Wolfson College is thrilled to open the newly refurbished Buttery after several months of construction work. We look back on over 50 years of using the Buttery as a place of meeting, learning and socialising.
Members and visitors of the College will have noticed that there has been some construction work going on in and about the Buttery. The innovative improvement project, designed by BGS Architects, links the Old Lodge and Buttery to the Academic Wing. The architecture is sympathetic to the original architecture by Powell & Moya, and blends in with the themes of recent new buildings added to the College such as the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium.
By 1974, when the new buildings of Wolfson College were formally opened by the Chancellor, Harold Macmillan, the College maintained the usual range of rooms and offices, as well as a hall capable of seating 200 people, a library, cellar bar, living accommodation for graduate students and Fellows, and a Buttery. The Buttery at Wolfson College was initially thought of as a "Drugstore" (a pharmacy which also sells toiletries and other articles). It is not clear whether the Buttery was ever operated in this way. For a short period in the 1980s, it was run as a café. In the copies that Wolfson Archives holds from Powell & Moya drawings, there are two references to the Drugstore as being the name of the room. In "Some memories of the College's early days", published in the College Record 2016, Glen Dudbridge (one of our early Fellows) comments on the naming of the room. "We drew back from a proposal to name one space in our building "the Drugstore", to call it the Buttery."
Children's parties have been regularly held in the Buttery. Dr Ellen Rice remembers a Halloween party organized by Lady Smith, the wife of then-President Sir David Smith (Wolfson College President, 1994-2000), at which her husband, Wolfson Emeritus Fellow Prof W.J. (Jim) Kennedy dressed up as the Big Ghost to entertain them all.
Many activities by and for students have taken place in the Buttery over the years. The Buttery has been used by various College sports clubs including the aerobics and yoga clubs and music societies, both as a practice and performance space. The space didn't suit everyone, however; the College Salsa Club noted that ‘The College has an excellent dancing floor in the Haldane Room, and we look forward to using it again next year; a ‘Prima con Hermana‘ is really only half the fun when performed on the carpet in the Buttery' (College Record, 2006-07). All future Salsa dancers at Wolfson will be happy to know that the carpet has been replaced with solid wood flooring.
"The newly refurbished Buttery will be an exciting place for students and members - a place to meet, learn and socialise. The room will be available as bookable space and provide an enhanced venue for functions and meals when the Hall is being used for events", Sir Tim Hitchens commented on the opening of the refurbished Buttery.
Where does the word 'Buttery' come from? A buttery was originally a large cellar room under a monastery, in which food and drink were stored for the provisioning of strangers and passing guests. The name derives from the Latin and French words for bottle.
Opening of the Buttery
19 June 2019, 16:30
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