Founded 1348 by Edmund Gonville and Refounded 1557 by John Caius.
Originally Gonville Hall 1348-1351.
Sister College – Brasenose College Oxford. Men and Women –Undergraduates 500 Postgraduates 250.
Gonville and Caius was founded in 1348 as Gonville Hall, by the somewhat mysterious Edmund Gonville, Rector of Terrington St Clements, from the flatlands of Norfolk. There must have been more to Edmund than the records show, because it is doubtful a humble rector could have established a Cambridge college. There has been speculation that he was also a successful businessman with powerful connections, especially with William Bateman, the bishop of Norwich. The good bishop was executor to ...view middle of the document...
Physician injects much needed capital
By the 16th century the college was in need of a wealthy advocate to halt the decline and reinvigorate the college. Physician John Caius proved to be such a saviour in 1557, when he refounded the institution as Gonville and Caius. John injected much needed capital and made good the existing building stock, along with ambitious new structures in a mainly medieval style. He quickly became master and developed a reputation as being grumpy and quick tempered, insisting the college accept no one with a disability or who was Welsh. Oh yes, the learned man could be quite discriminatory as well as vain, insisting upon the Italian spelling of his name as Caius (English Keys). In his defence he had travelled extensively and studied medicine in Padua, Italy.
The college reflected the second founder’s background and soon became known for its excellence in medicine, a reputation it still has today. John Caius recorded as much information as possible about each of his students, even after they left the college. These records give a unique insight into contemporary life, confirming that many scholars were not from aristocratic backgrounds but good solid farming stock and merchants from East Anglia.
Three symbolic gates
Caius liked ceremony and symbolism and, as part of the reconstruction, he indulged himself by including some classical styles and flourishes, inspired by his studies in Renaissance Italy. Three gates were constructed to follow the progress of the students; The Gate of Humility was entered by new students, who would then pass through the Gate of Virtue every day during their studies. (This second gate was one of the first fully realised pieces of...