A history of King’s College

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King's College

Kings College is known around the world for its famous chapel, choir and outstanding educational excellence, but there’s much more to the historic college than that. Founded in 1441, it’s not only one of the most famous colleges Cambridge has to offer, but it also has a rich heritage that all adds to the allure of this academic institution.

The college

Established by King Henry VI, it lies beside the River Cam, facing out onto King’s Parade in the centre of the city. Dominating the city’s landscape, the chapel has become one of the most famous buildings in the city, and as such is recognised around the world. The sister college of Eton – which it still has formal ties with – it was also founded by Henry VI and took almost 100 years to complete. Not completed until Henry VIII was on the throne, it was once a place for the wealthy and Etonian scholars, but by the mid-1800s, open scholarships, which were financed by the Fellows, were founded. And since then pensioners and academics from other schools have been admitted in larger numbers.

The beginnings

The original site of King’s lay between the present Chapel and Senate House Passage. Located to the north of where it is now, the first college buildings began construction in 1441 on what is today the site of the western quadrangle of the Old Schools. However just two parts of this building were completed to the original design with the rest rushed when the King started to build a larger court to the south. Until 1828, the Old Court provided almost all of the undergraduate college rooms before being sold to the university, and consequently demolished, leaving just the gateway arch that sits opposite Clare College. The chapel was the most intricate part of the project, and wasn’t completed until contributions from Edward IV, Henry VII and Richard III helped to provide the build with the final push it needed. Finally being completed in 1536, it took 90 years from foundation to completion.trailer movie Wonder Woman 2017

The redesign

James Gibbs redesigned the front court of the college in 1724 in order to bring the site more up to date. However he was only able to build the west range of his scheme – now the Gibbs Building – and was not finished until 1828 when William Wilkins built the screen, gatehouse, ‘A’ and ‘D’ staircases, Hall, Library and what is now the Old Lodge. Two centuries later, in 1967, The Keynes Building was completed. The largest scheme undertaken for 150 years, it was designed by James Cubitt and Partners, and is now home to a small concert Hall and a meeting room, the Research Centre, and more than seventy bed-sittingrooms – among other amenities.

Present day

The history of King’s cannot be forgotten – mainly by its architecture – but also due to its longstanding connections with some of the finest educational establishments in the world. Boasting formal ties with Eton, Winchester and New College, Oxford that date back to 1444, as well as almost 100 year old ties with Berkeley College, Yale, it is firmly cemented in the world college hall of fame.

As well as being home to thousands of students, you can also visit the sites and experience the history of this striking place for yourself. So if you visit any one of the historic universities of Cambridge; start it with King’s.

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