Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Coordinates: 52°12′13″N 0°7′26.3″E / 52.20361°N 0.123972°E / 52.20361; 0.123972

Colleges of the University of Cambridge
Emmanuel College
Name in Latin Collegii Emanuelis
Founder Sir Walter Mildmay
Named after Jesus of Nazareth (Emmanuel)
Established 1584
Master Fiona Reynolds
Undergraduates 500[1]
Graduates 134
Sister college Exeter College, Oxford
Location St Andrew's Street (map)
College website
Student Union website
MCR website
Boat Club website

Emmanuel College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Elizabeth I.[2]

In every year since 1998 Emmanuel has been among the top five colleges in the Tompkins Table, which ranks colleges according to end-of-year examination results. Emmanuel has topped the table five times since then (2003, '04, '06, '07 and '10) and placed second six times (2001, '02, '08, '09, '11, '12).

Emmanuel is one of the wealthier colleges at Cambridge with a financial endowment of approximately £105 million and net assets of £150 million (2012).[3]


View of Emmanuel College Chapel, 1690

The college was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Elizabeth I.[2] The site had been occupied by a Dominican friary until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, some 45 years earlier. Mildmay's foundation made use of the existing buildings.

Mildmay, a Puritan, intended Emmanuel to be a college of training for Protestant preachers.

Like all of the older Cambridge Colleges, Emmanuel originally took only male students. It first admitted female students in 1979.

Buildings and grounds

The chapel looking towards the altar
Front Court cloisters

Under Mildmay's instruction, the chapel of the original Dominican Friary had been converted to be the College's dining hall, with the friar's dining hall becoming a puritan chapel. In the late 17th century, the College commissioned a new chapel, one of three buildings in Cambridge to be designed by Christopher Wren (1677). After Wren's construction, the puritan chapel became the College library until it outgrew the space and a purpose-built library was constructed in 1930.

There is a large fish pond in the grounds, part of the legacy of the friary. The pond is home of a colony of ducks.

The Fellows' Garden contains a swimming pool, which was originally the friar's bathing pool, making it one of the oldest bathing pools in Europe. It includes an Oriental plane tree, also in the Fellows' Garden, which is reputed to have lived far longer than is typical of the species.[4]

Student life

New Court which was built in 1824–25
College sports grounds

The Emmanuel College Students' Union (ECSU) is the society of all undergraduate students at Emmanuel College. It provides a shop, a bar, a common room, and funding for sports and other societies. ECSU's Executive Committee is elected on a yearly basis at the end of Michaelmas Term.[5]

The Emmanuel College Middle Combination Room (Emma MCR) is the society of all post-graduate students at Emmanuel College. The Room itself is a comfortable and well equipped space in the Queen's Building. The MCR committee organises regular social events for graduate students, including well-attended formal dinners in hall every few weeks.[6]

Sports and societies

A large number of student societies and sports clubs exist at Emmanuel College. Sports clubs include Emmanuel Boat Club, tennis, badminton, cricket, squash, rugby, football, hockey and netball. Societies include the Emmanuel College Music Society (ECMS),[7] the Christian Union, the Mountaineering Club, the recently relaunched Emmanuel College Art and Photography Society,[8] the Emmanuel Real Ice Cream Society (ERICS) and the Politics and Economics Society. Funding for societies, old and new, come from applications to the Emmanuel College Student union (ECSU).

People associated with Emmanuel

See also: Category:Alumni of Emmanuel College, Cambridge; Category:Fellows of Emmanuel College, Cambridge; and List of Masters of Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Former students

Emmanuel graduates had a large involvement in the settling of North America. Of the first 100 university graduates in New England, one-third were graduates of Emmanuel College. Harvard University, the first college in the United States, was organised on the model of Emmanuel, as it was then run. Harvard is named for John Harvard (B.A., 1632), an Emmanuel graduate. Emmanuel and Harvard maintain relations via student exchanges such as the Herchel Smith scholarships, the Harvard Scholarship, and the annual Gomes lecture and dinner held each February at Emmanuel in honour of the late Peter Gomes, erstwhile minister at Harvard's Memorial Church.

Early Emmanuel men included several translators of the 1611 Authorised Version.

Fictional characters who have been said to have gone to Emmanuel include Jonathan Swift's Lemuel Gulliver. It is implied that Sebastian Faulks' eponymous Engleby and Thomas Richardson also matriculated at Emmanuel. The protagonist in Samuel Butler's masterpieceThe Way Of All Flesh also went to Emmanuel.


College grace

Front façade of Emmanuel College viewed from Downing Street
The Latin grace (Oratio Ante Cibum) is recited before formal dinners at Emmanuel College.
Latin English

Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine,
et tu das escam illorum in tempore opportuno.
Aperis tu manum tuam
et imples omne animal benedictione.
Benedic, Domine, nos et dona tua
quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi;
per Christum Dominum nostrum.

The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord,
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand
and fillest every living thing with blessing.
Bless us, O Lord and these the gifts
which of thy bounty we are about to receive;
through Christ our Lord.

The Oratio Post Cibum is sometimes read after dinner:
Latin English

Confiteantur tibi, Domine, omnia opera tua,
et sancti tui benedicant te.
Agimus tibi gratias, omnipotens Deus,
pro universis beneficiis tuis,
qui vivis et regnas Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Let all thy works give thanks to thee. O Lord,
and let thy saints bless thee.
We give thanks to thee, almighty God,
for all thy goodness,
who livest and reignest as God for ever and ever.

Civil partnerships

In February 2006, the Rev. Jeremy Caddick, the Dean of Emmanuel College, announced that Emmanuel's chapel would be open to the blessing of same-sex civil partnerships—becoming the first in the Church of England to do so.[9] Emmanuel's chapel is not under the formal jurisdiction of the local Church of England bishop, and did not have to obey a House of Bishops ruling against such blessings.

Only members and alumni of the college may be blessed in this way. The decision was supported both by the College council and the students' union.

See also


  1. "University Factsheet 2012" (PDF). University of Cambridge. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 Sarah Bendall; Christopher Brooke; Patrick Collinson (1999). A History of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Boydell Press. ISBN 0-85115-393-3.
  3. "Annual Accounts" (PDF). Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  4. Ron Gray. "The Great Oriental Plane Tree at Emmanuel College". Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
  5. "Emmanuel College Students' Union". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  6. "Emma MCR". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  7. "Emmanuel College Music Society". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  8. "Emmanuel College Art and Photography Society (ECAPS)". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  9. Stephen Bates. "Dean considers blessing gay couples in civil partnerships". the Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
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