Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Queens' College, Cambridge

The first point to note is that the name of the college is Queens plural; since several English Queens were associated with its foundation in the latter part of the 15th century. (The Oxford college, by contrast, only has one Queen!)
     The college coat of arms is that of the first royal patron, Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI, within a green border. (Green has always been the college colour)
The shield displays (above): Hungary - Naples - Jerusalem, (below): Anjou - Bar - Lorraine. These arms refer back to the conquests of the great warrior Charles of Anjou in the 13th century. The claim to the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (gold crosses on silver; unlike any other coat of arms in the world) had already been meaningless for over two centuries.
     In 1448 Queen Margaret issued a charter licensing Andrew Dokett, Rector of St. Botolph's church in Cambridge, to found a college dedicated to St. Margaret and and St. Bernard. But, because of the turmoil of the Wars of the Roses, there was no building work undertaken for the next few years.
     The second Queen who supported the foundation of the college was Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV. Her portrait hangs in the old dining hall.

The third Queen was Anne Neville, wife of Richard III, who gave generously to the college; though unfortunately when Henry VII became King in 1485 he took her donations away again. But the link is still remembered: the badge of the college sports clubs is a boar's head; the wild boar being Richard III's emblem.

This is the old gatehouse of Queens, seen from the inside. It was built in the latter part of the 15th century.
The gatehouse leads to Old Court, with its famous 18th century sundial (which is also a "moondial"). I was an undergraduate at Queens' 1965-68, and this view is from the rooms I shared in my third year; just off the picture to the right of the gatehouse on the previous photograph.

Between Old Court and the river is Cloister Court, with its half-timbered Lodge; the residence of the President of the college. The President in my day was Arthur Armitage: a great man.

Perhaps the most famous structure in Queens' is the "Mathematical Bridge" across the river Cam. Legend has it that it was designed by Sir Isaac Newton - which is, alas, quite untrue. The first bridge on this pattern was not erected until 1750, whereas Newton died in 1728. The present bridge is a replacement, dating from 1904.

The most eminent person associated with Queens' was the great Renaissance scholar Erasmus (1466-1536), who was resident at the college 1510-14, teaching and preparing his ground-breaking edition of the Greek New Testament, eliminating errors that had crept into the text over the centuries.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Peter. Thought you might be interested to know that I bought a paperback copy of The Politics with your name, Queens College, June 4th 1966 written inside the from cover. Book has been well cared for.

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