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In the Middle Ages, a buttery was a storeroom for liquor, the name being derived from the Latin and French words for bottle or, to put the word into its simpler form, a butt, that is, a cask. A butler, before he became able to take charge of the ewery, pantry, cellar, and the staff, would be in charge of the buttery. Over time, the buttery became a general food storeroom; the larders of Oxbridge colleges in particular became places where students purchased food and drink.
Most Oxford and Cambridge colleges, University College and Trevelyan College, Durham, King's College London, the University of Bristol and Trinity College, Dublin call their eating places butteries to this day, as do a few schools in the United Kingdom. The communal kitchens/dining rooms in Goodenough College, a postgraduate student residence hall in central London are called butteries, one example being "the Princess Alice Buttery" in William Goodenough House.
The residential colleges of Yale also refer to their snack bars by this name. Trinity College at the University of Toronto also uses the name to refer to its cafeteria located in the Larkin building. Bruce Hall at the Australian National University also maintains a buttery, which is an informal canteen and bar. The Bar of the Junior Common Room at Trinity College, The University of Melbourne, is known as The Buttery.
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