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Colleges of the University of Cambridge

King's College

King's from the Backs
College name The King's College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge
Latin name Collegium Regale Beatae Mariae et Sancti Nicholai Cantabrigiae
Founder Henry VI
Named after Mary (mother of Jesus),
Nicholas of Myra
Established 1441
Admittance Men and women
Provost Prof. Ross Harrison
Undergraduates 392
Graduates 280
Sister colleges Eton College
New College, Oxford
Location King's Parade (map)
King's College heraldic shield
Veritas et Utilitas
(Latin, "Truth and usefulness")
College website
JCR website
Boat Club website
The Gatehouse, built in the neo-Gothic style, as seen from King's Parade.
The Gatehouse clock, as seen from the Great Court.
King's College Chapel (the front), seen from The Backs.

King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.

Founded in 1441, the college's formal name is "The King's College of Our Lady and St. Nicholas in Cambridge". It is usually referred to simply as "King's" within the university.

Contents

History

King's was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI. His first design was modest, but by 1445 was intended to be a magnificent display of royal patronage. There were to be a Provost and seventy scholars, occupying a substantial site in central Cambridge whose drastic clearance involved the closure of several streets. The college was granted a remarkable series of feudal privileges, and all of this was supported by a substantial series of endowments from the King.

King Henry VI had admired the achievements of William of Wykeham, who had founded the twin colleges of New College, Oxford (King's College's Sister College) and Winchester College in 1379. He subsequently modelled the establishment of King's and Eton College upon the successful formation of Wykeham's institutions. Indeed, the link that King's College and Eton College share is a direct copy of the link shared between New College and Winchester College.[1] The four colleges continue to share formal ties to this day.

Originally, the college was to be specifically for boys from Eton College. It was not until 1865 that the first non-Etonian undergraduates arrived to study at King's, and the first fellow to have not attended Eton was elected in 1873. The connection with Eton is now weak, but a scholarship to attend the college, exclusively available to students from Eton, is still awarded each year.

The very first buildings of the college, now part of the Old Schools, were begun in 1441, but by 1443 the decision to build to a much grander plan had been taken. That plan survives in the 1448 Founders Will describing in detail a magnificent court with a chapel on one side. But within a decade, civil war (the Wars of the Roses) meant that funds from the King began to dry up. By the time of his deposition in 1461, the chapel walls had been raised 60ft high at the east end but only 8ft at the west; a building line which can still be seen today as the boundary between the lighter stone below and the darker above. Work proceeded sporadically until a generation later in 1508 when the Founder's nephew King Henry VII was prevailed upon to finish the shell of the building. The interior had to wait a further generation until completion by 1544 with the aid of King Henry VIII.

It has been speculated that the choice of the college as a beneficiary by the two later Henrys was a political one, with Henry VII in particular concerned to legitimate a new, post civil war, Tudor regime by demonstrating patronage of what was by definition the King's College. Later building work is marked by an uninhibited branding with the Tudor rose and other symbols of the new establishment, quite against the precise instructions of the Founders Will. Henry VI is not completely forgotten at the College, however, the Saturday after the end of Michaelmas term each year is Founder's Day which begins with a Founder's Eucharist in the chapel, followed by a Founder's Breakfast with ale and culminating in a sumptuous dinner in his memory called "Founder's Feast" to which all members of College in their last year of studies are invited.

King's College Chapel

The College Chapel, an example of late Gothic architecture, was built over a period of a hundred years (1446–1531) in three stages. The Chapel features the world's largest fan vault, stained glass windows, and the painting "The Adoration of the Magi" by Rubens.

The Chapel is actively used as a place of worship and also for some concerts and college events. The world-famous Chapel choir consists of choral scholars (male students from the college) and choristers (boys educated at the nearby King's College School). The choir sings services on most days in term-time, and also performs concerts and makes recordings and broadcasts. In particular, it has broadcast its Nine Lessons and Carols on the BBC from the Chapel on Christmas Eve for many decades. Additionally, there is a mixed-voice Chapel choir of male and female students, King's Voices, which sings evensong on Mondays during term-time.

The Chapel is widely seen as a symbol of Cambridge, as seen in the logo of the city council.[2]

Education at King's

The unofficial Tompkins Table comparing academic performance ranked King's nineteenth out of a total of twenty-nine rated colleges at the University of Cambridge in 2008; the college's position has fluctuated between tenth and twenty-first over the years 2000–2008.

King's offers all undergraduate courses available at the University, except for education, Land Economy and veterinary medicine, although Directors of Studies for Anglo-Saxon Norse & Celtic, Geography, and Management Studies all visit from other colleges.

Since its foundation, the college has housed a library, providing books for all students, covering all the subjects offered by King's. Around 130,000 books are held: some available for teaching and for reference, others being rare books and manuscripts.

Intake and access profile

King's College dining hall
Gibbs' Building

The college has gradually broadened its intake to include many students from state schools, often having the highest proportion of maintained school acceptances of the undergraduate colleges. Inevitably this has led to accusations of reactionary bias against public school pupils and of affirmative action (positive discrimination), although the relatively high proportion of state-school students reflects the far greater number of applications from pupils at maintained schools.[3] King's has established a Schools Liaison Officer post in order to provide support to students, whatever their background, and schools and colleges of any type to find out more about the University of Cambridge and the college.[4] In general, the atmosphere at King's is considered to be a little easier than that of other colleges to integrate into if you come from a working class or minority background. Having said this, a survey conducted by Varsity Newspaper in January 2009 revealed that the average parental income of students at King's is significantly higher than that of most other Cambridge students.[5]

Student life

As with all Cambridge colleges King's has its own student unions both for undergraduates (King's College Student Union or KCSU) and for graduates (King's College Graduate Society or KCGS). Having a reputation for being more politically active than other colleges, students at King's have used both organisations to assist in the decision-making processes in the College itself and the University.

The student union has a long record of activism. In the eighties a long rent strike against the college's investment in apartheid South Africa was organised.

King's students successfully established a university-wide rent strike, through the formation of the King's Access Alliance, during the 1999–2000 academic year in response to increased living costs (which, they believed, would deter potential applicants and thus affect the college's access profile); a second rent-strike in 2003 was, however, much less successful, due partly to a failure to secure support outside of the college and the hard line taken by the then Provost.

King's has a venue known as the Cellar Bar, a small room in the basement of the college, which regularly acts as a music venue. The main bar at King's is far older, and is the site of more informal meetings between students. The bar has been traditionally painted a socialist red, including a depiction of a hammer and sickle. In 2004 it was redecorated, with the walls painted yellow and the overall décor lightened. A hammer and sickle survives in a frame on the wall, a source of some controversy. King's also has a dedicated Coffee Shop adjacent to the bar. A Vacation Bar, or "vac bar", also sometimes operates during the summer vacation, run by (and mainly for) the graduate students who remain in College throughout the year.

Whereas most Cambridge colleges celebrate May Week with a May Ball (which actually falls in June), since the early 1980s King's has instead held a June Event (a more informal version of a May Ball) known as King's Affair. The down-scaling followed a huge invasion of crashers over the backs when the Stranglers played at the last King's ball. The annual budget is around £85,000 and the event has always sold out. The enduring popularity of the June Event is due largely to its affordability; a ticket generally costs around £60 rather than the £90–200 which is common for the May Balls of other colleges.

While not enjoying a reputation for sport, much sporting activity occurs at King's. Most intercollegiate sports events are entered and most people will be able to find something to participate in at a suitable level. The largest sports club in the college is the King's College Boat Club, which has recently enjoyed a good run of success.

Alumni (Non Resident Members)

Time Magazine published, in 2000, a list[6] of what it considered the most 'influential and important' people of the twentieth century. In a list of one hundred names, King's was the only European institution that could claim two: Alan Turing and John Maynard Keynes who had been both students and fellows at the college. Other alumni of King's College have included prime ministers, archbishops, presidents and the novelist E.M. Forster. More recently they have included authors Zadie Smith and Salman Rushdie, politician Charles Clarke, journalist Johann Hari, folk musician John Spiers and comedian David Baddiel.

Montague Rhodes James, celebrated ghost story writer and mediaevalist, spent much of his life at King's as student, don and Provost. Many of his finest stories were read at Christmas to friends in his rooms in the College.

Once someone has been admitted to the College, they become a member for life. For this reason, King's alumni are referred to as 'Non Resident Members'.

See also: Category: Alumni of King's College, Cambridge and Category: Fellows of King's College, Cambridge

In popular culture

King's College features in the Yes Minister episode "The Greasy Pole" as the setting for the 'coincident[al]' meeting between Jim Hacker and Professor Henderson, a Chemistry Don. In this exchange, Jim Hacker attempts to persuade Henderson to soften the phrasing of his governmental report, to allow Hacker the political flexibility to bow to public demand.

The 1987 film Maurice, based on the novel by E. M. Forster, himself a student and fellow at King's, was filmed in the college.

In 1930, a Cambridgeshire Constabulary Detective Sergeant was shot dead by an estranged pupil who also shot his tutor, on the first door on the left of the dorm houses.

Panorama

Great Court of King's College

See also

External links

References

  • Saltmarsh, John: King's College (in Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire, Volume III, ed JPC Roach, 1959)

Coordinates: 52°12′15″N 0°07′00″E / 52.20417°N 0.1166667°E / 52.20417; 0.1166667 (King's College)

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Simple English

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King's College is one of the colleges of the University of Cambridge, England. It is a very famous college because it is very old and it has a world-famous choir.

The college was founded in 1441. Its full name is "The King's College of Our Lady and St. Nicholas in Cambridge". The students at the university usually just call it "King's".

Contents

History

King's was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI. At first the college was going to be quite small, but by 1445 the college was going to be a magnificent building to show how important the king was. The king gave the college a lot of money for several feudal privileges.

King Henry VI had admired what William of Wykeham had done when he founding the twin colleges of New College, Oxford and Winchester College in 1379. He copied a lot of Wykeham's ideas when building King's and Eton College. These colleges still have the same tie as part of their uniform.

Originally, the college was just for boys from Eton College. It was not until 1865 that other people could study there. King's does not have any strong connection now with Eton, although there is still a scholarship for a student from Eton to study at King's.

Although building began in 1441, the project was interrupted by wars and it was not until 1544 that the inside was finished. By this time King Henry VIII was King of England.

Henry VI is still remembered at the College: each year, on the Saturday after the end of Autumn Term (which in Cambridge is called the "Michaelmas term"), is Founder's Day. It begins with a service in the chapel: the "Founder's Eucharist". This is followed by a Founder's Breakfast with ale and finally a big dinner called "Founder's Feast" to which all members of College in their last year of studies are invited.

King's College Chapel

The College Chapel is built in the style of late Gothic architecture. It was built over a period of a hundred years (1446–1531) in three stages. The Chapel has the world's largest fan vault, stained glass windows, and the painting "The Adoration of the Magi" by Rubens.

Many concerts and college events take place here. The world-famous Chapel choir consists of choral scholars (male students from the college) and choristers (boys educated at the nearby King's College School). The choir sings services on most days in term-time, and also performs concerts and makes recordings and broadcasts. Every Christmas it sings the service called Nine Lessons and Carols which is shown on BBC television as well as heard on the radio.

The Chapel is so famous that it is seen as a symbol of Cambridge, and appears on the logo of the city council.

Education at King's

Nearly all subjects that can be studied at Cambridge can be studied at King's. There is a big library which includes some rare books and manuscripts.

Student intake and life

Traditionally students have come from independent schools (so-called "public schools"), but today the college has gradually started to include many students from state schools.

As with all Cambridge colleges King's has its own student unions both for undergraduates and for graduates.

The student union has a long record of activism. In the 1980s a long strike against the college's investment in apartheid South Africa was organised.

The Cellar Bar is a small room in the basement of the college, which is used for music. The main bar at King's is far older. The bar has been traditionally painted a socialist red, including a picture of a hammer and sickle. In 2004 it was redecorated, with the walls painted yellow and the overall décor lightened. A hammer and sickle survives in a frame on the wall. There is a lot of argument about this. King's also has a Coffee Shop next to the bar. A Vacation Bar, or "vac bar", also is sometimes open during the summer vacation, run by (and mainly for) the graduate students who stay in College throughout the year.

Most Cambridge colleges celebrate May Week with a May Ball (which actually falls in June), but since the early 1980s King's has instead held a June Event (a more informal version of a May Ball) which they call King's Affair. The reason they have a different event from other colleges is because many students who were not invited used to forced their way into the party (so-called "gatecrashing"). A ticket usually costs around £60 which is cheap compared to the May Ball tickets for other colleges which can cost up to £200.

Once someone has been admitted to the College, they become a member for life. For this reason, King's alumni (people who used to go there) are referred to as 'Non Resident Members'.

Panorama

Great Court of King's College

Other websites

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