Alcuin College, York

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Coordinates: 53°56′57″N 1°02′56″W / 53.94927°N 1.04898°W / 53.94927; -1.04898

Alcuin College
Seebohm Rowntree Bdg.jpg
Seebohm Rowntree Building, Alcuin College
University University of York
Location Siward's Howe, Heslington West, York
Motto Panton nos postulo (Latin)
Motto in English "All we need"
Established 1967[1]
Named for Alcuin of York
Head Paola Zerilli
Alcuin College logo.png
Student association

Alcuin College is a college of the University of York located on Siward's Howe.


Alcuin College was established in 1967[1] alongside Vanbrugh College. It was officially opened in 1969 by Lord Clark, the Chancellor of the University.[1]

It is located on Siward's Howe, making it the highest elevated college in the University. It is also believed the be the burial site of Eric Bloodaxe,[1] who was King of Northumbria and of Norway.

Alcuin gained a reputation in 2005 for the 'Alcuin Venom', who during the 2005 Fresher's Week removed the newly laid turf in the quad outside L, M and N blocks to spell the letters AV. This led to college provost Tony Ward setting off the fire alarms in these blocks in the early morning to get the residents outside. It eventually emerged that this was a prank, although Tony Ward was not amused. The pranksters relaid the turf to try to appease the situation.

Alcuin Separatist Movement[edit]

Throughout the life of the University been the home of the self-styled Alcuin Separatist Movement, a running gag at York, involving the secession of the college from the remainder of the university.[2]

Buildings and services[edit]

For many years Alcuin College was very much the outcast on the university campus, the only college physically separate from the others except for a bridge from the library, a narrow bridge from Langwith (demolished over Easter 2008) and a walkway to the chemistry department. Overlooking University Road was Alcuin's bar. In 1995 this was transformed from a traditional British pub style bar to a 1950s American theme bar - the only themed college bar on campus. The bar was decorated in American 1950s paraphanelia such as busts of Marilyn Monroe and a full-size pink cadillac that appeared to be crashing through the wall. The bar's terrace overlooked University Road and was immensely popular with students in the summer. The bar incorporated a burger bar and the staff all wore uniforms of stars and stripes.

Alcuin College (2010)

Alcuin College houses the Economics department and had a large common room on the ground floor that was rarely used. The huge dining room and cafe on the second floor overlooked the whole of campus, hence the JCRC motto of many years 'Alcuin looks down on the rest of campus'. The major refurbishment of the college in the summer of 2000 essentially shifted the college even further away from the rest of campus. Many Alcuin students (including virtually all finalists) were moved to Halifax Court while the existing prefabricated Alcuin was extensively refurbished. Rumours persisted among students that the speed of the refurbishment was due to the possibility that Zara Phillips was considering enrolling at the University of York and the state of campus accommodation was not of a high enough standard to welcome students with a royal pedigree. This rumour turned out to be untrue.

The new Alcuin bar, B Henry's, was named after Brian Henry, a college porter of many years who had recently retired, and on opening was immensely popular despite its relatively distant location compared to the rest of campus. In 2007 the bar once again went under transformation, being revamped as a "B Henry's. The Cocktail Bar" and raising revenue by 66%. With its unique selling point as the only cocktail bar on campus, the classy atmosphere has attracted a large number of students from all colleges and is now more popular than ever. It is also used as a venue for Alcuin's Late License Events, with three events held termly. These events are always imaginative: From "PreHistoric-Al" to "Das Sexy Sexy German Teckno Disko Party" and its follow-up events "Das Sexy Sexy German Techno Disco Party - Part Zwei, Drei and Vier", the imaginative ideas reflect the college's sense of humour and attract a huge following.

Sometimes referred to as the "Ensuite-Elite", Alcuin is perhaps best known for the ensuite bathrooms that come as standard with every room and the general quality of the rooms, most of which were recently built. Alcuin underwent a phase of new construction amid controversy (K and L blocks were not complete by the time students were due to move in, leaving many to live in the nearby National Science Learning Centre accommodation blocks, which lacked many facilities - particularly kitchens[3]).

Alcuin is generally considered[by whom?] to be the "posh" part of the university, rivalled perhaps by James College, but lacks many facilities considered essential to university life (mainly, a bar). York Vision ran an article in November 2005 comparing Alcuin to Goodricke College, of which C block was considered in a 2002 YUSU to be the worst on campus. Differences included: two full cookers in Alcuin kitchens, as opposed to Baby Belling cookers and lifts in the new K-Q Alcuin blocks.

It currently does not possess a bar, but has two food venues, the Alcuin Bistro and The Kitchen at Alcuin café. Alcuin has two quads of accommodation blocks, and its own off-campus accommodation, Holgate's Hall. The college accommodation is divided into blocks; E, F1, F2, G, H, J1, J2, K, L, M, N, and P. There are also several teaching blocks (East Wing and the Seebohm Rowntree building) and is home of several departments (such as Economics and Chemistry, and the University Library. Recently, a move by commercial services to close B Henry's at the end of 2008 triggered a large campaign to save the bar.[4] This campaign had the backing of the whole college and the students union as a whole, but it was unsuccessful.

Following Vanbrugh B and C block's conversion to offices, the uprooted residents moved to the newly made P and Q blocks (which were built on time) and referred to themselves as Valcuin members. In addition to P and Q blocks, a new JCR building was built, and an extra launderette near the JCR (to try to add to the four washing machines for the whole of Alcuin). The JCR was opened in May 2006, six months later than planned.

The Seebohm Rowntree Building was added in 2002, and contains teaching facilities.[5]

Student life[edit]

Like other York colleges, Alcuin has its own Student Association. The Student Association takes on the responsibility of the day-to-day running of the college activities, such as sports, events, communications and publicity, Rag (student society) and selling of Alcuin merchandise. They aim to bring a closer community to the college and raise interest and revenue in order to sustain the high standard of living that all students of the college enjoy.


Alcuin college is considered to be a relatively quiet college, because it is the only college located on the north side of University Road, and is thus not a major thoroughfare for students. However, according to its former provost Tony Ward, it is the best college academically, its students having the highest exam marks on average. Many international students, medical students, and chemistry students live in Alcuin, and it is home to a very diverse community.

Notable people[edit]

Notable alumni include:[6]


External links[edit]