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King's College, with the chapel's Crown Tower visible
King's College in Old Aberdeenmarker, Scotlandmarker is a formerly independent university founded in 1495 and an integral part of the University of Aberdeen. Its historic buildings are the centrepiece of the University of Aberdeen's Old Aberdeen campus, often known as the King's or King's College campus.

The focal point of the college, as well as its oldest building, is the late 15th century King's College Chapel. A number of other historic buildings remain, with others being subject to renovation and rebuilding in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the early 20th century, a great deal of expansion saw the university buildings increase around the historic college buildings. In the later 20th century, the university expanded dramatically in size, dominating Old Aberdeen and expanding out from the High Street with a number of modern buildings.


Entrance into the College Quadrangle
The University and King's College of Aberdeen (Collegium Regium Abredonense) was the first university in Aberdeenmarker, the third in Scotlandmarker and the fifth in the United Kingdommarker. In 1495, William Elphinstone, the relatively newly appointed Bishop of Aberdeen, petitioned Pope Alexander VI on behalf of King James IV to create the facility to cure the ignorance he had witnessed within his parish and in the north generally. A papal bull was issued in February 1495 (1491 in the calendar of the day) founding the university; a Royal charter later that year recognised Aberdeen's status as equal to that of Scotland's two existing universities at Glasgowmarker and St Andrewsmarker. As a former professor at the University of Parismarker, Elphinstone modeled the university very much on the continental European tradition. Hector Boece, a fellow professor at Paris, was awarded the status of first Principal of the new institution.

It would not be until 1509, with the issuance of a Charter by Elphinstone, that university life at King's truly began. Construction of the Chapel began in 1498; it was consecrated in 1509 and dedicated to St Mary. By 1514, the university had some forty two members in the form of both staff and students.

Following the Reformation, King's College was purged of its Roman Catholic staff but remained largely resistant to change in its methods. George Keith, the fifth Earl Marischal however, was a moderniser within the college and supportive of the reforming ideas of Peter Ramus. In April 1593 Keith founded a second university in the city, Marischal Collegemarker. Initially, Marischal offered the Principal of King's College a role in selecting its academics, however this was refused by the King's authorities - cited as the first blow in a future rivalry.

In common with Marischal, King's College supported the Jacobite cause and following the defeat of the 1715 rising both were largely purged of their academics and officials.

College buildings

New Building, King's College
The building work itself on the main buildings of the college began in April 1500 on marshy land, supported by large oak beams. The chapel is topped with an Imperial Crown, ie a closed crown, which appears to make a claim to imperial status for the Scottish monarchy. The original was lost in a storm in 1633, and the present crown is a recreation. King's College retains more medieval woodwork than any other Scottish church, including the choir stalls and screen.

The Cromwell Tower was a building built during the 1650s-60s during the period of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, although finished after Charles II had been reinstalled as King. It was originally used for accommodation and had an ornate turret at its top. It continues its function as an observatory to this day.

Elphinstone Hall
The 1930 construction of the Elphinstone Hall effectively created a two-quadrangle arrangement, connected to the original King's buildings. The front of the Hall faces outwards, with its lawn effectively creating a central open space now bordered on the other sides by Old Aberdeenmarker's High Street and the New Building ("New King's"), constructed in 1913.

King's College is now within the university's main Old Aberdeenmarker campus and retains its original and historic quadrangle which houses a large conference centre and the university's chapel. Elphinstone Hall is used for functions, dining, and examinations. The rear of King's College is now used as a pavilion for sports. Notably the old college buildings now provide a central focal point to the wider University of Aberdeen campus. While small in comparison with some of the newer constructions and areas, the building maintains a great deal of importance and is central to the atmosphere of the university.

King's College Chapel

King's College Chapel is the main chapel used by the University of Aberdeen. Forming the north side of the original quadrangle of King's College, construction of the chapel began in 1498 and ended with the consecration of the building in 1509. The most notable architectural feature of the Chapel is its Crown Tower, which has become an icon of the university as a whole. The chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, yet also commemorates a number of Scottish and British monarchs, as well as the patrons and founders of the university. The name particularly recalls the College's main patron, King James IV of Scotland.

Particularly notable within the chapel are the choir stalls and rood screen, which date back to around 1509. These form the most complete mediaeval church interior in Scotland. Since 1928, the antechapel has been used as the university's war memorial: five hundred and twenty-four students of the university are commemorated on its walls, having fallen in the First and Second World Wars.

Bishop Elphinstone, the College's founder, and Hector Boece, its first Principal, are buried at the foot of the chancel, although a larger tomb to Elphinstone is located outside the college. The design of the chapel, as well as its date of construction, were designed to evoke Solomon's Templemarker.

The King's College Centre

The King's College Conference Centre is a conference and events space within the King's College building, established in 1991 within the former university library, yet maintaining many of the original features of the buildings.

The conference centre housed the Scottish Parliamentmarker between 28 and 30 May 2002 whilst the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland met in its temporary home at New Collegemarker, Edinburghmarker. During this time, the parliament was addressed by Her Majesty, the Queen as part of her Golden Jubilee tour of the United Kingdommarker.



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