St Edmund’s College, Cambridge

The origins of St Edmund’s College lie in the repeal of the Test Act in 1871, permitting Jewish, Non-Conformist and Roman Catholic scholars to return to the University of Cambridge for the first time since the religious revolution of the sixteenth century. The lifting of this exclusion led to the formation of a small community of Catholic students under the supervision of Fr Edmond Nolan, a former Vice-President of St Edmund’s College at Ware, Hertfordshire. The group of four students settled in Cambridge on 23 April 1896, moving to the former Ayerst Hostel, the site of the present Norfolk Building, on 2 November of that year. Known as St Edmund’s House, the new academic institution was initially a lodging house for students who were matriculated at the different Colleges in the University, and later was recognised as a House of Residence.

St Edmund’s house was co-founded by Henry Fitzalan Howard, the 15th Duke of Norfolk and Baron Anatole von Hügel, Curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Mgr Bernard Ward, the President of St Edmund’s College, Ware, the seminary for the archdiocese of Westminster, supported the initiative by sending three of the first four students, all of whom were studying for the priesthood. Within a few years most St Edmund’s House students had already been ordained to the priesthood before coming into residence as members of the University. They read a range of degrees to equip them for posts in grammar schools and universities.

The Archive stores, preserves, and provides access to records that document the history of the College.  The records of the first nine Masters of St Edmund’s House [EDAR 1/0 – 1/9] form the core archive of the first eighty years of the College’s history. The Archive also contains minutes of its governing bodies, records of early clubs and societies, College publications, photographs from the earliest days of the College, and some personal papers of a number of St Edmund’s members. Some records acquired from external sources predate the date of the foundation of St Edmund’s.

The Archive’s full catalogue can be found here

Archivist: Ms Alexandra Browne


Please note that the Archive is only staffed one day a week, so there may be some delay in responding to your enquiry.