Jesus College, Cambridge

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Jesus College
University of Cambridge
Jesus College Entrance.jpg
The college gatehouse, seen from the "Chimney".
Jesus College (Cambridge) shield.svg
Arms of Jesus College
Location Jesus Lane (map)
Coordinates 52°12′33″N00°07′24″E / 52.20917°N 0.12333°E / 52.20917; 0.12333 (Jesus College) Coordinates: 52°12′33″N00°07′24″E / 52.20917°N 0.12333°E / 52.20917; 0.12333 (Jesus College)
Full nameThe College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, within the City and University of Cambridge [1]
AbbreviationJE [2]
MottoProsperum iter facias [3] (Latin)
Motto in English"May your journey be successful"
Founder John Alcock
Established1496;525 years ago (1496)
Named after Jesus of Nazareth
Sister college Jesus College, Oxford
Master Sonita Alleyne
Endowment £203.6m
Student Union
Boat club
Cambridge centre map.png
Red pog.svg
Location in Central Cambridge
Location map Cambridge.png
Red pog.svg
Location in Cambridge

Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. 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.


Jesus College was established in 1496 [4] on the site of the twelfth-century Benedictine nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund by John Alcock, then Bishop of Ely. [4] The cockerel is the symbol of Jesus College, after the surname of its founder.

Jesus College has assets of approximately £344m making it Cambridge's fourth-wealthiest college. The college is known for its particularly expansive grounds which include its sporting fields and for its close proximity to its boathouse.

Three members of Jesus College have received a Nobel Prize. [5] Two fellows of the college have been appointed to the International Court of Justice. [6] Notable alumni include Thomas Cranmer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Robert Malthus, Lord Reid, Lord Toulson, Sir Rupert Jackson, Sir David Hare, Sir Roger Scruton, Nick Hornby, and the members of the band Clean Bandit.

Sonita Alleyne was elected master of Jesus College in 2019 (40 years after the college began admitting women as students). [7] She is also the first black leader of an Oxbridge college. [8]


When founded in 1496, the College consisted of buildings taken over from the Nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund, which was founded at the beginning of the 12th century; the chapel is the oldest university building in Cambridge still in use, and predates the foundation of the college by 350 years, the University by half a century.

The Benedictine Convent, upon dissolution, included 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 architectural style, which sets it apart from other Cambridge colleges. A library was soon added, and the chapel was considerably modified and reduced in scale by Alcock. At its foundation, the college had a master, six fellows and six scholars. [9]

Academic profile

Jesus College admits undergraduate and graduates students to all subjects at the university though typically accepts a larger number of students for engineering, medicine, law, natural sciences, mathematics, economics, history, languages, and human, social and political sciences. [10] The college offers a wide range of scholarships. [11]

The college consistently performs well in the informal Tompkins Table, which ranks Cambridge colleges by undergraduate results. Along with students from Trinity, King's, Christ's and St John's, students of the college have been members of the Cambridge Apostles.

Buildings and grounds

The Gatehouse looking into First Court Jesus College, Cambridge - - 1062931.jpg
The Gatehouse looking into First Court


The main entrance to Jesus College is a walled passage known as the "Chimney". The term is derived from the Middle French word cheminée, for "little path" or "little way". The Chimney leads directly to the Porter's Lodge and then into First Court. All the courts at the college, with the exception of the cloister, are open on at least one side.


Quincentenary Library

Cloister Court Jesus College Cloister.jpg
Cloister Court

The Quincentenary Library is the main library of Jesus College and is open 24 hours a day. The library was designed by Eldred Evans and David Shalev in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the college in 1996. Completion of the library was shortly followed by a new accommodation building in 2000, now known as Library Court. [12] The Quincentenary Library has a particularly large law collection, housed in a law library on the ground floor.

Old Library

The Old Library was in regular use until 1912. It still contains over 9,000 books and is available to private researchers upon appointment. [13] The Old Library includes the Malthus Collection, being the family collection of alumnus Thomas Malthus.

College grounds

Jesus College has large sporting grounds all on-site. These include football, rugby, cricket, tennis, squash, basketball and hockey pitches. The Jesus College Boat House is only 400 yards away, across Midsummer Common. [14]

The college frequently hosts exhibitions of sculpture by contemporary artists. It has hosted work by Sir Antony Gormley, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, and Barry Flanagan. [15] The college grounds also include a nature trail, inspired by poetry composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge during his time as a student. [16]

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. In common with other Cambridge colleges, this privilege is only extended during Easter term.

Chapel and Choir

Chapel Court JesusCollegeChapelCourt.jpg
Chapel Court

Jesus College Chapel

Jesus Chapel The Chapel, Jesus College, Cambridge - - 1057669.jpg
Jesus Chapel

The College Chapel was founded in 1157 and took until 1245 to complete, and is believed to be the oldest university building in Cambridge still in use. Originally it was the Benedictine Convent of St Mary and St Radegund, which was dissolved by Bishop John Alcock.

The original structure of the chapel was cruciform in shape and 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, in 1313 and 1376.

When the College took over the precincts during the 15th century, 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. Significant alterations were carried out to the church under Alcock, transforming the cathedral-sized church, which was the largest in Cambridge into a College chapel for a small group of scholars. A large part of the original nave was replaced by College rooms, and subsequently part of the Master's Lodge.

The misericords were created by the famous English architect Augustus Pugin between 1849 and 1853. Pugin used fragments of the misericords dating from 1500, which had been preserved in the Master's Lodge as templates. Repairs were also undertaken by George Frederick Bodley between 1864 and 1867.

Said and sung services are held every day during term. Choral Evensong take place four times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays), and sung Eucharist on Sunday mornings. There are also Compline twice a term, as well as Masses on major holy days. [17] The chapel, famed for its warm but clean acoustics, is also a much sought-after space for concerts and recitals, as well as recordings.

Stained glass of John Alcock Jesus College Glass.jpg
Stained glass of John Alcock

Jesus College Choir

Jesus College maintains two highly regarded choirs, the College Choir and the Chapel Choir. [18]

Until December 2016, Mark Williams, former assistant organist at St Paul's Cathedral had been the Director of Music since September 2009; [20] Richard Pinel, former assistant organist at St George's Chapel, Windsor and Organ Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, is currently the Director of Music. [21] Former Organ Scholars include Malcolm Archer, who (until 2018) was the Organist and Director of Chapel Music, Winchester College, James O'Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey and Charles Harrison, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Chichester Cathedral. [22]

College Grace

Jesus College in 1690, by David Loggan Jesus College, Cambridge by Loggan 1690 - Folger 046539W5.jpg
Jesus College in 1690, by David Loggan

Before dinner

The following Latin grace is recited before formal dinners at Jesus College (Oratio Ante Cibum; English: "Prayer before Food"):

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.

English translation:

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.

After dinner

The following Oratio Post Cibum (English: "Prayer after Food") [23] 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.

English translation:

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:

Student life

Jesus College May Ball, 2012 Jesus College May Ball, 2012 2.JPG
Jesus College May Ball, 2012

Student societies

Although Jesus College is one of the older colleges at the university, it is known for having a relaxed and informal atmosphere. This is in large part attributable to its active student unions, the Jesus College Student Union (JCSU) and the Jesus College Graduate Union (MCR). These unions organise a wide range of social, cultural, welfare and sporting events throughout the year. The John Hughes Arts Festival, founded by College students in 2014 in memory of the late Dean of Chapel, John Hughes, enters its third year in 2017, providing a broad programme of arts events. [24]

Jesus College hosts an annual May Ball. Musician James Bay played at the 2015 May Ball. [25] The headliners for 2016 were Coasts, Clean Bandit and Jack Garratt. [26] [27]


Jesus College offers a large number of sports, including rowing, football, rugby, hockey, tennis, squash and basketball. The college typically fields a number of teams in each sport. The Jesus College Boat Club is particularly strong, with the 1st Men's VIII never having dropped below 12th place in the May Bumps and 11th position in the Lent Bumps. The JCBC organises the annual Fairbairn Cup Races.


A three-course dinner known as Formal Hall is served in the college's main dining hall five nights a week. Gowns are worn by all members of the college, along with lounge suit for men and formal dress for women. A four-course dinner for graduate students of the college known as Grad Hall is served in Upper Hall each Wednesday. Unlike most traditional Oxbridge colleges, the college allows graduate students to dine at High Table on Tuesdays.

The college also offers informal dining at lunch and dinner known as Caff, as well as brunch on Saturday mornings and a carvery lunch on Sundays. The college also has a popular student bar known as JBar which sells a wide variety of drinks, including JPA (Jesus Pale Ale). [28]

Masters and fellows

Masters of the college

Sonita Alleyne was elected master of the college in 2019. She was preceded by Ian White, former Van Eck Professor of Engineering at the university. Previous masters of the college include:

Fellows of the college

Three members of the college have received Nobel Prizes. Philip W. Anderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (1977). [29] Anderson was a fellow from 1969 to 1975 while he held a visiting professorship at the Cavendish Laboratory and has been an Honorary Fellow since 1978. Peter D. Mitchell, an undergraduate and later research student, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1978). He became an Honorary Fellow in 1979. [30] Eric Maskin was a joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2007. Maskin was a research fellow from 1976 to 1977 and has been an Honorary Fellow since 2009.

Several prominent figures in the law have been fellows of the college. Professor Glanville Williams, described as Britain's foremost scholar of criminal law, [31] was a Fellow from 1957 to 1978. The Glanville Williams Society, consisting of current and former members of Jesus College, meets annually in his honour. [32] Justice David Hayton, editor of Underhill and Hayton's Law of Trusts and Trustees and current judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice was a Fellow from 1973 to 1987. [33] Professor Robert Jennings was a Fellow of the college and later Whewhell Professor of International Law (1955–1982) before his appointment to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where he served as a Judge (1982–1991) and later as President (1991–1995). Professor James Crawford was also a Fellow of the college and later Whewhell Professor of International Law (1992–2014) before his appointment to the International Court of Justice in November 2014. Current Honorary Fellows include Lord Roger Toulson of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Sir Rupert Jackson of the Court of Appeal, and Sir Colman Treacy, also of the Court of Appeal, all of whom were students of the college. [34]

Notable alumni

List of notable alumni
Double dates may indicate Old Style and New Style dates.
Thomas Cranmer 14891556Archbishop of Canterbury
John Bale 14951563 Bishop of Ossory
Thomas Goodrich 14941554 Bishop of Ely
Arthur Golding 1535/61606Protestant propagandist
Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke 15541628Elizabethan poet, playwright, statesman and biographer of Sir Philip Sidney
Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet, of Connington 1570/11631Antiquarian, MP and founder of the Cotton Library.
Thomas Beard 1632English cleric, theologian, Puritan and schoolmaster of Oliver Cromwell.
Francis Higginson 15881630Early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.
Richard Sterne 15961683Archbishop of York, Master of Jesus College (1634)
John Eliot 16041690Puritan missionary who translated the Bible into Algonquian.
Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1st Baronet 16081666English diplomat, translator and poet.
John Strype 16431737English cleric, historian and biographer
William Beale 17841854Master of Jesus College (1632)[ Dates appear not to agree. ]
John Flamsteed 16461719First Astronomer Royal
Thomas Herring 16931757Archbishop of Canterbury
Matthew Hutton 16931758Archbishop of Canterbury
John Jortin 16981770Ecclesiastical historian
David Hartley 17051757Philosopher
Laurence Sterne 17131768Novelist
Henry Venn 17251797A leader of the Evangelical movement in the Church of England
Gilbert Wakefield 17561801Principal of two nonconformist academies
Thomas Robert Malthus 17661834Population theorist
William Otter 17681840First Principal of King's College London
Samuel Taylor Coleridge 17721834Poet, critic and philosopher
David Barttelot 18211852Cricketer
William Percy Carpmael 18531936Founder of the Barbarians' Rugby Club
Sandford Schultz 18571937England cricketer
Charles Whibley 18591930Journalist and author
Herbert Williams 18601937 Bishop of Waiapu, New Zealand
Steve Fairbairn 18621938Rowing coach
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch 18631944Novelist and critic
Henry Hutson 18681916Cricketer
Gregor MacGregor 18691919Scotland Rugby Union player and England cricketer
John Maxwell Edmonds 18751958Classicist, poet. dramatist and writer of celebrated epitaphs
Robert Stanford Wood 18861963First Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton
Bernard Vann 18871918Recipient of the Victoria Cross and League footballer for Derby County from 1906 to 1907
Sir Harold Scott 18871969 Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service from 1945 to 1953
E. M. W. Tillyard 18891962Literary critic, master[ clarification needed ] (1945–1959)
Hon. F.S. G. Calthorpe 18921935England cricket captain
Tom Lowry 18981976New Zealand cricket captain
Alistair Cooke 19082004Broadcaster
Jacob Bronowski 19081974Scientist and mathematician
Tom Killick 19071953England cricketer
Lord (Saville) Garner 19081983British High Commissioner to Canada, Head of the Diplomatic Service
James Reeves 19091978Author and literary critic
Don Siegel 19121991American film director and producer
David Clive Crosbie Trench 1915198824th Governor of Hong Kong
Peter Mitchell 19201992Biochemist; won the 1978 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of the chemiosmotic mechanism of ATP synthesis
Sir John Jardine Paterson 19202000Businessman in India
Raymond Williams 19211988Literary and cultural critic
Harry Johnson 19231977Economist
Edwin Boston 19241986Clergyman and steam enthusiast
Maurice Cowling 19262005Historian of 'high politics'
Harold Perkin 19262004Social historian
J. B. Steane 19282011Music critic and musicologist
Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon 19302017Photographer and film-maker and ex-husband to the late Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister
Peter Hurford 19302019Organist and composer
David McCutchion 19301972Academic
Michael Podro 19312008Art historian
Richard Hey Lloyd 1933Organist and composer
Ted Dexter 1935England cricket captain
Peter G. Fletcher 19361996British conductor and author
Colin Renfrew, Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn 1937Archaeologist
Fernando Vianello 19392009Italian economist
Deryck Murray 1943West Indies cricketer
Lisa Jardine 19442015Historian
Roger Scruton 19442020Philosopher
Paul Harrison 1945Founder of the World Pantheist Movement, UNEP Global 500 Roll of Honour, author
Roger Toulson 19462017Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Sir David Hare 1947Playwright
Stefan Collini 1947Literary critic and historian
Sir Rupert Jackson 1948Justice of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Simon Hornblower 1949Professor of Classics and Grote Professor of Ancient History, University College London
Tony Wilson 19502007Journalist, founder of Factory Records
David Wootton 1950Lord Mayor of London
Kimberley Rew 1951Songwriter and guitarist
Malcolm Archer 1952Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College
Bernard Silverman 1952British statistician and Master of St Peter's College, Oxford.
Geoff Hoon 1953Former Secretary of State for Defence, Chief Whip, Secretary to the Treasury and Secretary of State for Transport
Anthony Julius 1956British lawyer
Andrew Mitchell 1956 Secretary of State for International Development (from May 2010)
Nick Hornby 1957Novelist and journalist
Shaun Woodward 1958British politician, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
John Baron 1959British Conservative politician
James O'Donnell 1961 Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey
Theodore Huckle 1962Counsel General for Wales
Glen Goei 1962Film and theatre director
Quentin Letts 1963British journalist, currently writing for the New Statesman
Andrew Solomon 1963Writer and professor of Clinical Psychology; winner of the 2001 National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist
Prince Edward 1964Earl of Wessex
James Wood 1965Literary critic
Philip Hensher 1965Novelist and journalist
Stephanie Theobald 1966Novelist and journalist
Lewis Pugh 1969Endurance swimmer and Ocean advocate
Giles Dilnot 1971Television presenter and journalist
Charles Harrison 1974 Organist and Master of the Choristers of Chichester Cathedral
Dominic Sandbrook 1974Historian
Alexis Taylor 1980Musician with Hot Chip, composer, singer
Jason Forbes 1990Actor, comedian

See also

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