New student houses named after Catz pioneers

Monday 18 September 2023


St Catharine’s is delighted to reveal the names of the two new student houses that have been built at the St Chad’s site on Grange Road in Cambridge:

  • Belfield House has been named after Dr Cecil Belfield Clarke (1914, Natural Sciences), who was one of the College’s earliest Black students, served as a doctor and activist in roles of national and international significance, and lived with his partner Edward ‘Pat’ Walter at Belfield House, Barnet (which was bequeathed to St Catharine’s on their deaths with proceeds from the sale supporting the College’s Belfield Clarke Fund). Read more.
  • Silver House has been named after Dr Marian Silver (1978), who was the first woman to be elected to the Fellowship, a distinguished scientist who spent 30 years as the Assistant Director of Research at the University’s Physiological Laboratory, and best known for her advances in fetal and neonatal physiology. Read more.

The names were selected after consultation with current students, staff, and Fellows earlier this year. Plaques for both houses were unveiled at a special naming ceremony on 15 September led by Professor Sir Mark Welland (2016), Master of St Catharine’s.

Sir Mark said, “As the St Catharine’s community celebrates 550 years since the College was founded in 1473, I am delighted that we have chosen to remember two pioneers from the 20th century in the naming of Belfield House and Silver House. I hope the students who live here will take comfort and inspiration from the different ways that Drs Cecil Belfield Clarke and Marian Silver contributed to St Catharine’s, their disciplines and wider society. I also want to thank the teams from Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture, Conamar and Henry Riley for creating these inspiring houses for our students to enjoy for many years to come.”

St Catharine's matriculation photo from 1914
Dr Cecil Belfield Clarke pictured at his matriculation in 1914 (far left of middle row)
Professor Sir Mark Welland removes the St Catharine's College flag to reveal a sign naming Belfield House
The Master removed the St Catharine's College flag to reveal the name of Belfield House

St Catharine’s alumna L’myah Sherae (2018, International Relations and Politics) commented:

"I am genuinely over the moon that the new student accommodation is being named after Dr Cecil Belfield Clarke. When I took the decision to do archival research, in order to uncover St Catharine's first Black students, I was completely astounded by Clarke's story. He was a renowned medic, inventor, and Black civil rights leader, inspiring people not only in the UK, but across parts of Africa, America and the Caribbean too. Words cannot describe how grateful I am that my research has helped to solidify his legacy, firstly via the historic blue plaque unveiling in South London, and now by the naming of St Catharine's new student accommodation. Hopefully this continues to inspire generations to come."

Professor Ian Silver, who married Dr Silver in 1950, added:

Had she still been with us, Marian would undoubtedly have been quietly proud to be honoured by Catz.

Dr Marian Silver
Dr Marian Silver, the first woman elected to the Fellowship of St Catharine's College
Professor Katharine Dell, President of St Catharine's College, with a sign for Silver House
Professor Katharine Dell, President of St Catharine's College, revealed the name of Silver House

About the New Development @ St Chad’s

In April 2020, St Catharine’s received planning permission from Cambridge City Council for improvements to the accommodation and shared facilities available for students living at the St Chad’s site. This will complement the existing and very popular student accommodation and green space already on the site.

Timber interior of the new student accommodation at the St Chad's site
Earlier this summer: The timber interior of the new student accommodation at the St Chad's site (credit: Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture)
Building and scaffolding at the St Chad's site visible through trees
The construction site for the new houses at St Chad's in August 2023 (credit: Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture)

After breaking ground in June 2022, this major building project is on track to be completed in the next two weeks, ready for the first students to move in from 1 October 2023. The two new houses provide 23 new bedrooms (including two accessible rooms) and have been designed with sustainability in mind, including timber frames, triple-glazed windows and air-source heat pumps – the College’s first experience of heat pumps that it intends to build on in the future. This £6-million project was primarily funded by the sale of College-owned properties, with support from alumni donations, and has also created generous communal spaces for students to work and socialise together in the Grade II-listed Old House on the same site.

Kitchen units and oven with extractor hood
One of the all electric, energy-efficient kitchens installed during the project
Light fitting
A light fitting from the (now demolished Octagon building) has been reclaimed and reused to light the new accommodation.