Orchard Court Renovation

Help us provide more welcoming spaces for young women

Remember your room at College?

Rooms in Orchard Court (also known as Old Block) have witnessed the start of lifelong friendships and much more. However, half of them still have their original flooring, heating, wiring and plumbing which has seen over 50 years’ service! We need your help to finish gutting and renovating Orchard Court to bring all of its rooms up to the same standard, starting  with all the rooms in F staircase. Please support us now by making a mark and sponsoring a room item and/or leaving us a memory of your time at College. 


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Sponsor an item for Orchard Court rooms - from plants to beds to plumbing



Why the Orchard Court renovation is so important

Remember your room here at College? The first space that was truly yours? Quality living spaces are a crucial part of our College environment, in which young women can explore their own intellect and identity. Quiet, warmth and safety are essential for all students, whatever their background. The quality of the rooms we offer needs to reflect the quality of the education that is also offered - we need your help to finish gutting and renovating Orchard Court, to bring all of its rooms up to the same standard and provide more welcoming spaces for young women. Please sponsor a desk, bed, plant or other item in Staircase F to help us raise £1.17M so that we can begin work on renovating it as soon as we can.

Follow our progress:


It sounds expensive! What are the costs involved and how have they been calculated?

We need to raise £7M to complete the renovation of all three remaining staircases of Orchard Court. We want to raise £1.17M to start work on the first of these staircases (staircase F). We've worked with the same team of local architects that were responsible for the renovation of the first three staircases in 2009 to draw up detailed plans and drawings, and to calculate the cost of the work as accurately as possible. Unfortunately its not the same as renovating a house or building a domestic extension and is much more expensive.

Why do we need this renovation project now?

Now is an exciting time to be a College for outstanding young women. In the light of recent economic and political developments in the UK and overseas, the role of women and the part they play on the world stage is more important than ever.

What has already been done?

The first three staircases of the building were renovated in 2009 with the help of alumnae and friends. We want to ensure that all our students have the best possible accommodation and a comfortable environment in which to study and therefore need to carry out the upgrade now, before the original fittings degrade further and renovation costs increase.

What does the work consist of?

Three of Orchard Court’s six staircases have not had any refurbishment work since the accommodation was built in the 1960s. While the building has been maintained, no significant changes or upgrades were made, meaning that half the accommodation still has its original flooring, heating, wiring and plumbing which has seen over 50 years’ service. We want to complete the renovation, starting with F staircase (formerly staircase C). This will consist of replacing all plumbing, wiring, electrics, flooring, heating, piping and drainage, making structural changes such as moving walls, and digging trenches, creating and installing new bathrooms and kitchens, renovating the staircases themselves, the corridors, and doors – plus the rooms themselves and all their fixtures and fittings. It’s an enormous job and requires taking each staircase back to a shell and starting again.

Why can’t the College pay for it all?

£30M increased the value of our endowment in 2004 from £15M to £45M– which provides on average about £1M a year to our income. In 2015 the endowment was at £81M (mainly restricted use). Some of the increase is due to the revaluation of some assets but most is due to careful stewardship. We also have income from fees and residences, catering and conferences, as well as philanthropic donations. In 14/15 income was £7.7M and expenditure was £7.3M. To do more for our students – have more teaching staff, improved accommodation, better student financial support – we do need help from alumnae and friends.

What happens if the renovation isn't completed?

The College will simply end up diverting more funds from other key areas such as student financial support to cover increasing maintenance costs and in the long term would need to find alternative accommodation for students off site.

Can the University or other Colleges help?

St John’s and Trinity College, plus the others which still have large endowments, still pay in to the “Colleges Fund” which is redistributed to those with less funding. This is the fairest way to ensure that all Colleges can provide enough teaching for undergraduates. Even the wealthiest of Colleges mostly have restricted endowments that can only be used for certain things, and it is rare that those funds can be used to pay for capital costs at other Colleges. Collectively, the University and Colleges have a £2billion target for our shared fundraising campaign. The University’s focus is on creating new facilities for teaching and research, without which there would be no University.

I can't afford to give much - is it worth it?

We appreciate your support. With only a few thousand alumnae, it is essential we encourage everyone to give, however large or small their support might be. All gifts make a difference to the College and to this project.