Founded 1473 by Robert Wodelarke, Provost of King’s College.
Probably named after Saint Catharine of Alexandria.
Previously known as Katharine Hall (1473-1860).
Sister College – Worcester College Oxford.
St Catharine’s is universally referred to as ‘Catz’ and is just a two-minute walk from the market place. Facing Trumpington Street to the east, it has Corpus Christi directly opposite. To the north it joins King’s College and sits in front of Queens’ to the west. Indeed, in the past it rented land from Queens’, which it finally purchased when both parties got fed up of renegotiating the lease.
‘Catz’ enjoys an excellent academic reputation, coupled with a fine sporting tradition that has seen it provide several members of the university rowing team. In the 1970’s the college built an off-site, modern accommodation block known as St Chad’s in which the rooms are octagonal, to echo the shape of the college crest – a Catharine wheel. St. Catharine’s educates both men and women with 220 postgraduates and 436 undergraduates. Women were first admitted in 1979. The admissions criteria selects students solely on academic potential regardless of educational background. It is important to note that some Oxbridge colleges insist on ‘developed academic ability’, implying that raw potential is not enough.
Three fellows at foundation
Although the college was founded on St Catharine’s day in 1473 by the provost of King’s College, Robert Wodelarke, he had started planning the institution as early as 1459. He began to acquire land that was to drain his personal wealth and arouse suspicions that he was diverting money from King’s. His ambition had to be scaled back to just three fellows who were required to study theology and phil...
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...ving rise to the expression ‘Hobson’s choice’ meaning no choice at all.
In 1860 the college adopted its current name and in 1880 moves were made for a merger with King’s College, which seemed to be beneficial to both neighbours, with King’s needing more room and St Catharine’s needing more financial stability. The proposal met with substantial opposition that resulted in the plans being dropped. In 2006 the first woman was appointed as master of the college. St Catharine’s has been awarded ‘Fair Trade’ status.
Although not the richest college in Cambridge, ‘Catz’ is now sufficiently endowed to offer funds to assist needy students. Former students included broadcaster and tough political interviewer Jeremy Paxman and actress Emma Thompson. Jenny Fray was the first female captain with British Airways and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed became the fifth President of India.