St Catharine's College, Cambridge

St Catharine's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1473 as Katharine Hall, it adopted its current name in 1860. The college is nicknamed "Catz". The college is located in the historic city-centre of Cambridge, and lies just south of King's College and across the street from Corpus Christi College. The college is notable for its open court (rather than closed quadrangle) that faces towards Trumpington Street.

St Catharine's is unique in being the only Oxbridge college founded by the serving head of another college.[3] The college community is moderately sized, consisting of approximately 70 fellows, 150 graduate students, and 410 undergraduates.[4]

St Catharine's College
University of Cambridge
St Catharine's College (Main Court)
Main Court, St Catharine's College
St Catharine's College heraldic shield
Arms of St Catharine's College
LocationTrumpington Street (map)
Full nameThe College or Hall of St Catharine the Virgin in the University of Cambridge
Latin nameAula sancte Katerine virginis infra Universitatem Cantabrigie
Motto in EnglishFor the wheel! (unofficial)
FounderRobert Woodlark
Named forCatherine of Alexandria
Previous namesKatharine Hall (1473-1860)
Sister collegeWorcester College, Oxford
MasterMark Welland
Endowment£35.3m (as of 30 June 2017)[2]
St Catharine's College, Cambridge is located in Central Cambridge
St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Location in Central Cambridge
St Catharine's College, Cambridge is located in Cambridge
St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Location in Cambridge



Historical plan of St Catharine's College, Cambridge (1897) - cambridgedescri00atkiuoft 0498
Plan of the College in 1897, showing stages of development

Robert Woodlark, Provost of King’s College, had begun preparations for the founding of a new college as early as 1459 when he bought tenements on which the new college could be built. The preparation cost him a great deal of his private fortune (he was suspected of diverting King's College funds), and he was forced to scale down the foundation to only three fellows. He stipulated that they must study theology and philosophy only. The college was established as "Lady Katharine Hall" in 1473. The college received its royal charter of incorporation in 1475 from King Edward IV. Woodlark may have chosen the name in homage to the mother of King Henry VI who was called Catharine, although it is more likely that it was named as part of the Renaissance cult of St Catharine, who was a patron saint of learning. At any rate, the college was ready for habitation and formally founded on St Catharine’s day (November 25) 1473. There are six Saints Catharine, but the college was named for Saint Catharine of Alexandria.[5]

St Catharine’s, as seen from Trumpington Street

The initial foundation was not well-provided for. Woodlark was principally interested in the welfare of fellows and the college had no undergraduates at all for many years. By 1550, however, there was an increasing number of junior students and the focus of the college changed to that of teaching undergraduates.

The Robinson Vote

In 1861, the then master, Henry Philpott became Bishop of Worcester, in the ensuing election Charles Kirkby Robinson and Francis Jameson stood. Jameson naturally voted for Robinson, however Robinson voted for himself, Robinson won. The episode brought the college into some disrepute for a while.[6]

Expansion and modern day

As the college entered the 17th century, it was still one of the smallest colleges in Cambridge. However, a series of prudent Masters and generous benefactors were to change the fortunes of the college and expand its size. Rapid growth in the fellowship and undergraduate population made it necessary to expand the college, and short-lived additions were made in 1622. By 1630 the college began to demolish its existing buildings which were decaying, and started work on a new court. In 1637 the college came into possession of the George Inn (later the Bull Inn) on Trumpington Street. Behind this Inn was a stables which was already famous for the practice of its manager, Thomas Hobson, not to allow a hirer to take any horse other than the one longest in the stable, leading to the expression “Hobson's choice”, meaning "take it or leave it".

The period of 1675 to 1757 saw the redevelopment of the college's site into a large three-sided court, one of only four at Oxbridge colleges; the others are at Jesus and Downing at Cambridge and Worcester, St Catharine’s sister college, at Oxford. Proposals for a range of buildings to complete the fourth side of the court have been made on many occasions.[7]

Cambridge - St Catherine's College
The College gates

The college was granted new statutes in 1860 and adopted its current name. In 1880, a movement to merge the college with King’s College began. The two colleges were adjacent and it seemed a solution to King’s need for more rooms and St Catharine’s need for a more substantial financial basis. However, the Master (Charles Kirkby Robinson) was opposed and St Catharine’s eventually refused.

In 1966 a major rebuilding project took place under the Mastership of Professor E. E. Rich. This saw the creation of a new larger hall, new kitchens and an accommodation block shared between St Catharine's and King's College. Pressure on accommodation continued to grow, and in 1981 further accommodation was built at St. Chad's on Grange Road, with further rooms added there in 1998. In 2013 the College completed the building of a new lecture theatre, college bar and JCR.[5]

In 1979, the membership of the college was broadened to welcome female students, and in 2006 the first woman was appointed as Master of the college, Dame Jean Thomas.

A history of the college was written by W. H. S. Jones in 1936.[8]

In 2015, St Catharine's became the first college in Cambridge to implement a gender-neutral dress code for formal hall.[9]


St Catharine's provides a unique academic environment which is focused on research, sport, and arts, educating students with a diverse range of talents. In addition to its academic standards, the college encourages students to pursue theatre and music, with many former students going on to become professional actors and musicians. Historically, St Catharine's has generally placed in the top third of the Tompkins Table (the annual league table of Cambridge colleges), though its position tends to vary year on year. In 2014, its position slipped to 21st,[10] but rose to 13th in 2015 with more than 25% of students gaining a First. The first time the college had been placed at the top of the Tompkins Table was in 2005. Between 1997 and 2010, the college averaged 9th of 29 colleges.

Student life

Chapel at St Catherine's College, Cambridge
Chapel at the college

The college maintains a friendly rivalry with Queens’ College after the construction of the main court of St Catharine's College on Cambridge’s former High Street relegated one side of Queens' College into a back alley. A more modern rivalry with Robinson College resulted from the construction in the 1970s of a modern block of flats named St Chad’s (in which the rooms are octagonal to resemble the wheel on the college crest) by the University Library.

The college has a strong reputation in hockey and racquet sports, in part due to its facilities for these sports including grass tennis courts and an astroturf hockey pitch. St Catharine's College Boat Club, the college boat club, hosts the Cardinals Regatta each year, in which teams compete along a short course in fancy dress with an emphasis on bribery to secure victory. The college's Boat Club is moderately strong, with both Men's and Women's 1st boats generally residing in the middle of the 1st division of the May Bumps races.

The college hosts several other notable societies. The Shirley Society is the college literary society, the oldest in Cambridge, it regularly hosts significant figures from the arts world throughout the academic year. The college-based girls' choir is the first of its kind in a UK university and is composed of girls aged 8–14 from local schools.

Notable alumni

Jeremy Paxman, September 2009 2 cropped

Jeremy Paxman, journalist.

John Ray from NPG

John Ray, naturalist.

Richard Ayoade at Soho Hotel (cropped)

Richard Ayoade, comedian and actor.

Rebecca Hall Berlinale 2010 cropped

Rebecca Hall, actress.

Ben Miller

Ben Miller, comedian and actor.

Aankomst van premier van Malakka Abdul Rahman, Bestanddeelnr 911-2803

Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia.


Rona Fairhead, Chairwoman of the BBC Trust.

James Shirley

James Shirley, dramatist.

Name Birth Death Career
John Addenbrooke 1680 1719 Founder of Addenbrooke's Hospital
David Armand 1977 Actor, comedian and writer
David Armitage 1965 Professor of History at Harvard University
Herbert Rowse Armstrong 1870 1922 Only English solicitor to be hanged for murder
Richard Ayoade 1977 Performer
Harivansh Rai Bachchan 1907 2003 20th century Indian poet
Nathaniel Bacon 1640 1676 Revolutionary in Virginia
Geoffrey Barnes 1932 2010 Secretary for Security for Hong Kong, Commissioner of Independent Commission Against Corruption
Jonathan Bate 1958 Shakespeare scholar and Provost of Worcester College, Oxford
John Bayliss 1919 2008 Poet
Peter Boizot 1929 Founder of Pizza Express
John Bond 1612 1676 Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Gp. Cpt. Leslie Bonnet 1902 1985 RAF officer, writer and originator of the Welsh Harlequin Duck
Sir Arthur Bonsall 1917 2014 Head of GCHQ
John Bradford 1510 1555 Martyr of the English reformation
Anil Kumar Gain 1919 1978 Indian mathematician and statistician, FRS
Sir Kenneth Bradshaw 1922 2007 Clerk of the House of Commons
Howard Brenton 1942 Playwright
Adam Buddle 1662 1715 After whom the Buddleia is named
Henry William Bunbury 1750 1811 Caricaturist
Francis Cammaerts DSO 1916 2006 Leading member of the French Special Operations Executive
George Corrie 1793 1885 Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
Gervase Cowell[11] 1927 2000 Intelligence Officer
Martin Crimp 1956 Playwright
John Cutts 1661 1707 MP and army commander
Donald Davie 1922 1995 Poet
John Bacchus Dykes 1823 1876 Victorian hymn-writer
Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed 1905 1977 Fifth President of India
Richard Finn Regent of Blackfriars, Oxford
Reg Gadney 1941 2018 Painter and writer
Leo Genn 1905 1978 Actor, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Brian Gibson 1944 2004 Movie Director
Maurice Glasman 1961 Political scientist and Labour peer
Charles Wycliffe Goodwin 1817 1878 Egyptologist, bible scholar and judge of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan
Lilian Greenwood 1966 British Labour Party politician
Sir Peter Hall 1930 2017 Theatre and opera director, founder of the RSC
Sir Peter Hall 1932 2014 Urban planner and geographer
Rebecca Hall 1982 Film and stage actress
Leslie Halliwell 1929 1989 Film reviewer
David Harding Hedge fund manager and founder for Winton Capital Management
Roger Harrabin 1955 Journalist and reporter
Joanne Harris 1964 Author
Sir Peter Hirsch 1925 Materials scientist
Sir Robert Howe 1893 1981 Last British Governor-General of the Sudan
Rupert Jeffcoat 1970 Organist Coventry Cathedral
Roger Knight 1946 Cricketer
Emyr Jones Parry 1947 United Nations diplomat
Paul King Director, The Mighty Boosh, Bunny and the Bull
Malcolm Lowry 1909 1957 Writer - Author of Under the Volcano, number 11 on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of the 20th century).[12]
Sir Ian McKellen 1939 Actor
Roy MacLaren 1934 Canadian diplomat, politician and author
Nevil Maskelyne 1732 1811 Astronomer Royal; developed the Lunar distance model for measuring latitude
Ian Meakins 1956 Chief Executive of Wolseley plc
Morien Morgan 1912 1978 Master of Downing College, Cambridge, known as "the father of Concorde"
Michael Morris 1936 Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons
George Nash 1989 Rowing World Champion and Olympic Medalist
Sir Foley Newns 1909 1998 Colonial administrator
Robin Nicholson 1934 Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government
Ben Miller 1966 Writer, Actor and Comedian
Geoffrey Pattie 1936 Former Minister of State for Information and Technology
Jeremy Paxman 1950 Television journalist
Nicholas Penny 1949 Director of the National Gallery
Sam Pickering 1941 Professor of English at the University of Connecticut
Steve Punt 1962 Comedian
Tunku Abdul Rahman 1903 1990 First Prime Minister of Malaysia
John Ray 1627 1705 Naturalist
Sir Thomas Roberts 1658 1706 MP
Thomas Sherlock 1678 1761 Theologian
James Shirley 1596 1666 Elizabethan poet and playwright
Arun Singh Former Defence Minister of India
Donald Soper 1903 1998 Methodist minister and campaigner
John Strype 1643 1737 Historian
Noel Thompson Television journalist
Sir Tim Waterstone 1939 Founder of Waterstones
Peter Wothers Chemist
William Wotton 1666 1727 Historian
Hannah Yelland 1976 Film & stage actress
Terence Young 1915 1994 British film director - Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball

See also


  1. ^ University of Cambridge (6 March 2019). "Notice by the Editor". Cambridge University Reporter. 149 (Special No 5): 1. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2017" (PDF). St Catharine's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  3. ^ "St Catharine's College, University of Cambridge: Your Paintings". BBC. Archived from the original on 15 October 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  4. ^ "St Catharine's College Cambridge - About St Catharine's College".
  5. ^ a b "St Catharine's College Cambridge - History of St Catharine's College".
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ W. H. S. Jones, 1936, A history of St Catharine's College, Cambridge University Press, 414 pp
  9. ^ "Cambridge college changes formal dress rules after campaign by transgender student". Archived from the original on 2015-06-24. Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  10. ^ Garner, Richard (22 July 2014). "Tompkins Table 2014: Trinity College Cambridge produces record number of firsts". Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  11. ^ Knightley, Phillip (16 May 2000). "Gervase Cowell". the Guardian.
  12. ^ "Modern Library 100 Best Novels". Modern Library. Retrieved 13 March 2008.

External links

Coordinates: 52°12′10″N 0°07′01″E / 52.2028°N 0.1170°E

Charles Lisle Carr

Charles Lisle Carr (26 September 1871 – 20 May 1942) was an Anglican clergyman who served as the second bishop of the restored see of Coventry in the modern era and the 107th Bishop of Hereford in a long line stretching back to the 7th century.

Donald Broom

Donald Maurice Broom (born 14 July 1942) is an English biologist and emeritus professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University.Donald Broom attended Whitgift School and subsequently St. Catharine's College, Cambridge. He received his BA and MA degrees in zoology and Ph.D. degree in animal behaviour from Cambridge University, supervised by William Homan Thorpe. During his time as an undergraduate, he was a keen sportsman participating in squash and water-polo. He also represented the university and was nationally ranked in modern pentathlon, becoming a Blue and being elected to the Hawks' Club.

Previous academic positions include Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader at the University of Reading. Previous advisory roles include Scientific Advisor to the Council of Europe Standing Committee on the Welfare of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes (1987–2000), Chairman of the European Union Scientific Veterinary Committee (Animal Welfare Section – 1990–1997) and Member of the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council (1991–1999). He served three years as President of the St. Catharine's College, Cambridge and was elected a fellow of the Zoological Society of London in 1987. He was awarded a Sc.D. from Cambridge University in 2002. He retired as the Colleen Macleod Professor of Animal Welfare in 2009 but continues in his other roles as Vice-Chairman of European Food Safety Authority Panel on Animal Health and Welfare and Chairman of Working Group on Welfare of Animals during Land Animal Transport for the World Organization for Animal Health.

Broom is a research scientist and science populariser who has written many books and articles on ethology, animal welfare, and evolution, gives public lectures and broadcasts, as well as advising European political bodies on animal welfare science matters.

Edmund Cosyn

Edmund Cosyn (Cosin) (dates uncertain) was an English Catholic academic and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University of the middle sixteenth century.

Edward Hubbard (master)

Edward Hubbard, D.D. (born Ipswich 5 February 1708 - died Cambridge 22 December 1741) was a priest and academic in the second half of the 18th-century.Hubbard was educated at St Catherine's College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1716 and MA in 1719. He was Fellow of St Catherine's from 1718 to 1736 and its Master from 1736 to his death. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1739 to 1740. Hubbard was ordained on 21 February 1729; and was a prebendary of Norwich Cathedral.

Vice-Chancellors of the University of Cambridge

Edwin Ernest Rich

Edwin Ernest Rich (b Bristol 4 August 1904; d. Heydon 7 July 1979) was a 20th-century historian.Rich was educated at Colston's School and Selwyn College, Cambridge. He was Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge from 1930 to 1957; Proctor of Cambridge University in 1939; Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History from 1951 to 1970; and Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge from 1957 to 1973.

Frederick Margetson Rushmore

Frederick Margetson Rushmore, TD, MA, JP (13 March 1869 – 17 June 1933) was Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge from 1927 to 1933.Rushmore was educated at King's College London and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. He was an Assistant Master at The Perse School from 1898 to 1901 and Second Master from 1901 to 1907. He joined the staff of St Catharine's College, Cambridge in 1907 as a lecturer in history and Senior Tutor in 1918.

By William Henry Samuel Jones He served with the Cambridge University Officers' Training Corps from 1895 to 1919. A Freemason, he was Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire from 1932 to 1933.

Henry Philpott (bishop)

Henry Philpott (17 November 1807 – 10 January 1892) was an Anglican bishop and academic.

He matriculated at St Catharine's College, Cambridge in 1825 and graduated as Senior Wrangler and 2nd Smith's prizeman in 1829. He was elected a Fellow of St Catharine's College on 6 April 1829 and was subsequently elected Master of St Catharine's College in 1845, a post he held until 1861. During the same period, he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge on three occasions (1846, 1856, 1857).

Philpott was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) by royal letters patent in 1847 and was Bishop of Worcester from 1860 to 1890. He was Clerk of the Closet from 1865 to 1891 and Chairman of the Cambridge University Commission in 1878.

John Eachard

John Eachard (1636? – 7 July 1697) was an English divine and satirist, noted for his humorous descriptions of the contemporary clergy.

From Yoxford in Suffolk, he was educated at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, of which he became master in 1675 in succession to John Lightfoot. He was created D.D. in 1676 by royal mandate, and was twice (in 1679 and 1695) vice-chancellor of Cambridge University.In 1670 he had published anonymously a humorous satire entitled The Ground and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy enquired into in a letter to R. L., which excited much attention and provoked several replies, one of them being from John Owen. These were met by Some Observations, etc., in a second letter to R. L. (1671), written in the same bantering tone as the original work. Eachard attributed the contempt into which the clergy had fallen to their imperfect education, their insufficient incomes, and the want of a true vocation. His descriptions, which were somewhat exaggerated, were largely used by Macaulay in his History of England.He gave amusing illustrations of the absurdity and poverty of the current pulpit oratory of his day, some of them being taken from the sermons of his own father. He attacked the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes in his Mr. Hobbs State of Nature considered; in a dialogue between Philautus and Timothy (1672), and in his Some Opinions of Mr.. Hobbs considered in a second dialogue (1673). These were written in their author's chosen vein of light satire, and John Dryden praised them as highly effective within their own range. Eachard's own sermons, however, were not superior to those he satirized. Jonathan Swift alludes to him as a signal instance of a successful humorist who entirely failed as a serious writer.A collected edition of his works in three volumes, with a notice of his life, was published in 1774. The Contempt of the Clergy was reprinted in E. Arbors English Garner. A Free Enquiry into the Causes of the very great Esteem that the Nonconforming Preachers are generally in with their Followers (1673) has been attributed to Eachard on insufficient grounds.

John Hills (master)

John Hills, D.D. was a priest and academic in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.Hills was born in Fulbourn and educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1583, 1586 and B.D. in 1593. He became a Fellow at St Catherine's, eventually becoming its Master in 1607. He was Vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1616 to 1617. Hills was ordained on 20 May 1585. He became Rector of Fulbourn in 1591. He was Archdeacon of Stow from 1610 to 1612; and Archdeacon of Lincoln from 1612 until his death on 16 September 1626.

John Tapton

John Tapton was Dean of St Asaph from 1463 until 1493.Tapton was born in Rutland. He was Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge from 1480 to 1487.

John Wardall

John Wardall was Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge from 1487 until 1506.Wardall was born in Beelsby and educated at St Catharine's. After graduating MA he was ordained and held livings at Sparham and Lamport. He was buried at St Mary Bothaw on 5 February 1506.

Joseph Proctor (academic)

Joseph Proctor (died 1845) was an academic of the University of Cambridge in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Proctor was born in Stow, Lincolnshire, and educated at Leeds Grammar School. He was admitted St Catharine's Hall, Cambridge on 18 January 1779, graduating B.A. (3rd wrangler and 2nd Smith's Prize) 1783, M.A. 1786, B.D. 1799, and D.D. (per lit. reg.) 1801.Proctor served as a fellow of St Catharine's 1783–1799, and as master 1799–1845. He was Rector of Steeple Gidding 1807–34, Walgrave 1810–17 and Conington 1824–34, and a prebendary of Norwich Cathedral. He served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1801, and was elected vice-chancellor again in 1826.He died on 10 November 1845, at the age of 84.

Kenrick Prescot

Kenrick Prescot, D.D. (7 July 1703, Chester – 3 August 1779, Cambridge) was a priest and academic in the second half of the 18th century.Prescot was educated at Charterhouse and St Catherine's College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1724, 1727 and B.D. in 1738. He was Fellow of St Catherine's from 1727 to 1741 and its Master from 1741 to his death. He was vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1744 to 1745. Yates was ordained on 24 September 1727. His first post was as curate at Stapleford, Cambridgeshire. He held livings at Hartland, Coton and Yarmouth; and was a prebendary of Norwich Cathedral.

List of Masters of St Catharine's College, Cambridge

This is a list of Masters of St Catharine's College, Cambridge listed by year of appointment.

Lowther Yates

Lowther Yates, D.D. was a priest and academic in the second half of the 18th-century.Yates was born in Whitehaven, and educated at St Catherine's College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1751, M.Ain 1754 and B.D in 1774. He was Fellow of St Catherine's from 1757 to 1779 and its Master from 1779 to 1798. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1779 to 1780, and from 1794 to 1795. Yates was ordained on December 22, 1755. His first post was as curate to his father at Gargrave. He became Rector of Carrigaline in 1779.

Reginald Bainbrigge

Reginald Bainbrigge, D.D. was an academic in the sixteenth century.Bainbrigge was born in Middleton, and educated at St Catherine's College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1508, M.A in 1510 and B.D in 1526. He held Livings at Downham, Stambourne, Brightlingsea, Steeple Bumpstead and Great Oakley.He was Fellow then Master of St Catharine's, holding office from 1529 until 1547. He died in 1555.

Thomas Crosse

Thomas Crosse (22 October 1680 – 27 August 1736) was an Anglican clergyman, who was Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, London, and was admitted to St Catharine's College as a pensioner on 19 June 1699. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1702/3, was awarded a Master of Arts degree in 1706, and was made a Doctor of Divinity in 1717. At St Catharine's, he was Fellow from 1704, Taxor from 1706, Senior Proctor in 1716-7, and Master from 1719 to 1736. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1720 to 1722.

He was ordained as a deacon at London on 19 September 1703, and as a priest on 3 June 1705. He was rector of Coton, Cambridgeshire, from 1710, and of Ashby with Oby and Thurne, Norfolk, from 1730 to 1736. He was prebendary of Norwich in 1719 and of York from 1723 to 1736.

Thomas Green (master)

Thomas Green , D.D. was an academic in the sixteenth century.Green was born in Cockermouth. A Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge he was Master of St Catharine's, from 1507 to 1529; and Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1723 to 1724.

Thomas Sherlock

Thomas Sherlock (1678 – 18 July 1761) was a British divine who served as a Church of England bishop for 33 years. He is also noted in church history as an important contributor to Christian apologetics.

faculties, and
Student life

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