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Trinity College, Cambridge

History of the Great Gate, Trinity College

Trinity College in 1574

General information about Trinity College can be found on Wikipedia.

Brazier at Trinity College, 1951 (MoC)

Trinity College, dinner in hall (MoC336/72)

In Cambridge Inscriptions Explained by Nancy Gregory (2006) is the explanation of why the Great Gate has a statue of Henry VIII above an inscription referring to Edward III. The lower part of the gate was built for Trinity’s predecessor, King’s Hall. The inscription shows the name of Edward III with his sons arranged around their father, oldest in the centre and the youngest on the outside.

From left to right:








Trinity Avenue circa 1905

Rattee and Kett restored the masonry on the Great Gate circa 1980.

Trinity College Gate circa 1905

Trinity College Gate

Trinity College Gate

Early drama at Trinity

A H Nelson, Cambridge Early Theatres, pp142 ff, has collected together the records of drama productions at Trinity College and elsewhere. These were performed on elaborate wooden stages that were put up each year.

1661-2 two comedies were produced, The Silent Woman by Ben Jonson, and the Latin Adelphe by Samuel Brook.

1662-3 plays this year were performed for James, Duke of Monmouth, who visited on 16th March 1663.

1668-9 A play this year was performed for the visit of Cosimo de medici on 1st May 1669. The play was probably Adelphe.

1669-70 an unknown play was performed for Duke of Ormond, Chancellor of Oxford who visited on 21st April 1670.

1670-1 The university was the object of two royal visit. 2-3 October was by the Duke of York, the future James II, accompanied by his duchess and the Duchess of Cleveland (mistress of Charles II). The second visit, 26th November, was by William Prince of Orange (the future William III): an unknown play, for which the Prince declined to tarry, was played before the university.

1671-2 Charles II visited Cambridge on 4 Oct 1671, dining at Trinity College in the hall. The king witnessed a comedy at the college, the last year of play production in the college before modern times.

Trinity College library

1844 Cornelius Inglis matriculates as undergraduate


Edward Bickersteth Birks, fellow, 42, clerk in Holy Orders, b Herts [vicar of Trumpington ]

Adam Sedgwick, fellow, 36, lecturer in zoology, b Norfolk

Reginald St John Parry, fellow, 33, clerk in Holy Orders, b Warwicks

Alfred Cardew Dixon, fellow, 25, student of Mathematics, b Yorks

Albert C Dew Smith, MA of Coll, 42, employer of lithographic artists, b Wilts

Harold H P Castle, visitor, 22, student Magdalene Coll Oxford, b Middlesex

William H Buckler, student of law, 26, b France

John W Cornwall, student of natural science, 20, b India

Frederick J Watson, student of medicine, 21, b Cheshire

Alfred E Stamp, student of mathematics, 21, b Middlesex

Northcote W Thomas, student of law, 22, b Salop

Robert Montgomery, student of classics, 24, b Ireland

Howard Spensley, student of history, 21, b Australia

William H Whadebat, student of law, 19, b London

Edward D C Strode, student of law, 19, b Scotland

Hugh G Frith, student of theology, 21, b Lincs

Vincent Thompson, 21, student of classics, b Yorks

Frederick W Russell, 20, student of mathematics, b Hants

Robert S Hudson, student of law, 20, b Warwicks

Richard S Davies, student of law, 21, b law

Edward [Edwin] Arney Speed, student of law, 22, b Notts

Herbert S Taylor, student of theology, 21, b Middlesex

James H Linsday, student of law, 19, b Middlesex

Great Court, Trinity College


Henry Martyn Taylor, 58, Mayor of Cambridge Fellow of Trinity, b Bristol, nearly blind

John M Tinage, 58, b Sussex

John Newport Langley, 48, university lecturer, b Berks

Francis MacDonald Cornford, 27, Fellow of Trinity, b Sussex

Sedley Taylor, 66, Instructor of Music to the University Day Training College, b Surrey

Arthur Sidney Blundell Bankart, 21, student, b Devon

Matthew H Metcalfe, 15, attendant to the Mayor, b Yorks

William J Smith, 36, college porter, b Notts

Anthony G Lewis, 37, college porter, b Cambridge

John D Tabor, 31, college porter, b Cherry Hinton


Master’s Lodge

Hannah Bache, 37, housemaid, b Shrops

Jane Jones, 56, cook, b Wales

Charles G Milne, 22, footman, b St Vincent West Indies


Percy John Daniell won a scholarship in 1907 to study mathematics. He was the last Senior Wrangler in 1909.

Trinity College, Great Gate


John Maxwell Tinage, 68, fellow of Trinity College, b Sussex

Vincent Henry Stanton, 64, clergyman established church, b Hong Kong

Reginald St John  Parry, 53, clergyman established church, b Warwicks

Anthony Ashley Bevan, 51, fellow of Trinity College, b Middlesex

Arthur Charlewood Turner, 29, fellow of Trinity College, b London

Percy James Pearse, 27, fellow of Trinity College, b Suffolk

Watson George Neville, 25, fellow of Trinity College, b Devon

Sedley Taylor, 76, later fellow of Trinity College, b Surrey

Harry James Muggleton, 59, college porter, b Cambs

George Munns, 48, college porter, b Cambs

Herbert Twinn, 32, night watchman, b Suffolk


(Trinity Lodge)

Elizabeth McLeod, 47, widow, cook, b Scotland

Joan Spooner, 39, maid, b Middlesex

Mary Farrington, 29, housemaid, b Cambridge

Trinity College


Lawrence Bragg had graduated in 1911 and in 1912 was awarded a scholarship which enabled him to continue research at the Cavendish Laboratory. He had been in a Territorial unity called King Edward’s Horse but at the outbreak of war a panel of academics decided that because of Bragg’s skills at mathematics and riding he should join the horse artillery so he was sent to join the Leicestershire RHA. He describes his life during WWI in ‘Crystal Clear’ p86f. In 1915, the same year he was awarded, with his father, the Nobel Prize for Physics, he was summoned by the War Office and started work on a project for the acoustic location, ‘sound ranging‘, of artillery batteries. Most of the development of the project took place at the front lines and by 1917, in the right conditions, was yielding significant results.

In 1918 Bragg resumed his lectureship at the Cavendish Laboratory but he stayed only a short while before taking up the professorship at Manchester University in place of Rutherford who had taken over the Cavendish. He returned to Cambridge in 1937.

Leonard Knight Elmhirst (1893-1974) was an undergraduate at Trinity in 1914. The Elmhirst family wrote frequently to eachother during WWI and this correspondence has been published as ‘The Family Budget 1914-1919, The Elmyrste Press 2011’.

From Leonard, Trinity College, 18/10/1914:

In a week’s time we expect to have 200 students from Tourain up in Cambridge and they will have to be looked after … I have met lately 2 Americans, very fresh from America, who are doing the University life. One is trying to get into the Corps and has dropped onto his feet here very quickly, the other is very American. His accent will give him away to any recruiting officer….

Games have practically been washed out, O.T.C. holds the field, but it is little  or no use in my joining. They have lectures five nights a week, drill 3 hours for 4 afternoons per week and one night operations, which means they do no work and will all have commissions by Xmas. Next term there will be about two men left.

His brothers: Ernest ‘Christie’ was in the Royal Fusiliers, Thomas on HMS Indomitable, William in the East Yorkshire Regiment. Christie was killed in action 12/8/1915; William on 13/11/1916.

From Leonard, Trinity College, 10/2/1915:

My numerous activities have more or less confined themselves to working for my exam, but I have taken a YMCA Coll one night a week and am responsible for it. About 200 soldiers cam to read, write & sing, & I sell stamps and P.C.’s, play an odd game of draughts or fox and geese, talking to the Families on all kinds of subjects and getting to know them. Tomorrow I sing some of them a duet at a concert a friend of mine has arranged. Being YMCA, no cards are allowed & we always end up with a hymn & prayers. One would like to give one’s time to the job, but at present one night a week is all I can manage.

I heard from a man in the Flying Corps today. If any of you want to get in I can tell you how. learning is not more than twice as difficult as riding a bicycle. After 3 weeks you take your “plane” up alone and then fly continuously. There have only been 18 casualties in the Flying Corps up to January.

After graduating in the summer of 1915 Leonard sailed to India and travelled extensively.

Robert Quilter Gilson became a student at Trinity in 1912. He joined the Officer Training Corps and on the outbreak of World War 1 joined the 11th Suffolks, the Cambridge Volunteer battalion. He wrote a large number of letters to his family and to his beloved Estelle. The letters chart the Battalion’s movements from Cambridge, to Yorkshire, then Salisbury Plain and finally France. He was killed in action on 1st July 1916 in the attack on german lines in Sausage Valley. Robert was buried in Becourt Wood.

More information about him can be found in ‘Tolkien and the Great War’ by John Garth, pub. Harper Collins.

Also on the CCAN web site:

Gilson. Robert Quilter. 2nd Lieutenant. Died 1st July 1916. From Harrow/Cambridge




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