Transforming Old Court

Preserving the heart of Clare College for future generations

Old Court, Clare College

Clare College has reached an inevitable moment in its history. Old Court is in need of fundamental conservation, restoration and renewal. Working in harmony with the existing architecture, the restoration will equip the College to provide spaces fit for today and generations to come. 

This page will provide you with information regarding the transformation of Old Court...

Celebrating Seven Centuries

In preparation for Clare College’s septicentennial in 2026, the Governing Body of the College has committed to restoring and renewing Old Court. The purpose is to protect and conserve this vibrant centre of Clare life, ensuring that the Grade I listed building is equipped to meet the needs of a twenty-first century education.

Updated spaces for dining, living, teaching, performing and socialising are all essential. The renewal and restoration of Old Court will ensure that Clare will remain a strong collegiate community at the heart of Cambridge.

Initial work has begun and will take 4-5 years to complete. Generous commitments have already been made and the College needs more alumni and friends to support this historic project and help Clare celebrate its 700th anniversary.

Old Court in summer

Information for Applicants

Accommodation in the College will continue to be available for undergraduate students. Despite the ongoing building works associated with the renovation of Old Court, we endeavour to minimise the disruption to students in the College as much as possible. Applicants are welcome to visit the College and learn more about the exciting new developments that are taking place.

Keep an eye on the 'Updates in Pictures' tab to see how the transformation of Old Court is progressing.

The Facts

  • Over 2,300 square metres (more than half an acre) of slate will be renewed
  • 29 WCs will be replaced
  • 23 showers will be renovated or built
  • 240,000 working hours will be put in by plumbers, carpenters, roofers and electricians on the project over 3+ years
  • 27 gyp rooms will be provided or refurbished
  • 2 new high efficiency boilers will be installed, along with insulated piping, resulting in an improvement in energy efficiency of more than 20%
  • 1.4 miles of pipe replacement
  • 76 additional seats will be created for casual dining in the new River Room Cafe
  • 6.2 miles of new wiring
  • 4 new lifts will be installed to improve disabled access, making Hall fully accessible for the first time in Old Court's history
  • 1,500m2 of lead gutters, valleys and hips to be replaced
  • 285 windows will be inspected, repaired and renewed
  • 11 chimneys will be repointed and repaired, each with up to 9 flues
  • 31 sets will be renovated, including new wiring, fire safety and heating, including over 160 new radiators
  • £300,000 of fire safety improvements including new detection systems, 40 upgraded historic doors and improved compartmentation


The River Room Cafe

A brand new social space in the heart of Cambridge

The North Passage between Old Court and Trinity Hall currently houses a warren of inefficient and underutilised spaces. This will be transformed into a new River Room with additional dining and a social space seating 76. The River Room Cafe, with a terrace on the Cam, will operate throughout the day. Combined with improvements to the existing Buttery, casual dining will be dramatically improved at the College. In turn, this will help ensure that the College remains a desirable home base for students at the centre of Cambridge. The reorganisation of this space will also include a new lift servicing three levels of the North Range of Old Court. This lift, combined with a hidden stair lift at the H entry, will make Clare’s most public spaces, especially the Great Hall, fully accessible for the first time in the history of Old Court.

Virtual Tour

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Greener Clare

New boilers, insulated piping and systems that control climate and lighting will begin to generate immediate returns to the College estimated to reduce energy usage by 20% per year and contribute to helping the College maintain its leadership as a “green college”.

Additionally, the 15 new shower rooms will end the charming sight of students in robes crossing Old Court for morning ablutions and will make the letting of Old Court rooms a much more attractive proposition for the College’s profitable Conferencing programme.

The Need

Through careful financial planning, Clare College has committed £16 million to fund the project from its existing resources.

The original fundraising target was £25 million, however our ambitions for works in the Hall and Chapel have grown, so we have raised our target to £26 million.

We are grateful for having received pledges of over £20.2 million to date.

Our challenge is to raise a further £5.8 million.

If you would like to support us, please get in touch with Clare's Development Office by contacting, or visit our website.