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Welcome 'Home' to Hild Bede  

Welcome to our virtual Hild Bede visit webpage. You will find here lots of information which aims to help you decide if Hild Bede is a College for you and what you can expect if you join the Hild Bede ‘family’. 

Hild Bede is here to help you to realise your potential, to get degree whether this is at undergraduate, masters or at doctoral level. There is no academic teaching in Durham Colleges; this happens in Schools and Departments. 

College life and membership of Hild Bede will provide you with opportunities, challenges, friendships, connections and memories that will shape your life far beyond the years of study with us. Joining Durham is about much more than a degree. It is the widest possible form of education and College is at the heart of that. 

History, Tradition, Community 

Hild Bede is special for lots of reasons, some are to do with by our age, traditions, character, the way that our student community is set up and runs and also our estate and location. 

Hild Bede is the second oldest College in Durham. We are particularly proud of the fact that we were the first College in the University to award degrees to women and every year mark the sacrifice made by Bede men who died on the Western Front in World War 1. Our age as a College means that we have 17,000 alumni, a huge community of people spread around the world whom we regard as part of the College community and a number of whom are actively involved in College life and provide support to our students. For 2021 they are  working closely with us on a ‘Hild Bede Summit’ which will enable our students to be part of an event including the opportunity to present academic work, be part of discussion about intellectual issues and also future careers.  

Location, location, location 

Hild Bede is neither a ‘Hill’ College nor a ‘Bailley’ College. We are the riverside College, located on 16 acres of parkland which runs along the Wear on the opposite bank to the Old racecourse. We have a range of buildings. The Victorian ‘Hild’ Building and its stunning Joachim Room were the heart of the original Women’s College. Here you will find the JCR, our Carol Carr and Alan Pearson Reading Rooms, the postgraduate common room, reception and the main College offices. 

Our accommodation is arranged principally across Hild and three other blocks, the ‘Bede’, ‘Thorp’ and ‘Christopher’ buildings. We boast a gym’ and also the mighty Caedmon Hall, the ‘Vern’ our bar and social area, and dining hall. The College Boathouse sits just below the Caedmon complex on the riverside. 

We also provide a home to our colleagues in the School of Education who are based in the ‘Bede’ building. We have access to the library there which also stores our books and just along the way is the Bede Chapel, along with the war memorial a listed building and especially fine example of Art Deco architecture.  


While place and space are important, the thing that makes a College is its people. We think of College as an ongoing conversation, one that started before we arrived and will go on after we leave. A conversation about ideas, concepts and knowledge, about plans, events and visions and views, about times when things are going well and also when they might be going less well. What makes good conversation is excellent people and Hild Bede has very many. You will find our leadership in the Vice-Principal and Senor Tutor, through our Student Support and Welfare team, the College administration, reception, porters, house-keeping and catering, experience and expertise, kindness and sense. We also boast around 40 mentors meaning that every student has someone connected with but outside the staff of the College for support and guidance and to help you find your feet and advise throughout your stay at Durham. Many of our staff are very long serving, and curate our history and traditions with long experience and deep loyalty to College.  

Our SRC and the student experience 

Hild Bede is unique in that our students are not represented by a JCR but the SRC (Student Representative Council). This elected body represents and serves both under- and post-graduate students of the College. It is strong, energetic, committed and brilliant body that contributes to College life each and every day through the very many events and ‘ents’ that it runs, the welfare support that is provides, the representation and voice it offers in running our College and also into the wider University. It is the SRC Exec that makes Open Days possible, organises and runs Freshers’ week and our formals and balls and also College Day. It supports Team HildBede as well as the clubs and societies across music, drama, and liberation issues. It is the at the heart of College and will be at the centre of your experience of Hild Bede.  
Hild Bede is a big College. We have around 450 ‘livers-in’ – mostly freshers but also postgraduate students and some students from later years of their studies. We offer all freshers the option to live in meaning that you are the heart of College from the moment that you arrive. The whole College community comprises around 1330 students.  
We have members from all walks of life and backgrounds: those new to University, from outside the UK, from a wide range of cultures and ethnicities, genders and sexualities. We strive to be an open and inclusive environment where we work hard to challenge inequalities and inequities, take on discrimination and exclusionary practice and be a champion for and celebrate the diversity of our communities and groups.  

Belonging and Becoming 

Our mission is two-fold. To enable you to feel that you belong to our community, and thereby to help you to achieve the sense of safety, confidence and open-mindedness to develop to your full potential – to become the person you want and can be.

We do that through providing excellent pastoral and welfare support. Our support is on site and on hand. You will find us ready to help with advice on physical and mental health and wellbeing, support you in relation to your studies and relationship with your academic department, to sign-post you to the appropriate services inside the University or the wider community.

College is also very fortunate to have a Chaplain for around half a week, a ‘gift’ to College associated with our historic links to the Church of England. The Chaplaincy allows us to offer an Evensong and Holy Communion each week, mindfulness sessions and the very popular ‘Nine lessons and carols’ service at Christmas. The Chaplaincy also connects us to the wider local community and is means for you to explore volunteering and making a contribution to improving the lives and opportunities of people around College.

We also make you feel at home through our catering which offers three meals a day during term time including vegetarian options and provision for other dietary needs and requirements. We eat in our dining hall which seats around 280 people in comfort. 

Hild Bede holds 6 ‘formals’ a year. These events at which we come together as a community to celebrate and socialise. We mark Christmas and St Patrick’s Day, an evening of awards for our ‘Clubs and Socs’ among other events. Hild Bede’s Winter and Summer Balls are legendary. And, we started the traditions of College Days at Durham with what remains the biggest and best.  

When it comes to self-development and enhancing your personal effectiveness the opportunities in our College are very numerous indeed. Hild Bede will give you the opportunities through which you can become more confident, self-possessed, resilient and more able to contribute to making the world a better place. 

There are around 36 clubs and societies through which you can hone or develop a skill, get fit, keep fit, or enjoy competition, self-expression and also contribute to our local community. Hild Bede is famous for its Film Society. This is the oldest cinema in Durham and screens new releases once or twice almost every week in term time. Hild Bede Theatre (HBT) is also well-known not least for its musical productions which have secured awards for the best musical in Durham for eleven consecutive years. We have dance and music and possibly the best College Chapel Choir in Durham. Our art collection is extensive and includes several important works by post-impressionists and other artists. Our Art Society is engaged updating our catalogue and we are planning a showcase exhibition of some our best works later in the year ahead. 

Team HildBede provides the umbrella for all our very many sports and games clubs. Hild Bede Boat Club is popular and successful, so too our football, rugby, hockey, basketball, netball and badminton clubs. Many have several teams catering for all ambitions and talents. Hild Bede Cheer came second in the inter-collegiate competition this year and won the top award for best choreography. You can also join our pool team or poker club if you like your pleasures are more sedentary. 

And, at the heart of a lot of our activities sits the ‘Vern’our bar and social area. It is here that you can take part in our quizzes, ‘open mic’ nights, bingo, silent discos or even just have a quiet drink. 

One of the other great assets of Hild Bede, in part associated with our history and traditions, is the extent to which we are gifted and granted the means to support you in what you want to try and to achieve. Our College has a wide range of funds and trusts, many generously set up in memory of students, by alumni and others, which provide, under their various articles and purposes, several thousands of pounds of year to applicants from within College.  

Coming 'home' to Hild Bede 

College is not just about what offer you but also what you can contribute to College. Hild Bede is looking to you for your ideas, energy and engagement. We are looking for students who will bring us willingness to support the SRC and through it, for instance, to help us develop our annual College plan, to refine our long term vision and strategy, to enhance our place and status in the wider family of Colleges and also our local community and communities beyond Durham. If you come to Hild Bede you can expect to be part of our ‘conversation’ and the work to keep turning our power and capabilities to enhance both you and your wider experience of University and also what you can do for others outside College and out into life beyond.