Jesus College, Cambridge

Colleges of the University of Cambridge
Jesus College
Full name The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, within the City and University of Cambridge[1]
Founder John Alcock
Named after Jesus Chapel
Established 1496
Master Ian White
Undergraduates 489
Graduates 270
Sister college Jesus College, Oxford
Location Jesus Lane (map)
Prosperum iter facias[2]
(Latin, ""May your journey be successful"")
College website
Student Union website
MCR website
Boat Club website

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 between 1496 and 1516 on the site of the twelfth-century Benedictine nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund by John Alcock, then Bishop of Ely. The cockerel is a symbol of Jesus College, after the surname of its founder.

Three members of Jesus College have received a Nobel Prize.[3] Two fellows of the college have been appointed to the International Court of Justice.[4] Notable alumni include Thomas Cranmer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Reid, Lord Toulson, Sir Rupert Jackson, Sir David Hare, Nick Hornby and the members of Clean Bandit.

Jesus College has assets of approximately £243m making it Cambridge’s third wealthiest college.[5] The college is known for its particularly expansive grounds which include its sporting fields and for its close proximity to its boathouse.

Ian White, current van Eck Professor of Engineering in the university, has been master of Jesus College since 2011.


Jesus Chapel

Founded at the beginning of the 12th century, Jesus Chapel is the oldest university building in Cambridge still in use.

When founded in 1496, the college consisted of buildings taken over from the Nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund. This 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, 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.[6]

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.[7] The college offers a wide range of scholarships.[8]

The college consistently performs well in the informal Tomkins 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.

Masters and fellows

Masters of the college

Ian White, current Van Eck Professor of Engineering has been master of the college since 2011. He was preceded by Robert Mair, the Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering. 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).[9] 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). Mitchell had been an undergraduate and later a research student at the college. He became an Honorary Fellow in 1979.[10] 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,[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

Student life

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 (JSCU) and the Jesus College Graduate Union (MCR). These unions organise a wide range of social, cultural, welfare and sporting events throughout the year.

Jesus College hosts an annual May Ball. Musician James Bay played at the 2015 May Ball.[15] The headliners for 2016 were Coasts, Clean Bandit and Jack Garratt.[16] [17]


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 Jesuan Ale.[18]

Jesus College Choir

Jesus College maintains two highly regarded choirs, the College Choir and the Chapel Choir.[19]

Evensong is sung by the College Choir on Tuesdays at 6.30pm and Sundays at 6pm during Full Term.[20] The Chapel Choir sings Evensong on Thursdays and Saturdays at 6.30pm.[21]

Buildings and grounds

The Gatehouse looking into First Court


The main entrance to Jesus College is a walled passage known as the "Chimney". The term is derived the Middle French word chemin, for "path" or "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
Chapel 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.[22] 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.[23] 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 fields. The Jesus College Boat House is only 400 yards away, across Midsummer Common.[24]

The college frequently hosts exhibitions of sculpture by contemporary artists. It has hosted work by Sir Antony Gormley, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, and Barry Flanagan.[25] The college grounds also include a nature trail, inspired by poetry composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge during his time as a student.[26]

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 the summer term.

Jesus Chapel

Jesus chapel was founded in 1157 and took until 1245 to complete. Jesus Chapel 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 John Alcock, Bishop of Ely.

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.

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.

Mark Williams, former assistant organist at St Paul's Cathedral has been the director of music since September 2009,[27] following the departure of Daniel Hyde to Magdalen College, Oxford, himself replacing Bill Ives.[28]Malcolm Archer, who is (as of 2012) the Organist and Director of Chapel Music, Winchester College, was Organ scholar at Jesus College in the years from 1972 to 1975.

College Grace

Before dinner

The following Latin grace is recited before formal dinners at Jesus College (Oratio Ante Cibum):

Chapel Court

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.

Jesus College in 1690

Translated into English, the Oratio Ante Cibum reads as follows:

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 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.

Translated into English, the Oratio Post Cibum ["Prayer After Food"[29]] reads as follows:

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:

Notable alumni

Thomas Cranmer, the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, responsible for the Book of Common Prayer, attended the College from 1503, at the age of fourteen.
Robert Malthus, British scholar, philosopher, economist and population theorist was admitted to the College in 1784, and elected a Fellow in 1793.
The English poet and Romantic, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, attended the College from 1791 to 1794
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the fourth and youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and (as of 2015) ninth in line to the throne
Thomas Cranmer 1489 1556 Archbishop of Canterbury
John Bale 1495 1563 Bishop of Ossory
Thomas Goodrich 1494 1554 Bishop of Ely
Arthur Golding 1535/6 1606 Protestant propagandist
Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke 1554 1628 Elizabethan poet, playwright, statesman and biographer of Sir Philip Sidney
Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet, of Connington 1570/1 1631 Antiquarian, MP and founder of the Cotton Library.
Thomas Beard 1632 English cleric, theologian, Puritan and schoolmaster of Oliver Cromwell.
Francis Higginson 1588 1630 Early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.
Richard Sterne 1596 1683 Archbishop of York, Master of Jesus College (1634)
John Eliot 1604 1690 Puritan missionary who translated the Bible into Algonquian.
Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1st Baronet 1608 1666 English diplomat, translator and poet.
John Strype 1643 1737 English cleric, historian and biographer
William Beale 1784 1854 Master of Jesus College (1632)
John Flamsteed 1646 1719 First Astronomer Royal
Thomas Herring 1693 1757 Archbishop of Canterbury
Matthew Hutton 1693 1758 Archbishop of Canterbury
John Jortin 1698 1770 Ecclesiastical historian
David Hartley 1705 1757 Philosopher
Laurence Sterne 1713 1768 Novelist
Henry Venn 1725 1797 A leader of the Evangelical movement in the Church of England
Gilbert Wakefield 1756 1801 Principal of two nonconformist academies
Thomas Robert Malthus 1766 1834 Population theorist
William Otter 1768 1840 First Principal of King's College London
Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 1834 Poet, critic and philosopher
David Barttelot 1821 1852 Cricketer
William Percy Carpmael 1853 1936 Founder of the Barbarians Rugby Club
Charles Whibley 1859 1930 Journalist and author
Herbert Williams 1860 1937 Bishop of Waiapu, New Zealand
Steve Fairbairn 1862 1938 Rowing coach
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch 1863 1944 Novelist and critic
John Maxwell Edmonds 1875 1958 Classicist, poet. dramatist and writer of celebrated epitaphs
Robert Stanford Wood 1886 1963 First Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton
Bernard Vann 1887 1918 Recipient of the Victoria Cross and League footballer for Derby County from 1906 to 1907
Sir Harold Scott 1887 1969 Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service from 1945 to 1953
E. M. W. Tillyard 1889 1962 Literary critic, master (1945–1959)
Alistair Cooke 1908 2004 Broadcaster
Jacob Bronowski 1908 1974 Scientist and mathematician
Lord (Saville) Garner 1908 1983 British High Commissioner to Canada, Head of the Diplomatic Service
James Reeves 1909 1978 Author and literary critic
Don Siegel 1912 1991 American film director and producer
David Clive Crosbie Trench 1915 1988 24th Governor of Hong Kong
Peter Mitchell 1920 1992 Biochemist and winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery the chemiosmotic mechanism of ATP synthesis
Sir John Jardine Paterson 1920 2000 Businessman in India
Raymond Williams 1921 1988 Literary and cultural critic
Edwin Boston 1924 1986 Clergyman and steam enthusiast
Maurice Cowling 1926 2005 Historian of 'high politics'
Harold Perkin 1926 2004 Social historian
J.B. Steane 1928 2011 Music critic and musicologist
David McCutchion 1930 1972 Academic
Michael Podro 1931 2008 Art historian
Richard Hey Lloyd 1933 Organist and composer
Peter G. Fletcher 1936 1996 British conductor and author
Colin Renfrew, Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn 1937 Archaeologist
Fernando Vianello 1939 2009 Italian economist
Lisa Jardine 1944 2015 Literary critic
Roger Scruton 1944 Philosopher
Paul Harrison 1945 Founder of the World Pantheist Movement, UNEP Global 500 Roll of Honour, author
Roger Toulson 1946 Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Sir David Hare 1947 Playwright
Sir Rupert Jackson 1948 Justice of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Simon Hornblower 1949 Prof. of Classics and Grote Prof. of Ancient History, UCL
Anthony Wilson 1950 2007 Journalist, founder of Factory Records
David Wootton 1950 Lord Mayor of London
Bernard Silverman 1952 British statistician and Master of St Peter's College, Oxford.
Geoff Hoon 1953 Former Secretary of State for Defence, Chief Whip, Secretary to the Treasury and Secretary of State for Transport
Anthony Julius 1956 British lawyer
Andrew Mitchell 1956 Secretary of State for International Development (from May 2010)
Nick Hornby 1957 Novelist and journalist
Shaun Woodward 1958 British politician, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
John Baron 1959 British Conservative politician
Kimberley Rew 1951 Songwriter and guitarist
Theodore Huckle 1962 Counsel General for Wales
Glen Goei 1962 Film and theatre director
Quentin Letts 1963 British journalist, currently writing for the New Statesman
Prince Edward 1964 Earl of Wessex
James Wood 1965 Literary critic
Stephanie Theobald 1966 Novelist and journalist
Lewis Pugh 1969 Endurance swimmer and Ocean advocate
Giles Dilnot 1971 Television presenter and journalist
Alexis Taylor Hot Chip musician, composer, singer
Dominic Sandbrook 1974 Historian
Jason Forbes 1990 Actor, comedian
John Willingham 1964 Aircraft financier

Jack Patterson, Grace Chatto and Milan Neil Amin-Smith of the British electronic group Clean Bandit all studied at Jesus as undergraduates, coming together to form the band in 2009.

See also


  1. College Statutes , October 2011
  2. "Coats of Arms".
  3. "Jesus College Website, Nobel Laureates".
  4. Namely, Professor Sir Robert Jennings and Professor James Crawford:
  6. Society of gentlemen (1780). The Biographical Dictionary, Or, Complete Historical Library: Containing the Lives of the Most Celebrated Personages of Great Britain and Ireland, Whether Admirals, Generals, Poets, Statesmen, Philosophers, Or Divines : a Work Replete with Instruction and Entertainment. F. Newbery. p. 30.
  9. Jointly with Sir Neville Mott and John van Fleck:
  22. "History (1945-)". Jesus College, Cambridge. April 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  27. Poole, Sarah Cathedral organist secures dream job, 6 April 2009, Bolton News. Retrieved on 19 April 2009.
  28. New Informator Choristorum appointed, Oxford University. Retrieved on 19 April 2009.
  29. "English translation, (according to Google Translate), of the Latin phrase "Oratio Post Cibum"". Google Translate. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
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