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Durham University

Van Mildert College

Van Mildert College

Welcome to Van Mildert College

Centred around a lake in spacious, leafy grounds, Van Mildert College offers a beautiful setting in which to live and study. As one of the larger hill colleges with a diverse community of over 1500 students, staff and mentors from all over the world, Van Mildert offers a relaxed and lively environment with a wide range of clubs and societies on offer. We are particularly well-known for our community and fundraising spirit, with our growing number of outreach projects. Van Mildert's sports teams and societies also play a huge and active role in the college community offering opportunities in personal development and leadership as well as fostering an inclusive atmosphere for all.

“There was a genuine team ethos demonstrated and staff are passionate about creating a good community of learning. The atmosphere in the college was positive. Students feel well supported and that staff are very approachable.” 
Commendation by the University Review Team, 2013

Opera by the Lake with Sir Thomas Allen

Saturday 22 February 2020

An evening of opera favourites with Durham University's Chancellor and internationally renowned baritone, Sir Thomas Allen, took place at Van Mildert College on Saturday 22 February 2020. Sir Tom was joined by Durham Alumni soloists, Sarah Baillie, Bridget Tomlinson and Eleanor Penfold, along with The Feather Orchestra and Chorus directed by Matthew Morgan and Matthew McCullough. A review of the performance is provided below by Peter Coulson, a local freelance musician and Bass Lay Clerk at Durham Cathedral.

Van Mildert College was the perfect place to be on a wet and windy February evening last Saturday. The venue provided a welcome escape from the ravages of the weather, with the Ann Dobson Hall resounding in the glorious operatic sound world of Puccini, Mozart, and Verdi - to name but three of the noble army of composers on offer. Sir Thomas Allen - the University's beloved Chancellor - was in wonderfully entertaining form, as he engagingly took us through the plots which lay behind the various solos, duets and choruses. He himself sang with his characteristic compelling demeanour, delighting the audience with his magisterial account of 'Avant de quitter ces lieux' from Gounod's 'Faust'. He was more than ably supported by three soprano soloists, all of whom are Durham graduates - Sarah Baillie, Eleanor Penfold, and Bridget Tomlinson. With Matthew Thomas Morgan (moonlighting as tenor soloist) and Matthew McCullough taking turns to conduct the stellar Feather Orchestra (expertly led by the dependable Christopher Hartley), and the resplendent Feather Choir, it was an evening of musical excellence.

It was an evening of so many treats that it was difficult to discern a particular highlight, as every item all made an impression. We had a terrific, if slightly terrifying, Queen of the Night in Eleanor Penfold, a sensual duet from Monteverdi's 'Coronation of Poppea', again with Penfold and Bridget Tomlinson, the sublime Dido's Lament with Sarah Baillie, the incomparable Pearlfishers' Duet with Matthew Thomas Morgan and Sir Thomas, and a hapless Papageno with the Chancellor coping (hilariously) with a faulty set of pan pipes (all credit to Michael Cave for filling in the cue on his faultless piccolo). If I had to choose a particular favourite, I would plump for the quartet from Beethoven's 'Fidelio', which was sung with incredible sensitivity and musicianship from four of the soloists.

A great night, indeed, and one which was enthusiastically received by a grateful audience with a standing ovation.

Further details about the evening including photography and soloist biographies can be found here. Further information is also available via email from

Mildert leads the way as Durham University cuts back on single use plastics

Van Mildert College's student-led Green Committee is continuing to lead the way on a range of key environmental initiatives. Most recently this has included the introduction of reusable plastic cups, water bottles and shopping bags which are issued to all new students, along with reusable boxes for packed College meals and paper straws in the College Bar. The College is proud to have supported the work of its enthusiastic Green Committee and delighted to see their work recognised by the University which has recently signed the County Durham Single Use Plastics Pledge. Congratulations to everyone involved!

More information about the Pledge can be found on the Community web pages. Read the Pledge in full here.