St Salvator's Hall

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St Salvator's Hall
St. Salvator's Hall heraldic shield
Alternative names Sallies
General information
Architectural style English Domestic Gothic
Town or city St Andrews, Fife
Country Scotland Scotland
Coordinates 56°20′31″N 2°47′32″W / 56.3419°N 2.7921°W / 56.3419; -2.7921Coordinates: 56°20′31″N 2°47′32″W / 56.3419°N 2.7921°W / 56.3419; -2.7921
Construction started 1930
Completed 1933
Client University of St Andrews
Design and construction
Architect J. Donald Mills (Mills & Shepherd)

St Salvator's Hall (affectionately known as Sallies) is a student Hall of residence at the University of St Andrews. It lies close to the quadrangle of the United College, St Andrews and St Salvator's Chapel, a foundation which was endowed by King James II of Scotland.[1] The Hall is in an area between North Street and The Scores. Regarded as one of the University's most prestigious residences, it boasts numerous self-contained traditions. Architecturally, it has been described as a "rambling Gothic dormitory".[2]


Edward Harkness, benefactor.

In the 1920s the vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Sir James Irvine made plans to extend university buildings and St Salvator's Hall was one of the first outcomes of this vision.[3] The hall, originally a male-only residence, was built between 1930 and 1933, funded by the American Philanthropist, Edward Harkness and modelled on Oxbridge colleges.[4] The architects were Mills & Shepherd[5] who had previously built University Hall.[6] It was extended between 1937 and 1939 to the cost of £40,000,[7] and underwent a £1.7 million[8] refurbishment in 1994. Since 1971 the building and its sundial have been listed as Grade B by Historic Scotland.[5][9] The stained glass windows, designed by William Wilson,[10] and paintings in its oak-panelled dining room feature associates and benefactors of the University of St Andrews such as David Beaton, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose and Edward Harkness.

On 15 January 1945 many students at the hall became ill after consuming meat from a local butcher contaminated with Arsenic trioxide.[11] Ninety of the 100 men who sat down to lunch were sick with flux.[12]


St Salvator's Hall

There are 58 single rooms and 61 shared rooms. In total it houses 180 students. As well as several rooms downstairs the hall has three floors: A, B and C; and a further wing known as D block which was the former servants quarters. Until recently residents of D block were unable to access the main building without going outside, however, a hallway extension was recently built, allowing interior access. Downstairs there is an oak-panelled Common Room with a Grand Piano and newspapers and magazines provided for the use of students. On the last Sunday of each semester afternoon tea is hosted by the wardens. It is filled with photographs of students from the 1930s to the present day.

At the west wing of the building there is a small library and a study room. A computer room with pigeon holes for residents' post is also situated on the ground floor which residents need their room key to access. In the west basement there is a snooker table, a dart board, table tennis and laundry facilities. It is the setting for movie nights organised by the House Committee. The basement was refurbished in the summer of 2009, aided by a generous bequest.[13]

The student bedrooms are spread on three floors above. In the early years each bedroom was provided with a fireplace[14] but now they come with a desk, a wardrobe (sometimes built-in), a bookcase and a wash hand basin. There are pantries and bathrooms on each floor. Each room offers stunning views of either St Andrews Bay or the edge of the United College Quadrangle and the front lawn. The D-Block extension houses some students and is connected to the main building by a corridor.

Students are catered for 19 meals during the week; all except weekend dinners.[15] Two courses are offered at lunchtime and three courses at dinner. On Saturdays there is a Continental Breakfast.

The House Committee, headed by Senior Student Connor Roberts, meets weekly in the Common Room. The current Wardens are Malcolm and Naomi McLeod and the Residence Manager is Ms. Moira McHugh.[16]

It is used as conference venue during the summer.[17]

Reputation and Traditions[edit]

St Salvator's Hall is acknowledged by students[18] to be one of the most prestigious residences in St Andrews[19][20] and one with its own distinct traditions. A 1965 Guide book described it as "one of the finest students' residences in Britain".[21]

Formal Dinners[edit]

A High Table takes place on Thursdays during term time; in which resident guests sit with the Senior Student, the Wardennial Team and a guest (usually an academic) from outside of the hall; afterwards proceeding to the Byre Theatre for drinks. At each dinner students dress formally and wear their undergraduate gowns. Latin grace is said by the Warden and all stand before the meal is served. For the Christmas formal dinner all of the House Committee sit on the High Table then mulled wine and Christmas carols are enjoyed in the Common Room by all the students. At the end of the academic year a dinner for graduating students (Valedictorians) is held followed by wine and a speech from the incumbent Senior Student.

Annual Events[edit]

Freshers' Week is organised by the hall committee and includes several events designed to integrate new students into life at the university. The ball is held at the beginning of the second semester and is organised by the Ball Conveners on the House Committee. Before final exams "Sallies Day" is celebrated on the front lawn where students picnic and drink Pimm's. The hall is well positioned for the annual May Dip and May Ball.

Notable People associated with St Salvator's Hall[edit]

  • Walter Ledermann, a respected Mathematician who died on 22 May 2009[22] lived in the hall as an undergraduate.[23] He came on a scholarship designed by the university to help those persecuted in Nazi Germany.
  • In 1945, Sir D'arcy Wentworth Thompson, winner of the Darwin Medal was in the hall at a dinner held in his honour.[24] During the Second World War when a whale had been washed ashore, he took a cleaver from the hall kitchen, went down to the bay and cut a large steak from it which was enjoyed by the students that evening.[25]
  • Sir James W. Black, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988, lived in St Salvator's Hall during his undergraduate years.[4]
  • The mascot of the University of St Andrews Charities Committee, Rory McLion was "born in the basement of St Salvator's Hall in October 1977"[26]
  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (then Prince William and Catherine Middleton) lived in St Salvator's Hall during their time at the university. Middleton was rumored to have lived in room A34.[27]
  • Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland (2007–2014) and leader of the Scottish National Party (1990-2000, 2004–2014) was rumoured to have lived in St Salvator's Hall during his time at the university however the principal Louise Richardson confirmed he in fact lived in Andrew Melville.
Sir James W. Black, Winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine
Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland


  1. ^ MacKay, James (1900). "National Dictionary of Biography". National Dictionary of Biography. 
  2. ^ Ellen Hale, USA TODAY, 31 August 2001.
  3. ^ It is to be known as St Salvator's Hall. J.W. Arrowsmith, Limited. 1928. 
  4. ^ a b Retrieved on 20 August 2009
  5. ^ a b Historic Scotland Data Website - Listed Buildings
  6. ^ Glendinning, Miles; MacInnes, Ranald; MacKechnie, Aonghus (1996). A History of Scottish Architecture: From the Renaissance to the Present Day. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-0849-2. 
  7. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Retrieved on 20 August 2009
  8. ^ Construction News. Retrieved on 20 August 2009
  9. ^ Retrieved on 20 August 2009
  10. ^ Brechin Cathedral - Stained Glass
  11. ^ "Long-term Effects of Acute Arsenical Poisoning" by J. M. A. LENIHAN, Department of Clinical Physics, University of Glasgow, J. Soc. Occup. Med. (1981)31, 144-147
  12. ^ Lenihan, J (1988). The Crumbs of Creation: Trace elements in history, medicine, industry, crime and folklore. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-85274-390-4. 
  13. ^ Retrieved on 20 August 2009[dead link]
  14. ^ 1948 University Pamphlet
  15. ^ St Salvator's Hall Pamphlet[dead link]
  16. ^ University of St Andrews. Retrieved 20 August 2009.[dead link]
  17. ^ St Salvator's Hall - St Andrews, Conference, Accommodation, Events
  18. ^ "Willie made a good choice as Sallies is by far the best Hall" Retrieved on 20 August 2009
  19. ^ " one of the most prestigious halls" Retrieved on 20 August 2009.
  20. ^ "St. Salvatore’s (sic) Hall, a prestigious residence" Retrieved on 20 August 2009
  21. ^ Moray McLaren, The Shell Guide to Scotland, (Ebury Press, 1965), p404 ASIN B0000CMQQ2
  22. ^ The Independent, (1 June 2009). Retrieved on 20 August 2009.
  23. ^ "Encounters of a Mathematician", (May 2009). Retrieved on 20 August 2009
  24. ^ Dundee University Archives
  25. ^ "Pilot Training in the wartime Royal Air Force" by Francis Bennion (2006).
  26. ^ St Andrews Students Association
  27. ^[dead link]

External links[edit]