from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
founding 1284 (The Scholars of the Bishop of Ely, Saint Peter's College)
Sponsorship University of Cambridge
place Cambridge
master Bridget Kendall
Students 284
postgraduates : 130

Peterhouse is the oldest existing college at Cambridge University . It was founded in 1284 by Hugh von Balsham , Bishop of Ely . Peterhouse has 284 undergraduates, 130 postgraduates and 45 fellows, making it the smallest college in Cambridge to accept students of both sexes. The name Peterhouse is used without the addition "College".


According to legend, Cambridge University was founded at the beginning of the 13th century. Officially, the founding date of Peterhouse is considered the university's founding date. In 1280 King Edward I allowed the Bishop of Ely (responsible for Cambridge) , Hugh von Balsham, to admit some students to St. John's Hospital (now St. John's College ), where they were to live according to the rules of Merton College . Since the coexistence of the students with the inmates of the hospital proved to be difficult, two houses outside the city wall, on the road to Trumpington, were purchased for the students and the master in 1284 . The Peterskirche located there served as the namesake and college church. After the death of Bishop Hugh (1286), the amount of 300 marks (about 200 pounds sterling ) he left behind was used to  purchase more land south of the church to build the main building.

1553 appointed master Andrew Perne managed to both of Maria, the Catholic as well as I. Elisabeth to be supported. Upon his death in 1589, Perne bequeathed its extensive library and a certain fortune to the college; The money was used to set up a number of scholarships and the library formed the cornerstone of the college's historic library, now known as the “Perne Library” .

The 1626–1634 master Matthew Wren was a promoter of Arminianism . Under him and his successor John Cosin , Peterhouse was known as the center of Arminianism in England. Under Cosin, the chapel was rebuilt according to William Laud's ideas. In 1643, at the beginning of the English Civil War , Cosin was deposed and the chapel was freed of statues and decorations according to Puritan principles.

For the 600th anniversary of Peterhouse (1884), Lord Kelvin had electrical lighting installed in some of the college's buildings.

In the 1980s, Peter House was with the Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher closely linked. Conservative politicians Michael Portillo and Michael Howard are Peterhouse graduates; the master of the time, Hugh Trevor-Roper , however repeatedly came into conflict with this lineage of some Petrians.


Peterhouse has three libraries. The oldest collection, that of medieval manuscripts and sheet music, was practically created when the college was founded in the late 13th century and is now administered by the university library. There is also the Perne Library, which is based on the inheritance of Master Andrew Perne († 1589) and today contains around 4,000 works, most of which were bequeathed to the College by former Masters and Fellows. The Perne library is located on First Court , to the west of the site, above the porter's box.

The current Ward Library, used by college students, was established by the will of Adolphus William Ward (Masters 1900-1924) who left about 5,000 volumes to the Peterhouse. After this library had grown to around 60,000 volumes, the old rooms at the first courtyard became too small. In the northeast corner of the college campus, on Little St. Mary's Lane , is the former University Museum of Classical Archeology. It became the seat of the Ward Library in 1982.

Since then, the Perne library has only been used for historical research (with the works from the 19th century being moved to the Ward library).

Buildings and open spaces

The archway of the chapel, from the first courtyard, through which you can see the old courtyard .

Peterhouse is to the left and right of Trumpington Street, which faces south from downtown. To the south of Peterhouse, on the west side of Trumpington Street, is the Fitzwilliam Museum . The college gardens and some outbuildings are behind the eastern section of the museum. The various buildings were erected over the course of more than 700 years of history and also changed or expanded over time. According to records, the college was partially destroyed by fire in 1420. The main entrance has been relocated several times as a number of houses that originally stood on Trumpington Street were demolished.

First court

The entrance area on Trumpington Street is called the First Court ; it is bordered to the north by the Burroughs Building (built in the 18th century), to the east by the street, to the south by the porter's lodge and to the west by the chapel. The Perne library is located above the porter's lodge ; the building was built around 1590 thanks to the legacy of the former master Andrew Perne and was extended towards the street in 1633. Like the chapel, the Perne library was equipped with paneling in the 17th century . The area above the Perne Library was used by the Ward Library between 1952 and 1984.

The Burroughs Building is named after the architect, Sir James Burroughs , Master of Gonville and Caius College , and was built in 1736. It is one of a number of New Palladian buildings in Cambridge; these include the Hall and Old Court of Trinity Hall and the Chapel of Clare College .


Little St. Mary
Interior of the chapel

The chapel was built in 1628 in place of the old hostels (accommodation) near the main entrance. The nearby Marienkirche (which was still consecrated to Simon Petrus in the 13th century) had previously been used as a college chapel. The chapel was consecrated on March 17, 1632 by Francis White, Bishop of Ely.

The style of the chapel shows that Arminianism was current when it was built. The Gothic architecture preferred by Bishop William Laud prevails, the chapel also has more recent Renaissance elements (for example a Pietà ). Its location in the middle of one side of a courtyard, built into an archway, is unusual for Cambridge; only Emmanuel College has a similarly arranged chapel by Christopher Wren . Today's glass windows were painted by the glass painter Max Ainmiller in 1855 . The first person buried in the chapel was Samuel Horne, a fellow of the Peterhouse. Horne may also have been the chapel's chaplain.

Old Court

The facade of the chapel at the old court (Old Court)

The Old Court is beyond the arches of the chapel. To the south of the courtyard is the dining room, the only building on the college dating back to the 13th century. It was restored by George Gilbert Scott junior between 1866 and 1870 . Under Scott, among other things, the wooden ceiling was repaired and the leaded glass windows were replaced by Pre-Raphael models by William Morris , Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones . The dining room was restored in 2006-07.

The north and west sides of the Old Court were built in the fifteenth century. The chapel with its arcades forms the east side of the courtyard and at the same time its entrance. The rooms at the Old Court are occupied by students and a few fellows.

Gisborne Court

The Gisborne Court is accessible from the Old Court, where on the west side a passage is. It was built in 1825-26 with funds given to the college by Francis Gisborne, a former Fellow in 1817. The courtyard is built with white bricks in neo-Gothic style based on the plans of William McIntosh Brookes . Only three sides of the courtyard were built on, the west side was bordered by a wall that was demolished in 1939 and the Whittle Building named after Frank Whittle was erected in its place at the beginning of the 21st century . The building, which opened in February 2015, was designed by architect John Simpson in a neo-Gothic style to blend in with its surroundings, but this traditional design also met with criticism. The rooms at Gisborne Court are mostly occupied by students. The Whittle Building is also home to the student lounge and bar.

Fen Court and the Birdwood Building

West of Gisborne Court is Fen Court , a partially on stilt building from the first half of the 20th century. Fen Court was built from 1939 to 1941 according to plans by H. C. Hughes and Peter Bicknell. It is one of the first buildings in Cambridge to be built in the Bauhaus style. The attached bathhouse is called the Birdwood Building (after the former Master William Birdwood ) and currently forms the western boundary of Gisborne Court. The bathhouse was also designed by Hughes and Bicknell and built between 1932 and 1934.


Outside of the hall, with Deer Park

Deer was kept in the area south of Gisborne Court in the 19th century and has been called Deer Park since then , before it was called the Grove . At that time, Deer Park was known as the smallest deer enclosure in England. The animals died after the First World War.

The other gardens are the Fellows 'Garden , which is between the Perne Library (and the annexed buildings at Old Court) and the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the Scholars' Garden to the south of the site, by the William Stone Building .

William Stone Building

The William Stone Building is south of Deer Park and was built on the bequest of William Stone (1857–1958), who was a former college student (1963–64), according to the plans of Sir Leslie Martin and Sir  Colin St John Wilson . The William Stone Building is an eight-story building that is inhabited by both students and fellows.

Master's apartment

The Master's Lodge is on the east side of Trumpington Street and was acquired in 1727 with funds earmarked for this purpose from the inheritance of Fellow Charles Beaumont, son of former Master Joseph Beaumont. It is built with red bricks in Queen Anne style .


The hostel ( hostel ) is located near the home of the Masters on the eastern side of Trumpington Street, and in 1926 in New Georgian style built. Students and some fellows are currently living there. During the Second World War , the London School of Economics was housed here.

coat of arms

The college has used five different coats of arms throughout its history.

The coat of arms shows the coat of arms of the founder Hugh de Balsham on the inside and the crowns of the Diocese of Ely on the outside.

Well-known graduates

Peterhouse's members include three Nobel Prize winners : Aaron Klug , Archer J. P. Martin and Max Ferdinand Perutz . Other well-known alumni include William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin , Charles Babbage and Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton .

A noted 18th century student of Peterhouse was the poet and historian Thomas Gray ; he left college before graduation and went to Pembroke College .

In the 20th century, the college was known for its achievements in both history and science. Well-known Fellows in the historical field were Adolphus William Ward, Harold Temperley , Herbert Butterfield , Hugh Trevor-Roper , Maurice Cowling and Niall Ferguson . Well-known fellows in the natural sciences were Aaron Klug, Max Perutz, Archer JP Martin, Frank Whittle and James Dewar .


  • The Heywood Society (theater and film)
  • Junior Common Room
  • Middle Common Room
  • Boat Club
  • Golf club
  • Mountaineering & Climbing
  • Perne Club
  • History Society
  • Kelvin Club
  • Politics Society
  • Theory Group
  • Music Society
  • Chapel Choir
  • Christian Union

Web links

Commons : Peterhouse  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c d Charles Henry Cooper: Memorials of Cambridge . William Metcalfe, Cambridge 1860.
  2. ^ A b c d e f 'The colleges and halls: Peterhouse', A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3: The City and University of Cambridge (1959) ( English ) pp. 334-340. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  3. a b c d e f g Thomas Alfred Walker: Peterhouse . W. Heffer and Sons Ltd, Cambridge 1935.
  4. Patrick Collinson, 'Perne, Andrew (1519? –1589)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , Oxford University Press (2004).
  5. ^ Maurice Cowling Obituary ( English ) The Times. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  6. a b c History of the Peterhouse Libraries ( English ) Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  7. ^ Peterhouse, Cambridge ( English ) Britain Express. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  8. ^ Image of the Chapel of Emmanuel College
  9. ^ Gareth McPherson: New Whittle building at Cambridge's oldest college branded 'wholly tasteless'. In: Cambridge News. August 31, 2015, accessed September 29, 2016 .
  10. a b Peterhouse Annual Record 2002/2003
  11. ^ Ralf Dahrendorf : LSE: A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science 1895–1995 . Clarendon Press, Wotton-under-Edge 1995, ISBN 0-19-820240-7 , pp. 342-360 .
  12. ^ Peterhouse Annual Record 1999/2000
  13. Eminent Petreans . Peterhouse. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  14. ^ Clubs and Societies ( English ) Peterhouse. Retrieved April 12, 2010.

Coordinates: 52 ° 12 ′ 3.2 ″  N , 0 ° 7 ′ 6.2 ″  E