King’s College

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This is the most famous and most visited college. I love the architecture, it is big and exalting. There are long queues to the televised ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ on Christmas Eve.

It was founded by Henry VI (who also founded Eton College). However the War of the Roses and lack of money meant that it was not finished until Henry VIIIs reign. You can see the difference in light and dark stone on the chapel’s side, where work had to stop and start.

King’s College Chapel is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Britain. It has 26 soaring stained glass windows and a Rubens painting ‘Adoration of the Magi’ behind the chapel altar.

Members of the college originally came only from Eton. They did not have to pass their BA degree to become a fellow. All those not studying astronomy, law or medicine had to take Holy Orders and become priests, or be ejected by the college. In 1851 these rules were changed, and it now often has the highest proportion of students from state schools.

James Gibbs completed the courtyard in 1724. Around 130,000 books are held in the library. Alan Turing (mathematician), John Keynes (economist) and E. M. Forster (novelist) were all students here.

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