Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of
Cambridge in England. With around 700 undergraduates, 350 graduates,
and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the
Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. By combined student
numbers, it is second to Homerton College, Cambridge.
Trinity have won 32 Nobel Prizes out of the 98 won by
members of Cambridge University, the highest number of any college at
Oxford or Cambridge. Five Fields Medals in mathematics were won
by members of the college (of the six awarded to members of British
universities) and one
Abel Prize was won.
Trinity alumni include six British prime ministers (all
Whig/Liberal), physicists Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Ernest
Rutherford and Niels Bohr, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, the poet
Lord Byron, philosophers
Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell
(whom it expelled before reaccepting), and Soviet spies Kim Philby,
Guy Burgess, and Anthony Blunt.
Two members of the
British royal family
British royal family have studied at
been awarded degrees as a result: Prince William of Gloucester and
Edinburgh, who gained an MA in 1790, and Prince Charles, who was
awarded a lower second class BA in 1970. Other royal family members
have studied there without obtaining degrees, including King Edward
VII, King George VI, and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester.
Trinity has many college societies, including the
Society, which is the oldest mathematical university society in the
United Kingdom, and the First and Third
Trinity Boat Club, its rowing
club, which gives its name to the college's May Ball. Along with
Christ's, Jesus, King's and St John's colleges, it has also provided
several of the well known members of the Apostles, an intellectual
Trinity hosted the meeting at which Cambridge undergraduates
representing private schools such as Westminster drew up the first
formal rules of football, known as the Cambridge Rules.
Trinity's sister college in
Oxford is Christ Church. Like that
Trinity has been linked with
Westminster School since the
school's re-foundation in 1560, and its Master is an ex officio
governor of the school.
1.2 Nevile's expansion
1.3 Modern day
Trinity in Camberwell
2 Buildings and grounds
2.1 Great Gate
2.2 Great Court
2.3 Nevile's Court
2.4 New Court
2.5 Other courts
3 Academic profile
3.2 Scholarships and prizes
4.1 Great Court Run
4.2 Open-air concerts
4.4 Chair legs and bicycles
4.5 College rivalry
4.6 Minor traditions
4.7 College Grace
5 People associated with the college
5.1 Notable fellows and alumni
5.2 Nobel Prize winners
5.3 Fields Medallists
5.4 British Prime Ministers
6 See also
8 External links
1575 map showing the King's Hall (top left) and Michaelhouse (top
right) buildings before Nevile's reconstruction
The college was founded by Henry VIII in 1546, from the merger of two
existing colleges: Michaelhouse (founded by
Hervey de Stanton
Hervey de Stanton in
1324), and King's Hall (established by Edward II in 1317 and refounded
by Edward III in 1337). At the time, Henry had been seizing church
lands from abbeys and monasteries. The universities of
Cambridge, being both religious institutions and quite rich, expected
to be next in line. The King duly passed an
Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament that
allowed him to suppress (and confiscate the property of) any college
he wished. The universities used their contacts to plead with his
sixth wife, Catherine Parr. 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 two colleges (King's Hall and
Michaelhouse) and seven hostels (Physwick (formerly part of Gonville
and Caius College, Cambridge), Gregory's, Ovyng's, Catherine's,
Garratt, Margaret's, and Tyler's) to form Trinity.
David Loggan's print of 1690 showing Nevile's Great Court (foreground)
and Nevile's Court with the then-new
Wren Library (background) – New
Court had yet to be built
Contrary to popular belief, the monastic lands granted by Henry VIII
were not on their own sufficient to ensure Trinity's eventual rise. In
terms of architecture and royal association, it was not until the
Thomas Nevile (1593–1615) that
Trinity assumed both
its spaciousness and its courtly association with the governing class
that distinguished it since the Civil War. In its infancy
owed a great deal to its neighbouring college of St John's: in the
exaggerated words of Roger Ascham
Trinity was little more than a
colonia deducta[clarification needed]. Its first four Masters were
educated at St John's, and it took until around 1575 for the two
colleges' application numbers to draw even, a position in which they
have remained since the Civil War. In terms of wealth, Trinity's
current fortunes belie prior fluctuations; Nevile's building campaign
drove the college into debt from which it only surfaced in the 1640s,
and the Mastership of
Richard Bentley adversely affected applications
and finances. Bentley himself was notorious for the construction of
a hugely expensive staircase in the Master's Lodge, and for his
repeated refusals to step down despite pleas from the Fellows.
Most of the Trinity's major buildings date from the 16th and 17th
centuries. Thomas Nevile, who became Master of
Trinity in 1593,
rebuilt and redesigned much of the college. This work included the
enlargement and completion of Great Court, and the construction of
Nevile's Court between Great Court and the river Cam. Nevile's Court
was completed in the late 17th century when the Wren Library, designed
by Sir Christopher Wren, was built.
Trinity established Cambridge Science Park, UK's first science park,
In the 20th century,
Trinity College, St John's College and King's
College were for decades the main recruiting grounds for the Cambridge
Apostles, an elite, intellectual secret society.
In 2011, the
John Templeton Foundation
John Templeton Foundation awarded
Master, the astrophysicist Martin Rees, its controversial
million-pound Templeton Prize, for "affirming life's spiritual
Trinity is the richest
Oxbridge college, with a landholding alone
worth £800 million. 
Trinity is sometimes suggested to be the
second, third or fourth wealthiest landowner in the UK (or in England)
– after the Crown Estate, the National Trust and the Church of
England. (A variant of this legend is repeated in the
Tom Sharpe novel
Porterhouse Blue.) In 2005, Trinity's annual rental income from its
properties was reported to be in excess of £20 million.
3400 acres (14 km2) housing facilities at the Port of Felixstowe,
Britain's busiest container port
the Cambridge Science Park
the O2 Arena in London (formerly the Millennium Dome)
Lord Byron purportedly kept a pet bear whilst living in the
A second legend is that it is possible to walk from Cambridge to
Oxford on land solely owned by Trinity. Several varieties of this
legend exist – others refer to the combined land of
Trinity College, Oxford, of
Trinity College, Cambridge
and Christ Church, Oxford, or St John's College,
Oxford and St John's
College, Cambridge. All are almost certainly false.
Trinity is often cited as the inventor of an English, less sweet,
version of crème brûlée, known as "
Trinity burnt cream",
although the college chefs have sometimes been known to refer to it as
Trinity Creme Brulee". The burnt-cream, first introduced at
High Table in 1879, in fact differs quite markedly from French
recipes, the earliest of which is from 1691.
Trinity in Camberwell
Trinity College has a long-standing relationship with the Parish of St
George's, Camberwell, in South London. Students from the College
have helped to run holiday schemes for children from the parish since
1966. The relationship was formalised in 1979 with the establishment
Camberwell as a registered charity (Charity Commission
no. 279447) which exists 'to provide, promote, assist and
encourage the advancement of education and relief of need and other
charitable objects for the benefit of the community in the Parish of
St George's, Camberwell, and the neighbourhood thereof.’
Buildings and grounds
A historical plan of the development of
Trinity College by 1897.
The Great Gate is the main entrance to the college, leading to the
Great Court. A statue of the college founder, Henry VIII, stands in a
niche above the doorway. In his right hand he holds a table leg
instead of the original sword and myths abound as to how the switch
was carried out and by whom. In 1704, the University's first
astronomical observatory was built on top of the gatehouse. Beneath
the founder's statue are the coats of arms of Edward III, the founder
of King's Hall, and those of his five sons who survived to maturity,
as well as William of Hatfield, whose shield is blank as he died as an
infant, before being granted arms. 
Great Court (built principally 1599–1608) was the brainchild of
Thomas Nevile, who demolished several existing buildings on this site,
including almost the entirety of the former college of Michaelhouse.
The sole remaining building of Michaelhouse was replaced by the then
current Kitchens (designed by James Essex) in 1770–1775. The
Master's Lodge is the official residence of the Sovereign when in
King's Hostel (built 1377–1416) is located to the north of Great
Court, behind the Clock Tower, this is (along with the King's Gate),
the sole remaining building from King's Hall.
Bishop's Hostel (built 1671, Robert Minchin): A detached building to
the southwest of Great Court, and named after John Hacket, Bishop of
Lichfield and Coventry. Additional buildings were built in 1878 by
Wren Library at Nevile's Court
Nevile's Court (built 1614) is located between Great Court and the
river, this court was created by a bequest by the college's master,
Thomas Nevile, originally two-thirds of its current length and without
the Wren Library. The appearance of the upper floor was remodelled
slightly two centuries later. Cloisters run around the court,
providing sheltered walkways from the rear of Great Hall to the
college library and reading room as well as the
Wren Library and New
Wren Library interior, showing the limewood carvings by Grinling
Wren Library (built 1676–1695, Christopher Wren) is located at the
west end of Nevile's Court, the Wren is one of Cambridge's most famous
and well-endowed libraries. Among its notable possessions are two of
Shakespeare's First Folios, a 14th-century manuscript of The Vision of
Piers Plowman, and letters written by Sir Isaac Newton. The Eadwine
Psalter belongs to
Trinity but is kept by Cambridge University
Library. Below the building are the pleasant
Wren Library Cloisters,
where students may enjoy a fine view of the Great Hall in front of
them, and the river and Backs directly behind.
New Court (or King's Court; built 1825, William Wilkins) is located to
the south of Nevile's Court, and built in Tudor-Gothic style, this
court is notable for the large tree in the centre. A myth is sometimes
circulated that this was the tree from which the apple dropped onto
Isaac Newton; in fact, Newton was at Woolsthorpe when he deduced his
theory of gravity – and the tree is a chestnut tree. Many other
"New Courts" in the colleges were built at this time to accommodate
the new influx of students.
Whewell's Court north range
Whewell's Court (actually two courts with a third in between, built
1860 & 1868, architect Anthony Salvin) is located across the
street from Great Court, and was entirely paid for by William Whewell,
the Master of the college from 1841 until his death in 1866. The north
range was later remodelled by W.D. Caroe.
Angel Court (built 1957–1959, H. C. Husband) is located between
Great Court and
Trinity Street, and is used along with the Wolfson
Building for accommodating first year students.
The Wolfson Building (built 1968–1972, Architects Co-Partnership) is
located to the south of Whewell's Court, on top of a podium above
shops, this building resembles a brick-clad ziggurat, and is used
exclusively for first-year accommodation. Having been renovated during
the academic year 2005–06, rooms are now almost all en-suite.
Blue Boar Court (built 1989, MJP Architects and Wright) is located to
the south of the Wolfson Building, on top of podium a floor up from
ground level, and including the upper floors of several surrounding
Georgian buildings on
Trinity Street, Green Street and Sidney Street.
Burrell's Field (built 1995, MJP Architects) is located on a site
to the west of the main College buildings, opposite the Cambridge
There are also College rooms above shops in Bridge Street and Jesus
Lane, behind Whewell's Court, and graduate accommodation in Portugal
Street and other roads around Cambridge.
Trinity College Chapel
Trinity College Chapel dates from the mid 16th Century and is Grade I
There are a number of memorials to former Fellows of
the Chapel, including statues, brasses, and two memorials to graduates
and Fellows who died during the World Wars.
The Chapel is a performance space for the college choir which
comprises around 30 Choral Scholars and 2 Organ Scholars, all of whom
are ordinarily undergraduate members of the college.
The Fellows' Garden is located on the west side of Queen's Road,
opposite the drive that leads to the Backs.
The Fellows' Bowling Green is located north of Great Court, between
King's Hostel and the river. It is the site for many of the tutors'
garden parties in the summer months, while the Master's Garden is
located behind the Master's Lodge.
The Old Fields are located on the western side of Grange Road, next to
Burrell's Field. It currently houses the college's gym, changing
rooms, squash courts, badminton courts, rugby, hockey and football
pitches along with tennis and netball courts.
Trinity bridge is a stone built tripled-arched road bridge across the
River Cam. It was built of Portland stone in 1765 to the designs of
James Essex to replace an earlier bridge built in 1651 and is a Grade
I listed building.
New Court after 2016 refurbishment
River Cam as it flows past the back of Trinity,
Trinity Bridge is
visible and the punt house is to the right of the moored punts
The Avenue of lime and cherry trees, and wrought iron gate to Queen's
Road viewed from the Backs
Main entrance to Burrell's Field
Fellows' Bowling Green, with the oldest building in the college
(originally part of King's Hall) in the background
Blue Boar Court, with the Wolfson Building in the background.
Over the last 20 years, the college has always come at least eighth in
the Tompkins Table, which ranks the 29 Cambridge colleges according to
the academic performance of their undergraduates, and for the last six
occasions it has been in first place. Its average position in the
Tompkins Table over that period has been between second and third,
higher than any other. In 2016, 45% of
Trinity undergraduates achieved
Firsts, 12 percentage points ahead of second place Pembroke – a
recent record among Cambridge colleges.
Currently, about 50% of Trinity's undergraduates attended independent
schools. In 2006 it accepted a smaller proportion of students from
state schools (39%) than any other Cambridge college, and on a rolling
three-year average it has admitted a smaller proportion of state
school pupils (42%) than any other college at either Cambridge or
Oxford. According to the Good Schools Guide, about 7% of
British school-age students attend private schools, although this
figure refers to students in all school years – a higher proportion
attend private schools in their final two years before university.
Trinity states that it disregards what type of school its applicants
attend, and accepts students solely on the basis of their academic
Trinity admitted its first woman graduate student in 1976 and its
first woman undergraduate in 1978, and appointed its first female
fellow in 1977.
Scholarships and prizes
The statue of Newton in the chapel, where scholars are typically
The Scholars, together with the Master and Fellows, make up the
Foundation of the College.
In order of seniority:
Research Scholars receive funding for graduate studies. Typically one
must graduate in the top ten percent of one's class and continue for
graduate study at Trinity. They are given first preference in the
assignment of college rooms and number approximately 25.
The Senior Scholars consist of those who attain a degree with First
Class honours or higher in any year after the first of an
undergraduate tripos, but also, those who obtain a high First class
marks in their first year. The college pays them a stipend of £250 a
year and allows them to choose rooms directly following the research
scholars. There are around 40 senior scholars at any one time.
The Junior Scholars are those who are not senior scholars but still
obtained a First in their first year. Their stipend is £175 a year.
They are given preference in the room ballot over 2nd years who are
These scholarships are tenable for the academic year following that in
which the result was achieved. If a scholarship is awarded but the
student does not continue at
Trinity then only a quarter of the
stipend is given. However all students who achieve a First are awarded
an additional £240 prize upon announcement of the results.
All final year undergraduates who achieve first-class honours in their
final exams are offered full financial support to read for a Master's
degree at Cambridge (this funding is also sometimes
available for students who achieved high second-class honours marks).
Other support is available for PhD degrees. The College also offers a
number of other bursaries and studentships open to external
applicants. The right to walk on the grass in the college courts is
exclusive to Fellows of the college and their guests. Scholars do,
however, have the right to walk on the Scholars' Lawn, but only in
full academic dress.
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Great Court Run
Great Court, with (from left to right) the dining hall, Master's
Lodge, fountain, clock tower, chapel and Great Gate
The Great Court Run is an attempt to run round the 400-yard perimeter
of Great Court (approximately 367m), in the 43 seconds of the clock
striking twelve. Students traditionally attempt to complete the
circuit on the day of the Matriculation Dinner. It is a rather
difficult challenge: one needs to be a fine sprinter to achieve it,
but it is by no means necessary to be of Olympic standard, despite
assertions made in the press.
It is widely believed that
Sebastian Coe successfully completed the
run when he beat
Steve Cram in a charity race in October 1988. Coe's
time on 29 October 1988 was reported by
Norris McWhirter to have been
45.52 seconds, but it was actually 46.0 seconds (confirmed by the
video tape), while Cram's was 46.3 seconds. The clock on that day took
44.4 seconds (i.e., a "long" time, probably two days after the last
winding) and the video film confirms that Coe was some 12 metres short
of his finish line when the fateful final stroke occurred. The
television commentators were disingenuous in suggesting that the dying
sounds of the bell could be included in the striking time, thereby
allowing Coe's run to be claimed as successful.
One reason Olympic runners Cram and Coe found the challenge so tough
is that they started at the middle of one side of the court, thereby
having to negotiate four right-angle turns. In the days when students
started at a corner, only three turns were needed.
The Great Court Run was portrayed in the film
Chariots of Fire
Chariots of Fire about
the British Olympic runners of 1924.
Until the mid-1990s, the run was traditionally attempted by first-year
students at midnight following their matriculation dinner. Following a
number of accidents to undergraduates running on slippery
cobbles, the college now organises a more formal
Great Court Run, at 12 noon on the day of the matriculation dinner:
the challenge is only open to freshers, many of whom compete in fancy
Singing on the River, 5 June 2016
One Sunday each June (the exact date depending on the university
term), the College Choir perform a short concert immediately after the
clock strikes noon. Known as Singing from the Towers, half of the
choir sings from the top of the Great Gate, while the other half sings
from the top of the Clock Tower approximately 60 metres away, giving a
strong antiphonal effect. Midway through the concert, the Cambridge
University Brass Ensemble performs from the top of the Queen's
Later that same day, the College Choir gives a second open-air
concert, known as Singing on the River, where they perform madrigals
and arrangements of popular songs from a raft of punts lit with
lanterns or fairy lights on the river. For the finale, John Wilbye's
madrigal Draw on, sweet night, the raft is unmoored and punted
downstream to give a fade out effect. As a tradition, however, this
latter concert dates back only to the mid-1980s, when the College
Choir first acquired female members. In the years immediately before
this, an annual concert on the river was given by the University
Another tradition relates to an artificial duck known as the Mallard,
which should reside in the rafters of the Great Hall. Students
occasionally moved the duck from one rafter to another without
permission from the college. This is considered difficult; access to
the Hall outside meal-times is prohibited and the rafters are
dangerously high, so it was not attempted for several years. During
the Easter term of 2006, the Mallard was knocked off its rafter by one
of the pigeons which enter the Hall through the pinnacle windows. It
was reinstated by students in 2016, and is only visible from the far
end of the hall.
Chair legs and bicycles
The statue of the college's founder Henry VIII presiding over the
Great Gate, with a chair leg in his right hand
The sceptre held by the statue of Henry VIII mounted above the
medieval Great Gate was replaced with a chair leg as a prank many
years ago. It has remained there to this day: when in the 1980s
students exchanged the chair leg for a bicycle pump, the College
replaced the chair leg.
For many years it was the custom for students to place a bicycle high
in branches of the tree in the centre of New Court. Usually invisible
except in winter, when the leaves had fallen, such bicycles tended to
remain for several years before being removed by the authorities. The
students then inserted another bicycle.
The college remains a great rival of St John's which is its main
competitor in sports and academia (John's is situated next to
Trinity). This has given rise to a number of anecdotes and myths. It
is often cited as the reason why the older courts of
have no J staircases, despite including other letters in alphabetical
order. A far more likely reason remains the absence of the letter J in
Latin alphabet, and that St John's College's older courts also
lack J staircases. There are also two small muzzle-loading cannons on
the bowling green pointing in the direction of John's, though this
orientation may be coincidental. Another story sometimes told is that
the reason that the clock in
Trinity Great Court strikes each hour
twice is that the fellows of St John's once complained about the noise
it made.
Trinity College undergraduate gowns are readily distinguished from the
black gowns favoured by most other Cambridge colleges. They are
instead dark blue with black facings. They are expected to be worn to
formal events such as formal halls and also when an undergraduate sees
the Dean of the College in a formal capacity.
Trinity students, along with those of King's and St John's, are the
first to be presented to the Congregation of the
Regent House at
High Table is at the far end of the dining hall under the portrait
of Henry VIII
Each evening before dinner, grace is recited by the senior fellow
presiding, as follows:
Benedic, Domine, nos et dona tua, (Bless us, Lord, and these gifts)
quae de largitate tua sumus sumpturi, (which, through your generosity,
we are about to receive)
et concede, ut illis salubriter nutriti (and grant that we,
wholesomely nourished by them,)
tibi debitum obsequium praestare valeamus, (may be able to offer you
the service we owe)
per Christum Dominum nostrum. (through Christ our Lord)
If both of the two high tables are in use then the following
antiphonal formula is prefixed to the main grace:
A. Oculi omnium in te sperant Domine: (The eyes of all are on you,
B. Et tu das escam illis in tempore. (and you give them their food, in
A. Aperis tu manum tuam, (You open your hand)
B. Et imples omne animal benedictione. (and bestow upon all living
things your blessing.) 
Following the meal, the simple formula Benedicto benedicatur is
People associated with the college
Notable fellows and alumni
Main article: List of alumni of
Trinity College, Cambridge
The Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge contains the
graves of 27 Fellows of
Trinity College, Cambridge most of whom are
also commemorated in
Trinity College Chapel with brass plaques.
Nobel Prize winners
John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh
Joseph John (J. J.) Thomson
Charles Glover Barkla
Francis William Aston
Archibald V. Hill
Physiology or Medicine
Owen Willans Richardson
Physiology or Medicine
Edgar Douglas Adrian
Physiology or Medicine
Physiology or Medicine
George Paget Thomson
Physiology or Medicine
Physiology or Medicine
Brian David Josephson
Trinity College also has claim to a number of winners of the Fields
Medal (commonly regarded as the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel
Prize): Michael Atiyah, Alan Baker,
Richard Borcherds and Timothy
Gowers. Atiyah is also an
Abel Prize winner.
British Prime Ministers
Lord Melbourne served as Prime Minister in 1834–1841
Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne
Trinity politicians include Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex,
courtier of Elizabeth I; William Waddington, Prime Minister of France;
Erskine Hamilton Childers, President of Ireland; Jawaharlal Nehru, the
first and longest serving Prime Minister of India; Rajiv Gandhi, Prime
Minister of India; Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore; Samir
Rifai, Prime Minister of Jordan and William Whitelaw, 1st Viscount
Whitelaw, Lady Thatcher's Home Secretary and subsequent Deputy Prime
Further information: List of Masters of
Trinity College, Cambridge
Martin Rees was Master of
Trinity from 2004 to 2012
The head of
Trinity College is called the Master.
The role is a Crown appointment, formerly made by the Monarch on the
advice of the Prime Minister. Nowadays the Fellows of the College
choose the new Master, and the Royal role is only nominal. The
first Master, John Redman, was appointed in 1546. All six Masters
R.A. Butler had been Fellows of the College prior to
becoming Master (
Honorary Fellow in the case of Martin Rees). The last
master was Martin Rees,
Baron Rees of Ludlow
Baron Rees of Ludlow (until end of June 2012).
He was succeeded by Sir
Gregory Winter on 2 October 2012. 
Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, partially funded by
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Trinity College Cambridge – Master of
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Ludlow)". Trin.cam.ac.uk. 15 January 2004. Retrieved 25 March
^ McKitterick, David. "Welcoming speech at the Master's Installation
Dinner". Annual Record 2013.
Trinity College, Cambridge. Retrieved 9
Gregory Winter CBE FRS appointed Master of
Cambridge University". Number10.gov.uk. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 28
Trinity College, Cambridge. Master of Trinity". Retrieved 14 July
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