11th November 1324. From College Chapel to Cafe.

Today in 1324 Hervey de Stainton (Stanton) priest, Rector of Dereham, Norfolk (1) obtained the properties of Adam de Trumpington, Rector of Buckland, for his college of Michael House at Cambridge.

The college originally of one Master and four fellows, assigned a house in Milne Street, was founded by royal license for scholars in Holy Orders and St. Michael’s Church, was appointed as a place for divine service.

De Stainton suggested to the Bishop of Ely that the Master and fellows could also provide worship for the local parish since they used the church as their chapel. So it was on 18th March 1324/5, that the first vicar, Walter de Buxton was inducted.

Sadly all that remains today of Michael House, is the much restored chapel, which doubled as a parish church, with its large chancel for those medieval scholars, and the smaller nave used by the parish. The south chapel was named for de Stainton. The parish united with Great St. Mary’s in 1908: the church is now a restaurant and exhibition centre.


1575 map

1575 map showing King’s Hall at top left and Michael House, of which nothing above ground remains, top right.

Bishop John Fisher was at Michael House in 1484, and Master between 1497-1505, as well as being Chancellor of the University, though to meet a sad end under Henry VIII.(2)

By the time of the Henry VIII’s monastic dissolution, Michael House had a large annual income, for those times, in excess of £140, some £50 higher than St Peter’s Monastery at Westminster (Abbey): Henry already had his eyes on such places.

It was thus a precarious time for religious houses, and none was more in fear than the wealthy religious institutions of Oxford and Cambridge, especially so when the King passed legislation which allowed him to confiscate the  property of any college.

The University authorities, not without influence, however, pleaded with Henry’s last wife, Catherine Parr to persuade her husband to create a new college, but Henry unwilling to commit Crown funds, dissolved and combined Michael House and King’s Hall, along with seven hostels: Physwick (formerly part of Gonville and Caius College), Gregory’s, Ovyng’s, Catherine’s, Garratt, Margaret’s and Tyler’s. The result was Henry’s, Trinity College (1547).(3)

The University was safe!

(1) De Stainton was also Rector of  North Creed, Yorkshire, Canon of Wells and Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Chief Justice (Chief Justice of the Pleas) of England, a very wealthy and influential person.

Though King’s Hall was established in 1317 by Edward II to provided Chancery clerks for his administration, it didn’t acquire premises until its re-foundation by Edward III in 1336/7. So Michael House could be construed as the second actual college building to Peterhouse.

(2) ) St John Fisher was an early catholic bishop of Rochester and theologian. He was executed for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England, for which stance he was made cardinal and later saint by the Catholic Church..

(3 The effigy of Henry VIII appears above Trinity College’s, Great Gate.

Ref: druidic.org/cambridgechurches.

Ref: commons.wikimedia.org/cambridge_1575_college_trinity_college.

Ref: History of the University of Cambridge, its Colleges and Halls.William Combe, Frederic Shoberl, Google Books.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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