About Maximapedia

Cambridge, England

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND, a municipal and parliamentary borough, the seat of a university, and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, 56 m. N. by E. of London by the Great Eastern railway, served also by the Great Northern, London & North-Western and Midland lines. Pop. (1901) 38,379. It lies in a flat plain at the southern border of the low Fen country, at an elevation of only 30 to 50 ft. above sea-level. The greater part of the town is situated on the east (right) bank of the Cam, a tributary of the Ouse, but suburbs extend across the river. To the south and west the slight hills bordering the fenland rise gently. The parliamentary borough of Cambridge returns one member. The municipal borough is under a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors. Area, 3233 acres.

Cambridge University [1] shares with that of Oxford the first place among such institutions in the British empire. It is the dominating factor in the modern importance of the town, and it is therefore necessary to outline the historical conditions which led to its establishment. The geographical situation of Cambridge, in its present appearance possessing little attraction or advantage, calls nevertheless for first consideration. Cambridge, in fact, owed its growth to its position on a natural line of communication between the east and the midlands of England, flanked on the one hand by the deep forests which covered the uplands, on the other by the unreclaimed fens, then desolate and in great part impenetrable. The importance of this highway may be judged from the number of early earthworks in the vicinity of Cambridge; and the Castle Hill, at the north side of the present town (near the west bank of the river), is perhaps a British work. Roman remains discovered in the same locality give evidence of the existence of a small town or village at the junction of roads; the name of Camboritum is usually attached to it, but without certainty. The modern name of Cambridge has no connexion with this. The present form of the name has usually been derived from a corruption of the original name Grantebrycge or Grantabridge (Skeat); but Mr Arthur Gray points out that there is no documentary evidence for this corruption in the shape of such probable intermediate forms as Grantebrig or Crantebrig. On the other hand, he brings evidence to show that the name Cantebrig, though not applied to the whole town, was very early given to that quarter of it near the Cante brig, i.e. the bridge over the Cante (the ward beyond the Great Bridge was called "Parcelle of Cambridge" as late as 1340); in this quarter, close to the bridge, Cambridge castle was built by the Conqueror, and from the castle and the castle-quarter the name spread within sixty years to the whole town, the similarity between the names Grantebrig and Cantebrig playing some part in this extension (The Dual Origin of the Town of Cambridge, p. 31). Granta is the earlier and still an alternative name of the river Cam, this more common modern form having been adopted in sympathy with the modern name of the town. Cambridge had a further importance from its position at the head of river navigation, and a charter of Henry I., in which the town is already referred to as a borough, grants it exclusive rights as a river-port, and regulates traffic and tolls. The wharves lay principally along that part of the river where are now the celebrated "backs" of some of the colleges, whose exquisite grounds slope down to the water. The great Sturbridge or Stourbridge Fair at Barnwell, formerly one of the most important in England, is a further illustration of the ancient commercial importance of Cambridge; the oldest known charter concerning it dates from the opening of the 13th century, though its initiation may perhaps be placed a century before.

Concerning the early municipal history of Cambridge little is known, but at the time of the Domesday survey its citizens felt themselves strong enough to protest against the exactions of the Norman sheriff, Roger Picot; and the town had attained a considerable degree of importance when, in 1068, William the Conqueror built a castle on the site known as Castle Hill, and used it as a base of operations against Hereward the Wake and the insurgents of the fenland. Cambridge, however, has practically no further military history. From the 14th century onward materials were taken from the castle by the builders of colleges, while the gatehouse, the last surviving portion, was removed in 1842.

The medieval spirit of emulation between the universities of Cambridge and Oxford resulted in a series of remarkable fables to account for the foundation of both. That of Cambridge was assigned to a Spanish prince, Cantaber, in the 4321st year after the Creation. A charter from King Arthur dated 531, and the transference of students from Cambridge to Oxford by King Alfred, were also claimed as historical facts. The true germ of the university is to be sought in the religious foundations in the town. The earliest to be noticed is the Augustinian house of St Giles, founded by Hugoline, wife of Roger Picot the sheriff, in 1092; this was removed in 1112 to Barnwell, where the chapel dedicated to St Andrew the Less is practically the sole remnant of its buildings. In 1224 the Franciscans came to Cambridge, and later in the same century a number of other religious orders settled here, such as the Dominicans, the Gilbertines and the Carmelites, who had before been established at Newnham. Students were gradually attracted to these several religious houses, and Cambridge was already recognized as a centre of learning when, in 1231, Henry III. issued a writ for its governance as such, among other provisions conferring certain disciplinary powers on the bishop of Ely. It soon became evident that the influence of the religious orders on those who came to them for instruction was too narrow. This was recognized elsewhere, for it was in order to counteract that influence that Walter de Merton drew up the statute of governance for his foundation of Merton College, Oxford, a statute which was soon afterwards used as a model by Hugh de Balsham, bishop of Ely, when, in 1281-1284 he founded the first Cambridge college, Peterhouse.

The friction between town and university, due in the main to the conflict of their jurisdictions, the tradition of which, as in the sister university, died hard in the annual efforts of some undergraduates to revive the "town and gown" riots, culminated during the rebellion of Wat Tyler (1381) in an episode which is alone worthy of record and may serve to illustrate the whole. This was an attack by the rabble, instigated, it is said, by the more reputable townspeople, on the colleges, several of which were sacked. The attack was ultimately defeated by the courage and resource of Henry Spenser or Le Dispencer, bishop of Norwich. The relations of the university of Cambridge with the crown were never so intimate as those of Oxford. Henry III. fortified the town with two gates, but these were burnt by the rebellious barons; and in much later times the two first of the Stuart kings, and the two first of the Georges, cultivated friendly personal relations with the university. During the civil war the colleges even melted down their plate for the war chest of King Charles; but Cambridge showed little of the stubborn royalism of Oxford, and submitted to the Commonwealth without serious resistance.


The history of collegiate foundation in Cambridge after that of Peterhouse may be followed through the ensuing description of the colleges, but for ease of reference these are dealt with in alphabetical order. The main street which traverses the town from south to north, parallel to, and at a short distance from the river, is known successively as Trumpington Street, King's Parade, Trinity Street, St John's Street and Bridge Street. The majority of the colleges lie on either side of this street, and chiefly between it and the river. Those of St John's, Trinity, Trinity Hall, Clare, King's and Queens' present the famous "backs" towards the river, which is crossed by a series of picturesque bridges leading to the gardens and grounds on the opposite bank.

Christ's College is not among the group indicated above; it stands farther to the east, in St Andrew's Street. It was founded in 1505 by the Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. It incorporated God's House, which had been founded by William Bingham, a cleric of London, in 1439, had been removed when the site was required for part of King's College, and had been refounded with the countenance of Henry VI. in 1448. This was a small house, but the Lady Margaret's endowment provided for a master, twelve fellows and forty-seven scholars. Edward VI. added another fellowship and three scholarships and the present number of fellows is fifteen. There are certain exhibitions in election to which preference is given to schools in the north of England - Giggleswick, Kirkby Lonsdale, Skipton and Sedbergh. The buildings of Lady Margaret's foundation were in great part faced in classical style in the 17th century; a building east of the old quadrangle is also of this period, and is ascribed to Inigo Jones. The rooms occupied by the foundress herself are preserved, though in an altered condition, as are those of the poet Milton, who was educated here, and with whom the college has many associations. In the fine gardens is an ancient mulberry tree believed to have been planted by him. Among illustrious names connected with this college are John Leland the antiquary, Archdeacon Paley, author of the Evidences, and Charles Darwin, while Henry More and others of the school of Cambridge Platonists in the 17th century were educated here.

Clare College lies close to the river, south of Trinity Hall. In 1326 the university erected a hall, known as University Hall, to accommodate a number of students, and in 1338 Elizabeth de Burgh, countess of Clare, re-endowed the hall, which took the name of Clare Hall, and only became known as college in 1856. There was a strong ecclesiastical tendency in this foundation; six out of the twenty fellows were to be priests when elected. The foundation now consists of a master and fifteen fellows, besides scholars, of whom three receive emoluments from the endowment of Lady Clare. The old college buildings were in great part destroyed by fire in 1521; the present buildings date from 1638 to 1715, and are admirable examples of their period. They surround a very beautiful quadrangle, and the back towards the river is also fine. Unconfirmed tradition indicates the poet Chaucer as an alumnus of this college; other famous men associated with it were Hugh Latimer the martyr, Ralph Cudworth, one of the "Platonists," and Archbishop Tillotson.

Corpus Christi College (commonly called Corpus) stands on the east side of Trumpington Street. The influence of medieval gilds in Cambridge, the character of which was primarily religious, was exceedingly strong. About the beginning of the 14th century there is first mentioned the gild of St Mary, which was connected with Great St Mary's church. The gild was at this time prosperous, but about 1350, when the idea of the foundation of a college by the gilds was matured, the fraternity of St Mary lacked the means to proceed save by amalgamating with another gild, that of Corpus Christi. The age of this institution, whose church was St Benedict's or St Bene't's, is not known. By the two gilds, therefore, the "House of Scholars of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary" was founded in 1352, the foundation being the only instance of its kind. In early times it was commonly known as St Bene't's from the church connected with the Corpus gild which stands over against the college, and served as its chapel for nearly three centuries. The foundation consists of a master and twelve fellows, with scholars of the old and later foundations. The ancient small quadrangle remains, and is of historical rather than architectural interest. The great quadrangle dates from 1823-1825. The library contains the famous collection of MSS. bequeathed by Archbishop Matthew Parker, alumnus of the college, in the 16th century.

Downing College is in the southern part of the town, to the east of Trumpington Street. Sir George Downing, baronet, of Gamlingay Park, who died in 1749, left estates to various relations, who died without issue. In this event, Downing's will provided for the foundation of a college, but the heirs contested the will with the university, and in spite of a decision against them in 1769, continued to hold the estates for many years, so that it was not until 1800 that the charter for the college was obtained. The foundation-stone was laid in 1807, and the two ranges of buildings, in classical style, represent all that was completed of an intended quadrangle. The foundation consists of a master, professors of English law and of medicine, six fellows and six scholars.

Emmanuel College overlooks St Andrew's Street. It was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay (c. 1520-1589), chancellor of the exchequer and privy councillor under Queen Elizabeth. The foundation, considerably enlarged from the original, consists of a master, sixteen fellows and thirty scholars. There are further scholarships on other foundations which are awarded by preference to pupils of Uppingham and other schools in the midlands. Emmanuel was noted from the outset as a stronghold of Puritanism; it is indeed recorded that Elizabeth rallied the founder on his intention that this should be so. Mildmay assuredly had the welfare of the church primarily at heart, and he attempted to provide against the life residence of fellows, which he considered an unhealthy feature in some colleges. The site of Emmanuel was previously occupied by a Dominican friary, and some of its buildings were adapted to collegiate uses. There is only a little of the earliest building remaining; the greater part of the present college dates from the second half of the 18th century. The chapel, however, is by Sir Christopher Wren (1677). Richard Holdsworth, Gresham professor, and William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, were masters of this college; Bishops Joseph Hall and Thomas Percy were among its alumni, as was John Harvard, principal founder of the great American college which bears his name.

Gonville and Caius College (commonly called Caius, pronounced Kees), stands mainly on the west side of Trinity Street. It arose out of an earlier foundation. In 1348 Edmund Gonvile or Gonevill founded the hall of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, which was commonly called Gonville Hall, for the education of twenty scholars in dialectic and other sciences, with endowment for a master and three fellows. This hall stood on part of the present site of Corpus, but on the death of its founder in 1351 it was moved to the north-west corner of the site of the present Caius, by William Bateman, bishop of Norwich and founder of Trinity Hall. The famous physician John Caius (q.v.), who was educated at this small institution, later conceived the idea of refounding and enlarging it, obtained a charter to do so in 1557, and became master of the new foundation of Gonville and Caius College. The foundation consists of a master and not less than twenty-two fellows, exclusive of the provision under the will of William Henry Drosier (d. 1889), doctor of medicine and fellow of the college, for the endowment of seven additional fellowships. Since its refoundation by Caius, the college has had a peculiar connexion with the study of medicine, while, besides many eminent physicians, Sir Thomas Gresham, Judge Jeffreys, Robert Hare, Jeremy Taylor, Henry Wharton and Lord Thurlow are among its noted names. Three sides of the main quadrangle, Tree Court, including the frontage towards Trinity Street, are modern (1870). The interior of this court is picturesque, and the design of the smaller Caius Court was inspired by Caius himself. He also designed the gates of Honour, Virtue and Humility, of which the two first stand in situ; the gate of Honour is a peculiarly good example of early Renaissance work. Caius is buried in the chapel.

Jesus College lies apart from and to the north-east of the majority of the colleges. It was founded in 1406 by John Alcock, bishop of Ely. The site was previously occupied by a Benedictine nunnery dedicated to St Radigund, which was already in existence in the first half of the 12th century and was claimed by Alcock to have been founded from Ely, to the bishops of which it certainly owed much. The name given to Alcock's college was that of "the most Blessed Virgin Mary, St John the Evangelist, and the glorious Virgin Saint Radigund," but it appears that the founder himself intended the name to be Jesus College. He provided for a master and six fellows, but the foundation now consists of a master and sixteen fellows, with twenty scholars or more. There are several further scholarships confined to the sons of clergymen of the Church of England. Architecturally Jesus is one of the most interesting colleges in Cambridge, for Alcock retained, and there still remains, a considerable part of the old buildings of the nunnery. The most important of these is the church, which Alcock, by removing most of the nave and other portions, converted into the usual form of a college chapel. The tower, however, is retained. The bulk of the building is an admirable example of Early English work, but there are traces of Norman; and Alcock added certain Perpendicular features. Of the rest of the college buildings, the hall is Alcock's work, the brick gatehouse is a fine structure of the close of the 15th century, while the cloister is a little later, and stands on the site of the nuns' cloister. Another court dates from the 17th and early 18th centuries, and there is a considerable amount of modern building. The most famous name connected with Jesus College is that of Cranmer. Among many others are Sir Thomas Elyot, John Bale, John Pearson, bishop of Chester, Hugh Peters, Gilbert Wakefield, Thomas Malthus, Laurence Sterne and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

King's College has its fine frontage upon the western side of King's Parade. It was founded by King Henry VI. in 1441. The first site was small and circumscribed, and in 1443 the existing site was with difficulty cleared of dwellings. The king designed a close connexion between this college and his other foundation at Eton; he provided for a provost and for seventy scholars, all of whom should be Etonians. In 1861 open scholarships were instituted, and the foundation now consists of a provost, forty-six fellows and forty-eight scholars. Half the scholarships are still appropriated to Eton. An administrative arrangement peculiar to King's College is that by which the provost has absolute authority within its walls, to the exclusion of officers of the University. The chief architectural ornament of the college, and one of the most notable in the town, is the magnificent Perpendicular chapel, comparable with those of St George at Windsor and Henry VII. at Westminster Abbey. The building was begun in 1446, and extended (apart from the interior fittings) over nearly seventy years. Within, the most splendid features are the fan-vaulting which extends throughout the chapel, the noble range of stained-glass windows, which date for the most part from the early part of the 16th century, and the wooden organ screen, which, with part of the stalls, is of the time of Henry VIII. The college services are celebrated for the beauty of their music. The bulk of the other collegiate buildings are of the 18th century or modern. The old court of King's College is occupied by the modern university library, north of the chapel; the gateway, a good example (1444), is preserved. John Frith the Martyr, Richard Croke, Giles Fletcher, Richard Mulcaster, Sir William Temple, William Oughtred, the poet Waller, and Horace Walpole and others of his family are among many illustrious alumni of the college.

Magdalene College (pronounced Maudlin) stands on the west bank of the Cam, near the Great Bridge. In 1428 the Benedictines of Crowland Abbey founded a home for student monks on this site, and in 1519 Edward, duke of Buckingham, partly secularized this institution by founding Buckingham College in connexion with it. After the dissolution of the monastery, Thomas, Baron Audley of Walden, erected Magdalene in place of the former house in 1542. The foundation consists of a master and seven fellows, besides scholars. There are some valuable exhibitions appropriated to Wisbech school. The appointment of the master is peculiar, the office being in the gift of the occupant of Audley End, an estate near Saffron Walden, Essex. Some parts of the original building are preserved, but the most notable portion of the college is the Pepysian library, dating c. 1700. It contains the very valuable collection of books bequeathed by Samuel Pepys to the college, at which he was a student. Buckingham College had Archbishop Cranmer as a lecturer; Charles Kingsley and Charles Stewart Parnell were educated at Magdalene.

Pembroke College stands to the east of Trumpington Street. It was founded in 1347 by Mary de St Paul, widow of Aylmer de Valence, earl of Pembroke. Henry VI. made notable benefactions to it. The foundation consists of a master and thirteen fellows, and there are six scholarships on the original foundation, besides others of later institution. The older existing buildings are mainly of the 18th century, but much of the original fabric was removed and rebuilt in 1874. The chapel is of the middle of the 17th century, and is ascribed to Sir Christopher Wren. The poets Spenser and Gray, Nicholas Ridley the martyr, Archbishop Whitgift and William Pitt were associated with this college; and from the number of bishops whose names are associated with it the college has obtained the style of collegium episcopale.

Peterhouse or St Peter's College is on the west side of Trumpington Street, almost opposite Pembroke. It has already been indicated as the oldest Cambridge college (1284). Hugh de Balsham, the founder, had settled some secular scholars in the ancient Augustinian Hospital of St John in 1280, but the experiment was not a success. Nor did he carry out his full intentions as regards Peterhouse, the foundation of which followed on the failure of the fusion of his scholars with the hospital; but Simon Montagu, his successor in the bishopric of Ely, carried on his work, and in 1344 gave the college a code of statutes in which the influence of the Merton code is plainly visible. A master and fourteen fellows formed the original foundation, but the present consists of a master, and not less than eleven fellows and twenty-three scholars. The hall retains some original work; it was first built out of a legacy from the founder. The library building (c. 1590) is due to a legacy from Dr Andrew Perne (master 1554-1580); and Dr Matthew Wren (master 1625-1634), uncle of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, directed the building of the chapel and cloisters. The most famous name connected with the college is that of Cardinal Beaufort.

Queens' College stands at the south of the riverside group, and one of its ranges of buildings rises immediately from the river. A college of St Bernard had been established in 1445 by Andrew Docket or Dokett, rector of St Botolph's church, who had also been principal of a hostel, or students' lodge, of St Bernard. He sought and obtained the patronage of Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI., who undertook the foundation of a new house on another site in 1448, to bear the name of Queens'. Docket became the first master. In 1465 Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV., became the college's second foundress. The foundation consists of a president and eleven fellows. The buildings are exceedingly picturesque. The main quadrangle, of red brick, was completed very soon after the foundation. The smaller cloister court, towards the river, retains building of the same period, and the beautiful wooden gallery of the president's lodge deserves notice. Another court is called Erasmus's; the rooms which he is said to have occupied remain, and a walk in the college garden across the river bears his name.

St Catharine's College, on the west side of Trumpington Street, was founded by Dr Robert Woodlark or Wodelarke, chancellor of the university and (1452) provost of King's College. It was opened in 1473, but the charter of incorporation dates from 1475. The foundation provided for a master (Woodlark being the first) and three fellows; there are now six fellows, and twenty-six scholars. The principal buildings, surrounding a court on three sides, date mainly from a complete reconstruction of the college at the close of the 17th century.

St John's College, at the north of the riverside group of colleges, was founded in 1511 by the Lady Margaret Beaufort, also foundress of Christ's College. It replaced the Hospital of St John, which dated from the early years of the 13th century, and has been mentioned already in connexion with Peterhouse. The Lady Margaret died before the college was firmly established, and her designs were not carried out without many difficulties, which were overcome chiefly by the exertions of John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, one of her executors. Thirty-two fellowships were endowed, but subsequent endowments allowed extension, and the foundation now consists of a master, fifty-six fellows, sixty scholars and nine sizars. A large number of exhibitions are appropriated to special schools. Of the four courts of St John's, the easternmost is the original, and has a very fine Tudor gateway of brick. The chapel is modern (1863-1869), an ornate example of the work of Sir Gilbert Scott. The second court, practically unaltered, dates from 1508-1602. In this there is a beautiful Masters' gallery, panelled, with a richly-moulded ceiling; it is now used as a combination room or fellows' common-room. The third court, which contains the library (1624), backs on to the river, and the fourth, which is on the opposite bank, was built c. 1830. A covered bridge connects the two, and is commonly called the Bridge of Sighs from a certain resemblance to the bridge of that name at Venice. Among the notable names connected with this college are Cecil, Lord Burghley, Thomas Cartwright, Wentworth, earl of Strafford, Roger Ascham, Richard Bentley, John Cleveland, the satirist, Thomas Baker, the historian, Lord Palmerston, Professor Adams, Sir John Herschel, Bishop Colenso, Dr Benjamin Kennedy, Dean Merivale, Horne Tooke, Samuel Parr and William Wilberforce, and the poets Herrick (afterwards of Trinity Hall) and Wordsworth.

Selwyn College, standing west of the river (Sidgwick Avenue), was founded in 1882 by public subscription in memory of George Augustus Selwyn, bishop of New Zealand and afterwards of Lichfield, for the purpose of giving university education with economy "combined," according to the charter, "with Christian training, based upon the principles of the Church of England."

Sidney Sussex College faces Sidney Street. It was founded under the will (1588) of the Lady Frances Sidney, dowager countess of Sussex (d. 1589), and received its charter in 1596. The foundress provided for a master, ten fellows and twenty scholars, but thirty-six scholarships are now provided. The original buildings were of brick, but they were plastered over and greatly altered by Wyatville about 1830. The Grey Friars had occupied the site, and part of their buildings remained in the chapel until 1777. A beautiful block of new buildings, with a cloister, was erected in 1890. The most famous name associated with the college is that of Oliver Cromwell, who was a fellow commoner, as also was Thomas Fuller, author of the Worthies of England.

Trinity College, the front of which is on Trinity Street, is the largest collegiate foundation in Cambridge, and larger than any in Oxford. It was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII. and absorbed several earlier institutions - King's Hall (founded by Edward III. in 1336), St Michael's or Michaelhouse (founded by Hervey de Stanton, chancellor of the exchequer under Edward II., in 1323), Fyswick or Physick's Hostel, belonging to Gonville Hall, and other hostels. Henry's original foundation was for a master and sixty fellows and scholars, but Queen Mary and other later benefactors enabled extensions to be made, and the foundation now consists of a master (appointed by the crown), at least sixty fellows, seventy-four scholars and sixteen sizars, with minor scholars, chaplains librarian and the regius professors of Divinity, Hebrew and Greek. Major scholarships are open to undergraduates, not being of standing to take the degree of bachelor of arts, as well as to non-members of the university under nineteen years of age, while minor scholarships and exhibitions are open only to the latter. There are valuable exhibitions appropriated to certain schools, of which the most important are those confined to Westminster school. Trinity College is entered from Trinity Street by the King's Gateway (1518-1535) preserved from King's Hall, but subsequently altered. The principal or Great Court is the largest in Cambridge and very fine. Its buildings are of different dates. In the centre is a picturesque fountain, erected by Thomas Neville, master (1593-1615), under whose direction much of the building was carried out. The chapel on the north side of the court was begun in the reign of Mary. The carved oak fittings within date from the mastership of Richard Bentley (1700-1742). The organ is particularly fine. A statue of Sir Isaac Newton by Roubiliac stands in the antechapel, and Richard Porson and William Whewell are buried here. The hall on the west of the court is Neville's work (1605), and very beautiful. The second court is also his foundation and bears his name. The library on the west side is the work of Sir Christopher Wren. Its interior is excellent, and besides busts of some of the vast number of famous men connected with Trinity, it contains a statue of Lord Byron by the Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen. The New Court, Gothic in style, was begun in 1823. The beautiful grounds and walks of the college extend down to and beyond the river. The college has extended its buildings to the opposite side of Trinity Street, where the two courts known as Whewell's Hostel were built (c. 1860) at the charge of Dr William Whewell during his mastership. The eminent alumni of this great college are too numerous to admit of selection.

Trinity Hall, which lies near the river, south of Trinity, was founded by William Bateman, bishop of Norwich, in 1350. On the site there had been, for about twenty years before the foundation, a house of monastic students from Ely. The present college is alone in preserving the term Hall in its title. The foundation consists of a master and thirteen fellows, and the study of law, which the founder had especially in mind, is provided for by lectureships, and not less than three studentships tenable by graduates of the college. The buildings are for the most part modern or modernized, but the interior of the library well preserves its character of the early part of the 17th century.

University buildings

Of the churches of Cambridge one has long been recognized as the church of the university, namely Great St Mary's, which stands in the centre of the town, between King's Parade and Market Hill. It is a fine Perpendicular structure, founded in 1478; but the tower was not completed until 1608. Some Decorated details are preserved from a former building. The university preachers deliver their sermons in this church, but it was formerly the meeting-place of the university for the transaction of business, for learned disputations and for secular festivals. The "Cambridge chimes" struck by the clock are famous, and a curfew is rung each evening on the great bell. The Senate House, standing opposite Great St Mary's, dates from 1730 and is classical in style. The buildings of the university library, in the immediate vicinity, enclose two quadrangles, and in part occupy the site of the old court of King's College. One of the quadrangles was formerly occupied by the schools or lecture rooms, but as the library grew it usurped their place. Important modern additions date from 1842, 1864 and 1888. The facade of the old schools is an excellent work of 1758. The library is one of those which is entitled to receive, under the Copyright Act, a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom. The Fitzwilliam Museum, a massive classical building, was begun in 1837 to contain the bibliographical and art collection bequeathed by Richard, Viscount Fitzwilliam, in 1816. The museum of archaeology (classical, general and local, 1884), is connected with the Fitzwilliam Museum. The Pitt Press (1833), housing the university printing establishment, was begun out of the residue of a fund for erecting the statues of William Pitt in Hanover Square, London, and Westminster Abbey. It stands near Pembroke, Pitt's college. The Selwyn Divinity School (1879), opposite St John's College, was built largely at the charge of Dr William Selwyn, Lady Margaret professor of divinity. The museums and lecture rooms (begun in 1863) are extensive buildings on each side of Downing Street. Included in these are the museum of zoology, which had its origin in collections made by Sir Busick Harwood, professor of anatomy in 1785-1814, and contains the collection of fishes made by Charles Darwin in the ship "Beagle"; the medical school, botanical museum and herbarium, mineralogical museum, engineering laboratory (1894), optical and astronomical lecture room, chemical laboratory (1887), and the Cavendish laboratory for physical research (1874), the gift of William Cavendish, 7th duke of Devonshire and chancellor of the university. The Sedgwick Geological Museum, opened by King Edward VII. in 1904, commemorates Adam Sedgwick, Woodwardian professor of geology, and originated in the collections of Dr John Woodward (d. 1728). Adjoining this building, in Downing Street is the law library, founded on a bequest from Miss Rebecca Flower Squire (d. 1898) with the law school. The observatory (1824) is on the outskirts of the town in Madingley Road, and the botanic garden (founded 1762, and removed to its present site in 1831) borders Trumpington Road. The club-rooms and debating hall of the Cambridge Union Society are adjacent to the Holy Sepulchre church.

The non-collegiate students of the university (i.e. those who receive the university education and possess the same status as collegiate students without belonging to any college) have lecture and other rooms and a library in Fitzwilliam Hall. This body was created in 1869. The students reside in lodgings. There are two women's colleges - Girton, established in 1873 on the north-western outskirts of the town, having been previously opened at Hitchin in 1869, and Newnham (1875), originally (1873) a hall of residence for students attending special lectures for women. Among other educational establishments mention must be made of the Leys school, founded in 1875 by prominent Wesleyans for non-sectarian education, and the Perse School, an ancient foundation remodelled in 1902.

Non-university buildings

Out of a number of ancient churches in Cambridge, two, besides Great St Mary's, deserve special notice. In St Benedict's or Benet's, which has been already mentioned in connexion with Corpus College, the tower is of great interest, being the oldest surviving building in Cambridge, of pre-Norman workmanship, having rude ornamentation on the exterior and the tower arch within. The church of the Holy Sepulchre in Bridge Street is one of the four ancient round churches in England. Its supposed date is 1120-1140, but although it is doubtless to be associated with the Knights Templars, the circumstances of its foundation are not known. The chancel is practically a modern reconstruction, and an extensive restoration, which has been adversely criticized, was applied by the Cambridge Camden Society to the whole fabric in 1841. At several of the villages neighbouring or suburban to Cambridge there are churches of interest, as at Chesterton, Trumpington, Grantchester (where the name indicates a Roman station, borne out by the discovery of remains), Fen Ditton and Barnwell, near which is the Norman Sturbridge chapel. In Cambridge itself there is a Norman house, much altered, which by a tradition of unknown origin bears the name of the School of Pythagoras.

University constitution and administration

The university is a corporate body, including all the colleges. These, however, are also corporations in themselves, and have their own statutes, but they are further subject to the paramount laws of the university. The university statutes of Queen Elizabeth were only replaced in 1858. The statutes as revised by a commission in that year were soon found to require emendation; in 1872 another commission was appointed, and in 1882 new statutes received the approval of the queen in council. The head of the university is the chancellor. He is a member of the university, of high rank and position, elected by the senate. Being generally non-resident, he delegates his administrative duties to the vice-chancellor, who is the head of a college, and is elected for one year by the senate. The principal executive officers under the vice-chancellor are as follows. The two proctors have as their main duty that of disciplinary officers over the members of the university in statu pupillari. In each year two colleges nominate one proctor each, according to a fixed rotation which gives the larger colleges a more frequent choice than the smaller. The proctors are assisted by four pro-proctors. The public orator is the spokesman of the senate upon such public occasions as the conferring of honorary degrees. The librarian has charge of the university library. The registrary, with his assistant, records the proceedings of the senate, etc., and has charge of documents. The university returns two members to parliament, elected by the members of the senate. The chancellor and sex viri (elected by the senate) form a court for offences against the university statutes by members not in statu pupillari. The chancellor and six heads of colleges, appointed by the senate, form a court of discipline for members in statu pupillari.


The senate in congregation is the legislative body. Those who have votes in it are the chancellor, vice-chancellor, doctors of divinity, law, medicine, science, letters and music, and masters of art, law, surgery and music. The council of the senate, consisting of the chancellor, vice-chancellor, four heads of colleges, four professors and eight other members of the senate chosen by the vice-chancellor, brings all proposals (called Graces) before the senate. The revenues of the university are derived chiefly from fees at matriculation, for certain examinations, and for degrees, from a tax upon all members of the university, and from contributions by the colleges, together with the profits of the University Press. A financial board, consisting of the vice-chancellor ex officio and certain elected members, administers the finances of the university. There are boards for each of the various faculties, and a General Board of Studies, with the vice-chancellor at the head. There are university professors, readers or lecturers in a large number of subjects. The oldest professorship is the Lady Margaret professorship of divinity, instituted by the founders of Christ's and St John's Colleges in 1502. In 1540 Henry VIII. founded the regius professorships of divinity, civil law, physic, Hebrew and Greek.

College organization - undergraduates

The head of a college generally bears the title of master, as indicated above in the account of the several colleges. It has also seen that the foundation of each college includes a certain number of fellows and scholars. The affairs of the college are managed by the head and the fellows, or a committee of fellows. The scholars and other members in statu pupillari are generally termed collectively undergraduates. Those who receive no emoluments (and therefore pay the full fees) are technically called pensioners, and form the bulk of the undergraduates. Another group of students receiving emoluments are termed sizars; the primary object of sizarships is to open the university course to men of limited means. The title of fellow-commoners belongs to wealthy students who pay special fees and have the right of dining at the fellows' tables. This class has virtually ceased to exist. As regards his work, the undergraduate in college is under the intimate direction of his tutor; the disciplinary officer in college is the dean. Besides the foundation scholarships in each college there are generally certain scholarships and exhibitions founded by private or special benefactions; these are frequently awarded for the encouragement of specific branches of study, or are confined wholly, or by preference, to students from certain schools.

Residence and examinations

The total number of students is about 3000. The colleges cannot accommodate this number, so that a student commonly spends some part of his residence in lodgings, which are licensed by, and under the control of, the university authorities. Such residence implies no sacrifice of membership of a college. There are three terms - Michaelmas (October), Lent and Easter (summer). They include together not less than 227 days, though the actual period of residence for undergraduates is about 24 weeks annually. Undergraduates usually begin residence in Michaelmas term. An elementary examination or other evidence of qualification is required for admission to a college. After nine terms' (three years') residence an undergraduate can take the first degree, that of bachelor of arts (B.A.). The examinations required for the ordinary B.A. degree are - (1) Previous examination or Little-go (usually taken in the first term of residence or at least in the first year), including classics, mathematics and a gospel in Greek and Paley's Evidences of Christianity, or an additional Greek or Latin classic and logic. (2) General examination in classics and mathematics, with a portion of English history, etc. (3) Special examination in a subject other than classical or mathematical. Candidates for honours are required to pass the Previous examination with certain additional subjects; they then have only a "tripos" examination in one of the following subjects - mathematics, classics, moral sciences, natural sciences, theology, law, history, oriental languages, medieval and modern languages, mechanical sciences, economics. The mathematical tripos is divided into two parts, in the first of which, down to 1909, the candidates were classed in the result as Wranglers, Senior Optimes and Junior Optimes. There was also an individual order of merit, the most proficient candidate being placed at the head of the list as Senior Wrangler. But in 1906 a number of important reforms of this tripos were proposed by the Mathematical Board, and among these the abolition of the individual order of merit was recommended and passed by the senate. It is not employed in any other tripos. The classical tripos is also in two parts, to the second of which certain kindred subjects are added (ancient philosophy, history, etc.). Individual order of merit is not observed in either part, the candidates being grouped in classes. There are a large number of university prizes and scholarships on special foundations. Such are the Smith's prizes for mathematics and natural philosophy, on the foundation (1768) of Robert Smith, master of Trinity, awarded up to 1883 after examination, but since then for an essay on some branch of each subject, and the Chancellor's medals, of which two have been awarded annually in classics since the foundation of the prizes in 1751 by Thomas Holles, duke of Newcastle.

Affiliated colleges

The university may adopt as affiliated colleges institutions in the United Kingdom or in any part of the British empire which fulfil certain conditions as to the education of adult students. Attendance at these institutions is counted as equivalent to a certain period of residence at Cambridge University in the event of a student wishing to pursue his work here. There are over twenty such affiliated colleges. There are also, in England, certain "affiliated centres." These are towns in which there is no affiliated college, but students who have there attended a course of education managed in connexion with the university by a committee may enter the university with privileges similar to those enjoyed by students from affiliated colleges.

May week

The principal social function of the university is the "May Week" at the close of the Easter term. It actually takes place in June and lasts longer than a week. There is a great influx of visitors into Cambridge for this occasion. The first four days are occupied by the college boat-races on the Cam, and on subsequent days there are college balls, concerts, theatrical performances and other entertainments. On the Tuesday after the races there is a Congregation, at which prize exercises are recited, and usually, but not invariably, a number of honorary degrees are conferred on eminent men by invitation. This final period of the academic year is called Commencement, or in Latin Comitia Maxim.

Authorities. - For details of the administration of the university and colleges, regulations as to studies, prizes, scholarships, etc., see the annual Cambridge University Calendar and The Students' Handbook to the University and Colleges of Cambridge; see also R. Willis and J.W. Clark, Architectural History of the University of Cambridge (3 vols., Cambridge, 1886); J. Bass Mullinger, History of the University of Cambridge from the Earliest Times to the Accession of Charles I. (2 vols., 1873-1884; third vol., 1909); and smaller History of Cambridge, in Longman's "Epoch" Series (1888); J.W. Clark, Cambridge, Historical and Picturesque (London, 1890); T.D. Atkinson, Cambridge Described and Illustrated, with introduction by J.W. Clark (London, 1897); F.W. Maitland, Township and Borough (Cambridge, 1898); C.W. Stubbs, Cambridge, in "Mediaeval Towns" series (London, 1905); Arthur Gray, The Dual Origin of the Town of Cambridge (publications of the Cambridge Antiquarian Soc., new ser. No. I, Cambridge, 1908); J.W. Clark, Liber memorandorum ecclesie de Bernewelle (Cambridge, 1907), with an introduction by F.W. Maitland. For the individual colleges, see the series of College Histories, by various authors (London, 1899 et seq.).

[1] See also Universities.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR