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The largest Cambridge College boasting a famous court and historic library

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Entrance Gateway
Great Court
Chapel and Issac Newton Statue
Wren Library
Punting Station
Trinity college is the largest, in terms of students, of the Cambridge colleges. It is considered to be one of the more aristocratic colleges of the University, traditionally being the choice of the royals. It was founded by King Henry VIII in 1546, who during his Dissolution of the Monasteries had been seizing and closing not only abbeys and monasteries, but most institutions that were religious and rich. Two colleges, Michaelhouse and King’s Hall were two such institutions. They pleaded with Henry’s then wife, Catherine Parr, who persuaded her husband not to close them down but create one new college out of the two, Trinity College. Nowadays Trinity holds one of the most fierce academic reputations on the planet. It has educated Sir Isaac Newton, six British Prime Ministers, and students have gone on to win a collective 31 Nobel Prizes and 5 Field Medals in mathematics.

The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Established 1546
Source WikiMedia (PD)

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Virtue is true nobility

Trinity Great Gate. The gate features the coat arms of King Edward III and the Universities 1st astronomical observatory was built on top of the gatehouse in 1704.

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A student prank during the 19th century, led to the statue of King Henry VIII above the Great Gate, clutching a chair leg instead of the original sceptre.

Statue of Henry VIII above the Great Gate still clutching a chair leg!
The academic success of the College is equally matched by Trinities’ impressive architecture. The Great Court is a huge 17th Century structure built from 1599-1608 involving various architects, principally Thomas Neville. It has a perimeter of around 367 metre's. One of Trinities most famous traditions is the Great Court Run. This race is an attempt to run around the great court, in the 43 seconds during which the college clock strikes twelve. The contest occurs on the day of the Matriculation Dinner.

Trinity Great Court and Fountain

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The Great Court featured in the film Chariots of Fire, showing Lord Burghley race Harold Abrahams around the court before the clock completed striking noon. Olympic runner Sebastian Coe attempted to beat the clock in 1988 and completed the run in 46 seconds, 1.6 seconds after the clock had finished striking - TV commentators claimed the run was successful as they could still hear the dying sounds of the last bell.

The Clock Tower in the Great Court

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Trinity College is home to the Master’s Lodge, which is the official residence of the Sovereign when visiting the city.

Trinity College Sundial

Statue of Issac Newton in the entrance to the Chapel

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It is claimed that Neville's Court at Trinity College was where Issac Newton stamped his foot to calculate the speed of sound form the echo. It is also claimed that the apple tree by the gate to Trinity College is a descendant of the tree from which and apple fell and inspired Newton to devise his law of gravity.

The college chapel is yet another fine example of architecture and craftsmanship
The College boasts other significant buildings, such as  the Wren Library, built from 1676-1695 and designed by Christopher Wren, one of Britain's most famous architects. This library boasts an impressive collection, including a first edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

The Wren Library

Inside the Wren Library, containing 2 of Shakespeare’s early works, the original A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh and letters written by Sir Isaac Newton
Photo © Andrew Dunn (CC)

Did You Know?

During the 1930's, Trinity College unwittingly educated 4 students that later became the most remarkable spies of the Cold War, four larger-than-life Englishmen: HAR (Kim) Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt, all of whom betrayed their country to spy for the KGB in Moscow. They became known as the Cambridge Spies!!

Lord Byron, a British poet who studied at Trinity College. It is claimed he kept a bear while a student at Trinity out of resentment of Trinity rules forbidding pet dogs. He later suggested that the bear apply for a college fellowship!
Visitor Information
The Wren Library is open daily March to October, Monday to Friday 12noon to 2pm and during term time on Saturday's 10.30am to 12.30pm. Entry is included in the college entry cost. Trinity College is open to visitors daily March to October, 10am to 5pm. Entrance costs under £5. Access to the punting station at the back of the college is free. Tel: 01223 338 400

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