Life on Campus / Summer 2014
There’s Nothing Buttery About It

The Trinity College cafeteria draws its name from the French word for “cask” or “barrel”


In these health-conscious times, why is the Trinity College cafeteria called The Buttery? It has nothing to do with butter. In the Middle Ages, a buttery was a room in a castle for storing wine, ale, and other alcoholic beverages. The word derives from the medieval French word botte, meaning “cask” or “barrel.” At Oxford and Cambridge universities, it became a place where students could get a drink.

There was a buttery in Old Trinity (where Trinity Bellwoods Park is situated) from which beer and biscuits were served to students until 1902. Trinity College moved to its current location on Hoskin Avenue in 1925 – but that wasn’t the last of the buttery. After Strachan Hall was built in 1941, the room in the basement – commonly called “the Buttery” – was the centre of informal social life. Twenty years later, when the Larkin Building was built, a café named the Buttery was incorporated into it, and stands today as a casual eatery where students, faculty and staff can enjoy a hot meal.


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