St Catharine's College, Cambridge

St Catharine's College, Cambridge

Cambridge College Infobox
name = St Catharine’s College
infobox_colour = #660033
text_colour =
link_colour = #FF99CC

colours =
full_name =
latin_name = Collegium sive aula D. Catharinæ in Universitate Cantabrigiensi
latin_motto =
english_motto = For the wheel! "(unofficial)"
founder =
founder_pl =
named_for = Saint Catharine of Alexandria
established = 1473
old_names = Katharine Hall (1473-1860)
location = [;xx=1741;yy=1001;mt=c;ms=75;tl=St%20Catharine%27s%20College Trumpington Street]
women_only =
mature_students =
head_label = Master
head = Prof. Dame Jean Thomas FRS
undergraduates = 436
JCR_President =
graduates = 165
MCR_President =
SCR_President =
sister_college = Worcester College, Oxford
sister_college_pl =
homepage =
boat_club =

St Catharine’s College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge. Most Cambridge students refer to it by the nicknameCatz”. Catz has a reputation for being a well-balanced college.

The College has always generously contributed to the Cambridge team in the University boat race, providing three of the eight team members in both 2003 and 2004. The college was placed at the top of the Tompkins Table, which ranks the colleges by the class of degrees obtained by their undergraduates, for the first time, in 2005.

Apparently, there is a long-running but good-natured feud with Queens’ College which derives from Queens’ disapproval of Catz having built its court in front of Queens’, turning Cambridge’s former High Street into a back alley. In the 1970s St Catharine’s built a modern block of flats named St Chad’s near the University Library, in which the rooms are octagonal to resemble the Catharine wheel on the college crest. Second year students reside in St Chad’s while the First and Third years stay at the main college site. A good number of Fourth years are also resident on the Island Site. The proximity of St. Chad's to Robinson College has led to the fruition of another friendly rivalry, between Catz and Robinson, apparently stemming from an incident in which unidentified St. Catharine's students appropriated Robinson's disco ball from a bop. Allegedly, this is the disco ball now hanging in St. Catharine's College Bar.


Robert Wodelarke, Provost of King’s College, had begun preparations for the founding of a new college as early as 1459 when he bought tenements on which the new college could be built. The preparation cost him a great deal of his private fortune (he was suspected of diverting King’s College funds), and he was forced to scale down the foundation to only three Fellows. He stipulated that they must study theology and philosophy only.

Wodelarke may have chosen the name in homage to the mother of King Henry VI who was called Catharine, although it is more likely that it was named as part of the Renaissance cult of St Catharine, who was a patron saint of learning. At any rate, the college was ready for habitation and formally founded on St Catharine’s day (November 25) 1473. There are six Saints Catharine, but the college was named for Saint Catharine of Alexandria. It was initially known as "Katharine Hall".

The initial foundation was not well-provided for. Wodelarke was principally interested in the welfare of Fellows and the College had no undergraduates at all for many years. However, by 1550 there was an increasing number of junior students and the focus of the College changed to that of teaching undergraduates. A rapid growth made it necessary to expand the college and short-lived additions were made in 1622. By 1630 the College began to demolish its existing buildings which were decaying, and started work on the current buildings. The three-sided court, which is almost unique among colleges in Cambridge (with the exceptions of Jesus and Downing in addition to St Catharine’s sister college – Worcester – which has a three-sided quad, which may well be the same thing), was built during the period 1675 to 1757. Proposals for a final range of buildings to complete the fourth side of the court have been made on many occasions up to the 20th century.

In 1637 the College came into possession of the George Inn (later the Bull Inn) on Trumpington Street. Behind this Inn was a stables which was already famous for the practice of its manager, Thomas Hobson, not to allow a hirer to take any horse other than the one longest in the stable, leading to the expression “Hobson’s choice” meaning no choice at all.

The college was granted new statutes in 1860 and adopted its current name. In 1880, a movement to merge the college with King’s College began. The two colleges were adjacent and it seemed a solution to King’s need for more rooms and St Catharine’s need for a more substantial financial basis. However, the Master (Charles Kirkby Robinson) was opposed and St Catharine’s eventually refused.

A history of the college was written by W.H.S. Jones in 1936.

In 1979, the membership of the college was broadened to welcome female students, and in 2006 the first woman was appointed as Master of the college, Prof. Dame Jean Thomas.

Famous alumni

"See also: "

ee also

*St Catherine’s College, Oxford

External links

* [ Official St Catharine's College website]
* [ St Catharine's College JCR website]
* [ University of Cambridge - About St Catharine's College]

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