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7.3 Food and Drink


Details of charges and ways of paying for food in College can be found in the Finance section of this guide. What follows is the practical guide to the College’s Catering operations.

7.3.1 Self Catering

Selwyn is not a self-catering College. Central catering facilities are easy to access throughout the week. The facilities on each staircase are intended for the preparation of light snacks only. There are gyp rooms (or mini kitchen) on every staircase, usually on every floor. Each gyp room is equipped with a sink, microwave oven, kettle, toaster, hob and fridge. These are suitable for the preparation of light snacks and not substantial meals. Hobs and electrical sockets in gyp rooms are in the process of being fitted with 15-minute timers as a fire prevention measure. For safety reasons, no food cooking or heating appliances other than kettles may be used in your room. Sandwich toasters and similar small indoor grills may be used in gyp rooms at the user’s own risk, provided they have been registered for use within the College and they meet applicable standards. Air fryers or deep fat fryers, rice cookers, slow cookers, and other appliances used for preparing substantial meals are not permitted in rooms or gyps. Registration forms are provided to students at the beginning of each academic year and are also available at the Porters’ Lodge. The Deans and the Porters are responsible for the implementation of these rules. In all cases, please contact the Deans and the Porters before arranging for any appliances that might contravene the policy to be introduced to the College. The College is answerable to the City Environmental Health Department for the proper conduct of all large-scale catering taking place in the College, and legal proceedings can ensue should any breach of these regulations occur.  

7.3.2 Meal times

The Servery is open between 8.00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m., Monday to Saturday. It is open between 10.30 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. on Sundays. Within these hours cold snacks, coffee, tea, cakes, confectionery are all available to eat in or takeaway. More substantial cafeteria meals are available at the following times:  

Opening Times 

The timings change out of term, please refer to the hall menus for those changes:
Monday to Friday      
Breakfast 8.00 a.m. 9.30 a.m.
Lunch 12.00 noon 1.30 p.m.
Dinner 6.00 p.m. 7.00 p.m.
Breakfast 8.00 a.m. 9.30 a.m.
Brunch 11.00 a.m. 1.00 p.m.
Dinner 6.00 p.m. 7.00 p.m.
Brunch 11.00 a.m. 1.00 p.m.
Dinner 6.00 p.m. 7.00 p.m.

The Borradaile Room is open from 8.00 a.m. daily. Food and drink purchased from the Servery can be enjoyed there when the Hall is closed A range of non-food items is available in the Cafeteria such as toiletries, notepads, batteries and washing powder etc. Formal Hall is the term used for waiter-served three-course meal that is available twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30 p.m. Tickets are booked online here. Students may book tickets online for up to two guests. Further details, rules and guidelines for Formal Hall are set out below. Arrangements can be made through the College Nurse for meals to be served in your room if you are ill.

7.3.3 Special Dietary Requirements

Vegetarian dishes are provided in Hall at every meal, but if any students have special dietary requirements not currently catered for, they should consult the Head Chef (; gluten-free and other special diets are regularly catered for. No vegetarian meal contains any meat or animal fat, and cross-contamination is avoided; vegetarian meals are therefore suitable for those on halal or most kosher diets. Students requiring kosher or halal food, whether on a regular or occasional basis, should discuss their individual requirements with the Head of Catering. Kosher food is also available at the University Jewish Society. Any student with a serious or unusual allergy should contact the Head of Catering when they arrive (or, better still, in advance) to discuss how the College can help them. Students with such conditions should also familiarise themselves with the University’s guidance on serious illnesses. The College welcomes feedback on all aspects of its catering and suggestions may be made via your food officer or directly to the Head of Catering, or more formally through the student representatives on the Steward’s Committee.

7.3.4 Payment for Meals

Meals from the Servery should be paid for using your University Card. The card operates on a credit system. The meals you have taken during one term will appear on the College bill for the following term. You may also use your card in the Bar. Debit and credit cards are also accepted in the Cafeteria and the Bar but at present cash is not being accepted. After each transaction a till receipt can be provided which will show the amount of the latest transaction. If you lose your University Card, or it becomes unreadable by the card readers in the Cafeteria, the Bursary can provide you with a temporary card for use until you obtain a replacement University Card. A refundable deposit of £4 will be charged to your College bill. Please return your temporary card to the Bursary when you no longer need it, otherwise your University Card will not be reactivated for use in the Cafeteria. The deposit will then be refunded.

7.3.5 Formal Hall and formal dinners

Formal Hall is, as the name suggests, a formal meal. It is a significant communal event, one important way in which a sense of community is established, and one that shows the College off to visitors. It is therefore important that standards of behaviour at such an event must remain suitable to the occasion. Everybody in College should be able to enjoy this aspect of our communal life. To this end, the following set of guidelines and rules have been agreed with the JCR and MCR to govern both Formal Hall dining and any other formal dinners such as those organised by individuals, clubs and societies, the JCR or the MCR.

What Formal Hall is:

  • an occasion when members of College can dine together, in formal yet relaxed surroundings
  • an occasion on which members of College can invite guests, both from other Colleges and outside Cambridge, to whom they wish to extend hospitality.

The College undertakes to provide:

  • a carefully prepared meal at an affordable price
  • courteous and polite service
  • a congenial and pleasant atmosphere
  • an agreed system for making block bookings

Junior members undertake:

  • to behave reasonably throughout the meal, and not to detract from others’ enjoyment of the meal by intrusive or anti-social behaviour
  • at all times to behave courteously to the serving staff
  • not to abuse or defeat deliberately any agreed system for controlling block bookings.
  • to take responsibility for, and to ensure the good behaviour of, any guests brought to dinner.

7.3.6 Guidelines for behaviour in Formal Hall

In addition to the guidelines below, you are reminded of the following Code of Conduct for behaviour at formal dinners. It is drafted with Formal Hall specifically in mind. However, the same principles apply to all formal dinners. Discourteous, rowdy and anti-social behaviour is no more acceptable there than at Formal Hall.

  • Those dining are expected to behave in a considerate and well-mannered fashion, to be courteous to the staff at all times and not to indulge in raucous or otherwise anti-social behaviour, which may affect others.
  • Gowns should be worn at all times and dress should be formal in keeping with the occasion, i.e. jacket and tie, or equivalent. For example, jeans, shorts, cropped tops and trainers are not permitted. If the Hall is too hot, the Presiding Fellow may give permission for jackets to be removed.
  • During the meal, there is to be no shouting, singing or speech-making, toasting. Unless needs must, those dining should remain seated at all times to avoid accidents involving those who are serving. At no point in a formal dinner are any drinking games permitted. Nor are challenges which encourage the excessive or accelerated consumption of alcohol. Anyone caught breaching these rules will be reported to the Dean. Mobile phones should be switched off and photographs are not allowed whilst Fellows and College guests are in the Hall.
  • When High Table rises, a short concluding grace is said (response ‘Laus Deo’ – see 7.3.7 below) and the Fellows and their guests leave. This is normally about 8.30 pm.
  • Once those dining on the High Table have left, the Butler’s permission may be sought for photographs to be taken provided that the photography does not adversely affect the experience of other diners.
  • On special occasions, such as a 21st birthday, permission may be sought, via the Butler and prior to the Fellows’ departure, from the Presiding Fellow for a toast to be made. Very occasionally permission might be granted for a song of congratulation to be sung. Note that the Presiding Fellow will not normally give permission for more than one such toast or song per evening. None of these activities must interfere with the clearing of Hall.
  • Diners will normally be expected to leave the Hall by 9:00 pm.
  • Members of College are responsible for the behaviour of their guests.

The Butler and his staff have authority to ensure that these rules are obeyed, and they are authorised to require anyone breaking them to leave the Hall. Any person so required to leave will be asked for his or her name (or the name of the host) and may be reported to the Dean.

7.3.7 Guests at Formal Hall

All guests at Formal Hall must be over 16. In order to ensure that as many students as possible have the opportunity to dine, the College seeks to ensure that no single member of College books excessive numbers of tickets for Formal Hall. The number of guest tickets that can automatically be purchased online by any one student is limited to two per dinner. As well as ensuring that everybody who wishes to dine has the opportunity to purchase a ticket, this helps prevent the dinner being dominated by a large group of guests from outside College. This system relies on members of the College co-operating and agreeing not to defeat the system. Members of College are therefore asked not to book guest tickets for other people’s guests (to do so is also risky, because the Selwyn host will be responsible for any bad behaviour committed by guests for whom they have booked tickets). The College does, however, understand that occasionally there might be very good reason for a student to wish to bring more than two guests to Formal Hall (for example, to entertain family members or close friends or colleagues). The Dean is prepared to give permission for more than two guests in reasonable circumstances. Enquiries about additional guest tickets for Formal Hall should be directed in the first instance to the Conference Office ( If space is available at the relevant Formal Hall, any such reasonable requests will be agreed, on condition that the guests are known personally to the Selwyn student making the booking and that the names of those guests are provided. The host will be held strictly responsible for the behaviour of their guests. Formal Hall cannot, however, be used for entertaining large groups, including university clubs and societies – anyone wishing to do so should instead book a separate formal dinner, in one of the public rooms in College. If you wish to organise such a meal, you should consult the Conference Office ( in good time. The College expects the same standards of behaviour at such events as at Formal Hall.

7.3.8 College Grace

At the start of Formal Hall, the College Grace is read in Latin by one of the Scholars or by the presiding Fellow. The College Grace (with translation) is as follows: Benedic, Domine, nobis et donis Tuis, quae de Tua largitate sumus sumpturi; et concede ut iis muneribus Tuis ad laudem Tuam utamur gratisque animis fruamur, per Jesum Christum Dominum Nostrum. Amen. Bless us, O Lord, and all your gifts, which of your goodness we are about to enjoy; grant that we may use these generosities to your glory and enjoy them with thankful hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen At the end of dinner, the Presiding Fellow says: ‘Benedicamus Domino’ (Let us bless the Lord), to which the response (said by all) is: ‘Laus Deo’ (The Lord be praised).