Jesus College, Cambridge

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Jesus College Gatehouse and the "Chimney"

Jesus College at the University of Cambridge was founded in 1496 on the site of a Benedictine nunnery by John Alcock, then Bishop of Ely. It is traditionally held 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 in the beginning of the 11th century, the chapel is the oldest University building in Cambridge and is 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, and which resemble an American-style campus set back from Jesus Lane. 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 its grass lawns (often called courts), with the exception of First 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.

The college is unique in Oxford and Cambridge in maintaining two choirs. The Chapel Choir consists of men and boys, and the Mixed Choir of men and women.

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

Famous Jesuans

Masters of Jesus College

External links


Colleges of the University of Cambridge Arms of the University

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