the University of
|College name||The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity|
|Named after||The Holy Trinity|
|Previously named||King’s Hall and Michaelhouse (until merged in 1546)|
|Admittance||Men and women|
|Master||The Lord Rees of Ludlow|
|Sister college||Christ Church, Oxford|
|Location||Trinity Street (map)|
(Latin, "Virtue is true nobility")
|Boat Club website|
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 160 Fellows (however, counting only the student body but not Fellows, Trinity has somewhat fewer students than Homerton College).. Trinity considers itself to be "a world-leading academic institution with an outstanding record of education, learning and research".
Like its sister college, Christ Church, Oxford, it has traditionally been considered the most aristocratic of the Cambridge colleges — and it has generally been the academic institution of choice of the Royal Family (King Edward VII, King George VI, Prince Henry of Gloucester, Prince William of Gloucester and Edinburgh and Prince Charles were all undergraduates), as well as a number of members of the Rothschild family. The Push Guide to Which University (2005) called it "arguably the grandest Cambridge college" and it has been called "the most magnificent collegiate institution in England". Like Christ Church, the college has also been associated with Westminster School since the school's refoundation in 1560. The Master remains to this day an ex officio member of the school's governing body.
The proportion of state school to private school pupils at Trinity is roughly 2:3, though in 2006 it had the lowest state school intake (39%) of any college. Although this figure fluctuates slightly from year to year, on a rolling three-year average Trinity has admitted a smaller proportion of state school pupils (42%) than any other Oxbridge college. It first admitted women undergraduates in 1978; women had been admitted as graduate students from 1976, and the College appointed its first female fellow in 1977.
Trinity has a strong academic tradition, with members having won 32 Nobel Prizes (of the 85 Nobel Prizes awarded to members of Cambridge University), four Fields Medals (mathematics), one Abel Prize (mathematics) and two Templeton Prizes (religion). It had the highest proportion of students gaining Firsts in their exams of any college in 2008.
Trinity has many notable alumni — including princes, spies, poets and prime ministers (it has educated six British prime ministers) — but perhaps its two most distinguished are Isaac Newton and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Trinity has many college societies. Its rowing club is the First and Third Trinity Boat Club. Trinity's May Ball, named after the Boat Club, is one of the largest of Cambridge's May Balls. Trinity also has the oldest mathematical university society in the United Kingdom, the Trinity Mathematical Society.
The college was founded by Henry VIII in 1546, from the merger of two existing colleges: Michaelhouse (founded by Hervey de Stanton in 1324), and King’s Hall (established by Edward II in 1317 and refounded by Edward III in 1337). At the time, Henry had been wiping out and seizing church lands from abbeys and monasteries. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge, being both religious institutions and quite rich, expected to be next in line. The king duly passed an Act of Parliament that allowed him to suppress (and confiscate the property of) any college he wished. The universities used their contacts to plead with his sixth wife, Catherine Parr. The queen persuaded her husband not to close them down, but to create a new college. The king did not want to use royal funds, so he instead combined two colleges (King’s Hall and Michaelhouse) and seven hostels (Physwick (formerly part of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge), Gregory’s, Ovyng’s, Catherine’s, Garratt, Margaret’s, and Tyler’s) to form Trinity.
Contrary to popular belief, the monastic lands supplied by Henry VIII were alone insufficient to ensure Trinity's eventual rise. In terms of architecture and royal association, it was not until the Mastership of Thomas Nevile (1593–1615) that Trinity assumed both its spaciousness and courtly association with the governing class that distinguished it until the Civil War. In its infancy Trinity had owed a great deal to its neighbouring college of St John's: in the exaggerated words of Roger Ascham Trinity was little more than a colonia deducta. Its first four Masters were educated at St John's, and it took until around 1575 for the two colleges' application numbers to draw even, a position in which they have remained since the Civil War. In terms of wealth, Trinity's current fortunes belie prior fluctuations; Nevile's building campaign drove the college into debt from which it only surfaced in the 1640s, and the mastership of Richard Bentley (notorious for the construction of a hugely expensive staircase in the Master's Lodge, and Bentley's repeated refusals to step down despite pleas from the Fellowship) adversely affected applications and finances.
Most of the Trinity’s major buildings date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Thomas Nevile, who became Master of Trinity in 1593, rebuilt and re-designed much of the college. This work included the enlargement and completion of Great Court, and the construction of Nevile’s Court between Great Court and the river Cam. Nevile’s Court was completed in the late 17th century when the Wren Library, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was built.
The Great Court Run is an attempt to run round the perimeter of Great Court (approximately 367 m), in the 43 seconds during the clock striking twelve. Students traditionally attempt to complete the circuit on the day of the Matriculation Dinner. It is a rather difficult challenge: one needs to be a fine sprinter to achieve it, but it is by no means necessary to be of Olympic standard, despite assertions made in the press.
It is widely believed that Sebastian Coe successfully completed the run when he beat Steve Cram in a charity race in October 1988. Sebastian Coe's time on 29 October 1988 was reported by Norris McWhirter to have been 45.52 seconds, but it was actually 46.0 seconds (confirmed by the video tape), while Cram's was 46.3 seconds. The clock on that day took 44.4 seconds (i.e. a "long" time, probably two days after the last winding) and the video film confirms that Coe was some 12 metres short of his finish line when the fateful final stroke occurred. The television commentators were more than a little disingenuous in suggesting that the dying sounds of the bell could be included in the striking time, thereby allowing Coe's run to be claimed as successful.
One reason Olympic runners Cram and Coe found the challenge so tough is that they started at the middle of one side of the Court, thereby having to negotiate four right-angle turns. In the days when students started at the corner, only three turns were needed.
Until the mid 1990s, the run was traditionally attempted by first year students, at midnight following their Matriculation Dinner. Following a number of accidents to drunk undergraduates running on slippery cobbles, the college now organises a more formal Great Court Run, at 12 noon: the challenge is only open to freshers, many of whom compete in fancy dress.
One Sunday each June (the exact date depends on the university term), the College Choir perform a short concert immediately after the clock strikes noon. Known as Singing from the Towers, half of the choir sings from the top of Great Gate, while the other half sings from the top of the Clock Tower (approximately 60 metres away), giving a strong antiphonal effect. Midway through the concert, a brass band performs from the top of Queen’s Tower. Later that same day, the College Choir gives a second open-air concert, known as Singing on the River, where they perform madrigals (and arrangements of popular songs) from a raft of punts on the river. As a 'tradition', however, this latter event dates back only to the mid-1980s, when the College Choir first acquired female members. In the years immediately before this an annual concert on the river was given by the University Chamber Choir.
Another tradition relates to a duck (known as the Mallard), which resides in the rafters of the Great Hall. Students occasionally move the duck from one rafter to another (without permission from the college), having been photographed with the mallard as proof. This is considered difficult and access to the Hall outside meal-times is prohibited. In addition, the rafters are high so it has not been attempted for several years. During the Easter term of 2006, several pigeons entered the Hall through the windows in the pinnacle, and one knocked the Mallard off its rafter. It was found intact on the floor, and revealed to not be made out of wood as previously believed. It is currently held by the College catering staff. It is unknown whether it will be reinstated.
For many years it was the custom for students to place a bicycle high in branches of the tree in the centre of New Court. Usually invisible except in winter, when the leaves had fallen, such bicycles tended to remain for several years before being removed by the authorities. The students then inserted another bicycle. Similarly, the sceptre held by the statue of Henry VIII mounted above the medieval Great Gate was replaced with a chair leg as a prank many years ago. It has remained there to this day: when in the 1980s students exchanged the chair leg for a bicycle pump, the College replaced the chair leg.
The college remains a great rival of St John’s who are their main competitor in sports and academia (John’s is situated next to Trinity). This has given rise to a number of anecdotes and myths. It is often cited as the reason why the older courts of Trinity generally have no J staircases, despite including other letters in alphabetical order. A far more likely reason remains the absence of the letter J in the Roman alphabet, and it should be noted that St John’s College's older courts also lack J staircases. There are also two small muzzle-loading cannons on the bowling green pointing in the direction of John’s, though this orientation may be coincidental. Generally the colleges maintain a cordial relationship with one other, and Trinity's benefaction and association with her neighboring colleges has always far outweighed such rivalries; compatriotism led famously to the splitting of the atomic nucleus in 1932 by Ernest Walton and John Cockcroft, of Trinity and St John's respectively.
Trinity College undergraduate gowns are dark blue, as opposed to the black favoured by most other Cambridge colleges. Unlike any other Cambridge college the porters always wear black bowler hats. This tradition is shared with Trinity's sister college Christ Church, Oxford. As with many other Cambridge colleges, the grassed courtyards are generally out of bounds for everyone except the Fellows. Only one of two meadows on "the Backs" (riverside area behind the college) is accessible to students. Other lawns are accessible to graduates in formal gowns.
Each evening before dinner, grace is recited by the senior Fellow presiding. The simple grace is as follows:
If both of the two High Tables are in use then the following antiphonal formula is prefixed to the main grace:
Following the meal, the simple formula Benedicto benedicatur is pronounced.
The Scholars, together with the Master and Fellows, make up the Foundation of the College.
In order of seniority:
Research Scholars receive funding for graduate studies. Typically one must graduate in the top ten percent of one's class and continue for graduate study at Trinity. They are given first preference in the assignment of college rooms and number approximately 25.
The Senior Scholars consist of those who attain a degree with First Class honours or higher in any year after the first of an undergraduate tripos, but also, those who obtain an extremely good First in their first year. For example in the Mathematics tripos a result in the top three would be required to gain this position early. The college pays them a stipend of £250 a year and also allows them to choose rooms directly following the research scholars. There are around 40 senior scholars at any one time.
The Junior Scholars are precisely those who are not senior scholars but still obtained a First in their first year. Their stipend is £175 a year. They are given preference in the room ballot over 2nd years who are not scholars.
These scholarships are tenable for the academic year following that in which the result was achieved. If a scholarship is awarded but the student does not continue at Trinity then only a quarter of the stipend is given. However all students who achieve a First are awarded an additional £200 prize upon announcement of the results.
All final year undergraduates who achieve first-class honours in their final exams are offered full financial support for proceeding with a Master’s degree at Cambridge (this funding is also sometimes available for good students who achieved high second-class honours). Other support is available for PhD degrees. The College also offers a number of other bursaries and studentships open to external applicants. The highly-regarded right to walk on the grass in the college courts is exclusive to Fellows of the college and their guests. Scholars do however have the right to walk on Scholar’s Lawn, but only in full academic dress.
Trinity College has a long-standing relationship with the Parish of St George’s, Camberwell , in South London. Students from the College have helped to run holiday schemes for children from the parish since 1966. The relationship was formalized in 1979 with the establishment of Trinity in Camberwell as a registered charity (Charity Commission no. 279447 ) which exists ‘to provide, promote, assist and encourage the advancement of education and relief of need and other charitable objects for the benefit of the community in the Parish of St George's, Camberwell, and the neighbourhood thereof.’
"Near me hung Trinity's loquacious clock,
Who never let the quarters, night or day,
Slip by him unproclaimed, and told the hours
Twice over with a male and female voice.
Her pealing organ was my neighbour too;
And from my pillow, looking forth by light
Of moon or favouring stars, I could behold
The antechapel where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone."
"One night, just before ten o'clock, he [Maurice] slipped into Trinity and waited in the Great Court until the gates were shut behind him. Looking up, he noticed the night. He was indifferent to beauty as a rule, but "what a show of stars!" he thought. And how the fountain splashed when the chimes died away, and the gates and doors all over Cambridge had been fastened up. Trinity men were around him — all of enormous intellect and culture. Maurice's set had laughed at Trinity, but they could not ignore its disdainful radiance, or deny the superiority it scarcely troubles to affirm. He had come to it without their knowledge, humbly, to ask its help. His witty speech faded in its atmosphere, and his heart beat violently."
'[B]ut here I was actually at the door which leads into the library itself. I must have opened it, for instantly there issued, like a guardian angel barring the way with a flutter of black gown instead of white wings, a deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman, who regretted in a low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the college or furnished with a letter of introduction.
That a famous library has been cursed by a woman is a matter of complete indifference to a famous library. Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever.'
Many apocryphal stories have been told about the college's wealth. Trinity is sometimes suggested to be the second, third or fourth wealthiest landowner in the UK (or in England) — after the Crown Estate, the National Trust and the Church of England. (A variant of this legend is repeated in the Tom Sharpe novel Porterhouse Blue.) This story is frequently repeated by tour guides. In 2005, Trinity's annual rental income from its properties was reported to be in excess of £20 million.
A second legend is that it is possible to walk from Cambridge to Oxford on land solely owned by Trinity. Several varieties of this legend exist — others refer to the combined land of Trinity College, Cambridge and Trinity College, Oxford, of Trinity College, Cambridge and Christ Church, Oxford, or St John's College, Oxford and St John's College, Cambridge. All are most certainly false.
Trinity is often cited as the inventor of an English, less sweet, version of crème brûlée, known as "Trinity burnt cream", although the college chefs have sometimes been known to refer to it as "Trinity Creme Brulee". The burnt-cream was first introduced at Trinity High Table in 1879, in fact differs quite markedly from French recipes, the earliest of which is from 1691.
|Sir Joseph John (J. J.) Thomson||Physics||1906|
|Sir William Bragg||Physics||1915|
|Sir Lawrence Bragg||Physics||1915|
|Charles Glover Barkla||Physics||1917|
|Archibald V. Hill||Physiology or Medicine||1922|
|Sir Austen Chamberlain||Peace||1925|
|Owen Willans Richardson||Physics||1928|
|Sir Frederick Hopkins||Physiology or Medicine||1929|
|Edgar Douglas Adrian||Physiology or Medicine||1932|
|Sir Henry Dale||Physiology or Medicine||1936|
|George Paget Thomson||Physics||1937|
|Sir John Kendrew||Chemistry||1962|
|Sir Alan Hodgkin||Physiology or Medicine||1963|
|Sir Andrew Huxley||Physiology or Medicine||1963|
|Brian David Josephson||Physics||1973|
|Sir Martin Ryle||Physics||1974|
|James Meade||Economic Sciences||1977|
|Sir Aaron Klug||Chemistry||1982|
|James Mirrlees||Economic Sciences||1996|
|Amartya Sen||Economic Sciences||1998|
|Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman||Liberal||1905-1908|
Other Trinity politicians include Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, courtier of Elizabeth I; William Waddington, Prime Minister of France; Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, Erskine Hamilton Childers, President of Ireland; Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India; Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore; Samir Rifai, Prime Minister of Jordan and The Viscount Whitelaw, Lady Thatcher's Home Secretary and subsequent Deputy Prime Minister.
The head of Trinity College is the Master. The first Master was John Redman who was appointed in 1546. The role is a Crown appointment, made by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister. Nowadays the Fellows of the College, and to a lesser extent the Government, choose the new Master and the Royal role is only nominal. In modern times the Master has customarily been of the highest academic distinction.
The last three Masters have all been fellows of the college. The current master is The Lord Rees.
For a full list, see List of Masters of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Of this amount approx. £75 million is part of the college's Amalgamated Trust Funds, which is dedicated for specific purposes.
Trinity College was formed by King Henry VIII in 1564 when two colleges merged together. These two colleges were Michaelhouse, which had been formed by Hervey de Stanton in 1324 and King's Hall which had been formed by King Edward II in 1317 and formed again in 1337 by King Edward III.
Several members of the royal family have studied at Trinity College.
Of the 83 people from Cambridge who have won Nobel prizes, 31 were from Trinity College.
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