Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Emmanuel College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Elizabeth I.[4]

Emmanuel College
University of Cambridge
Front Court, Emmanuel College
Arms of Emmanuel College
LocationSt Andrew's Street (map)
Coordinates52°12′13″N 0°07′28″E
Full nameEmmanuel College in the University of Cambridge
Latin nameCollegium Emanuelis
FounderSir Walter Mildmay
Named forJesus of Nazareth (Emmanuel)
Sister collegeExeter College, Oxford
MasterFiona Reynolds
Endowment£86.7m (as of 30 June 2017)[3]
Students' unionwww.ecsu.org.uk
Boat clubebc.soc.srcf.net
Location in Central Cambridge
Location in Cambridge

Three members of Emmanuel College have received a Nobel Prize: Ronald Norrish, George Porter (both Chemistry, 1967) and Frederick Hopkins.[5]


The college was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Elizabeth I.[4] The site had been occupied by a Dominican friary until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, some 45 years earlier. Mildmay's foundation made use of the existing buildings.

Mildmay, a Puritan, intended Emmanuel to be a college of training for Protestant preachers.

Like all of the older Cambridge Colleges, Emmanuel originally took only male students. It first admitted female students in 1979.[6]

In every year from 1998 until 2016 Emmanuel was among the top five colleges in the Tompkins Table, which ranks colleges according to end-of-year examination results. Emmanuel topped the table five times (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010) and placed second six times (2001, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012). Its mean score for 1997–2018 inclusive places it as the second highest ranking college after Trinity.

Buildings and grounds

Under Mildmay's instruction, the chapel of the original Dominican Friary had been converted to be the College's dining hall, with the friars' dining hall becoming a puritan chapel. In the late 17th century, the College commissioned a new chapel, one of three buildings in Cambridge to be designed by Christopher Wren (1677). After Wren's construction, the puritan chapel became the College library until it outgrew the space and a purpose-built library was constructed in 1930.

There is a large fish pond in the grounds, part of the legacy of the friary. The pond is home of a colony of ducks.

The Fellows' Garden contains a swimming pool, which was originally the friars' bathing pool, making it one of the oldest bathing pools in Europe and allegedly the oldest outdoor pool in continuous use in the UK. It includes an Oriental plane tree, also in the Fellows' Garden, which is reputed to have lived far longer than is typical of the species.[7]

The college also owns the only privately owned subway in the UK, connecting the main site to North Court.

Student life

The Emmanuel College Students' Union (ECSU) is the society of all undergraduate students at Emmanuel College. It provides a shop, a bar, a common room, and funding for sports and other societies. ECSU's Executive Committee is elected on a yearly basis at the end of Michaelmas Term.[8]

The Emmanuel College Middle Combination Room (Emma MCR) is the society of all post-graduate students at Emmanuel College. The Room itself is a comfortable and well equipped space in the Queen's Building. The MCR committee organises regular social events for graduate students, including well-attended formal dinners in hall every few weeks.[9]

Sports and societies

A large number of student societies and sports clubs exist at Emmanuel College. Sports clubs include Emmanuel Boat Club, tennis, badminton, cricket, squash, rugby, football, hockey and netball. Societies include the Emmanuel College Music Society (ECMS),[10] the Christian Union, the Mountaineering Club, the recently relaunched Emmanuel College Art and Photography Society,[11] the Emmanuel Real Ice Cream Society (ERICS) and the Politics and Economics Society. Funding for societies, old and new, come from applications to the Emmanuel College Student union (ECSU).

People associated with Emmanuel

Former students

Emmanuel graduates had a large involvement in the settling of North America. Of the first 100 university graduates in New England, one-third were graduates of Emmanuel College. Harvard University, the first college in the United States, was organised on the model of Emmanuel, as it was then run. Harvard is named for John Harvard (B.A., 1632), an Emmanuel graduate. Emmanuel and Harvard maintain relations via student exchanges such as the Herchel Smith scholarships, the Harvard Scholarship, and the annual Gomes lecture and dinner held each February at Emmanuel in honour of the late Peter Gomes, erstwhile minister at Harvard's Memorial Church.

Early Emmanuel men included several translators of the 1611 Authorised Version.

Fictional characters who have been said to have gone to Emmanuel include Jonathan Swift's Lemuel Gulliver. It is implied that Sebastian Faulks' eponymous Engleby and Thomas Richardson also matriculated at Emmanuel. The protagonist in Samuel Butler's masterpiece The Way of All Flesh also went to Emmanuel. The uncompleted Doctor Who serial Shada was also partly filmed in the college with the character Professor Chronotis having rooms in New Court.


College grace

The Latin grace (Oratio Ante Cibum) is recited before formal dinners at Emmanuel College.
Latin English

Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine,
et tu das escam illorum in tempore opportuno.
Aperis tu manum tuam
et imples omne animal benedictione.
Benedic, Domine, nos et dona tua
quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi;
per Christum Dominum nostrum.

The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord,
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thy hand
and fillest every living thing with blessing.
Bless us, O Lord and these thy gifts
which of thy bounty we are about to receive;
through Christ our Lord.

The Oratio Post Cibum is sometimes read after dinner:
Latin English

Confiteantur tibi, Domine, omnia opera tua,
et sancti tui benedicant te.
Agimus tibi gratias, omnipotens Deus,
pro universis beneficiis tuis,
qui vivis et regnas Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Let all thy works give thanks to thee. O Lord,
and let thy saints bless thee.
We give thanks to thee, almighty God,
for all thy goodness,
who livest and reignest as God for ever and ever.

See also


  1. University of Cambridge (6 March 2019). "Notice by the Editor". Cambridge University Reporter. 149 (Special No 5): 1. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  2. "University Factsheet 2012" (PDF). University of Cambridge. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  3. "Accounts for the year ended 30 June 2017" (PDF). Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  4. Sarah Bendall; Christopher Brooke; Patrick Collinson (1999). A History of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Boydell Press. ISBN 0-85115-393-3.
  5. "Nobel Prize". University of Cambridge. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  6. "History of the College". Emmanuel College. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  7. Ron Gray. "The Great Oriental Plane Tree at Emmanuel College". Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
  8. "Emmanuel College Students' Union". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  9. "Emma MCR". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  10. "Emmanuel College Music Society". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  11. "Emmanuel College Art and Photography Society (ECAPS)". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
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