St Mary’s was established in 1899 and is the third oldest college at Durham. It was originally an all women’s college, but it has now been mixed since 2005 and is home to around 800 undergraduates and 150 postgraduates.
Female students first appeared in Durham in 1896 and at that time there were no University buildings dedicated to accommodate them. The first iteration of Mary’s was a Women’s Hostel at 33 Claypath, where the first 6 students arrived in the autumn of 1899. In 1901 the Hostel moved to Abbey House on Palace Green. 1913 was the first time that women were accepted to Matriculation (to become full students of the University).
The number of women in the Hostel increased during the First World War but expansion of the building was not possible during this time. The status of ‘College’ was granted in 1919 and was dedicated to St Mary, the College also moved to a much larger building which is now home to the Durham Chorister School.
The need for expanded accommodation was apparent and by 1948 there were 400 applicants for 27 spaces in the College building. Our current College building started being built in 1947 with the foundation stone being laid by Princess Elizabeth. The College continued to grow with 1000 applicants in 1960 and 139 students in residence. The Williamson building was completed in 1962.
In 1991 the Teikyo University buildings opened in the South East corner of St Mary’s land. Male undergraduates were first admitted in 2005. In 2017 St Mary’s removed all shared rooms to reflect the majority of the UK University accommodation.
The College is relatively small and traditional and is known for being both friendly and welcoming. We are located on the hill and are the closest college to the Bill Bryson library and the new Teaching and Learning Centre. Our extensive grounds provide a fantastic environment to both live and work in. We offer outstanding pastoral support and opportunities for both personal and academic development, creating an atmosphere that truly feels like home.
We recently celebrated the 100 year anniversary of our status as a College. This was marked by the Michaelmas Dinner where alumni and current students came together to celebrate and reminisce on 100 years of Mary’s.