Gonville & Caius College, CAMBRIDGE

Goniville and Caius

founded in 1348

Founded in 1348 as Gonville Hall, Goniville and Caius is the Fourth oldest college in the University of Cambridge. Initially founded by Edmund Gonvile who acquired his wealth as a member of the Church, serving as rector of Suffolk, Rushford and Terrington St. Clement.


Three years after the foundation of the college, Edmund Gonville passed away, leaving the college in a state of misfortune. Fortunately, the college was rescued by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich, who had founded Trinity Hall college one year prior, in 1350. Gonvilles primary aim was to support twenty scholars in the study of theology and the arts, however  Bateman changed the college statues to focus on the study of canon and civil law.  

Following further misfortune and a decline in college funds, the college was refounded in 1557 by John Caius, a former student, who had achieved success and wealth whilst working in the City of London as a medical practitioner, serving as a physician for Edward VI and Mary I. Cauis renamed the college to Gonville and Caius and was elected to college Master in 1558.

College Court & The Three Gates

The oldest surviving building within Gonville and Caius was built in 1353. In 1393, Old Hall and the Chapel were added. The College chapel is the oldest continually used chapel out of all Oxbridge colleges. Following the refoundation of the college, John Cauis began construction of Caius Court in 1564.

Cauis also added three gates, intended to symbolise the path of academic life for those studying within the college.

The first gate is known as The Gate of Humility. Located near the porters lodges, it represents students’ humility as they first enter the college to begin their academic journey. The second gate, which is most often used during day to day life, is known as The Gate of Virtue. This gate represents the virtuous path the students are on as they continue with their studies. The final gate is known as The Gate of Honour. Reserved for alumni and undergrads as they pass through the gate to Senate House, in order to receive their diplomas and graduate from the college.

Gonville and Caius Sundial 

In 1963, a modern set of dials were installed above the Gate of Honour to celebrate 400 years since the foundation by John Cauis. Six dials, placed around the hexagonal tower, were replaced with porcelain enamel. The original dials had been in place since 1557. The new dials were designed by two members of the college – Dr. Message and Dr. Powel.


Initially a college for Theology, then cannon and civil law, Gonvile and Cauis has since developed a strong reputation of medicine, thanks in no small part to the works of college alumni, William Harvey, a statue of whom can be seen outside the college walls. 

William Harvey was an English physician, and the first person to understand and demonstrate the role of the heart in the circulation system and the properties of blood. Harvey joined Gonville and Caius in 1593, graduating with a BA in Arts in 1597, before studying medicine in Italy. Harvey became the college master upon his return from Italy and published his first work, De Motu Cordis, in 1628, in which he demonstrates how blood flows through the heart in a closed system, going against the common belief that blood was consumed by the body and continually produced. 

Alumni also include Sir James Chadwich, who discord penicillin;Francis Crick, who co-discovered the structure of DNA; Comedian, Jimmy Carr and the inventor of the Venn Diagram, John Venn.

Gonville and Cauis was also the college of Stehpen Hawking, where he taught for 52-years. Following his work on black holes, He was first elected an Official Fellowship in 1969 for “exceptional distinction in research” and later promoted to Professorship within the university in 1977.

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15 February 2023

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15 February 2023

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