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Saint Edmund's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridgemarker. It was founded in 1896 as a residential hall of residence by Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk and Baron Anatole von Hügel. St Edmund's College received its Royal Charter in 1996. St Edmund's is one of four Cambridge colleges oriented to mature students, only accepting those reading for undergraduate, Masters or Doctorate degrees if they are aged 21 or older (two other colleges cater to graduate students only). Over three-quarters of St Edmund's students are studying towards higher degrees, usually the PhD, MPhil or LLM degrees.

The college is located about 15 minutes' walk northwest of the centre of Cambridgemarker. Its campus is a garden setting on the edge of Roman Cambridge, with housing for over 200 students.

Brief history

St Edmund's House was founded in 1896 by Henry Fitzalan Howard, the 15th Duke of Norfolk, and Baron Anatole von Hügel as an institution catering for Roman Catholic students at Cambridge University. After Catholic Emancipation, in particular after the repeal of Test Acts in 1873, students who were Roman Catholics were finally admitted as members of the University. In its early days the college functioned predominantly as a lodging house for students who were matriculated at other colleges. Most of the students, at that time, were ordained Catholic priests who were reading various subjects offered by the University.

Attempts to make St Edmund's House into a fully-fledged constituent college were made at various times after foundation, but were met by continuing hostility by the predominantly Protestant body of Cambridge MAs, graduates of the University who had the right to vote in the Senate Housemarker. These occasions often involved masses of MAs (who otherwise had only a tenuous connection with the University) congregating to Cambridge to scupper any attempt to uphold what they believed was a "papist" institution. One of the insider jokes, referring to an unsuccessful attempt by St Edmund's to get official recognition from the University, ran as follows: Two Cambridge MAs meet on a train. One of them asks: "Where are you going?" Answers the other: "I'm going to bury St Edmund'smarker!"

Meanwhile, the development of the college continued. The Chapel was consecrated in 1916. A new dining hall was constructed in 1939. The membership of the college increased steadily. The college was now a recognized "House of Residence" in the University.

In 1950 the University decided to establish several colleges catering primarily to postgraduate students. St Edmund's House was accepted as one of the graduate colleges in the University, although today it also admits mature and affiliated undergraduates. The college was finally permitted to matriculate its own students, and new Fellows were elected. In 1975 it acquired the status of "Approved Foundation", and in 1996 it finally received full collegiate status. In 1986 the name was changed from "St Edmund's House" to "St Edmund's College". The Royal Charter was granted in 1998. The college now accepts students of all faiths and none; the Catholic character of the foundation is, however, still reflected in the Chapel, which follows the Roman Catholic tradition.

The College continues to grow. In 2000 a new block of residential buildings housing 50 students was opened, named after Richard Laws, one of the former masters. In 2006 two new residential buildings, including rooms for 70 students as well as accommodation for married couples, were opened; these were named after the then master Sir Brian Heap and the vice-master Geoffrey Cook.


The college is named after St Edmund of Abingdon (1175–1240) who was the first known Oxfordmarker Master of Arts, and Archbishop of Canterbury 1234–1240.

Features & Traditions

St Edmund's is among the most international colleges of the university, with students from over 70 countries (2008-2009 academic year). The full spectrum of academic subjects is represented in the college. The Fellowship of the college (academic staff) represents many academic disciplines, spread across arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, medicine, and veterinary medicine.The college is less formal than many of the older, more traditional colleges of the university. Although Fellows at most colleges dine at a 'High Table' (separately from the students), St Edmund's has no such division, and undergraduates, postgraduates and Fellows mix over dinner and other social activities. The Fellows put on a pantomime for students every year in the college Combination Room (Cambridge name for a common room).

The College has a sporting tradition. In recent years members have competed in varsity teams representing Cambridge University in a wide variety of sports, most notably, at The Boat Race and The Varsity Match.

Almost all colleges in Cambridge (and Oxfordmarker) have Christian chapels. The chapel at St Edmund's is unique in following the historic Roman Catholic tradition.


Image:norfolk123.jpg|Norfolk BuildingImage:StEdmundsCollege3.jpg|Brian Heap Buildingimage:StEdmundsCollege4.jpg| College Chapelimage:StEdmundsCollege5.jpg| Students after matriculationimage:StEdmundsCollege6.jpg| Norfolk West Wingimage:stedmundscollege7.jpg| Norfolk East Wingimage:BenetHouse1.jpg| Benet Houseimage:Dininghall123.jpg| Dining Hall

Distinguished members

The cosmologist Georges Lemaître, the Big Bang theorist, was a former graduate student 1923-24 at the college, supervised by Sir Arthur Eddington.

Sir Martin Evans, Laureate of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is a former Fellow of the College and is now an Honorary Fellow

Professor Amartya Sen, laureate of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, is an Honorary Fellow .

HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Chancellor of Cambridge University (1977-), is an Honorary Fellow. He officially opened three new college buildings on Monday 8 October 2007.

Professor Sir (Robert) Brian Heap CBE FRS is a biologist who was the Master of the College from 1996 until 2004. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1989, and held the post of Royal Society Vice President and Foreign Secretary from 1996 to 2001.

Joaquín Almunia, Spanish politician and member of the European Commissionmarker responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs


  • Garret Sweeney, St Edmund's House, Cambridge: The First Eighty Years, Cambridge, 1980 (ISBN 0-9507177-0-3)
  • Michael Walsh, St. Edmund's College, Cambridge. 1896-1996: A Commemorative History, Cambridge, 1996 (ISBN 0-9507177-1-1)

External links

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