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Title: Cambridge and Its Story

Author: Charles William Stubbs

Illustrator: Fanny Railton

Herbert Railton

Release date: September 18, 2013 [eBook #43764]
Most recently updated: January 25, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images available at The Internet Archive)



Every attempt has been made to replicate the original as printed.
Variation in the spellings of names has not been corrected (i.e. Queens’/Queen’s)
Some typographical errors have been corrected; a list follows the text.
The footnotes follow the text.
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List of Illustrations
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Oriel Windows Queen’s College

A N D   I T S   S T O R Y







J.   M.   DENT   &   CO.
A L D I N E   H O U S E, W. C.

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
At the Ballantyne Press


I SHOULD wish to write one word by way of explanation of the character of the descriptive historical sketch which forms the text of the present book.

Some time ago I undertook to prepare, for “the Mediæval Towns Series” of my Publisher, a work on the Story of the Town and University of Cambridge. Arrangements were made with Mr. Herbert Railton for its pictorial illustration. It had been intended in the first instance, that the artist’s pen and ink sketches should have been reproduced by the ordinary processes used in modern book illustration. But the poetic glamour of such a place as Cambridge and its genius loci did not allow the enthusiasm of the artist to remain satisfied with such drawings only as might be readily reproduced by the ordinary processes. In addition to many sketches in black and white, suitable for reproduction in the body of the text in illustration of interesting bits of architectural detail, or of quaint grouping, Mr. Railton has also drawn a series of large-sized pencil-pictures of the principal College buildings. These drawings are so beautiful, so full of delicacy and tenderness and yet so firm and effective in their treatment of light and shade, and show so much sympathy for the old buildings and all their picturesque charm, that the Publisher at once felt that they must not be treated as ordinary book illustrations. The artist had produced pictures worthy to be classed with the best work of Samuel Prout. It became the duty of the Publisher to treat them with corresponding respect. The method of auto-lithography has accordingly been adopted, by which the plates are an absolute reproduction in size and tint of the pencil drawings, and the artist’s work goes straight to the reader without any mechanical intervention. A new feature has been added by which the colour stones have been made by Mrs. Railton acting in collaboration with her husband. This process of reproduction necessarily involved a change in the proposed format of the book. It was determined, therefore, to issue in the first instance an edition de luxe of “The Story of Cambridge,” on specially prepared paper and in large quarto size. I have readily consented to such a course, for although I may seem, by the more imposing form of a large Library Edition, to be guilty of some presumption in placing my Historical Sketch in competition with such histories as those of Mr. Mullinger in the “Epochs of History Series,” or of my friend, Mr. T. D. Atkinson, in “Cambridge Described”—the larger books of Mr. J. W. Clark on the architectural history of Cambridge, and of Mr. Mullinger on the general history of the University are already classics to which humbler writers on Cambridge can only look as to final authorities—I can only hope that my readers will recognise that my presumption is only apparent, and meanwhile I rest confident that even the historical critic will have little care for the inadequacy of my prose rendering of “The Story of Cambridge,” absorbed as he must be by his delight in the beauty of Mr. Railton’s drawings. In any case, I shall be entirely satisfied if only my descriptive sketch is found adequate for the help of the general reader in appreciating the story of which the artist has been able to give so poetic an interpretation.

C. W. S.

The Deanery, Ely,
Michaelmas, 1903.



Geographical and commercial importance of the city site—Map of the county a palimpsest—Glamour of the Fenland—Cambridge the gateway of East Anglia—The Roman roads—The Roman station—The Castle Hill—Stourbridge Fair—Cambridge a chief centre of English commerce.


William I. at Cambridge Castle—Cambridge at the Domesday Survey—Roger Picot the Sheriff—Pythagoras School—Castle and Borough—S. Benet’s Church and its Parish—The King’s Ditch—The Great and the Small Bridges—The King’s and the Bishop’s Mills—The River Hythes—S. Peter by the Castle and S. Giles Church—The early Streets of the City—The Augustinian Priory of Barnwell—The Round Church of the Holy Sepulchre—The Cambridge Jewry—Debt of early Scholars to the Philosophers of the Synagogue—Benjamin’s House—Municipal Freedom of the Borough.


Monastic Origins—Continuity of Learning in Early England—The School of York—The Venerable Bede—Alcuin and the Schools of Charles the Great—The Danish Invasions—The Benedictine Revival—The Monkish Chroniclers—The Coming of the Friars—The Franciscan and Dominican Houses at Cambridge—The Franciscan Scholars—Roger Bacon—Bishop Grosseteste—The New Aristotle and the Scientific Spirit—The Scholastic Philosophy—Aquinas—Migration of Scholars from Paris to Cambridge—The term “University”—The Colleges and the Hostels—The Course of Study—Trivium and Quadrivium—The Four Faculties—England a Paradise of Clerks—Parable of the Monk’s Pen.


The Early Monastic Houses in Cambridge—Student Proselytising by the Friars—The Oxford College of Merton a Protest against this Tendency—The Rule of Merton taken as a Model by Hugh de Balsham, Founder of Peterhouse—The Hospital of S. John—The Scholars of Ely—Domestic Economy of the College—The Dress of the Mediæval Student—Peterhouse Buildings—Little S. Mary’s Church—The Perne Library—The College Chapel.


The Fourteenth Century an Age of Great Men and Great Events but not of Great Scholars—Petrarch and Richard of Bury—Michael House—The King’s Scholars—King’s Hall—Clare Hall—Pembroke College—Gonville Hall—Dr. John Caius—His Three Gates of Humility, Virtue, and Honour.


Unique Foundation of Corpus Christi College—The Cambridge Guilds—The influence of “the Good Duke”—The Peasant Revolt—Destruction of Charters—“Perish the skill of the Clerks!”—The Black Death—Lollardism at the Universities—The Poore Priestes of Wycliffe.


Henry VI—The most pitiful Character in all English History—His devotion to Learning and his Saintly Spirit—His foundation of Eton and King’s College—The Building of King’s College Chapel—Its architect, Reginald of Ely, the Cathedral Master-Mason—Its relation to the Ely Lady Chapel—Its stained glass Windows—Its close Foundation—Queens’ College—Margaret of Anjou and Elizabeth Wydville—The buildings of Queens’—Similarity to Haddon Hall—Its most famous Resident, Erasmus—His Novum Instrumentum edited within its Walls.


The Foundation of Trinity Hall by Bishop Bateman of Norwich—On the Site of the Hostel of Student-Monks of Ely—Prior Crauden—Evidence of the Ely Obedientary Rolls—The College Buildings—The Old Hall—S. Edward’s Church used as College Chapel—Hugh Latimer’s Sermon on a Pack of Cards—Harvey Goodwin—Frederick Maurice—The Hall Library—Its ancient Bookcases—The Foundation of S. Catherine’s Hall.


The New Learning in Italy and Germany—The English “Pilgrim Scholars”: Grey, Tiptoft, Linacre, Grocyn—The practical Genius of England—Bishops Rotherham, Alcock, and Fisher—Alcock, diplomatist, financier, architect—The Founder of Jesus College—He takes as his model Jesus College, Rotherham—His Object the Training of a Preaching Clergy—The Story of the Nunnery of S. Rhadegund—Its Dissolution—Conversion of the Conventual Church into a College Chapel—The Monastic Buildings, Gateway, Cloister, Chapter House—The Founder a Better Architect than an Educational Reformer—The Jesus Roll of eminent Men from Cranmer to Coleridge.


The Lady Margaret Foundations—Bishop Fisher of Rochester—The Foundation of Christ’s—God’s House—The buildings of the new College—College Worthies—John Milton—Henry More—Charles Darwin—The Hospital of the Brethren of S. John—Death of the Lady Margaret—Foundation of S. John’s College—Its buildings—The Great Gateway—The new Library—The Bridge of Sighs—The Wilderness—Wordsworth’s “Prelude”—The aims of Bishop Fisher—His death.


Dissolution of the Monasteries—Schemes for Collegiate Spoliation checked by Henry VIII.—Monks’ or Buckingham College—Refounded by Sir Thomas Audley as Magdalene College—Conversion of the old buildings—The Pepysian Library—Foundation of Trinity College—Michaelhouse and the King’s Hall—King Edward’s Gate—The Queen’s Gate—The Great Gate—Dr. Thomas Neville—The Great Court—The Hall—Neville’s Court—New Court—Dr. Bentley—“A House of all Kinds of Good Letters.”


Queen Elizabeth and the Founder of Emmanuel—The Puritan Age—Sir Walter Mildmay—The Building of Emmanuel—The Tenure of Fellowships—Puritan Worthies—The Founder of Harvard—Lady Frances Sidney—The Sidney College Charter—The Buildings—The Chapel and the old Franciscan Refectory—Royalists and Puritans—Oliver Cromwell—Thomas Fuller—-A Child’s Prayer for his Mother.

INDEX: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, U, V, W.



Oriel Windows, Queens’ College Frontispiece
The School of Pythagoras facing page28
Peterhouse 82
Clare College and Bridge 96
Pembroke College106
Gate of Honour and Gate of Virtue, Caius College112
The Churches of S. Edward and S. Mary the Great from Peas Hill123
Corpus Christi College and S. Benedict’s Church128
The Pitt Press, S. Botolph’s Church, and Corpus Christi College132
The West Doorway, King’s College Chapel144
Gateway to Old Court of King’s College153
The Chapel, Trinity Hall174
Oriel Window, Jesus College178
Gateway in Great Court, S. Catherine’s College180
The Chapel, Christ’s College214
Gateway, S. John’s College230
Oriel in Library, S. John’s College236
Tower and Turrets of Trinity from S. John’s College243
The Library, Chapel, and Hall, Magdalene College248
Gateway and Dial, Trinity College254
Neville’s Court, Trinity College260
Hall and Chapel, Emmanuel College266
Downing College274
The Garden Front, Sidney Sussex College278


Courtyard of the Falcon Inn25
Saxon Tower, S. Benedict’s Church29
The Abbey House35
Chapel, Barnwell Priory39
The Round Church41
Oriel Windows from House in Petty-Curyfacing page 46
Clare College and Bridge101
Pembroke College107
Pembroke College, Oriels and Entrance109
Caius College, The Gate of Honour117
King’s Parade139
King’s College Chapel145
King’s College Chapelfacing page 150
King’s College Quadrangle155
Cloister Court, Queens’ College163
Oriel Window, Queens’ College166
The Bridge and Gables, Queens’ College169
A Bit from Sidney Street172
Divinity Schools and S. John’s193
Norman Work in Church of Jesus College197
Norman Work in N. Transept, Jesus College Chapel201
Entrance to Chapter-House, Priory of S. Rhadegund203
Jack in Wolsey’s Kitchen, Christ’s College219
The Courtyard of the Wrestlers’ Innfacing page 220
Entrance to S. John’s College229
S. John’s College from the Backs233
Bridge of Sighs, S. John’s College239
Tower and Gateway, Trinity Collegefacing page 252
The Fountain, Trinity College ”        258




“Next then the plenteous Ouse came far from land,
By many a city and by many a town,
And many rivers taking under-hand
Into his waters as he passeth down,
The Cle, the Were, the Grant, the Sture, the Bowne,
Thence doth by Huntingdon and Cambridge flit,
My Mother Cambridge, whom as with a crowne
He doth adorne, and is adorn’d by it
With many a gentle Muse and many a learned wit.”
Spenser’s Faerie Queene, iv. xi. 34.

Geographical and commercial importance of the city site—Map of the county a palimpsest—Glamour of the Fenland—Cambridge the gateway of East Anglia—The Roman roads—The Roman station—The Castle Hill—Stourbridge Fair—Cambridge a chief centre of English commerce.

ONE could wish perhaps that the story of Cambridge should begin, as so many good stories of men and cities have begun, in the antique realm of poetry and romance. That it did so begin our forefathers indeed had little doubt. John Lydgate, the poet, a Benedictine monk of Bury, “the disciple”—as he is proud to call himself—“of Geoffrey Chaucer,” but best remembered perhaps by later times as the writer of “London Lackpenny” and “Troy Book,” has left certain verses on the foundation of the Town and University of Cambridge, which are still preserved to us.[1] Some stanzas of that fourteenth-century poem will serve to show in what a cloudland of empty legend it was at one time thought that the story of the beginnings of Cambridge might be found:—

“By trew recorde of the Doctor Bede
That some tyme wrotte so mikle with his hande,
And specially remembringe as I reede
In his chronicles made of England
Amounge other thynges as ye shall understand,
Whom for myne aucthour I dare alleage,
Seith the translacion and buylding of Cambridge.
. . . . . . . . . .
“Touching the date, as I rehearse can
Fro thilke tyme that the world began
Four thowsand complete by accomptès clere
And three hundred by computacion
Joyned thereto eight and fortie yeare,
When Cantebro gave the foundacion
Of thys citie and this famous towne
And of this noble universitie
Sette on this river which is called Cante.
. . . . . . . . . .
“This Cantebro, as it well knoweth
At Athenes scholed in his yougt,
All his wyttes greatlye did applie
To have acquaintance by great affection
With folke-experte in philosophie.
From Athens he brought with hym downe
Philosophers most sovereigne of renowne
Unto Cambridge, playnlye this is the case,
Anaxamander and Anaxagoras
With many other myne Aucthors dothe fare,
To Cambridge fast can hym spede
With philosophers and let for no cost spare
In the Schooles to studdie and to reede;
Of whose teachinges great profit that gan spreade
And great increase rose of his doctrine;
Thus of Cambridge the name gan first shyne
As chief schoole and universitie
Unto this tyme fro the daye it began
By cleare reporte in manye a far countre
Unto the reign of Cassibellan.
. . . . . . . . . .
“And as it is put eke in memorie,
Howe Julius Cesar entring this region
On Cassybellan after his victorye
Tooke with hym clarkes of famous renowne
Fro Cambridg and ledd theim to Rome towne,
Thus by processe remembred here to forne
Cambridg was founded long or Chryst was borne.”

But it is not only in verse that this fabric of fable is to be found. Down even to the middle of the last century the ears of Cambridge graduates were still beguiled by strange stories of the early renown of their University—how it was founded by a Spanish Prince, Cantaber (the “Cantebro” of Lydgate’s verses), “in the 4321st year of the creation of the world,” and in the sixth year of Gurgant, King of Britain; how Athenian astronomers and philosophers, “because of the pleasantness of the place,” came to Cambridge as its earliest professors, “the king having appointed them stipends”; how King Arthur, “on the 7th of April, in the year of the Incarnacion of our Lord, 531,” granted a charter of academic privileges “to Kenet, the first Rector of the schools”; and how the University subsequently found another royal patron in the East Anglian King Sigebert, and had among its earliest Doctors of Divinity the great Saxon scholars Bede and Alcuin.

I have before me as I write a small octavo volume, a guide-book to Cambridge and its Colleges, much worn and thumbed, probably by its eighteenth-century owner, possibly by his nineteenth-century successor, in which all these fables and legends are set out in order. The book has lost its title-page, but it is easily identifiable as an English translation of Richard Parker’s Skeletos Cantabrigiensis, written about 1622, but not apparently published until a century later, when the antiquary, Thomas Hearne, printed it in his edition of Leland’s Collectanea. My English edition of the Skeletos is presumably either that which was “printed for Thomas Warner at the Black Boy, Pater Noster Row,” and without a date, or that published by “J. Bateman at the Hat and Star in S. Paul’s Churchyard,” and dated 1721. As an illustration of the kind of record which passed for history even in the last century,—for the early editions of Hallam’s “History of the Middle Ages” bear evidence that that careful historian still gave some credence to these Cambridge fables,—it may be interesting to quote one or two passages from the legendary history of Nicholas Cantelupe, which is prefixed to this English version of Parker’s book:—

“Anaximander, one of the disciples of Thales, came to this city on account of his Philosophy and great Skill in Astrology, where he left much Improvement in Learning to Posterity. After his Example, Anaxagoras, quitting his Possessions, after a long Peregrination, came to Cambridge, where he writ Books, and instructed the unlearned, for which reason that City was by the People of the Country call’d the City of Scholars.

“King Cassibelan, when he had taken upon him the Government of the Kingdom, bestowed such Preheminence on this City, that any Fugitive or Criminal, desirous to acquire Learning, flying to it, was defended in the sight of His Enemy, with Pardon, and without Molestation, Upbraiding or Affront offer’d him. For which Reason, as also on account of the Richness of the Soil, the Serenity of the Air, the great Source of Learning, and the King’s Favour, young and old, from many Parts of the Earth, resorted thither, some of whom Julius Cæsar, having vanquished Cassibelan, carry’d away to Rome, where they afterwards flourish’d.”

There then follows a letter, given without any doubt of authenticity, from Alcuin of York, purporting to be written to the scholars of Cambridge from the Court of Charles the Great:—

“To the discreet Heirs of Christ, the Scholars of the unspotted Mother Cambridge, Ælqninus, by Life a Sinner, Greeting and Glory in the Virtues of Learning. Forasmuch as Ignorance is the Mother of Error, I earnestly intreat that Youths among you be us’d to be present at the Praises of the Supreme King, not to unearth Foxes, not to hunt Hares, let them now learn the Holy Scriptures, having obtain’d Knowledge of the Science of Truth, to the end that in their perfect Age they may teach others. Call to mind, I beseech you dearly beloved the most noble Master of our Time, Bede the Priest, Doctor of your University, under whom by permission of the Divine Grace, I took the Doctor’s Degree in the Year from the Incarnation of our Lord 692, what an Inclination he had to study in His Youth, what Praise he has now among Men, and much more what Glory of Reward with God. Farewell always in Christ Jesu, by whose Grace you are assisted in Learning. Amen.”

We may omit the mythical charter of King Arthur and come to the passage concerning King Alfred, obviously intended to turn the flank of the Oxford patriots, who too circumstantially relate how their University was founded by that great scholar king.

“In process of time, when Alfred, or Alred, supported by divine Comfort, after many Tribulations, had obtained the Monarchy of all England, he translated to Oxford the scholars, which Penda, King of the Mercians, had with the leave of King Ceadwald carried from Cambridge to Kirneflad (rather Cricklade, as above), to which scholars he was wont to distribute Alms in three several Places. He much honour’d the Cantabrigians and Oxonians, and granted them many Privileges.

“Afterwards he erected and establish’d Grammar Schools throughout the whole Island, and caus’d the Youth to be instructed in their Mother Tongue. Then perceiving that the Scholars, whom he had conveyed to Oxford, continually applied themselves to the Study of the Laws and expounded the Holy Scriptures: he appointed Grimwald their Rector, who had been Rector and Chancellor of the City of Cambridge.”

The severer canons of modern historical criticism have naturally made short work of all these absurd fables; nor do they even allow us to accept as authentic the otherwise not unpleasing story quoted from the Chronicle, or rather historical novel, of Ingulph, in the quaint pages of Thomas Fuller, written a generation later than Richard Parker’s book, which tells how, early in the twelfth century, certain monks were sent to Cambridge by Joffrey, Abbot of Crowland, to expound in a certain public barn (by later writers fondly thought to be that which is now known by the name of Pythagoras’ School) the pages of Priscian, Quintillian, and Aristotle.

There is little doubt, I fear, that we may find the inciting motive of all this exuberant fancy and invention in the desire to glorify the one University at the expense of the other, which is palpably present in that last quotation from Parker’s book, and which is perhaps not altogether absent from the writings and the conversation of some academic patriots of our own day. We may, however, more wisely dismiss all these foolish legends and myths as to origins in the kindlier spirit of quaint old Fuller in the Introduction to his “History of the University of Cambridge”:—

“Sure I am,” he says, “there needeth no such pains to be took, or provision to be made, about the pre-eminence of our English Universities, to regulate their places, they having better learned humility from the precept of the Apostle, In honour preferring one another. Wherefore I presume my aunt Oxford will not be justly offended if in this book I give my own mother the upper hand, and first begin with her history. Thus desiring God to pour his blessing upon both, that neither may want milk for their children, or children for their milk, we proceed to the business.”

Descending then from the misty cloudland of Fable to the hard ground of historic Fact, we are shortly met by a question which, I hope, Fuller would have recognised as businesslike. How did it come about that our forefathers founded a University on the site which we now call Cambridge—“that distant marsh town,” as a modern Oxford historian somewhat contemptuously calls it? The question is a natural one, and has not seldom been asked. We shall find, I think, the most reasonable answer to it by asking a prior question. How did the town of Cambridge itself come to be a place of any importance in the early days? The answer is, in the first place, geographical; in the second, commercial. We may fitly occupy the remaining space of this chapter in seeking to formulate that answer.

And first, as to the physical features of the district which has Cambridge for its most important centre. “The map of England,” it has been strikingly said by Professor Maitland, “is the most wonderful of all palimpsests.” Certainly that portion of the map of England which depicts the country surrounding the Fenlands of East Anglia is not the least interesting part of that palimpsest. Let us take such a map and try roughly to decipher it.[2]

If we begin with the seaboard line we shall perhaps at first sight be inclined to think that it cannot have changed much in the course of the centuries. And most probably the coast-line of Lincolnshire, from a point northwards near Great Grimsby or Cleethorpes at the mouth of the Humber to a point southwards near Waynefleet at the mouth of the Steeping River, twenty miles or less north of Boston, and again the coast-line of Norfolk and Suffolk from Hunstanton Point at the north-east corner of the Wash round past Brancaster and Wells and Cromer to Yarmouth and then southwards past Southwold and Aldborough to Harwich at the mouth of the Orwell and Stour estuary, has not altered much in ten or even twenty centuries. But that can hardly be said with regard to the coast-line of the Wash itself. For on its western side our palimpsest warns us that there is a considerable district called Holland; that on its south side, a dozen miles or more from the present coast-line, is a town called Wisbech (or Ouse-beach); that still farther inland, within a mile or two of Cambridge itself, are to be found the villages of Waterbeach and Landbeach; and that scattered throughout the whole district of the low-lying lands are villages and towns whose place-names have the termination “ey” or “ea,” meaning “island”—such, as Thorney, Spinny, Sawtrey, Ramsey, Whittlesea, Horningsea; and that one considerable tract of slightly higher ground, though now undoubtedly surrounded by dry land, is still called the Isle of Ely. These place-names are significant, and tell their own story. And that story, as we try to interpret it, will gradually lead us to the conclusion that the ancient seaboard line of the Wash, instead of being marked on the map of England as we have it now, by a line roughly joining Boston and King’s Lynn, would on the earliest text of the palimpsest require an extended sea boundary on which Lincoln, and Stamford and Peterborough, and Huntingdon and Cambridge, and Brandon and Downham Market would become almost seaboard towns, and Ely an island fifteen miles or so off the coast at Cambridge.

Such a conclusion, of course, would be somewhat of an exaggeration, for the wide waste of waters which thus formed an extension of the Wash southwards was not all or always sea water. So utterly transformed, however, has the whole Fen country become in modern times—the vast plain of the Bedford level contains some 2000 square miles of the richest corn-land in England—that it is very difficult to restore in the imagination the original scenery of the days before the drainage, when the rivers which take the rainfall of the central counties of England—the Nene, the Welland, the Witham, the Glen, and the Bedfordshire Ouse—spread out into one vast delta or wilderness of shallow waters.

The poetic glamour of the land, now on the side of its fertility and strange beauty, now on the side of its monotony and weird loneliness, has always had a strange fascination for the chroniclers and writers of every age. In the first Book of the Liber Eliensis (ii. 105), written by Thomas, a monk of Ely, in the twelfth century, there is a description of the fenlands, given by a soldier to William the Conqueror, which reads like the report of the land of plenty and promise brought by the spies to Joshua. In the Historia Major of Matthew Paris, however, it is described as a place “neither accessible for man or beast, affording only deep mud, with sedge and reeds, and possest of birds, yea, much more by devils, as appeareth in the Life of S. Guthlac, who, finding it a place of horror and great solitude, began to inhabit there.” At a later time Drayton in his Polyolbion gives a picture of the Fenland life as one of manifold industry:—

“The toiling fisher here is towing of his net;
The fowler is employed his limèd twigs to set;
One underneath his horse to get a shoot doth stalk;
Another over dykes upon his stilts doth walk;
There other with their spades the peats are squaring out,
And others from their cars are busily about
To draw out sedge and reed to thatch and stover fit:
That whosoever would a landskip rightly hit,
Beholding but my Fens shall with more shapes be stored
Than Germany or France or Thuscan can afford.”

This eulogy of the Fenland, however, Drayton is careful to put into the mouth of a Fenland nymph, who is not allowed to pass without criticism by her sister who rules the uplands:—

“O how I hate
Thus of her foggy fens to hear rude Holland prate
That with her fish and fowl here keepeth such a coil,
As her unwholesome air, and more unwholesome soil,
For these of which she boasts the more might suffered be.”

But probably the most picturesque and truthful imaginative sketch of the old fenlands is that which was given in our own time by the graphic pen of Charles Kingsley in his fine novel of “Hereward the Wake,” somewhat amplified afterwards in the chapters of “The Hermits,” which he devoted to the history of St. Guthlac:—

“The fens in the seventh century,” he says, “were probably very like the forests at the mouth of the Mississippi or the swampy shores of the Carolinas. Their vast plain is now in summer one sea of golden corn; in winter, a black dreary fallow, cut into squares by stagnant dykes, and broken only by unsightly pumping mills and doleful lines of poplar trees. Of old it was a labyrinth of black wandering streams, broad lagoons, morasses submerged every spring-tide, vast beds of reed and sedge and fern, vast copses of willow and alder and grey poplar, rooted in the floating peat, which was swallowing up slowly, all devouring, yet preserving the forests of fir and oak, ash and poplar, hazel and yew, which had once grown on that low, rank soil, sinking slowly (so geologists assure us) beneath the sea from age to age. Trees torn down by flood and storm floated and lodged in rafts, damming the waters back on the land. Streams bewildered in the flats, changed their channels, mingling silt and sand with the peat moss. Nature left to herself ran into wild riot and chaos more and more, till the whole fen became one ‘dismal swamp,’ in which at the time of the Norman Conquest, ‘the last of the English,’ like Dred in Mrs. Stowe’s tale, took refuge from their tyrants and lived like him a free and joyous life awhile.”

Such was one aspect, then, in the early days of English history, of the great plain that stretches from Cambridge to the sea. But our map-palimpsest has further physical facts to reveal which had an important influence on the civic and economic development of Cambridge. To the south-east of this great plain of low-lying fenlands rises the upland country of boulder clay, stretching in a line almost directly west and east from the downs at Royston, thirteen miles below Cambridge, to Sudbury-on-the-Stour. The whole of this ridge of high ground, which roughly corresponds with the present boundaries between Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and Essex, was in the early days covered with dense forest. Thus the Forest and the Fen between them formed a material barrier separating the kingdom of East Anglia from the rest of Britain. At one point only could an entrance be gained. Between the forest and the fen there runs a long belt of land, at its narrowest point not more than five miles wide, consisting partly of open pasture, partly of chalk down. In the neck, so to say, of this natural pass into East Anglia lies the town of Cambridge. A careful scrutiny of our map will show, on the under-text of our palimpsest, a remarkable series of British earthworks, all crossing in parallel lines this narrow belt of open land between the fen and the forest, marked on the map as Black Ditches, Devil’s Dyke, the Fleam or Balsham Dyke, the Brent or Pampisford Ditch, and the Brand or Heydon Way. Of these the longest and most important is the well-known Devil’s Dyke, near Newmarket. It is some eight miles long in all, and consists of a lofty bank twelve feet wide at the top, eighteen feet above the level of the country, and thirty feet above the bottom of the Ditch, which is itself some twenty feet wide. The ditch is on the western side of the bank, thus showing that it was used as a defence by the people on the east against those on the west. It was near this ditch that the defeat of the ancient British tribe of the Iceni by the Romans, as described by Tacitus (“Annals,” xii. 31), took place in A.D. 50.[3]

At Cambridge itself the ancient earthwork known as Castle Hill may belong to this British period, and have formed a valuable auxiliary to the line of dykes in defending the ford of the river and the pass behind; but upon this point authorities are divided.[4] Indeed, there is good ground for the opinion that the Castle Hill is a construction of the later Saxon period, and may, in fact, be referred to the time of the Danish incursions in the ninth century, during which time Cambridge is known to have been sacked more than once.

However that may be, there is ample proof that the site of the Castle at any rate was occupied by the Romans, for the remains of a fosse and vallum, forming part of an oblong enclosure within which the Castle Hill, whether early British or later Saxon, is included, seem to indicate the position of a Roman station here. Moreover, to this place converge the two great Roman roads, of which the remains may still be traced: Akeman Street, leading from Cirencester (Corinium) in the south through Hertfordshire to Cambridge, and thence across the fen (by the Aldreth Causeway, the scene of William the Conqueror’s two years’ campaign with Hereward) to Ely, and so onwards to Brancaster in Norfolk; and the Via Devana, which, starting from Colchester (Colonia or Camelodunum), skirted the forest lands of Essex through Cambridge and Huntingdon (Durolifons) northwards to Chester (Deva). Whether the Roman station, however, at the junction of these two roads can be identified as the ancient Camboritum is still a little doubtful. Certainly the common identification of Cambridge with Camboritum, because of the resemblance between the two names, cannot be justified. That resemblance is a mere coincidence. The name Cambridge, in fact, is comparatively modern, being corrupted, by regular gradations, from the original Anglo-Saxon form which had the sense of Granta-bridge. The name of the town is thus not, as is generally supposed, derived from the name of the river (Cam being modern and artificial), but, conversely, the name of the river has, in the course of centuries, been evolved out of the name of the town.[5]

To return, however, to the Castle Hill. It may be doubtful, as we have said, whether the Roman station there was Camboritum or not, but there can be no doubt that the station, whatever it may have been called by the Romans, must have been a fairly important one, not only as commanding the open pass-way between the forest and the fen leading into East Anglia, but also as standing at the head of a waterway leading to the sea. It is difficult, of course, to estimate the extent of the commerce in these early days, or even perhaps to name the staple article of export that must have found its way by means of the fenland rivers to the Continent, but that it must have been at times considerable we may at least conjecture from the fact that in the records of the sacking of the Fenland abbeys—Ely, Peterborough, Ramsey, and Crowland—by the Danes in the seventh century there is evidence of a great store of wealth, costly embroideries, rich jewels, gold and silver, which can hardly have been the product of native industry alone, but seem to indicate a fair import trade from the Continent.

The geographical position, in fact, of Cambridge at the head of a waterway directly communicating with the sea is a factor in the history of the town the importance of which cannot be exaggerated. In direct communication with the Continent by means of the river, and on the only, or almost the only, line of traffic between East Anglia and the rest of England, it naturally became the chief distributing centre of the commerce and trade of eastern England, and the seat of a Fair which in a later age boasted itself the largest in Europe.

In his “History of the University,” Thomas Fuller gives an account of the origin of this Fair, which is perhaps more picturesque than accurate:—

“About this time,” he says—that is, about A.D. 1103, in the reign of the first Henry—“Barnwell,[6] that is, Children’s Well, a village within the precincts of Cambridge, got both the name thereof and a Fair therein on this occasion. Many little children on Midsummer (or St. John Baptist’s) Eve met there in mirth to play and sport together; their company caused the confluence of more and bigger boys to the place: then bigger than they: even their parents themselves came thither to be delighted with the activity of their children. Meat and drink must be had for their refection, which brought some victualling booths to be set up. Pedlers with toys and trifles cannot be supposed long absent, whose packs in short time swelled into tradesmen’s stalls of all commodities. Now it is become a great fair, and (as I may term it) one of the townsmen’s commencements, wherein they take their degrees of wealth, fraught with all store of wares and nothing (except buyers) wanting therein.”

This description of Fuller is obviously a rough translation of a passage from the Liber Memorandorum Ecclesia de Bernewelle, commonly called the “Barnewell Cartulary,” given at page xii. of Mr. J. W. Clark’s “Customs of Augustinian Canons,” and dated about 1296.

It is possible, of course, that the celebrated Stourbridge Fair, which in later centuries was held every autumn in the river Meadow, a mile or so below the town, adjoining Barnwell Priory, did date back to these early times, but its two earliest charters undoubtedly belong to the thirteenth century, one belonging to the reign of King John, granting the tolls of the Fair to the Friars of the Leper Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, the other to Henry III.’s time fixing the date of the Fair for the four days commencing October 17, being the Festival of St. Etheldreda, Virgin, Queen and Abbess of Ely. From this time onward at any rate the annual occurrence of this Fair furnishes incidents, not always commendable, in the annals of both town and University. It is said with probability that John Bunyan, who in his Bedfordshire youth may well have been drawn to its attractions, made the Fair at Stourbridge Common the prototype of his “Vanity Fair.” And certainly any one who will take the trouble to compare the description of the Fair given by the Cambridgeshire historian Carter with the well-known passage in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” cannot but feel that the details of Bunyan’s picture are touches painted from life:—

“Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the Wilderness, they presently saw a Town before them, and the name of that Town is Vanity; and at the Town there is a Fair kept, called Vanity Fair ... therefore at this Fair are all such Merchandise sold, as Houses, Lands, Trades, Places, Honours, Preferments, Titles, Countries, Kingdoms, Lusts, Pleasures, and Delights of all sorts, as Whores, Bawds, Wives, Husbands, Children, Masters, Servants, Lives, Blood, Bodies, Souls, Silver, Gold, Pearls, Precious Stones and what not.

“And moreover at this Fair there is at all times to be seen Jugglings, Cheats, Games, Plays, Fools, Apes, Knaves, and Rogues, and that of all sorts.

“And as in other Fairs of less moment, there are the several Rows and Streets under their proper names, where such and such wares are vended; so here likewise you have the proper places, Rows, Streets ... where the wares of this Fair are soonest to be found. Here is the Britain Row, the French Row, the Italian Row, the German Row, where several sorts of vanities are to be sold.”

The historian, it is true, speaks of “the Sturbridge Fair as like to a well-governed city, with less disorder and confusion than in any other place where there is so great a concourse of people,” yet when one reads in Bunyan’s “Progress” of the Peremptory Court of Trial, “under the Great One of the Fair,” ever ready to take immediate cognisance of any “hubbub,” one cannot but remember that the judicial rights of the University in the regulation of the ale-tents and show-booths on Midsummer Common were at least a fertile theme for satire with the licensed wits of both Universities, whether of “Mr. Tripos” at Cambridge, or of the “Terræ Filius” at Oxford, and wonder what amount of truth there may have been in the rude statement of the latter that “the Cambridge proctors at Fair time were so strict in forbidding undergraduates to enter public-houses in the town because it would spoil their own trade in the Fair.”

But as Fuller would say, “Enough hereof. It tends to slanting and suppositive traducing of the records.” Let us proceed with our history. And that we may do so let us end this introductory chapter of Fable and Fact by enforcing the point, of which the incident of Stourbridge Fair was but an illustration, that Cambridge became the seat of an English University, because it had already become a chief centre of English trade and commerce, and had so become because in the early centuries it had stood as guardian of the only pass-way which crossed the frontier line of the kingdoms of Mercia and the West Saxons and the kingdom of the East Anglians, and at a later time had been the busy porter of the river gate, by which the merchandise of northern Europe, borne to the Norfolk Wash and the Port of Lynn by the ships of Flanders and the Hanse towns of the Baltic, found its way, by the sluggish waters of the Cam and the Ouse, to a place which was thus well fitted to become the great distributing centre of trade for southern England and the Midlands. Stourbridge Fair is a thing of the past. Cambridge as a distributing centre for the trade of northern Europe has ceased to be. The long line of river barges no longer float down the stream. The waters of the Wash are silting up. The fame of the town has been eclipsed by the fame of the University. But town and University alike may still gaze with emotion at the old timbered wharfs and clay hithes of the river, the green earthwork of the Castle Hill, the far-stretching roads once known as Akeman Street and the Icknield Way, the grass-grown slopes of the Devil’s Dyke, as the symbols of mighty forces which in their day brought men from all parts of Europe to this place, and have been potent to make it through many centuries a centre of light and learning to England and the world.



“At this time the fountain of learning in Cambridge was but little, and that very troubled.... Mars then frighted away the Muses, when the Mount of Parnassus was turned into a fort, and Helicon derived into a trench. And at this present, King William the Conqueror, going to subdue the monks of Ely that resisted him, made Cambridgeshire the seat of war.”—Fuller.

William I. at Cambridge Castle—Cambridge at the Domesday Survey—Roger Picot the Sheriff—Pythagoras School—Castle and Borough—S. Benet’s Church and its Parish—The King’s Ditch—The Great and the Small Bridges—The King’s and the Bishop’s Mills—The River Hithes—S. Peter by the Castle and S. Giles Church—The early Streets of the City—The Augustinian Priory of Barnwell—The Round Church of the Holy Sepulchre—The Cambridge Jewry—Debt of early Scholars to the Philosophers of the Synagogue—Benjamin’s House—Municipal Freedom of the Borough.

ON the site of the ancient Roman station of which we have spoken in the preceding chapter, as guarding the river ford and the pass between forest and fen into East Anglia, William the Conqueror, returning from the conquest of York in the year 1068, founded Cambridge Castle, that “it might be”—to quote Fuller’s words—“a check-bit to curb this country, which otherwise was so hard-mouthed to be ruled.” Here, in the following year, he took up his abode, making the castle the centre of his operations against the rebel English who had rallied to the leadership of Hereward the Wake, in his camp of refuge at Ely. But the castle at Cambridge never became a military centre of importance. No important deed of arms is recorded in connection with it. It was a mere outpost, useful only as a base of operations. It was so used by William the Conqueror. It was so used by Henry III. in his futile contest with the English baronage. It was so used by the Duke of Northumberland in his unsuccessful attempt to crush the loyalist rising of East Anglia against his plot to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. It was so used by Oliver Cromwell when he was organising the Eastern Counties Association, and forming “his lovely company” of Ironsides. But beyond these episodes Cambridge Castle has no history. In the early part of the fourteenth century it was used as a prison for common criminals. Edward III. built his College of King’s Hall with some of its materials, and from that time onwards it appears to have been used as a quarry by the royal founders of more than one college. Its last remaining outwork, the Gate House, was demolished in 1842. Now there is nothing left but the grass-grown mound, still known as Castle Hill, the resort of occasional American tourists who are wise enough to know how fine a view of the town may be obtained from that position, and, so it is said, a less frequent place of pilgrimage also to certain university freshmen who are foolish enough to accept the assurance of their fellows that “at the witching hour of night” they may best observe from Castle Hill those solemn portents which, on the doubtful authority of the University Calendar, are said to happen when “the Cambridge term divides at midnight.”

But if the Castle at Cambridge, as a “place of arms,” had practically no history, much less had the town over which nominally it stood guard. The old streets of Cambridge show no sign of ever having been packed closely within walls in the usual mediæval fashion. In the early days the town seems to have been limited to a little knot of houses round the castle and along the street leading down to the river ford at the foot of the Castle Hill. From the Domesday Survey we learn that in the time of Edward the Confessor the town had consisted of 400 dwelling-houses, and was divided into ten wards, each governed by its own lawman (“lageman”) or magistrate, a name which appears to suggest that the original organisation of the town was of Danish origin. By the year 1086 two of these wards had been thrown into one, owing to the destruction of twenty-seven houses—“pro castro”—on account of the building of the Castle, and in the remaining wards no fewer than fifty-three other dwellings are entered as “waste.” Altogether, in Norman times the population of Cambridge can hardly have exceeded at the most a couple of thousand. The customs of the town were assessed at £7, the land tax at £7. 2s. 2d. Both of these seem to have been new impositions, payable to the royal treasury. How this came about one cannot say, but from this time onward, all through the middle ages, the farm of Cambridge appears frequently to have been given as a dower to the Queen.

Courtyard of the Falcon Inn

The earldom of Cambridge and Huntingdon has been almost invariably held by a member of the Royal Family. The first steps, indeed, towards municipal independence on the part of the borough were taken when the burgesses demanded the privilege of making their customary payments direct to the King, and ridding themselves of this part, at any rate, of the authority of the sheriff. Certainly, there was much complaint made to the Domesday Commissioners concerning the first Norman sheriff of Cambridgeshire, one Roger Picot, because of his hard treatment of the burgesses. Among other things, it was said that he had “required the loan of their ploughs nine times in the year, whereas in the reign of the Confessor they lent their ploughs only thrice in the year and found neither cattle nor carts,” and also that he had built himself three mills upon the river to the destruction of many dwelling-houses and the confiscation of much common pasture. Reading of these things one is almost tempted to wonder, whether the old stone Norman house still standing, styled, by a tradition now lost, “the School of Pythagoras,” in close proximity as it is to the river, the ford, and the castle, may not have been the residence of this sheriff or of one of his immediate successors. The house cannot, certainly, be of a later date than the latter part of the twelfth century. Originally, it appears to have consisted of a single range of building of two storeys, the lower one formerly vaulted, the upper one serving as a hall. How it came by its present name of “Pythagoras School” we do not know, and certainly there is no reason to suppose that it was at any time a school. The Norman occupier, however, of this stone house, with his servants and retainers, could hardly have been other than a leading personage in the community, and must have contributed in no slight degree to its importance. Possibly it may have been owing to the destruction of houses caused by the clearing of the sites for both this mansion and for the Castle, that the dispossessed population sought habitation for themselves on the low lying ground across the ford, on the east bank of the river. Whether this was the cause or not, certainly the town on the west bank—“the borough,” as the castle end of Cambridge was still called in the memory of persons still living[7]—overflowed at an early period to the other side of the river, and gradually extending itself along the line of the Via Devana, eventually coalesced with what had before been a distinct village clustering round the ancient pre-Norman church of S. Benedict. This church, or rather its tower, is the oldest building in Cambridge and one of the most interesting. It is thus described by Mr. Atkinson.[8]

The School of Pythagoras.

The School of Pythagoras.

“The tower presents those features which are usually taken to indicate a Saxon origin. It is divided into three well-marked stages, each one of which is rather narrower than the one below it. The quoins are of the well-known long-and-short work (a sign of late date), and the lowest quoin is let into a sinking prepared for it in the plinth. The belfry windows are of two sorts; the central window on each face is of two heights, divided by a mid-wall balister shaft, supporting a through-stone of the usual character. On each side of this window there is a plain lancet at a somewhat higher level, and with rubble jambs. Above these latter there are small round holes—they can hardly be called windows. Over each of the central windows there is a small pilaster, stopped by a corbel which rests on the window head; these pilasters are cut off abruptly at the top of the tower, which has probably been altered since it was first built; most likely it was originally terminated by a low spire or by gables. The rough edges of the quoins are worked with a rebate to receive the plaster which originally covered the tower. The arch between the tower and the nave springs from bold imposts, above which are rude pieces of sculpture, forming stops to the hood mould. The quoins remaining at each angle of the present nave show that it is of the same length and width as the nave of the original church, and they seem to show also that the original church had neither aisles nor transepts. The chancel is also the same size as that of the early church, for though the east and north walls have been rebuilt, they are in the positions of the Saxon walls. The south wall of the chancel has been altered at many different periods, but has probably never been rebuilt. The bases of the chancel arch remain below the floor. The early church was probably lighted by small lancets about three inches wide, placed high in the wall, and without glass.”

The present nave is of the thirteenth century. The chancel was built as late as 1872. The building which still abuts against the south chancel wall belongs, however, to the fifteenth century, and was a connecting hall or gallery with “the old court” of Corpus Christi College, which not only took its early name of S. Benet from the ancient church, but for some century and more possessed no other College chapel. The bells of S. Benet, we read in the old College records, were long used to call the students “to ye schooles, att such times as neede did require—as to acts, clearums, congregations, lecturs, disses, and such like.” But this belongs to its story in a later age. The Pre-Conquest Church of S. Benet, as we have said, probably served a township separate and distinct from the Castle-end “borough” on the west bank of the river. After the two villages became united, the Norman Grantebrigge, and indeed the mediæval Cambridge of later days, seemed to have formed a straggling and incompact town, stretching for the most part along the Roman road which crossed the river by the bridge at the foot of Castle hill, and so eastward past S. Benet’s, and onward to the open country, eventually reached Colchester across the forest uplands. This Roman Way, following the line of the modern Bridge Street, Sidney Street, S. Andrew Street, Regent Street, ran close to the eastern limit of the town, marked roughly at a later time by the King’s Ditch. This was an artificial stream constructed as a defence of the town by King John in the year 1215. It was strengthened later by King Henry III., who had also intended to protect the town on this side by a wall. The wall, however, was never built, and the Ditch itself could never have been much of a defence, except, perhaps, against casual marauders, though for centuries it was a cause of insanitary trouble to the town. Branching out of the river at the King’s and Bishop’s Mills, just above Queen’s College, it joined the river again, after encircling the town, just below the Great Bridge and above the Common now called Jesus Green. The Ditch was crossed by bridges on the lines of the principal roads. One of these, built of stone, still remains under the road now called Jesus Lane. There appears to have been a drawbridge also at the end of Sussex Street. The river itself, which formed the western boundary of the town, was spanned by two bridges, the Great Bridge at Castle End and the Small Bridge or Bridges at Newnham by the Mill pond. Between the two bridges were the principal wharfs or river hithes—corn hithe, flax hithe, garlic hithe, salt hithe, Dame Nichol’s hithe. These have all now given place to the sloping lawns and gardens of the colleges, the far-famed “Cambridge Backs.” The common hithe, however, below the Great Bridge still continues in use. It is with certain rights in regard to these hithes that the earliest Royal charter of which we have record deals. It is an undated writ of Henry I. (1100-1135) addressed to Henry, Bishop of Ely (1109-1131), and attested by an unnamed Chancellor and by Miles of Gloucester and by Richard Basset. The main object of the King’s writ seems to be to make “his borough of Cambridge” the one “port” and emporium of the shire. “I forbid”—so runs the writ—“that any boat shall ply at any hithe in Cambridgeshire save at the hithe of my borough at Cambridge, nor shall barges be laden save in the borough of Cambridge, nor shall any take toll elsewhere, but only there.”

Numerous narrow lanes, all now vanished, with the exception of John’s Lane, Gareth Hostel Lane, and Silver Street, led down from High Street to the quays. The town was intersected by three main streets. From the Great Bridge ran the streets already mentioned as following the line of the old Roman Way (the Via Devana). From this old roadway, at a point opposite the Round Church, there branched off the High Street—now Trinity Street and King’s Parade—leading to Trumpington Gate. Parallel to the High Street, and between it and the river, ran Milne Street, leading from the King’s Mill at the south end of the town, and continuing northwards to a point about the site of the existing sun-dial in Trinity Great Court, where it joined a cross-street leading into the High Street. Parts of Milne Street still exist in the lanes which run past the fronts of Queen’s College and Trinity Hall. In mediæval times the entrance gateways of six colleges opened into it—King’s Hall, Michael House, Trinity Hall, King’s College, S. Catharine’s Hall, and Queen’s College. Of the most ancient church of the town, that of S. Benedict, we have already spoken. Of the possibly contemporary church of S. Peter by the Castle, the only architectural remains of any importance now existing are a rich late Norman doorway and the bowl of an ancient font. The tower and spire belong to the fourteenth century. The rest of the building is entirely modern. Bricks, however, said to be Roman, appear to have been used in the new walls. Similarly of the other two ancient Castle-end churches, All Saints by the Castle, and S. Giles. Of the former nothing now remains and its actual site is doubtful, for the parish attached to it has been united with S. Giles ever since the time when in the fourteenth century the Black Death left it almost without inhabitants. Of the Church of S. Giles there remains the ancient chancel arch of late Saxon or early Norman character (the familiar long-and-short work seems to date it about the middle of the eleventh century), and the doorway of the nave, which have been rebuilt in the large new church opened in 1875.

The Abbey House

It was, however, from this old church of S. Giles by the Castle that the first religious house in Cambridge of which we have any record, and quite possibly the most important factor in the early development of the University, the wealthy Augustinian Priory of Barnwell, took its origin. The story of that foundation is this.[9]

Roger Picot, Baron of Bourne and Norman Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, of whose hard treatment the Cambridge burgesses complained to the commissioners of the Domesday Survey, had married a noble and pious woman named Hugoline. Hugoline being taken very ill at Cambridge, and on the point, as she thought, of death, vowed a vow, that if she recovered she would build a church in honour of God and S. Giles. “Whereupon,” says the legend, “she recovered in three days.” And in gratitude to God she built close to the Castle the Church of S. Giles in the year 1092, together with appropriate buildings, and placed therein six canons regular of the order of S. Augustine, under the charge of Canon Geoffrey of Huntingdon, a man of great piety, and prevailed upon her husband to endow the Church and house with half the tithes of his manorial demesnes. Some vestiges of this small house (veteris cœnobioli vestigia) were still extant in Leland’s time. Before, however, this Augustinian house had been thoroughly established, Earl Pigot and his wife Hugoline died, committing the foundation to the care of their son Robert. Robert unfortunately became implicated in a conspiracy against Henry I., was charged with treason, and obliged to fly the country. The estates were confiscated, and the canons reduced to great want and misery. In this extremity a certain Pain Peverel, a valiant young Crusader, who had been standard-bearer to Robert Curthose in the Holy Land, and who had received the confiscated estates of Picot’s son, Robert, came to the rescue, declaring that as he had become Picot’s heir, so he would succeed him in the care of this foundation, and increase the number of canons to the number of the years of his own age, namely thirty. He determined also to move the house to a more convenient situation, and accordingly, in the year 1112, he transferred it to an excellent site in Barnwell, a mile and a half or so down the river, just off the high-road leading from Cambridge to Newmarket. This transaction is related as follows:—

“Perceiving that the site on which their house stood was not sufficiently large for all the buildings needful for his canons, and was devoid of any spring of fresh water, Pain Peverel besought King Henry to give him a certain site beyond the borough of Cambridge, extending from the highway to the river, and sufficiently agreeable from the pleasantness of its position. Besides, from the midst of that site there bubbled forth springs of clear fresh water, called at that time in English Barnewelle, the children’s springs, because once a year, on St. John Baptist’s Eve, boys and lads met there and amused themselves in the English fashion with wrestling matches and other games, and applauded each other in singing songs and playing on musical instruments. Hence by reason of the crowd of boys and girls who met and played there, a habit grew up that on the same day a crowd of buyers and sellers should meet in the same place to do business. There, too, a man of great sanctity, called Godesone, used to lead a solitary life in a small wooden oratory that he had built in honour of St. Andrew. He had died a short time before, leaving the place without any habitation upon it, and his oratory without a keeper.”[10]

In this pleasant place accordingly the house was rebuilt on a very large scale, and by the liberality of Peverel and his son William richly endowed. In the year 1112, we read in the Cartulary that Peverel at once set about building “a church of wonderful beauty and massive work in honour of S. Giles.” To this church he gave “vestment, ornaments, and relics of undoubted authenticity which he had brought back from Palestine”; but before he could carry out his intention of completing it, he died in London of a fever “barely ten years after the translation of the canons. His body was brought to Barnwell and buried in a becoming manner on the north side of the high altar.” By the munificence, however, of a later benefactor, the church was finished and consecrated in 1191, and before the end of the next century the conventual buildings, cloister, chapter house, frater, farmery, guest hall, gate house, were complete, and the Priory of Augustinian canons at Barnwell took its place in the monastic history of Cambridgeshire, a place only second probably to that of the great Benedictine House at Ely.[11] All that now remains of the Priory is a small church or chapel standing near the road, and the fragment of some other building. The whole site, however, was excavated for gravel in the beginning of the last century, so that it is impossible to speak with any certainty of the disposition of the buildings, although Mr. Willis Clark, in his “Customs of Augustinian Canons,” has from documentary sources made an ingenious attempt to reconstruct the whole plan of the Priory. The small chapel of S. Andrew the Less, although it has long been known as the Abbey Church, has, of course, strictly no right to that name. Obviously it cannot be the church of “wondrous dimensions” built by Pain Peverel. The chapel, although in all likelihood it did stand within the Priory precincts, was most probably built for the use of the inhabitants of the parish by the canons, in order that they themselves might be left undisturbed in the exclusive use of the Conventual Church. It is a building of the early English style, with long, narrow lancet windows, evidently belonging to the early part of the thirteenth century.

Chapel Barnwell Priory

The material remains of the Priory are therefore very meagre, but a most interesting insight into the domestic economy of a monastic house is afforded by the “Consuetudinarium; or, Book of Observances of the Austin Canons,” which forms the Eighth Book of the Barnwell Cartulary, to which we have already alluded. A comparison of the domestic customs of a monastic house in the thirteenth century, as shown in this book, and of the functions of its various officers, with many of the corresponding customs and functions in the government of a Cambridge college, not only in mediæval but in modern times, throws much light on the origin of some of the most characteristic features of college life to-day.[12]

Let us retrace our steps, however, along the Barnwell Road from the suburban monastery to the ancient town. There are still some features, belonging to the Norman structure of Cambridge, which demand our notice before we pass on.

At a point where the High Street, now Trinity Street, branches off from Bridge Street stands the church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the four round churches of England.[13]

The Round Church

Presumably it must have been built by some confraternity connected with the newly established Military Order of the Templars, and, to judge by the style of its architecture—the only real evidence we have as to its date, for the conjecture that it owes its foundation to the young crusader, Pain Peverel, is purely fanciful, and of “the Ralph with a Beard,” of which we read in the Ramsey cartularies as receiving “a grant of land to build a Minster in honour of God and the Holy Sepulchre,” we know nothing—probably between 1120 and 1140. In its original shape, the church must have consisted of its present circular nave with the ambulatory aisle, and in all probability a semi-circular eastern apse. The ambulatory was vaulted, as in all probability was also the central area, while the apse would doubtless be covered with a semi-dome. The chancel and its north aisle, which had apparently been remodelled in early English times, was again reconstructed in the fifteenth century. At about the same time an important alteration was made in the circular nave by carrying up the walls to form a belfry. The additional stage was polygonal and terminated in a battlemented parapet. The Norman corbel table, under the original eaves of what was probably a dwarf spire, was not destroyed, and thus serves to mark the top of the Norman wall. Windows of three lights were not only inserted in the additional stage, but were also substituted for the circular-headed Norman windows of both ambulatory and clerestory.

“Such,” says Mr. Atkinson, “was the condition of the Church when, in 1841, the Cambridge Camden Society undertook its ‘restoration.’ The polygonal upper story of the circular nave, containing four bells, was destroyed; sham Norman windows, copied from one remaining old one, replaced those which had been inserted in the 15th century; and new stone vaults and high pitched roofs were constructed over the nave and ambulatory. The chancel, with the exception of one arch and the wall above it, were entirely rebuilt; the north aisle, with the exception of the entrance arch from the west, was rebuilt and extended eastwards to the same length as the chancel; a new south aisle of equal dimensions with the enlarged north aisle was added; and a small turret for two bells was built at the north-west corner of the north aisle; the lower stage of this turret was considered a sufficient substitute for the destroyed vestry. A new chancel arch of less width than the old one was built, and a pierced stone screen was formed above it. In addition to all this, those old parts which were not destroyed were ‘repaired and beautified,’ or ‘dressed and pointed,’ or ‘thoroughly restored.’ What these processes involved is clear from an inspection of the parts to which they were applied; in the west doorway, for instance, there is not one old stone left.”[14]

Across the road from the Round Church, in the angle of land caused by the branching apart of the High Street and the Bridge Street, was planted one of the earliest Jewries established in England. The coming of the Jews to England was one of the incidental effects of the Norman Conquest. They had followed in the wake of the invading army as in modern times they followed the German hosts into France, assisting the Normans to dispose of their spoil, finding at usurious interest ready-money for the impoverished English landowner, to meet his conqueror’s requisitions, and generally meeting the money-broking needs of both King and subject. In a curious diatribe by Richard of Devizes (1190), Canterbury, Rochester, Chichester, Oxford, Exeter, Worcester, Chester, Hereford, York, Ely, Durham, Norwich, Lincoln, Bristol, Winchester, and of course London are all mentioned as harbouring Jewish settlements. The position of the Jew, however, in England was all along anomalous. As the member of an alien race, and still more of an alien religion, he could gain no kind of constitutional status in the kingdom. The common law ignored him. His Jewry, like the royal forest, was outside its domain. He came, indeed, as the King’s special man—nay, more, as the King’s special chattel. And in this character he lived for the most part secure. The romantic picture of the despised, trembling Jew—the Isaac of York, depicted for us in Scott’s “Ivanhoe”—cringing before every Christian that he meets, is, in any age of English history, simply a romantic picture. The attitude of the Jew almost to the last is one of proud and even insolent defiance. In the days of the Red King at any rate, he stood erect before the prince, and seemed to have enjoyed no small share of his favour and personal familiarity. The presence of the unbelieving Hebrew at his court supplied, it is said, William Rufus with many opportunities of mocking at the Christian Church and its bishops. In a well-known story of Eadmer, the Red King actually forbids the conversion of a Jew to the Christian faith. “It was a poor exchange,” he said, “which would rob me of a valuable property and give me only a subject.” The extortion of the Jew was therefore sheltered from the common law by the protection of the King. The bonds of the Jew were kept, in fact, under the royal seal in the royal archives, a fact of which the memory long remained in the name of “The Star” chamber; a name derived from the Hebrew word (ishtar) for a “bond.”

Oriel Windows from House in Petty-Cury now demolished To face p. 46

The late Mr. J. R. Green, in a delightful sketch on the early history of Oxford in his “Stray Studies,” afterwards incorporated into the pages of his “History of the English People,” seems inclined to give some support to the theory which would connect the origin of the University with the establishment of the Oxford Jewry. This theory, however, can hardly be accepted.[15] It is very probable indeed that the medical school, which we find established at Oxford and in high repute during the twelfth century, is traceable to Jewish origin; and the story is no doubt true also, which tells how Roger Bacon penetrated to the older world of material research by means of the Hebrew instruction and the Hebrew books which he found among the Jewish rabbis of the Oxford Synagogue. It is reasonable also to suppose that the history of Christian Aristotelianism, and of the Scholastic Theology that was based upon it, may have been largely influenced by the philosophers of the Synagogue. It seems, indeed, to be a well-established conclusion, that the philosophy of Aristotle was first made known to the West through the Arabic versions brought from Spain by Jewish scholars and rabbis. But it is undoubtedly “in a more purely material way” that, as Mr. Green truly says, the Jewry most directly influenced academic history. At Oxford, as elsewhere, “the Jew brought with him something more than the art or science which he had gathered at Cordova or Bagdad; he brought with him the new power of wealth. The erection of stately castles, of yet statelier abbeys, which followed the Conquest, the rebuilding of almost every cathedral or conventual church, marks the advent of the Jewish capitalist. No one can study the earlier history of our great monastic houses without finding the secret of that sudden outburst of industrial activity to which we own the noblest of our Minsters in the loans of the Jew.”

Certainly at Cambridge, though perhaps hardly to the same extent as at Oxford, the material influence on the town of the Jewry is traceable. At Oxford, it is said that nearly all the larger dwelling-houses, which were subsequently converted into hostels, bore traces of their Jewish origin in their names, such as Moysey’s Hall, Lombard’s Hall, Jacob’s Hall, and each of the successive Town Halls of the borough had previously been Jewish houses. We have some evidence of a similar conversion at Cambridge. In the first half of the thirteenth century, before we hear either of Tolbooth or of Guildhall, the enlarged judicial responsibilities of the town authorities made it necessary that they should be in possession of some strong building suitable for a prison. Accordingly, in 1224, we find King Henry III. granting to the burgesses the House of Benjamin, the Jew, for the purposes of a gaol. It is said that either the next house or a part of Benjamin’s House had been the Synagogue of the Jewry, and was granted in the first instance to the Franciscan Friars on their arrival in the city. Benjamin’s House, although it had been altered from time to time, appears never to have been entirely rebuilt, and some fragments of this, the earliest of Cambridge municipal buildings, are perhaps still to be found embedded in the walls of the old Town Arms public-house—a room in which, as late as the seventeenth century, was still known as “The Star Chamber”—at the western side of Butter Row, in the block of old buildings at the corner of Market Square, adjoining the new frontage of the Guildhall.

With this relic of the ancient Jewry we reach the last remaining building in Cambridge that had any existence in Norman times. And with the close of this age—the age of the Crusades—we already find the Cambridge burgess safely in possession, not only of that personal freedom which had descended to him by traditional usage from the communal customs of his early Teutonic forefathers, but also of many privileges which he had bought in hard cash from his Norman conqueror. Before the time of the first charter of King John (1201) Cambridge had passed through most of the earlier steps of emancipation which eventually led to complete self-government. The town-bell ringing out from the old tower of S. Benet’s already summoned the Cambridge freemen to a borough mote in which the principles of civic justice, of loyal association, of mutual counsel, of mutual aid, were acknowledged by every member of a free, self-ruling assembly.



“Si tollis libertatem, tollis dignitatem.”—S. Columban.

“Record we too with just and faithful pen,
That many hooded cænobites there are
Who in their private cells have yet a care
Of public quiet; unambitious men,
Counsellors for the world, of piercing ken;
Whose fervent exhortations from afar
Move princes to their duty, peace or war;
And oft times in the most forbidding den
Of solitude, with love of science strong,
How patiently the yoke of thought they bear ...
By such examples moved to unbought pains
The people work like congregated bees;
Eager to build the quiet fortresses
Where piety, as they believe, obtains
From heaven a general blessing; timely rains
And sunshine; prosperous enterprise and peace and equity.”

Monastic Origins—Continuity of Learning in Early England—The School of York—The Venerable Bede—Alcuin and the Schools of Charles the Great—The Danish Invasions—The Benedictine Revival—The Monkish Chroniclers—The Coming of the Friars—The Franciscan and Dominican Houses at Cambridge—The Franciscan Scholars—Roger Bacon—Bishop Grosseteste—The New Aristotle and the Scientific Spirit—The Scholastic Philosophy—Aquinas—Migration of Scholars from Paris to Cambridge—The term “University”—The Colleges and the Hostels—The Course of Study—Trivium and Quadrivium—The Four Faculties—England a Paradise of Clerks—Parable of the Monk’s Pen.

IN the centuries which preceded the rise of the Universities, the monks had been the great educators of England, and it is to monastic origins that we must first turn to find the beginnings of university and collegiate life at Cambridge.

In the library of Trinity College there is preserved a catalogue of the books which Augustine and his monks brought with them into England. “These are the foundation or the beginning of the library of the whole English Church, A.D. 601,” are the words with which this brief catalogue closes. A Bible in two volumes, a Psalter and a book of the Gospels, a Martyrology, the Apocryphal Lives of the Apostles, and the exposition of certain Epistles represented at the commencement of the seventh century the sum-total of literature which England then possessed. In little more than fifty years, however, the Latin culture of Augustine and his monks had spread throughout the land, and before the eighth century closed England had become the literary centre of Western Europe. Probably never in the history of any nation had there been so rapid a development of learning. Certainly few things are more remarkable in the history of the intellectual development of Europe than that, in little more than a hundred years after knowledge had first dawned upon this country, an Anglo-Saxon scholar should be producing books upon literature and philosophy second to nothing that had been written by any Greek or Roman author after the third century. But the great writer whom after-ages called “the Venerable Bede,” and who was known to his own contemporaries as “the wise Saxon,” was not the only scholar that the seventh and the eighth centuries had produced in England. Under the twenty-one years of the Archiepiscopate of Theodore (669-690), schools and monasteries rapidly spread throughout the country. In the school established under the walls of Canterbury, in connection with the Monastery of S. Peter, better known in after-times as S. Augustine’s, and over which his friend the Abbot Adrian ruled, were trained not a few of the great scholars of those days—Albinus, the future adviser and assistant of Bede, Tobias of Rochester, Aldhelm of Sherborne, and John of Beverley. The influence of these and other scholars sent out from the school at Canterbury soon made itself felt. In Northumbria, too, the torch of learning had been kept alight by the Irish monks of Lindisfarne, and of Melrose and of Iona, “that nest from which,” as an old writer playing on its founder S. Columba’s name had said, “the sacred doves had taken their flight to every quarter.”

While Archbishop Theodore and the Abbot Adrian were organising Anglo-Latin education in the monasteries of the south, Wilfrith, the Archbishop of York, and his friend Benedict Biscop were performing a no less extensive work in the north. The schools of Northumbria gathered in the harvest of Irish learning, and of the Franco-Gallican schools, which still preserved a remnant of classical literature, and of Rome itself, now barbarised. Of Bede, in the book-room of the monastery at Jarrow, we are told by his disciple and biographer, Cuthbert, that in the intervals of the regular monastic discipline the great scholar found time to undertake the direction of the monastic school. “He had many scholars, all of whom he inspired with an extraordinary love of learning.” “It was always sweet to me,” he writes himself, “to learn to teach.” At the conclusion of his “Ecclesiastical History” he has himself given a list of some thirty-eight books which he had written up to that time. Of these not a few are of an educational character. Besides a large body of Scripture commentary, we have from his pen treatises on orthography, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. His book on “The Nature of Things” was the science primer of the Anglo-Saxons for many generations. He wrote, in fact, to teach. At the school of York, however, was centred nearly all the wisdom of the West, and its greatest pupil was Alcwyne. He became essentially the representative schoolmaster of his age. For fourteen years, attracted by the fame of his scholarship, students not only from all parts of England and Ireland, but also from France and Germany, flocked to the monastery school at York. In 782 Alcwyne left England to join the Court of Charles the Great and to take charge of the Palatine schools, carrying with him to the Continent the learning which was about to perish for a time in England, as the result of the internal dissensions of its kings and the early ravages of the Norsemen. “Learning,” to use the phrase of William of Malmesbury, “was buried in the grave of Bede for four centuries.” The Danish invader, carrying his ravages now up the Thames and now up the Humber, devastated the east of England with fire and sword. “Deliver us, O Lord, from the frenzy of the Northmen!” had been a suffrage of a litany of the time, but it was one to which the scholars and the bookmen, no less than the monks and nuns of that age, found no answer. The noble libraries which Theodore and the Abbots Adrian and Benedict had founded were given to the flames. The monasteries of the Benedictines, the chief guardians of learning, were completely broken up. “It is not at all improbable,” says Mr. Kemble, “that in the middle of the tenth century there was not a genuine Benedictine left in England.”

A revival of monastic life—some attempt at a return to the old Benedictine ideal—came, however, with that century. Under the auspices of S. Dunstan, the Benedictine Order—renovated at its sources by the Cluniac reform—was again established, and surviving a second wave of Danish devastation was, under the patronage of King Cnut and Edward the Confessor, further strengthened and extended. The strength of this revival is perhaps best seen in the wonderful galaxy of monastic chroniclers which sheds its light over that century. Florence of Worcester, Henry of Huntingdon, William of Malmesbury, Ingulf, Geoffrey Gaimar, William de Monte, John and Richard of Hexham, Jordan Fantosme, Simeon of Durham, Thomas and Richard of Ely, Gervase, Giraldus Cambrensis, William of Newburgh, Richard of Devizes all follow one another in close succession, while Robert of Gloucester, Roger of Wendover, and Matthew Paris carry on the line into the next age. But apart from the Chroniclers, though the monasteries once more flourished in England, the early Benedictine ideal of learning did not at once revive. Indeed, the tendency of the monastic reformers of the twelfth century was distinctly hostile to the more intellectual side of the monastic ideal. By the end of the century the majority of the Benedictine convents had sunk into rich corporations of landed proprietors, whose chief ambition was the aggrandisement of the house to which they belonged. The new impulse of reform, which in its indirect results was to give the thirteenth century in England so dominant a place in the history of her civilisation, came from a quite different direction. Almost simultaneously, without concert, in different countries, two great minds, S. Francis and S. Dominic, conceived a wholly new ideal of monastic perfection. Unlike the older monastic leaders, deliberately turning their backs upon the haunts of men in town and village, and seeking in the wilderness seclusion from the world which they professed to forsake, these new idealists, the followers of S. Dominic and S. Francis, the mendicant Orders, the Friars’ Preachers and the Friars’ Minors, turned to the living world of men. Their object was no longer the salvation of the individual monk, but the salvation of others through him. Monastic Christianity was no longer to flee the world; it must conquer it or win it by gentle violence. The work of the new Orders, therefore, was from the first among their fellowmen, in village, in town, in city, in university.

“Like the great modern Order (of the Jesuists) which, when their methods had in their turn become antiquated, succeeded to their influence by a still further departure from the old monastic routine, the mendicant Orders early perceived the necessity of getting a hold upon the centres of education. With the Dominicans indeed this was a primary object: the immediate purpose of their foundation was resistance to this Albigensian heresy; they aimed at obtaining influence upon the more educated and more powerful classes. Hence it was natural that Dominic should have looked to the universities as the most suitable recruiting ground for his Order: to secure for his Preachers the highest theological training that the age afforded was an essential element of the new monastic ideal.... The Franciscan ideal was a less intellectual one ... but though the Franciscans laboured largely among the neglected poor of crowded and pestilential cities, they too found it practically necessary to go to the universities for recruits and to secure some theological education for their members.”[16]

The Black Friars of S. Dominic arrived in England in 1221. The Grey Friars of S. Francis in 1224. The Dominicans met with the least success at first, but this was fully compensated by the rapid progress of the Franciscans. Very soon after the coming of the Grey Friars they had formed a settlement at Oxford, under the auspices of the greatest scholar-bishop of the age, Grosseteste of Lincoln, and had built their first rude chapel at Cambridge. In the early days, however, the followers of S. Francis made a hard fight against the taste for sumptuous buildings and for the greater personal comfort which characterised the time. “I did not enter into religion to build walls,” protested an English Provincial of the Order when the brethren begged for a larger convent. But at Cambridge the first humble house of the Grey Friars, which had been founded in 1224 in “the old Synagogue,” was shortly removed to a site at the corner of Bridge Street and Jesus Lane—now occupied by Sidney Sussex College—and that noble church commenced, which, three centuries later, at the time of the Dissolution, the University vainly endeavoured to save for itself, having for some time used it for the ceremony of Commencement.[17] But of this we shall have to speak later in our account of the Foundation of Sidney College.

But if the Franciscans, in their desire to obey the wishes of their Founder, found a difficulty in combating the passion of the time for sumptuous buildings, they had even less success in struggling against the passion of the time for learning. Their vow of poverty ought to have denied them the possession even of books. “I am your breviary! I am your breviary!” S. Francis had cried passionately to the novice who desired a Psalter. And yet it is a matter of common knowledge that Grosseteste, the great patron of the Franciscans, brought Greek books to England, and in conjunction with two other Franciscans, whose names are known—Nicholas the Greek and John of Basingstoke—gave to the world Latin versions of certain Greek documents. Foremost among these is the famous early apocryphal book, The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Greek manuscript of which is still in the Cambridge University Library. There is no better statement, perhaps, of those gaps in the knowledge of Western Christendom, which the scholars of the Franciscan Order did so much to fill, than a passage in the writings of the greatest of all English Franciscans, Roger Bacon, which runs to this effect:—

“Numberless portions of the wisdom of God are wanting to us. Many books of the Sacred Text remain untranslated, as two books of the Maccabees which I know to exist in Greek: and many other books of divers Prophets, whereto reference is made in the books of Kings and Chronicles. Josephus too, in the books of his Antiquities, is altogether falsely rendered as far as concerns the Chronological side, and without him nothing can be known of the history of the Sacred Text. Unless he be corrected in a new translation, he is of no avail, and the Biblical history is lost. Numberless books again of Hebrew and Greek expositors are wanting to the Latins: as those of Origen, Basil, Gregory, Nazianzen, Damascene, Dionysius, Chrysostom, and other most noble Doctors, alike in Hebrew and in Greek. The Church therefore is slumbering. She does nothing in this matter, nor hath done these seventy years: save that my Lord Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, of holy memory did give to the Latins some part of the writings of S. Dionysius and of Damascene, and some other holy Doctors. It is an amazing thing this negligence of the Church; for, from the time of Pope Damasus, there hath not been any Pope, nor any of less rank, who hath busied himself for the advantaging of the Church by translations, except the aforesaid glorious Bishop.”[18]

The truth to which Roger Bacon in this passage gave expression, the scholars of the Franciscan Order set themselves to realise and act upon. For a considerable time the Franciscan houses at both Oxford and Cambridge kept alive the interest of this “new learning” to which Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon opened the way. The work of the Order at Oxford is fairly well known. And in the Cambridge House of the Order there was at least one teacher of divinity, Henry of Costessey, who, in his Commentary on the Psalms, set the example of a type of scholarship, which, in its close insistence on the exact meaning of the text, in its constant reference to the original Hebrew, and in its absolute independence of judgment, has, one is proud to think, ever remained a characteristic of the Cambridge school of textual criticism down even to our own day.


But if the Franciscans, impelled by their desire to illustrate the Sacred Text, had thus become intellectual in spite of the ideal of their Founder, the Dominicans were intellectual from their starting-point. They had, indeed, been called into being by the necessity of combating the intellectual doubts and controversies of the south of France. That they should become a prominent factor in the development of the universities was but the fulfilment of their original design. With their activity also is associated one of the greatest intellectual movements of the thirteenth century—the introduction of the new Philosophy. The numerous houses of the Order planted by them in the East brought about an increased intercourse between those regions and Western Europe, and helped on that knowledge of the new Aristotle, which, as we have said in a previous chapter, England probably owes largely to the philosophers of the Synagogue. It is round the University of Paris, however, that the earlier history, both of the Dominican scholars and of the new Aristotle, mainly revolves. Here the great system of Scholastic Philosophy was elaborated, by which the two great Dominican teachers, Albertus Magnus—“the ape of Aristotle,” as he was irreverently and unjustly called by his Franciscan contemporaries—and his greater pupil, Thomas Aquinas, “the seraphic Doctor,” vindicated the Christian Creed in terms of Aristotelian logic, and laid at least a solid foundation for the Christian Theology of the future, in the contention that Religion is rational, and that Reason is divine, that all knowledge and all truth, from whatever source they are derived, are capable of being reduced to harmony and unity, because the name of Christianity is both Wisdom and Truth.

In the year 1229 there broke out at Paris a feud of more than ordinary gravity between the students and the citizens, undignified enough in its cause of origin, but in the event probably marking a distinct step in the development of Cambridge University. A drunken body of students did some act of great violence to the citizens. Complaint was made to the Bishop of Paris and to the Queen Blanche. The members of the University who had not been guilty of the outrage were violently attacked and ill-treated by the police of the city. The University teachers suspended their classes and demanded satisfaction. The demand was refused, and masters and scholars dispersed. Large numbers, availing themselves of the invitation of King Henry III. to settle where they pleased in this country, migrated to the shores of England; and Cambridge, probably from its proximity to the eastern coast, and as the centre where Prince Louis, in alliance with the English baronage, but a few years before had raised the Royal standard, seems to have attracted a large majority of the students. A Royal writ, issued in the year 1231, for the better regulation of the University, probably makes reference to this migration when it speaks of the large number of students, both within the realm and “from beyond the seas,” who had lately settled in Cambridge, and gives power to the Bishop of Ely “to signify rebellious clerks who would not be chastised by the Chancellor and Masters,” and if necessary to invoke the aid of the Sheriff in their due punishment. Another Royal writ of the same reign expressly provides that no student shall remain in the University unless under the tuition of some Master of Arts—the earliest trace perhaps of that disciplinary organisation which the motley and turbulent crowd representing the student community of that age demanded.[19]

It will be observed that in these Royal writs the term “university” occurs. But it must not be supposed that the word is used in its more modern signification, of a community or corporation devoted to learning and education formally recognised by legal authority. That is a use which appears for the first time towards the end of the fourteenth century. In the age of which we are speaking, and in the writs of Henry III., universitas magistrorum et discipulorum or scholarium simply means a “community of teachers and scholars.” The common designation in mediæval times of such a body as we now mean by “university” was studium generale, or sometimes studium alone. It is necessary, moreover, to remember that universities in the earliest times had not infrequently a very vigorous life as places of learning, long before they received Royal or legal recognition; and it is equally necessary not to forget that colleges for the lodging and maintenance and education of students are by no means an essential feature of the mediæval conception of a university.

“The University of the Middle Ages was a corporation of learned men, associated for the purposes of teaching, and possessing the privilege that no one should be allowed to teach within their dominions unless he had received their sanction, which could only be granted after trial of his ability. The test applied consisted of examinations and public disputations; the sanction assumed the form of a public ceremony and the name of a degree; and the teachers or doctors so elected or created carried out their office of instruction by lecturing in the public schools to the students, who, desirous of hearing them, took up their residence in the place wherein the University was located. The degree was, in fact, merely a license to teach. The teacher so licensed became a member of the ruling body. The University, as a body, does not concern itself with the food and lodging of the students, beyond the exercise of a superintending power over the rents and regulations of the houses in which they are lodged, in order to protect them from exaction; and it also assumes the care of public morals. The only buildings required by such a corporation in the first instance were a place to hold meetings and ceremonies, a library, and schools for teaching, or, as we should call them, lecture rooms. A college, on the other hand, in its primitive form, is a foundation erected and endowed by private munificence solely for the lodging and maintenance of deserving students, whose lack of means rendered them unable to pursue the university course without some extraneous assistance.”[20]

It must be remembered, moreover, that when a mediæval benefactor founded a college his intentions were very different from those which would actuate a similar person at the present day. His object was to provide board and lodging and a small stipend, not for students, but for teachers. As for the taught, they lodged where they could, like students at a Scottish or a Continental university to-day; and it was not until the sixteenth century was well advanced that they were admitted within the precincts of the colleges on the payment of a small annual rent or “pension”—whence the modern name of “pensioner” for the undergraduate or pupil members of the college. Indeed, the term “college” (collegium), as applied to a building, is a modern use of the word. In the old days the term “college” was strictly and accurately applied to the persons who formed the community of scholars, not to the building which housed them. For that building the correct term always used in mediæval times was “domus” (house), or “aula” (hall). Sometimes, indeed, the two names were combined. Thus, in an old document we find the earliest of the colleges—Peterhouse—entitled, Domus Sancti Petri, sive Aula Scholarium Episcopi Eliensis—The House of S. Peter, or the Hall of the Scholars of the Bishop of Ely.

In all probability the University in early days took no cognisance whatever of the way in which students obtained lodgings. It was the inconvenience and discomfort of this system, no doubt, which led to the establishment of what were afterwards termed “Hostels,” apparently by voluntary action on the part of the students themselves. In the first half of the sixteenth century there seem to have been about twenty of these hostels,[21] but at the end of the century there appears to have been only about nine left. There is an interesting passage in a sermon by Lever at Paul’s Cross, preached in 1550, which throws light upon this desertion of the hostels, where he speaks of those scholars who, “havyng rych frendes or beyng benefyced men dyd lyve of themselves in Ostles and Inns, be eyther gon awaye, or elles fayne to crepe into colleges, and put poore men from bare lyvynges.”

The University then, or, more strictly speaking, the Studium Generale, existed as an institution long before the organisation of the residential college or hall; and as a consequence, for many a year it had an organisation quite independent of its colleges. The University of Cambridge, like the University of Oxford, was modelled mainly on the University of Paris. Its course of study followed the old classical tradition of the division of the seven liberal sciences—grammar, logic, rhetoric, music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy—into two classes, the Trivium and Quadrivium, a system of teaching which had been handed down by the monastic schools in a series of text-books, jejune and meagre, which were mainly compilations and abridgments from the older classical sources. One such treatise, perhaps the most popular in the monastery schools, was a book by Martianus Capella, a teacher of rhetoric at Carthage, in the fifth century. The treatise is cast in allegorical form, and represents the espousals of Mercury and Philology, in which Philology is represented as a goddess, and the seven liberal arts as handmaidens presented by Mercury to his bride. The humour of this allegory is not altogether spiritless, if at times somewhat coarse. Here is a specimen. The plaudits that follow upon the discourse delivered by Arithmetica are supposed to be interrupted by laughter, occasioned by the loud snores of Silenus asleep under the influence of his deep potations. The kiss wherewith Rhetorica salutes Philologia is heard throughout the assembly—nihil enim silens, ac si cuperet, faciebat. So popular did this mythological medley become, that in the tenth century we find certain learned monks embroidering the subject of the poem on their Church vestments. A memoria technica in hexameter lines has also come down to us, showing how the monastic scholar was assisted to remember that grammar, dialectics, and rhetoric belonged to the first division of the sciences called the Trivium, and that the four other sciences belonged to the Quadrivium:—

Gram.: loquitur; Dia.: vera docet; Rhet.: verba colorat,
Mus.: canit; Ar.: numerat; Geo.: ponderat; Ast.: colit astra.”

In a further classification given by another scholar of the end of the twelfth century, Alexander Neckham, we have enumerated the four Faculties recognised by the mediæval University: Arts, Theology, Law, Medicine.

“Hic florent Artes, Cœlestis Pagina regnat,
Stant Leges, lucet Jus: Medicina viget.”

Such, then, was the cycle of mediæval study. And the student whose ambition it was to become a master of this cycle—a magister or doctor (for in early days the two titles were synonymous) facultatis—must attain to it through a seven years’ course. In the school attached to a monastery or a cathedral, or from the priest of his native parish, we may suppose that the student has learnt some modicum of Latin, “the scholar’s vernacular,” or failing that, that the first stage of the TriviumGrammatica—has been learnt on his arrival at the University. For this purpose, if he is a Cambridge student at least, he is placed under the charge of a special teacher, called by a mysterious name, Magister Glomeriæ, and he himself becomes a “glomerel,” giving allegiance oddly enough during this state of pupilage, not to the Chancellor, the head of his University, but to the Archdeacon of Ely. Of the actual books read in the grammar course it is difficult to give an account. They may have been few or many. Indeed, at this period when the works of Aristotle were coming so much into vogue, it would seem as if the old Grammar course gave way at an early period to Philosophy. In a curious old French fabliau of the thirteenth century, entitled “The Battle of the Seven Arts,”[22] there is evidence of this innovation; incidentally also, a list of the books more properly belonging to the Grammar course is also given.

“Savez por qui est la descorde?
Qu’il ne sont pas d’une science:
Car Logique, qui toz jors tence,
Claime les auctors autoriaus
Et les clers d’Orliens glomeriaus.
Si vaut bien chascuns iiii Omers,
Quar il boivent à granz gomers,
Et sevent bien versefier
Que d’une fueille d’un figuier
Vous ferent-il le vers.
. . . . . . . . . .
Aristote, qui fu à pié,
Si fist chéoir Gramaire enverse,
Lors i a point Mesire Perse
Dant Juvénal et dant Orasce,
Virgile, Lucain, et Elasce,
Et Sedule, Propre, Prudence,
Arator, Omer, et Térence:
Tuit chaplèrent sor Aristote,
Qui fu fers com chastel sor mote.”
“Do you know the reason of the discord?
’Tis because they are not for the same science,
For Logic, who is always disputing,
Claims the ancient authors,
And the glomerel clerks of Orleans,
Each of them is quite equal to four Homers,
For they drink by great draughts
And know so well how to make verse,
That about a single fig leaf
They would make you fifty verses.
. . . . . . . . . .
Aristotle who was on foot
Knocked Grammar down flat.
Then there rode up Master Persius,
Dan Juvenal and Dan Horace,
Virgil, Lucan, and Statius,
And Sedulius, Prosper, Prudentius,
Arator, Homer, and Terence:
They all fell upon Aristotle
Who was as bold as a castle upon a hill.”

And so for the Cambridge “glomerel,” if Aristotle held his own against the classics, Dan Homer, and the rest, in the second year of his university course the student would find himself a “sophister,” or disputant in the Logic school. To Logic succeeded Rhetoric, which also meant Aristotle, and so the “trivial” arts were at an end, and the “incepting” or “commencing” bachelor of arts began his apprenticeship to a “Master of Faculty.” In the next four years he passed through the successive stages of the Quadrivium, and at the end received the certificate of his professor, was admitted to the degree of Master of Arts, and thereby was admitted also to the brotherhood of teachers, and himself became an authorised lecturer. A post-graduate course might follow in Theology or Canon or Civil Law, involving another five or six years of university life. In the course for the Canon Law the candidate for a doctor’s degree was required to have heard lectures on the civil law for three years, and on the Decretals for another three years; he must, too, have attended cursory lectures on the Bible for at least two years, and must himself have lectured “cursorily” on one of four treatises, and on some one book of the Decretals.

Obviously, if this statutory course was strictly observed in those days, the scarlet hood could never grace the shoulders of one who was nothing more than a dexterous logician, or the honoured title of Doctor be conferred on one who had never taught. Disce docendo was indeed the motto of the University of Cambridge in the thirteenth century.

The great constitutional historian of our country, the late Bishop Stubbs, in one of the wisest and wittiest of his statutable lectures at Oxford,[23] speaks of England in this age as “the paradise of clerks.” He illustrates the truth of his characterisation by drawing an imaginary picture of a foreign scholar making an Iter Anglicum with the object of collecting materials for a history of the learning and literature of England. The Bishop is able readily to crowd his canvas with the figures of eminent Englishmen drawn from centres of learning in every part of the land, from Dover, from Canterbury, from London, from Rochester, from Chichester, from Winchester, from Devizes, from Salisbury, from Exeter, from S. Albans, from Ely, from Peterborough, from Lincoln, from Howden, from York, from Durham, from Hexham, from Melrose; scholars, historians, chroniclers, poets, philosophers, logicians, theologians, canonists, lawyers, all going to prove by the glimpse they give us into circles of scholastic activity, monastic for the most part, how comparatively wide was the extent of English learning and English education in the thirteenth century—an age which it has usually been the fashion to regard as barbarous and obscure—and how germinant of institutions, intellectual as well as political, which have since become vital portions of our national existence.

From the point of view of a later age there is doubtless something to be said on the other side. Disce docendo remained perhaps the academic motto, but the learning and the teaching was still under the domination of monasticism, and the monastic scholar, however patient and laborious he might be and certainly was, was also for the most part absolutely uncritical. He cultivated formal logic to perfection; he reasoned from his premise with most admirable subtlety, but he had usually commenced by assuming his premise with unfaltering, because unreasoning, faith. We shall see, however, as we proceed with our history of the collegiate life of the University, in the succeeding centuries, that the critical spirit which gave force to the genius of the great Franciscan teachers, Roger Bacon and Bishop Grosseteste, in resisting the tendencies of their age, which found practical application also in the textual interpretation of Holy Writ in such writings as those of Henry of Costessey, or in the sagacious “Treatise on the Laws and Customs of England”—the oldest of our legal classics—by Ranulf Glanville, or in the “Historia Rerum Anglicanum,” of the inquisitive and independent-minded Yorkshire scholar, William of Newburgh, was a factor not to be ignored in the heritage of learning bequeathed by the great men of the thirteenth century to their more enlightened and liberal successors, the theologians, the lawyers, and the historians of the future.

There is a mediæval legend of a certain monkish writer, whose tomb was opened twenty years or so after his death, to reveal the fact, that although the remainder of his body had crumbled to dust the hand that had held the pen remained flexible and undecayed. The legend is a parable. Some of the lessons of that parable we may expect to find interpreted in the academic history of Cambridge in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.



“Re unius
Exemplo omnium quoquot extant
Collegiorum, fundatori.”—Epitaph of Walter de Merton.

The Early Monastic Houses in Cambridge—Student Proselytising by the Friars—The Oxford College of Merton a Protest against this Tendency—The Rule of Merton taken as a Model by Hugh de Balsham, Founder of Peterhouse—The Hospital of S. John—The Scholars of Ely—Domestic Economy of the College—The Dress of the Mediæval Student—Peterhouse Buildings—Little S. Mary’s Church—The Perne Library—The College Chapel.

THE first beginnings of the University of Cambridge are, as we have seen in the preceding chapters, largely traceable to a monastic inspiration. The first beginnings of the Cambridge Colleges, on the other hand, are as certainly traceable to the protest which, as early as the middle of the thirteenth century, it became necessary to make against the proselytising tendencies of the monastic Orders. At a time when, as we have seen, the University authorities took no cognisance whatever of the way in which the student was lodged, and when even the unsatisfactory hostel system—eventually organised, as it would appear, by voluntary action on the part of the students themselves—did not exist, the houses of the monastic Orders were already well established. We have described the fully-equipped house of the Augustinian Canons at Barnwell. Within the town the Franciscans had established themselves, as early as 1224, in the old synagogue, and fifty years later had erected, on the present site of Sydney College, a spacious house, which Ascham long afterwards described as an ornament to the University, and the precincts of which were still, in the time of Fuller, to be traced in the College grounds. In 1274 the Dominicans had settled where Emmanuel now stands. About the middle of the century the Carmelites, who had originally occupied an extensive foundation at Newnham, but were driven from thence by the winter floods, settled near the present site of Queens. Towards the close of the century the Augustinian Friars took up their residence near the site of the old Botanic Gardens. Opposite to the south part of the present gardens of Peterhouse, on the east side of Trumpington Street, were the Gilbertines, or the Canons of S. Gilbert of Sempringham, the one purely English foundation. In 1257 the Friars of the Order of Bethlehem settled also in Trumpington Street, and in 1258 the Friars of the Sack, or of the Penitence of Jesus Christ, settled in the parish of S. Mary the Great, removed soon afterwards to the parish of S. Peter without the Trumpington Gate.

It was natural, therefore, that these well-equipped houses should hold out great attractions and opportunities to the needy and houseless student, and that complaint should shortly be made that many young and unsuspicious boys were induced to enrol themselves as members of Franciscan, or Dominican, or other Friars’ houses long before they were capable of judging the full importance of their action. One cannot read the biographies of even such strong personalities as those of Roger Bacon or William of Occam without surmising that their adoption of the Franciscan vow was the result rather of the exigency of the student and the proselytising activity to which they were exposed, than of any distinct vocation for the monastic life, or of their own deliberate choice. “Minors and children,” as Fuller says in his usual quaint vein, “agree very well together.” To such an extent at any rate had the evil spread at Oxford that, in a preamble of a statute passed in 1358, it is asserted, as a notorious fact, that “the nobility and commoners alike were deterred from sending their sons to the University by this very cause; and it was enacted that if any mendicant should induce, or cause to be induced, any member of the University under eighteen years of age to join the said Friars, or should in any way assist in his abduction, no graduate belonging to the cloister or society of which such friar was a member should be permitted to give or attend lectures in Oxford or elsewhere for the year ensuing.”[24] It is not perhaps, therefore, surprising to find that the earliest English Collegiate foundation—that of Walter de Merton at Oxford in 1264—should have expressly excluded all members of the religious Orders. The dangers involved in the ascendency of the monks and friars were already patent to many sagacious minds, and Bishop Walter de Merton, who had filled the high office of Chancellor of England, and was already by his position an adversary of the Franciscan interest, was evidently desirous of establishing an institution which should not only baffle that encroaching spirit of Rome which had startled Grosseteste from his allegiance, but should also give an impulse to a system of education which should not be subservient to purely ecclesiastical ideas. This is obviously the principle which underlies the provisions of the statutes of his foundation of Merton College. Bishop Hobhouse in his Life of Walter de Merton has thus carefully interpreted this principle:—

“Our founder’s object I conceive to have been to secure for his own order in the Church, for the secular priesthood, the academical benefit which the religious orders were so largely enjoying, and to this end I think all his provisions are found to be consistently framed. He borrowed from the monastic institutions the idea of an aggregate body living by common rule, under a common head, provided with all things needful for a corporate and perpetual life, fed by its secured endowments, fenced from all external interference, except that of its lawful patron; but after borrowing thus much, he differenced his institution by giving his beneficiaries quite a distinct employment, and keeping them free from all those perpetual obligations which constituted the essence of the religious life.... His beneficiaries are from the first designated as Scholares in scholis degentes; their employment was study, not what was technically called “the religious life” (i.e. the life of a monk).... He forbade his scholars even to take vows, they were to keep themselves free of every other institution, to render no one else’s obsequium. He looked forward to their going forth to labour in seculo, and acquiring preferment and property.... Study being the function of the inmates of his house, their time was not to be taken up by ritual or ceremonial duties, for which special chaplains were appointed; neither was it to be bestowed on any handicrafts, as in some monastic orders. Voluntary poverty was not enjoined, though poor circumstances were a qualification for a fellowship. No austerity was required, though contentment with simple fare was enforced as a duty, and the system of enlarging the number of inmates according to the means of the house was framed to keep the allowance to each at the very moderate rate which the founder fixed. The proofs of his design to benefit the Church through a better educated secular priesthood are to be found, not in the letter of their statutes, but in the tenour of their provisions, especially as to studies, in the direct averments of some of the subsidiary documents, in the fact of his providing Church patronage as part of his system, and in the readiness of prelates and chapters to grant him impropriation of the rectorial endowments of the Church.”

Such was the Regula Mertonensis, the Rule of Merton, as it came to be called, which served as the model for so many subsequent statutes.

This Regula Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely (1257-1286), evidently had before him, when some twenty years after his consecration to the bishopric, he proceeded, by giving a new form to an earlier benefaction of his own, to open a new chapter in the history of the University of Cambridge.

Hugh de Balsham, before his elevation to the bishopric, had been sub-prior of the Ely monastery, and at first sight therefore it might seem a little surprising that he should have thought of encouraging a system of education which was not to be subject to the monastic rule. But Hugh de Balsham was a Benedictine monk, and the Benedictines in England at this time were the upholders of a less stringent and ascetic discipline than that of the mendicant orders, and were, in fact, endeavouring in every way to counteract their influence. It had been the aim of Bishop Balsham, in the first instance, to endeavour to bring about a kind of fusion between the old and the new elements in university life, between the Regulars and the Seculars. But this first effort was not fortunate. About the year 1280 he introduced a body of secular scholars into the ancient Hospital of S. John. This Hospital of the Brethren of S. John the Evangelist had been founded, in the year of 1135, by Henry Frost, a wealthy and charitable burgess of the city, and placed under the management of a body of regular canons of the Augustinian Order. At a somewhat later time, Bishop Eustace, the fifth Bishop of Ely, added largely by his benefactions to the importance of the house. It was he who appropriated to the hospital the Church of S. Peter, without the Trumpington Gate. Hugh of Northwold, the eighth bishop, is said, at least by one authority, to have placed some secular scholars there, who devoted themselves to academical study rather than to the services of the Church, and he certainly obtained for the Hospital certain exemptions from taxation in connection with their two hostels near S. Peter’s Church. The endowment of the secular students was still further cared for by Bishop Hugh de Balsham. In the preamble to certain letters patent of Edward I. (1280) authorising the settlement, the Bishop, after a wordy comparison, in mediæval phrase, of King Edward’s wisdom with that of King Solomon, is credited with the intention of introducing “into the dwelling place of the secular brethren of his Hospital of S. John studious scholars who shall in everything live together as students in the University of Cambridge, according to the rule of the scholars of Oxford who are called of Merton.”[25] This document fixes the date of the royal license, on which there can be little doubt that action was immediately taken. The change of system was most unpalatable to the original foundationers and led to unappeasable dissension. The regulars, it may be conjectured, were absorbed in their religious services and in the performance of the special charitable offices of the Hospital; while the scholars were, doubtless, eager to be instructed in the Latin authors, in the new Theology, in the civil and the canon law, perhaps in the “new Aristotle,” which at this time was beginning to excite so much enthusiasm among western scholars. Anyhow, the two elements were too dissimilar to combine. Differences arose, feuds and jealousies sprang up, and eventually the good bishop found himself under the necessity of separating the Ely scholars from the Brethren of the Hospital. This he did by transplanting the scholars to the two hostels (hospicia) adjoining the Church of S. Peter, without the Trumpington Gate, assigning to them the Church itself and certain revenues belonging to it, inclusive of the tithes of the church mills. This was in the year 1284, and marks the foundation of Peterhouse as the earliest of Cambridge colleges. The Hospital of S. John, thus freed from the scholarly element, went quietly on its career, to become, as we shall see later, the nucleus of the great foundation of S. John’s College. It may have been a disappointment to Bishop Hugh that he had not been able to fuse together the two dissimilar elements—“the scholars too wise, and the brethren possibly over-good”—in one corporation. But, as Baker, the historian of S. John’s College, has said: “Could he but have foreseen that this broken and imperfect society was to give birth to two great and lasting foundations, he would have had much joy in his disappointment.”

In the year 1309 the new foundation of “the Scholars of the Bishops of Ely” obtained certain adjoining property hitherto occupied by the Friars of the Sack (De Penetentia Jesu), an Order doomed to extinction by the Council of Lyons in 1274. Its slender resources were further added to on the death of its founder by his bequest of 300 marks for the erection of new buildings. With this sum a considerable area to the west and south of the original hostels was acquired, and a handsome hall (aulam perpulchram) was built. This hall is substantially the building still in use. It was left, however, to his successor in the Bishopric of Ely, Simon Montagu (1337-1345), to give to the new college its first code of statutes. Bishop Simon, one is glad to think, did not forget the good intentions of Bishop Hugh, for in his code of statutes, dated April 1344, he thus speaks of his predecessor:—

“Desirous for the weal of his soul while he dwelt in this vale of tears, and to provide wholesomely, as far as in him lay, for poor persons wishing to make themselves proficient in the knowledge of letters, by securing to them a proper maintenance, he founded a house or College for the public good in our University of Cambridge, with the consent of King Edward and his beloved sons, the prior and chapter of our Cathedral, all due requirements of law being observed; which House he desired to be called the House of S. Peter or the Hall (aula) of the scholars of the Bishops of Ely at Cambridge; and he endowed it and made ordinances for it (in aliquibus ordinavit) so far as he was then able; but not as he intended and wished to do, as we hear, had not death frustrated his intention. In this House he willed that there should be one master and as many scholars as could be suitably maintained for the possessions of the house itself in a lawful manner.”[26]

There can be little doubt that the statutes which Bishop Montagu gave to the college represent the wishes of his predecessor, for the Peterhouse statutes are actually modelled on the fourth of the codes of statutes given by Merton to his college, and dated 1274. The formula “ad instar Aulæ de Merton” is a constantly recurring phrase in Montagu’s statutes. The true principle of collegiate endowments could not be more plainly stated, and certainly these statutes may be regarded as the embodiment of the earliest conception of college life and discipline at Cambridge. A master and fourteen perpetual fellows,[27] “studiously engaged in the pursuit of literature,” represent the body supported on the foundation; the “pensioner” of later times being, of course, at this period provided for already by the hostel. In case of a vacancy among the Fellows “the most able bachelor in logic” is designated as the one on whom, cæteris paribus, the election is to fall, the other requirement being that, “so far as human frailty admit, he be honourable, chaste, peaceable, humble, and modest.” “The Scholars of Ely” were bound to devote themselves to the “study of Arts, Aristotle, Canon Law, Theology,” but, as at Merton, the basis of a sound Liberal Education was to be laid before the study of theology was to be entered upon; two were to be admitted to the study of the civil and the canon law, and one to that of medicine. When any Fellow was about to “incept” in any faculty, it devolved upon the master with the rest of the Fellows to inquire in what manner he had conducted himself and gone through his exercises in the schools, how long he had heard lectures in the faculty in which he was about to incept, and whether he had gone through the forms according to the statutes of the university. The sizar of later times is recognised in the provision, that if the funds of the Foundation permit, the master and the two deacons shall select two or three youths, “indigent scholars well grounded in Latin”—juvenes indigentes scholares in grammatica notabiliter fundatos—to be maintained, “as long as may seem fit,” by the college alms, such poor scholars being bound to attend upon the master and fellows in church, on feast days and other ceremonial occasions, to serve the master and fellows at seasonable times at table and in their rooms. All meals were to be partaken in common; but it would seem that this regulation was intended rather to conduce towards an economical management than enacted in any spirit of studied conformity to monastic life, for, adds the statute, “the scholars shall patiently support this manner of living until their means shall, under God’s favour, have received more plentiful increase.”[28]

An interesting feature in these statutes is the regulation with regard to the distinctive dress of the student, showing how little regard was paid at this period, even when the student was a priest, to the wearing of a costume which might have been considered appropriate to the staid character of his profession.

“The Students,” writes Mr. Cooper,[29] “disdaining the tonsure, the distinctive mark of their order, wore their hair either hanging down on their shoulders in an effeminate manner, or curled and powdered: they had long beards, and their apparel more resembled that of soldiers than of priests; they were attired in cloaks with furred edges, long hanging sleeves not covering their elbows, shoes chequered with red and green and tippets of an unusual length; their fingers were decorated with rings, and at their waists they wore large and costly girdles, enamelled with figures and gilt; to the girdles hung knives like swords.”

In order to repress this laxity and want of discipline, Archbishop Stratford, at a later period in the year 1342, issued an order that no student of the university, unless he should reform his “person and apparel” should receive any ecclesiastical degree or honour. It was doubtless in reference to some such order as this that one of the statutes of Peterhouse ran to this effect:—

“Inasmuch as the dress, demeanour, and carriage of scholars are evidences of themselves, and by such means it is seen more clearly, or may be presumed what they themselves are internally, we enact and ordain, that the master and all and each of the scholars of our house shall adopt the clerical dress and tonsure, as becomes the condition of each, and wear it conformally in respect, as far as they conveniently can, and not allow their beard or their hair to grow contrary to canonical prohibition, nor wear rings upon their fingers for their own vain glory and boasting, and to the pernicious example and scandal of others.”[30]

Peterhouse College

“The Philosophy of Clothes,” especially in its application to the mediæval universities, is no doubt an interesting one, and may even—so, at least, it is said by some authorities—throw much light upon the relations of the universities to the Church. The whole subject is discussed in some detail in the chapter on “Student Life in the Middle Ages,” in Mr. Rashdall’s “History of the Universities of Europe,” to which, perhaps, it may be best to refer those of our readers who are desirous of tracing the various steps in the gradual evolution of modern academic dress from the antique forms. There it will be seen how the present doctor’s scarlet gown was developed from the magisterial “cappa” or “cope,” a sleeveless scarlet cloak, lined with miniver, with tippet and hood attached of the same material—a dress which, in its original shape, is now only to be seen in the Senate House at Cambridge, worn by the Vice-Chancellor on Degree days; how the present gown and hood of the Master of Arts and Bachelor is merely a development of the ordinary clerical dress or “tabard” of the thirteenth century, which, however, was not even exclusively clerical, and certainly not distinguished by that sobriety of hue characteristic of modern clerical tailordom—clerkly prejudice in the matter of the “tabard” running in favour of green, blue, or blood red; and how the modern “mortar-board,” or square college cap,—now usurped by undergraduates, and even choristers and schoolboys—was originally the distinctive badge of a Master of Faculty, being either a square cap or “biretta,” with a tuft on the top, in lieu of the very modern tassel, or a round cap or “pileum,” more or less resembling the velvet caps still worn by the Yeomen of the Guard, or on very state occasions by the Cambridge or Oxford doctors in medicine or law. The picturesque dress of university students of the thirteenth century, still surviving in the long blue coat and yellow stockings, and red leather girdle and white bands of the boys of Christ’s Hospital, is sufficient to show how much we have lost of the warmth and colour of mediæval life by the almost universal change to sombre black in clerical or student costume, brought about by the Puritan austerity of the sixteenth century.

To return to the fabric of Bishop Hugh de Balsham’s College. We have seen how a handsome hall (aulam perpulchram) was built with the 300 marks of the Bishop’s legacy. This is substantially the building of five bays, which still exists, forming the westernmost part of the south side of the Great Court of the College. The three easternmost bays are taken up by the dining-hall or refectory, the westernmost is devoted to the buttery, the intervening bay is occupied by the screens and passage, at either end of which there still remain the original north and south doorways, interesting as being the earliest example of collegiate architecture in Cambridge. The windows of this hall on the south side date from the end of the fifteenth century. The north-east oriel window and the buttresses on the north side of the hall were added by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1870, who also built the new screen, panelling, and roof. At about the same time the hall was decorated and the windows filled with stained glass of very great beauty by William Morris. The figures represented in the windows are as follows (beginning from the west on the north side): John Whitgift, John Cosin, Rd. Tresham, Thos. Gray, Duke of Grafton, Henry Cavendish; in the oriel—Homer, Aristotle, Cicero, Hugh de Balsham, Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton; on the south side—Edward I., Queen Eleanor, Hugh de Balsham, S. George, S. Peter, S. Etheldreda, John Holbroke, Henry Beaufort, John Warkworth.

After the building of this hall the College evidently languished for want of funds for more than a century. But in the fifteenth century the College began to prosper, and a good deal of building was done. The character of the work is not expressly stated in the Bursar’s Rolls—of which there are some thirty-one still existing of the fifteenth century, and a fairly complete set of the subsequent centuries—but the earliest buildings of this date are probably the range of chambers forming the north and west side of the great court. The kitchen, which is immediately to the west of the hall, dates from 1450. The Fellows’ parlour or combination room, completing the third side of the quadrangle, and immediately east of the dining-hall, was built some ten years later.

Cole has given the following precise description of this room:—

“This curious old room joins immediately to the east end of the dining-hall or refectory, and is a ground floor called The Stone Parlour, on the south side of the Quadrangle, between the said hall and the master’s own lodge. It is a large room and wainscotted with small oblong Panels. The two upper rows of which are filled with paintings on board of several of the older Masters and Benefactors to the College. Each picture has an Inscription in the corner, and on a separate long Panel under each, much ornamented with painting, is a Latin Distic.” ...[31]

Then follows a description of each portrait—there are thirty in all—with its accompanying distich. As an example, we may give that belonging to the portrait of Dr. Andrew Perne:

Bibliothecæ Libri Redditus pulcherrima Dona Perne, pium Musiste, Philomuse, probant.

Andreas Perne, Doctor Theol. Decanus Ecclesiæ Eliensis, Magister Collegii, obiit 26 Aprilis, Anno Dom. 1573.

These panel portraits were removed from their framework in the eighteenth century, and framed and hung in the master’s lodge, but have since been re-hung for the most part in the college hall, and their Latin distichs restored according to Cole’s record of them. The windows of the Combination Room have been filled with stained glass by William Morris, representing ten ideal women from Chaucer’s “Legend of Good Women.”

On the upper storey of the combination room was the master’s lodge. The situation of these rooms at the upper end of the hall is almost as invariable in collegiate plans as that of the buttery and kitchen at the other end. The same may be said of that most picturesque feature of the turret staircase leading from the master’s rooms to the hall, parlour, and garden, which we shall find repeated in the plans of S. John’s, Christ’s, Queen’s, and Pembroke Colleges. About the same period (1450) the range of chambers on the north side of the court was at its easternmost end connected by a gallery with the Church of S. Mary, which remained in use as the College chapel down to the seventeenth century. This gallery, on the level of the upper floor of the College chambers, was carried on arches so as not to obstruct the entrance to the churchyard and south porch from the High Street, by a similar arrangement to that which from the first existed between Corpus Christi College and the ancient Church of S. Benedict.

The Parish Church of S. Peter, without the Trumpington Gate, had from the first been used as the College Chapel of Peterhouse. Indeed, the earliest college in Cambridge was the latest to possess a private chapel of its own, which was not built until 1628. All that remains, however, of the old Church of S. Peter is a fragment of the tower, standing at the north-west corner of the present building and the arch which led from it into the church. This probably marks the west end of the old church, which, no doubt, was much shorter than the present one. It is said that this old church fell down in part about 1340, and a new church was at once begun in its place. This was finished in 1352 and dedicated to the honour of the blessed Virgin Mary. The church is a very beautiful one, though of an unusual simplicity of design. It is without aisles or any structural division between nave and chancel. It is lighted by lofty windows and deep buttresses. On the south side and at the eastern gable are rich flowing decorated windows, the tracery of which is designed in the same style, and in many respects with the same patterns, as those of Alan de Walsingham’s Lady Chapel at Ely. Indeed, a comparison of the Church of Little S. Mary with the Ely Lady Chapel, not only in its general conception, but in many of its details, such as that of the stone tabernacles on the outer face of the eastern gable curiously connected with the tracery of the window, would lead a careful observer to the conclusion that both churches had been planned by the same architect. The change of the old name of the church from S. Peter to that of S. Mary the Virgin is also, in this relation, suggestive. For we must remember that it was built at a time—the age of Dante and Chaucer—when Catholic purity, in the best natures, united to the tenderness of chivalry was casting its glamour over poetic and artistic minds, and had already led to the establishment in Italy of an Order—the Cavalieri Godenti—pledged to defend the existence, or, more accurately perhaps, the dignity of the Virgin Mary, by the establishment everywhere throughout western Europe of Lady Chapels in her honour. Whether Alan de Walsingham, the builder of the Ely Lady Chapel, and the builder of the Church of Little S. Mary at Cambridge—if he was not Alan—belonged to this Order of the Cavaliers of S. Mary, we cannot say; but at least it seems probable that the Cambridge Church sprang from the same impulse which inspired the magnificent stone poem in praise of S. Mary, built by the sacrist of Ely.

At this period Peterhouse consisted of two courts, separated by a wall occupying the position of the present arcade at the west end of the chapel. The westernmost or principal court is, save in some small details, that which we see to-day. The small eastern court next to the street has undergone great alteration by the removal of certain old dwelling-houses—possibly relics of the original hostels—fronting the street, which left an open space, occupied at a later period partly by the chapel and by the extension eastward of the buildings on the south side of the great court to form a new library, and subsequently by a similar flanking extension on the north.

The earliest of these buildings was the library, due to a bequest of Dr. Andrew Perne, Dean of Ely, who was master of the College from 1553 to 1589, and who not only left to the society his own library, “supposed to be the worthiest in all England,” but sufficient property for the erection of a building to contain it. Perne had gained in early life a position of importance in the University—he had been a fellow of both S. John’s and of Queen’s, bursar of the latter College and five times vice-chancellor of the University—but his success in life was mainly due to his pliancy in matters of religion. In Henry’s reign he had publicly maintained the Roman doctrine of the adoration of pictures of Christ and the Saints; in Edward VI.’s he had argued in the University pulpit against transubstantiation; in Queen Mary’s, on his appointment to the mastership of Peterhouse, he had formally subscribed to the fully defined Roman articles then promulgated; in Queen Elizabeth’s he had preached a Latin sermon in denunciation of the Pope, and had been complimented for his eloquence by the Queen herself. No wonder that immediately after his death in 1589 he should be hotly denounced in the Martin Marprelate tracts as the friend of Archbishop Whitgift, and as the type of fickleness and lack of principle which the authors considered characteristic of the Established Church. Other writers of the same school referred to him as “Old Andrew Turncoat,” “Old Father Palinode,” and “Judas.” The undergraduates of Cambridge, it is said, invented in his honour a new Latin verb, pernare, which they translated “to turn, to rat, to change often.” It became proverbial in the University to speak of a cloak or a coat which had been turned as “perned,” and finally the letters on the weathercock of S. Peter’s, A.P.A.P., might, said the satirists, be interpreted as Andrew Perne, a Protestant, or Papist, or Puritan. However, it is much to be able to say that he was the tutor and friend of Whitgift, protecting him in early days from the persecution of Cardinal Pole; it is something also to remember that he was uniformly steadfast in his allegiance to his College, bequeathing to it his books, with minute directions for their chaining and safe custody, providing for their housing, and moreover, endowing two college fellowships and six scholarships; and perhaps charity might prompt us to add, that at a time when the public religion of the country changed four times in ten years, Perne probably trimmed in matters of outward form that he might be at hand to help in matters which he truly thought were really essential.

The Perne Library at Peterhouse has no special architectural features of any value; its main interest in that respect is to be found in the picturesque gable-end with oriel window overhanging the street, bearing above it the date 1633, which belongs to the brickwork extension westward at that date of the original stone building. The building of the library, however, preluded a period of considerable architectural activity in the college, due largely to the energy of Dr. Matthew Wren, who was master from 1625 to 1634. It is recorded of him that “seeing the public offices of religion less decently performed, and the services of God depending upon the services of others, for want of a convenient oratory within the walls of the college,” he began in 1629 to build the present chapel. It was consecrated in 1632. The name of the architect is not recorded. The chapel was connected as at present with the buildings on either side by galleries carried on open arcades. Dr. Cosin, who succeeded Wren in the mastership, continued the work, facing the chapel walls, which had been built roughly in brick, with stone. An elaborate ritual was introduced into the chapel by Cosin, who, it will be remembered, was a friend and follower of Archbishop Laud. A Puritan opponent of Cosin has written bitterly that “in Peter House Chappell there was a glorious new altar set up and mounted on steps, to which the master, fellows, and schollers bowed, and were enjoyned to bow by Dr. Cosens, the master, who set it up; that there were basons, candlesticks, tapers standing on it, and a great crucifix hanging over it ... and on the altar a pot, which they usually call the incense pot.... And the common report both among the schollers of that House and others, was that none might approach to the altar in Peter House but in sandalls.”[32]

It is not surprising, therefore, to read at a little later date in the diary of the Puritan iconoclast, William Dowsing:—

“We went to Peterhouse, 1643, Decemb. 21, with officers and souldiers and ... we pulled down 2 mighty great Angells with wings and divers others Angells and the 4 Evangelists and Peter, with his keies, over the Chapell dore and about a hundred chirubims and Angells and divers superstitious Letters....”

These to-day are all things of the past. The interior of the Chapel is fitted partly with the genuine old mediæval panelling, possibly brought from the parochial chancel of Little S. Mary’s, or from its disused chantries, now placed at the back of the stalls and in front of the organ gallery, partly with oakwork, stalls and substalls, in the Jacobæan style. The present altar-piece is of handsome modern wainscot. The entrance door is mediæval, probably removed from elsewhere to replace the doorway defaced by Dowsing. The only feature in the chapel which can to-day be called—and that only by a somewhat doubtful taste—“very magnifical,” is the gaudy Munich stained-glass work inserted in the lateral windows, as a memorial to Professor Smythe, in 1855 and 1858. The subjects are, on the north side, “The Sacrifice of Isaac,” “The Preaching of S. John the Baptist,” “The Nativity”; and on the south side, “The Resurrection,” “The Healing of a Cripple by SS. Peter and John,” “S. Paul before Agrippa and Festus.” The east window, containing “The History of Christ’s Passion,” is said by Blomefield to have been “hid in the late troublesome times in the very boxes which now stand round the altar instead of rails.



“High potentates and dames of royal birth
And mitred fathers in long order go.”—Gray.

The Fourteenth Century an Age of Great Men and Great Events but not of Great Scholars—Petrarch and Richard of Bury—Michael House—The King’s Scholars—King’s Hall—Clare Hall—Pembroke College—Gonville Hall—Dr. John Caius—His Three Gates of Humility, Virtue, and Honour.

THE dates of the foundation of the two Colleges, Clare and Pembroke, which, after an interval of some fifty and seventy years respectively, followed that of Peterhouse, and the names of Lady Elizabeth, Countess of Clare, and of Marie de Valence, Countess of Pembroke, who are associated with them, remind us that we have reached that troublous and romantic time which marked the close of the long and varied reign of the Great Edward, and was the seed-time of those influences which ripened during the longer and still more varied reign of Edward III. Between the year 1326, which was the date of the first foundation of Clare College, the date also of the deposition and murder of Edward II., and the year 1348, which is the date of the foundation of Pembroke and the twenty-first year of Edward III., the distracted country had passed through many vicissitudes. It had seen the great conflict of parties under the leadership of the great houses of Lancaster, Gloucester, and Pembroke, culminating in the king’s deposition and in the rise of the power of the English Parliament, and in its division into the two Houses of Lords and Commons. It had seen the growth of the new class of landed gentry, whose close social connection with the baronage on the one hand, and of equally close political connection with the burgesses on the other, had welded the three orders together, and had given to the Parliament that unity of action and feeling on which its powers have ever since mainly depended. It had seen the Common Law rise into the dignity of a science and rapidly become a not unworthy rival of Imperial Jurisprudence. It had seen the close of the great interest of Scottish warfare, and the northern frontier of England carried back to the old line of the Northumbrian kings. It had seen the strife with France brought to what at the moment seemed to be an end, for the battle of Crecy, at which the power of the English chivalry was to teach the world the lesson which they had learned from Robert Bruce thirty years before at Bannockburn, was still in the future, as also was the Hundred Years’ War of which that battle was the prelude. It had seen the scandalous schism of the Western Church, and the vision of a Pope at Rome, and another Pope at Avignon, awakening in the mind of the nations an entirely new set of thoughts and feelings with regard to the position of both the Papacy and the Church. The early fourteenth century was indeed an age of great events and of great men; but it was not an age, at least as far as England was concerned, of great scholars. There was no Grosseteste in the fourteenth century. Petrarch, the typical man of letters, the true inspirer of the classical Renaissance, and in a sense the founder of really modern literature, was a great scholar and humanist, but he had no contemporary in England who could be called an equal or a rival. His one English friend, Richard of Bury, Bishop of Durham, book lover as he was—for his Philobiblon we all owe him a debt of gratitude—was after all only an ardent amateur and no scholar. When Petrarch had applied to Richard for some information as to the geography of the Thule of the ancients, the Bishop had put him off with the statement that he had not his books with him, but would write fully on his return home. Though more than once reminded of his promise, he left the disappointed poet without an answer. The fact was, that Richard was not so learned that he could afford to confess his ignorance. He corresponds, in fact, to the earlier humanists of Italy—men who collected manuscripts and saw the possibilities of learning, though they were unable to attain to it themselves. There is much in his Philobiblon of the greatest interest, as, for example, his description of the means by which he had collected his library at Durham College, and his directions to students for its careful use, but despite his own fervid love and somewhat rhetorical praise of learning, there is still a certain personal pathos in the expression of his own impatience with the ignorance and superficiality of the younger students of his day. Writing in the Philobiblon of the prevalent characteristics of Oxford at this time, he writes:—

“Forasmuch as (the students) are not grounded in their first rudiment at the proper time, they build a tottering edifice on an insecure foundation, and then when grown up they are ashamed to learn that which they should have acquired when of tender years, and thus must needs even pay the penalty of having too hastily vaulted into the possession of authority to which they had no claim. For these and like reasons, our young students fail to gain by their scanty lucubrations that sound learning to which the ancients attained, however they may occupy honourable posts, be called by titles, be invested with the garb of office, or be solemnly inducted into the seats of their seniors. Snatched from their cradle and hastily weaned, they get a smattering of the rules of Priscian and Donatus; in their teens and beardless they chatter childishly concerning the Categories and the Perihermenias in the composition of which Aristotle spent his whole soul.”[33]

It is to be feared that the decline of learning, which at this period was characteristic, as we thus see, of Oxford, was equally characteristic of Cambridge. Certainly there was no scholar there of the calibre of William of Ockham, or even of Richard of Bury, or of the Merton Realist, Bradwardine, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. It is not indeed until more than a century later when we have reached the age of Wycliffe, the first of the reformers and the last of the schoolmen, that the name of any Cambridge scholar emerges upon the page of history.

Clare College and Bridge

But meanwhile the collegiate system of the University was slowly being developed. Some forty years after the foundation of Peterhouse, in the year 1324, Hervey de Stanton, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Canon of Bath and Wells, obtained from Edward II. permission to found at Cambridge the College of “the Scholars of St. Michael.” The college itself, Michaelhouse, has long been merged in the great foundation of Trinity, but its original statutes still exist and show that they were conceived in a somewhat less liberal spirit than that of the code of Hugh de Balsham. The monk and the friar are excluded from the society, but the Rule of Merton is not mentioned. Two years afterwards, in 1326, we find thirty-two scholars known as the “King’s Scholars” maintained at the University by Edward II. It seems probable that it had been the intention of the King in this way to encourage the study of the civil and the canon law, for books on these subjects were presented by him, presumably for the use of the scholars, to Simon de Bury their warden, and were subsequently taken away at the command of Queen Isabella. The King had also intended to provide a hall of residence for these “children of our chapel,” but the execution of this design of establishing a “King’s Hall” was left to his son Edward III. The poet Gray, in his “Installation Ode,” has represented Edward III.—

“Great Edward with the lilies on his brow,
From haughty Gallia torn,”

in virtue of his foundation of King’s Hall, which was subsequently absorbed in the greater society, as the founder of Trinity College. But the honour evidently belongs with more justice to his father. It was, however, by Edward III. that the Hall was built near the Hospital of S. John, “to the honour of God, the Blessed Virgin, and all the Saints, and for the soul of the Lord Edward his father, late King of England, of famous memory, and the souls of Philippa, Queen of England, his most dear consort, and of his children and progenitors.”[34]

The statutes of King’s Hall give an interesting contemporary picture of collegiate life. The preamble moralises upon “the unbridled weakness of humanity, prone by nature and from youth to evil, ignorant how to abstain from things unlawful, easily falling into crime.” It is required that each scholar on his admission be proved to be of “good and reputable conversation.” He is not to be admitted under fourteen years of age. His knowledge of Latin must be such as to qualify him for the study of logic, or of whatever other branch of learning the master shall decide, upon examination of his capacity, he is best fitted to follow. The scholars were provided with lodging, food, and clothing. The sum allowed for the weekly maintenance of a King’s scholar was fourteen pence, an unusually liberal allowance for weekly commons, suggesting the idea that the foundation was probably designed for students of the wealthier class, an indication which is further borne out by the prohibitions with respect to the frequenting of taverns, the introduction of dogs within the College precincts, the wearing of short swords and peaked shoes (contra honestatem clericalem), the use of bows, flutes, catapults, and the oft-repeated exhortation to orderly conduct.

Following upon the establishment of Michaelhouse and King’s Hall, in the year 1326 the University in its corporate capacity obtained a royal licence to settle a body of scholars in two houses in Milne Street. This college was called University Hall, a title already adopted by a similar foundation at Oxford. The Chancellor of the University at the time was a certain Richard de Badew. The foundation, however, did not at first meet with much success. In 1336 its revenues were found insufficient to support more than ten scholars. In 1338, however, we find Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Clare and granddaughter of Edward I., coming to the help of the struggling society. By the death of her brother, the Earl of Gloucester, at the battle of Bannockburn, leaving no issue, the whole of a very princely estate came into the possession of the Lady Clare and her two sisters. Having, by a deed dated 6th April 1338, received from Richard de Badew, who therein calls himself “Founder, Patron, and Advocate of the House called the Hall of the University of Cambridge,” all the rights and titles of University Hall, the Lady Clare refounded it, and supplied the endowments which hitherto it had lacked. The name of the Hall was changed to Clare House (Domus de Clare). As early, however, as 1346 we find it styled Clare Hall, a name which it bore down to our own times, when, by resolution of the master and fellows in 1856, it was changed to Clare College. The following preamble to the statutes of the College, which were granted in 1359, are perhaps worthy of quotation as exhibiting, in spite of its quaint confusion of the “Pearl of Great Price” with “the Candle set upon a Candlestick,” the pious and withal businesslike and sensible spirit of the foundress:—

“To all the sons of our Holy Mother Church, who shall look into these pages, Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady de Clare, wishes health and remembrance of this transaction. Experience, which is the mistress of all things, clearly teaches that in every rank of life, as well temporal as ecclesiastical, a knowledge of literature is of no small advantage; which though it is searched into by many persons in many different ways, yet in a University, a place that is distinguished for the flourishing of general study, it is more completely acquired; and after it has been obtained, she sends forth her scholars who have tasted its sweets, apt and suitable men in the Church of God and in the State, men who will rise to various ranks according to the measure of their deserts. Desiring therefore, since this consideration has come over us, to extend as far as God has allowed us, for the furtherance of Divine worship, and for the advance and good of the State, this kind of knowledge which in consequence of a great number of men having been taken away by the fangs of pestilence, is now beginning lamentably to fail; we have turned the attention of our mind to the University of Cambridge, in the Diocese of Ely; where there is a body of students, and to a Hall therein, hitherto commonly called University Hall, which already exists of our foundation, and which we would have to bear the name of the House of Clare and no other, for ever, and have caused it to be enlarged in its resources out of the wealth given us by God and in the number of students; in order that the Pearl of Great Price, Knowledge, found and acquired by them by means of study and learning in the said University, may not lie hid beneath a bushel, but be published abroad; and by being published give light to those who walk in the dark paths of ignorance. And in order that the Scholars residing in our aforesaid House of Clare, under the protection of a more steadfast peace and with the advantage of concord, may choose to engage with more free will in study, we have carefully made certain statutes and ordinances to last for ever.”[35]

Clare College and Bridge.

The distinguishing characteristic of these statutes is the great liberality they show in the requirements with respect to the professedly clerical element. This, as the preamble, in fact, suggests, was the result of a desire to fill up the terrible gap caused in the ranks of the clergy by the outbreak of the Black Death, which first made its appearance in England in the year 1348, and caused the destruction of two and a half millions of the population in a single year.[36]

The Scholars or Fellows are to be twenty in number, of whom six are to be in priest’s orders at the time of their admission. The remaining fellows are to be selected from bachelors or sophisters in arts, or from “skilful and well-conducted” civilians and canonists, but only two fellows may be civilians, and only one a canonist. The clauses relating to the scheme of studies are, moreover, apparently intended to discourage both these branches of law.

Of the further progress of the College in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries we have no record, for the archives perished in the fire which almost totally destroyed the early buildings in the year 1521. In the seventeenth century, shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, it was proposed to rebuild the whole College, but owing to the troubles of that time it was not until the beginning of the eighteenth century, in the year 1715, that the work was finished. “The buildings are,” said the late Professor Willis, “among the most beautiful, from their situation and general outline, that he could point out in the University.”

There is extant an amusing account of the controversy between Clare Hall and King’s College, caused by the desire of the former to procure a certain piece of land for purposes of recreation on the east side of the Cam, called Butt Close, belonging to King’s. Here are two of the letters which passed between the rival litigants.

The Answer of Clare-Hall to Certaine Reasons of King’s College touching Butt-Close.

“1. To the first we answer:—Iº. That ye annoyance of ye windes gathering betweene ye Chappell and our Colledge is farre greater and more detriment to yt Chappell, then any benefitt which they can imagine to receiue by ye shelter of our Colledge from wind and sunne.

“2º. That ye Colledge of Clare-hall being sett so neare as now it is, they will not only be sheltered from wind and sunne, but much deprived both of ayre and light.

“3º. That ye remove all of Clare Hall 70 feet westward will take away little or no considerable privacy from their gardens and walkes; for yt one of their gardens is farre remote, and ye nearer fenced with a very high wall, and a vine spread upon a long frame, under which they doe and may privately walke.”

A Reply of King’s Colledge to ye Answer of Clare-Hall.

“1. The wind so gathering breeds no detriment to our Chappell, nor did ever putt us to any reparacions there. The upper battlements at the west end haue sometimes suffered from ye wind, but ye wind could not there be straightned by Clare-hall, wch scarce reacheth to ye fourth part of ye height.

“2º. No whit at all, for our lower story hath fewer windowes yt way: the other are so high yt Clare-Hall darkens them not, and hath windows so large yt both for light and ayre no chambers in any Coll. exceed them.

“3º. The farther garden is not farre remote, being scarce 25 yards distant from their intended building; ye nearer is on one side fenced with a high wall indeed, but yt wall is fraudulently alleaged by them, and beside ye purpose: for yt wall yt stands between their view and ye garden is not much aboue 6 feet in height: and yt we haue any vine or frame there to walke under is manifestly untrue.”[37]

However, the controversy was settled in favour of Clare-Hall by a letter from the King.

A tradition has long prevailed that Clare-Hall was the College mentioned by the poet Chaucer in his “Reeve’s Tale,” in the lines—

“And nameliche ther was a greet collegge,
Men clepen the Soler-Halle at Cantebregge.”

There appears, however, to be good reason for thinking that the Soler Hall was in reality Garrett Hostel, a soler or sun-chamber being the equivalent of a garret. For the tradition also that Chaucer himself was a Clare man there is no authority. The College may well be satisfied with the list of authentic names of great men which give lustre to the roll of its scholars—Hugh Latimer, the reformer and fellow-martyr of Ridley; Nicholas Ferrar, the founder of the religious community of Little Gidding; Wheelock, the great Saxon and oriental scholar; Ralph Cudworth, leader of the Cambridge Platonists; Archbishop Tillotson and his pupil the philosopher, Thomas Burnett; Whiston, the translator of “Josephus”; Cole, the antiquary; Maseres, the lawyer and mathematician.

The foundation of Pembroke College, like that of Clare Hall, was also due to the private sorrow of a noble lady. The poet Gray, himself a Pembroke man, in the lines of his “Installation Ode,” where he commemorates the founders of the University—

“All that on Granta’s fruitful plain
Rich streams of royal bounty poured,”

speaks of this lady as

“...sad Chatillon on her bridal morn,
That wept her bleeding love.”

Pembroke College.

This is in allusion to the somewhat doubtful story thus told by Fuller—

“Mary de Saint Paul, daughter to Guido Castillion, Earl of S. Paul in France, third wife to Audomare de Valentia, Earl of Pembroke, maid, wife, and widow all in a day (her husband being unhappily slain at a tilting at her nuptials), sequestered herself on that sad accident from all worldly delights, bequeathed her soul to God, and her estate to pious uses, amongst which this is principal, that she founded in Cambridge the College of Mary de Valentia, commonly called Pembroke Hall.”

Pembroke College

All that authentic history records is that the Earl of Pembroke died suddenly whilst on a mission to the Court of France in June 1324. His widow expended a large part of her very considerable fortune both in France and England on works of piety. In 1342 she founded the Abbey of Denny in Cambridgeshire for nuns of the Order of S. Clare. The Charter of Foundation of Pembroke College is dated 9th June 1348. It is to be regretted that the earliest Rule given to the College, or to the Aula seu Domus de Valence Marie, the Hall of Valence Marie, as it was at first called, is not extant. A revised rule of the conjectural date of 1366, and another of perhaps not more than ten years later, furnished, however, the data upon which Dr. Ainslie, Master of the College from 1828 to 1870, drew up an abstract of its constitution and early history.[38] The most interesting feature of this constitution is the provision made in the first instance for the management of the College by the Franciscans, and its abolition on a later revision. According to the first code—“the head of the College was to be elected by the fellows, and to be distinguished by the title of the Keeper of the House.” There were to be annually elected two rectors, the one a Friar Minor, the other a secular. This provision of the two rectors was abolished in the later code, and with it apparently all official connection between the College and the Franciscan Order, and it may be perhaps conjectured all association also with the sister foundation at Denny, concerning which the foundress, in her final Vale of the earlier code, had given to the fellows of the House of Valence Marie the following quaint direction, that “on all occasions they should give their best counsel and aid to the Abbess and Sisters of Denny, who had from her a common origin with them.”

Pembroke College Oriels & Entrance

The exact date at which the building of the College was begun is not known, but it was probably not long after the purchase of the site in 1346. Many of the original buildings which remained down to 1874 were destroyed in the reconstruction of the College at that time. It is now only possible to imagine many of the most picturesque features of that building, of which Queen Elizabeth, on her visit to Cambridge in 1564, enthusiastically exclaimed in passing, “O domus antiqua et religiosa!” by consulting the print of the College published by Loggan about 1688. Of the interesting old features still left, we have the chapel at the corner of Trumpington Street and Pembroke Street, built in 1360 and refaced in 1663, and the line of buildings extending down Pembroke Street to the new master’s lodge and the Scott building of modern date. The old chapel has been used as a library since 1663, when the new chapel, whose west end abuts on Trumpington Street, was built by Sir Christopher Wren. The cloister, called Hitcham’s Cloister, which joins the Wren Chapel to the fine old entrance gateway, and the Hitcham building[39] on the south side of the inner court, are dated 1666 and 1659 respectively. All the rest of the College is modern.

The early foundation of Pembroke College had some connection, as we have seen, with the Franciscan Order. The early foundation of Gonville Hall, which followed that of Pembroke in 1348, had a somewhat similar connection with the Dominicans. Edward Gonville, its founder, was vicar-general of the diocese of Ely, and rector of Ferrington and Rushworth in Norfolk. In that county he had been instrumental in causing the foundation of a Dominican house at Thetford. Two years before his death he settled a master and two fellows in some tenements he had bought in Luteburgh Lane, now called Free School Lane, on a site almost coinciding with the present master’s garden of Corpus, and gave to his college the name of “the Hall of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin.” But he died in 1351, and left the completion of his design to his executor, Bishop Bateman of Norwich. Bateman removed Gonville Hall to the north-west corner of its present site, adjoining the “Hall of the Holy Trinity,” which he was himself endowing at the same period. However, he too died within a few years, leaving both foundations immature. The statutes of both halls are extant, and exhibit an interesting contrast of ideal—the one that of a country parson of the fourteenth century, moved by the simple desire to do something for the encouragement of learning, and especially of theology, in the men of his own profession—the other that of a Bishop, a learned canonist and busy man of state, long resident at the Papal court at Avignon, regarded by the Pope as “the flower of civilians and canonists,” desirous above all things by his College foundation of recruiting the ranks of his clergy, thinned by the Black Death, with men trained, as he himself had been, in the canon and civil law. It was the Bishop’s ideal that triumphed. Gonville’s statutes requiring an almost exclusively theological training for his scholars were abolished, and the course of study in the two halls assimilated, Bateman, as founder of the two societies, by a deed dated 1353, ratifying an agreement of fraternal affection and mutual help between the two societies, as “scions of the same stock”; assigning, however, the precedence to the members of Trinity Hall, “tanquam fratres primo geniti.”[40] The fellows were by this agreement bound to live together in amity like brothers, to take counsel together in legal and other difficulties, to wear robes or cloaks of the same pattern, and to consort together at academic ceremonies. Thus Gonville Hall was fairly started on its way. It ranked from the first as a small foundation, and though it gradually added to its buildings and acquired various endowments, it did not materially increase its area for two centuries. The ancient walls of its early buildings—its chapel, hall, library, and master’s lodge—are all doubtless still standing, though coated over with the ashlar placed on them in 1754. The ancient beams of the roof of the old hall are still to be seen in the attics of the present tutor’s house. The upper room over the passage which leads from Gonville to Caius Court is the ancient chamber of the lodge where the early masters used to sleep, very little changed. The old main entrance to the College was in Trinity Lane, a thoroughfare so filthy in the reign of Richard II. that the King himself was appealed to, in order to check the “horror abominabilis” through which students had to plunge on their way to the schools. From time to time new benefactors of the College came, though for the most part of a minor sort; some of whom, however, have left quaint traces behind them. Of such was a certain Cluniac monk, John Household by name, a student in 1513, who in his will dated 1543 thus bequeaths—“To the College in Cambrydge called Gunvyle Hall, my longer table-clothe, my two awter (altar) pillows, with their bears of black satten bordered with velvet pirled with goulde: also a frontelet with the salutation of Our Lady curely wroughte with goulde; and besides two suts of vestements having everythinge belonging to the adorning of a preste to say masse: the one is a light greene having white ends, and the other a duned Taphada,” whatever that may be. He also leaves his books, “protesting that whatsoever be founde in my bookes I intend to dye a veray Catholical Christen man, and the King’s letheman and trewe subjecte.” This might seem to speak well, perhaps, for the catholicity of the College in the thirty-fourth year of Henry VIII., and yet thirteen years earlier Bishop Nix of Norwich had written to Archbishop Warham: “I hear no clerk that hath come out lately of Gunwel Haule but saverith of the frying panne, though he speak never so holely.” Anyhow about this time the College became notorious as a hotbed of reformed opinions. It was, however, at this time also that a young student was trained within its walls, who, after a distinguished career at Cambridge—it would be an anachronism to call him senior wrangler, but his name stands first in that list which afterwards developed into the Mathematical Tripos—passed to the university of Padua to study medicine under the great anatomist, Vesalius, ultimately becoming a professor there, and returning to England, and to medical practice in London, and having presumably amassed a fortune in the process, formed the design of enlarging what he pathetically describes as “that pore house now called Gonville Hall.” On September 4, 1557, John Caius obtained the charter for his new foundation, and the ancient name of Gonville Hall was changed to that of Gonville and Caius College. In the following year the new benefactor was elected Master, and the remaining years of his life were spent, on the one hand, in quarrelling with Fellows about “College copes, vestments, albes, crosses, tapers ... and all massynge abominations;” and, on the other, in designing and carrying out those noble architectural additions to the College which give to the buildings of Caius College their chief interest.

Gate of Honour & Gate of Virtue Caius College

“In his architectural works,” says Mr. Atkinson, “Caius shews practical common sense combined with the love of symbolism. His court is formed by two ranges of building on the east and west, and on the north by the old chapel and lodge. To the south the court is purposely left open, and the erection of buildings on this side is expressly forbidden by one of his statutes, lest the air from being confined within a narrow space should become foul. The same care is shewn in another statute which imposes on any one who throws dirt or offal into the court, or who airs beds or bedlinen there, a fine of three shillings and fourpence. In his will also he requires that ‘there be mayntayned a lustie and healthie, honest, true, and unmarried man of fortie years of age and upwardes to kepe cleane and swete the pavementes.’”[41]

The love of Dr. Caius for symbolism is shown most conspicuously in his design of the famous three Gates of Humility, of Virtue, and of Honour, which were intended to typify, by the increasing richness of their design, the path of the student from the time of his entrance to the College, to the day when he passed to the schools to take his Degree in Arts. The Gate of Humility was a simple archway with an entablature supported by pilasters, forming the new entrance to the College from Trinity Street, or as it was then called, High Street, immediately opposite St. Michael’s Church. On the inside of this gate there was a frieze on which was carved the word HUMILITATIS. From this gate there led a broad walk, bordered by trees, much in the fashion of the present avenue entrance to Jesus College, to the Gate of Virtue, a simple and admirable gateway tower in the range of the new buildings, forming the eastern side of the court, still known as Caius Court.

“The word VIRTUTIS is inscribed on the frieze above the arch on the eastern side, in the spandrils of which are two female figures leaning forwards. That on the left holds a leaf in her left hand, and a palm branch in her right; that on the right a purse in her right hand, and a cornucopia in her left. The western side of this gate has on its frieze, ‘IO. CAIUS POSUIT SAPIENTIÆ, 1567,’ an inscription manifestly derived from that on the foundation stone laid by Dr. Caius. Hence this gate is sometimes described as the Gate of Wisdom, a name which has however no authority. In the spandrils on this side are the arms of Dr. Caius.”[42]

In the centre of the south wall, forming the frontage to Schools Street, stands the Gate of Honour. It is a singularly beautiful and picturesque composition, “built of squared hard stone wrought according to the very form and figure which Dr. Caius in his lifetime had himself traced out for the architect.”[43] It was not built until two years after Caius’ death, that is about the year 1575. It is considered probable that the architect was Theodore Havens of Cleves, who was undoubtedly the designer of “the great murall diall” over the archway leading into Gonville Court, and of the column “wrought with wondrous skill containing 60 sun-dialls ... and the coat armour of those who were of gentle birth at that time in the College,” standing in the centre of Caius Court, and of the “Sacred Tower,” on the south side of the Chapel, all since destroyed.

Beautiful as the Gate of Honour still remains, it must have had a very different appearance when it left the architect’s hand. Many of its most interesting features have wholly vanished. Among the illustrations to Willis and Clark’s “History” there is an interesting attempt to restore the gateway with all its original details. At each angle, immediately above the lowest cornice, there was a tall pinnacle. Another group of pinnacles surrounded the middle stage, one at each corner of the hexagonal tower. On each face of the hexagon there was a sun-dial, and “at its apex a weathercock in the form of a serpent and dove.” In the spandrils of the arch next the court are the arms of Dr. Caius, on an oval shield, “two serpents erect, their tails nowed together,” and “between them a book.” On the frieze is carved the word HONORIS. The whole of the stonework was originally painted white, and some parts, such as the sun-dials, the roses in the circular panels, and the coats-of-arms, were brilliant with colour and gold. The last payment for this “painting and gilding” bears date 1696 in the Bursar’s book. Dr. Caius died in 1573, and was buried in the Chapel. On his monument are inscribed two short sentences—Vivit post funera virtus and Fui Caius.

Caius College The Gate of Honour

And so we may leave him and his College, and also perhaps fitly end this chapter with the kindly words with which Fuller commends to posterity the memory of this great College benefactor:—

“Some since have sought to blast his memory by reporting him a papist; no great crime to such who consider the time when he was born, and foreign places wherein he was bred: however, this I dare say in his just defence, he never mentioneth protestants but with due respect, and sometimes occasionally doth condemn the superstitious credulity of popish miracles. Besides, after he had resigned his mastership to Dr. Legg, he lived fellow-commoner in the College, and having built himself a little seat in the chapel, was constantly present at protestant prayers. If any say all this amounts but to a lukewarm religion, we leave the heat of his faith to God’s sole judgment, and the light of his good works to men’s imitation.”[44]



“The noblest memorial of the Cambridge gilds consists of the College which was endowed by the munificence of St. Mary’s Gild and the Corpus Christi Gild: it perpetuates their names in its own.... In other towns the gilds devoted their energies to public works of many kinds—to maintaining the sea-banks at Lynn, to sustaining the aged at Coventry, and to educating the children at Ludlow. In embarking on the enterprise of founding a College, the Cambridge men seem, however, to stand alone; we can at least be sure that the presence of the University here afforded the conditions which rendered it possible for their liberality to take this form.”—Cunningham.

Unique Foundation of Corpus Christi College—The Cambridge Guilds—The influence of “the Good Duke”—The Peasant Revolt—Destruction of Charters—“Perish the skill of the Clerks!”—The Black Death—Lollardism at the Universities—The Poore Priestes of Wycliffe.

“HERE at this time were two eminent guilds or fraternities of towns-folk in Cambridge, consisting of brothers and sisters, under a chief annually chosen, called an alderman.

“The Guild of Corpus Christi, keeping their prayers in St. Benedict’s Church.


“The Guild of the Blessed Virgin, observing their offices in St. Mary’s Church.

“Betwixt these there was a zealous emulation, which of them should amortize and settle best maintenance for such chaplains to pray for the souls of those of their brotherhood. Now, though generally in those days the stars outshined the sun; I mean more honour (and consequently more wealth) was given to saints than to Christ himself; yet here the Guild of Corpus Christi so outstript that of the Virgin Mary in endowments, that the latter (leaving off any further thoughts of contesting) desired an union, which, being embraced, they both were incorporated together. 2. Thus being happily married, they were not long issueless, but a small college was erected by their united interest, which, bearing the name of both parents, was called the College of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Mary. However, it hath another working-day name, commonly called (from the adjoined church) Benet College; yet so, that on festival solemnities (when written in Latin, in public instruments) it is termed by the foundation name thereof.”[45]

So picturesquely writes Thomas Fuller of the Foundation of Corpus Christi College.

The colleges of Cambridge owe their foundation to many and various sources. We have already seen two of the most ancient tracing their origin to the liberality and foresight of wise bishops, two others to the widowed piety of noble ladies, one to the unselfish goodness of a parish priest. Later we shall find the stately patronage of kings and queens given to great foundations, and on the long roll of university benefactors we shall have to commemorate the names of great statesmen and great churchmen, philosophers, scholars, poets, doctors, soldiers, “honoured in their generation and the glory of their days.” One college, however, there is which has a unique foundation, for it sprang, in the first instance, from that purest fount of true democracy, the spirit of fraternal association for the protection of common rights and of mutual responsibility for the religious consecration of common duties, by which the Cambridge aldermen and burgesses in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were striving by their guild life, to cherish those essential qualities of the English character—personal independence and faith in law-abidingness—which lie at the root of all that is best in our modern civilisation, and were undoubtedly characteristic of the English people in the earliest times of which history has anything to tell us.

The history of the guild life of Cambridge is one of unusual interest. The story breaks off far oftener than we could wish, but in the continuity of its religious guild history Cambridge holds a very important place, second only perhaps to that of Exeter. All the Cambridge guilds of which we know anything seem to have been essentially religious guilds, so prominent throughout their history remained their religious object. It is only indeed in connection with one of the earliest of which we have any record, the guild of Cambridge Thegns in the eleventh century, associated in devotion to S. Etheldreda, the foundress saint of Ely, that we find any secular element. That Guild does indeed offer to its members a secular protection of which the later guilds of the thirteenth century knew nothing, for they were religious guilds pure and simple. It is true that in the first charter of King John, dated 8th Jan. 1201, there appears to be a confirmation to the burgesses of Cambridge of a guild merchant granting to them certain secular rights of toll. But there does not appear to be any historical evidence to show that the Guild Merchant of Cambridge ever took definite shape, or stood apart in any way from the general body of burgesses. King John’s charter simply secured to the town those liberties and franchises which all the chief boroughs of England enjoyed at the beginning of the thirteenth century.[46]

The Churches of S. Edward & St. Mary—the Great from Peas Hill

The first religious guild of which we have any record is the Guild of the Holy Sepulchre, known to us only by an isolated reference in the history of Ramsey Abbey, which tells us of a fraternity existing in 1114-36, whose purpose was the building of a Minster in honour of God and the Holy Sepulchre, and which resulted in the erection of the Cambridge Round Church. Of Cambridge guild life we hear nothing more until the reign of Edward I., when we find record of certain conveyances of land being made to the Guild of S. Mary. From the first this guild is closely associated with Great S. Mary’s Church, the University Church of to-day, the Church of S. Mary at Market, as it was called in the early days. The members of it were called the alderman, brethren and sisters of S. Mary’s Guild belonging to the Church of the Virgin. Its benefactors direct that should the guild cease, the benefaction shall go to the celebration of Our Lady Mass in her Church. The underlying spirit, however, whatever may have been the superstitious ritual connected with the organisation, was very much the same as that of the English Friendly Society of to-day. “Let all share the same lot,” ran one of the statutes; “if any misdo, let all bear it.” “For the nourishing of brotherly love,”—so the members of another society took the oath of loyalty—“they would be good and true loving brothers to the fraternity, helping and counselling with all their power if any brother that hath done his duties well and truly come or fall to poverty, as God them help.”

“The purpose of S. Mary’s Gild was primarily the provision of prayers for the members. The ‘congregation’ of brethren, sometimes brethren and sisters, met at irregular intervals, to pass ordinances and to elect officers. In 1300 they agree to attend S. Mary’s Church on Jan. 2, to celebrate solemn mass for dead members. The penalty for absence was half a pound of wax, consumed no doubt in the provision of gild lights before the altar of Our Lady. Richard Bateman and his wife, in their undated grant, made the express condition that in return they should receive daily prayers for the health of their souls.... In the year 1307 ... the gild passed an ordinance directing the gild chaplains to celebrate two trentals of masses (60 in all) for each dead brother. If the deceased left anything in his will to the gild, then as the alderman might appoint, the chaplains should do more or less celebration according to the amount bequeathed to the gild. The rule is naïve, but its spirit is unpleasing. Individualism has thrust itself in where it seems very much out of place. The enrolment of the souls of the dead further witnesses to the purely religious character of the gild, and the purchase of a missal should also be noticed.”[47]

The minutes and bede roll of the guild, which have lately been published by the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, show that the association continued to flourish down to the time of the Great Plague. On its bede roll we find such names as those of Richard Hokyton, vicar of the Round Church; of “Alan Parson of Seint Beneytis Chirche”; of Warinus Bassingborn, High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 1341; of Walter Reynald, Chancellor of the University and Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1327; and of Richard of Bury, Bishop of Durham, and author of the Philobiblon, who died in 1345. In 1352, on “account of poverty,” the Guild, by Royal Charter, was allowed to coalesce with the Guild of Corpus Christi, for the purpose of founding a college.

Of this latter guild we have no earlier record than 1349, three years only before the date of union with S. Mary’s. Its minute-book, however, which begins in 1350, shows it to have been at that time a flourishing institution. It had probably been founded, like that which bore the same dedication at York, for the purpose of conducting the procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, a festival instituted about 1264. There are no existing bede rolls of the guild, and therefore no means of knowing the names of any members who entered before 1350. It appears to have been attached from the first to the ancient Church of S. Benet. The reversion of the advowson of that Church was in 1350 held by a group of men, several of whom were leading members of the guild. In 1353 the then Rector entered the guild, and “by the ordinance of his friends” resigned the Church to the Bishop “gratis,” that “the brethren and those who had acquired the advowson” might enter upon their possession. It is disappointing to find that there are no guild records telling of the union of S. Mary’s guild with that of Corpus Christi, or of the circumstances which led to the creation of the college bearing the joint names of the two guilds. Such foundation was, as we have said, a remarkable event in the history of Cambridge collegiate life. Not that these guilds were the first or the last to take part in the endowment of education; for many of the ancient grammar schools of the country owe their origin to, or were greatly assisted by, the benefactions of religious guilds. For example, Mr. Leach in his “English Schools at the Reformation” has noted, that out of thirty-three guilds, of whose returns he treats, no less than twenty-eight were supporting grammar schools. But the foundation of a college was a more ambitious task. It has a peculiar interest also, as that of an effort towards the healing of what was, even at this time, an outstanding feud between town and gown, between city and university.

The principal authority for the history of the site and buildings of the college is the Historiola of Josselin, a fellow of Queen’s College, and Latin secretary to Archbishop Parker. According to his narrative, the guild of Corpus Christi had begun seriously to entertain the idea of building a college as early as 1342, for about that date, he says:—

“Those brethren who lived in the parishes of S. Benedict and S. Botolph, and happened to have tenements and dwelling-houses close together in the street called Leithburne Lane, pulled them down, and with one accord set about the task of establishing a college there: having also acquired certain other tenements in the same street from the University. By this means they cleared a site for their college, square in form and as broad as the space between the present gate of entrance (i.e. by S. Benet’s Church) and the Master’s Garden.”[48]

The original mover in the scheme for a guild college may well have been the future master, Thomas of Eltisley, chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury and rector of Lambeth. Among the Cambridge burgesses William Horwood, the mayor, was treasurer of the Guild in 1352, and used the mayoral seal for guild purposes, because the seals of the alderman and brethren of the Guild “are not sufficiently well known.” Another mayor of Cambridge about this time, Robert de Brigham, was a member of the other associated Guild of S. Mary. How the support of Henry, Duke of Lancaster—the “Good Duke,” as he was called—was secured does not appear, but he is mentioned as alderman of the Guild, in the letters patent of Edward III. in 1352, establishing the College. His influence perhaps may have been gained through Sir Walter Manny, the countryman and friend of Queen Philippa, whose whole family was enrolled in the Guild.

At any rate, with the enrolment of the “Good Duke” as alderman of the Guild, the success of the proposed college was secure. In 1355 the Foundation received the formal consent of the chancellor and masters of the University, of the Bishop of Ely, and of the Prior and Chapter of Ely. The College Statutes, dated in the following year, 1356, show that “the chaplain and scholars were bound to appear in S. Benet’s or S. Botulph’s Church at certain times, and in all Masses the chaplains were to celebrate for the health of the King and Queen Philippa and their children, and the Duke of Lancaster, and the brethren and sisters, founders and benefactors of the Guild and College,” and although this perhaps, rather than the love of learning, pure and simple, was the chief aim which influenced the early founders of Corpus Christi College, the Society has in after ages held a worthy place in the history of the University, and “Benet men” have occupied positions in church and state quite equal to those of more ample foundations. Three Archbishops of Canterbury—Parker, Tennison, and Herring—have been Corpus men, one of whom, Matthew Parker, enriched it with priceless treasures, and gave to its library a unique value by the bequest of what Fuller has called “the sun of English antiquity.” Indeed, if they have done nothing else, the men of the Cambridge guilds have laid all students of English history under a supreme debt of gratitude in the provision of a place where so many of the MSS. so laboriously collected by Archbishop Parker are housed and preserved. From the walls of Benet College, also, there went out many other distinguished men: statesmen, like Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Seal; bishops, like Thomas Goodrich and Peter Gunning, of Ely; translators of the Scriptures, like Taverner, and Huett, and Pierson; commentators on the Old Testament, like the learned and ingenious Dean Spencer of Ely, the Wellhausen of the seventeenth century; soldiers, like the brave Earl of Lindsey, who fell at Edgehill, or like General Braddock, who was killed in Ohio in the colonial war against the French; learned antiquaries, like Richard Gough; sailors, like Cavendish, the circumnavigator; poets, like Christopher Marlowe and John Fletcher.

Corpus Christi College and S. Benedict’s Church

The College as originally built consisted of one court, which still remains, and is known as “the Old Court.” It still preserves much of its ancient character, and is specially interesting as being probably the first originally planned quadrangle. Josselin speaks of it as being “entirely finished, chiefly in the days of Thomas Eltisle, the first master, but partly in the days of Richard Treton, the second master.” It consisted simply of a hall range on the south and chambers on the three other sides. The former contained at the south-east corner the master’s chambers, communicating with the common parlour below, and also with the library and hall. As in most of the early colleges, both the gateway tower and the chapel were absent. The entrance was by an archway of the simplest character in the north range, opening into the southern part of the churchyard of S. Benet, and thus communicating with Free School Lane, running past the east end of the church, or northwards past the old west tower, with Benet Street. At the end of the fifteenth century two small chapels, one above the other, were built adjoining the south side of S. Benet’s chancel. They were connected with the College buildings by a gallery carried on arches like that already described in connection with Peterhouse. This picturesque building still exists. S. Benet’s Church was used as the College chapel down to the beginning of the seventeenth century, when a new chapel was built, mainly due to the liberality of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. This chapel occupied nearly the same site as the western part of the present building, which took its place in 1823, as part of the scheme of buildings which gave to Corpus the large new court with frontage to Trumpington Street. The principal feature of these buildings is the new library occupying the whole of the upper floor of the range of building on the south side of the quadrangle. It is here that the celebrated collection of ancient MSS. collected by Archbishop Parker are housed. They contain, among many other treasures, the Winchester text of the “Old English Chronicle,” that great national record, which at the bidding of King Alfred, in part quite probably under his own eye, was written in the scriptorium of Winchester Cathedral; ancient copies of the “Penitentiale” of Archbishop Theodore; King Alfred’s translation of Pope Gregory’s “Pastorale”; Matthew Paris’ own copy of his “History”; a copy of “John of Salisbury” which once belonged to Thomas à Becket; the Peterborough “Psalter”; Chaucer’s “Troilus,” with a splendid frontispiece of 1450; a magnificent folio of Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”—a note by Josselin tells how “a baker at Canterbury rescued it from among some waste paper, remaining from S. Augustine’s monastery after the dissolution,” and how the Archbishop welcomed it as “a monstrous treasure”; and Jerome’s Latin version of the “Four Gospels,” sent by Pope Gregory to Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, “the most interesting manuscript in England.”

No wonder that in handing over such a priceless gift to the charge of the College, Archbishop Parker should have striven to secure its future safety by this stringent regulation set out in his Deed of Gift.

“ ...That nothing be wanting for their more careful preservation, the Masters of Gonville and Caius College and of Trinity Hall, or their substitutes, are appointed annual supervisors on the 6th of August; on which occasion they are to be invited to dinner with two scholars of his foundation in those colleges; when each of the former is to have 3s. 4d. and the scholars 1s. a piece for their trouble in overlooking them; at which time they may inflict a penalty of 4d. for every leaf of MS. that may be found wanting; for every sheet, 2s.; and for every printed book or MS. missing, and not restored within six months after admonition, what sum they think proper. But if 6 MSS. in folio, 8 in quarto, and 12 in lesser size, should at any time be lost through supine negligence, and not restored within 6 months, then with the consent of the Vice-Chancellor and one senior doctor, not only all the books but likewise all the plate he gave shall be forfeited and surrendered up to Gonville and Caius College within a month following. And if they should afterwards be guilty of the like neglect they are then to be delivered over to Trinity Hall, and in case of their default to revert back in the former order. Three catalogues of these books were directed to be made, whereof one was to be delivered to each College, which was to be sealed with their common seal and exhibited at every visitation.”

The Pitt Press, S. Botolph’s Church, and Corpus Christie College

We have spoken of the early foundation of the Guild College as in some sense an effort on the part of the Cambridge burgesses of the fourteenth century to take some worthy share in the development of university life. Unfortunately the good feeling between town and gown was not of long duration. As the older burgesses who had been brethren of the gilds of Corpus Christi and S. Mary died off, an estrangement sprang up between the members of the college they had founded and the new generation of townsmen. The initial cause of trouble arose from the character of some of the early endowments of the College. It would seem that in addition to the many houses and tenements in the town which had been bequeathed to the College, a particularly objectional rate in the form of “candle rent” was exacted by the College authorities. It is said that so numerous were the Cambridge tenements subjected to this rate, that one-half of the houses in the town had become tributary to the College. The townsmen did not long confine themselves to mere murmuring or “passive resistance.” In 1381 the populace, taking advantage of the excitement caused by the Wat Tyler rebellion, vented their animosity and unreasoning hatred of learning by the destruction of all the College books, charters, and writings, and everything that bespoke a lettered community on the Saturday next after the feast of Corpus Christi, prompted perhaps by their hatred of the pomp and display of wealth in connection with the great annual procession of the Host through the streets. The bailiffs and commonalty of Cambridge, so we read in the old record, assembled in the town hall and elected James of Grantchester their captain. “Then going to Corpus Christi College, breaking open the house and doors, they traitorously carried away the charters, writings, and muniments.” On the following Sunday they caused the great bell of S. Mary’s Church to be rung, and there broke open the university chest. The masters and scholars under intimidation surrendered all their charters, muniments, ordinances, and a grand conflagration ensued in the market-place. One old woman, Margaret Steere, gathered the ashes in her hands and flung them into the air with the cry, “Thus perish the skill of the clerks! away with it! away with it!” Having finished their work of destruction in the market-place, the crowd of rioters marched out to Barnwell, “doing,” so Fuller tells the story, “many sacrilegious outrages to the Priory there. Nor did their fury fall on men alone, even trees were made to taste of their cruelty. In their return they cut down a curious grove called Green’s Croft by the river side (the ground now belonging to Jesus College), as if they bare such a hatred to all wood they would not leave any to make gallows thereof for thieves and murderers. All these insolencies were acted just at that juncture of time when Jack Straw and Wat Tyler played Rex in and about London. More mischief had they done to the scholars had not Henry Spencer, the warlike Bishop of Norwich, casually come to Cambridge with some forces and seasonably suppressed their madness.”[49]

And so the story of the seven earliest of the Cambridge colleges closes in a time of social misery and of national peril. The collapse of the French war after Crecy, and the ruinous taxation of the country which was consequent upon it, the terrible plague of the Black Death sweeping away half the population of England, and the iniquitous labour laws, which in face of that depopulation strove to keep down the rate of wages in the interests of the landlords, had brought the country to the verge of a wide, universal, social, political revolution. It was no time, perhaps, in which to look for any great national advance in scholarship or learning, much less for new theories of education or of academic progress. It is not certainly in the subtle realist philosophy and the dry syllogistic Latin of the De Dominio Divino of John Wycliffe, the greatest Oxford schoolman of his age, but in the virile, homely English tracts, terse and vehement, which John Wycliffe, the Reformer, wrote for the guidance of his “poore priestes” (and in which, incidentally, he made once more the English tongue a weapon of literature), that we find the new forces of thought and feeling which were destined to tell on every age of our later history. It is not in the good-humoured, gracious worldliness of the poet Chaucer—most true to the English life of his own day as is the varied picture of his “Canterbury Tales”—but in the rustic shrewdness and surly honesty of “Peterkin the Plowman” in William Langland’s great satire, that we find the true “note” of English religion, that godliness, grim, earnest, and Puritan, which was from henceforth to exercise so deep an influence on the national character.

But while what was good in the Lollard spirit survived, the Lollards themselves, with the death of Wycliffe and of John of Gaunt, his great friend and protector, fell upon evil times. Their revolution by force had almost succeeded. For a short time they were masters of the field. But with the passing of the immediate terror of the Peasant Revolt, the conservative forces of the state rallied to the protection of that social order, whose very existence the Lollards had, by their ferocious extravagance and frantic communism, seemed to threaten. The wiser contemporaries of this movement agreed to abandon its provocations and to consign it to oblivion or misconception. At Oxford, the Government threatened to suppress the University itself unless the Lollards were displaced. And Oxford, to outward appearance, submitted. Its Lollard chancellor was dismissed. The “poore priestes” and preachers were silenced, or departed to spread the new Gospel of the “Bible-men” across the sea. Some recanted and became bishops, cardinals, persecutors. But many remained obscure or silent and cautious. Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking of Oxford, said that there were wild vines in the University, and therefore little grapes; that tares were constantly sown among the pure wheat, and that the whole University was leavened with heresy. “You cannot meet,” said a monkish historian, “five people talking together but three of them are Lollards.” At Cambridge, on the 16th September 1401, holding a visitation in the Congregation House, the Archbishop had privately put to the Chancellor and the Doctors ten questions with regard to the discipline of the University. One question was significant: “Were there any,” the Archbishop asked, “suspected of Lollardism?” The terrible and infamous statute, “De Heretico Comburendo,” had been passed in the previous year, and but a few months before the first victim of that enactment had been burnt at the stake.

It is an historic saying, that “Cambridge bred the Founders of the English Reformation and that Oxford burnt them.” The statement is not without its grain of truth. The Puritan Reformation of the sixteenth century found, no doubt, its strongest adherents in the eastern counties of England; but it was not so much because the scholars of Cambridge welcomed more heartily than their brothers in the western university the teaching of the scholars of Geneva, but because the people of East Anglia, two centuries before, had been saturated with the Bible teaching of the “poore priestes” of Wycliffe’s school, and throughout the whole of the intervening period had secretly cherished it. For the present, however, the curtain drops on the age of the schoolmen with the death of Wycliffe. When it rises again, we shall find ourselves in the age of the New Learning. What the transition was from one time to the other, how deeply the Revival of Learning influenced the reformation of religion, we shall hear in the succeeding chapters.



“Tax not the royal saint with vain expense,
With ill-matched aims the architect who planned,
Albeit labouring for a scanty band
Of white-robed scholars only—this immense
And glorious work of fine intelligence!
Give all thou can’st: high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely calculated less or more;
So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense
These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof,
Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells,
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells
Lingering—and wandering on as loth to die;
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.”
Wordsworth’s Sonnet on King’s College Chapel.

Henry VI.—The most pitiful Character in all English History—His devotion to Learning and his Saintly Spirit—His foundation of Eton and King’s College—The Building of King’s College Chapel—Its architect, Reginald of Ely, the Cathedral Master-Mason—Its relation to the Ely Lady Chapel—Its stained glass Windows—Its close Foundation—Queens’ College—Margaret of Anjou and Elizabeth Wydville—The buildings of Queens’—Similarity to Haddon Hall—Its most famous Resident, Erasmus—His Novum Instrumentum edited within its Walls.

ON the 6th of December 1421, being S. Nicolas’ Day, the unhappy Henry of Windsor was born. On the 1st of September in the following year, as an infant of less than a year old, he began his reign of forty miserable years as Henry VI. There is no more pitiful character in all English history than he. Henry V., his father, had been by far the greatest king of Christendom, and England, under his rule, had rejoiced in a light which was all the brighter for the gloom that preceded and followed it. The dying energies of mediæval life sank into impotency with his death. The long reign of his son is one unbroken record of divided counsels, constitutional anarchy, civil war, national exhaustion; only too faithfully fulfilling the prophecy which his father is said to have uttered, when he was told in France of the birth of his son at Windsor: “I, Henry of Monmouth, shall gain much in my short reign, but Henry of Windsor will reign much longer and lose all; but God’s will be done.”

“Henry VI.”—I quote the pathetic words of my kinsman, the historian of the Constitution—

“Henry was perhaps the most unfortunate king who ever reigned; he outlived power and wealth and friends; he saw all who had loved him perish for his sake, and, to crown all, the son, the last and dearest of the great house from which he sprang, the centre of all his hopes, the depositary of the great Lancastrian traditions of English polity, set aside and slain. And he was without doubt most innocent of all the evils that befell England because of him. Pious, pure, generous, patient, simple, true and just, humble, merciful, fastidiously conscientious, modest and temperate, he might have seemed made to rule a quiet people in quiet times.... It is needless to say that for the throne of England in the midst of the death struggle of nations, parties, and liberties, Henry had not one single qualification.”[50]

King’s Parade

And yet he did leave an impression on the hearts of Englishmen which will not readily be erased. For setting aside the fabled visions and the false miracle with which he is credited, and upon which Henry VII. relied when he pressed the claims of his predecessor for formal canonisation on Pope Julius II., it was certainly no mere anti-Lancastrian loyalty or party spirit which led the rough yeomen farmers of Yorkshire to worship before his statue on the rood-screen of their Minster and to sing hymns in his honour, or caused the Latin prayers which he had composed to be reverently handed down to the time of the Reformation through many editions of the “Sarum Hours.” One enduring monument there is of his devotion to learning and of his saintly spirit, which must long keep his memory green, namely, the royal and religious foundation of the two great colleges which he projected at Eton and at Cambridge.

Of Eton we need not speak. The fame of that college is written large on the page of English history. And that fame and its founder’s memory we may safely leave to the “scholars of Henry” in its halls and playing fields to-day.

“Christ and His Mother, heavenly maid,
Mary, in whose fair name was laid
Eton’s corner, bless our youth
With truth, and purity, mother of truth!
O ye, ’neath breezy skies of June,
By silver Thames’ lulling tune,
In shade of willow or oak, who try
The golden gates of poesy;
Or on the tabled sward all day
Match your strength in England’s play,
Scholars of Henry giving grace
To toil and force in game or race;
Exceed the prayer and keep the fame
Of him, the sorrowful king who came
Here in his realm, a realm to found
Where he might stand for ever crowned.”[51]

It was on the 12th of February 1441, when Henry of Windsor was only nineteen years old, that the first charter for the foundation of King’s College, Cambridge, was signed. On the 2nd of April in the same year he laid the first stone. It is difficult to say from whence the first impulse to the patronage of learning came to the King. He had always been a precocious scholar, too early forced to recognise his work as successor to his father. Something of his uncle Duke Humfrey of Gloucester’s ardent love of letters he had imbibed at an early age. No doubt, too, the Earl of Warwick, “the King’s master” for eighteen years, had faithfully discharged his duty to “teach him nurture, literature, language, and other manner of cunning as his age shall suffer him to comprehend such as it fitteth so great a prince to be learned of,” and had made his royal pupil a good scholar and accomplished gentleman: though perhaps he had suffered the young king’s mind to take somewhat too ascetic and ecclesiastic a bent for the hard and perilous times which he had to face: a feature of his character which Shakespeare emphasises in the speech which he puts into the mouth of Margaret of Anjou, his affianced bride, in the first act of the play in which he draws the picture of the decay of England’s power under the weak and saintly Lancastrian king with so masterly a pencil:—

“I thought King Henry had resembled (Pole)
In courage, courtship, and proportion:
But all his mind is bent to holiness,
To number Ave-Maries on his beads:
His champions are the Prophets and Apostles:
His weapons holy saws of sacred writ:
His study is his tilt-yard, and his loves
Are brazen images o’ canonized saints.
I would the college or the cardinals
Would choose him Pope, and carry him to Rome,
And set the triple crown upon his head:
That were a state fit for his holiness.”[52]

However, the first fruits of the royal “holiness” was a noble conception. A visit to Winchester in the July of 1440, where Henry studied carefully from personal observation the working of William of Wykeham’s system of education, seems to have fired him with the desire to rival that great pioneer of schoolcraft’s magnificent foundations at Winchester and Oxford. The suppression of the alien priories, decreed by Parliament in the preceding reign and carried out in his own, provided a convenient means of carrying out the project. Henry V. had already appropriated their revenues for the purposes of war in France. Henry VI. proceeded to confiscate them permanently as an endowment for his college foundations. It would appear, however, that the first intention of the King had been that his two foundations should have been independent of one another, and that the connection of Eton with King’s, after the manner of Winchester and New College, came rather as an afterthought and as part of a later scheme. The determination, however, that the Eton scholars should participate in the Cambridge foundation forms part of the King’s scheme in the second charter of his college granted on 10th July 1443, in which he says:—

“It is our fixed and unalterable purpose, being moved thereto, as we trust, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that our poor scholars of our Royal foundation of S. Mary of Eton, after they have been sufficiently taught the first rudiments of grammar, shall be transferred thence to our aforesaid College of Cambridge, which we will shall be henceforth denominated our College Royal of S. Mary and S. Nicholas, there to be more thoroughly instructed in a liberal course of study, in other branches of knowledge, and other professions.”

The West Doorway King’s College Chapel

The first site chosen for the College was a very cramped and inconvenient one. It had Milne Street, then one of the principal thoroughfares of the town, on the west, the University Library and schools on the east, and School Street on the north. On the south side only had it any outlet at all. A court was formed by placing buildings on the three unoccupied sides, the University buildings forming a fourth. These buildings, however, were never completely finished, except in a temporary manner, and indeed so remained until the end of the last century, when they were more or less incorporated in the new buildings of the University Library facing Trinity Hall Lane, erected by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1868. The old gateway facing Clare College, which had been begun in 1444, was at last completed from the designs of Mr. Pearson in 1890, and remains one of the most beautiful architectural gates in Cambridge.

King’s College Chapel

It very soon, however, became evident that the selected site was much too small for the projected college. Little time was lost by the earliest provost and scholars in petitioning the King to provide an ampler habitation for their needs.

“The task was beset with difficulties that would have daunted a mind less firmly resolved on carrying out the end in view than the king’s; difficulties indeed that would have been insuperable except by royal influence, backed by a royal purse. The ground on which King’s College now stands was then densely populated. It occupied nearly the whole of the parish of S. John Baptist, whose church is believed to have stood near the west end of the chapel. Milne Street crossed the site from north to south, in a direction that may be easily identified from the two ends of the street that still remain, under the name of Trinity Hall Lane and Queen’s Lane. The space between Milne Street and Trumpington Street, then called High Street, was occupied by the houses and gardens of different proprietors, and was traversed by a narrow thoroughfare called Piron Lane, leading from High Street to S. John’s Church. At the corner of Milne Street and this lane, occupying the ground on which about half the ante-chapel now stands, was the small college called God’s House, founded in 1439 by William Byngham for the study of grammar, which, as he observes in his petition to Henry VI. for leave to found it, is “the rote and ground of all other sciences.” On the west side of Milne Street, between it and the river, were the hostels of S. Austin, S. Nicholas, and S. Edmund, besides many dwelling-houses. This district was traversed by several lanes, affording to the townspeople ready access to the river, and to a wharf on its bank called Salthithe. No detailed account has been preserved of the negotiations necessary for the acquisition of this ground, between six and seven acres in extent, and in the very heart of Cambridge.... The greatest offence appears to have been given by the closing of the lanes leading down to the river, which was of primary importance to mediæval Cambridge as a highway. In five years’ time, however, the difficulties were all got over; the town yielded up, though not with the best grace, the portion of Milne Street required and all the other thoroughfares; the hostels were suppressed, or transferred to other sites; the Church of S. John was pulled down, and the parish united to that of S. Edward, whose church bears evidence, by the spacious aisles attached to its choir, of the extension rendered necessary at that time by the addition of the members of Clare Hall and Trinity Hall to the number of its parishioners.”[53]

On this splendid site of many acres, where now the silent green expanse of sunlit lawn has taken the place of the busy lanes and crowded tenements, which in Henry’s time hummed with the life of a mediæval river-side city, there rises the wondrous building, the crown of fifteenth century architecture, beautiful, unique—a cathedral church in size, a college chapel in plan—seeming in its lofty majesty so solitary and so aloof, and yet so instantaneously impressive.

Who was the architect of this masterpiece? The credit has commonly been given to one of two men—Nicholas Close or John Langton. Close was a man of Flemish family, and one of the original six Fellows of the College. He had for a few years been the vicar of the demolished Church of S. John Zachary. He afterwards became Bishop of Carlisle. Langton was Master of Pembroke and Chancellor of the University, and was one of the commissioners appointed by the King to superintend the scheme of the works at their commencement. But both of these men were theologians and divines. We have no evidence that they were architects. Mr. G. Gilbert Scott, in his essay on “English Church Architecture,” has, however, given reasons, which seem to be almost conclusive, that the man who should really have the credit of conceiving this great work was the master-mason Reginald of Ely, who as early as 1443 was appointed by a patent of Henry VI. “to press masons, carpenters, and other workmen” for the new building. According to Mr. Scott’s view, Nicholas Close and his fellow surveyors merely did the work which in modern days would be done by a building committee. It was the master-mason who planned the building, and who continued to act as architect until the works came to a standstill with the deposition of the King and the enthronement of his successor Edward IV. in 1462. Moreover, the character of the general design of King’s Chapel and even its architectural details, such as the setting out of its great windows, the plan of its vaulting shafts, and the groining of the roofs of the small chapels between its buttresses, lend force to Mr. Scott’s contention. It is evident from the accuracy and minuteness of the directions given in “the Will of King Henry VI.” (a document which was not in reality a testament, but an expression of his deliberate purpose and design with regard to his proposed foundation), that complete working plans had been prepared by an architect. Whoever that architect may have been, he had evidently been commissioned to design a chapel of magnificence worthy of a royal foundation. And where more naturally could he look for his model for such a building as the King desired than to that chapel, the largest and the most splendid hitherto erected in England, that finest specimen of decorated architecture in the kingdom, Alan de Walsingham’s Lady Chapel at Ely. The relationship between the two buildings is obvious to even an uninstructed eye, but Mr. Scott has shown how closely the original design of King’s follows the Ely Lady Chapel lines.

“Any one,” he truly says, “who will carry up his eye from the bases of the vaulting shafts to the springing of the great vault will perceive at once that the section of the shaft does not correspond with the plan of the vault springers. There is a sort of cripple here. The shaft is, in fact, set out with seven members, while the design of the vault plan requires but five. Thus two members of the pier have nothing to do, and disappear somewhat clumsily in the capital. The section of these shafts was imposed by the first architect, and does not agree with the requirement of a fan-groin (designed by the architect of a later date).... The original sections, and the peculiar distribution of their bases, unmistakably indicate a ribbed vault, with transverse, diagonal, and intermediate ribs. Now, if we apply to the plan of these shaftings at Cambridge the plan of the vaulting at Ely, we find the two to tally precisely. Each member of the pier has its corresponding rib, in the direction of the sweep of which each member of the base is laid down. This might serve as proof sufficient, but it is not all. There exist in the church two lierne-groins of the work of the first period, those namely of the two easternmost chapels of the north range, and these are identical in principle with the great vault at Ely, and with the plan that is indicated by the distribution of the ante-chapel bases. We know then that the first designer of the church did employ lierne and not fan-vaulting, even in the small areas of the chapels, and that these liernes resemble not the later form—such as we may observe in the nave of Winchester Cathedral—but the earlier manner which is exhibited at Ely. There can, therefore, as I conceive, be no doubt that this great chapel was designed to be “chare-roofed” with such a lierne-vault—it is practically a Welsh-groin—as adorns the next grandest chapel in England only sixteen miles distant.”[54]

There seems little doubt then that the architect of King’s Chapel was its first master-builder, Reginald of Ely, who, trained under the shadow of the great Minster buildings in that city, probably in its mason’s yard, naturally took as his model for the King’s new chapel at Cambridge one of the most exquisite of the works of the great cathedral builder of the previous century, Alan de Walsingham.

Had the original design of Reginald been completed, several of the defects of the building, as we see it to-day, would have been avoided. The chapel vault would have been arched, and the great space which is now left between the top of the windows and the spring of the vaulting would have been avoided. Much of the heaviness of effect also, which is felt by any one studying the exterior of the chapel, and which is due to the low pitch of the window arches, rendered necessary by the alteration in the design of the great vault, would have been avoided.


Reginald of Ely’s work, however, indeed all work on the new chapel, ceased in 1461, when the battle of Towton gave the crown to the young Duke of York, and the Lancastrian colleges of his rival fell upon barren days. On the accession of Richard III. in 1483, the new king not only showed his goodwill to the College by the gift of lands, but ordered the building to go on with all despatch. In 1485, however, there commenced another period of twenty years’ stagnation. Then in 1506, Henry VII., paying a visit with his mother to Cambridge, attended service in the unfinished chapel, and determined to become its patron. In the summer of 1508 more than a hundred masons and carpenters were again at work, and henceforth the building suffered no interruption. By July 1515 the fabric of the church was finished, and had cost in all, according to the present value of money, some £160,000.

In November of the same year a payment of £100 is made to Barnard Flower, the King’s glazier, and a similar sum in February 1517. It would seem that the same artist completed four windows, that over the north door of the ante-chapel being the earliest. Upon his death agreements were made in 1526 for the erection of the whole of the remaining twenty-two windows. They were to represent “the story of the old lawe and of the new lawe.” Above and below the transome in each window are two separate pictures, each pair being divided by a “messenger,” who bears a scroll with a legend giving the subject represented. In the lower tier the windows from north-west to south-west represent the Life of the Blessed Virgin, the Life of Christ, and the History of the Church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The upper tier has scenes from the Old Testament or from apocryphal sources which prefigure the events recorded below. The whole of the east window is devoted to the Passion and Crucifixion of our Lord. The west window, containing a representation of the Last Judgment, is entirely modern. It was executed by Messrs. Clayton and Bell, and was erected in 1879.

“A bare enumeration of the subjects, however, can give but a poor idea of these glorious paintings. What first arrests the attention is the singularly happy blending of colours, produced by a most ingenious juxta-position of pure tints. The half-tones so dear to the present generation were fortunately unknown when they were set up. Thus though there is a profusion of brilliant scarlet, and light blue, and golden yellow, there is no gaudiness. Again, all the glass admits light without let or hindrance, the shading being laid on with sparing hand, so that the greatest amount of brilliancy is insured. This is further enhanced by a very copious use of white or slightly yellow glass. It must not, however, be supposed that a grand effect of colour is all that has been aimed at. The pictures bear a close study as works of art. The figures are rather larger than life, and boldly drawn, so as to be well seen from a great distance; but the faces are full of expression and individuality, and each scene is beautiful as a composition. They would well bear reduction within the narrow limits of an easel picture.... There is no doubt that a German or Flemish influence is discernible in some of the subjects; but that is no more than might have been expected, when we consider the number of sets of pictures illustrating the life and passion of Christ that had appeared in Germany and Flanders during the half century preceding their execution.... That these windows should (at the time of the Puritan destruction of such things) have been saved is a marvel; and how it came to pass is not exactly known. The story that they were taken out and hidden, or, as one version of it says, buried, may be dismissed as an idle fabrication. More likely the Puritan sentiments of the then provost, Dr. Whichcote, were regarded with such favour by the Earl of Manchester during his occupation of Cambridge, that he interfered to save the chapel and the college from molestation.”[55]

Gateway to Old Court of King’s College

The magnificent screen and rood-loft are carved with the arms, badge, and initials (H. A.) of Henry and Anne Boleyn, and with the rose, fleur-de-lis, and portcullis. Doubtless, therefore, they were erected between 1532 and 1535. The doors to the screen were renewed in 1636, and bear the arms of Charles I. The stalls were set up by Henry VIII., but they were without canopies, the wall above them being probably covered with hangings, the hooks for which may still be seen under the string-course below the windows. The stalls are in the Renaissance manner, and are the first example of that style at Cambridge. They appear to differ somewhat in character from Torregiano’s works at Westminster, and to be rather French than Italian in feeling, although some portions of the figure-carving recalls in its vigour the style of Michael Angelo. The stall canopies and the panelling to the east of the stalls were the work of Cornelius Austin, and were put up about 1675. The north and south entrance doors leading to the quire and the side chapel are probably of the same date as the screen. The lectern dates from the first quarter of the sixteenth century, having been given by Robert Hacombleyn, provost, whose name it bears.

As to the remaining buildings of King’s College it is sufficient to say that the great quadrangle projected by the founder was never built. The old buildings at the back of the schools, hastily finished in a slight and temporary manner, continued in use until the last century. In 1723 a plan was furnished by James Gibbs for a new quadrangle, of which the chapel was to form the north side. The western range—the Gibbs building—was the only part actually built. The hall, library, provost’s lodge, and several sets of rooms at each end of the hall, as well as the stone screen and the porter’s lodge, were erected in 1824-28, at a cost of rather more than £100,000, from the designs of William Wilkins. A range of rooms facing Trumpington Street were added by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1870. The new court, which when completed will form a court with buildings on three sides and the river on the fourth, was commenced by Mr. Bodley in 1891. At present this third side of the court is still left open.

King’s College Quadrangle

To return, however, to the history of the foundation. It is an illustration of the way in which at this time ultramontanist theories were contending for supremacy in England, in the universities as elsewhere, that the King should have applied to the pope for a bull granting him power to make his new college not only independent of the bishop of the diocese, but also of the University authorities. Such a bull was granted, and in 1448 the University itself consented, by an instrument given under its common seal, that the College, in the matter of discipline as distinguished from instruction, should be entirely independent of the University. By the limitation also of the benefits of this foundation to scholars only of Eton, the founder, perhaps unconsciously, certainly disastrously, created an exclusive class of students endowed with exclusive privileges, an anomaly which for more than four centuries marred the full efficiency of Henry’s splendid foundation. This imperium in imperio was happily abolished by a new code of statutes which became law in 1861.

“A little flock they were in Henry’s hall
. . . . . . . . . .
Hardly the circle widened, till one day
The guarded gate swung open wide to all.”

It may certainly be hoped that there is truth in the present provost’s gentle prophecy, that “it is hardly possible that the College should relapse into what was sometimes its old condition, that of a family party, comfortable, indeed, but inclined to be sleepy and self-indulgent, and not wholly free from family quarrels.”

And yet at the same time it should not be forgotten, as good master Fuller reminds us, that “the honour of Athens lieth not in her walls, but in the worth of her citizens,” and that during the lengthened period in which the society was a close foundation only open to scholars of Eton, with a yearly entry therefore of new members seldom exceeding half-a-dozen, it could still point to a long list of distinguished scholars and of men otherwise eminent—mathematicians like Oughtred, moralists like Whichcote, theologians like Pearson, antiquarians like Cole, poets like Waller—who had been educated within its walls. In Cooper’s “Memorials of Cambridge,” the list of eminent King’s men down to 1860 occupies twenty pages, a similar list of Trinity men, the largest college in the university, only ten pages more. This hardly seems to justify Dean Peacock’s well-known epigram on the unreformed King’s as “a splendid Cenotaph of learning.”

Let us now turn from King Henry’s College to the other royal foundation of his reign which claims his consort, the Lady Margaret of Anjou, as its foundress. The poet Gray in his “Installation Ode,” speaking of Queen Margaret in relation to Queens’ College, calls her “Anjou’s heroine.” But those Shakespearean readers who have been accustomed to think of his representation of the Queen, in The Second Part of King Henry VI., as a dramatic portrait of considerable truth and historic consistency, will hardly recognise the “heroic” qualities of Margaret’s character. Certainly she is not one of Shakespeare’s “heroines.” She has none of the womanly grace or lovableness of his ideal women. A woman of hard indomitable will, mistaking too often cruelty for firmness, using the pliancy and simplicity of her husband for mere party ends, outraging the national conscience by stirring up the Irish, the French, the Scots, against the peace of England, finally pitting the north against the south in a cruel and futile civil war, with nothing left of womanhood but the almost tigress heart of a baffled mother, this is the Queen Margaret as we know her in Shakespeare and in history. But “Our Lady the Queen Margaret,” who was a “nursing mother” to Queens’ College, seems a quite different figure. She has but just come to England, a wife and queen when little more than a child, “good-looking and well-grown” (specie et forma præstans), precocious, romantic, a “devout pilgrim to the shrine of Boccaccio,” delighting in the ballads of the troubadour, a lover of the chase, inheriting all the literary tastes of her father, King René of Anjou. The motives which led her to become the patroness of a college are thus given by Thomas Fuller:—

“As Miltiades’ trophy in Athens would not suffer Themistocles to sleep, so this queen, beholding her husband’s bounty in building King’s College, was restless in herself with holy emulation until she had produced something of the like nature, a strife wherein wives without breach of duty may contend with their husbands which should exceed in pious performances.”[56]

Accordingly we read that in 1447 Queen Margaret, being then but fifteen years old, sent to the King the following petition:—

“Margaret,—To the king my souverain lord. Besechith mekely Margaret, quene of England, youre humble wif. Forasmuche as youre moost noble grace hath newely ordeined and stablisshed a Collage of Seint Bernard, in the Universite of Cambrigge, with multitude of grete and faire privilages perpetuelly apparteynyng unto the same, as in your lettres patentes therupon made more plainly hit appereth. In the whiche Universite is no Collage founded by eny quene of England hidertoward. Plese hit therfore unto your highnesse to geve and graunte unto your seide humble wif the fondacon and determinacon of the seid collage to be called and named the Quene’s Collage of Sainte Margarete and Saint Bernard, or ellis of Sainte Margarete, vergine and martir, and Saint Bernard Confessour, and thereupon for ful evidence therof to hav licence and pouoir to ley the furst stone in her own persone or ellis by other depute of her assignement, so that beside the mooste noble and glorieus collage roial of our Lady and Saint Nicholas, founded by your highnesse may be founded and stablisshed the seid so called Quenes Collage to conservacon of oure feithe and augmentacon of pure clergie, namly of the imparesse of alle sciences and facultees theologie ... to the ende there accustumed of plain lecture and exposicon botraced with docteurs sentence autentiq performed daily twyse by two docteurs notable and well avised upon the bible aforenone and maistre of the sentences afternone to the publique audience of alle men frely, bothe seculiers and religieus to the magnificence of denominacon of suche a Queen’s Collage, and to laud and honneure of sexe feminine, like as two noble and devoute contesses of Pembroke and of Clare, founded two collages in the same Universite called Pembroke hall and Clare hall, the wiche are of grete reputacon for good and worshipful clerkis that by grete multitude have be bredde and brought forth in theym. And of your more ample grace to graunte that alle privileges immunitees, profites and comoditees conteyned in the lettres patentes above reherced may stonde in their strength and pouoir after forme and effect of the conteine in theym.

“And she shal ever preye God for you.”

The College of S. Bernard, mentioned in the first paragraph of the Queen’s petition, was a hostel, established by Andrew Dokett, the rector of S. Botolph’s Church, situated on the north side of the churchyard in Trumpington Street, adjoining Benet College. For this hostel, Dokett had obtained from the King in 1446 a charter of incorporation as a college, but a year later procured another charter, refounding the College of S. Bernard on a new site, between Milne Street and the river, adjoining the house of the Carmelite Friars. The true founder, therefore, of Queens’ College was Andrew Dokett, but he was foresighted enough to seek the Queen’s patronage for his foundation, and no doubt welcomed the absorption of S. Bernard’s hostel in the royal foundation of Queens’ College. Anyhow, the foundation stone of the new building was laid on the 15th April 1448. The outbreak of the Civil War stopped the works when the first court of the College was almost finished. Andrew Dokett, the first master, was still alive when Edward IV. came to the throne, and about the year 1465, he was fortunate to secure for his College the patronage of the new queen, Elizabeth Wydville. Elizabeth had been in earlier days a lady-in-waiting to Margaret of Anjou, and had herself strongly sympathised with the Lancastrian party. It is probable, therefore, that in accepting the patronage of the College she did so, not in her character as Yorkist queen, but rather as desirous of completing the work of the old mistress whom she had faithfully served before the strange chances of destiny had brought her as a rival to the throne. At any rate, from this period onwards the position of the apostrophe after and not before the “s” in “Queens’” adequately corresponds to the fact that the College commemorates not one, but two queens in its title.

The earliest extant statutes appear to be those of the second foundress, the Queen Consort of Edward IV., revised at a later time under the authority of Henry VIII. It seems indeed likely that the absence of canon law from the subjects required by statute from all fellows after regency in arts, and the provision of Bible lectures in College, and divers English sermons to be preached in chapel by the fellows, indicates a somewhat remarkable reforming spirit for the end of the fifteenth century, and rather points to the conclusion that these provisions belong to the later revised code of Henry VIII. At the time of the foundation of Queen’s College the plan of a collegiate building had been completely developed. It followed the lines not so much of a monastery, though it had, of course, some features in common with the monastic houses, but of the normal type of the large country houses or mansions of the fifteenth century. The late Professor Willis, in his archæological lectures on Cambridge, was accustomed, we are told, to exhibit in support of this view a ground plan of Haddon Hall and Queens’ College side by side. And certainly it is surprising to notice how striking is the similarity of the two plans. The east and west position of the chapel at Haddon Hall happens to be the reverse of that of Queens’ College, but with that exception, and the position of the entrance gateway to the first quadrangle, the arrangement of the buildings in the two mansions is practically identical. The hall, buttery, and kitchen occupy in both the range of buildings between the two courts; the private dining-room beyond the hall at Haddon is represented at Queens’ College by the fellows’ combination room; the long gallery in the upper court of Haddon has more or less its counterpart at Queens’ in the masters’ gallery in the cloister court; the upper entrance at Haddon is similarly placed to the passage to the old wooden bridge at Queens’.

Cloister Court, Queen’s College

The principal court of Queens’ was almost completed before the Wars of the Roses broke out. “It is,” says Mr. J. W. Clark, “the earliest remaining quadrangle in Cambridge that can claim attention for real architectural beauty and fitness of design.” It is built in red brick, and has a noble gateway flanked by octagonal turrets, and there are square towers at each external angle of the court. The employment of these towers is a peculiarity which perhaps offers presumptive evidence that the architect of the other two royal colleges of Eton and King’s may also have been employed at Queens’. This court probably retains more of the aspect of ancient Cambridge than any other collegiate building in the town. The turret at the south-west angle of the great court, overlooking Silver Street and the town bridge and mill pond, adjoins the rooms which, according to tradition, were occupied by Erasmus, and whose top storey was used by him as a study. It is commonly known as The Tower of Erasmus. “Queens’ College,” says Fuller, “accounteth it no small credit thereunto that Erasmus (who no doubt might have pickt and chose what house he pleased) preferred this for the place of his study for some years in Cambridge. Either invited thither with the fame of the learning and love of his friend Bishop Fisher, then master thereof, or allured with the situation of this colledge so near the river (as Rotterdam, his native place, to the sea) with pleasant walks thereabouts.” An interesting account of Erasmus’ residence in Queens’ is quoted by Mr. Searle[57] from a letter written by a fellow of the College, Andrew Paschal, Rector of Chedsey, in the year 1680, which pleasantly describes at least the traditional belief.

“The staires which rise up to his studie at Queens’ College in Cambr. doe bring into two of the fairest chambers in the ancient building; in one of them which lookes into the hall and chief court, the Vice-President kept in my time; in that adjoyning it was my fortune to be, when fellow. The chambers over are good lodgeing roomes; and to one of them is a square turret adjoyning, in the upper part of which is the study of Erasmus and over it leads. To that belongs the best prospect about the Colledge, viz. upon the river, into the corne fields, and country adjoyning. So yt it might very well consist with the civility of the house to that great man (who was no fellow, and I think stayed not long there) to let him have that study. His sleeping roome might be either the President’s, or to be neer to him the next. The roome for his servitor that above it, and through it he might goe to that studie, which for the height and neatnesse and prospect might easily take his phancy.”

Oriel Window, Queen’s College

It was in this study no doubt that much of the work was done for his edition of the New Testament in the original Greek, that epoch-making book which he published at Basle in 1516; and from hence also he must have written those amusing letters to his friends, Ammonius, Dean Colet, Sir Thomas More, in which comments on the progress of his work alternate with humorous grumblings about the Cambridge climate, the plague, the wine, the food: “Here I live like a cockle shut up in his shell, stowing myself away in college, and perfectly mum over my books.... I cannot go out of doors because of the plague.... I am beset with thieves, and the wine is no better than vinegar.... I do not like the ale of this place at all ... if you could manage to send me a cask of Greek wine, the very best that can be bought, you would be doing your friend a great kindness, but mind that it is not too sweet.... I am sending you back your cask, which I have kept by me longer than I otherwise should have done, that I might enjoy the perfume at least of Greek wine.... My expenses here are enormous; the profits not a brass farthing. Believe me as though I were on my oath, I have been here not quite five months, and yet have spent sixty nobles: while certain members of my (Greek) class have presented me with just a single one, which they had much difficulty in persuading me to accept. I have decided not to leave a stone unturned this winter, and in fact to throw out my sheet anchor. If this succeeds I will build my nest here; if otherwise, I shall wing my flight—whither I know not.” Perhaps there is some playful exaggeration in all this. Anyhow Erasmus stayed at Cambridge seven years in all. He may have been justly disappointed in his Greek class-room: “I shall have perhaps a larger gathering when I begin the grammar of Theodorus,” he writes plaintively; but disappointed there, he took refuge in his college study, and there, high up in the south-west tower of Queens’, we may picture him, “outwatching the Bear” over the pages of S. Jerome, as Jerome himself in his time had outwatched it writing those same pages, eleven hundred years before, in his cell at Bethlehem; or pouring over the text of his Greek Testament and its translation, the boldest work of criticism and interpretation that had been conceived by any scholar for many a century, a Novum Instrumentum indeed, by which the scholars of the new learning were to restore to the centuries which followed, the old true theology which had been so long obscured by the subtleties of the schoolmen, the new and truer theology which while based on a foundation of sound method and historical apparatus rests also in the joyous and refreshing story of the Son of God, in that unique figure of a Divine Personality, round whom centre the love, the hopes, the fears, the joys of the coming ages.

The Bridge & Gables. Queen’s College

Queens’ College has many claims upon the gratitude of English scholars and English churchmen—it would have been sufficient that she had been the “nursing mother” of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester—“vere Episcopus, vere Theologus”—under whose cautious supervision Cambridge first tasted of the fruits of the Renascence, who “sat here governor of the schools not only for his learning’s sake, but for his divine life”—but she can lay no claim to greater honour than this, that within her walls three hundred years ago, these words were written—they form part of the noble “Paraclesis” of the Novum Testamentum of Erasmus:—

“If the footprints of Christ are anywhere shown to us, we kneel down and adore. Why do we not rather venerate the living and breathing picture of him in these books? If the vesture of Christ be exhibited, where will we not go to kiss it? Yet were his whole wardrobe exhibited, nothing could exhibit Christ more vividly and truly than these Evangelical writings. Statues of wood and stone we decorate with gold and gems for the love of Christ. They only profess to give us the form of his body; these books present us with a living image of his most holy mind. Were we to have seen him with our own eyes, we should not have so intimate a knowledge as they give of Christ, speaking, healing, dying, rising again, as it were, in our actual presence.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“The sun itself is not more common and open to all than the teaching of Christ. For I utterly dissent from those who are unwilling that the Sacred Scriptures should be read by the unlearned translated into their vulgar tongue, as though Christ had taught such subtleties that they can scarcely be understood even by a few theologians, or as though the strength of the Christian Religion consisted in men’s ignorance of it. The mysteries of kings it may be safer to conceal, but Christ wished his mysteries to be published as openly as possible. I wish that even the weakest woman should read the Gospel—should read the Epistles of Paul. And I wish these were translated into all languages, so that they might be read and understood, not only by Scots and Irishmen, but also by Turks and Saracens. To make them understood is surely the first step. It may be that they might be ridiculed by many, but some would take them to heart. I long that the husbandman should sing portions of them to himself as he follows the plough, that the weaver should hum them to the tune of his shuttle, that the traveller should beguile with their stories the tedium of his journey.”[58]

A Bit from Sidney Street



“To London hence, to Cambridge thence,
With thanks to thee, O Trinity!
That to thy hall, so passing all,
I got at last.
There joy I felt, there trim I dwelt,
Then heaven from hell I shifted well
With learned men, a number then,
The time I past.
When gains were gone and years grew on,
And Death did cry, from London fly,
In Cambridge then I found again
A resting plot:
In College best of all the rest,
With thanks to thee, O Trinity!
Through thee and thine for me and mine,
Some stay I got!”
Thomas Tusser.

The Foundation of Trinity Hall by Bishop Bateman of Norwich—On the Site of the Hostel of Student-Monks of Ely—Prior Crauden—Evidence of the Ely Obedientary Rolls—The College Buildings—The Old Hall—S. Edward’s Church used as College Chapel—Hugh Latimer’s Sermon on a Pack of Cards—Harvey Goodwin—Frederick Maurice—The Hall—The Library—Its ancient Bookcases—The Foundation of S. Catherine’s Hall.

THUS sang Thomas Tusser—the author of “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry united to as many of Good Housewifery”—of Trinity Hall and his residence there about the year 1542. And the words of the homely old rhymer—the most fluent versifier, I suppose, among farmers since Virgil, wise in his advice to others, most unlucky in the application of his own maxims—have been echoed in spirit by many generations of “Hall” men from his time onwards. And indeed there is hardly perhaps another College in Cambridge which stirs the hearts of its members with a more passionate enthusiasm of loyalty than this, which yet never speaks of itself as a “College,” but always proudly as “The Hall.” It was founded by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich, in 1350, but it had an earlier origin than this. On the southern part of the present site there stood an old house, which had been provided some thirty years earlier for the use of the student-monks of Ely attending the University by the then Prior. This was John of Crauden, Prior of Ely from 1321 to 1341, a man of noble personal character, a model administrator of the great possessions of his abbey, a patron of art and learning, the friend on the one hand of Queen Philippa, and on the other of the greatest cathedral builder of the fourteenth century, Alan de Walsingham. The portrait bust of him, which may still be seen carved at the end of one of the hood moulds of the great octagon arches in the Minster, shows a strong, handsome face, dignified, benignant, pleasant; a full, frank, eloquent eye; a mouth intelligent and firm, and yet with a merry smile lurking unmistakably in its corner; altogether such a man as we may well feel might not only rightly be Queen Philippa’s friend, as the chronicler says, “propter amabilem et graciosam ipsius affabilitatem et eloquentiam,”[59] but one also who one might expect to find anxious to maintain among his convent brothers the Benedictine ideal of knowledge and learning. It was no doubt to that end that somewhere about the year 1325 he had purchased the house at Cambridge as a hostel for the use of the Ely monks. In the Obedientary Rolls of the monastery, still treasured in the muniment room of the cathedral, there is evidence that from his time onwards three or four of the Ely monks were constantly residing at Cambridge at the convent expense, taking their degrees there, and then returning to Ely.[60]

The Chapel, Trinity Hall

It is probable, however, that the residence of the Ely monks was, shortly after Crauden’s time, transferred from this hostel to the rooms provided in Monk’s College on the present site of Magdalene, for a register among the Ely muniments shows that in the twenty-fourth year of Edward III. John of Crauden’s hostel was conveyed by the Prior and Convent to the Bishop of Norwich for the purpose of his proposed college. The old Monk’s Hall was still standing in 1731, for it is contained in a plan of the College of that date preserved in the College library. A note in Warren’s “History of Trinity Hall” informs us that a part of it was destroyed in 1823. Warren himself speaks of it as “Ye Old Building for ye Monks, where ye Pigeon House is.” Now all has vanished unless perhaps some underground foundations in the garden of the Master’s Lodge.

The buildings of the College, in their general arrangement, have probably been little altered since their completion in the fourteenth century. They had the peculiarity of an entrance court between the principal court and the street, like the outer court of a monastery. The original gateway, however, of this entrance—the Porter’s Court, as it was called at a later date—has been removed, and the College is now entered directly from the street.

It is probable that the Hall, forming one half of the western side of the principal court, was built during the lifetime of the founder, as also was the original eastern range, rebuilt in the last century. This would give a date, 1355, for these two ranges. The buttery and the northern block of buildings belong to 1374. In early days Trinity Hall shared with Clare Hall the Church of S. John Zachary as a joint College chapel. When in connection with the building of King’s College the Church of S. John was removed, two aisles were added to the chancel of S. Edward’s Church for the accommodation of “The Hall” students. The present chapel appears to date from the end of the fourteenth, or probably the early part of the fifteenth century. The only architectural features, however, at present visible of mediæval character are the piscina and the buttresses on the south side.

The advowson of the Church of S. Edward, the north aisle of the chancel of which was for a time used as the College chapel, was acquired by the College in the middle of the fifteenth century, and has thus remained to our own day.

“The complete control,” says Mr. Walden in his lately published “History of Trinity Hall,” “of the Church by a College whose Fellows, in course of time, were more and more a lay body, while other Colleges continued to be exclusively clerical, might be expected to give opportunity for the ministrations of men whose opinions might not be those preferred by the dominant clerical party at the moment. In 1529, for instance, during the mastership of Stephen Gardiner be it observed, Hugh Latimer, who is said to have become a reformer from the persuasions of Bilney, Fellow of Trinity Hall, preached in S. Edward’s on the Sunday before Christmas. He preached there often, but on this occasion he surpassed himself in originality, taking apparently a pack of cards as his text, and illustrating from the Christmas game of Triumph, with hearts as ‘triumph,’ or trumps as we say, the superiority of heart-religion over the vain outward show of the superstitious ornaments of the other court cards. Buckenham, Prior of the Dominicans, answered him from the same pulpit, and preached on dice. Latimer answered him again. The whole must have been more entertaining than edifying.”

This tradition of independence, at any rate in pulpit teaching, though in less eccentric ways, has been retained by S. Edward’s down to our own time. Here in 1832, Henry John Rose, the brother of Hugh James Rose, the Cambridge Tractarian, represented the moderate wing of the new Anglican party. Here, during the years preceding his promotion to the Deanery of Ely in 1858, Harvey Goodwin preached that series of sermons, simple, pithy, robust, which Sunday by Sunday crowded with undergraduates the Church of S. Edward for nearly eight years, as a church in a university city has seldom been crowded. Here, also, in 1871 Frederick Denison Maurice—the most representative churchman probably of the nineteenth century, for it was he rather than Pusey or Newman, who, by his interpretation of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, has most profoundly moulded, inspired, and transfigured the Church ideals of the present—found an opportunity of preaching when too many of the parochial pulpits of England were closed to him.

The grave and the trivial mingle in college as in other human affairs. And so it came about that the possession of the spiritualities of S. Edward’s parish compelled the Fellows of the Hall to keep an eye on its temporalities, and from time to time to beat its bounds. Here is one record of such “beating.” It was May 23rd, viz., Ascension Day in 1734, when the Fellows deputed for the purpose started from the Three Tuns and went by the Mitre, the White Horse, and the Black Bull before reaching S. Catherine’s Hall. They penetrated King’s, but regretted to find that here the Brewhouse was shut up. They encircled Clare and Trinity Hall, therefore, and came back to the Three Tuns whence they had started two hours before. They had not, quite evidently—for the full circuit is not great—been walking all the time. The account ends:—

“N.B.—One bottle of white wine given us at ye Tuns, and one bottle of white wine given us at the Mitre. Ale and bread and cheese given by the Minister of St. Edward’s at ye Bench in our College Backside. Mem.—To be given by ye Minister twelve halfpenny loaves, sixpenny worth of Cheshire cheeses, seven quarts and a half of ale in ye great stone bottle for ye people in general, and a tankard of ale for each church warden.”[61]

Oriel Window, Jesus College

It will be remembered that in the last chapter, in speaking of the books left to Corpus Christi College by Archbishop Parker, we mentioned that provision of his deed of gift by which under certain contingencies the books were to be transferred from Corpus to Trinity Hall. It is quite probable that this provision drew the attention of the authorities of the latter college to the possible need of a library. It is unknown, however, when exactly the present library was built. The style proclaims Elizabeth’s reign or thereabouts. Professor Willis conjectured about 1600. But whatever the date may be it is very fortunate that the hand of the restorer which fell so heavily upon so many other of the College buildings should have mercifully spared the library, which to this day retains its early simplicity of character, leaving it one of the most interesting of the old book rooms in the University. Mr. J. G. Clark in his valuable essay on the Development of Libraries and their fittings, published two years ago under the title “The Care of Books,” has thus spoken of the library of Trinity Hall:—

“The Library of Trinity Hall is thoroughly mediæval in plan, being a long narrow room on the first floor of the north side of the second court, 65 feet long by 20 feet wide, with eight equi-distant windows in each side wall, and a window of four lights in the western gable. It was built about 1600, but the fittings are even later, having been added between 1626 and 1645 during the mastership of Thomas Eden, LL.D. They are therefore a deliberate return to ancient forms at a time when a different type had been adopted elsewhere.

“There are four desks and six seats on each side of the room, placed as usual, at right angles to the side walls, in the interspaces of the windows, respectively.

“These lecterns are of oak, 6 feet 7 inches long, and 7 feet high, measured to the top of the ornamental finial. There is a sloping desk at the top, beneath which is a single shelf. The bar for the chains passes under the desk, through the two vertical ends of the case. At the end furthest from the wall, the hasp of the lock is hinged to the bar and secured by two keys. Beneath the shelf there is at either end a slip of wood which indicates that there was once a movable desk which could be pulled out when required. The reader could therefore consult his convenience, and work either sitting or standing. For both these positions the heights are very suitable, and at the bottom of the case was a plinth on which he could set his feet. The seats between each pair of desks were of course put up at the same time as the desks themselves. They show an advance in comfort, being divided into two so as to allow of support to the readers’ backs.”[62]

The garden of the Hall was laid out early in the last century, with formal walks and yew hedges and a raised terrace overlooking the river. The well-known epigram quoted by Gunning in his “Reminiscences”[63] has for its topic not this garden but the small triangular plot next to Trinity Hall Lane, which was planted and surrounded by a paling in 1793, by Dr. Joseph Jowett, the then tutor.

Gateway in Great Court St Catharine’s College

“A little garden little Jowett made
And fenced it with a little palisade,
But when this little garden made a little talk,
He changed it to a little gravel walk;
If you would know the mind of little Jowett
This little garden don’t a little show it.”

It has usually been attributed to Archdeacon Wrangham. There are several versions of it, and a translation into Latin, which runs as follows:—

“Exiguum hunc hortum, fecit Jowettulus iste
Exiguus, vallo et muniit exiguo:
Exiguo hoc horto forsan Jowettulus iste
Exiguus mentem prodidit exiguam.”

At the end of the fifteenth century, just twenty years after the fall of Constantinople, Dr. Robert Woodlark, third Provost of King’s College and some time Chancellor of the University, founded the small “House of Learning,” which he called S. Catherine’s Hall, possibly because Henry VI., whose mother was a Catherine, was his patron, or possibly because at this time S. Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of scholars, was a popular saint. In the statutes he says, “I have founded and established a college or hall to the praise, glory, and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the most glorious Virgin Mary, His mother, and of the Holy Virgin Katerine, for the exaltation of the Christian faith, for the defence and furtherance of the Holy Church, and growth of science and faculties of philosophy and sacred theology.” In the autumn of 1473 a Master and three Fellows took up their residence in the small court which had just been built on a site in Milne Street, close to the Bull Inn. The chapel and library, however, do not appear to have been completed until a few years later. In 1520 a second court was added, and a century later, in 1634, some new buildings were commenced to the north of the principal court, and adjacent to Queen’s Street. These buildings, which are the only old buildings that still remain, were completed two years later. Between 1673-97 all the rest of the old buildings were pulled down and the College rebuilt. In 1704 the new chapel was built on the site of the stables of Thomas Hobson, whose just but despotic method of dealing with his customers gave rise to the phrase “Hobson’s Choice.” In 1757, the houses which hitherto had concealed the College from the High Street were removed.



“Yes, since his dayes a cocke was in the fen,
I knowe his voyce among a thousand men:
He taught, he preached, he mended every wrong:
But, Coridon, alas! no good thing abideth long.
He All was a Cocke, he wakened us from sleepe
And while we slumbered he did our foldes keep:
No cur, no foxes, nor butchers’ dogges would
Coulde hurte our folds, his watching was so good;
The hungry wolves which did that time abounde,
What time he crowed abashed at the sounde.
This Cocke was no more abashed at the Foxe
Than is a Lion abashed at the Oxe.”
Alexander Barclay, Monk of Ely, 1513

The New Learning in Italy and Germany—The English “Pilgrim Scholars”: Grey, Tiptoft, Linacre, Grocyn—The practical Genius of England—Bishops Rotherham, Alcock, and Fisher—Alcock, diplomatist, financier, architect—The Founder of Jesus College—He takes as his model Jesus College, Rotherham—His Object the Training of a Preaching Clergy—The Story of the Nunnery of S. Rhadegund—Its Dissolution—Conversion of the Conventual Church into a College Chapel—The Monastic Buildings, Gateway, Cloister, Chapter House—The Founder a Better Architect than an Educational Reformer—The Jesus Roll of eminent Men from Cranmer to Coleridge.

THE historical importance of the New Learning depends ultimately on the fact that its influence on the Western world broadened out into a new capacity for culture in general, which took various forms according to the different local or national conditions with which it came into contact. In Italy, its land of origin, the Classical Revival was felt mainly as an æsthetic ideal, an instrument for the self-culture of the individual, expressing itself in delight for beauty of form and elegance of literary style, bringing to the life of the cultured classes a social charm and distinction of tone, which, however, it is difficult sometimes to distinguish from a merely refined paganism. In France and Spain too, where the basis of character was also Latin, the æsthetic spirit of classical antiquity was readily assimilated. To a French or a Spanish scholar sympathy with the pagan spirit was instinctive and innate. The Teutonic genius, however, both on the side of Literature and of Art, remained sturdily impervious to the more æsthetic side of the Italian Renaissance. In Germany the æsthetic influence was evident enough—we can trace it plainly in the writings of Erasmus and Melancthon, though with them Italian humanism was always a secondary aim subservient to a greater end—but it had a strongly marked character of its own, wholly different from the Italian. The Renaissance in Germany indeed we rightly know by the name of the Reformation, and the paramount task of the German scholars of the New Learning we recognise to have been the elucidation of the true meaning of the Bible. Similarly in England the scholarly mind was at first little affected by the æsthetic considerations which meant so much to a Frenchman or an Italian. A few chosen Englishmen, it is true, “pilgrim scholars” they were called—William Grey, Bishop of Ely, John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, Thomas Linacre, William Grocyn stand out perhaps most conspicuously—were drawn to Italy by the rumours of the marvellous treasures rescued from monastic lumber rooms, or conveyed over seas by fugitive Greeks, but they returned to England to find that there was little they could do except to bequeath the books and manuscripts they had collected to an Oxford or a Cambridge College, and hope for happier times when scholars would be found to read them. It was not indeed until the little group of Hellenists—Erasmus and Linacre and Grocyn and Colet—had shown the value of Greek thought as an interpreter of the New Testament, that any enthusiasm for the New Learning could be awakened in England. An increase of a knowledge of the Bible was worth working for, not the elegancies of an accurate Latin style. Englishmen in the fifteenth century were busy in the task of developing trade and commerce, and their intellectual tone took colour from their daily work. It became eminently utilitarian and practical. An English scholar was willing to accept the New Learning if you would prove to him that it was useful or was true, that it was only beautiful did not at first much affect him. It was only therefore with an eye to strictly practical results that at the universities the New Learning was welcomed, and even there tardily.

Nowhere perhaps is this practical tendency of English scholarship at this period more characteristically shown than in the Cambridge work of Thomas Alcock and John Fisher, the founders respectively of Jesus College and of the twin colleges of Christ’s and John’s. Alcock and Fisher were both of them Yorkshiremen, born and educated at Beverley in the Grammar School connected with the Minster there, and both proceeding from thence to Cambridge: Alcock in all likelihood, though there is some doubt about this, to Pembroke, where he took his LL.D. degree in or before 1461; Fisher to Michaelhouse, of which he became a Fellow in 1491.

Of Alcock, the historian Bale has said that “no one in England had a greater reputation for sanctity.” He was equally remarkable for his practical qualities, as a diplomatist, as a financier, as an architect. He had twice been a Royal Commissioner, under Richard III. and under Henry VII., to arrange treaties with Scotland. By an arrangement, of which no similar instance is known, he had conjointly held the office of Lord Chancellor with Bishop Rotherham of Lincoln, he himself at that time ruling the diocese of Rochester. As early as 1462 he had been made Master of the Rolls. In 1476 he was translated to Worcester, and at the same time became Lord President of Wales. On the accession of Henry VII., he was made Comptroller of the Royal Works and Buildings, an office for which he was especially fitted, it is said, by his skill as an architect. In 1486 he was translated to the See of Ely and again made Lord Chancellor.

It was as Bishop of Ely that he undertook the foundation of Jesus College. There can, I think, be little doubt that for the idea of his projected college he was indebted to his old Cambridge friend and co-chancellor, Thomas Rotherham, at this time Archbishop of York. At any rate, it is noteworthy that each of the friends founded in his Diocese—the Archbishop at his native place of Rotherham, the Bishop of Ely at Cambridge—a college dedicated to the name of Jesus. Jesus College, Rotherham, was founded in 1481; Jesus College, Cambridge, followed fifteen years later. The main object of the two prelates was probably the same. In the license for the foundation of Rotherham’s college its objects are stated to be twofold: “To preach the Word of God in the Parish of Rotherham and in other places in the Diocese of York; and to instruct gratuitously, in the rules of grammar and song, scholars from all parts of England, and especially from the Diocese of York.” There is no reason to suppose that the needs of the Diocese of Ely, even fifteen years later, were any different. For the fact that Jesus College, Rotherham, should consist of ten persons—a provost, six choristers, and three masters—who can teach respectively grammar, music, and writing, the Archbishop gave the fanciful reason, that as he, its founder, had offended God in His ten commandments, so he desired the benefit of the prayers of ten persons on his behalf. Alcock’s motive for fixing the number of his new Society of Jesus at Cambridge at thirteen seems to have been no less characteristic. Thirteen, the number of the original Christian Society of Our Lord and His Apostles, was the common complement of the professed members of a monastic society, and may in all likelihood have been the original number of the nuns of St. Rhadegund, whose house the Bishop was about to suppress to found his new college.

“Rotherham’s College, according to its measure, was intended to meet two pressing needs of his time, and especially of northern England—a preaching clergy, and boys trained for the service of the church. At the end of the fifteenth century ‘both theology and the art of preaching seemed in danger of general neglect. At the English universities, and consequently throughout the whole country, the sermon was falling into almost complete disuse.’ The disfavour with which it was regarded by the heads of the Church was largely due to fear of the activity of the Lollards, which had brought all popular harangues and discourses under suspicion. When the embers of heresy had been extinguished, here and there a reforming churchman sought to restore among the parish clergy the old preaching activity. In the wide unmanageable dioceses of the north the lack of an educated, preaching priesthood was most apparent. Bishop Stanley is probably only echoing the language of Alcock when he begins and closes his statutes with an exhortation to the society, whom he addresses as ‘scholars of Jesus,’ so to conduct themselves ‘that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be honoured, the clergy multiplied, and the people called to the praise of God.’ He enacts that of the five Foundation Fellows (one of Alcock’s having been suppressed) four shall be devoted to the study of theology, and he requires that they shall be chosen from natives of five counties, which, owing to the imperfections of the single existing copy of his statutes, are unspecified. If, as is likely, this county restriction was re-introduced by Stanley from the provisions made by Alcock, it is natural to surmise that the founder’s native county was one of those preferred. Certain it is that his small society had a Yorkshireman, Chubbes of Whitby, for its first master. He had been a Fellow of Pembroke, and probably from the same society and county came one of the original Fellows of Jesus, William Atkynson.

“The same fear of Lollardism which had stifled preaching had caused the teaching profession to be regarded with jealousy by the authorities of the Church. In a limited part of north-eastern England, William Byngham, about the year 1439, found seventy schools void for ‘grete scarstie of Maistres of Gramar’ which fifty years previously had been in active use. His foundation of God’s House at Cambridge was designed to supply trained masters to these derelict schools. The boys’ schools attached to Rotherham’s and Alcock’s Foundations were intended to meet the same deficiency. Presumably Alcock meant that one or other of his Fellows should supply the teaching, for his foundation did not include a schoolmaster. The linking of a grammar school with a house of university students was of course no novelty; the connection of Winchester with New College had been copied by Henry VI. in the association of Eton and King’s. But Alcock’s plan of including boys and ‘dons’ within the same walls, and making them mix in the common life and discipline of hall and chapel, if not absolutely a new thing, had no nearer prototype in an English university than Walter de Merton’s provisions in the statutes of his College for a Grammaticus and Pueri. Though the school was meant to supply a practical need, the pattern of it seems to have been suggested by Alcock’s mediæval sentiment. There is indeed no evidence or likelihood that S. Rhadegund’s Nunnery maintained a school, but the same monastic precedent which Alcock apparently followed in fixing the number of his society prescribed the type of his school. It stood in the quarter where monastic schools were always placed, next the gate, in the old building which had served the nuns as their almonry.”[64]

The story of the nunnery of S. Rhadegund, which, under the auspices of Bishop Alcock, became Jesus College, is an interesting one. Luckily, the material for that history is fairly complete. The nuns bequeathed a large mass of miscellaneous documents—charters, wills, account rolls—to the College, and the scrupulous care with which they were originally housed, and not less, perhaps, the wholesome neglect which has since respected their repose in the College muniment room, have fortunately preserved them intact to the present time, and have enabled the present tutor of the College, Mr. Arthur Gray, to reconstruct a fairly complete picture of this isolated woman’s community in an alien world of men in pre-Academic Cambridge, and of the depravation and decay which came of that isolation, and which ended in the first suppression in England of an independent House of Religion. I am indebted for the following particulars to Mr. Gray’s monograph on the priory of S. Rhadegund, published a year or two ago by the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, and to the first chapter of his lately published College History.

Who the nuns were that first settled on the Green-Croft by the river bank below Cambridge, and whence they came thither, and by what title they became possessed of their original site, the documents they have handed down to us across the centuries apparently do not record. It is true that in the letters patent of Henry VII. for the dissolution of the nunnery and the erection of a college in its room it is asserted—evidently on the representation of Bishop Alcock—that S. Rhadegund’s Priory was “of the foundation and patronage of the Bishop, as in right of his Cathedral Church of Ely.” The nun’s “original cell” was no doubt of the Benedictine Order, and the great Priory of Ely, fifteen miles away down the river, was also Benedictine, and the good Bishop may have been right in his assertion of the connection between the two, but it is a little doubtful whether he could have given chapter and verse for his assertion. What is certain is this, that Nigel, the second Bishop of Ely, in the opening years of Stephen’s reign, gave to the nuns their earliest charter. It is addressed with Norman magnificence “to all barons and men of S. Etheldrytha, cleric or lay, French or English,” and it grants for a rent of twelve pence, “to the nuns of the cell lately established without the vill of Cantebruge,” certain land lying near to other land belonging to the same cell. To the friendly interest of the same Bishop it seems probable that the nuns owed their first considerable benefaction. This was a parcel of ground, consisting of two virgates and six acres of meadow and four cottars with their tenure in the neighbouring village of Shelford, granted to them by a certain William the Monk. The fact that after seven centuries and a half the successors of the nuns of S. Rhadegund, the Master and Fellow of Jesus College, still hold possession of the same property is not only a remarkable instance of continuity of title, but also, let us hope, is sufficient proof that the original donor had come by his title honestly—a fact about which there might otherwise have been some suspicion, when we read such a record as this of this same William the Monk in the Historia Eliensis of Thomas of Ely: “With axes and hammers, and every implement of masonry, he profanely assailed the shrine (of S. Etheldreda, the Foundress Saint in the Church of Ely), and with his own hand robbed it of its metal.” However, it is something that further on in the same record we may read: “He lived to repent it bitterly. He, who had once been extraordinarily rich and had lacked for nothing, was reduced to such extreme poverty as not even to have the necessaries of life. At last when he had lost all and knew not whither to turn himself, by urgent entreaty he prevailed on the Ely brethren to receive him into their order, and there with unceasing lamentation, tears, vigils, and prayers deploring his guilt, he ended his days in sincere penitence.”


Other benefactions followed that of William the Monk, lands, customs, tithes, fishing rights, advowsons of churches. At some time in the reign of Henry II. the nuns acquired the advowson of All Saints Church—All Saints in the Jewry—a living which still belongs to the Masters and Fellows of Jesus, although the old church standing in the open space opposite the gate of John’s was removed in the middle of the last century, and is now represented by the memorial cross placed on the vacant spot and by the fine new church of All Saints facing Jesus College. The advowson of S. Clements followed in the year 1215, given to the nuns by an Alderman of the Cambridge Guild Merchants. Altogether the nunnery, though never a large house, seems to have acquired a comfortable patrimony.


“The Account Rolls which the departing sisters left behind them in 1496 reveal pretty fully the routine of their lives. Books—save for the casual mention of the binding of the lives of the saints—were none of their business, and works of charity, excepting the customary dole to the poor on Maundy Thursday, and occasional relief to ‘poor soldiers disabled in the wars of Our Lord the King,’ scarcely concerned them more. The duties of hospitality in the Guest House make the Cellaress a busy woman. They cost a good deal, but are not unprofitable; the nuns take in ‘paying guests,’ daughters of tradesmen and others. Being ladies, the sisters neither toil nor spin; but the Prioress and the Grangeress have an army of servants, whose daily duties have to be assigned to them; carters and ploughmen have to be sent out to the scattered plots owned by the Nunnery in the open fields about Cambridge; the neatherd has to drive the cattle to distant Willingham fen; the brewer has instructions for malting and brewing the ‘peny-ale’ which serves the nuns for ‘bevers’; and the women servants are dispatched to work in the dairy, to weed the garden, or to weave and to make candles in the hospice. Once in a while a party of the nuns, accompanied by their maid-servants, takes boat as far as to Lynn, there to buy stock-fish and Norway timber, and to fetch a letter for the Prioress.”[65]

There is not much sign, alas! in all the record of any great devotion to religion, such as we might have expected to find in regard to such a House. Indeed, it would seem that there was seldom a time in the history of the Nunnery when a visit from the Bishop of the Diocese or from one of his commissioners on a round of inspection was other than a much resented occurrence. Discipline, indeed, appears to have been generally lax in the Nunnery, and the sisters or some of them easily got permission to gad outside the cloister. Scandal is a key which generally unlocks the cloister gate and permits a glance into the interior shadows. Bene vixit quæ bene latuit.

“Not such was Margaret Cailly, whose sad story was the gossip of the nuns’ parlour in 1389. She came of an old and reputable family which had furnished mayors and bailiffs to Cambridge and had endowed the nuns with land at Trumpington. For reasons sufficiently moving her, which we may only surmise, she escaped from the cloister, discarded her religious garb, and sought hiding in the alien diocese of Lincoln. But it so happened that Archbishop Courtenay that year was making metropolitical visitation of that diocese, and it was the ill-fortune of Margaret, ‘a sheep wandering from the fold among thorns,’ to come under his notice. The Archbishop, solicitous that ‘her blood be not required at our hands,’ handed her over to the keeping of our brother of Ely. The Bishop in turn passed her on to the custody of her own Prioress, with injunctions that she should be kept in close confinement, under exercise of salutary penance, until she showed signs of contrition for her ‘excesses’; and further that when the said Margaret first entered the chapter-house she should humbly implore pardon of the Prioress and her sisters for her offences. The story ends for us at Margaret’s prison-door.”[66]

Norman Work in Church of Jesus College

Such a story, more or less typical, I fear, of much and long continued lax discipline, prepares us for the end. When Bishop Alcock visited the House in 1497, we are not surprised perhaps at the evidence which is set forth in the Letters Patent authorising the foundation of his College in the place of the Nunnery. The buildings and properties of the house are said to be dilapidated and wasted “owing to the improvidence, extravagance, and incontinence of the nuns resulting from their proximity to the University.” Two nuns only remain; one of them is professed elsewhere, the other is infamis. They are in abject want, utterly unable to maintain Divine service or the works of mercy and piety required of them, and are ready to depart, leaving the home desolate.


From the nuns of S. Rhadegund then Jesus College received no heritage of noble ideal. Two things only they have left behind them for which they merit gratitude. Firstly, a bundle of deeds and manuscripts, inconsiderable to them, very valuable to the scholars and historians of the future; and secondly, their fine old church and monastic buildings.

In writing in a previous chapter of the buildings of Queens’ we drew attention to the fact that the general plan of the College followed in the main the lines of a large country house such as Haddon Hall. And in degree this is true of the other college buildings in Cambridge. A mere glance at a ground-plan of Jesus will show at once that the arrangement of the buildings is entirely different from that of any other college at Cambridge, and it is clearly derived from that of a monastery. This accords with what we know of its history. However dilapidated the old nunnery may have become through the poverty and neglect of the nuns, the outward walls of solid clunch, which under a facing of later brick, still testify to the durability of the Nunnery builders, were still practically intact, and Bishop Alcock had too much practical skill as an architect to destroy buildings which he could so easily adapt to the needs of his college, and harmonise to fifteenth century fashions in architecture.

In his conversion of the Nunnery buildings to the purposes of his college, Bishop Alcock grouped the buildings he required round the original cloister of the nuns, increasing the size of that cloister by the breadth of the north aisle of the Conventual Church which he pulled down. The hall was placed on the north side, the library on the west. The kitchens and offices were in the angle of the cloister between the hall and library. The master’s lodge at the south-west corner was partly constructed out of the altered nave of the church, and partly out of new buildings connecting this south-western corner of the cloister with the gate of entrance. This gateway, approached by a long gravelled path between high walls, known popularly as “the chimney,” is one of the most picturesque features of the College. It is usually ascribed to Bishop Alcock, but on architectural evidence only. It is thus described by Professor Willis:—

“The picturesque red-brick gateway tower of Jesus College (1497), although destitute of angle-turrets, is yet distinguished from the ground upwards by a slight relief, by stone quoins, and by having its string courses designedly placed at different levels from those of the chambers on each side of it. The general disposition of the ornamentation of its arch and of the wall above it furnished the model for the more elaborate gate-houses at Christ’s College and St. John’s College. The ogee hood-mould rises upwards, and the stem of its finial terminates under the base of a handsome tabernacle which occupies the centre of the upper stage, with a window on each side of it. Each of the spandrel spaces contains a shield, and a larger shield is to be found in the triangular field between the hood-mould and the arch.”

Professor Willis thus describes also the Conventual Church and the changes which were made by the Bishop in his conversion of it into a college chapel.

Norman Work in N. Transept Jesus College Chapel

“The church ... presented an arrangement totally different from that of the chapel of Jesus College at the present day. It was planned in the form of a cross, with a tower in the centre, and had in addition to a north and south transept, aisles on the north and south sides of the eastern limb, flanking it along half the extent of its walls, and forming chapels which opened to the chancel by two pier arches in each wall. The structure was completed by a nave of seven piers with two side aisles.... (The church) was an admirable specimen of the architecture of its period, and two of the best preserved remaining portions, the series of lancet windows on the north and south aisles of the eastern limb, and the arcade that ornaments the inner surface of the tower walls, will always attract attention and admiration for the beauty of their composition.

“Under the direction of Bishop Alcock the side aisles, both of the chancel and of the nave, were entirely removed, the pier arches by which they had communicated with the remaining centre portion of the building were walled up, and the place of each arch was occupied by a perpendicular window of the plainest description. The walls were raised, a flat roof was substituted for the high-pitched roof of the original structure, large perpendicular windows were inserted in the gables of the chancel and south transept, and lastly, two-thirds of the nave were cut off from the church by a wall, and fitted up partly as a lodge for the master, partly as chambers for students.

“As for the portion set apart for the chapel of the college, the changes were so skilfully effected and so completely concealed by plaster within and without, that all trace and even knowledge of the old aisles was lost; but in the course of preparations for repairs in 1846 the removal of some of the plaster made known the fact that the present two south windows of the chancel were inserted in walls which were themselves merely the filling-up of a pair of pier-arches, and that these arches, together with the piers upon which they rested, and the responds whence they sprang, still existed in the walls. When this key to the secret of the church had been supplied, it was resolved to push the enquiry to the uttermost; all the plaster was stripped off the inner face of the walls; piers and arches were brought to light again in all directions; old foundations were sought for on the outside of the building, and a complete and systematic examination of the plan and structure of the original Church was set on foot, which led to very satisfactory results.”[67]

Entrance to Chapter-House Priory of S. Radegund now Jesus College, Herbert Railton

To-day the completely restored church, the work at varying intervals from 1849 to 1869 of Salvin and Pugin and Bodley, forms one of the most beautiful and interesting college chapels in Cambridge. An important series of stained glass windows were executed by Mr. William Morris from the designs of Burne-Jones between 1873-77. In 1893 the Rev. Osmund Fisher, a former Dean of the College, at this time elected an Honorary Fellow, remembering to have seen in his undergraduate days of fifty years before indications of old Gothic work in the wall of the cloister, during some repair of the plaster work, obtained leave of the Master to investigate the wall. This led to the discovery of the beautiful triple group of early English arches and doorway which formed the original entrance to the chapter house of the Nunnery, one of the most charming bits of thirteenth century architectural grouping in all Cambridge.

Bishop Alcock was probably a better architect than he was an educational reformer. He was successful enough in converting the fabric of the dissolved Nunnery into college buildings. It may be doubted whether he was equally successful in translating his friend Archbishop Rotherham’s ideal of a grammar school college into a working institution. In the constitution which he gave to his college there were to be places found for both Fellows and boys—Scholares and Pueribut the Scholares were obviously to be men, and the Pueri simply schoolboys, for they were to be under fourteen years of age on admission; and Juvenes, undergraduate scholars, did not enter into his plan. The amended statutes of his successors, Bishops Stanley and West, gave some definition to the founder’s scheme, but they did not materially modify it. Within fifty years, in fact, from its foundation, Jesus College, as Alcock had conceived it, had become an anachronism, and the claustral community of student priests with their schoolboy acolytes, not seriously concerned with true education, and unvivified by contact with the real student scholar, came near to perishing, as a thing born out of due season. The dawn of what might seem to be a better state of things only began with the endowment of scholarships—scholarships, that is to say, in the modern sense—in the reign of Edward VI. It was only, however, with the university reforms of the nineteenth century that the proportion of college revenue allotted to such endowment fund was reasonably assessed.

And yet with this somewhat meagre scholarship equipment the roll of eminent men belonging to Jesus College is a worthy one. On the very first page of that roll we are confronted with the name of Cranmer. We do not know the name of any student whose admission to the College preceded his. Wary and sagacious then, as in later life, he had resisted the tempting offer of a Fellowship at Wolsey’s new college of Christ Church at Oxford to come to Cambridge, there, it is true at first, “to be nursed in the grossest kind of sophistry, logic, philosophy, moral and natural (not in the text of the old philosophers, but chiefly in the dark riddles of Duns and other subtle questionists), to his age of 22 years,” but shortly, having taken his B.A. degree in 1511, to receive from Erasmus, who in that year began to lecture at Cambridge as Lady Margaret Reader, his first bent towards those studies which led eventually to the publication of his “Short Instruction into Christian Religion,” which it had been better had he himself more closely followed, and possibly towards that opportunist policy, which in the event ended so sadly for himself, and meant so much, both of evil and of good, to the future of both Church and State in England. Closely associated with Cranmer were other Jesus men, noted theologians of the reforming party;—John Bale, afterwards Bishop of Ossory, called “bilious Bale” by Fuller because of the rancour of his attacks on his papal opponents, Geoffry Downs, Thomas Goodrich, afterwards Bishop of Ely, John Edmunds, Robert Okyng, and others. In the list of succeeding archbishops claimed by the College as Jesus men occur the names of Herring, Hutton, Sterne. The Sterne family indeed contribute not a few members through several generations to the College, not the least eminent being the author of “Tristram Shandy” and “The Sentimental Journey.” The portraits of both Laurence Sterne and his great grandfather the Archbishop hang on the walls of the dining-hall, the severe eyes of the Caroline divine looking across as if with much disfavour at the trim and smiling figure of his descendant, the young cleric so unlike his idea of what a priest and scholar should be. Other than “Shandean” influence in the College is, however, suggested by the name of Henry Venn among the admissions of 1742, when he migrated to Jesus after three months’ residence at S. John’s, and exercised an influence prophetic of the great movement of Cambridge evangelicalism, prolonged far into the next century by Venn’s pupil and friend, Charles Simeon. It is probable, however, that there is no more brilliant page in the history of Jesus College than that which tells the story of the last decade of the seventeenth century, and which contains the names of William Otter, E. D. Clarke, Robert Malthus, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge was elected a Rustat Scholar in 1791 and a Foundation Scholar in 1793, but he gained no academic distinction. There was no classical tripos in those days, and to obtain a Chancellor’s medal it was necessary that a candidate should have obtained honours in mathematics for which Coleridge had all a poet’s abhorrence. Among the poems of his college days may be remembered, “A Wish written in Jesus Wood, Feb. 10, 1792,” and the well-known “Monologue to a Young Jackass in Jesus Piece.” Another poem more worthy of record perhaps, though he scribbled it in one of the College chapel prayer-books, is one of regretful pathos on the neglected “hours of youth,” which finds a later echo in his “Lines on an Autumnal Evening,” where he alludes to his undergraduate days at Jesus:—

“When from the Muses’ calm abode
I came, with learning’s meed not unbestowed;
Whereas she twined a laurel round my brow,
And met my kiss, and half returned my vow.”

And with that quotation from the Jesus poet we may perhaps close this chapter, only adding one word of hearty agreement with that encomium which was passed upon the College by King James, who, because of the picturesqueness of its old buildings and the beauty and charm of its surroundings, spoke of Jesus College as Musarum Cantabrigiensium Museum, and also with that decision which on a second visit to Cambridge His Majesty wisely gave, that “Were he to choose, he would pray at King’s, dine at Trinity, and study and sleep at Jesus.



“No more as once in sunny Avignon,
The poet-scholar spreads the Homeric page,
And gazes sadly, like the deaf at song:
For now the old epic voices ring again
And vibrate with the beat and melody
Stirred by the warmth of old Ionian days.”
Mrs. Browning.

The Lady Margaret Foundations—Bishop Fisher of Rochester—The Foundation of Christ’s—God’s House—The Buildings of the new College—College Worthies—John Milton—Henry More—Charles Darwin—The Hospital of the Brethren of S. John—Death of the Lady Margaret—Foundation of S. John’s College—Its Buildings—The Great Gateway—The New Library—The Bridge of Sighs—The Wilderness—Wordsworth’s “Prelude”—The Aims of Bishop Fisher—His Death.

WE may well in this chapter take together the twin foundations of Christ’s College and S. John’s which both had the Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby, and mother of Henry VII. for their foundress. The father of this lady was John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and her mother was Margaret, daughter and heiress of Sir John Beauchamp, of Bletso. “So that,” says Fuller, punning on her parents’ names, “fairfort and fairfield met in this lady, who was fair body and fair soul, being the exactest pattern of the best devotion those days afforded, taxed for no personal faults but the errors of the age she lived in. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, preached her funeral sermon, wherein he resembled her to Martha in four respects: firstly, nobility of person; secondly, discipline of her body; thirdly, in ordering her soul to God; fourthly, in hospitality and charity.”

In that assemblage of noble lives, who from the earliest days of Cambridge history have laboured for the benefit of the University, and left it so rich a store of intellectual good, there are no more honoured names than these two:—the Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond, and her friend and confessor, Bishop Fisher, under whose wise and cautious supervision Cambridge first tasted of the fruits of the Renaissance, and welcomed Erasmus, I fear with but a very tempered enthusiasm, to the newly-founded Lady Margaret chair, and yet, nevertheless, in that encouragement of the New Learning laid the foundation of that sound method and apparatus of criticism which has enabled the University in an after age to take all knowledge for its province, and to represent its conquest by the foundation of twenty-five professorial chairs.

John Fisher, who came, as we have seen in the last chapter, from the Abbey School at Beverley, where, some twenty years or so before, he had been preceded by Bishop Alcock, was Proctor of the University in 1494, and three years later, in 1497, was made Master of his College, Michaelhouse. The duties of the proctorial office necessitated at that time occasional attendance at Court, and it was on the occasion of his appearance in this capacity at Greenwich that Fisher first attracted the notice of the Lady Margaret, who in 1497 appointed him her confessor. It was an auspicious conjunction for the University. Under his inspiration the generosity of his powerful patron was readily extended to enrich academic resources. It was the laudable design of Fisher to raise Cambridge to the academic level which Oxford had already reached. Already students of the sister university had been to Italy, and had returned full of the New Learning. The fame of Colet, Grocyn, and Linacre made Oxford renowned, and drew to its lecture-rooms eager scholars from all the learned world. It hardly needed that such a man as Erasmus should sing the praises of the Oxford teachers. “When I listen to my friend Colet,” he wrote, “I seem to be listening to Plato himself. Who does not admire in Grocyn the perfection of training? What can be more acute, more profound, or more refined than the judgment of Linacre? What has nature ever fashioned gentler, sweeter, or pleasanter than the disposition of Thomas More?”[68]

It was natural therefore that Fisher should be ambitious in the same direction for his own university. He began wisely on a small scale, with an object of immediate practical usefulness, the foundation of a Divinity professorship, which should aim at teaching pulpit eloquence. On this point he rightly thought that the adherents of the Old and the New Learning might agree. And there was desperate need for the adventure. For with the close of the fifteenth century both theology and the art of preaching had sunk into general neglect. Times, for example, had greatly changed since the day when Bishop Grosseteste had declared that if a priest could not preach, there was one remedy, let him resign his benefice. But now the sermon itself had ceased to be considered necessary.

“Latimer tells us that in his own recollection, sermons might be omitted for twenty Sundays in succession without fear of complaint. Even the devout More, in that ingenious romance which he designed as a covert satire on many of the abuses of his age, while giving an admirably conceived description of a religious service, has left the sermon altogether unrecognised. In the universities, for one master of arts or doctor of divinity who could make a text of Scripture the basis of an earnest, simple, and effective homily, there were fifty who could discuss its moral, analogical, and figurative meaning, who could twist it into all kinds of unimagined significance, and give it a distorted, unnatural application. Rare as was the sermon, the theologian in the form of a modest, reverent expounder of Scripture was yet rarer. Bewildered audiences were called upon to admire the performances of intellectual acrobats. Skelton, who well knew the Cambridge of these days, not inaptly described its young scholars as men who when they had “once superciliously caught

A lytell ragge of rhetoricke,
A lesse lumpe of logicke,
A pece or patch of philosophy,
Then forthwith by and by
They tumble so in theology,
Drowned in dregges of divinite
That they juge themselfe alle to be
Doctours of the chayre in the Vintre,
At the Three Cranes
To magnifye their names.”[69]

It was to remedy this state of things that, in the first instance, Fisher set himself to work. The Divinity professorship was soon supplemented by the Lady Margaret preachership, the holder of which was to go from place to place and give a cogent example in pulpit oratory: one sermon in the course of every two years at each of the following twelve places:—

“On some Sunday at S. Paul’s Cross, if able to obtain permission, otherwise at S. Margaret’s, Westminster, or if unable to preach there, then in one of the more notable churches of the City of London; and once on some feast day in each of the churches of Ware and Cheshunt in Hertfordshire; Bassingbourne, Orwell and Babraham in Cambridgeshire; Maney, St. James Deeping, Bourn, Boston, and Swineshead in Lincolnshire.”[70]

We have already spoken in the chapter on Queens’ College of the work of Erasmus at Cambridge. He was summoned to Cambridge in 1511 to teach Greek and to lecture on the foundation of Lady Margaret. He himself tells us that within a space of thirty years the studies of the University had progressed from the old grammar, logic, and scholastic questions to some knowledge of the New Learning, of the renewed study at any rate of Aristotle, and the study of Greek.

The literary revival had no doubt been quicker and more brilliant at Oxford, but Cambridge, owing to Fisher’s cautious and careful supervision, and his foundation of the Lady Margaret Colleges of Christ’s and S. John’s, was the first to give to the New Learning a permanent home.

The Chapel, Christ’s College

The religious bias of the Countess of Richmond had inclined her to devote the bulk of her fortune to an extension of the great monastery of Westminster. But Bishop Fisher knew that active learning rather than lazy seclusion was essential to preserve the Church against the dangerous Italian type of the Renaissance, and he persuaded her to direct her gift to educational purposes. He pointed out that the Abbey Church was already the wealthiest in England, “that the schools of learning were meanly endowed, the provisions of scholars very few and small, and colleges yet wanting to their maintenance—that by such foundations she might have two ends and designs at once, might double her charity and double her reward, by affording as well supports to learning as encouragement to virtue.”

The foundation of Christ’s College in 1505 is an enduring memorial of the wisdom of the Bishop and the charity of the Lady Margaret.

There is a tradition that Fisher, who undoubtedly had joined Michaelhouse before taking his B.A. degree in 1487, had, upon his first entering Cambridge, been a student of God’s House. However that may be, it was to this small foundation he turned as the basis of his projected new college.

God’s House, an adjunct of Clare-Hall, founded by William Byngham, Rector of S. John Zachary, in London, in 1441, stood originally on a plot of land at the west end of King’s Chapel, adjoining the Church of S. John Zachary. In the changes which were necessary to secure a site for King’s College, the Church of S. John and God’s House were removed. In return for his surrender, Byngham had received license from Henry VI. to build elsewhere a college. Land was accordingly secured on what is now the site of the first and second courts of Christ’s College, and in the charter of the new God’s House, dated 16th April 1448, it is stated that Byngham had deferred the foundation owing to his ardent desire that “the King’s glory and his reward in heaven might be increased” by his personal foundation of God’s House. Henry could not resist such an argument, and thus God’s House became, and Christ’s College, as its successor, claims to be, of Royal Foundation. The little foundation, however, was always cramped by lack of means. Within fifty years of its first foundation the time had evidently come for a reconstitution of God’s House.

“In the year 1505 appeared the royal charter for the foundation of Christ’s College, wherein after a recital of the facts already mentioned, together with other details, it was notified that King Henry VII., at the representation of his mother and other noble and trustworthy persons—percarissimæ matris nostræ necnon aliorum nobilium et fide dignorum—and having regard to her great desire to exalt and increase the Christian faith, her anxiety for her own spiritual welfare, and the sincere love which she had ever borne ‘our uncle’ (Henry VI.) while he lived—had conceded to her permission to carry into full effect the designs of her illustrious relative; that is to say, to enlarge and endow the aforesaid God’s House sufficiently for the reception and support of any number of scholars not exceeding sixty, who should be instructed in grammar or in the other liberal sciences and faculties or in sacred theology.”[71]

The arrival of the charter was soon followed by the news of the Lady Margaret’s noble benefactions—consisting of many manors in the four counties of Cambridge, Norfolk, Leicester, and Essex—which thus exalted the humble and struggling Society of God’s House, under its new designation of Christ’s College, into the fourth place in respect of revenue, among all the Cambridge colleges.

The building of the College seems to have gone on uninterruptedly between 1505 and 1511. The amount spent by the Foundress during her lifetime is not ascertainable; but the cost, as given in the household books of the Lady Margaret after her death, was more than £1000.

“Though the College,” says the present Master, Dr. Peile, “had no very striking architectural features, the general effect, as seen in Loggan’s view, is good. We see the old mullioned windows supplanted by sash windows in the last century: and the battlements inside the court as well as without, which were displaced by Essex to make way for the solid parapet, which still remains, and indeed suits the new windows better. The original windows have recently been restored with very good effect. We see a path, called the Regent’s Walk, running from the great gate directly across the court to a door which gave entrance to the great parlour in the Lodge, then the reception-room of the College, and now the Masters’ dining-room. That room has been reduced in size by a passage made between it and the Hall. The passage leads to the winding stone staircase which gave the only access to this suite of three rooms on the first floor, corresponding exactly with those below, and reserved by the Foundress for her own use during life, while the Master contented himself with the three rooms on the ground floor. The Foundress’s suite consisted of a large ante-room (commonly but wrongly called the Foundress’s Bed-Chamber) with a little lobby in one corner at the entrance from the old staircase. The second room (now the drawing-room) was the Foundress’s own living room; it has an oriel window looking into the court, not much injured by the removal of the mullions.”

We may interrupt the Master’s record here to tell the characteristic story of the Lady Margaret which most probably has this oriel window for its scene: “Once the Lady Margaret came to Christ’s College to behold it when partly built; and looking out of a window, saw the Dean call a faulty scholar to correction, to whom she said, ‘Lente! Lente!’ (Gently! gently!) as accounting it better to mitigate his punishment than to procure his pardon: mercy and justice making the best medley to offenders.”[72]

“The Foundress’s sitting-room has a very interesting stone chimney-piece adorned with fourteen badges (originally sixteen), including a rose (repeated twice), a portcullis—the Beaufort badge (repeated once), three ostrich feathers (a badge assumed by Edward III. in right of his wife), a crown, a fleur-de-lis (repeated once), the letters H.R., doubtless Henricus Rex (repeated once), and lastly (twice repeated though the form differs) the special badge of the Lady Margaret—groups of Marguerites, in one case represented as growing in a basket. This very beautiful work was brought to light in 1887; it had been covered up by the insertion of a modern fireplace, whereby two of the badges were destroyed. The whole had been coloured: there were traces of a deep blue pigment on the stone between the badges, and on the jambs was scroll-work in black and yellow. The remaining space between the drawing-room and the chapel contained at its eastern end a private oratory with its window opening into the chapel, closed up in 1702, but reopened in 1899; it was connected with the drawing-room by a door, which was revealed when the walls of the oratory were stripped. At the western end was a small room looking into the court, probably the bedroom of the Foundress, connected by a door, now visible, with the oratory; this room was swept away when the present staircase was introduced, probably in the seventeenth century; further access had become necessary, because at that time several of the masters let the best rooms of the Lodge, and lived themselves in what was called the Little Lodge, a building of considerable size to the north of the Chapel, intended originally for offices to the Lodge.”[73]

Jack in Wolsey’s Kitchen Christ’s College

The hall, between the Lodge and the buttery, has no exceptional features. Early in the eighteenth century it was entirely Italianised, as also were many of the other buildings. It was entirely rebuilt by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1876, the old roof, with its ancient chestnut principals, being reconstructed and replaced. The walls were raised six feet and an oriel window was built on the east side in addition to the original one on the west. In 1882 and following years portraits of the Founders, of benefactors, and of worthies of the College were placed in the twenty-one lights of the west oriel. The persons chosen as “glass-worthy” were William Bingham, Henry VI., John Fisher, Lady Margaret, Edward VI., Sir John Finch, Sir Thomas Baines, John Leland, Edmund Grindall, Sir Walter Mildmay, John Still, William Perkins, William Lee, Sir John Harrington (this because of a mistaken claim on the part of Christ’s, for Harrington was a King’s man, and possibly also of Trinity at a later date), Francis Quarles, John Milton, John Cleveland, Henry More, Ralph Cudworth, William Paley, Charles Darwin. The glass-work was executed by Burlison & Grylls.

At an early period “a very considerable part of ye schollars of Christ College lodged in ye Brazen George; and ye gates there were shut and opened Morning and Evening constantly as ye College gates were.” The Brazen George Inn stood on the other side of S. Andrew’s Street, opposite to the south-east corner of the College. Alexandra Street no doubt represents the Inn yard. In 1613 the accommodation in the College was further increased by the erection of a range of buildings in the Second Court. This was a timber building of two stories with attics. In 1665 it is described as “the little old building called Rat’s Hall.” It was pulled down in 1730; the large range of buildings known as the Fellows’ buildings, parallel to Rat’s Hall and further east, having been erected, according to tradition, by Inigo Jones about 1640. A large range of building, similar in style to the Fellows’ building, was erected in 1889, and in 1895-97 Messrs. Bodley & Garner enlarged the old library, and altered and refaced the street front, extending the building to Christ’s Lane, and thus added much to the dignity of the College buildings, as seen from S. Andrew’s Street. The “re-beautifying the chappell,” as the then Master, Dr. Covel, called it, took place in 1702-3, when it was panelled by John Austin, who did similar work about the same time in King’s College chapel. The chapel has no remarkable or beautiful features. It is unnecessary to contradict the verdict of the present Master: “It must have been much more beautiful during the first fifty years of the College than at any later time.”

The Courtyard of the Wrestlers Inn. To face p. 220

In the list of twenty-one names which we give above as being “glass-worthy,” we have also, no doubt, the list of the most eminent members of Christ’s College. Of these the two greatest are undoubtedly John Milton and Charles Darwin.

Milton was admitted a pensioner of Christ’s College on 12th February 1624-25, and was matriculated on 9th April following. He resided at Cambridge in all some seven years, from February 1625 to July 1632. His rooms were on the left side of the great court as it is entered from the street, the first floor rooms on the first staircase on that side. They consist at present of a small study with two windows looking into the court, and a very small bedroom adjoining, and they have not probably been altered since his time. In the gardens behind the Fellows’ buildings, perhaps the most delightful of all the college gardens in Cambridge, is the celebrated mulberry tree, which an unvarying tradition asserts to have been planted by Milton. “Unvarying,” I have ventured to write, for I dare not repeat the heresy of which Mr. J. W. Clark was guilty when he suggested that Milton’s mulberry tree was in reality one of three hundred which the College bought to please James I., and which was “set” by Troilus Atkinson, the College factotum, in the very year that Milton was born. Concerning such heresy I can only repeat the rebuke of the present Master: “The suggestion that the object of wider interest than anything else in Christ’s—‘Milton’s mulberry tree’—is probably the last of that purchase, is the one crime among a thousand virtues of the present Registrary of the University.” Milton took his B.A. degree 26th March 1629, the year in which he wrote that noble “Ode on the Nativity,” in which the characteristic majesty of his style is already well marked. Three years earlier at least he had already written poems—the epitaph “On the Death of an Infant”:—

“O fairest flow’r no sooner blown than blasted,
Soft, silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer’s chief honour” ...

hardly less beautiful than the slightly later dirge “On the Marchioness of Winchester”:—

“Here besides the sorrowing
That thy noble house doth bring,
Here be tears of perfect moan
Wept for thee in Helicon,”

which in their exquisite grace and tenderness of wording scarcely fall below the mastery of the mightier measure and deeper thought of “Lycidas,” written in 1637. Of his Latin poems, written also during his undergraduate years, Dr. Peile has said—and on such a point there could be no higher authority:—“Even then he thought in Latin: his exercises are original poems, not mere clever imitations. There is remarkable power in them—power which could only be gained by one who had filled himself with the spirit of classical literature.” After this testimony we can assuredly afford to smile at those rumours of some disgrace in his university career spread about in later years by his detractors. That he had met perhaps, according to Aubrey’s account, with “some unkindnesse” from his tutor Chapell, even though that phrase by an amended reading is interpreted “whipt him,” need not distress us. It is a doubtful piece of gossip, and even if it were true—for flogging of students was by no means obsolete—it was a story to the tutor’s disgrace, not to Milton’s; and certainly the poet himself bore no grudge against the College authorities, as these magnanimous words plainly testify:—

“I acknowledge publicly with all grateful mind, that more than ordinary respect which I found, above any of my equals, at the hands of those courteous and learned men, the Fellows of that College, wherein I spent some years; who, at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, signified many ways how much better it would content them that I would stay; as by many letters full of kindness and loving respect, both before that time and long after, I was assured of their singular good affection towards me.”[74]

Between the matriculation of John Milton at Christ’s and that of Charles Darwin at the same college is a period exactly of two centuries. The Christ’s Roll of Honour for that period contains many worthy names, but none certainly which shed a brighter lustre on the College history than that of Henry More, a leader in that remarkable school of thinkers in the seventeenth century—Benjamin Whichcote, Ralph Cudworth, John Smith, John Worthington, Samuel Cradock—known as “the Cambridge Platonists,” for whom Burnet claims the high credit of “having saved the Church from losing the esteem of the kingdom,” and whose distinctive teaching is perhaps best brought out in More’s writings. Henry More had been admitted to Christ’s College about the time when John Milton was leaving it. He was elected a Fellow of the College in 1639, and thenceforth lived almost entirely within its walls. Like many others, he began as a poet and ended as a prose writer. He had, in fact, the Platonic temperament in far greater measure probably than any other of the Cambridge school. How the soul should escape from its animal prison—when it should get the wings that of right should belong to it—into what regions those wings could carry it—were the questions which occupied him from youth upwards. “I would sing,” he had said in one of his Platonical poems,

“The pre-existency
Of human souls, and live once more again,
By recollection and quick memory,
All what is past since first we all began.”

But the neo-platonic extravagances which lay hidden in his writings from the first grew at last into a new species of fanaticism, which makes his later books quite unreadable. And yet he remains perhaps the most typical, certainly the most interesting, of all the Cambridge Platonists, and at least he held true to the two great springs of the movement—an unshrinking appeal to Reason, coupled with profound faith in the essential harmony of natural and spiritual Truth—doctrines which are of the very pith of the seventeenth century Cambridge evangel, and which one is glad to think remain of the very essence of the Cambridge theology of to-day. That Henry More and the Cambridge Platonists failed in much that they attempted cannot be denied. They failed partly because of their own weakness, but partly also because the time was not yet ripe for an adequate spiritual philosophy. Such a philosophy of religion can indeed only rise gradually on a comprehensive basis of historic criticism, and of a criticism which has realised not only that religious thought can no more transcend history than science can transcend nature, but has also learnt the lesson—which no man has more clearly taught to the students of history and of science alike, in the century which has just closed, than that latest and greatest of the sons of Christ’s College, Charles Darwin—that knowledge is to be found not only in sudden illumination, but in the slow processes of evolution, and progress not in pet theories of this or that ancient or modern thinker, but only in patient study and faithful generalisation.

Let us turn now to the second and perhaps greater Lady Margaret Foundation of S. John’s College.

Three years after Henry VI.’s incompleted foundation of God’s House had been enriched by a fair portion of the Lady Margaret’s lands and opened as Christ’s College, the Oxford friends of the Countess petitioned her for help in the endowment of a college in that University. For a time it seemed as if Christ’s Church was to have the Lady Margaret and not Cardinal Wolsey as its founder. But Bishop Fisher again successfully pleaded the cause of his own University, and the royal licence to refound the corrupt monastic Hospital of S. John as a great and wealthy college was obtained in 1508.

Of the Hospital of the Brethren of S. John the Evangelist, which was founded in the year 1135, we have already spoken in the chapter on Peterhouse. It owed its origin to an opulent Cambridge burgess, Henry Frost, and was placed under the direction of a small community of Augustinian Canons, an Order whose rule very closely resembled that of a monastery, their duties consisting mainly in the performance of religious services, and in caring for the poor and infirm. The patronage which the little community received would seem to show that, during its earlier history at least, the Brethren of S. John had faithfully discharged their duties. Several of the early Bishops of Ely took the Hospital under their direct patronage. Bishop Eustace, a prelate who played a foremost part in Stephen’s reign, appropriated to it the livings of Homingsea and of S. Peter’s Church in Cambridge, now known as Little S. Mary’s. Bishop Hugh de Balsham, as we have seen in our account of his foundation of Peterhouse, endeavoured to utilise the Hospital for the accommodation of the many students who in his time were flocking to the University in quest of knowledge, and to that end endowed the Hospital with additional revenues. After the failure of that scheme and the successful foundation of Peterhouse, Bishop Simon Montagu came to the help of the little house, and decreed, that in compensation for the loss of S. Peter’s Church, the Master and Fellows of Peterhouse should pay to the Brethren of S. John a sum of twenty shillings annually, a payment which has regularly been made down to the present day. The Hospital continued to grow in wealth and importance down to the time of its “decay and fall” in Henry VII.’s reign. The last twelve years of the fifteenth century, under the misrule of its then Master, William Tomlyn, saw its estates mortgaged or let on long leases, its discipline lax and scandalous, its furniture, and even sacred vessels, sold. At the beginning of the sixteenth century it had fallen into poverty and decay, and the number of its brethren had dwindled to two. Its condition is described in words identical with those applied to the Priory of S. Rhadegund.[75] The words, as given in the charter of S. John’s College, are these:—

“The House or Priory of the Brethren of S. John the Evangelist, its lands, tenements, rents, possessions, buildings, as well as its effects, furniture, jewels and other ornaments in the Church, conferred upon the said house or priory in former times, have now been so grievously dilapidated, destroyed, wasted, alienated, diminished and made away with, by the carelessness, prodigality, improvidence and dissolute conduct of the Prior, Master and brethren of the aforesaid House or Priory; and the brethren themselves have been reduced to such want and poverty that they are unable to perform Divine Service, or their accustomed duties whether of religion, mercy or hospitality, according to the original ordinance of their founders, or even to maintain themselves by reason of their poverty and want of means of support; inasmuch as for a long while two brethren only have been maintained in the aforesaid House, and these are in the habit of straying abroad in all directions beyond the precincts of the said religious House, to the grave displeasure of Almighty God, the discredit of their order, and the scandal of their Church.”

The legal formalities necessary for the suppression of the Hospital were so tedious, that it was not “utterly extinguished,” as Baker, the historian of S. John’s, called its dissolution, until January 1510, when it fell, “a lasting monument to all future ages and to all charitable and religious foundations not to neglect the rules or abuse the institutions of their founders, lest they fall under the same fate.” Meanwhile, before these difficulties could be entirely overcome, King Henry VII. died, and within little more than two months after, the Lady Margaret herself was laid to rest by the side of her royal son in Westminster Abbey. Erasmus composed her epitaph. Skelton sang her elegy. Torregiano, the Florentine sculptor, immortalised her features in that monumental effigy which Dean Stanley has characterised as “the most beautiful and venerable figure that the abbey contains.” Bishop Fisher, who two months before had preached the funeral sermon for her son Henry VII., preached again, and with a far deeper earnestness, on the loss which, to him at least, could never be replaced.

Entrance S. John’s College

“Every one that knew her,” he said, “loved her, and everything that she said or did became her ... of marvellous gentleness she was unto all folks, but especially unto her own, whom she trusted and loved right tenderly.... All England for her death hath cause of weeping. The poor creatures who were wont to receive her alms, to whom she was always piteous and merciful; the students of both the universities, to whom she was as a mother; all the learned men of England, to whom she was a very patroness; all the virtuous and devout persons, to whom she was as a loving sister; all the good religious men and women whom she so often was wont to visit and comfort; all good priests and clerks, to whom she was a true defendress; all the noblemen and women, to whom she was a mirror and example of honour; all the common people of this realm, to whom she was in their causes a woman mediatrix and took right great displeasure for them; and generally the whole realm, hath cause to complain and to mourn her death.”

The executors of the Lady Margaret were Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester; John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester; Charles Somerset; Lord Herbert, afterwards Earl of Worcester; Sir Thomas Lovell, Knight; Sir Henry Marney, Knight, afterwards Lord Marney; Sir John St. John, Knight; Henry Hornby, clerk; and Hugh Ashton, clerk. Unforeseen difficulties, however, soon arose. The young king looked coldly on a project which involved a substantial diminution of the inheritance which he had anticipated from his grandmother, while the young Bishop of Ely—“the Dunce Bishop of Ely”—James Stanley,[76] although stepson to the Countess, and solely indebted to her for promotion to his see, a dignity which he little merited, did his best after her death to avert the dissolution of the Hospital. As a result of this opposition of the Court party, to which no less a person than Cardinal Wolsey, out of jealousy it would seem for his own university, lent his powerful support, Lady Margaret’s executors found themselves compelled to forego their claims, and the munificent bequest intended by the foundress was lost to the College for ever. As some compensation for the loss sustained the untiring exertions of Bishop Fisher succeeded in obtaining for the College the revenues of another God’s House, a decayed society at Ospringe, in Kent, and certain other small estates, producing altogether an income of £80. “This,” says Baker, “with the lands of the old house, together with the foundress’s estate at Fordham, which was charged with debts by her will, and came so charged to the College, with some other little things purchased with her moneys at Steukley, Bradley, Isleham, and Foxton (the two last alienated or lost), was the original foundation upon which the College was first opened; and whoever dreams of vast revenues or larger endowments will be mightily mistaken.”

Gateway S. John’s College

Such were the conditions under which the new society of the College of S. John the Evangelist was at last formed in 1511, and Robert Shorten appointed Master with thirty-one Fellows. During Shorton’s brief tenure of the Mastership (1511-16) it devolved upon him to watch the progress of the new building, which now rose on the site of the Hospital, and included a certain portion of the ancient structure.

“Some three centuries and a half later, in 1869, when the old chapel gave place to the present splendid erection, the process of demolition laid bare to view some interesting features in the ancient pre-collegiate buildings. Members of the College, prior to the year 1863, can still remember ‘The Labyrinth’—the name given to a series of students’ rooms approached by a tortuous passage which wound its way from the first court, north of the gateway opening upon Saint John’s Street. These rooms were now ascertained to have been formed out of the ancient infirmary—a fine single room, some 78 feet in length and 22 in breadth, which during the mastership of William Whitaker (1586-95) had been converted into three floors of students’ chambers. Removal of the plaster which covered the south wall of the original building further brought to light a series of Early English lancet windows, erected probably with the rest of the structure, sometime between the years 1180 and 1200. Between the first and second of these windows stood a very beautiful double piscina which Sir Gilbert Scott repaired and transferred to the New Chapel. The chapel of the Hospital had been altered to suit the needs of the College, and in Babington’s opinion was very much ‘changed for the worse.’ The Early English windows gave place to smaller perpendicular windows, inserted in the original openings, while the pitch of the roof was considerably lowered. The contract is still extant made between Shorton and the glazier, covenanting for the insertion of ‘good and noble Normandy glasse,’ in certain specified portions of which were to appear ‘roses and portcullis,’ the arms of ‘the excellent pryncesse Margaret, late Countesse of Rychemond and Derby,’ while the colouring and designs were to be the same ‘as be in the glasse wyndowes within the collegge called Christes Collegge in Cambrigge or better in euery poynte.’”[77]

The buildings of S. John’s College consist of four quadrangles disposed in succession from east to west, and extending to a length of some nearly 300 yards. The westernmost court is across the river, approached by the well-known “Bridge of Sighs,” built in 1831. The easternmost court, facing on the High Street, is the primitive quadrangle, and for nearly a century after the foundation comprised the whole college. The plan closely follows what we have now come to regard as the normal arrangement, and is almost identical with that of Queens’.

S. John’s College from the Backs

The Great Gateway, which is in the centre of the eastern range of buildings, is by far the most striking and beautiful gate in all Cambridge. It is of red brick with stone quoins. The sculpture in the space over the arch commemorates the founders, the Lady Margaret and her son King Henry VII. In the centre is a shield bearing the arms of England and France quarterly, supported by the Beaufort antelopes. Above it is a crown beneath a rose. To the right and left are the portcullis and rose of the Tudors, both crowned. The whole ground is sprinkled with daisies, the peculiar emblem of the foundress. They appear in the crown above the portcullis. They cluster beneath the string course. Mixed with other flowers they form a groundwork to the heraldic devices. Above all, in a niche, is the statue of S. John. The present figure was set up in 1662. The original figure was removed during the Civil War. There is evidence that at one time the arms were emblazoned in gold and colours, and that the horns of the antelopes were gilt.

Over the gateway is the treasury. The first floor of the range of buildings to the south of the treasury contained at first the library. The position of this old library is the only feature in the arrangement of the buildings in which S. John’s differs from Queens’.

Oriel in Library, S. John’s College

The second court, a spacious quadrangle, considerably larger than the first, was commenced in 1598, and finished in 1602, the greater part of the cost being defrayed by the Countess of Salisbury. In the west range there is a large gateway tower. The first floor of the north range contains the master’s long gallery—a beautiful room with panelled walls and a rich plaster ceiling. In this fine chamber for successive centuries the head of the College was accustomed to entertain his guests, among whom royalty was on several occasions included. According to the historian Carter, down even to the middle of the last century it still remained the longest room in the University, and when the door of the library was thrown open, the entire vista presented what he describes as a “most charming view.” It was originally 148 feet long, but owing to various rearrangements its dimensions have been reduced to 93 feet. It is now used as a Combination Room by the Fellows.

The new library building, which forms the north side of the third court, was built in 1624. It is reached by a staircase built in the north-west corner of the second court. The windows of the library are pointed and filled with fairly good geometrical tracery, while the level of the floor and the top of the wall are marked by classical entablatures. The wall is finished by a good parapet, which originally had on each battlement three little pinnacles like those still remaining on the parapet of the oriel window in the west gable. This gable stands above the river, and forms with the adjoining buildings a most picturesque group. The name of Bishop Williams of Lincoln, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, who had contributed as “an unknown person” two-thirds of the entire cost of £3000, is commemorated by the letters I.L.C.S. (i.e. Johannes Lincolniensis Custos Sigilli), together with the date 1624, which appear conspicuously over the central gable. His arms, richly emblazoned, were suspended over the library door, and his portrait, painted by Gilbert Jackson, adorns the wall. The original library bookcases remain, though their forms have been considerably altered.

The west range of the second court and the new library formed two sides of the third court. The remaining river range and the buildings on the south adjoining the back lane were added about fifty years later. They were probably designed by Nicholas Hawkes, then a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren. The central composition of the western range was designed as an approach to a footbridge leading to the College walks across the river. This footbridge gave way to the covered new bridge, commonly spoken of as the Bridge of Sighs from its superficial resemblance to the so-called structure at Venice, leading to the fourth court, which was completed in 1831 from the plans of Rickman and Hutchinson. The old bridge, leading from the back lane, was built in 1696. Beyond the new court are the extensive gardens, on the western side of which is “the wilderness,” commemorated by Wordsworth, who was an undergraduate of John’s from 1787 to 1791, in the well-known lines of his Prelude:—

“All winter long whenever free to choose,
Did I by night Frequent the College grove
And tributary walks; the last and oft
The only one who had been lingering there
Through hours of silence, till the porter’s bell,
A punctual follower on the stroke of nine,
Rang with its blunt unceremonious voice
Inexorable summons. Lofty elms,
Inviting shades of opportune recess,
Bestowed composure on a neighbourhood
Unpeaceful in itself. A single tree
With sinuous trunk, boughs exquisitely wreathed,
Grew there; an ash, which Winter for himself
Decked out with pride, and with outlandish grace;
Up from the ground and almost to the top
The trunk and every mother-branch were green
With clustering ivy, and the lightsome twigs
The outer spray profusely tipped with seeds
That hung in yellow tassels, while the air
Stirred them, not voiceless. Often have I stood
Foot-bound, uplooking at this lovely tree
Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere
Of magic fiction verse of mine perchance
May never tread; but scarcely Spenser’s self
Could have more tranquil visions in his youth,
Or could more bright appearances create
Of human forms with superhuman powers
Than I beheld, loitering on calm clear nights
Alone, beneath the fairy-work of Earth.”

Bridge of Sighs S. John’s College

The new chapel of S. John’s, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in a style of pointed architecture, repeating, with some added degree of richness, the same architect’s design of Exeter College chapel at Oxford, was begun in 1863 and finished in 1869. The scheme involved the destruction of the old chapel and the still earlier building to the north of it. The hall was enlarged by adding to it the space formerly occupied by the Master’s lodge, a new lodge being built to the north of the third court, and the Master’s gallery being converted into the Fellows’ combination room. The stalls from the old chapel were refixed in the new building, and some new stalls were added. The beautiful Early English piscina, three arches and some monuments were also removed from the old chapel.


Considerations of space compel me to bring this chapter to a conclusion. I have spoken of the two Lady Margaret foundations as colleges of the New Learning. How far they have succeeded in fulfilling the aims of their founder only a careful study of their subsequent history can tell, and for that we have not space. But this, at least, we may say, that a college in which, generation after generation, there were enrolled men of such varying parts and powers as Sir Thomas Wyatt and William Grindall; as Sir John Cheke and Roger Ascham, the former the tutor of Edward VI., the latter of Queen Elizabeth, and both famous as among the most sagacious and original thinkers on the subject of education; as Robert Greene and Thomas Nash, the dramatists; as Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, and Thomas Cartwright, “the most learned of that sect of dissenters called Puritans”; of John Dee, mathematician and astrologer, the editor of Euclid’s “Elements,” and William Lee, the inventor of the stocking-frame; of Roger Dodsworth, the antiquary, and Thomas Sutton, the founder of Charterhouse; as Thomas Baker, the historian of the College, and Richard Bentley, the great scholar and critic; as Henry Constable, and Robert Herrick and Mark Akenside and Robert Otway and Henry Kirke White and William Wordsworth—a galaxy of names which seems to prove that not Cambridge only, but S. John’s College, is “the mother of poets”—as William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson, can hardly be said not to have contributed much to the history of English culture and English learning, to the extension of the older Classical studies, and to the advance of the newer Science, to that wider and freer outlook upon the world and upon life to which so much that is best in our modern civilisation may be traced, and all of which took its origin from that movement of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries which we know by the name of the Renaissance. Of the genuine attachment of Bishop Fisher, the true founder of S. John’s, to the New Learning there can be no doubt. He showed it clearly enough by the sympathy which he evinced with the new spirit of Biblical Criticism, and by the friendship with Erasmus, which induced that great scholar to accept the Lady Margaret professorship at Cambridge. That the study of Greek was allowed to go on in the University without that active antagonism which it encountered at Oxford was mainly owing—it is the testimony of Erasmus himself—to the powerful protection which it received from Bishop Fisher. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that his attachment to the papal cause, and his hostility to Luther, whom he rightly enough regarded as a Reformer of a very different type to that of his friends Erasmus, Colet, and More, remained unshaken.

Tower & Turrets of Trinity from S. John’s College

On the occasion of the burning of Luther’s writings in S. Paul’s Churchyard in 1521, he had preached against the great reformer at Paul’s Cross before Wolsey and Warham, a sermon which was subsequently handled with severity by William Tyndall. It is, in fact, not difficult to recognise in the various codes of statutes, which from time to time he gave to his college foundations, evidence of both the strength and weakness of his character. In 1516 he had given to S. John’s statutes which were identical with those of Christ’s College. But in 1524 he substituted for these another code, and in 1530 a third. In this final code, accordingly, among many provisions, characterised by much prudent forethought, and amid statutes which really point to something like a revolution in academic study, we see plainly enough signs of timorous distrust, not to say a pusillanimous anxiety against all innovations whatever in the future. But in one cause, at any rate, he bore a noble part, and for it he died a noble death. His opposition to the divorce of King Henry and Queen Catharine was not less honourable than it was consistent, and he stood alone among the Bishops of the realm in his refusal to recognise the validity of the measure. It was, in fact, his unflinching firmness in regard to the Act of Supremacy which finally sealed his fate. The story of his trial and death are matters that belong to English history. The pathos of it we can all feel as we read the pages in which Froude has told the story in his “History,” and its moral, we may perhaps also feel, has not been unfitly pointed by Mr. Mullinger in his “History of the University.” Here are Froude’s words:—

“Mercy was not to be hoped for. It does not seem to have been sought. He was past eighty. The earth on the edge of the grave was already crumbling under his feet; and death had little to make it fearful. When the last morning dawned, he dressed himself carefully—as he said, for his marriage day. The distance to Tower Hill was short. He was able to walk; and he tottered out of the prison gates, holding in his hand a closed volume of the New Testament. The crowd flocked about him, and he was heard to pray that, as this book had been his best comfort and companion, so in that hour it might give him some special strength, and speak to him as from his Lord. Then opening it at a venture, he read: ‘This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.’ It was the answer to his prayer; and he continued to repeat the words as he was led forward. On the scaffold he chanted the Te Deum, and then, after a few prayers, knelt down, and meekly laid his head upon a pillow where neither care nor fear nor sickness would ever vex it more. Many a spectacle of sorrow had been witnessed on that tragic spot, but never one more sad than this; never one more painful to think or speak of. When a nation is in the throes of revolution, wild spirits are abroad in the storm: and poor human nature presses blindly forward with the burden which is laid upon it, tossing aside the obstacles in its path with a recklessness which, in calmer hours, it would fear to contemplate.”[78]

And here are Mr. Mullinger’s:—

“When it was known at Cambridge that the Chancellor (Fisher) was under arrest, it seemed as though a dark cloud had gathered over the University; and at those colleges which had been his peculiar care the sorrow was deeper than could find vent in language. The men, who ever since their academic life began, had been conscious of his watchful oversight and protection, who as they had grown up to manhood had been honoured by his friendship, aided by his bounty, stimulated by his example to all that was commendable and of good report, could not see his approaching fate without bitter and deep emotion; and rarely in the correspondence of colleges is there to be found such an expression of pathetic grief as the letter in which the Society of S. John’s addressed their beloved patron in his hour of trial. In the hall of that ancient foundation his portrait still looks down upon those who, generation after generation, enter to reap where he sowed. Delineated with all the severe fidelity of the art of that period, we may discern the asceticism of the ecclesiastic blending with the natural kindliness of the man, the wide sympathies with the stern convictions. Within those walls have since been wont to assemble not a few who have risen to eminence and renown. But the College of St. John the Evangelist can point to none in the long array to whom her debt of gratitude is greater, who have laboured more untiredly or more disinterestedly in the cause of learning, or who by a holy life and heroic death are more worthy to survive in the memories of her sons.”[79]



“Quæ ponti vicina vides, Audelius olim
Cœpit et adversi posuit fundamina muri:
Et cœptum perfecit opus Staffordius heros
Quem genuit maribus regio celeberrima damis.
. . . . . . . . . .
Quattuor inde novis quæ turribus alta minantur
Et nivea immenso diffundunt atria circo,
Ordine postremus, sed non virtutibus, auxit
Henricus tecta, et triplices cum jungeret sedes,
Imposuit nomen facto.”
Giles Fletcher, 1633.

Dissolution of the Monasteries—Schemes for Collegiate Spoliation checked by Henry VIII.—Monks’ or Buckingham College—Refounded by Sir Thomas Audley as Magdalene College—Conversion of the Old Buildings—The Pepysian Library—Foundation of Trinity College—Michaelhouse and the King’s Hall—King Edward’s Gate—The Queen’s Gate—The Great Gate—Dr. Thomas Neville—The Great Court—The Hall—Neville’s Court—New Court—Dr. Bentley—“A House of all Kinds of Good Letters.”

THE dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. and the confiscation of their great estates naturally created a sense of foreboding in the universities that it would not be long before the College estates shared the same fate. There were not wanting, we may be sure, greedy courtiers prepared with schemes of collegiate spoliation. If we may trust, however, the testimony of Harrison in his “Description of England,”[80] the hopes of the despoiler were effectually checked by the King himself. “Ah, sirha,” he is reported to have said to some who had ventured to make proposals for such despoilment, “I perceive the abbey lands have fleshed you, and set your teeth on edge to ask also those colleges. And whereas we had a regard only to pull down sin by defacing the monasteries, you have a desire also to overthrow all goodness by a dispersion of colleges. I tell you, sirs, that I judge no land in England better bestowed than that which is given to our universities; for by their maintenance our realm shall be well governed when we be dead and rotten.” These are brave words, and we may hope that they were sincere. They may seem, perhaps, to receive some confirmation of sincerity from the fact that that munificent donor of other people’s property did himself erect upon the ruins of more than one earlier foundation that great college, whose predominance in the University has from that time onwards been so marked a feature of Cambridge life. It is the opinion of Huber,[81] that the uncertainty and depression caused in the universities by these fears of confiscation did not subside until well on in the reign of Elizabeth.


In the year 1542, however, four years before the foundation of Trinity College by Henry VIII., the spoliation of the monasteries was turned to the advantage of the University in a somewhat remarkable manner. On the further side of the river Cam, “cut off,” as Fuller describes it, “from the continent of Cambridge,” there stood an ancient religious house known at this time as Buckingham College.

“Formerly it was a place where many monks lived, on the charge of their respective convent, being very fit for solitary persons by the situation thereof. For it stood on the transcantine side, an anchoret in itself, severed by the river from the rest of the University. Here the monks some seven years since had once and again lodged and feasted Edward Stafford, the last Duke of Buckingham of that family. Great men best may, good men always will, be grateful guests to such as entertain them. Both qualifications met in this Duke and then no wonder if he largely requited his welcome. He changed the name of the house into Buckingham College, began to build, and purposed to endow the same, no doubt in some proportion to his own high and rich estate.”[82]

The foundation of this Monks’ College had dated as far back as the year 1428, when the Benedictines of Croyland erected a building for the accommodation of those monks belonging to their house who wished to repair to Cambridge, “to study the Canon Law and the Holy Scriptures,” and yet to reside under their own monastic rule. From time to time other Benedictines of the neighbourhood—Ely, Ramsey, Walden—added additional chambers to the hostel—Croyland Abbey, however, remaining the superior house.

The Library, Chapel and Hall, Magdalene College

A hall was built in connection with the College in 1519 by Edward, Duke of Buckingham, son of the former benefactor, and it is probably to this date that we may refer the secular or semi-secular foundation of the College. Certainly at this period the secular element of the College must have been considerable, for we find Cranmer, on his resignation of his Fellowship at Jesus on account of his marriage, supporting himself by giving lectures at Buckingham College. Sir Robert Rede, the founder of the Rede Lectureship in the University, and Thomas Audley, the future Lord Chancellor, are also said to have received their education in this College. At any rate there can be little doubt that it was this semi-secular character of the College at this period which saved it from the operations of the successive acts for the dissolution of the monastic bodies. In the year 1542 Buckingham College was converted by Sir Thomas Audley into Magdalene College. “Thomas, Lord Audley of Walden,” says Fuller, “Chancellor of England, by licence obtained from King Henry VIII., changed Buckingham into Magdalene (vulgarly Maudlin) College, because, as some[83] will have it, his surname is therein contained betwixt the initial and final letters thereof—M’audley’n. This may well be indulged to his fancy, whilst more solid considerations moved him to the work itself.” What those “more solid considerations” may have been it is difficult, in relation to such a founder, to divine. He was a man who had gradually amassed considerable wealth by a singular combination of talent, audacity, and craft, one who, in the language of Lloyd in his “State Worthies,” was “well seen in the flexures and windings of affairs at the depths whereof other heads not so steady turned giddy.” He was Speaker of the House of Commons in that Parliament by whose aid Henry VIII. had finally separated himself and his kingdom from all allegiance to the See of Rome, and of whose further measures for ecclesiastical reform at home Bishop Fisher had exclaimed in the House of Lords: “My lords, you see daily what bills come hither from the Common House, and all is to the destruction of the Church. For God’s sake, see what a realm the kingdom of Bohemia was, and when the Church went down, then fell the glory of the kingdom. Now with the Commons is nothing but ‘Down with the Church!’ and all this meseemeth is for lack of faith only.” Sir Thomas Audley had been one of the first to profit by the plunder of the monasteries. “He had had,” as Fuller terms it, “the first cut in the feast of abbey lands.” He was also one of those who shared in its final distribution. As a reward for his services as Lord Chancellor—and what those services must have been as “the keeper of the conscience” of such a king as Henry VIII. we need not trouble to inquire—a few more of the suppressed monasteries were granted to him at the general dissolution, among which, at his own earnest suit, was the Abbey of Walden in Essex. Walden was one of the Benedictine houses that had been associated in the early days with Monks’, now Buckingham College. Whether the newly-created Lord of Walden regarded himself as inheriting also the Monks’ rights and responsibilities in connection with the Cambridge college or not, or whether, being an old man now and infirm and with no male heir, he thought to find some solace for his conscience in the thought of himself as the benefactor and founder of a permanent college, I cannot say. Certain, however, it is that the original statutes of Magdalene College, unlike those of Christ’s and John’s, exhibit no regard for the New Learning, and are indeed mainly noteworthy for the large powers and discretion which they assign to the Master, and the almost entire freedom of that official from any responsibility to the governing body of Fellows. It was evidently the founder’s design to place the College practically under the control of the successive owners of Audley End.

In 1564 the young Duke of Norfolk, who had married Lord Audley’s daughter and sole heir, and who was, moreover, descended from the early benefactor of the College, the Duke of Buckingham, contributed liberally towards both the revenues of Magdalene and its buildings. On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Cambridge, it is recorded that “the Duke of Norfolk accompanied Her Majesty out of the town, and, then returning, entered Magdalene College, and gave much money to the same; promising £40 by year till they had builded the quadrant of the College.”[84] From this statement it is plain that the quadrangle of Magdalene was not complete so late as 1654. The chapel and old library which form the west side of this court, and also the frontage to the street, had been built in 1475. The roof of the present chapel, uncovered in 1847, shows that Buckingham College had a chapel on the same site. The doorway in the north-west corner of the court retained a carving of the three keys, the arms of the prior and convent of Ely, so late as 1777, and thus probably indicated the chambers which were added to Monks’ College for the accommodation of the Ely Convent scholars. The similar rooms assigned to the scholar-monks of Walden and Ramsey appear to have been in the range of buildings forming the south side of the College, parallel with the river, originally built in 1465, but reconstructed in 1585. The new gateway in the street-front belongs also to this late date. The chapel was thoroughly “Italianised” in 1733, and again restored and enlarged in 1851.

The extremely beautiful building now known as the Pepysian Library, beyond the old quadrangle to the east, which belongs to Restoration times, although its exact date and the name of its architect are not known, is the chief glory of Magdalene. It was probably approaching completion in 1703, when Samuel Pepys, the diarist, who had been a sizar of the College in 1650, and had lately contributed towards the cost of the building, bequeathed his library to the College, and directed that it should be housed in the new building. There, accordingly, it is now deposited, and the inscription, “Bibliotheca Pepysiana, 1724,” with his arms and motto, “Mens cujusque is est quisque,” is carved in the pediment of the central window. The collection of books is a specially interesting one, invaluable to the historian or antiquary. Most of the books are in the bindings of the time, and are still in the mahogany-glazed bookcases in which they were placed by Pepys himself in 1666, and of which he speaks in his Diary under date August 24 of that year:—

Tower & Gateway to Trinity College. To face p. 252

“Up and dispatched several businesses at home in the morning, and then comes Simpson to set up my other new presses for my books; and so he and I fell to the furnishing of my new closett, and taking out the things out of my old; and I kept him with me all day, and he dined with me, and so all the afternoone, till it was quite darke hanging things—that is my maps and pictures and draughts—and setting up my books, and as much as we could do, to my most extraordinary satisfaction; so that I think it will be as noble a closett as any man hath, and light enough—though, indeed, it would be better to have had a little more light.”

Of the many Magdalene men of eminence, from the days of Sir Robert Rede and Archbishop Cranmer down to those of Charles Parnell and Charles Kingsley, there is no need to speak in any other words than those of Fuller: “Every year this house produced some eminent scholars, as living cheaper and privater, freer from town temptations by their remote situation.”


No Cambridge foundation, probably no academic institution in Europe, furnishes so striking an example as does Trinity College of the change from the mediæval to the modern conception of education and of learning. If, indeed, we may take the words of the Preamble to his Charter of Foundation, dated the thirty-eighth year of his reign (1546) as a statement of his own personal aims, King Henry had conceived a very noble ideal of liberal education. After referring to his special reasons for thankfulness to Almighty God for peace at home and successful wars abroad—peace had just been declared with France after the brief campaign conducted by Henry himself, which had been signalised by the capture of Boulogne—and above all for the introduction of the pure truth of Christianity into his kingdom, he sets forth his intention of founding a college “to the glory and honour of Almighty God, and the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the amplification and establishment of the Christian and true religion, the extirpation of heresy and false opinion, the increase and continuance of divine learning and all kinds of good letters, the knowledge of the tongues, the education of the youth in piety, virtue, learning, and science, the relief of the poor and destitute, the prosperity of the Church of Christ, and the common good and happiness of his kingdom and subjects.”[85]

Gateway & Dial, Trinity College

The site upon which King Henry VIII. had decided to place his college is also mentioned in this preamble to the Charter of Foundation. It was to be “on the soil, ground, sites, and precincts of the late hall and college, commonly called the King’s Hall, and of a certain late college of S. Michael, commonly called Michaelhouse, and also of a certain house and hostel called Fyswicke or Fysecke hostel and of another house and hostel, commonly called Hovinge Inn.” In addition to the hostels here named there were, however, several others which occupied, or had occupied, the site previous to 1548—for one or two previous to this time had been absorbed by their neighbours—whose names have been preserved, and whose position has been put beyond doubt by recent researches. These other hostels were S. Catharine’s, S. Margaret’s, Crouched Hostel, Tyler or Tyler’s, S. Gregory’s, Garet or Saint Gerard’s Hostel, and Oving’s Inn.


We may indicate roughly, perhaps, the position of these various halls and hostels in relation to the present college buildings, if we imagine ourselves to have entered the great gate of Trinity from the High Street, from Trinity Street, and to be standing on the steps leading into the Great Court, and facing across towards the Master’s lodge. Immediately in front of us, on what is now the vacant green sward between the gateway steps and the sun-dial, there stood in the fifteenth century King’s Hall, or that block of it which a century earlier had been built to take the place of the thatched and timbered house which Edward III. had bought from Robert de Croyland, and had made into his “King’s Hall of Scholars.” The entrance to this house, however, was not on the side which would have been immediately facing the point where we stand on the steps. It was entered by a doorway on its south side, opening into a lane—King’s Childers’ Lane it was called—which, starting from the High Street, from a point slightly to the south of the Great Gate, crossed the Great Court directly east and west, and then bending slightly to the north, reached the river at Dame Nichol’s Hythe, at a point just beyond the bend in the river by the end of the present library. Returning to our point of view we should find on our right, occupying the easternmost part of the existing chapel, the old chapel of King’s Hall, built in 1465, and beyond it, westwards, other buildings,—the buttery, the kitchen, the hall,—forming four sides of a little cloistered court, partly occupying the site of the present ante-chapel, and partly on its northern side facing across the Cornhithe Lane to the gardens of the old Hospital of S. John.

Turning to our left to the southern half of the great court, to that part which in the old days was south of King’s Childers’ Lane, south, that is, of the present fountain, we should find the site intersected by a lane running directly north and south, from a point at the south-west corner of the King’s Hall about where the sun-dial now stands, to a point in Trinity Lane, or S. Michael’s Lane as it was then called, where now stands the Queen’s Gate. This was Le Foule Lane, and was practically a continuation of that Milne Street of which we have spoken in an earlier chapter as running parallel with the river past the front of Trinity Hall, Clare, and Queens’ to the King’s Mills. To the east of Foule Lane, occupying the site of the present range of buildings on the east and south-east of the great court, stood the Hostel of S. Catharine, with Fyswicke Hostel on its western side. Michaelhouse occupied practically the whole of the south-western quarter of the great court, with its gardens stretching down to the river. S. Catharine’s, Fyswicke Hostel, and Michaelhouse all had entrances into S. Michael’s or Flaxhithe, now Trinity Lane. Beyond and across Flaxhithe Lane was Oving’s Inn, on the site of the present Bishop’s Hostel, with Garett Hostel still further south, on land adjoining Trinity Hall. S. Gregory’s and the Crouched Hostel stood north of Michaelhouse, side by side, on a space now occupied for the most part by the great dining-hall. The Tyled or Tyler’s Hostel was on the High Street adjoining the north-east corner of S. Catharine’s. S. Margaret’s Hall, which had adjoined the house of William Fyswicke, had been at an early date absorbed in the Fyswicke Hostel.

It is plain that these various halls and hostels would sufficiently supply all the early needs of King Henry’s new college. There was the chapel of King’s Hall, the halls of King’s Hall, Michaelhouse and Fyswicke’s Hostel, and the chambers in each of these and the smaller hostels. During the first three years or so, from 1546 to 1549, the existing buildings seem to have been occupied without alteration. In 1550 and 1551 parts of Michaelhouse and Fyswicke’s Hostel were pulled down, and their gates walled up. The Foule Lane, which separated them, was closed, and the new Queen’s gate built at the point where that lane had joined Michael’s Lane. The south ranges of both Fyswicke’s Hostel and Michaelhouse on each side of this gate were retained. The hall, butteries, and kitchen of Michael House on the west were also retained, and continued northwards to form a lodge for the Master, and this range was returned easterwards at right angles to join the King Edward’s gateway at the south-west corner of King’s Hall. A little later the hall, butteries, and chapel of King’s Hall were removed to make way for the new chapel, which was begun in 1555 and completed about ten years later.

An early map of Cambridge, made by order of Archbishop Parker in 1574, and preserved in one of the early copies of Caius’ “History of the University” in the British Museum, shows the College in the state which we have thus described, the outline of the Great Court, that is to say, practically defined as it is to-day, but broken at two points, one by the projection from its western side joining the Master’s lodge with the old gateway of King Edward, still standing in its ancient position, more or less on the site of the present sun-dial; the other by a set of chambers, built in 1490, projecting from the eastern range of buildings, and ending at a point somewhat east of the site of the present fountain.

The transformation of the Great Court into the shape in which we now know it is due entirely to the energy and skill of Dr. Thomas Neville, at that time Dean of Peterborough, who was appointed Master of Trinity in 1573. “Dr. Thomas Neville,” says Fuller, “the eighth master of this College, answering his anagram ‘most heavenly,’ and practising his own allusive motto, ‘ne vile velis,’ being by the rules of the philosopher himself to be accounted μεγἁλοπρεπης, as of great performances, for the general good, expended £3000 of his own in altering and enlarging the old and adding a new court thereunto, being at this day the stateliest and most uniform college in Christendom, out of which may be carved three Dutch universities.”[86]

The Fountain Trinity College.

Neville’s first work was the completion of the ranges of chambers on the east and south sides of the great court, including the Queen’s gateway tower. On the completion of these in 1599 the projecting range of buildings on the east side were pulled down. In 1601 he pulled down the corresponding projection on the western side, removing the venerable pile known as King Edward the Third’s Gate. This was rebuilt at the west end of the chapel as we now see it. The Master’s lodge was prolonged northwards, and a library with chambers below it was built eastwards to meet the old gate. The great quadrangle was thus complete, the largest in either university,[87] having an area of over 90,000 square feet. To Dr. Neville also in the Great Court is owing the additional storey to the Great Gate, with the statue of Henry VIII. in a niche on its eastern front, and the statue of King James, his Queen, and Prince Charles on its western side, the beautiful fountain erected in 1602, and the hall in 1604. The building of this hall, which with certain variations is copied from the hall of the Middle Temple, is thus described in the “Memoriale” of the College.

“When he had completed the great quadrangle and brought it to a tasteful and decorous aspect, for fear that the deformity of the Hall, which through extreme old age had become almost ruinous, should cast, as it were, a shadow over its splendour, he advanced £3000 for seven years out of his own purse, in order that a great hall might be erected answerable to the beauty of the new buildings. Lastly, as in the erection of these buildings he had been promoter rather than author, and had brought these results to pass more by labour and assiduity than by expenditure of his own money, he erected at a vast cost, the whole of which was defrayed by himself, a building in the second court adorned with beautiful columns, and elaborated with the most exquisite workmanship, so that he might connect his own name for ever with the extension of the College.”

Unfortunately, much of the original beauty of Neville’s Court was spoilt by the alterations of Mr. Essex in 1755, “a local architect whose life,” as Mr. J. G. Clark has truly said, “was spent in destroying that which ought to have been preserved.”

The building of the library which forms the western side of Neville’s Court was due mainly to the energy of Dr. Isaac Barrow, who was master from 1673 to 1677. The architect was Sir Christopher Wren, who himself thus describes his scheme:—

“I haue given the appearance of arches as the order required, fair and lofty; but I haue layd the floor of the Library upon the impostes, which answer to the pillars in the cloister and levells of the old floores, and haue filled the arches with relieus stone, of which I haue seen the effect abroad in good building, and I assure you where porches are low with flat ceelings is infinitely more gracefull than lowe arches would be, and is much more open and pleasant, nor need the mason feare the performance because the arch discharges the weight, and I shall direct him in a firme manner of executing the designe. By this contrivance the windowes of the Library rise high and give place for the deskes against the walls.... The disposition of the shelves both along the walls and breaking out from the walls must needes proue very convenient and gracefull, and the best way for the students will be to haue a little square table in each celle with 2 chaires.”

Neville’s Court Trinity College

The table and the chairs, as well as the book-shelves, were designed by Wren, who was also at pains to give full-sized sections of all the mouldings, because “we are scrupulous in small matters, and you must pardon us. Architects are as great pedants as criticks or heralds.”

In 1669 Bishop’s Hostel—so called after Bishop Hacket of Lichfield, who gave £1200 towards the cost—took the place of the two minor halls, Oving’s Inn and Garett Hostel. No further addition to the College buildings was made until the nineteenth century, when the new court was built from the designs of Wilkins in the mastership of Dr. Christopher Wordsworth, and at a later time the two courts opposite the Great Gate across Trinity Street, by the benefaction of a sum approaching £100,000, by Dr. Whewell. To Dr. Whewell also belongs the merit of the restoration of the front of the Master’s lodge, by the removal of the classical façade which had been so foolishly and tastelessly imposed upon the old work built by Dr. Bentley during his memorable tenure of the mastership from 1700 to 1742.

The mention of the name of that most masterful of Yorkshiremen and most brilliant of Cambridge scholars and critics inevitably suggests the picture of that long feud between the Fellows of Trinity and their Master which lasted for nearly half a century, for a year at any rate longer than the Peloponnesian war, and was almost as full of exciting incidents. Those who care to read the miserable and yet amusing story can do so for themselves in the pages of Bishop Monk’s “Life of Richard Bentley.” It is more to the purpose here, I think, to recall the kindly and judicious verdict of the great scholar’s life at Trinity by the greatest Cambridge scholar of to-day.

“It must never be forgotten,” writes Sir Richard Jebb, “that Bentley’s mastership of Trinity is memorable for other things than its troubles. He was the first Master who established a proper competition for the great prizes of that illustrious college. The scholarships and fellowships had previously been given by a purely oral examination. Bentley introduced written papers; he also made the award of scholarships to be annual instead of biennial, and admitted students of the first year to compete for them. He made Trinity College the earliest home for a Newtonian school, by providing in it an observatory, under the direction of Newton’s disciple and friend—destined to an early death—Roger Cotes. He fitted up a chemical laboratory in Trinity for Vigani of Verona, the professor of chemistry. He brought to Trinity the eminent orientalist, Sike of Bremen, afterwards professor of Hebrew. True to the spirit of the royal founder, Bentley wished Trinity College to be indeed a house ‘of all kinds of good letters,’ and at a time when England’s academic ideals were far from high he did much to render it not only a great college, but also a miniature university.”[88]

And “a house of all kinds of good letters” Trinity has remained, and will surely always remain. As we walk lingeringly through its halls and courts what thronging historic memories crowd upon us! We may not forget the failures as well as the successes; the defeats as well as the triumphs; “the lost causes and impossible loyalties” as well as the persistent faith and the grand achievement; but what an inspiration we feel must such a place be to the young souls who, year by year, enter its gates. How can the flame of ideal sympathy with the great personalities of their country’s history fail to be kindled or kept alive in such a place? Here by the Great Gate, on the first floor to the north, are the rooms where Isaac Newton lived. It was to these rooms that in 1666 he brought back the glass prism which he had bought in the Stourbridge Fair, and commenced the studies which eventually made it possible for Pope to write the epitaph:—

“Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night,
God said ‘Let Newton be!’ and all was light.”

It was in these rooms that he had entertained his friends, John Locke, Richard Bentley, Isaac Barrow, Edmund Halley, Gilbert Burnett, who afterwards wrote of him, “the whitest soul I ever knew.” It was here that he wrote his “Principia.” It is in the ante-chapel close by that there stands that beautiful statue of him by Roubiliac, which Chantrey called “the noblest of our English statues,” and of which Wordsworth has recorded how he used to lie awake at night to think of that “silent face” shining in the moonlight:—

“The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of thought alone.”

And in the chapel beyond, with its double range of “windows richly dight” with the figures of saints and worthies and benefactors of the College—Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Edward Coke, Sir Harry Spelman, Lord Craven, Roger Cotes, Archbishop Whitgift, Bishop Pearson, Bishop Barrow, Bishop Hacket, the poets Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, Cowley and Dryden—is it possible for the youthful worshipper not sometimes to be aroused and uplifted above the thoughts of sordid vulgarity, of moral isolation, of mean ambition, to “see visions and dream dreams,” visions of coming greatness for city, or country, or empire, visions of great principles struggling in mean days of competitive scrambling, dreams of opportunity of some future service for the common good, which shall not be unworthy of his present heritage in these saints and heroes of the past, who may—

“Live again
In minds made better by their presence; live
In pulses stirred to generosity,
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
For miserable aims that end with self,
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge man’s search
To vaster issues.”



“Nec modo seminarium augustum et conclusum nimis, verum in se amplissimum campum collegium esse cupimus: ubi juvenes, apum more, de omnigenis flosculis pro libita libent, modo mel legant, quo et eorum procudantur linguæ et pectora, tanquam crura, thymo compleantur: ita ut tandem ex collegio quasi ex alveari evolantes, novas in quibus se exonerent ecclesiæ sedes appetant.”—Statutes of Sidney College.

Queen Elizabeth and the Founder of Emmanuel—The Puritan Age—Sir Walter Mildmay—The Building of Emmanuel—The Tenure of Fellowships—Puritan Worthies—The Founder of Harvard—Lady Frances Sidney—The Sidney College Charter—The Buildings—The Chapel the old Franciscan Refectory—Royalists and Puritans—Oliver Cromwell—Thomas Fuller—A Child’s Prayer for his Mother.

“I HEAR, Sir Walter,” said Queen Elizabeth to the founder of Emmanuel College, “you have been erecting a Puritan foundation.” “No, madam,” he replied, “far be it from me to countenance anything contrary to your established laws; but I have set an acorn, which, when it becomes an oak, God alone knows what will be the fruit therefrom.” And Sir Walter Mildmay expressed no doubt truthfully what was his own intention as a founder, for although it is customary to speak of both Emmanuel and Sidney Colleges as Puritan foundations, and although it admits of no question that the prevailing tone of Emmanuel College was from the first intensely Puritan in tone, yet it cannot certainly be said that either Emmanuel College or the college established by the Lady Frances Sidney two years later, were specially designed by their founders to strengthen the Puritan movement in the University. They synchronised with it no doubt, and many of their earliest members gave ample proof of their sympathy with it. But as foundations they sprang rather from the impulse traceable on the one hand to the literary spirit of the Renaissance, and on the other to the desire of promoting that union of rational religion with sound knowledge, which the friends of the New Learning, the disciples of Colet, Erasmus, and More had at heart. The two colleges were born, in fact, at the meeting-point of two great epochs of history. The age of the Renaissance was passing into the age of Puritanism. Rifts which were still little were widening every hour, and threatening ruin to the fabric of Church and State which the Tudors had built up. A new political world was rising into being; a world healthier, more really national, but less picturesque, less wrapt in the mystery and splendour that poets love. Great as were the faults of Puritanism, it may fairly claim to be the first political system which recognised the grandeur of the people as a whole.

Hall & Chapel, Emmanuel College.

As great a change was passing over the spiritual sympathies of man; a sterner Protestantism was invigorating and ennobling life by its morality, by its seriousness, and by its intense conviction of God. But it was at the same time hardening and narrowing it. The Bible was superseding Plutarch. The obstinate questionings which haunted the finer souls of the Renaissance were being stereotyped in the theological formulas of the Puritan. The sense of divine omnipotence was annihilating man. The daring which turned England into a people of adventurers, the sense of inexhaustible resources, the buoyant freshness of youth, the intoxicating sense of beauty and joy, which inspired Sidney and Marlowe and Drake, was passing away before the consciousness of evil and the craving to order man’s life aright before God.

Emmanuel and Sidney Colleges were the children of this transition period. Sir Walter Mildmay, the founder of Emmanuel, was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the reign of Elizabeth, known and trusted by the Queen from her girlhood—she exchanged regularly New Year’s gifts with him—a tried friend and discreet diplomatist, who had especially been distinguished in the negotiations in connection with the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots. He had been educated at Christ’s College, though apparently he had taken no degree. He was a man, however, of some learning, and retained throughout life a love for classical literature. Sir John Harrington, in his “Orlando Furioso,” quotes a Latin stanza, which he says he derived from the Latin poems of Sir Walter Mildmay. These poems, however, are not otherwise known. He is also spoken of as the writer of a book entitled “A Note to Know a Good Man.” His interest in his old university and sympathy with letters is attested by the fact that he contributed a gift of stone to complete the tower of Great S. Mary’s, and established a Greek lectureship and six scholarships at Christ’s College. He had acquired considerable wealth in his service of the State, having also inherited a large fortune from his father, who had been one of Henry VIII.’s commissioners for receiving the surrender of the dissolved monasteries. It was fitting, perhaps, he felt, that some portion of this wealth should be devoted to the service of religion and sound learning. Anyhow, in the month of January 1584, we find the Queen granting to her old friend, “his heirs, executors, and assigns,” a charter empowering them “to erect, found, and establish for all time to endure a certain college of sacred theology, the sciences, philosophy and good arts, of one master and thirty fellows and scholars, graduate or non-graduate, or more or fewer according to the ordinances and statutes of the same college.” On the 23rd of the previous November, Sir Walter had purchased for £550 the land and buildings of the Dominican or Black Friars, which had been established at Cambridge in 1279 and dissolved in 1538. During the fifty years that had elapsed since the dissolution the property had passed through various hands. Upon passing into the hands of Sir Walter it is thus described:—

“All that the scite, circuit, ambulance and precinct of the late Priory of Fryers prechers, commonly called the black fryers within the Towne of Cambrigge ... and all mesuages, houses, buildinges, barnes, stables, dovehouses, orchards, gardens, pondes, stewes, waters, land and soyle within the said scite.... And all the walles of stone, brick or other thinge compassinge and enclosinge the said scite.”

The present buildings stand upon nearly the same sites as those occupied by the original buildings, which were adapted to the requirements of the new college by Ralph Symons, the architect, who had already been employed at Trinity and S. John’s. The hall, parlour, and butteries were constructed out of the Church of the Friars. It is recorded that “in repairing the Combination Room about the year 1762, traces of the high altar were very apparent near the present fireplace.” The Master’s lodge was formed at the east end of the same range, either by the conversion of the east part of the church, or by the erection of a new building. A new chapel, running north and south—the non-orientation, it is said, being due to Puritan feeling—was built to the north of the Master’s lodge. The other new buildings consisted of a kitchen on the north side of the hall and a long range of chambers enclosing the court on the south. Towards the east there were no buildings, the court on that side being enclosed by a low wall. The entrance to the College was in Emmanuel Lane, through a small outer court, having the old chapel as its southern range and the kitchen as the northern. From this the principal court was reached by passages at either end of the hall. The range known as the Brick Building was added in 1632, extending southwards from the east end of the Founder’s Chambers. In 1668 the present chapel was built facing east and west, in the centre of the southern side of the principal court. By this time, it is said, the old chapel had become ruinous. Moreover, it had never been consecrated, and the Puritanical observances alleged to have been practised in it were giving some offence to the Restoration authorities. The following statement, drawn up in 1603,[89] is interesting, not only as giving a graphic picture of the disorders complained of at Emmanuel, but also incidentally of the customs of other colleges:—

“1. First for a prognostication of disorder, whereas all the chappells in ye University are built with the chancell eastward, according to ye uniform order of all Christendome. The chancell in ye colledge standeth north, and their kitchen eastward.

“2. All other colledges in Cambridge do strictly observe, according to ye laws and ordinances of ye Church of Englande, the form of publick prayer, prescribed in ye Communion Booke. In Emmanuel Colledge they do follow a private course of publick prayer, after yr own fashion, both Sondaies, Holydaies and workie daies.

“3. In all other colledges, the Mrs and Scholers of all sorts do wear surplisses and hoods, if they be graduates, upon ye Sondaies and Holydaies in ye time of Divine Service. But they of Emmanuel Colledge have not worn that attier, either at ye ordinary Divine Service, or celebration of ye Lord’s Supper, since it was first erected.

“4. All other colledges do wear, according to ye order of ye University, and many directions given from the late Queen, gowns of a sett fashion, and square capps. But they of Eman. Colledge are therein altogether irregular, and hold themselves not to be tied to any such orders.

“5. Every other Colledge according to the laws in that behalf provided, and to the custome of the King’s Householde, do refrayne their suppers upone Frydaies and other Fasting and Ember daies. But they of Eman. Coll. have suppers every such nights throughout ye year, publickly in the gr. Hall, yea upon good Fridaye itself.

“6. All other Colledges do use one manner of forme in celebratinge the Holy Communion, according to the order of the Communion Booke, as particularlye the Communicants do receive kneelinge, with the particular application of these words, viz., The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.; The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.; as the sd Booke prescribeth. But in Eman. Coll. they receive that Holy Sacrament, sittinge upon forms about the Communion Table, and doe pulle the loafe one from the other, after the minister hath begon. And soe ye cuppe one drinking as it were to another, like good Fellows without any particular application of ye sd wordes, more than once for all.

“7. In other Colledges and Churches, generally none are admitted to attend att the Communion Table, in the celebration of the Holy Mystery, but Ministers and Deacons. But in Eman. Coll. the wine is filled and the table is attended by the Fellows’ subsizers.”

There is one interesting feature in connection with the foundation of Emmanuel College which calls for special notice, as showing that the Puritan founder was fully conscious of the dangers attaching to a perpetual tenure of Fellowships, as affording undue facilities for evading those practical duties of learning and teaching, the efficient discharge of which he rightly considered it should be the main object of the University to demand, and the interest of the nation to secure. “We have founded the College,” says Sir Walter, “with the design that it should be, by the grace of God, a seminary of learned men for the supply of the Church, and for the sending forth of as large a number as possible of those who shall instruct the people in the Christian faith. We would not have any Fellow suppose that we have given him, in this College, a perpetual abode, a warning which we deem the more necessary, in that we have ofttimes been present when many experienced and wise men have taken occasion to lament, and have supported their complaints by past and present utterances, that in other colleges a too protracted stay of Fellows has been no slight bane to the common weal and to the interests of the Church.”[90]

In the sequel, however, the wise forethought of Sir Walter Mildmay was to a great extent frustrated. The clause of the College statutes which embodied his design was set aside in the re-action towards conservative university tradition, which followed upon the re-establishment of the Stuart dynasty. A similar clause in the statutes of Sidney College, which had been simply transcribed from the original Emmanuel statutes, was about the same time rescinded, on the ground that it was a deviation from the customary practice of other societies, both at Oxford and Cambridge. It was not, in fact, until the close of the nineteenth century that university reformers were able to secure such a revision of the terms of Fellowship tenure as should obviate, on the one hand, the dangers which the wisdom of the Puritan founder foresaw, and, on the other, make adequate provision, under stringent and safe conditions, for the endowment of research. The old traditionary system is thus summarised by Mr. Mullinger:—

“The assumption of priests’ orders was indeed made, in most instances, an indispensable condition for a permanent tenure of a Fellowship, but it too often only served as a pretext under which all obligation to studious research was ignored, while the Fellowship itself again too often enabled the holder to evade with equal success the responsibilities of parish work. Down to a comparatively recent date, it has accordingly been the accepted theory with respect to nearly all College Fellowships that they are designed to assist clergymen to prepare for active pastoral work, and not to aid the cause of learned or scientific research. Occasionally, it is true, the bestowal of a lay fellowship has fallen upon fruitful ground. The Plumian Professorship fostered the bright promise of a Cotes: the Lucasian sustained the splendid achievements of Newton. But for the most part those labours to which Cambridge can point with greatest pride and in whose fame she can rightly claim to share—the untiring scientific investigations which have established on a new and truer basis the classification of organic existence or the succession of extinct forms—or the long patience and profound calculations which have wrested from the abysmal depths of space the secrets of stupendous agencies and undreamed of laws—or the scholarship which has restored, with a skill and a success that have moved the envy of united Germany, some of the most elaborate creations of the Latin muse—have been the achievements of men who have yielded indeed to the traditional theory a formal assent but have treated it with a virtual disregard.”[91]

How essentially Puritan was the prevailing tone of Emmanuel during the early days we may surmise from the fact, that in the time of the Commonwealth no less than eleven masters of other colleges in the University came from this Foundation—Seaman of Peterhouse, Dillingham of Clare Hall, Whichcote of King’s, Horton of Queens’, Spurston of S. Catharine’s, Worthington of Jesus, Tuckney of John’s, Cudworth of Christ’s, Sadler of Magdalene, Hill of Trinity. Among some of the earliest students to receive their education within its walls were many of the Puritan leaders of America. Cotton Mather, in his “Ecclesiastical History of New England,” gives a conspicuous place in its pages to the names of Emmanuel men—Thomas Hooker, John Cotton, Thomas Shephard. “If New England,” he says, “hath been in some respect Immanuel’s Land, it is well; but this I am sure of, Immanuel College contributed more than a little to make it so.” Few patriotic Americans of the present day, visiting England, omit to make pilgrimage to Emmanuel, for was not the founder of their University, Harvard College, an Emmanuel man, graduating from that college in 1631, and proceeding to his M.A. degree in 1635? John Harvard, “the ever memorable benefactor of learning and religion in America,” as Edward Everett justly styles him—“a godly gentleman and lover of learning,” as he is called by his contemporaries, “a scholar, and pious in life, and enlarged towards the country and the good of it in life and death,” seems indeed to have been a worthy son of both Emmanuel and of Cambridge, a Puritan indeed, but of that fuller and manlier type which was characteristic of the Elizabethan age rather than of the narrower, more contentious, more pedantic order which set in with and was hardened and intensified by the arbitrary provocations of the Stuart regime.

Downing College

The last in date of foundation of the Cambridge Colleges with which we have to deal—for Downing College, unique as it is in many ways, and attractive (its precincts, “a park in the heart of a city”), is not yet a century old, and its history although in some respects of national importance, lies beyond our limit of time—was the “Ancient and Protestant Foundation of Sidney Sussex College.”

The foundress of Sydney Sussex College was the Lady Frances Sidney, one of the learned ladies of the court of Elizabeth. She was the aunt both of Sir Philip Sidney and of the Earl of Leicester; the wife of Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex, known at least to all readers of “Kenilworth” as the rival of Leicester. To-day the noble families of Pembroke, Carnarvon, and Sidney all claim her as a common ancestress. A few years ago, in conjunction with the authorities of the college, they restored her tomb, which occupies the place of the altar in the chapel of S. Paul in Westminster Abbey. It was the Dean of Westminster, her friend Dr. Goodman, who gave to the college that portrait of the foundress which hangs above the high table in the college hall.

It is a characteristic of the period which may be worth noting here—of the middle, that is, of the sixteenth century—when the destinies of Europe were woven by the hands of three extraordinary queens, who ruled the fortunes of England, France, and Scotland—that, as the fruits of the Renaissance and of the outgrowth of the New Learning, and perhaps also of the independent spirit of the coming Puritanism, learned women should in some degree be leading the van of English civilisation.

How long the Lady Frances had had the intention of founding a college, and what was the prompting motive, we do not know. In her will, however, which is dated December 6, 1588, the intention is clearly stated. After giving instructions as to her burial and making certain bequests, she proceeds to state “that since the decease of her late lord”—he had died five years previously—“she had yearly gathered out of her revenues so much as she conveniently could, purposing to erect some goodly and godly monument for the maintenance of good learning.” In performance of the same, her charitable pretence, she directs her executors to employ the sum of £5000 (made up from her ready-money yearly reserved, a certain portion of plate, and other things which she had purposely left) together with all her unbequeathed goods, for the erection of a new college in the University of Cambridge, to be called the “Lady Frances Sidney Sussex College, and for the purchasing some competent lands for the maintaining of a Master, ten Fellows, and twenty Scholars, if the said £5000 and unbequeathed goods would thereunto extend.”

On her death in the following year her executors, the Earl of Kent and Sir John Harrington, at once attempted to carry out her wishes. Of them and their endeavour, Fuller, himself a Sidney man, has thus, as always, quaintly written:—

“These two noble executors in the pursuance of the will of this testatrix, according to her desire and direction therein, presented Queen Elizabeth with a jewel, being like a star, of rubies and diamonds, with a ruby in the midst thereof, worth an hundred and forty pounds, having on the back side a hand delivering up a heart into a crown. At the delivery hereof they humbly requested of her Highness a mortmain to found a College, which she graciously granted unto them”—though the royal license did not actually come until five years later. “We usually observe infants born in the seventh month, though poor and pitiful creatures, are vital; and with great care and good attendance, in time prove proper persons. To such a partus septimestris may Sidney College well be resembled, so low, lean, and little at the birth thereof. Alas! what is five thousand pounds to buy the site, build and endow a College therewith?... Yet such was the worthy care of her honourable executors, that this Benjamin College—the least and last in time, and born after (as he at) the death of his mother—thrived in a short time to a competent strength and stature.”[92]

Some delay ensued, for it was not until 1593 that, at the motion of the executors, an Act of Parliament was passed enabling Trinity College to sell or let at fee farm rent the site of the Grey Friars. The College charter is dated February 14, 1596. The building was commenced in the following May, and completed, with the exception of the chapel, in 1598. In the same year the original statutes were framed by the executors. They are largely copied from those of Emmanuel, and are equally verbose, cumbrous, and ill-arranged. One clause in them which speaks of the Master as one who “Papismum, Hæreses, superstitiones, et errores omnes ex animo abhorret et detestatur,” testifies to the intentionally Protestant character of the College, a fact, however, which did not prevent James II., on a vacancy in the mastership, intruding on the society a Papist Master, Joshua Basset, of Caius, of whom the Fellows complained that he was “let loose upon them to do what he liked.” They had, however, their revenge, for, although later he was spoken of as “such a mongrel Papist, who had so many nostrums in his religion that no part of the Roman Church could own him,” in 1688 he was deposed.

The architect of the College buildings was Ralph Simons, who had built Emmanuel and “thoroughly reformed a great part of Trinity College.” It is interesting to note that more than half of the sum received from Lady Sidney’s estate to found and endow the College was expended in the erection of the hall, the Master’s lodge, and the hall court. These buildings formed the whole of the College when it was opened in 1598. How picturesque it must have been in those days, before the red brick of which it is built was covered with plaster, one can see by Loggan’s print of the College, made about 1688. The buildings are simple enough, but quite well designed. The “rose-red” of the brick, at least, seems to have struck the poet, Giles Fletcher, when he wrote of Sidney in 1633 in his Latin poem on the Cambridge colleges:—

“Haec inter media aspicies mox surgere tecta
Culminibus niveis roseisque nitentia muris;
Nobilis haec doctis sacrabit femina musis,
Conjugio felix, magno felicior ortu,
Insita Sussexo proles Sidneia trunco.”

The Garden Front Sidney Sussex College

The arrangement of the hall, kitchen, buttery, and Master’s lodge was much the same as at present. The hall had an open timber roof, with a fine oriel window at the dais end, but no music gallery. Fuller says that the College “continued without a chapel some years after the first founding thereof, until at last some good men’s charity supplied this defect.” In 1602, however, the old hall of the friars—Fuller calls it the dormitory, but there is little doubt that it was in reality the refectory—was fitted up as a chapel, and a second storey added to form a library. A few years later, about 1628, a range of buildings forming the south side of the chapel court was built. In 1747, the buildings having become ruinous, extensive repairs were carried out, and the hall was fitted up in the Italian manner. The picturesque gateway which had stood in the centre of the street wall of the hall court was removed, and a new one of more severe character was built in its place. This also at a later time was removed and re-erected as a garden entrance from Jesus Lane.

Between 1777 and 1780 the old chapel was destroyed, and replaced by a new building designed by Essex, in a style in which, to say the least, there is certainly nothing to remind the modern student of the old hall of the Grey Friars’ Monastery, where for three centuries of stirring national life the Franciscan monks had kept alive, let us hope, something of the mystic tenderness, the brotherly compassion, the fervour of missionary zeal, which they had learnt from their great founder, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Of the old Fellows’ garden, which in 1890 was partly sacrificed to provide a site for the new range of buildings and cloister—perhaps the most beautiful of modern collegiate buildings at either university—designed by Pearson, Dyer writes with enthusiasm:—

“Here is a good garden, an admirable bowling green, a beautiful summer house, at the back of which is a walk agreeably winding, with variety of trees and shrubs intertwining, and forming the whole length, a fine canopy overhead; with nothing but singing and fragrance and seclusion; a delightful summer retreat; the sweetest lovers’ or poets’ walk, perhaps in the University.”

To the extremely eclectic character of the College in its early days the Master’s admission register testifies. Among its members were some of the stoutest Royalists and also some of the stoutest Republicans in the country. Among the former we find such names as those of Edward Montagu (afterwards first Baron Montagu of Boughton), brother of the first Master, a great benefactor of the College; of Sir Roger Lestrange, of Hunstanton Hall, in Norfolk, celebrated as the editor of the first English newspaper, “a man of good wit, and a fancy very luxuriant and of an enterprising nature,” in early youth—his attempt to recover the port of Lynn for the King in 1644 is one of the funniest episodes in English history—a very Don Quixote of the Royalist party; and of Seth Ward, a Fellow of the college, who was ejected in Commonwealth times, but had not to live long, before he was able to write back to his old College that he had been elected to the See of Exeter, and that “the old bishops were exceeding disgruntled at it, to see a brisk young bishop, but forty years old, not come in at the right door, but leap over the pale.” Among the Republican members of the College it is enough, perhaps, to name the name of Oliver Cromwell. And of him, at least, whatever our final verdict on his career may be, whatever dreams of personal ambition we may think mingled with his aim, we cannot surely deny, if at least we have ever read his letters, that his aim was, in the main, a high and unselfish one, and that in the career, which to our modern minds may seem so strange and complex, he had seen the leading of a divine hand that drew him from the sheepfolds to mould England into a people of God. And to some, surely, he seems the most human-hearted sovereign and most imperial man in all English annals since the days of Alfred. And no one, I trust, would in these days endorse the verdict of the words interpolated in the College books between the entry of his name and the next on the list:—

Hic fuit grandis ille impostor, carnifex perditissimus, qui, pientissimo rege Carolo primo nefaria cæde sublato, ipsum usurpavit thronum, et tria regna per quinque ferme annorum spatium sub protectoris nomine indomita tyrannide vexavit,”

which may be Englished thus—

“This was that arch hypocrite, that most abandoned murderer, who having by shameful slaughter put out of the way the most pious King, Charles the First, grasped the very throne, and for the space of nearly five years under the title of Protector harassed three kingdoms with inflexible tyranny.”

Rather, as we stand in the College Hall and gaze up at the stern features, as depicted by Cooper,[93] in that best of all the Cromwell portraits, shall we not commemorate this greatest of Sidney men, in Lowell’s words, as—

“One of the few who have a right to rank
With the true makers: for his spirit wrought
Order from chaos; proved that Right divine
Dwelt only in the excellence of Truth:
And far within old darkness’ hostile lines
Advanced and pitched the shining tents of Light.
Nor shall the grateful Muse forget to tell
That—not the least among his many claims
To deathless honour—he was Milton’s friend.”

Thomas Fuller, too, who was neither Republican nor Royalist, but loyal to the good men of both parties in the State, is a name of which Sidney College may well be proud. No one can read any of his books, full as they are of imagination, pathos, and an exuberant, often extravagant, but never ineffective wit, without heartily endorsing Coleridge’s saying: “God bless thee, dear old man!” and recognising the truth of his panegyric, “Next to Shakespeare, I am not certain whether Thomas Fuller, beyond all other writers, does not excite in me the sense and emulation of the marvellous.... He was incomparably the most sensible, the least prejudiced great man in an age that boasted of a galaxy of great men.”

And with Fuller’s name, indeed with Fuller’s own words, in that benediction which, after eight years of residence, he gave to Sidney College, and which he himself calls his “Child’s Prayer to His Mother,” I may appropriately end this chapter.

“Now though it be only the place of the parent, and proper to him (as the greater) to bless his child, yet it is of the duty of the child to pray for his parent, in which relation my best desires are due to this foundation, my mother (for the last eight years) in this University. May her lamp never lack light for oil, or oil for the light thereof. Zoar, is it not a little one? Yet who shall despise the day of small things? May the foot of sacrilege, if once offering to enter the gates thereof, stumble and rise no more. The Lord bless the labours of all the students therein, that they may tend and end at his glory, their own salvation, the profit and honour of the Church and Commonwealth.”

And not less appropriately, perhaps, may I end, not only this chapter, but this whole sketch of the story of Cambridge and its colleges—for to the memory of what more kindly, more sound-hearted, more pious soul could any Sidney man more fitly dedicate his book than to his—with the prayer in which, in closing his own History, he gracefully connects the name of Cambridge with that of the sister university, and commends them both to the charitable devotion of all good men.

“O God! who in the creating of the lower world didst first make light (confusedly diffused, as yet, through the imperfect universe) and afterwards didst collect the same into two great lights, to illuminate all creatures therein; O Lord, who art a God of knowledge and dost lighten every man that cometh into the world; O Lord, who in our nation hast moved the hearts of Founders and Benefactors to erect and endow two famous luminaries of learning and religion, bless them with the assistance of Thy Holy Spirit. Let neither of them contest (as once Thy disciples on earth) which should be the greatest, but both contend which shall approve themselves the best in Thy presence.... And as Thou didst appoint those two great lights in the firmament to last till Thy servants shall have no need of the sun, nor of the moon to shine therein, for Thy glory doth lighten them; so grant these old lights may continue until all acquired and infused knowledge be swallowed up with the vision and the fruition of Thy blessed-making Majesty.—Amen.”


A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, U, V, W.

Akeman Street, old Roman road known as, 15
Alan de Walsingham, cathedral builder, 174
Alcock, Thomas, Bishop of Ely, founder of Jesus College, 185, 186;
his plan of incorporating grammar-school with college, 187, 189
Alcwyne, departure of, from England, 52
Audley, Sir Thomas, conversion of Buckingham College into Magdalene by, 249;
Fuller’s account of, 249, 250;
grant of suppressed monasteries made to, 251
Augustinian Friars, settlement of, on site of old Botanic Gardens, 72

Barnard Flower, King’s glazier, 151
Barnwell, origin of name, 37;
Augustinian priory of, 35, 36;
foundation and further history of, 36, 37;
rebuilding of, 38;
present remains of, 38
Barnwell Cartulary, 18, 40
Barnwell Fair, 17, 18
Barrow, Dr. Isaac, Master of Trinity, his work in connection with, 260
Bateman, William, Bishop of Norwich, founder of Trinity Hall, 174
Bede, monastic school of, 51, 52;
book on “The Nature of Things” by, 52
Benedictine Order, re-establishment of, under St. Dunstan, 53;
discipline of, 75
Bentley, Dr. Richard, Master of Trinity, feud between Fellows and, 261-2;
work of, in connection with college, 262
Bibliotheca Pepysiana, 252
Black Death, the, 103, 111, 134
Black Friars, arrival of, in England, 55;
land and buildings belonging to, purchased for site of Emmanuel College, 268
Books, complaint by Roger Bacon of lack of, 57
Brazen George Inn, the scholars of Christ’s lodged in, 220
British earthworks, 14
Buckingham College, description of, by Fuller, 248;
foundation of, by Benedictine, 248;
hall built in connection with, 248;
lectures by Cranmer at, 249;
semi-secular character of, 249;
conversion of, into Magdalene College, 249
Burne-Jones, designs by, for Jesus Chapel, 203

Caius, John, founder of College, 114;
design for famous three gates by, 114-19;
death of, 119
Camboritum, 16, 17
Cambridge, verses on, by Lydgate, 2;
legendary history of, 3-8;
position of, 14;
origin of name of, 15, 16;
geographical position of, 17;
early population of, 24;
farm of, given as dower to the queen, 24;
beginnings of municipal independence of, 27;
“the borough,” overflow of, incorporated with township of S. Benet, 28, 32;
first charter of, 48
Cambridge Guilds, 120, 121, 122-26
Cambridge University, migration of masters and scholars from Paris to, 59, 60;
royal writs concerning, 60;
description of, in Middle Ages, 61, 62, 63;
course of study pursued at, 63, ff.;
learning at, in thirteenth century, 68-70;
library, erected by Sir Gilbert Scott, 144
Candle rent, insurrection of towns-people on account of, 132, 133
Cantelupe, Nicholas, legendary history by, 4-7
Carmelites, settlement of, on present site of Queens’, 72
Castle, old site of, 15;
foundation of, by William the Conqueror, 22;
use of, as prison, as a quarry, 23;
gate-house of, demolished, 23
Castle Hill, ancient earthwork known as, 14, 15
Chaucer, tradition concerning, 106
Abbey, the, 39
All Saints by the Castle, 34
Holy Sepulchre, one of the four round churches of England, 40, 43, 44
S. Benedict, 28, 29, 31, 125, 130-31
S. Edward, 176;
independence of, with regard to pulpit teaching, 177, 178
S. Giles, 34, 35
S. John Zachary, 176
S. Mary at Market, afterwards Great S. Mary, 123
S. Peter, without the Trumpington Gate, afterwards called Little S. Mary, 86, 87
S. Peter by the Castle, 34
Close, Nicholas, architect of King’s Chapel, 147, 148
Coleridge, S. T., scholar of Jesus, 208;
poems written by, at College, 208
College, meaning of the term in olden times, 62
Caius. See Gonville Hall
Christ’s, foundation of, 210, 215;
God’s House, taken as basis of, 215;
Royal Charter of, 216;
description of buildings of, 217, 218;
hall of, rebuilt by Sir Gilbert Scott, 219;
windows of, 219, 220;
scholars of, lodged in the Brazen George, 220;
Rat’s Hall, erection of, 220;
further buildings of, erected by Inigo Jones, 220;
“re-beautifying the Chappell” of, 220, 221;
John Milton and Charles Darwin members of, 221, 223;
other distinguished members of, 223, 224
Clare. See University Hall
Corpus Christi, foundation of, 121, 127;
building of, 126, 127;
royal benefactors of, 128;
distinguished men belonging to, 128, 129;
library given by Matthew Parker to, 128;
description of old buildings of, 129;
new library of, 130;
attack on, by townspeople, 132, 133
Emmanuel, foundation of, 265;
design of Sir W. Mildmay in founding, 265;
charter of, granted by Queen Elizabeth, 268;
land and buildings of the Black Friars purchased for site of, 268;
buildings of, erected, 269;
offence given by the Puritanical observances of, 269;
statement drawn up concerning the same, 270-71;
tenure of fellowships at, 271-272;
revision of terms concerning, 272;
masters of other colleges elected from, 273;
John Harvard, a graduate of, 274
Gonville Hall, first foundation of, 110;
removal of, 111;
statutes of, 111, 112;
old buildings of, 112;
bequest by John Household to, 112;
strong support of reformed opinions at, 113;
second foundation by John Caius, 114;
architectural additions made by, 114;
famous three gates designed by, 114-19
Jesus, foundation of, 180;
number of society of at first, 187;
grammar-school incorporated with, 187, 189;
nunnery of S. Rhadegund converted into buildings of, 189, 190, 199, 200;
“the chimney” at, 200;
the chapel of, 201-203;
constitution of, 203, 204;
failure of plan for incorporating school with, 204;
Cranmer and other famous men at, 204, 207, 208;
King James’s saying regarding, 209
King’s, foundation of by Henry VI., 142;
confiscation of alien priories for endowment of, 143;
provision concerning the transference of Eton scholars to, 144;
first site of, 144;
description of old buildings of, 144;
incorporation of, in new buildings of university library, 114;
old gateway of, 145;
ampler site obtained for, 146, 147;
chapel of, 147-50;
work in connection with stopped, 150;
renewed, 151;
windows of, 151, 152;
screen and rood-loft, 153;
further buildings of, 153, 154;
Pope’s bull granting independence of, 154;
distinguished men belonging to, 157, 158;
King James’s saying regarding, 209
King’s Hall, first establishment of, 97, 98;
absorption of by Trinity, 97, 257;
picture of collegiate life given in statutes of, 98, 99
Magdalene, Buckingham College converted into, 248;
dissimilarity of original statutes of, with those of Christ’s and S. John’s, 251;
Duke of Norfolk contributes to revenues of, 251;
date of quadrangle of, 251;
of chapel and library of, 251;
chambers added to Monk’s College for accommodation of scholars of, 252;
new gateway of, 252;
chapel of, “Italianised” and restored, 252;
Pepysian Library of, 252;
reference to same in Pepys’ “Diary,” 252;
famous Magdalene men, 253
Michaelhouse, foundation of and early statutes, 97;
absorption of, by Trinity, 97, 257
Pembroke, foundation of, 93;
Countess of Pembroke, foundress of, 106, 107;
charter of, 107;
constitution of, 108;
building of, 108, 109;
remains of old buildings of, 110
Peterhouse, foundation of, 77;
first code of statutes of, 79-81;
hall of, 82-84;
Fellows’ parlour at, 85;
Perne library at, 89, 90;
building of present chapel of, 81;
description of same, 92
Queens’, foundation of by Margaret of Anjou, 158-61;
earliest extant statutes of, 161;
change of name of from Queen’s to Queens’, 161;
similarity of building of with that of Haddon Hall, 162;
description of principal court of, 162, 165;
Tower of Erasmus at, 165, 166;
residence of Erasmus at, 165-71
S. Catherine’s Hall, foundation of, 181;
statutes of, 181;
old buildings of, 181, 182;
rebuilding of, 182;
new chapel of, built on site of Hobson’s stables, 182
S. John’s, royal license to refound the Monastic Hospital of, 226;
bequest of Lady Margaret lost to, through opposition of Court Party, 230;
other revenues obtained for, by Bishop Fisher, 231;
first Master of, 231;
early and present buildings of, 231, 232;
“Bridge of Sighs” at, 232;
great gateway of, 235;
old and new library of, 235, 236, 237;
the Masters’ gallery at, 236;
lines on by Wordsworth, 237, 238;
new chapel of, erected by Sir Gilbert Scott, 238, 241;
famous men at, 241, 242
Sidney, foundation of, 265;
desire of Lady Frances Sidney in the founding of, 266;
Fuller’s account of petition to Queen Elizabeth concerning, 275-76;
granting of charter to, 276-77;
original statutes of, 277;
Papist master of, deposed, 278;
buildings of, 278-79;
poem by Giles Fletcher on, 278;
old chapel of, destroyed, 279;
old Fellows’ garden at, 279;
Royalist and Republican members of, 280;
Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fuller members of, 281;
Fuller’s “Child’s Prayer to his Mother,” and prayer at close of his history, 283
Trinity Hall, origin of, 174;
buildings of, 175, 176;
hall of, 176;
chapel of, 176;
beating the bounds by Fellows of, 178;
old library of, 179;
Garden and “Jowett’s Plot” at, 180;
King James’s saying concerning, 209;
example of change from mediæval to modern conception of learning furnished by, 253;
King Henry’s charter of foundation, 253;
site of, 254
Trinity College, relation of old halls and hostels with present buildings of, 254-55;
Dr. Thomas Neville’s work in connection with, 258;
building of new library at, 260;
later additions to, 261;
two minor halls at, replaced by Bishop’s hostel, 261;
feud between Master and Fellows of, 261;
Dr. Bentley’s work in connection with, 262;
Isaac Newton at, 263;
other famous men connected with, 263
University Hall, first foundation of, 93, 99;
refoundation of, as Clare House, 99;
statutes of, 100, 103, 104;
dispute of with King’s College, 104, 105;
supposed identity of with Chaucer’s “Soler-Halle,” 105, 106;
great men associated with, 106
Cornelius, Austin, wood-carver, 153
Cosin, Dr., Master of Peterhouse, building of College Chapel by, 91
Cranmer, entry of, into Jesus College, 204;
fellowship at resigned by, 249;
lectures given by, at Magdalene, 249
Crauden, John of, Prior of Ely, Hostel of, 174, 175;
portrait bust of, 174
Cromwell, Oliver, member of Sidney College, 281-82;
portrait of, by Cooper, 282;
Lowell’s verses on, 282

Danes, ravages of, 52, 53
Darwin, Charles, member of Christ’s College, 221, 222, 225
De Heretico Comburendo, 136
Devil’s Dyke, British earthwork known as, 14
Dokell, Andrew, founder of S. Bernard’s Hostel, 160
Dominicans, introduction of the new philosophy by, 58, 59;
settlement of, on site of Emmanuel, 72
Drayton, Michael, picture of Fenland by, 11-12

Elizabeth, Queen, visit of, to Cambridge, 251
Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Clare, University Hall refounded by, 99
Elizabeth Wydville, Queen to Edward IV., second foundress of Queen’s College, 161
Ely, Lady Chapel, comparison of with King’s, 149, 150
Ely, student monks of, Hostel for, provided by John Crauden, 174;
transference of, to Monk’s College, 175
Erasmus, residence of, at Queens’, 165-68;
“Paraclesis” of Novum Testamentum written while there, 171;
appointment of, to Lady Margaret chair, 211;
his praise of Oxford teachers, 212;
summoned to Cambridge to teach Greek, 214
Eton College, 141;
connection of, with King’s, 144

Fenland, changes in physical features of, 9-11;
description of, in Liber Eliensis and other works, 11-13
Fisher, John, Bishop of Rochester, founder of Christ’s and S. John’s, 185, 242;
notice of Lady Margaret attracted by, 211;
divinity professorship founded by, 212;
literary revival at Cambridge promoted by, 214, 242;
speech by, in Parliament, 250;
funeral sermon on Lady Margaret by, 228, 229;
sympathy of, with new spirit of Bible criticism, 242;
friendship of, with Erasmus, 242;
attachment of, to Papal cause, 242;
character of, evidenced by his codes of statutes, 243;
opposition of, to divorce of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Arragon, 243;
description of trial and death of, by Froude and Mullinger, 244, 245
Fletcher, Giles, poem by, on Sidney College, 278
Franciscans, first habitation of, 55, 56;
erection of house by, on site of Sidney College, 72
Friars, proselytising of students by, 72, 73
Friars of the Order of Bethlehem, 72;
of the Sack, 72, 78
Frost, Henry, Burgess, founder of Hospital of S. John, 226
Fuller, Thomas, quotation from, concerning the Universities, 8;
account of origin of Fair by, 17, 18;
account of petition to Queen Elizabeth concerning Sidney College, 276-77;
“Child’s Prayer to his Mother,” and prayer, at close of his History, by, 283

Gilbertines, settlement of, in Trumpington Street, 72
God’s House, small foundation of latter as basis of Christ’s, 215, 216, 217, 226
Grantebrigge, Norman village of, 32
Great Bridge and Small Bridge, 33
Grey Friars, arrival of, in England, 55
Guilds. See under Cambridge
Guild of Corpus Christi, 120, 125, 126;
incorporation of, with Guild of S. Mary, 121, 126;
the “good Duke,” alderman of, 127;
Queen Philippa and family enrolled as members of, 127;
of Thegns, 122, 123;
of S. Mary, 120, 121, 123, 125;
of the Holy Sepulchre, first religious guild, 123

Harvard, John, graduate of Emmanuel, 274
Havens, Theodore, of Cleves, architect, 116
Henry VI., birth of, 137;
description of, by Stubbs, 138;
his love of letters, 142;
and holiness, 143
Henry VII., visit of, to Cambridge, 151
Henry of Costessey, Commentary on the Psalms by, 58
Hervey de Stanton, Bishop of Bath and Wells, founder of Michaelhouse, 97
High Street, old, 34
Hobson, Thomas, chapel built on site of stables belonging to, 182
Hostels, establishment of, 63;
various, absorbed by Trinity, 254-55
House of Benjamin, 47, 48
Household, John, bequest by D. Gonville, 113
Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely, founder of Peterhouse, 75, 76, 78, 79

Ingulph, story quoted from, 7

Jews, early establishment of, in Cambridge, 44;
influence of, on academic history and material condition of town, 46, 47
Josselin, fellow of Queen’s, account of the building of Corpus Christi College by, 126, 127

King’s Ditch, the, old artificial stream known as, 32, 33
King’s Scholars, 97;
regulations concerning, 98, 99
Kingsley, Charles, description of Fenland by, 12, 13

Lancaster, Henry, Duke of, alderman of Corpus Christi Guild, 127, 128
Lanes, old, still surviving, 33
Langton, John, architect of King’s Chapel, 147
Latimer, Hugh, sermon preached by, at S. Edward, 177
Learning, decline of, in fourteenth century, 95, 96
Lollardism in the university towns, 135, 136
Lydgate, John, verses on Cambridge by, 2, 3

Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby, foundress of Christ’s College and
S. John’s, description of, by Fuller, 210;
funeral sermon on, by Bishop Fisher, 210, 228, 229, 230;
influence of Bishop Fisher upon, 212, 215;
noble benefactions of, 216, 217;
rooms at Christ Church of, 218, 219;
characteristic story of, 218;
death of, 228;
monument to, 228
Margaret of Anjou, description of, by Shakespeare, 158;
foundress of Queen’s College, 158, 159, 160
Matthew Paris, description of Fenland by, 11
Mediæval students, dress of, 81-83
Merton, Walter de, exclusion of religious orders from his foundation by, 73;
his Regula Mertonensis, 74, 75, 79
Mildmay, Sir Walter, founder of Emmanuel, 265;
answer of, to Queen Elizabeth concerning same, 265
Milne Street, old, 34
Milton, John, member of Christ’s, 221;
description of rooms at, 221;
mulberry tree planted by, 221;
poems written by, as an undergraduate, 222;
treatment of at college, 223
Monasteries, depression caused by suppression of, 246;
advantages to universities arising from, 247, 248;
King Henry’s words with regard to, 247, 248
Monastic houses, early settlements of, 72
Monk’s College, monks of Ely transferred to, 175
Monk’s Hall, 175
More, Henry, member of Christ’s, 224;
as one of the Cambridge Platonists, 224, 225

Neville, Dr. Thomas, Master of Trinity, his work of building in connection with, 258-59
New Learning, the, 56, 57, 58, 183-85;
encouragement of, at Cambridge, 211;
renown of Oxford in connection with, 212;
promoted at Cambridge by Bishop Fisher, 214;
colleges of, 241;
no regard shown to, in statutes of Magdalene, 251
Newton, Sir Isaac, at Trinity, 263;
his Principia written there, 263;
statue of, by Roubiliac, 263

Parker, Matthew, Archbishop, library of MSS. belonging to, 128, 130, 131
Parker, Richard, translation of Skeletos Cantabrigiensis by, 4
Pearson, Mr., old gateway of King’s restored by, 145
Perne, Dr. Andrew, portrait of, 85;
bequest of library to Peterhouse by, 89;
account of, 89, 90;
Latin verb invented in honour of, 89
Philippa, Queen, member of Corpus Christi Guild, 127, 128
“Poore Priestes,” the, of Wycliffe, 135, 136
Preaching, art of, neglected, 212, 213;
Lady Margaret’s readership founded as a remedy for, 213, 214
Puritanism in England, 265-66

Reginald of Ely, architect of King’s Chapel, 148
Regula Mertonensis taken as model for rule of Peterhouse, 75, 79
Richard de Baden, Chancellor of the University, 99
Richard III., gift of land by, to King’s College, 151
Richard of Bury, Bishop of Durham, application from Petrarch to, 95;
description of Oxford by, 96
Rotherham, Thomas, Archbishop of York, college founded by, 187;
purposes and provisions of same, 187, 188

S. AUGUSTINE, list of books brought to England by, 50
S. Bernard Hostel, 160;
absorption of, in foundation of Queen’s, 161
S. John, Hospital of, 76, 226;
nucleus of S. John’s College, 78;
history and downfall of, 226, 228
S. Rhadegund, history of nuns of, 189-99;
conversion of nunnery of, into college buildings, 199, 200
Scholars, secular endowment of, 76;
dispute of, with regulars, 77;
removal of, 77
Scholars of Ely, 78
School of Pythagoras, old Norman house known as, 27
Schools, monastic, of Northumbria and the South, 50, 51
Scott, Sir Gilbert, University library erected by, 144;
hall of Christ’s rebuilt by, 219;
chapel of S. John’s erected by, 238, 241
Sidney, Lady Frances, foundress of Sidney College, 266, 275-76;
portrait of, 275
Simon, Montagu, Bishop of Ely, first code of statutes for Peterhouse by, 78
Spencer, Henry, Bishop of Norwich, revolt of towns-people quelled by, 133
Star Chamber, origin of name of, 46
Sterne, Laurence, portrait of, at Jesus, 207
Stourbridge Fair, earliest charter of, 18;
comparison of, with Bunyan’s “Vanity Fair,” 19, 20
Symons, Ralph, architect of Emmanuel College, 269, 278

TESTAMENT of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Greek MS. of, 56
Tower of Erasmus, 165
Town and gown, ill feeling between, 132;
riot arising from, 132, 133
Tusser, Thomas, residence of, at Trinity Hall, and verses by, 173

University, use of the term of, 60, 61

Venn, Henry, influence of, at Jesus, 208
Via Devana, or Roman Way, 15, 28, 32, 34

Walden, Abbey of, grant of, to Sir T. Audley, 252;
association of, with Buckingham College, 252
Wharfs or river hithes, rights in regard to, 33
Wordsworth, William, lines by, on S. John’s, 237, 238
Wren, Dr. Matthew, Master of Peterhouse, 90;
chapel of, built by, 91
Wren, Sir Christopher, architect of library at Trinity Hall, 260;
tables, chairs, and shelves designed by, 261


Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
Edinburgh & London


[1] Cf. Baker MS. in the University Library.

[2] See the very excellent map given in “Fenland Past and Present,” by S. H. Miller and Sidney Skertchley (published, Longmans, 1878), a book full of information on the natural features of the Fen country, its geology, its antiquarian relics, its flora and fauna.

[3] Cf. Paper by Professor Ridgway, Proc. Cam. Antiq. Soc., vii. 200.

[4] Cf. Professor M‘Kenny Hughes, Proc. Cam. Antiq. Soc., vol. viii. (1893), 173. Cf. also Freeman, “Norman Conquest,” vol. i. 323, &c.; and also English Chronicle, under year MX.

[5] The easiest way for those who are not much acquainted with phonetic laws to understand this rather difficult point is to observe the chronology of this place-name. It is thus condensed by Mr. T. D. Atkinson (“Cambridge Described and Illustrated,” p. 4) from Professor Skeat’s “Place-Names of Cambridgeshire,” 29-30:—“The name of the town was Grantebrycge in A.D. 875, and in Doomsday Book it is Grentebrige. About 1142 we first meet with the violent change Cantebrieggescir (for the county), the change from Gr to C being due to the Normans. This form lasted, with slight changes, down to the fifteenth century. Grauntbrigge (also spelt Cauntbrigge in the name of the same person) survived as a surname till 1401. After 1142 the form Cantebrigge is common; it occurs in Chaucer as a word of four syllables, and was Latinised as Cantabrigia in the thirteenth century. Then the former e dropped out; and we come to such forms as Cantbrigge and Cauntbrigge (fourteenth century); then Cānbrigge (1436) and Cawnbrege (1461) with n. Then the b turned the n into m, giving Cambrigge (after 1400) and Caumbrege (1458). The long a, formerly aa in baa, but now ei in vein, was never shortened. The old name of the river, Granta, still survives. Cant occurs in 1372, and le Ee and le Ree in the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century the river is spoken of as the Canta, now called the Rhee; and later we find both Granta and the Latinised form of Camus. Cam, which appears in Speed’s map of 1610, was suggested by the written form Cam-bridge, and is a product of the sixteenth century, having no connection with the Welsh Cam, or the British Cambos, “crooked.”

[6] “The old spelling is Bernewell, in the time of Henry III. and later. Somewhat earlier is Beornewelle, in a late copy of a charter dated 1060 (Thorpe, Diplom., p. 383). So also in the Ramsey Cartulary. The prefix has nothing to do with the Anglo-Saxon bearn, ‘a child,’ as has often, I believe, been suggested; but represents Beornan, gen. of Beorna, a pet name for a name beginning with Beorn-.... The difference between the words, which are quite distinct, is admirably illustrated in the New Eng. Dict. under the words berne and bairn.”—Skeat’s Place-Names of Cambridgeshire, p. 35.

[7] “The Borough Boys” is a nickname still remembered as being applied to the men of the castle end by the dwellers in the east side of the river. A public-house, with the sign of “The Borough Boy,” still stands in Northampton Street.

[8] “Cambridge, Described and Illustrated,” by T. D. Atkinson, p. 133.

[9] Cf. “Customs of Augustinian Canons,” by J. Willis Clark, p. xi.

[10] Lib. Mem., Book i. chap. 9.—The principal authority for the history of Barnwell Priory is a manuscript volume in the British Museum (MSS. Harl. 3601) usually referred to as the “Barnwell Cartulary” or the “Barnwell Register.” The author’s own title, however, “Liber Memorandorum Ecclesiæ de Bernewelle,” is far more appropriate, for the contents are by no means confined to documents relating to the property of the house, but consist of many chapters of miscellanea dealing with the history of the foundation from its commencement down to the forty-fourth year of Edward III. (1370-71).

[11] At the time of the Dissolution, Dugdale states the gross yearly value of the estates to have been £351, 15s. 4d., that of Ely to have been £1084, 6s. 9d.

[12] Such a small matter, for example, in the domestic economy of a modern college as the separate rendering of a “buttery bill” and a “kitchen bill,” containing items of expenditure which the puzzled undergraduate might naturally have expected to find rendered in the same weekly account, finds its explanation when we learn that in the economy of the monastery also the roll of “the celererarius” and the roll of the “camerarius” were always kept rigidly distinct. So also more serious and important customs may probably be traced to monastic origin.

[13] The others are: S. Sepulchre at Northampton, c. 1100-1127; Little Maplestead in Essex, c. 1300; The Temple Church in London, finished 1185. To these may be added the chapel in Ludlow Castle, c. 1120.

[14] “Cambridge Described,” by T. D. Atkinson, p. 164.

[15] Cf. Neubauer’s Collectanea, ii. p. 277 sq.

[16] Cf. Rashdall’s “Universities of Europe,” vol. i. p. 347.

[17] The earliest notice of this practice occurs in the University Accounts for 1507-8, when carpenters are employed to carry the materials used for the stages from the schools to the Church of the Franciscans, to set them up there, and to carry them back again to the schools. Similar notices are to be found in subsequent years.

[18] Cf. “The Cambridge Modern History,” vol. i. p. 584, &c.

[19] Cooper’s “Annals,” i. 42.

[20] Willis and Clark, “Architectural History of the University of Cambridge,” Introduction, vol. i. p. xiv.

[21] Cf. List of names given in “Willis and Clark,” vol. i. pp. xxv.-xxvii.

[22] Jubinal’s “Rutebeuf,” quoted by Wright in his Biographia Britannica Litteraria, p. 40.

[23] Stubbs, “Lectures on Mediæval and Modern History,” p. 166.

[24] Anstey, Munimenta Academica, i. pp. 204-5.

[25] “Commiss. Docts.,” ii. 1.

[26] “Documents,” ii. 78.

[27] The actual expression is, of course, scholares, but it is best to translate the word by the later title of fellows to avoid the erroneous impression which would otherwise be given. That the scholares were occasionally called fellows even in Chaucer’s day may be inferred from his lines—

“Oure corne is stole, men woll us fooles call,
Both the warden and our fellowes all.”

[28] Document II. 1-42, quoted from Mullinger’s “University of Cambridge,” i. 232.

[29] “Annals of the University,” i. 95.

[30] “Documents,” ii. 72.

[31] British Museum, Cole, MSS. xxxv. 112.

[32] Prynne, “Canterbury’s Doom,” quoted from Willis a. d. Clark, i. 46.

[33] Philobiblon, c. 9.

[34] Cooper’s “Memorials,” ii. p. 196.

[35] Cooper’s “Memorials,” vol. i. p. 30.

[36] Cf. Rogers’ “Six Centuries of Work and Wages,” p. 224. “The disease made havoc among the secular and regular clergy, and we are told that a notable decline of learning and morals was thenceforward observed among the clergy, many persons of mean acquirements and low character stepping into the vacant benefices. Even now the cloister of Westminster Abbey is said to contain a monument in the great flat stone, which we are told was laid over the remains of the many monks who perished in the great death.... Some years ago, being at Cambridge while the foundations of the new Divinity Schools were being laid, I saw that the ground was full of skeletons, thrown in without any attempt at order, and I divined that this must have been a Cambridge plague pit.”

[37] Cf. Clarke, “Cambridge,” pp. 85, 86.

[38] Cf. Mullinger, “Cambridge,” vol. i., footnote, p. 237.

[39] The poet Gray, it is said, occupied the rooms on the ground floor at the west end of the Hitcham building. Above them are those subsequently occupied by William Pitt.

[40] Cooper’s “Memorials,” i. p. 99.

[41] “Cambridge Described,” by T. D. Atkinson, p. 326.

[42] Willis and Clark, i. 177.

[43] Cooper’s “Annals,” 140.

[44] Fuller’s “History of the University,” p. 255.

[45] Fuller’s “History of the University,” p. 98.

[46] Cf. Introduction by Professor Maitland to the “Cambridge Borough Charters,” p. xvii.

[47] Miss Mary Bateson, “Introduction to Cambridge Gild Records,” published by Cambridge Antiquarian Society, 1903.

[48] Josselin, Historiola, § 2.

[49] Fuller’s “History of Cambridge,” p. 116.

[50] Stubbs, “Constitutional History,” vol. iii. p. 130.

[51] Robert Bridges.

[52] Second Part of King Henry VI., Act i. sc. 3.

[53] J. W. Clark, “Cambridge,” p. 145.

[54] G. Gilbert Scott, “History of English Architecture,” p. 181.

[55] J. W. Clarke, “Cambridge,” p. 171.

[56] Fuller, “University of Cambridge,” p. 161.

[57] “History of Queens’,” p. 154.

[58] Erasmus, Novum Instrumentum, leaf aaa. 3 to bbb.

[59] Anglia Sacra, i. 650.

[60] In the Ely “Obedientary Rolls” I find, for example, the following entries for the expenses of these Cambridge Scholars of the Monastery in the account of the chamberlain: “20, Ed. III. scholaribus pro obolo de libra, 6-1/2d. 31, 32, Ed. III. fratri S. de Banneham scholari pro pensione sua 1/1-1/2. 40, Ed. III. Solut’ 3 scholar’ studentibus apud Cantabrig’ 3/4-1/2. Simoni de Banham incipienti in theologia 2 3, viz. 1d. de libra. 9, Hen. IV. dat’ ffratri Galfrido Welyngton ad incepcionem suam in canone apud cantabrig’ 6/8. 4, Hen. V. ffratribus Edmundo Walsingham et Henry Madingley ad incepcionem 3/4.”

[61] Warren, Appendix cxvi.

[62] “Care of Books,” pp. 168-69.

[63] Vol. ii. 30.

[64] “Jesus College,” by A. Gray, p. 32.

[65] “History of Jesus,” A. Gray, p. 16.

[66] “History of Jesus,” A. Gray, p. 18.

[67] Willis and Clark’s “Architectural History of Cambridge,” vol. ii. p. 123.

[68] Erasmus, Roberto Piscatori, Epist. xiv.

[69] Mullinger, “History of the University of Cambridge,” vol. i. p. 439.

[70] Cooper’s “Annals,” vol. i. p. 273.

[71] Mullinger, “History of the University,” vol. i. p. 44.

[72] Fuller’s “History of Cambridge,” p. 182.

[73] Dr. Peile’s “History of Christ’s College,” p. 29.

[74] Cf. Milton’s “Apology for Smectymnus,” 1642.

[75] It might almost be supposed that the officials who drew royal charters kept a “model form” to meet the case of a suppressed religious house, altering the name and place to fit the occasion.

[76] Caxton, as he worked at his printing press in the Almonry, which she had founded, and who was under her special protection, said “the worst thing she ever did” was trying to draw Erasmus from his Greek studies at Cambridge to train her untoward stepson, James Stanley, to be Bishop of Ely.

[77] Mullinger’s “History of S. John’s College,” p. 17.

[78] Froude’s “History of England,” vol. ii. p. 266.

[79] Mullinger’s “History of the University,” vol. i. p. 628.

[80] Edition of Furnivall, p. 88.

[81] “English Universities,” vol. i. p. 307.

[82] Fuller, “History of Cambridge,” p. 196.

[83] This absurdity is traceable to that Skeletos Cantabrigiensis by Richard Parker, to which I drew attention in my first chapter.

[84] Nichol’s “Progress of Queen Elizabeth,” v. i. p. 182.

[85] Cooper’s “Memorials,” v. ii. p. 135.

[86] Fuller’s “History of Cambridge,” p. 236.

[87] “Tom Quad,” the great court of Christ Church, Oxford, has an area of 74,520 square feet.

[88] “National Dictionary of Biography,” vol. iv. p. 312.

[89] MSS. Barker, vi. 85; MSS. Harl. Mus. Brit., 7033; quoted, Willis and Clark, ii. 700.

[90] “Documents,” iii. 524, quoted by Mullinger, i. 314.

[91] Mullinger, vol. i. p. 318.

[92] Fuller’s “History of Cambridge,” p. 291.

[93] This portrait in crayons by Samuel Cooper (1609-72) was presented to the College in January 1766 by Thomas Hollis. In Hollis’s papers underneath his memorandum of his present to the College are three lines of Andrew Marvell—

“I freely declare it, I am for old Noll;
Though his government did a tyrant resemble,
He made England great, and her enemies tremble.”

Mr. Hollis also gave to Christ’s College four copies of the “Paradise Lost,” two of them first editions. In 1761 he sent to Trinity his portrait of Newton. He also presented books to the libraries of Harvard, Berne and Zurich: chiefly Republican literature of the seventeenth century.

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
thus serve to mark=> thus serves to mark {pg 43}
his death in 1509=> his death in 1589 {pg 89}
four widows=> four windows {pg 151}
Rennaisance=> Renaissance {pg 267}
great exent frustrated=> great extent frustrated {pg 272}

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