Christmas Course 2021
|Venue||Jesus College, Cambridge|
About the course
Come and sing with us at Christmas! This is a special course with special music!
We are delighted that Jesus College, Cambridge have generously allowed us to host our course at this college.
This Christmas, we will be singing a range of festive music to lift the spirits. More details on repertoire will be shared soon.
About the venue
Jesus College is one of the larger colleges in Cambridge, but until the late 19th century it was one of the smallest and poorest.
Its origins lie 400 years earlier, when John Alcock, Bishop of Ely, decided to convert a derelict nunnery on the eastern edge of Cambridge into a community for graduate priests studying in the University.
It was 20 years until his plans were realised, and until the 1560s there were never more than six or seven priests (the first Fellows). But there was also a free grammar school for the choristers or choirmen serving the College’s Chapel, as well as for others from the town and surrounding villages.
For the 300 years from 1560 to 1860 Jesus College was primarily a training college for Church of England clergy. It was strengthened in 1671 by a major gift from Tobias Rustat. Until the end of the 17th century there were other students, but they rarely stayed long enough to get a degree, a qualification which was essential only for clergymen, schoolmasters, and church lawyers.
The College’s 19th century transformation was largely due to the energy and enterprise of Henry Arthur Morgan. Morgan was Tutor from 1863 to 1885 and then Master until his death in 1912. He recognised the growing demand for university education from the expanding Victorian professional and middle classes. Cambridge University, like Oxford, was slowly responding to this change by widening its curriculum and allowing more teaching posts to be held by men who weren’t part of the clergy.
Jesus College had spacious grounds and a strong reputation for sport. It was also growing richer thanks to the land inherited from the priory which was now in demand for railway developments and new construction. Morgan made the most of these assets and by 1871 he had quadrupled the number of students, and doubled the accommodation available for them. By 1881 there were seven times as many students as there had been 20 years earlier.
Jesus College is now a community of more than 1,000 members, including around 500 undergraduates, around 400 graduates and research associates, and over 100 Fellows, supported by more than 100 staff. Nearly all students live in the College or just a few hundred yards away, forming a close knit ‘village’ in the centre of Cambridge.
Jesus College Chapel is the oldest in Cambridge, and unique in that it was not originally designed as a college chapel. Instead, it existed for 350 years before the foundation of the College, and for half a century before the creation of the University.
It was originally a large Norman church dedicated to St Mary, which served the 12th century Benedictine convent of St Mary and St Radegund.
The church took about a century to build; begun in 1157 it was completed around 1245. At that time it was the largest church in Cambridge, about 58 metres in length and with similar proportions to a cathedral. It was built in the form of a cross, with aisles to the north and south of chancel and nave, and it had a high pitched roof with a belfry or steeple which was visible for miles around.
It served as the church of the parish of St Radegund which grew up around the convent — at that time a semi rural area located just outside the city of Cambridge.
When the College was founded in 1496 by Bishop John Alcock, extensive building work was needed to adapt the former convent church for its new use. Parts of the church were demolished and what was left was drastically modified. Alcock was an architect as well as a bishop and designed many of these alterations himself. The changes were intended to create a Chapel which was a more suitable size for a small community of scholars than the old church.
The 19th century saw major new restoration work on the Chapel, inspired by the new spirit of the Gothic revival. It was carried out between 1846 and 1849, and largely reversed the earlier repairs.
The leaders of this new restoration were the Rev’d John Gibson, then Dean of the College, and the Rev’d Osmond Fisher, a notable Victorian geologist. Gibson was responsible for issuing an appeal to old members of the College and was appointed treasurer of the restoration fund.
Their aim was to restore the ritual as well as the architecture of the Chapel, including the restoration of music to the Chapel services through the purchase of an organ and the reinstatement of the choir. The new organ was designed and purchased in 1849 by John Sutton, who served as the Chapel organist, instituted and ran a choir school in the College, and published a collection of anthems.
These repairs were carried out on the advice of the architect Augustus Pugin (famous for his work on the Houses of Parliament) who was a close friend of John Sutton and who had come to Cambridge to take the measurements for the organ chamber. On Sutton’s recommendation, the College decided to employ Pugin to direct the restoration of the Chapel.
Pugin removed both the 18th century plaster ceiling and Alcock’s low-pitched roof, which he replaced by a high pitched roof in a 13th century style. He also rebuilt the choir stalls and the eastern wall and removed Alcock’s Perpendicular east window, replacing it with three tall lancet windows; archaeological evidence had been unearthed in the course of the restoration that showed this was the original design. Pugin installed stained-glass windows of his own design in 1850 and the other windows were later glazed in the same style between 1850 and 1858.
Thanks to a generous gift, in 2006 a new organ by Kuhn of Switzerland was installed to replace the Mander of 1969. Worship services continue to take place at the Chapel daily during term time, in a living tradition of prayer stretching back to the 12th century.
|Jesus College, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, CB5 8BL|
|Cambridge (National Rail )|