Tradition and Communal Dinner

St Anselm Hall as many traditions which are fuled by its unique and rich history. These traditions include the Hall play, an annual Christmas event, nomination of JCR committee members and regular Chapel services. One of the most valuable traditions that occurs in St Anselm Hall is Communal (Formal) Dinner.


 Each weekday night the Hall sit down and have dinner together. This is often referred to as 'Formal' dinner, but it isn't really that formal. Communal Dinner is a really good way to make new friends, talk to new people and enhances the sense of community felt within the hall.

Everyone is required to wear a gown to dinner, these can be purchased from the hall treasurer and can be returned at the end of the academic for part of your money back.

If you can't make Dinner for some reason, don't worry! Packaged meals (hot or cold) can be ordered and then collected for the kitchen staff at breakfast.


At a typical communal dinner, students meet in the Open JCR at 6.20 pm, where tea and coffee is served. At 6:30 P.M everyone goes into the Dining Hall where the JCR give updates and news. After they have finished, a spoon is banged, telling the RLC and Pastoral Team that the JCR is ready for them.  Students stand until the RLC has said the traditional hall grace. Dinner usually takes 45 minutes and includes three courses.

At dinner there are three 'relaxed' tables, where casual attire can be worn. At the end of the room is top table, where formal dress is required. Everybody is welcome at the top table, and this is where the JCR  committee members and the Res-life team sit. As a part of the top table tradition, males are required to wear a shirt and a tie and of course a gown and females are required to dress in a smart casual way, also wearing a gown.

There are a range of food options served at breakfast and dinner suitable to all dietary requirements.

Breakfast typically consists of a choice of hot cooked breakfast foods as well as fruit, cereal, toast and yoghurts. The dinning hall also has a hot drinks machine as well as juice and water.

Each night a three course dinner is served.  Menus are on a 5 week rota and will be placed in the JCR

The dining Hall also holds various events throughout the year such as Harry Potter Dinner and Christmas Dinner.

As well as this, the Easter Ball normally takes place in the Dining hall.

Meal Timings:

Monday -Friday (Breakfast) 7:30 – 9:30 am

Monday-Friday (Dinner) 6:30-7:30 pm

Saturday Brunch: 11:00 – 1:30 pm

Sunday Breakfast: 9:00 – 10:00 am

Sunday Dinner: 5:15 – 6:30 p.m


Dobby at Harry Potter Dinner

Easter Ball 2019

The Value of Formal

                Louis McCaig-White, Secretary of the Junior Common Room

 When I started at St. Anselm Hall in the autumn of 2018, I knew almost nothing of its numerous traditions and unique elements. Though initially sceptical of many of these, having never encountered anything of this kind during my school years. However, there was one that soon became an indispensable element of my week above all others: formal.

We live in an era when university halls are becoming increasingly fractured and commercial across the UK – a destructive fire spreading long before the accelerant of COVID-19 – with many halls scarcely being fit to bear the name of a ‘living community’. Formal helps St. Anselm Hall buck this trend and, in my view, stands alongside Chapel and the Cellar Club as one of the most crucial elements achieving that.

There are some obvious aspects that show the value of formal for students here and now: a full meal at the end of every day is something many incoming students struggle to find the time for atop what can quickly become an overwhelming work load for many. Poor eating habits are not to be overlooked and can have a major impact on student wellbeing. The definite knowledge that such a meal will be there at a set time and place five days a week is also a permanence and consistency that I personally found difficult to find at the start of my undergraduate degree. Inconsistent and spread-out lecture and seminar times across the week is a major change from the consistent – though undeniably at times grinding and monotonous – nature of secondary education. This unifying element extends to the structure of the hall also. It brings together all elements of the hall, undergraduates, staff, RESlife, the JCR, and the occasional guest from the university or elsewhere. This intermingling and physical presence helps break down the often impersonal, corporate, and bureaucratic feel the modern university can tend to evoke.

I first felt the major place formal held in my life in my second year, the same time I began to feel truly bedded into the hall. In my first semester I had a seminar on campus that ran from 5-6pm covering Early Medieval Europe. As winter came in and the days darker and colder, the warm glow of the common room’s lights, buffeted by the silhouettes of gown-clad Anselmians as I dashed back to be there in time always brought a smile to my face. I wasn’t coming back from a grey day on campus to sit in my room and eat whatever my tired hands could be bothered to muster, rather, I was returning to friends, a hot meal, lively conversation, and even a cup of tea should I be fast enough as the Anselmian host pressed through into the dining hall.

These elements I feel show that formal, as it has been in the past, must remain a central piece of life in St. Anselm Hall come its reopening next year.