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Jesus College, Cambridge

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Jesus Lane (map)


Acceptance rate
23.9% (2013)

Total enrollment
805 (2013)

John Alcock

Named for
Jesus Chapel

+44 1223 339339


Jesus College, Cambridge

Full name
The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, within the City and University of Cambridge

Motto in English
"May your journey be successful"

Jesus Ln, Cambridge CB5 8BL, UK

Prosperum iter facias (Latin)

Undergraduate tuition and fees
Domestic tuition: 9,000 GBP (2014), International tuition: 18,774 GBP (2014)

Notable alumni
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Cranmer, Nick Hornby, David Hare, Maurice Cowling

University of Cambridge, Jesus College - Oxford, Faculty of Law - University, Magdalen College - Oxford, Oriel College - Oxford


Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge. Its common name comes from the name of its chapel, Jesus Chapel.


Jesus College was established between 1496 and 1516 on the site of the twelfth-century Benedictine nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund by John Alcock, then Bishop of Ely. The cockerel is a symbol of Jesus College, after the surname of its founder.

Three members of Jesus College have received a Nobel Prize. Two fellows of the college have been appointed to the International Court of Justice. Notable alumni include Thomas Cranmer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Reid, Lord Toulson, Sir Rupert Jackson, Sir David Hare and Nick Hornby.

Jesus College has assets of approximately £243m making it Cambridge’s third wealthiest college. The college is known for its particularly expansive grounds which include its sporting fields and for its close proximity to its boathouse.

Ian White, current van Eck Professor of Engineering in the university, has been master of Jesus College since 2011.


Founded at the beginning of the 12th century, Jesus Chapel is the oldest university building in Cambridge still in use.

When founded in 1496, the college consisted of buildings taken over from the Nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund. This included the chapel and the cloister attached to it; the nuns’ refectory, which became the college hall; and the former lodging of the prioress, which became the Master’s Lodge. This set of buildings remains the core of the college to this day and this accounts for its distinctly monastic, which sets it apart from other Cambridge colleges. A library was soon added, and the chapel was considerably modified and reduced in scale by Alcock. At its foundation, the college had a master, six fellows and six scholars.

Academic profile

Jesus College admits undergraduate and graduates students to all subjects at the university though typically accepts a larger number of students for engineering, medicine, law, natural sciences, mathematics, economics, history, languages, and human, social and political sciences. The college offers a wide range of scholarships.

The college consistently performs well in the informal Tompkins Table, which ranks Cambridge colleges by undergraduate results. Along with students from Trinity, King's, Christ's and St John's, students of the college have been members of the Cambridge Apostles.


The main entrance to Jesus College is a walled passage known as the "Chimney". The term is derived the Middle French word chemin, for "path" or "way". The Chimney leads directly to the Porter's Lodge and then into First Court. All the courts at the college, with the exception of the cloister, are open on at least one side.

Quincentenary Library

The Quincentenary Library is the main library of Jesus College and is open 24 hours a day. The library was designed by Eldred Evans and David Shalev in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the college in 1996. Completion of the library was shortly followed by a new accommodation building in 2000, now known as Library Court. The Quincentenary Library has a particularly large law collection, housed in a law library on the ground floor.

Old Library

The Old Library was in regular use until 1912. It still contains over 9,000 books and is available to private researchers upon appointment. The Old Library includes the Malthus Collection, being the family collection of alumnus Thomas Malthus.

College Grounds

Jesus College has large sporting grounds all on-site. These include football, rugby, cricket, tennis, squash, basketball and hockey fields. The Jesus College Boat House is only 400 yards away, across Midsummer Common.

The college frequently hosts exhibitions of sculpture by contemporary artists. It has hosted work by Sir Antony Gormley, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, and Barry Flanagan. The college grounds also include a nature trail, inspired by poetry composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge during his time as a student.

Jesus College is one of the few colleges to allow anyone to walk on the lawns of its courts, with the exception of First Court, Cloister Court and those that are burial sites for deceased nuns from the original nunnery. In common with other Cambridge colleges, this privilege is only extended during the summer term.

Jesus Chapel

Jesus chapel was founded in 1157 and took until 1245 to complete. Jesus Chapel is believed to be the oldest university building in Cambridge still in use. Originally it was the Benedictine Convent of St Mary and St Radegund, which was dissolved by Bishop John Alcock.

The original structure of the chapel was cruciform in shape and the nave had both north and south aisles. A high, pitched roof was surmounted by a belfry and steeple; this collapsed in 1277. The chapel was also used as the parish church of St Radegund. Twice the chapel was ravaged by fire, in 1313 and 1376.

When the college took over the precincts during the 15th century, the parish was renamed after the college as Jesus parish, with the churchyard still being used for burials. This, however, was short lived, as by the middle of the 16th century Jesus parish was absorbed into that of All Saints.

The misericords were created by the famous English architect Augustus Pugin between 1849 and 1853. Pugin used fragments of the misericords dating from 1500, which had been preserved in the Master's Lodge as templates.

Mark Williams, former assistant organist at St Paul's Cathedral has been the director of music since September 2009, following the departure of Daniel Hyde to Magdalen College, Oxford, himself replacing Bill Ives.Malcolm Archer, who is (as of 2012) the Organist and Director of Chapel Music, Winchester College, was Organ scholar at Jesus College in the years from 1972 to 1975.

Before dinner

The following Latin grace is recited before formal dinners at Jesus College (Oratio Ante Cibum):

Oculi omnium in te aspiciunt et in te sperant, Deus. Tu das illis escam tempore opportuno. Aperis tu manus, et imples omne animal benedictione tua. Benedic nobis, Domine, et omnibus tuis donis, quae ex larga liberalitate tua sumpturi sumus, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Deus est caritas. Qui manet in caritate manet in Deo et Deus in illo. Sit Deus in nobis, et nos maneamus in illo.
Translated into English, the Oratio Ante Cibum reads as follows:

The eyes of all look towards you and trust in you, O God. You give them food in due season. You open your hands and fill every living thing with your blessing. Bless us, O Lord, and all your gifts, which through your great generosity we are about to receive, through Jesus Christ our Lord. God is love. He who abides in love abides in God and God in him. May God be in us and may we abide in him.

After dinner

The following Oratio Post Cibum is sometimes read after dinner:

Deus pacis et dilectionis semper maneat nobiscum; tu autem, Domine, miserere nostrum. Agimus tibi gratias pro omnibus tuis beneficiis, qui vivis et regnas, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Deus conservet Ecclesiam, Reginam, regnum, senatum, et pacem.

Translated into English, the Oratio Post Cibum ["Prayer After Food"] reads as follows:

May the God of peace and love always abide with us; have mercy upon us, O Lord. We thank you for all your mercies, who live and reign, God, for ever and ever. May God preserve the Church, the Queen, the realm, Parliament and peace.

However after a normal formal dinner in Hall the following short responsory is usually used:

  • The Presiding Fellow: Laus Deo (Praise be to God)
  • The College: Deo Gratias (Thanks be to God)
  • Student societies

    Although Jesus College is one of the older colleges at the university, it is known for having a relaxed and informal atmosphere. This is in large part attributable to its active student unions, the Jesus College Student Union (JSCU) and the Jesus College Graduate Union (MCR). These unions organise a wide range of social, cultural, welfare and sporting events throughout the year. The John Hughes Arts Festival, founded by College students in 2014 in memory of the late Dean of Chapel, John Hughes, enters its third year in 2017, providing a broad programme of arts events.

    Jesus College hosts an annual May Ball. Musician James Bay played at the 2015 May Ball. The headliners for 2016 were Coasts, Clean Bandit and Jack Garratt.


    Jesus College offers a large number of sports, including rowing, football, rugby, hockey, tennis, squash and basketball. The college typically fields a number of teams in each sport. The Jesus College Boat Club is particularly strong, with the 1st Men's VIII never having dropped below 12th place in the May Bumps and 11th position in the Lent Bumps. The JCBC organises the annual Fairbairn Cup Races.


    A three-course dinner known as Formal Hall is served in the college's main dining hall five nights a week. Gowns are worn by all members of the college, along with lounge suit for men and formal dress for women. A four-course dinner for graduate students of the college known as Grad Hall is served in Upper Hall each Wednesday. Unlike most traditional Oxbridge colleges, the college allows graduate students to dine at High Table on Tuesdays.

    The college also offers informal dining at lunch and dinner known as Caff, as well as brunch on Saturday mornings and a carvery lunch on Sundays. The college also has a popular student bar known as JBar which sells a wide variety of drinks, including Jesuan Ale.

    Jesus College Choir

    Jesus College maintains two highly regarded choirs, the College Choir and the Chapel Choir.

  • The College Choir consists of male and female students and sings regular services twice a week in the chapel. One of the leading choirs in Cambridge, its singers are mainly drawn from the college's own students, but also includes singers from a number of other colleges.
  • The Chapel Choir consists of around 20 choristers combined with the gentlemen of the college choir and also sings services twice a week in the chapel. It is unique among Cambridge college choirs in that the choristers are volunteers: that is, they are drawn from schools around the city and do not attend a particular choir school. Evensong is sung by the College Choir on Tuesdays at 6.30pm and Sundays at 6pm during Full Term. The Chapel Choir sings Evensong on Thursdays and Saturdays at 6.30pm.
  • Masters of the college

    Ian White, current Van Eck Professor of Engineering has been master of the college since 2011. He was preceded by Robert Mair, the Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering. Previous masters of the college include:

  • Professor David Crighton (1997–2000), former Professor of Applied Mathematics at the university;
  • Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthron (1986–1996), former Disney Professor of Archaeology at the university;
  • Sir Alan Cottrell (1973–1986), former Goldsmiths' Professor of Materials Science and later Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister; and
  • Sir Denys Page (1959–1973), former Regius Professor of Greek and President of the British Academy.
  • Fellows of the college

    Three members of the college have received Nobel Prizes. Philip W. Anderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (1977). Anderson was a fellow from 1969 to 1975 while he held a visiting professorship at the Cavendish Laboratory and has been an Honorary Fellow since 1978. Peter D. Mitchell, an undergraduate and later research student, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1978). Mitchell had been an undergraduate and later a research student at the college. He became an Honorary Fellow in 1979. Eric Maskin was a joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2007. Maskin was a research fellow from 1976 to 1977 and has been an Honorary Fellow since 2009.

    Several prominent figures in the law have been fellows of the college. Professor Glanville Williams, described as Britain's foremost scholar of criminal law, was a Fellow from 1957 to 1978. The Glanville Williams Society, consisting of current and former members of Jesus College, meets annually in his honour. Justice David Hayton, editor of Underhill and Hayton's Law of Trusts and Trustees and current judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice was a Fellow from 1973 to 1987. Professor Robert Jennings was a Fellow of the college and later Whewhell Professor of International Law (1955–1982) before his appointment to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where he served as a Judge (1982–1991) and later as President (1991–1995). Professor James Crawford was also a Fellow of the college and later Whewhell Professor of International Law (1992–2014) before his appointment to the International Court of Justice in November 2014. Current Honorary Fellows include Lord Roger Toulson of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Sir Rupert Jackson of the Court of Appeal, and Sir Colman Treacy, also of the Court of Appeal, all of whom were students of the college.


    Jesus College, Cambridge Wikipedia

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