Time capsule installed as part of Central Spaces project

Thursday 16 June 2022


A collection of mementos submitted by St Catharine’s students, staff and Fellows has been installed beneath the floor of the Central Spaces project, a major building project on the St Catharine’s Island site that is approaching completion. The plan is that the time capsule will be retrieved and opened during the celebrations of the College’s 600th anniversary, in 2073, at which it is hoped that many of the current student cohort will be present.

Fellow Dr Hester Lees-Jeffries (2006), in her capacity as a member of the College’s Major Projects Committee, contacted all students, staff and Fellows in June 2021 to invite contributions to the contents of the time capsule. She explains:

“2020–21 was a challenging and, at times, a terrible year for us all. At the end of Easter Term 2021, we invited our community to record memories and experiences that we would wish to share with our successors in 2073, which have since been safely stored until we were finally ready to install the time capsule. We never intended to include any official documentation – that will automatically end up in the College’s archive; instead, we have brought together a collection of personal reflections, poems, letters to the future, and utterly random observations, all carefully written in pencil on acid-free paper, together with a number of photographs and even a couple of homemade cloth masks in Catz fabric. It seemed fitting to add a lateral flow test, still in its packet, to alarm medics 51 years from now with the crudeness of our diagnostic technologies.”


Interior of the time capsule
Interior of the time capsule
Time capsule in a void in the Garden Room floor
The time capsule in a void under the Garden Room floor

The contents were prepared by library staff Sarah Fletcher and Heather Lund, with every item being individually enclosed in acid-free paper. Advice and help from the College Librarian, Dr Colin Higgins (2018), and the Archivist, Tilda Watson, were invaluable.

A range of possible locations were identified for secreting the time capsule but the College settled on a void under the floor of the new Garden Room, which is in the final stages of construction behind hoarding in Chapel Court and will connect the new Hall with the Chapel and McGrath Centre. The time capsule was installed on 1 June 2022 so that contractors could begin the next phase of work on the room – laying the tiled floor.

Helen Hayward (2018), Fellow and Operations Director, noted:

“Installing the time capsule is a significant milestone that demonstrates our progress towards completion of the Central Spaces project over the summer. We hope that the care taken in designing our new facilities means that the Garden Room, under which the time capsule is placed, is very much a part of College life by 2073. The location of a time capsule will be marked with a small brass plaque on one of the floor tiles.”