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King's College
University of Cambridge
King's College Chapel and the Gibbs' Building
Arms of King's College
Arms: Sable, three roses argent,[1] a chief per pale azure and gules charged on the dexter side with a fleur-de-lis and on the sinister with a lion passant gardant or
Scarf colours: royal purple, with two equally-spaced narrow white stripes
LocationKing's Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST (map)
Coordinates52°12′15″N 0°06′58″E / 52.2043°N 0.1162°E / 52.2043; 0.1162 (King's College)
Full nameThe King's College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge
Latin nameCollegium Regale beate Marie et sancti Nicholai Cantebrigie
FounderHenry VI
Established1441 (1441)
Named afterOur Lady, patron saint of Eton College
Nicholas, natal saint of Henry VI
Sister collegesEton College
New College, Oxford
Grace Hopper College, Yale
ProvostGillian Tett
Undergraduates463 (2022–23)
Postgraduates326 (2022–23)
Endowment£300m (2022)
VisitorStephen Conway (Bishops of Lincoln ex officio)[3]
King's College, Cambridge is located in Central Cambridge
King's College, Cambridge
Location in Central Cambridge
Show map of Central Cambridge
King's College, Cambridge is located in Cambridge
King's College, Cambridge
Location in Cambridge
Show map of Cambridge

King's College, formally The King's College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge, is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.[4] This college lies beside the River Cam and faces out onto King's Parade in the centre of the city.

King's was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI soon after founding its sister institution, Eton College. Initially, King's accepted only students from Eton College. However, the king's plans for King's College were disrupted by the Wars of the Roses and the resultant scarcity of funds, and then his eventual deposition. Little progress was made on the project until 1508, when King Henry VII began to take an interest in the college, probably as a political move to legitimise his new position. The building of the college's chapel began in 1446, and was finished in 1544 during the reign of Henry VIII.

King's College Chapel is regarded as one of the finest examples of late English Gothic architecture. It has the world's largest fan vault, while its stained-glass windows and wooden chancel screen are considered some of the finest from their era. The building is seen as emblematic of Cambridge.[5] It houses the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. Every year on Christmas Eve, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (a service originally devised for Truro Cathedral by Edward White Benson in 1880, adapted by the college dean Eric Milner-White in 1918) is broadcast from the chapel to millions of listeners worldwide.[6][7]


Henry VI, the college's founder


On 12 February 1441, King Henry VI issued letters patent founding a college at Cambridge for a rector and 12 poor scholars.[8] This college was to be named after Saint Nicholas upon whose feast day Henry had been born.[9] The first stone of the college's Old Court was laid by the King on Passion Sunday, 2 April 1441 on a site which lies directly north of the modern college and which was formerly a garden belonging to Trinity Hall. William Millington, a fellow of Clare College (then called Clare Hall) was installed as the rector.[10]

Old Court

Henry directed the publication of the college's first governing statutes in 1443. His original modest plan for the college was abandoned, and provision was instead made for a community of 70 fellows and scholars headed by a provost. Henry had belatedly learned of William of Wykeham's 1379 twin foundations of New College, Oxford and Winchester College, and wanted his own achievements to surpass those of Wykeham.[11] The King had founded Eton College on 11 October 1440 but, up until 1443, King's and Eton had been unconnected.[12] However, that year the relationship between the two was remodelled upon Wykeham's successful institutions and the original sizes of the colleges scaled up to surpass Wykeham's. A second royal charter which re-founded the now much larger King's College was issued on 12 July 1443. On 1 September 1444, the Provosts of King's and Eton and the Wardens of Winchester and New College formally signed the Amicabilis Concordia ("friendly agreement") in which they bound their colleges to support one another legally and financially.[13][14]

Members of King's were to be recruited entirely from Eton. Each year, the provost and two fellows travelled to Eton to impartially select the worthiest boys to fill any vacancies at the college, always maintaining the total number of scholars and fellows at exactly 70.[15] Membership of King's was a vocation for life. Scholars were eligible for election to the fellowship after three years of probation, irrespective of whether they had achieved a degree or not. Undergraduates at King's – unlike those from other colleges – did not have to pass university examinations to achieve their BA degree and instead had only to satisfy the college. Every fellow was to study theology, save for two who were to study astronomy, two civil law, four canon law, and two medicine; all fellows save those studying secular subjects were obliged to take Holy Orders and become priests, on pain of expulsion.[16][17][8] In 1445, a Papal Bull from Eugenius IV exempted college members from parish duties, and in 1457, an agreement between the provost and chancellor of the university limited the chancellor's authority and gave the college full jurisdiction over internal matters.

Henry VI's revised plan for the college

Henry VI, Henry VII and Henry VIII

The original plans for Old Court were too small comfortably to accommodate the larger college community of the second foundation, and so in 1443 Henry VI began to purchase the land upon which the modern college now stands. The gateway and south range of Old Court had already been built, but the rest was completed in a temporary fashion to serve until the new court was ready. The new college site was itself left unfinished and the "temporary" Old Court buildings, arranged to accommodate 70, served as the permanent residential fabric of the college until the beginning of the 19th century.[18][19] Henry's grand design for the new college buildings survives in the 1448 Founder's Will, which describes his vision in detail. The new college site was to be centred on a great courtyard, bordered on all sides by adjoining buildings: a chapel to the north; accommodation and the entrance gate to the east; further accommodation and the provost's lodge to the south; and a library, hall and buttery to the west. Behind the hall and buttery was to be another courtyard, and behind the library a cloistered cemetery including a magnificent bell tower.

The College Chapel, as first planned by Henry VI. The building line between light and dark stone can be seen on the chapel's side.

The first stone of the chapel was laid by the King on St James's Day, 25 July 1446. The King encouraged support for the college. In 1448, John Conches, former prior of Wootton Wawen gave the priory's lands to "John Chedworth provost of the king's college of St. Mary and St. Nicholas Cantebrigge and the scholars thereof, and to their successors."[20] Within a decade Henry's engagement in the Wars of the Roses meant that funds began to dry up. By the time of Henry's deposition in 1461, the chapel walls had been raised 60 ft high at the east end but only 8 ft at the west; a building line which can still be seen today as the boundary between the lighter stone below and the darker above. Work proceeded sporadically until a generation later in 1508 when the Founder's nephew Henry VII was prevailed upon to finish the shell of the building. The interior had to wait a further generation until completion by 1544 with the aid of Henry VIII. The chapel was the only part of Henry VI's Founder's Will to be realised.

Coat of arms of King Henry VII, interior stonework of the chapel's west end

It has been speculated that the choice of the college as a beneficiary by the two later Henrys was a political one, with Henry VII in particular concerned to legitimate a new, post-civil war Tudor regime by demonstrating patronage of what was by definition the King's College. Later building work on the chapel is marked by an uninhibited branding with the Tudor rose and other symbols of the new establishment, quite against the precise instructions of the Founder's Will.

The Gibbs' Building

Front Court completed

The college remained as the Old Court, chapel and a few small surrounding buildings for nearly two-hundred years until in 1724 the architect James Gibbs provided a new plan to complete the courtyard of which the chapel formed the north side. Although his design was for the courtyard to be closed by three similar detached Neoclassical buildings, due to lack of funds only the western of these was constructed. The first stone of what became known as the Gibbs' Building was laid by Provost Andrew Snape, at the time also vice-chancellor of the university, on 25 March 1723 and the building completed six years later.

The east and south sides of Front Court, designed by William Wilkins

Front Court was finally completed in 1828 under plans drawn up by William Wilkins. The courtyard was closed by a screen and gatehouse to the east; and residential staircases either side of a hall to the south. The southern buildings continued towards the river with a library and Provost's lodge. All these buildings were, at the college's insistence, built in the Gothic Revival style rather than Wilkins's preferred Neoclassical.[21]

With the courtyard to the south of the chapel now able to accommodate the college, the land to the north was sold to the university in 1828. This was the site of the world's first bonsai tree, cultivated in King's College in the mid 18th century.[22][23] The university demolished most of the original Old Court buildings in order to make room for an extension to the University Library; only the gateway arch opposite Clare College survives. The library subsequently moved away from this site, known as the Old Schools, and the buildings are currently used for the main administrative offices of the university.[21][24]

Victorian reforms and expansion

Scott's Building

Under the provostship of Richard Okes, from 1850 until his death in 1888, the college began a period of reform. On 1 May 1851 it was agreed to abolish the privilege of King's members to be granted a degree without passing the university examinations. In 1861 the college statutes were amended so as to expand the college and, more radically, to allow for the election of non-Etonian King's members: the new statutes provided for 46 Fellows, 24 scholarships reserved for boys from Eton, and 24 "open" scholarships for boys from any school. At the same time all formal obligation to take Holy Orders – unenforced since the 17th century – was removed.[25] The statutes were again amended in 1882, this time ensuring fellowships were not always for life and were awarded on merit after submissions of original research. In his 1930 memoir As We Were, A Victorian Peep Show,[26] E. F. Benson, an alumnus of King's,[27] recollected the peculiar behaviour of some of the surviving Life Fellows from his undergraduate years of 1887–1890 and before. Of one he wrote, "He then shuffled out on to the big lawn, with a stick in his hand, and he prodded with it at the worms in the grass, muttering to himself, 'Ah, damn ye: ye haven't got me yet.'" The first non-Etonian students were admitted to study at King's in 1865, and the first non-Etonian scholars and the first non-Etonian fellow were elected in 1873. These reforms continued over subsequent decades and there are now no special privileges for Etonians at King's.

Bodley's Court

Expansion of the college through the 1861 statutes necessitated more building work to accommodate the larger community. In 1869, the area along King's Parade between the Wilkins' Buildings and King's Lane was built upon after a design by George Gilbert Scott. When completed a year later, the new courtyard formed was named after Walter Chetwynd, a fellow of the college.[21][28] However, after subsequent plans to expand college accommodation fell through, King's opened negotiations to amalgamate with St Catharine's College. Although St Catharine's had been founded by Robert Woodlark (sometimes spelled Wodelarke), a Provost of King's, the college declined the invitation to combine.[29] Eventually, in 1893, the east and south wings of another new courtyard within King's – designed by George Frederick Bodley and overlooking the river – were completed.[30]

20th century

In 1909, the south range of a third new courtyard – named after its architect Aston Webb – was built to the south of the library. In 1927, designs by G. L. Kennedy completed Bodley's Court with a new northern range, and Webb's Court with a new Provost's Lodge on its western side.[8][21]

In 1930, a Cambridge Borough Police officer was shot by a student who also shot his tutor in the same incident.[31]

On 1 September 1939, the day of the German invasion of Poland and the cause of the UK's entrance into World War II, permission was sought from the College Council to remove the stained glass from the east window of the chapel. By the end of 1941, all the ancient glass had been removed to various cellars in Cambridge for safekeeping. Despite most of the windows of the chapel being covered over by sheets of tar-paper, which rattled loudly in the wind, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols continued to be broadcast from the chapel every Christmas Eve throughout the war – even though the name of the college could not be broadcast for security reasons. King's took the opportunity of these years to clean, repair and photograph the glass. By 1949, all the windows had been restored.[6][32]

Rubens's Adoration of the Magi behind the chapel altar

In 1961, the property millionaire Alfred Ernest Allnatt offered King's the Adoration of the Magi by Peter Paul Rubens, which he had purchased in 1959 for a world-record price. The college accepted "this munificent gift" with the intention of displaying the painting in the chapel, possibly as an altarpiece. The painting was initially displayed in the antechapel but a significant faction of the fellowship – including Michael Jaffé and the Provost Noel Annan – were determined for the painting to become the focal point of an entirely redesigned east end planned by the architect Sir Martyn Beckett, who was "philosophical about the furore this inevitably occasioned – which quickly became acceptance of a solution to a difficult problem."[33]

As the first stage of this project, the Edwardian reredos and 17th-century wood panelling were removed and the Rubens installed in their stead behind the altar in April 1964. The painting was so big that the raised floor of the chapel's east end, required by the 1448 Founder's Will, would have to be levelled so as to prevent the baroque artwork obscuring the bottom of the Tudor east window. However 20 fellows and the honorary fellow E. M. Forster signed a letter urging the college to reverse its plan and "admit that it has made a mistake"; the levelling of the floor nevertheless went ahead. The newly refitted east end opened in 1968 and proved highly controversial, with the Architects' Journal criticising it as "motivated not by the demands of liturgical worship but by those of museum display."[34]

The last main-site building to be erected by the college was the Keynes Building, finished in 1967 and named after the former college bursar John Maynard Keynes. This building enclosed Chetwynd Court along with the Wilkins' and Scott's buildings, and provided more than 70 en-suite accommodation rooms along with other facilities.[21]

The first women students arrived at King's in 1972, one of the first three previously all-male colleges to admit women.[35]

The college, along with most others at the university, had been all-male since its foundation. However, under the provost Edmund Leach, King's together with Churchill and Clare became the first three previously all-male colleges to admit women.

Henry VI is not completely forgotten at the college. The Saturday after the end of Michaelmas term each year is Founder's Day, which begins with a Founder's Eucharist in the chapel, followed by a Founder's Breakfast with ale and culminating in a sumptuous dinner in his memory called "Founder's Feast" to which all members of college in their third year of studies are invited.

Buildings and grounds

Interior of the chapel


The College Chapel, an example of late Gothic architecture, was built over a period of a hundred years (1446–1531) in three stages. The Chapel features the world's largest fan vault ceiling; 26 large stained-glass windows, 24 of which date from the 16th century; and Peter Paul Rubens's painting the Adoration of the Magi as an altarpiece.

The chapel is actively used as a place of worship and also for some concerts and college events. The Chapel choir consists of organ scholars, choral scholars (male students from the college and other colleges) and choristers (boys educated at the nearby King's College School). The choir sings services on most days in term-time, and also performs concerts and makes recordings and broadcasts. In particular, it has broadcast its Nine Lessons and Carols on the BBC[36] from the Chapel on Christmas Eve for many decades. Additionally, there is a mixed-voice Chapel choir of male and female students, King's Voices, which sings evensong on Mondays during term-time.

Front Court

Panorama of King's College Front Court

Academic profile

The unofficial Tompkins Table comparing academic performance ranked King's 12th out of a total of 29 rated colleges at the University of Cambridge in 2019. In terms of first-class degrees, King's ranked 9th in the university with 31.3% of final year students achieving a first.

King's offers all undergraduate courses available at the university, except for education, land economy and veterinary medicine, although Directors of Studies for Anglo-Saxon Norse & Celtic and Management Studies visit from other colleges. With more than 100 fellows and some 420 undergraduate students, King's has one of the highest ratios of fellows to students of all the Cambridge colleges.

Since its foundation, the college has housed a library, providing books for all students, covering all the subjects offered by King's. Around 130,000 books are held: some available for teaching and for reference, others being rare books and manuscripts. The library operates a user-oriented purchasing policy: students and Directors of Studies recommend new purchases in their subject.[37] There is both Wi-Fi and Ethernet internet access throughout the library as well as a library computer room.[38] Special collections include a separate Music Library, the Keynes Library, a Global Warming collection, and an Audio Visual Library.[39]

Intake and access profile

The college has gradually broadened its intake to include many students from state schools, often having the highest proportion of maintained school acceptances of the undergraduate colleges. This has led to accusations of reactionary bias against public school pupils and of affirmative action (positive discrimination), although the relatively high proportion of state-school students reflects the far greater number of applications from pupils at maintained schools in comparison to other Cambridge colleges.[40]

King's has established a Schools Liaison Officer post in order to provide support to students, whatever their background, and schools and colleges of any type to find out more about the University of Cambridge and the college.[41] King's is the link Cambridge college for schools in North East England through Cambridge University Area Links Scheme.[42]

Generally, the atmosphere at King's is considered to be easier than that of other colleges to integrate into for students from a working-class or minority background. However, a survey conducted by Varsity Newspaper in January 2009 revealed that the average parental income of students who participated in the survey at King's was higher than the university average.[43]

In June 2018, Dr. Priyamvada Gopal alleged racial profiling by college porters at the gate of King's College, Cambridge. Gopal said that she was subjected to racial profiling and aggression by the porters and gatekeepers of King's and said porters frequently hassled non-white staff and students at the gates. While several students and staff corroborated her accusations, a King's College spokeswoman denied wrongdoing by staff.[44][45] As a result of the attention the issue received, Cambridge University students came forward describing similar experiences. Gopal said that she received hate mail following her announcement. Gopal announced that she would no longer supervise students at King's until there was a resolution to the long-standing problem.[46] Many students from Asian heritages have corrobated racial profiling by porters, who often mistake Asian students to be tourists.

Student life

King's College dining hall

King's has its own student unions, both for undergraduates (King's College Student Union or KCSU) and for graduates (King's College Graduate Society or KCGS). Students at King's have used both organisations to assist in the decision-making processes in the college itself and the university. The college students have a reputation for radical political activity going back to the late 1960s, and the college has not infrequently been the centre of demonstrations, rent strikes and so forth, sparked by political events.

There are a number of rooms around college which students can book out to hold society events. Societies who commonly do this include King's Politics, The Turing Maths Society, The History Society, The Marxist Society, Keynes Economics Society and King's Feminist Society.

The main bar at King's is the site of many social events, open mic nights, and informal meetings and debates between students, whilst a venue known as the Bunker (formerly the Cellar), a second bar in a basement of the college, acts occasionally as a music or dance-night venue and most recently the set for a King's Drama productions including Sartre's No Exit[47] and a series of monologue showcase events. Even more recently, the Bunker has been used by the King's Electronic Music Society, allowing students to learn how to DJ.

Whereas many Cambridge colleges celebrate May Week with a May Ball (which actually falls in June), since the early 1980s King's has instead held a June Event (an informal version of a May Ball with fancy dress) known as The King's Affair. This takes place annually on the Wednesday night of May Week (usually around 20 June), and is attended by around 1,500 students, occupying the Front Court, bar, Hall and Chapel. Past performers have included The Stranglers, Fatboy Slim, Noah and the Whale and, in 2009, Clean Bandit. There are also large student-run college parties at the end of each term known as Mingles.


King's has a number of competitive and casual sports clubs. King's College Boat Club has the largest active membership of any club in King's. In 2013 the first men's boat qualified to race in the Temple Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta.[48] After several years of poor performances, the boat club has returned to success in the Lent and May Bumps, with blades being awarded four times in 2023, including twice to the first women's VIII. Another major club is the King's Mountaineering and Kayaking Association, which has a fleet of kayaks for use on the River Cam (which runs through the college) and regularly runs climbing, walking and kayaking trips for students of the college during university vacations.[49] Its rugby team is joint with Corpus Christi and Clare colleges and consequently known as CCK. Its historic crest is the hallowed Elephant of Wisdom.


King's College is home to the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, which was founded in the 15th century and is now one of today's most well-renowned representatives of the English choral tradition. In 2013, the choir launched its own label, King's College Recordings, allowing it to gain more artistic freedom over its releases. Its releases and worldwide fame have led to global tours and performances.[50] The Choir of King's College sings evensong and Eucharist services on all days of the week apart from Mondays, with two services on a Sunday. It is currently led by the incumbent Director of Music, Daniel Hyde.

The other resident choir of the college is the mixed-voice choir King's Voices, founded in October 1997 under Dr John Butt, with the intention of giving women in King's the opportunity to sing in the chapel and be eligible for choral awards within the college. Currently, the choir sings evensong every Monday in university term, as well as performing at King's College Music Society (KCMS) and college events throughout the year.[51] King's Voices has also appeared on albums alongside the Choir of King's College, most recently in the Te Deum and Magnificat of the Collegium Regale service by Herbert Howells on a double album of music by Howells.[52] Sopranos in King's Voices also featured in a live recording of Benjamin Britten's Saint Nicolas alongside the BBC Singers and Britten Sinfonia as part of Sir Stephen Cleobury's Farewell Concert, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2019.[53] The choir's current director is Ben Parry, who is assistant director of Music at King's.

Entrepreneurship and business at King's

In 2014, King's College established an Entrepreneurship Prize opened to King's College students[54] with alumni as judges, including Hermann Hauser, and Stuart Lyons, the former chairman of Beales.[55] In 2021, it launched the King's Entrepreneurship Lab to "support students with a future interest in innovation, entrepreneurship, and business"[56] co-directed by King's fellows Kamiar Mohaddes and Thomas Roulet, who are faculty at the Cambridge Judge Business School. In 2022, it received an additional donation from the Gatsby Foundation to enlarge its scope.

The college has had a number of notable alumni in business, including Alfred Allen Booth, Phil Vincent, Nancy Zhang and famous innovators such as Charles Townshend.

People associated with King's

Once someone has been admitted to the college, they become a member for life. Alumni of the college includes prime ministers, archbishops, presidents and academics. Time published in 1999 a list of what it considered the most "influential and important" people of the 20th century. In a list of one hundred names, King's claimed two: Alan Turing and John Maynard Keynes who had been both students and fellows at the college.[57]

Heads of State and Government educated at King's include the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, Robert Walpole. Also in the 18th century, alumni include the Secretary of State Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend (Turnip Townshend), who was also known for his interest in agriculture and his role in the British agricultural revolution, the judge and Lord Chancellor Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden. Historical figures include Francis Walsingham, spymaster to Queen Elizabeth.

Politicians educated at King's include the former British Home Secretary Charles Clarke, the peer and Chancellor of the University of Cambridge David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville, and Martin Bell.

In law, alumni include the barrister and vice-chancellor Robert Alexander, Baron Alexander of Weedon, and the former President of the British Supreme Court Nicholas Phillips, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers.

Alumni in religion include William Thomas, the 16th-century Protestant martyr John Frith, the 16th Century Russian Orthodox Priest Rex Phillips-Dibb, the Chassidic Rabbi George O'Rourke, the Archbishop of Canterbury John Sumner, and Richard Cox, who served as Chancellor of Oxford before appointment as Dean of Westminster and eventually Bishop of Ely.

Notable alumni in literature and poetry include the authors Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Martin Jacques, J. G. Ballard and E. M. Forster, the Nobel Prize winner Patrick White, the poets Rupert Brooke, Walter Raleigh and Xu Zhimo, and the playwright Stephen Poliakoff. The ghost story writer and medievalist M. R. James spent much of his life at King's as a student, fellow and Provost. The author and translator of Aristotle Sir John Harington is also an alumnus, and a benefactor of mankind for having invented the flush toilet.

In the arts, alumni include the philosopher George Santayana; the historians Benedict Anderson, Eric Hobsbawm and Tony Judt; composers George Benjamin, Judith Weir (Master of the Queen's Music), Thomas Ades, and Julian Anderson; the original members of the Grammy Award-winning a cappella group King's Singers; the folk musician John Spiers; the comedian David Baddiel; the model Lily Cole; the tenor James Gilchrist; and the countertenor John Whitworth.[58]

In the sciences and social sciences, King's alumni include the British sociologist Anthony Giddens, the physicist Patrick Blackett, the chemist Frederick Sanger, The psychologist Edgar Anstey, the palaeontologist Richard Fortey, the economist John Craven, the political theorist John Dunn, the engineer Charles Inglis, and the mathematician and eugenicist Karl Pearson. The Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King was also educated at King's. The technology entrepreneur Hermann Hauser, of Acorn and ARM, studied postgraduate physics there.

Of the current fellows of King's prominent fellows include Whitehead and Adams' Prize Winner Clément Mouhot and the Fellow of the Royal Society and Clay Research award winner Mark Gross (mathematician).

Nobel laureates

There are eight Nobel laureates who were either students or fellows of King's:


The head of King's College is called the Provost. The current Provost, as of 2023, is Dr Gillian Tett, a British author and journalist.[71]


The visitor of the college is the Bishop of Lincoln.[72]


Coat of arms of King's College, Cambridge
King's was granted its arms on the same day as its sister foundation Eton College. The two shields are identical, save that King's has three white roses, and Eton three white lilies.

A version of the arms with the roses argent, barbed and seeded proper (i.e. white or silver, with green barbs and yellow seeds) is often used, though the blazon simply describes the roses as argent. The embellished shield can be seen in the box at the top-right of this page.

Sable, three roses argent, a chief per pale azure and gules charged on the dexter side with a fleur-de-lis and on the sinister with a lion passant gardant Or.
In the grant of arms, the black field is described as symbolising the stability of the college; the roses are described as symbolising the bringing forth of the flowers of knowledge; and the fleur-de-lis and lion represent the royalty of King's foundation by Henry VI, referring to the Kingdoms of France and England respectively. Furthermore, white roses are traditionally a symbol of the Virgin Mary, one of the patron saints of King's.
Previous versions
Before the granting of the current arms, King's used a very similar design. The previous shield had two white lilies instead of the outer roses, and a pastoral staff encircled by a mitre instead of the bottom rose. The two lilies represented St Mary, and the bishop's regalia represented St Nicholas.

See also



  1. ^ The roses are frequently represented as barbed and seeded proper as above. See pp. 54–57, The Cambridge Armorial (1985), London: Orbis.
  2. ^ University of Cambridge (6 March 2019). "Notice by the Editor". Cambridge University Reporter. 149 (Special No 5): 1. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  3. ^ King's College, Cambridge (25 July 2007). "Statutes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2021. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  4. ^ Walker, Timea (2 February 2022). "King's College". Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  5. ^ see e.g. the logo of the city council, "Cambridge City Council". Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b "History of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols". King's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  7. ^ Blake, Heidi (24 December 2012). "Hundreds queue overnight to watch Kings College Choir in Christmas concert". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Saltmarsh 1959.
  9. ^ Austen-Leigh 1899, pp. 3–4.
  10. ^ Fay 1907, pp. 5, 8, 49.
  11. ^ "Henry VI". Monarchs and Royals. InfoBritain. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  12. ^ Fay 1907, p. 49.
  13. ^ "Eton College History" (PDF). Eton College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  14. ^ Austen-Leigh 1899, p. 15.
  15. ^ Fay 1907, p. 52.
  16. ^ Austen-Leigh 1899, p. 11.
  17. ^ Fay 1907, p. 54.
  18. ^ Fay 1907, pp. 8–9.
  19. ^ Austen-Leigh 1899, p. 6.
  20. ^ Flower, C T. "Close Rolls, Henry VI: May 1448 Pages 63-66 Calendar of Close Rolls, Henry VI: Volume 5, 1447-1454. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1947". British History Online. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  21. ^ a b c d e "College history". King's College, Cambridge. Archived from the original on 22 February 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  22. ^ Sargent, Andrew. Secret Cambridge. Amberley Publishing, 2018.
  23. ^ Taylor, Alison. Cambridge : The Hidden History. Stroud: Tempus, 2001.
  24. ^ Fay 1907, p. 10.
  25. ^ Austen-Leigh 1899, pp. 150, 221, 279.
  26. ^ Benson, Edward Frederic (1930). As We Were, A Victorian Peep-Show. London, New York, Toronto: Longmans, Green And CO. pp. 124. ISBN 0701205881.
  27. ^ Benson, Edward Frederic. "A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  28. ^ Fay 1907, pp. 40–41.
  29. ^ Fay 1907, p. 42.
  30. ^ Fay 1907, pp. 42–43.
  31. ^ "Cambridgeshire Constabulary". National Police Officers Roll of Honour and Remembrance in Memory of British Police Officers who Lost their Lives in the Line of Duty. Police Roll of Honour Trust. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  32. ^ "Saving the Chapel windows". Archive Centre. King's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  33. ^ "Obituary: Sir Martyn Beckett, Bt". The Daily Telegraph. 6 August 2001. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
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Printed sources

External links

4 Annotations

First Reading

David Quidnunc  •  Link

John Evelyn's description, 1654

Evelyn, 33, and his wife, then 19 or 20 years old, visited Cambridge on 1 September 1654, the year Pepys graduated from Magdalene. Evelyn saw several of the colleges, including King's. This is part of that day's diary entry:

". . . then to Kings Coll, where I found the Chapel altogether answerable to expectation, especialy the roofe all of stone, which for the flatnesse of its laying & carving may I conceive vie with any in Christendome; The contignation of the roofe (which I went upon), weight, and artificial joyning of the stones is admirable: The lights are also very faire: The library is too narrow: here in one Ile [aisle?] lies the famous Dr. Collins so celebrated for his fluency in the Latine Tongue: from this roofe we could discry Elie [Ely], and the encampment of Sturbridge faire now beginning to set up their Tents & boothes: also Royston, New-Market &c: houses belonging to the King."

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

King's College Chapel is the chapel at King's College in the University of Cambridge. It is considered one of the finest examples of late Perpendicular Gothic English architecture. The chapel was built in phases by a succession of kings of England from 1446 to 1515, a period which spanned the Wars of the Roses. The chapel's large stained glass windows were not completed until 1531, and its early Renaissance rood screen was erected in 1532–36. The chapel is an active house of worship, and home of the King's College Choir. The chapel is a significant tourist site and a commonly used symbol of the city of Cambridge.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Cosmo, the future Grand Duke of Turin, visited King's College, Cambridge, on May 1/11, 1669.
I've standardized names, scanning errors I could figure out, and increased the number of paragraphs:

From the academy, the vice-chancellor, the public professors, and a great number of scholars forming his retinue, his highness went to see King's College.

As he entered the chapel of the college, Doctor Fleetwood, Doctor of Divinity, the Provost, received him with a Latin compliment, in which he expressed at considerable length the veneration which that college entertained for his highness's distinguished qualities.

Having seen the chapel (which was formerly dedicated by Henry VI, King of England and France, to the most blessed Virgin and St. Nicholas, and in which, although the architecture is Gothic, the royal magnificence of the prince who erected it is very visible in the nobleness of the decorations) he was attended through the whole of the college; the apartments being shewn to him, and everything that is worthy of remark in that edifice, either as to its structure, or as to what concerns the convenience of the collegians.


'This college was founded, and called after St. Nicholas, in the year 1441, by Henry VI. Surnamed the Pious, son of Henry V and of Catherine, daughter of Charles VI, King of France, in the neighborhood of the churches of St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas, and of the hospitals of the House of God and St. Augustine, with an endowment sufficient to support a monastery and 12 scholars; and, two years afterwards, the revenues having been greatly augmented, a chapel was built, with the intention of finishing the college in the same style of architecture and decoration; but, in consequence of his untimely death, it was left unfinished, and the charge of completing that great edifice devolved upon succeeding kings; accordingly, by his son, Henry VII, it was embellished with stone, and a rich pavement of marble being added by King Henry VIII, as far as the materials were concerned, it was completed.

Large additional contributions were made at different periods, in augmentation of the royal patrimony which had been assigned to the college at its foundation, by Roger Goad, Doctor of Divinity (who was brought up there) by the Provost Adam Robins, by Richard Day, and John Cowell, Doctors of Law and Fellows of the College, by Doctor Smith, and William Hanson; so that now a provost, 70 scholars, called fellows, a master of the choristers, 6 clerks, 16 officers, and other servants, making in all 230 persons, are comfortably maintained in it.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link



His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.






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