Trevelyan College, Durham

Colleges of the University of Durham
Trevelyan College
Named after George Macaulay Trevelyan
Established 1966
Principal Martyn Evans
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Senior tutor Ian Latham
Undergraduates 640
Postgraduates 72
Motto Vera fictis libentius
Motto in English Truth more readily than falsehood

Location of Trevelyan College within DurhamCoordinates: 54°45′51″N 1°34′46″W / 54.764167°N 1.579444°W / 54.764167; -1.579444

Trevelyan College (known colloquially as Trevs) is a college of Durham University, England. Founded in 1966, the college takes its name from social historian George Macaulay Trevelyan, Chancellor of the University from 1950 to 1957. Originally an all-female college (the last to open in England), the college became fully mixed in 1992.

Trevelyan is noted in Durham for its hexagon-featuring architecture and for the display of daffodils that surrounds it every spring. As a constituent college of Durham University, Trevelyan is listed as a higher education institution under the Education Reform Act 1988. It is owned and for the most part run by the university.


During the early 1960s, the British Government commissioned the Robbins Report to look into the future of higher education in the UK. When published, the report recommended the expansion of universities and the student population. This was accepted as government policy. In 1963, the University of Newcastle was officially established as a separate entity from the University of Durham, which meant that new colleges within Durham were required to meet the new university places that the Government wished to create. As a result, the university planned for three new colleges on Elvet Hill, these went on to become Collingwood, Trevelyan and Van Mildert.[1]

New women's college

Trevelyan was planned to become an all women's college, similar to St Mary's and St Aidan's, so as to increase the female population of the student body. The college was built on farmland south of St Mary's off Elvet Hill Road, which was owned by a local family; the Carpenters.[1] Originally, this land was designed to not only accommodate the new college, but also a 1,500 person capacity University Assembly Hall, however, the site was too small to accommodate both buildings.[1]

After much delay the college was opened in October 1966 with 78 students.[1] The official opening took place on 12 March 1968 by Lord Butler, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, who was invited in view of the connection G.M. Trevelyan also held with Trinity. During the opening, a serenade in three movements composed by Sir Malcolm Arnold (whose daughter was in the first intake of students), called "The Trevelyan Suite", was played. Other people at the opening include the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, two Pro-Vice-Chancellors, the Bishops of Durham and of Ripon (whose wife, Mary Moorman was a relative of Trevelyan and also present) and the Mayor and Mayoress of Durham.[1]

Since opening

In 1973, a 300-person capacity hall, the Sir James Knott Hall, (known colloquially as the "JKH") was opened in the presence of the Duke of Northumberland.[1] The purpose of the hall was to provide more facilities for Trevelyan students, such as a badminton court and extra music rooms, as well as to create a conference facility for the purpose of wealth creation for the college. In 1988 an extension to the hall, "The Dowrick Suite", was added, named after a professor of the law department, Frank Dowrick, who was a longtime member of the Senior Common Room.[1] Inside the main college building is the Mowlam Room, a postgraduate common room that houses a bust of Mo Mowlam, a well-known Trevs alumna.

In 1981, the bar, which had previously been located within the small area now hosting the buttery was moved to its present location in the former cloisters of the college. In order to make this a practical bar environment the cloisters were roofed over. The area above this new roof is nicknamed "The Goldfish Bowl" by students, due to the proximity of the windows looking into other rooms.

In 1991 a new accommodation block was added to the main building. This block, the K block, is entirely ensuite and now reserved for final year students.[2]

The college became fully mixed in 1992. In 1993 the bar underwent refurbishment. In 2000, a tennis court was added to the grounds at the back of the college.[1]


Front view
Trevelyan College entrance

The internal construction of Trevelyan is unusual, comprising a string of hexagon-shaped blocks resulting in most rooms containing unusual angles.

At the opening of the college the architect, John Eastwick-Field, said of the design of the college:

"the building had been irregularly planned in outline but close together in complex. The aim had been to create study bedrooms with individuality, a sense of light and space and overall the effort to foster community sense by grouping the rooms into small units of hexagonal shape onto individual landings."[1]
John Eastwick-Field, Architect of the college

The original blocks are labelled "A" to "J", though there is no I Block to be found and there is also a modern block of ensuite bedrooms, K Block, also called the Macaulay Suite, named after Lord Macaulay, G.M. Trevelyan's great-uncle.[1]

The layout features rooms based around staircases, landings and courtyards. The entrance hall is referred to as "the Cobbles", although said cobbles are no longer there having been removed during a recent modern refit. A third of the college was fully refurbished in 2005.[2]

Approximately 320 fully catered students can be housed in the building, and around 790 are members of the college, making Trevelyan the third smallest of Durham's seventeen colleges, and the smallest of those maintained by the university council.

The building's design has won it a Civic Design Award.[3]


Trevs has its own comprehensive library, which is open 24 hours a day, music practice room, recording studio, cinema room, computer rooms, bar, buttery and fitness suite; it also possesses a chapel, the Barn, which is used for prayer, talks and musical and dramatic rehearsals.

The Undercroft, a relaxing seating area, links the bar with the rear of the college. The college also has a central quad, although it is actually an irregular icosagon, a setting for the college's musical events and formal ball. To the rear of the college there are landscaped lawns[4] and a tennis court.

The Sir James Knott Hall, catering for sports, theatrical and conference events is situated just across the college main entrance.[4]

Student life

Common rooms

All members of college are members of a common room. Undergraduates are members of the Junior Common Room (JCR), although they may opt out of the common room if they wish, although if they do so they are not allowed to attend JCR events, such as the informal and formal ball, or Formal Hall. The JCR annually elects an Executive Committee consisting of eleven members as well as an impartial Chair. The Executive Committee ensures the successful running of the JCR, in conjunction with the College Officers. The rules of the JCR are stated in the constitution, which can only be amended by resolution of the JCR members during general meetings.

Postgraduate students are members of the Middle Common Room (MCR), which hosts its own events. Administrative, academic and other members of college are members of the Senior Common Room (SCR).


The college has a strong history of music, art, and the performing arts. The college has hosted,[1] and continues to host art viewings,[5] both of local and international artists, as well as boasting a large art collection of its own, including six specially commissioned John Walker paintings which hang in the dining hall.[6] The college hosts at least one musical per year, with recent productions including Anything Goes (2012), Annie Get Your Gun (2013), Thoroughly Modern Millie (2014), My Favourite Year (2015), Shout! (2015), Oklahoma! (2016) and Sunshine on Leith (2016). The college has an orchestral society,[5] a choir,[5] a flute choir,[5] a string group, an A cappella group, Chamber Singers and a jazz band;[5] The Manglers, who are regular performers at jazz evenings across the university. The college also has a theatre company, the Hill College Theatre Company,[7] who put on productions several times a year, recently performing the Canterbury Tales and Translations, The Vagina Monologues and A Midsummer Night's Dream.


Boat Club 1st 4+ at Henley 2008
Further information: Trevelyan College Boat Club

The college also has a strong sporting profile, finishing 5th in the college league table in 2008/9.[8] The college has also in recent years been college champions of women's hockey, Women's astro football, Basketball (both men's and women's) and Badminton, which saw Men's A finish the session undefeated.[8] Trevelyan College Boat Club is one of the few college rowing teams to qualify for Henley Royal Regatta.[9]


Student societies play an important role in college life, with active film and LGBT societies. Trevski organises a college ski trip each year.[10] The college monthly magazine is called Hex magazine,[5] named in tribute to the college's interesting hexagonal shape.


The college holds Formal Hall once a fortnight, in which students enter the dining hall in their academic gowns, which must remain worn until the end of silent grace. The formal is signalled over when the JCR and MCR presidents bow out formally to the Principal and student body.[1] JCR events are held every year, with an informal ball being held at the end of michaelmas term, and a summer ball being held after exams in easter term. Academic gowns are also worn at university matriculation and college matriculation and also at graduation.

The annual Trevs Day takes place after exams in easter term and is a focus of much celebration and revelry for students. Each year it receives a different theme, with recent themes including 'Heroes and Villains' (2014), 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (2015) and 'Rio 2016' (2016). The college also hosts TrevStock, an annual music festival for college and university bands which takes place in the quad.

The college regulations once stated that "any student found picking the daffodils shall be hanged, and quartered at dawn on Palace Green."[11]

Coat of arms

The college arms are modelled closely on the arms of the Trevelyan family, whose crest features a swimming horse, commemorating the legend of the first Trevelyan, who swum his horse from St Michael's Mount to the mainland of Cornwall for a wager, the other knights of Arthur's court having drowned.

The arms of Trevelyan College are blazoned as follows:[1]

Shield: Gules issuant from water in base barry wavy of four Argent and Azure a demi horse forcene Or, in chief three Saint Cuthbert's crosses Argent

Crest: Out of a coronet composed of sixteen fleurs-de-lis set upon a rim alternately large and small a lyre Or, mantled Gules doubled Argent


The college motto, Vera Fictis Libentius, was taken from the inscription of the 1875 statue of Lord Macaulay in the antechamber of the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] In the early eighties, a competition was held to name the horse. Its eventual name, Vera, stems from a student innocently assuming that the college motto, Vera Fictis Libentius, was referring to the horse.[1]

Connections with the Trevelyan family

Trevelyan College still maintains a number of connections with the greater Trevelyan family, some of these include:[1]

College officers and fellows


H. Martyn Evans is the current Principal of Trevelyan College, having previously been principal of John Snow College. He is Professor of Humanities in Medicine and Co-Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities. He has been a visiting fellow at the University of Sydney. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of Otago and joint editor of the Medical Humanities journal. He is an Honorary Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners.[12]

List of principals


The college has a tradition of visiting fellows, who typically stay for a term, giving a Trevelyan Lecture based upon their research areas.[1] Trevs also hosts the Sir William Luce Fellowship, in a joint project with the Institute of Islamic and Middle-Eastern Studies. Past fellows have included academics from the UK based Universities of Reading and Exeter, as well as the international Universities of Brown, Harvard, Khartoum, Tehran and Sultan Qaboos University in Oman[13][14]

Honorary fellows

Honorary fellowships were awarded between 1996-98 to those people who have greatly aided or have a close association with the college. Normally such people are made members of the SCR.

Trevelyan Society and Trust

The Trevelyan Society is the alumni organisation of the college, whose aims are to inform alumni of goings on in college as well as to keep alumni in touch with each other.[1] It produces an annual magazine: "Hippocampus", a play on the arms of the college. The Trevelyan Trust is a charitable fund aimed at providing prizes and bursaries for Trevelyan students.[1]

Scholarships and prizes

Trevelyan has several scholarships and prizes that are awards to members of the college, some founded by the Trevelyan Trust, others from private donors. A partial list of scholarships and bursaries is included below:[1][16]

In addition to this the Boat Club also award the Dyfrig Williams Trophy to a member of college who has significantly contributed to college sport.

Notable alumni

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Martin, Susan Trev: A Celebration of 40 years of Trevelyan College Durham
  2. 1 2 "Trevelyan College - Durham University".
  4. 1 2 "Trevelyan College - Durham University".
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Trevelyan College - Durham University".
  6. "John Walker on artnet".
  8. 1 2 "Team Durham: College Sport : College Champions - Durham University".
  9. Henley Royal Regatta. "Henley Royal Regatta 2016".
  12. "School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health : Staff Members - Durham University".
  13. "School of Government & International Affairs : Sir William Luce Fellowship - Durham University".
  14. "School of Government & International Affairs : Visiting Fellows and Sir William Luce Papers - Durham University".
  15. 1 2 3 4
  17. 1 2 Women in Tuition, Durham University, retrieved 2011-03-04
  18. , Juicial Appointments Commission, retrieved 2011-03-04 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. Voice for the People, Durham University, retrieved 2009-12-13


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