Christ's College Cambridge

Christ's College
founded in 1505

Situated in the heart of the city centre, Christ’s college is open throughout the year and open to visitors free of charge. Founded originally as ‘God’s House’ in 1437 by William Bingham, the college was later refounded by Lady Margaret Beaufort, grandmother to Henry VIII, in 1505. The college was renamed ‘Christ’s College’.

The college supports 93 fellows, 440 undergraduates and 270 graduates. Alumni include Charles Darwin, Sacha Baron Cohen, John Oliver and J. Robbery Oppenheimer.

Refoundation by Lady Margaret Beaufort

The original site for the college was surrendered to King Henry VI to allow the construction of King’s College Chapel which began in 1446. The College was refounded by Lady Margery Beaufort in 1505, who at the was one of the wealthiest women in Europe and mother to the king following the Tudor victory in 1485. 

Lady Marget Beaufort was introduced to Cambridge university through her confessor and close friend, St. John Fisher, who was executed in 1535 for refusing to accept Henry VIII as Supreme Head of The Church.  Margaret Beaufort also founded St.John’s college in 1511 and was the principal patron to rebuild Great St.Mary’s Church. 

The Beaufort coat of arms can be seen above the main gate of Christ College.

Christ’s College Gardens

Christ’s College has 4 courts, which can be visited free of charge when open. 

First Court is the oldest part of the college and dates back to its foundation in 1505. It has the only circular lawn out of all 31 colleges. The Second Court has formal lawns and fellow buildings which date back to 1640. Third Court contains a collection of Irises and salviass, which began in 1946. 

Darwin Garden was added in 2009 to celebrate the century of Charles Darwin. The garden contains a statue of a young Charles Darwin and a selection of plants that Darwin would have encountered during his voyage on the HMS Beagle.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was an English Naturalist and author of the revolutionary work on biological evolution, On the Origin of Species, published in 1859. One of the most famous alumni to graduate from Cambridge university, Darwin was admitted to Christ College on the 15th of October 1827, where he studied to become a clergyman as his father had intended. 

Darwin graduated in 1831, but rather than join a parish, he embarked upon a 5 year voyage on the HMS Beagle. During this time, Darwin collected specimens and began to develop his theory of natural selection. Following his return, he stayed for a brief time on Fitzwilliam street to organise his specimen collection, before moving to London in 1837 to publish his geological and biological findings. 

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