Hilda Besse Building Refurbishment Campaign

Hilda Besse Building Refurbishment Campaign

The Hilda Besse Building has been at the heart of the College ever since its completion in 1971.  The Grade II listed building is now in vital need of repair, which presents an opportunity to modernise and transform this iconic building.  Improvements will revolutionise the Building and ensure that it can best serve students and academics for generations to come.

Below you can read about the Hilda Besse Building’s history, our plans for restoring it, and ways of helping us achieve this ambitious campaign.

Donate to support the Hilda Besse Building Renovation

The Heart of the College

The Hilda Besse Building was designed by renowned architect John Partridge, of the influential post-War practice Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis (HKPA).  Partridge sought to sensitively respond to the traditions of college architecture and the Building’s site, whilst bringing an appropriate modernity to a relatively new graduate college.  The result is a structure carefully designed to meet the needs of the College, with the foresight to plan for future growth in student numbers, and which embodied the College’s egalitarian, outward-looking values.  It was immediately met with acclaim, winning awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Concrete Society.


Having served the College since 1971, the Hilda Besse Building is now in urgent need of repair.  Services are failing, with plumbing, wiring, and heating systems installed in the late 1960s reaching the end of their lifespans, and mechanical and electrical machinery is in need of an upgrade.  With the Building becoming increasingly unusable, St Antony’s is presented with a considerable challenge to ensure the future of the Building.  An ambitious £9 million project has been proposed to meet this, and provide us with a rejuvenated Building we can be proud of, and which will ensure the Building’s place in the future of the College.


The Renovation presents an exciting opportunity to improve key aspects of the Building’s design, making it more true to the original design, and bringing it up-to-date with 21st century needs and goals.  We aim to:

  • Reinstate original features such as the concrete bar and repairing external tiling
  • Install originally planned features such as the tiled wooden flooring and octagonal lights to better reflect Partridge’s design ambitions
  • Install a new and larger lift, making the Building accessible to all
  • Reconfigure the Kitchen to make better use of our limited space
  • Improve hygiene infrastructure by adding more washrooms and improving door fittings

Supporting the Campaign

The great cost of completing this project to the high standards it deserves means that the College cannot fund the works from its existing income and capital.  The College is seeking support from various trusts and foundations, but also hopes to garner the help of its strong and dedicated alumni community.  Any and all gifts can make a huge difference in helping us achieve our overall goal.  Various naming opportunities are available to those interested in making a donation towards the Campaign.  Please see below for information on how to make a gift (including tax-efficient options).  If you would like further information, or to discuss your gift, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Development Team at alumni.office@sant.ox.ac.uk, or on 01865 274496.

Naming Opportunities

Ground Floor

Second Floor



Combined Common Room




Senior Common Room


Large Breakout




Teaching Room




West Entrance


Other Options


East Entrance


First Quadrangle




Second Quadrangle


First Floor

Student Room


Dining Hall


Name on the Table


Fellow’s Dining Room


Name on Chair




Name on Collective Donor Board


In the Press

Below is a selection of articles and features on the Hilda Besse Building.  You can also read the Campaign brochure, linked at the bottom of this page.

John Partridge Obituary - Architects Journal

John Partridge Obituary - the Guardian

St Antony’s College Revisit – Concrete Quarterly

The Hilda Besse Building described by John Partridge – Concrete Quarterly

Hilda Besse Building – Historic England

Hilda Besse Building – SOS Brutalism

Hilda Besse Building awarded Grade II Listing – The C20 Society

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, Bayernallee 48. D-14052 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.