events that go beyond traditional transferable skills to include such things as ethical decision-making and introductions to fair-trade practices, social accounting and eco-friendly life-strategies.

International Dimension

In addition to the usual sports and cultural activities offered in most colleges, St Chad's has an international placement programme. Under the auspices of the Historic Schools Restoration Project, the college has a permanent link with St Matthew's High School in Keiskammahoek, Eastern Cape, South Africa, where students and recent grads mentor and teach for up to four months, some also providing in-service subject-specialist support to staff. The South African project includes training with staff from St Andrew's College. In addition, up to 20 students a year have participated in UN-sponsored placements in Kosovo, working at all levels of government. A defining feature of the college, up to 10% of undergraduates can be on placement in any given year.


St Chad's is a 'recognised college' of Durham University, but it is not maintained by the university (St John's has the same status). This means that, though a full college of the university, it is financially autonomous and independently governed. As a condition of recognition by the university, the university's governing council must approve the appointment of the Principal and be notified of changes to the college's constitution. In contrast, the maintained (or Council) colleges are actually owned, governed and managed by the university itself.

The college has a trading arm, through which the college manages its non-academic activities. The status of the various institutes attached to the college varies, with some being wholly owned by the college, and others being partnerships or joint-ventures with outside bodies.

The college was one of four Durham colleges designated by the university to accept open postgraduate applications in all disciplines, though now virtually all colleges accept such applicants. St Chad's has dedicated postgraduate residences and an unusually high percentage (more than 25%) of postgraduate students. The welfare of postgraduates is overseen by the college's Postgraduate Director.

Competition for membership in the college is fierce, and the college is the second most popular college (after the Castle) in Durham in terms of applications per place. Applications for postgraduate places similarly outnumber beds by a wide margin. Like other colleges, applicants are considered chiefly on the basis of academic merit, and 90% of undergraduates at St Chad's attain a first or upper second class degree.


The college's Visitor is the Archbishop of York, currently John Sentamu. The Visitor exercises customary visitorial functions and is the court of final appeal for any matters referred to him or her by the Governing Body. The Visitor is appointed by the Governing Body for a renewable five year period. In matters concerning college-university relations, the university's visitor has precedence.

The college's Rector is Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of Durham Cathedral. The Rector is the titular head of the college, who has responsibility for monitoring the college's furtherance of its Anglican tradition and for interpreting college statutes. Ceremonially, the Rector presides at many official functions in college: the role is akin to the Chancellor's role in the university.

The college is governed by a twenty-member Governing Body, headed by Jonathan Blackie CBE, who retired in 2011 from his post as Regional Director of Government Office North East. Responsibility for purely academic matters rests with the Council of Fellows. The Principal, as chief executive, sits on both the Governing Body and the Council of Fellows. The majority of governors are lay members, which is to say they are from outside the college. The university and the dioceses of York, Durham, Newcastle and Carlisle all nominate governors, though they must be approved by the governing body.

College Traditions
Academic Dress

Along with most Bailey Colleges, St Chad's students wear their college gowns to Formal Hall, Matriculation, College Congregations and other academic or formal events. The college gown is similar to others in Durham, with the addition of green cord across the edge of the vented sleeves (in practice most undergraduates' gowns do not have this feature). St Chad's also has retained its own distinctive academic hood (of black stuff with green lining and trim): previously designed for pre-1970s ordinands, the hood is today worn by graduates of the North East Institute for Theological Education and by Honorary Fellows. The Rector has a distinctive gown of gold braid on black silk, but college officers generally wear the gowns of their highest degrees.


Though all Durham University students now participate in large matriculation ceremonies in the Cathedral, St Chad's has, for over a hundred years, conducted its own matriculation. This signals the fact that students become members of the university through gaining acceptance both by an academic department and by their college. Matriculands wear academic address at the ceremony and every student signs the university's matriculation book and pledges adherence to the rules and traditions of the college and the university.


The chapel is overseen by the college Chaplain, an Anglican priest. Chapel attendance is entirely voluntary, given that the College accepts students without regard to their religious background. The college maintains a collegiate choral tradition, headed up by the Director of Music. Membership in the college choir does not require audition. The choir tours regionally and internationally and produces an annual CD of their music. The regional tours include regular visits schools in the North East, especially those on council estates, providing music workshops to students. The college offers a number of choral and organ scholarships every year.

Advent Procession

For over a half-century, the college has conducted an Advent Procession in Durham Cathedral. The candle-lit choral service is unusual in not solely anticipating Christmas, but in anticipating the Second Coming, which is the traditional theological focus of the Advent season itself. The choir splits into two, with one group seated in the choir and the other processing from the entrance to the Cathedral. The two groups call back and forth to each other, using chants based on the Great Advent Antiphons. These antiphons form the basis not only of the advent procession, but also of the popular advent hymn, "O come, O come, Emmanuel." The procession is advertised widely in the City of Durham; after the event, the college hosts its annual reception for city residents.

Formal Hall

Twice a week throughout most of the whole academic year, members of the college don academic gowns and gather for formal hall. This tradition brings students and staff together, though fellows, tutors and their guests sit at high table. This not only enables students who are living out to visit college, but it enables the college to entertain official guests regularly. Occasionally guests are invited, notably Tony Blair and former F1 driver David Coulthard.


The college has a number of feasts throughout the year. Both the Dining Hall and the Quad are used to provide a four-course meal for up to 250 people. Among the largest is the Principal's Feast, usually scheduled within a week or two of St Chad's Day. The Rector's Feast, a relatively new tradition, welcomes the Rector to the college for a formal 'visitation'. The Domus Dinner is an annual gathering of College Fellows along with the extended Senior Common Room and college benefactors. Feasts are often used to induct new Fellows into the college.

St Chad's Day

St Chad's Day features a day-long gaudy and begins before sunrise with a noisy wake-up call: in the past, the students would 'invade' neighbouring colleges, waking them up as well; though after a particularly boisterous event in 2009, which garnered much unwanted attention from the student media, the college successfully reshaped the celebration. After a green breakfast, students wear green clothes and body paint to various events and challenges held throughout the day, gathering at noon for a run around Palace Green, accompanied by the college's goat.


The college's motto, non vestra sed vos (literally not yours but you) reflects the college's beginnings, when it sought to enable students of modest means to gain access to a university education. The motto commits the college to being concerned with the person, rather than with what the person owns.


The college has a modest endowment, which is enough to fund significant annual capital improvements, up to ten professorial fellowships and several dozen named scholarships. About 15% of its income comes from public funds, a further 25% comes from research activities, with the rest raised through student fees, donations and conference income. The college is currently an exempt charity. The college's turnover is just over £2 million, and total assets as of 2006 were £5,981,676 (based on a deliberately conservative evaluation of the college's properties). In 2008, the college's previous Bursar, Mrs Christine Starkey, was jailed for fraud, for having stolen close to a half-million pounds, which would otherwise have been in the college's endowment. Mrs Starkey had deposited into the bank proceeds from the conference and B&B trade, but she failed to put these monies through the college's accounts. She then transferred the funds directly from the college's account to her own, hiding the transfers in bulk bank-to-bank BACS transfers. Unusually for such cases, the college was successful in recovering all of the money that had been stolen.

Accommodation and buildings

Students who study at St Chad's are accommodated in nine different houses: No. 1, Main College, Lightfoot House, Langford House, Grads (which contains one of the oldest hanging staircases in England) and Ramsey House all house undergraduates; Hallgarth Street, Epiphany House and Trinity Hall are home to the college's postgraduate community.

Main College houses the major public areas and most college offices. At the centre of Main College is the Quad, a glassed-in quadrangle built for the college's centenary in 2004. The college's dining hall, the Moulsdale Hall, is adjacent to the Quad. The Durham Media Institute, the college bar and gymnasium are located in this building. The college bar won the 'University Bar' category of the 2009 Best Bar None awards for Durham City and holds this title until the end of the 2009-10 academic year.

The three library rooms on the ground floor of Main College (the Bettenson Room and the Brewis and Williams Libraries) contain the core curricula texts for many of the courses currently on offer in the university. The Williams Library doubles as a multi-media room and is often used for meetings and lectures. There are two more libraries on the first floor: the Wetherall Library, which houses most of the Theology and Philosophy collections; and the Research Library, which contains the Church History and Liturgy collections of the college, as well as a collection of older books. The Fenton Library, which opened in October 2006, is located on the third floor. Comprising three separate rooms, the Fenton Library is used primarily for private study, containing approximately thirty individual study carrels.

The university holds most of the college's medieval manuscripts and its oldest books.

The College Chapel was built after the first world war. Intended only as a temporary building, the unheated woodframe building seats 120 people and has been in continuous use. The Chapel's contents are older than its structures, with older donated pews from various churches and a ballroom dance floor from a decommissioned ocean-liner.

Epiphany House, in addition to providing student housing, is home to the North of England Institute for Christian Education, headed by Professor Jeff Astley.

Most of the college buildings are Grade II listed.

Societies and events

Since its foundation, St Chad's College Boat Club has a distinguished record of winning races and regattas. It was founded in 1906 and operates from the college boathouse on the River Wear. The college football team was promoted to the Men's 1st Division in 2007.

2011 has seen the re-establishment of a theatre company at St Chad's, Green Door Productions, which aims to promote all aspects of theatre within the college, be it acting, directing, set design or backstage work. College drama is mentored by theatre director Giles Ramsay, a college fellow. In a highly-publicised event, Australian actor Russell Crowe visited the College in 2011 to give a Master Class in acting.

Every year the college hosts a Candlemas Ball. Founded in 1956, this is one of the older and more flamboyant balls in the university. It is recognised, along with University College's June Ball, as being one of Durham's versions of the University of Cambridge's May Balls.

College Fellows

Dr Joseph Cassidy has been Principal. of St Chad's since 1997. A Canadian social ethicist and Anglican priest, he is also a non-residentiary Canon of Durham Cathedral.

Senior College Officers include the Principal, the Senior Tutor, the Chaplain, the Directors of the various academic Centres, the Librarian, Bursar and Commercial Director. In addition, St Chad's has over 30 College Fellows, Research Fellows and Research Associates. All-told, there are 40 college tutors, who act as mentors for both undergraduates and postgraduates. The college offers a number of visiting fellowships to academics of all disciplines. A further 60 university staff associate themselves with the college, chiefly through membership in the Senior Common Room. The college awards honorary fellowships, usually to distinguished alumni of the college, but also to others who have made significant contributions to the Church or to public life.

List of Principals
  • 1904 The Revd Dr Stephen R. P. Moulsdale (became Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, 1934)
  • 1937 The Revd John S. Brewis
  • 1947 The Revd Canon Theodore S. Wetherall
  • 1965 The Revd Canon Dr John C. Fenton (became Canon and then Sub-Dean, Christ Church, Oxford, from 1978)
  • 1978 The Revd Ronald C. Trounson
  • 1989 The Revd Professor David Jasper (became Dean of Theology, Glasgow University)
  • 1991 Mr Eric Halladay
  • 1994 The Revd Dr Duane W. H. Arnold)
  • 1997 The Revd Canon Dr Joseph P. M. Cassidy
Notable Chadsmen


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