Clare College is one of the most scenic in Cambridge and graduates have the right to get married in the gardens here. This is the oldest college we’ll pass on the river and the second oldest at the university. The oldest is one Peterhouse, which sadly isn’t on the river.
The history of Clare goes right back to 1326. It was founded by Richard De Badew under the name University Hall. First, Clare College was a very poor college and took on Elizabeth De Clare as patron in 1338.
Elizabeth, the unlucky lady
Elizabeth De Clare was a very wealthy but very unlucky lady. She was married off at just twelve years old to the richest man in England… but he died very shortly after the wedding. But she did find a second husband, also a very wealthy man… but he also died quite shortly after the wedding. But she did find a third husband just as rich and just as well connected as the last two. But sadly he also succumbed to food poisoning quite shortly after the wedding.
The College’s fundamental ethos remains remarkably enlightened in it’s attitude to learning and university education in general. From it’s inception in their statutes has guided the college for nearly seven centuries: ‘the knowledge of letters … when it hath been found, it sendeth forth its students, who have tasted of its sweetness, fit and proper members in God’s Church and the State, to rise to diverse heights, according to the claim of their deserts.’
During the second half of the nineteenth century the Master was Edward Atkinson (1856-1915), whose tenure of the mastership was one of the longest on record. Various adminstrative changes were made under his guidance. The name of the college was changed from ‘Clare Hall’ to ‘Clare’.