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The cloister in the college grounds

Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridgemarker, Englandmarker.

The college was founded in 1496 on the site of a Benedictine nunnery by John Alcock, then Bishop of Ely. It has been traditionally believed that the nunnery was turned into a college because the nunnery had gained a reputation for licentiousness.

The college's full name is "The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge". Its common name comes from the name of its chapel, Jesus Chapel. Founded at the beginning of the 11th century, the chapel is the oldest university building in Cambridge still in use.

When founded in 1496, the college consisted of buildings taken over from the nunnery: namely the chapel, and the cloister attached to it; the nuns’ refectory, which became the college hall; and the former lodging of the prioress, which became the Master’s Lodge. This set of buildings remains the core of the college to this day, and this accounts for its distinctly monastic and non-collegiate character, which sets it apart from other Cambridge colleges. A library was soon added, on the floor above the college hall, and the chapel was considerably modified and reduced in scale by Alcock.

The 500th anniversary of the college’s foundation in 1996 saw the completion of the new Quincentenary Library, designed by Eldred Evans and David Shalev, which was shortly followed by a new accommodation building.

The college is also known for its grounds, which are unlike those of Cambridge’s other old colleges, being much more spacious. Set back from Jesus Lane, all the courts are open on at least one side (with the exception of the Cloister). The main entrance to the college is a walled passage, called the “Chimney” (derived from the French word chemin).

Jesus College is one of the few colleges to allow anyone to walk on the lawns of its courts, with the exception of First Court, Cloister Court and those that are burial sites for deceased nuns from the original nunnery. However, in common with other Cambridge colleges, this privilege is only extended during the summer term. Jesus gets far fewer tourists than most other colleges due to being slightly away from the centre.

Professor Robert Mair, Fellow of St John’s and Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the university, has been Master of Jesus since March 2001.

Jesus College is the 3rd wealthiest college in Cambridge with assets of £236 million after St Johnsmarker (£504 million) and Trinity (£700 million).

Notable alumni

Name Birth Death Career
Thomas Cranmer 1489 1556 Archbishop of Canterbury
John Bale 1495 1563 Bishop of Ossory
Thomas Goodrich 1494 1554 Bishop of Ely
Arthur Golding 1535/6 1606 Protestant propagandist
Sir Fulke Greville 1554 1628 Biographer of Sir Philip Sidney
Richard Sterne 1596 1683 Archbishop of York, Master of Jesus College (1634)
John Eliot 1604 1690 Translated the Bible into Algonquian
William Beale 1784 1854 Master of Jesus College (1632)
John Flamsteed 1646 1719 First Astronomer Royal
Thomas Herring 1693 1757 Archbishop of Canterbury
Matthew Hutton 1693 1758 Archbishop of Canterbury
John Jortin 1698 1770 Ecclesiastical historian
David Hartley 1705 1757 Philosopher
Laurence Sterne 1713 1768 Novelist
Henry Venn 1725 1797 A leader of the Evangelical movement in the Church of England
Gilbert Wakefield 1756 1801 Principal of two nonconformist academies
Robert Malthus 1766 1834 Population theorist
William Otter 1768 1840 First Principal of King's College Londonmarker
Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 1834 Poet, critic and philosopher
William Percy Carpmael 1853 1936 Founder of the Barbarians rugby team
Steve Fairbairn 1862 1938 Rowing coach
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch 1863 1944 Novelist and critic
Sir Harold Scott 1887 1969 Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service from 1945 to 1953
E. M. W. Tillyard 1889 1962 Literary critic, master (1945-1959)
Alistair Cooke 1908 2004 Broadcaster
Jacob Bronowski 1908 1974 Broadcaster
James Reeves 1909 1978 Author and literary critic
Don Siegel 1912 1991 American Film Director and Producer
David Clive Crosbie Trench 1915 1988 24th Governor of Hong Kong
Peter Mitchell 1920 1992 Biochemist
Raymond Williams 1921 1988 Literary and cultural critic
Edwin Boston 1924 1986 clergyman and steam enthusiast
J.B. Steane 1928 Music critic and musicologist
David McCutchion 1930 1972 Academic
Michael Podro 1931 2008 Art historian
Lord Renfrew 1937 Archaeologist
Lisa Jardine 1944 Literary critic
Roger Scruton 1944 Philosopher
David Hare 1947 Playwright
Simon Hornblower 1949 Prof of Classics and Grote Prof of Ancient History UCL
Anthony Wilson 1950 2007 Journalist, founder of Factory Records
Geoff Hoon 1953 Chief Whip and Secretary to the Treasury
Nick Hornby 1957 Novelist and journalist
Kimberley Rew Songwriter and guitarist
Prince Edward 1964 Earl of Wessex
James Wood 1965 Literary critic
Sir Chintaman Dwarkanath Deshmukh 1896 1982 Finance Minister of Indiamarker
Alexis Taylor Singer and musician
Somnath Chatterjee 1929 Speaker of Lok Sabha

See also :Category:Alumni of Jesus College, Cambridge

Masters and Fellows of Jesus College

See List of Masters of Jesus College, Cambridge
See also :Category: Fellows of Jesus College, Cambridge

College Grace

The following Latin grace is recited before formal dinners at Jesus College (Oratio Ante Cibum):

Oculi omnium in te aspiciunt et in te sperant, Deus. Tu das illis escam tempore opportuno. Aperis tu manus, et imples omne animal benedictione tua.Benedic nobis, Domine, et omnibus tuis donis, quae ex larga liberalitate tua sumpturi sumus, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Deus est caritas. Qui manet in caritate manet in Deo et Deus in illo. Sit Deus in nobis, et nos maneamus in illo.

Translated into English, the Oratio Ante Cibum reads as follows:

The eyes of all look towards you and trust in you, O God. You give them food in due season. You open your hands and fill every living thing with your blessing. Bless us, O Lord, and all your gifts, which through your great generosity we are about to receive, through Jesus Christ our Lord. God is love. He who abides in love abides in God and God in him. May God be in us and may we abide in him.

The following Oratio Post Cibum is sometimes read after dinner:

Deus pacis et dilectionis semper maneat nobiscum; tu autem, Domine, miserere nostrum. Agimus tibi gratias pro omnibus tuis beneficiis, qui vivis et regnas, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Deus conservet Ecclesiam, Reginam, regnum, senatum, et pacem.

Translated into English, the Orato Post Cibum reads as follows:

May the God of peace and love always abide with us; have mercy upon us, O Lord. We thank you for all your mercies, who live and reign, God, for ever and ever. May God preserve the Church, the Queen, the realm, Parliament and peace.

However after a normal formal dinner in hall the following short responsory is usually used:

The Presiding Fellow: Laus Deo (Praise be to God)

The College: Deo Gracias (Thanks be to God)


Although Jesus College was not founded until 1496, it is unique in as much as the chapel and other buildings date from the 12th and 13th centuries. Originally it was the Benedictine Convent of St Mary and St Radegund, which was dissolved by John Alcock, Bishop of Ely.

The Chapel was founded in 1157 and took until 1245 to complete, was cruciform in shape, the nave had both north and south aisles. A high, pitched roof was surmounted by a belfry and steeple, this collapsed in 1277. The chapel was also used as the parish church of St Radegund. Twice the chapel was ravaged by fire, 1313 and 1376.

When the college took over the precincts, the parish was renamed after the college as Jesus parish, with the churchyard still being used for burials, this however, was short lived, as by the middle of the 16th century Jesus parish was absorbed into that of All Saints.

The chapel was much modified, with the western two thirds of the nave being converted into college rooms.

The college maintains two choirs. From September 2009, former assistant organist at St Paul's Cathedralmarker, Mark Williams will become Director of Music, as incumbent Daniel Hyde is going to Magdalen Collegemarker, Oxford, to replace Bill Ives.

  • Jesus College Choir consists of male and female students and sings regular services twice a week in the chapel. One of the leading choirs in Cambridge, its singers are mainly drawn from the college's own students, but also includes singers from a number of other colleges.
  • Jesus College Chapel Choir consists of around 20 choristers combined with the Gentlemen of the College Choir, and also sings services twice a week in the chapel. It is unique among Cambridge college choirs in that the choristers are volunteers - that is, they are drawn from schools around the city, and do not attend a particular choir school.


The misericords were created by Pugin between 1849 and 1853, and used fragments of the misericords dating from 1500, which had been preserved in the Master's Lodge as templates.

See also


  2. Poole, Sarah Cathedral organist secures dream job, 6 April 2009, Bolton News. Retrieved on 19 April 2009.
  3. New Informator Choristorum appointed, Oxford University. Retrieved on 19 April 2009.

External links

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