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King's Hall, Cambridge

King's Hall, Cambridge

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King's Hall was once one of the constituent colleges of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

, founded in 1317, the second after Peterhouse
Peterhouse, Cambridge
Peterhouse is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. It is the oldest college of the University, having been founded in 1284 by Hugo de Balsham, Bishop of Ely...

. King's Hall was established by King Edward II
Edward II of England
Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II...

 to provide chancery clerks for his administration, and was very rich compared to Michaelhouse, which occupied the southern area of what is now Trinity Great Court
Trinity Great Court
Great Court is the main court of Trinity College, Cambridge, and reputed to be the largest enclosed court in Europe.The court was completed by Thomas Nevile, master of the college, in the early years of the 17th century, when he rearranged the existing buildings to form a single...

. Alan Cobban has identified John Hotham, Bishop of Ely, as the person who guided Edward II in this foundation. It received letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

 from Edward III
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

 in 1337.

King's Hall no longer exists, as it was combined with Michaelhouse
Michaelhouse, Cambridge
Michaelhouse is the name of one of the former colleges of the University of Cambridge, that existed between 1323 and 1546, when it was merged with King's Hall to form Trinity College. Michaelhouse was the second residential college to be founded, after Peterhouse...

 in the mid 16th century by King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, as one of his last acts. At the time, the King had been wiping out and seizing Church lands from abbeys and monasteries. It is thought that the King had great plans to create a college to rival Oxford's Christ Church
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

 with great new architecture, but he died a few weeks after the college was created. The layout of Great Court is mainly due to Thomas Nevile
Thomas Nevile
Thomas Nevile was an English clergyman and academic who was Dean of Peterborough and Dean of Canterbury , Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge , and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge ....

, a master of Trinity. The universities of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 and Cambridge, being both religious institutions and quite rich, expected to be the next target, and, indeed, the King duly passed an Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 that allowed him to suppress (and confiscate the property of) any college he wished.

The universities of Oxford and Cambridge remained predominated by the religious orders until well into the 19th century - this was one of the driving aspects for the setting up of secular institutions, e.g. University College, London to cater for dissenters.

The universities used their contacts to plead with Henry VIII's 6th wife, Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr ; 1512 – 5 September 1548) was Queen consort of England and Ireland and the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England. She married Henry VIII on 12 July 1543. She was the fourth commoner Henry had taken as his consort, and outlived him...

. 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 the two colleges of King's Hall and Michaelhouse
Michaelhouse, Cambridge
Michaelhouse is the name of one of the former colleges of the University of Cambridge, that existed between 1323 and 1546, when it was merged with King's Hall to form Trinity College. Michaelhouse was the second residential college to be founded, after Peterhouse...

 and seven hostels of Physwick (formerly part of Gonville and Caius
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Gonville and Caius College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. The college is often referred to simply as "Caius" , after its second founder, John Keys, who fashionably latinised the spelling of his name after studying in Italy.- Outline :Gonville and...

), Gregory's, Ovyng's, Catherine's, Garratt, Margaret's, and Tyler's to form Trinity
Trinity College, Cambridge
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 170 Fellows...

 in 1547. This, combined with lands confiscated from the Church, caused Trinity to be the richest and biggest college, a position it has retained.

King's Hall was located in what is now the northern section of the Great Court of Trinity College, and there still stands an original building from that time. It is found off Great Court next to the Chapel, and contains some of the most coveted rooms in the College, generally held only by long-standing fellows of great academic merit, staircases C and D Great Court. The Clock Tower was from King's Hall but was moved from where the sundial now is, and the Great Gate of Trinity was built just before the amalgamation and thus still bears the King's Hall name, in Latin. Unfortunately, the last buildings of Michaelhouse were recorded as being knocked down with the completion of the southern section of Great Court.
  • This article derives some information from an edition of 'Trinity College - An Historical Sketch' by GM Trevelyan, along with information from various individuals associated with the College and the University.

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