World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Colleges of the University of Cambridge

Gonville and Caius College

Founders Edmund Gonville (1348)
John Caius (1557)
Established 1348, refounded 1557
Previously named Gonville Hall (1348–1351)
Hall of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1351–1557)
Master Sir Alan Fersht
Undergraduates 475
Graduates 230
Sister college Brasenose College, Oxford
Location Trinity Street (map)
Gonville and Caius College heraldic shield
College website
Student Union website
MCR website
Boat Club website

Gonville and Caius College (often referred to simply as "Caius" [1]) is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. The college is the fourth-oldest college at the University of Cambridge and one of the wealthiest. The college has been attended by many students who have gone on to significant accomplishment, including thirteen Nobel Prize winners, the second-most of any Oxbridge college (after Trinity College, Cambridge).[1][2][3]

The college has long historical associations with medical teaching, especially due to its alumni physicians: John Caius (who gave the college the caduceus in its insignia) and William Harvey. Other famous alumni in the sciences include Francis Crick (joint discoverer, along with James Watson, of the structure of DNA), Sir James Chadwick (discoverer of the neutron) and Sir Howard Florey (developer of penicillin). Stephen Hawking, previously Cambridge's Lucasian Chair of Mathematics Emeritus, is a current fellow of the college.[4] The college also maintains world-class academic programmes in many other disciplines, including economics, English literature and history.

Gonville and Caius is said to own or have rights to much of the land in Cambridge. Several streets in the city, such as Harvey Road, Glisson Road and Gresham Road, are named after alumni of the College.[5]


  • History 1
  • Buildings and grounds 2
    • Old Courts 2.1
    • Library 2.2
    • Other Courts and College Accommodation 2.3
    • Grounds 2.4
  • Traditions 3
  • Student life 4
    • Choir 4.1
  • Notable members 5
    • Nobel Prize laureates 5.1
    • Notable alumni 5.2
    • Notable fellows and masters 5.3
    • Notable organ scholars 5.4
    • Burials 5.5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9


Cambridge University, Gonville & Caius College, from King's Parade

The college was first founded, as Gonville Hall, by Edmund Gonville, Rector of Terrington St Clement in Norfolk in 1348, making it the fourth-oldest surviving college. When Gonville died three years later, he left a struggling institution with almost no money. The executor of his will, William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich, stepped in, transferring the college to the land close to the college he had just founded, Trinity Hall, and renamed it The Hall of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, endowing it with its first buildings.

By the sixteenth century, the college had fallen into disrepair, and in 1557 it was refounded by Royal Charter as Gonville and Caius College by the physician John Caius.[6] John Caius was master of the college from 1559 until shortly before his death in 1573. He provided the college with significant funds and greatly extended the buildings.

During his time as Master, Caius accepted no payment but insisted on several unusual rules. He insisted that the college admit no scholar who “is deformed, dumb, blind, lame, maimed, mutilated, a Welshman, or suffering from any grave or contagious illness, or an invalid, that is sick in a serious measure”.[7] Caius also built a three-sided court, Caius Court, “lest the air from being confined within a narrow space should become foul”. Caius did, however, found the college as a strong centre for the study of medicine, a tradition that it aims to keep to this day.

By 1630, the college had expanded greatly, having around 25 fellows and 150 students, but numbers fell over the next century, only returning to the 1630 level in the early nineteenth century. Since then the college has grown considerably and now has one of the largest undergraduate populations in the university.

The college first admitted women as fellows and students in 1979. It now has over 100 fellows, over 700 students and about 200 staff.

Gonville and Caius is the seventh wealthiest of all Cambridge colleges with an estimated fixed assets of £127 million in 2006.[8]

The college’s present Master, the 42nd, is Sir Alan Fersht.[9]

Buildings and grounds

Old Courts

Interior of the chapel.
The Gate of Honour.

The first buildings to be erected on the college’s current site date from 1353 when Bishop Bateman built Gonville Court. The college chapel was added in 1393 with the Old Hall (used until recently as a library) and Master’s Lodge following in the next half century. Most of the stone used to build the college came from Ramsey Abbey near Ramsey, Cambridgeshire. Gonville and Caius has the oldest college chapel in either Oxford or Cambridge which has been in continuous use as such. The chapel is situated centrally within the college, reflecting the college's religious foundation.[10]

On the re-foundation by Dr Caius, the college was expanded and updated. In 1565 the building of Caius Court began, and Caius planted an avenue of trees in what is now known as Tree Court. He was also responsible for the building of the college's three gates, symbolising the path of academic life. On matriculation, one arrives at the Gate of Humility (near the Porters' Lodge). In the centre of the college one passes through the Gate of Virtue regularly. And finally, graduating students pass through the Gate of Honour on their way to the neighbouring Senate House to receive their degrees. The Gate of Honour, at the south side of Caius Court, though the most direct way from the Old Courts to the College Library (Cockerell Building), is only used for special occasions such as graduation. The students of Gonville and Caius commonly refer to the fourth gate in the college, between Tree Court and Gonville Court, which also gives access to some lavatories, as the Gate of Necessity.

The buildings of Gonville Court were given classical facades in the 1750s, and the Old Library and the Hall were designed by Anthony Salvin in 1854. On the wall of the Hall hangs a college flag which in 1912 was flown at the South Pole by Cambridge's Edward Adrian Wilson during the famous Terra Nova Expedition of 1910–1913. Gonville Court, though remodelled in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, is the oldest part of the college.

Interior north-east corner of Waterhouse Building.

Tree Court is the largest of the Old Courts. It is so named because John Caius planted an avenue of trees there. Although none of the original trees survive, the court retains a number of trees and the tree-lined avenue, which is unusual for a Cambridge front court.


Caius also has one of the largest libraries in Oxbridge, the Cockerell Building.[11] It is often cited as 'the hottest library in Cambridge'.[12] Previously the Seeley History Library and the Squire Law Library, Caius acquired the lease on the Cockerell Building in the 1990s. The college library was relocated from Gonville Court in the summer of 1996, following an extensive renovation of the Cockerell Building.

Other Courts and College Accommodation

Sculpture of Stephen Perse set into the north-east corner of Waterhouse Building.
The College from adjoining Senate House Passage.

These courts are across Trinity Street on land surrounding St Michael's Church. St Michael's Court was completed only in the 1930s, with the building on its south side of a new building overlooking the Market Place.

Caius owns a substantial amount of land between West Road and Selwyn Avenue. Set in landscaped gardens, the modern Harvey Court (named after William Harvey and designed by Sir Leslie Martin) was built on the West Road site in 1961.

Adjacent to Harvey Court is the Stephen Hawking Building, which opened its doors to first-year undergraduates in October 2006. Providing en-suite accommodation for 75 students and eight fellows, as well as providing conference facilities in the vacations, the Stephen Hawking Building boasts some of the highest-standard student accommodation in Cambridge.

The college also owns several houses around Cambridge, on Mortimer road and Gresham road, where some second year undergraduates live.


The fellow's garden lies just beyond Harvey Court, on Sidgwick Avenue. The extensive sports fields are located on Barton Road, a few minute's walk from Harvey Court.


Communal dinner at Gonville and Caius College

Gonville and Caius College is one of the most traditional colleges of Cambridge. It is one of the few that still seek to insist that its members attend communal dinners, known as "Hall". Consisting of a three-course meal, Hall takes place in two sittings, with the second known as "Formal Hall", which must be attended wearing gowns. At Formal Hall, the students rise as the fellows proceed in, a gong is rung, and a Latin grace or benediction is read.

The grace runs thus: "Benedic, Domine, nobis et donis tuis quae ex largitate tua sumus sumpturi; et concede ut, ab iis salubriter enutriti, tibi debitum obsequium praestare valeamus, per Jesum Christum dominum nostrum; mensae caelestis nos participes facias, Rex aeternae gloriae."[13]

As at most Oxbridge colleges, it is tradition that only the fellows may walk on the grass.[14]

The college also enforces the system of "exeats", or official permissions to leave the college. Students wishing to be absent from college overnight during term time must obtain leave to do so from their tutors.[15]

The college awards a number of scholarships, bursaries and prizes. Of these, the Schuldham Plate is the most prestigious and is awarded annually to the best graduating student(s) in a given year.[16]

Student life

Gonville and Caius students generally perform well in examinations, with the fifth highest average ranking in the Tompkins Table in the last 20 years.

Caius Boat Club is the college's boat club and is particularly strong, with the men's 1st VIII remaining unbeaten in the seasons of 2010/11 and of 2011/2012.

Caius Jazz takes place most terms in the college bar, inviting 'some of the most illustrious names in the contemporary scene' and a house band of students studying at London conservatoires to play in the college bar.[17] In recent years Steve Fishwick, Sam Mayne, Ian Shaw, Barry Green, Gareth Lockrane, and Paul Jarvis have all been featured.

The Caius May Ball is an all-night party in June, held every two years.


The choir was founded by the composer Charles Wood in the late nineteenth century, and is currently directed by the scholar of South-American choral music, Geoffrey Webber. The choir tours abroad and records eclectically. The choir is made up from Scholars and Exhibitioners from the college, and a few volunteers from other colleges.[18]

Notable members

Nobel Prize laureates

Notable alumni

Stained glass window in the dining hall of Caius College, in Cambridge, commemorating Francis Crick and representing the structure of DNA.
Stained glass window in the dining hall of Caius College, in Cambridge, commemorating John Venn and his invention of the Venn diagram.

Notable fellows and masters

See also List of Masters of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and Category:Fellows of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Notable organ scholars


See also


  1. ^ a b "College History - Caius College Cambridge". Gonville & Caius College. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "College Research - Caius College Cambridge". Gonville & Caius College. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Nobel Prize Winners - Research - University of Cambridge". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Stephen Hawking Building - Gonville & Caius". Gonville & Caius College. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Brooke, Christopher A History of Gonville and Caius College (Rochester, 1985), p. 225, n10.
  6. ^ "History - Gonville & Caius". Gonville & Caius College. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  7. ^ see Brooke's History, p. 69–70, where it is suggested that 'Wallicum' is a scribal error for 'Gallicum'
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Master and Fellows - Gonville & Caius". Gonville & Caius College. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Gonville and Caius Library Tour". Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  12. ^ "bookporn #12: gonville & caius library, cambridge - a historian's craft". a historian's craft. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "What is a Cambridge College?". The Collegiate Way: Residential Colleges & the Renewal of University Life. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  14. ^ "College Regulations and General Information". Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. 2008–2009. pp. ix. 
  15. ^ "College Regulations and General Information". Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. 2008–2009. pp. iv. 
  16. ^ "Prizes & awards". Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. 
  17. ^ Liz Enin (1 March 2010). "Review: Caius Jazz". The Tab Cambridge. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Choir - Gonville & Caius". Gonville & Caius College. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 


  • Brooke, C. A history of Gonville and Caius College. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 1985 (corrected reprint, 1996). ISBN 0-85115-423-9.

External links

  • Gonville and Caius College official website
  • Gonville and Caius Students Union Website
  • Gonville and Caius MCR Website

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.