Hilda Besse Building

Hilda Besse Building

All paths in the College lead to the Hilda Besse Building but it has now come to the end of its lifespan. The renovation of the Hilda Besse is an opportunity for modernisation and transformation: improvements that will revolutionise the Building and its community so that it can serve future generations of students and academics to its full potential.

Renovation, Refurbishment and Repurposing

The refurbishment of the Hilda Besse is urgent: services are starting to fail, parts are in a state of disrepair and its mechanical and electrical machinery is in a vital need of an upgrade. Its plumbing, wiring and heating systems have also reached the end of their expected lives; and with it, the building will become increasingly unusable.

In order to safeguard the Antonian heritage, the College plans to do more than just upgrade, but also to restore the Hilda Besse Building to its original prestige. It will, among other things:

  • Install originally designed features, such as tiled wooden flooring in the Dining Hall that mirrors the ceiling design, and octagonal light units in the Buttery
  • Reinstate original features that have been lost or eroded over time, such as the concrete bar in the Buttery, stripping and restoring the blue tiles throughout the ground floor and basement, and a full repair of the external tiling
  • Clean, repair and conserve the concrete, returning it to its original, far lighter, colour.

The objective is to also repurpose the floor space to make it more efficient. The most notable changes will be:

  • Installation of a new and larger lift, making the whole building easily accessible to everyone,
  • Installation of ramps and door fittings to improve access in and out of the building, and to all floors,
  • Reconfiguration of the kitchen and servery to make better use of less space,
  • Creation of a new, larger “Fellows Dining Room” on the first floor of the Building for seminar events and private dining,
  • Reconfiguration of the small kitchen and WC space on the ground floor to provide both men and women’s toilets, and an accessible toilet.

The Hilda Besse Building

The Hilda Besse Building is at the College’s social and academic core. It brings together all its intellectual strands and generates a hub for creativity whether it is in the College Bar, Buttery, Common Rooms or ancillary meeting rooms.  It is a space that preserves invaluable academic knowledge and its dissemination, not only to the rest of the University but also, to the public.  The Hilda Besse Building is a treasured place where students have debated tirelessly through the decades on contentious issues of their time, be it the Cold War’s nuclear arms race or the durability of the Oslo Accords. It is an historical space where students campaigned and elected their GCR Presidents and in its Dining Hall, and where some of the longest friendships conceived. It is also timeless – as the social hub of the College, it nurtures its students and cultivates the Antonian spirit.

St Antony’s College is characterised by its eclectic mix of old and new buildings, spanning the history of the College.  There is a strong tradition in the College of innovative and high quality architecture. The Hilda Besse Building, with its origins in a grand-scale redesign of the College, straddles the old and new divide. John Partridge, of HKPA architects, took the lead on the Hilda Besse Building and it was deemed by many to be his best work. The Building went on to win awards in 1971 from the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the Concrete Society, in recognition of its structural ingenuity and architectural elegance.


The refurbishment of the Hilda Besse will secure St Antony’s’ position as the most international and leading graduate College in Oxford. The College is at the forefront of the University’s strategy to expand postgraduate education and to diversify its student body. Its aim is to continue playing a central role in future planned development on both those fronts. The Warden, Professor Roger Goodman, launched a new initiative that offers College affiliation to young academics who only have departmental appointments. The Collegiate experience is integral to Oxford and offers an intellectually stimulating and hospitable social experience beyond their academic departments.

The renovation of the Hilda Besse Building is fundamental to achieve these aims. It is the critical next step. The College’s global engagement will flourish, as it is supported by the special reconfiguration and upgrading of facilities. It will offer great accessibility and inclusivity, as well as an enhanced and aesthetically appealing space with high-quality services that will transform and enrich the social and academic experience of our students and academics.

This is also an opportunity to make us more eco-friendly and sustainable.  Improvements to the building fabric, and its thermal properties, will, in conjunction with the new services, provide a more environmentally friendly and efficient building, and should therefore reduce future energy use and repair costs.

Timing and costs

The refurbishment of the Hilda Besse Building will be a major undertaking for the College, and will span a period of two years on the site, from August 2019 until June 2021.

This work is essential to the future of the College, but it presents a financial burden that we are unable to cover from the College’s existing income and capital. 

The total capital cost of the works is £9m. These costs are built up as follows:

  • Construction build cost:               £4,255,000
  • Professional fees:                         £667,000
  • Sundry items:                               £220,000
  • Temporary Accommodation:       £925,000
  • VAT:                                             £1,213,000
  • Contingency:                                £1,101,000
  • Loss of conference income:         £335,000
  • Rent discounts for students:         £284,000

Naming opportunities

St Antony’s would welcome the opportunity to discuss the naming of spaces, facilities or rooms in the Hilda Besse Building:

Ground floor

  • Buttery:                                        £500,000
  • Foyer:                                           £500,000
  • Break out / meeting space:           £250,000
  • Teaching Room:                           £100,000
  • Clock Room:                                £100,000
  • Bar:                                               £100,000
  • Entrance, front:                             £100,000
  • Entrance, back:                             £50,000
  • Staircase:                                      £50,000

First floor

  • Dining Hall:                                  £1,500,000
  • Fellows Dining Room:                 £500,000
  • Servery:                                        £100,000
  • Kitchen:                                        £100,000
  • Staircase:                                      £50,000

Second floor

  • Combined Common Room:         £750,000
  • Senior Common Room:               £500,000
  • Gallery:                                        £250,000


  • Quad 1:                                         £1,000,000
  • Quad 2:                                         £500,000

Anywhere at the College

  • Student room:                               £20,000
  • Table in the Dining Hall:              £5,000
  • Chair:                                            £1,000
  • Name on HBB donor plaque:       £250                                                                      

Donor Recognition

St Antony’s College

St Antony’s would not exist without the generosity of its benefactors.  The College was founded in 1950 as the result of the gift of Antonin Besse.  The College recognises its donors in a variety of ways, and involves them in the life of St Antony’s on both a formal and informal basis.  There are a number of recognition levels to honour those who have make substantial commitments to supporting the College and its future.


If you have a question about the Hilda Besse Building (Campaign), making a gift, naming opportunities or donor recognition, please contact the Development Office.

Making a gift

Gifts can be made through the website of the University of Oxford.

Your gift can often be enhanced by a variety of tax breaks for charitable action. St Antony's College is a registered charity (number 1141293). There are several schemes available to help donors based in various countries to make tax efficient donations.

United Kingdom – Gift Aid

Gift Aid is a UK government scheme that enables the University to claim tax relief on donations from UK taxpayers. We would encourage all eligible donors to take up this scheme to maximise their donation. For every £1 a UK taxpayer donates, 25p in reclaimed tax is added. This means that a £100 gift with Gift Aid is worth £125 to the University.

United Kingdom – Higher-rate taxpayer

Gift Aid only applies to the basic rate of tax (20%). However, if a donor pays a higher rate of income tax, either at 40% or 45%, they can reclaim the difference between the basic rate of tax and the highest rate of tax they have paid after making a charitable donation. This reclaim can either be kept by the donor or donated back to a charity of their choice. The donor can reclaim the tax on their self-assessment tax return.

United States – Americans for Oxford

If you are a resident of the USA, you can give to Oxford and its colleges via Americans for Oxford, Inc. This is the University's primary charitable organisation in North America, and has been determined by the United States Internal Revenue Service to be a tax-exempt public charity with 501(c)(3) status.


The University of Oxford is recognised by the Canadian Revenue Agency as a prescribed institution under Section 3503 of the Canadian Income Tax Regulations. On receipt of your donation, we will ensure that you are sent a receipt for Canadian tax purposes. Canadan donors can make their gift to St Antony's through the University's giving pages.

Hong Kong

The University of Oxford China Office Limited is a registered charity under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. The China Office is able to issue gift receipts for Hong Kong tax purposes.


Residents of Germany can also make tax-efficient donations via the German Friends of Oxford University without incurring any fees.

The German Friends of Oxford University is a registered charity run by Dr Jan Willisch. It is authorised to issue donation receipts to German donors, entitling them to offset charitable gifts from their taxable income in Germany. Legacies are treated in the same way as lifetime donations for the purposes of inheritance and gift tax in Germany, so you can also talk to Dr Willisch about leaving a gift in your will.

Contact: Dr Jan Willisch, lindenpartners, Friedrichstrasse 95 10117 Berlin
Email: germtax@gmail.com
Tel +49 (0)30 755 424 00


Swiss Friends of Oxford University (SFOU) was founded in 2017 to make it easier and more tax-efficient for Swiss-resident taxpayers to donate to the University and its colleges and departments. Set up as an association (Verein) under Swiss law, SFOU has a tax rulings from the canton of Zug recognising its tax-exempt status. This means that under the rules of the Association, donations from Swiss residents are tax deductible, and legacies are exempt from any applicable cantonal gifts tax.