Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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Cambridge (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TL 44635 58498


College courts and gardens, laid out C16-C20.


Trinity Hall was founded in 1350 by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich, as a College of the Scholars of Holy Trinity, Norwich. Front Court was built gradually during the C14 (and refaced in stone in the mid C18), with the addition in the C16 of the library and the Master's Lodge (rebuilt mid C19), the latter overlooking the Fellows' Garden, laid out as a garden since at least the C16. Several additions were made to the college buildings during the later C19 and C20. The American author Henry James visited the college in 1878, and rhapsodised over the Fellows' Garden. The site remains (1998) in college use.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Trinity Hall lies at the centre of Cambridge, on flat ground on the east bank of the River Cam. The 1ha college is set within a group of city-centre colleges, bounded to the north by Garrett Hostel Lane, along part of which runs a 10m length of stone and brick wall (C16, listed grade II, probably the original wall built in 1545), and beyond this by Trinity College (qv). To the east the college is bounded by Trinity Lane and beyond this Gonville and Caius College, and to the south by Clare College (qv). To the west, beyond the river, the college gardens overlook The Backs, particularly Clare College Fellows' Garden, with views to the south-west, beyond Clare Bridge, over King's College Scholars' Piece, and north-west towards Trinity College grounds.

ENTRANCES, APPROACHES AND COURTS Trinity Hall is entered at its east end directly off Trinity Lane, beneath a classical archway in the east range of Front Court and through a short entrance passage into Front Court itself (C14, refaced in stone 1740s, listed grade I), which encloses four panels of lawn divided by two central cruciform stone and cobble paths. Passages through the north and south ranges lead to North Court (C20) and South Court (C19) respectively. A passage through a further classical archway in the centre of the west range opens onto the three-sided Library Court, bounded to the north by the C16 brick library (c 1584, listed grade I) and to the south by the Master's Lodge (C16, rebuilt A Salvin 1852, listed grade I) and adjacent buildings, enclosing a circle of lawn surrounded by paths.

The fourth, west side of the Library Court is largely open, giving onto an open lawn bounded to the north by the red-brick, Tudor-style Latham and Gatehouse Buildings (1890 and 1927 respectively, listed grade II). An archway through Gatehouse Building gives direct access to Garrett Hostel Lane to the north. The lawn, encircled by a perimeter path, is bounded to the west by a raised paved terrace (C20) with a brick retaining wall, with a low wall adjacent to the riverside and views west over the river into Clare College Fellows' Garden. To the south the lawn is bounded by the red-brick wall on a stone base separating this area from the Fellows' Garden to the south (C17, listed grade II).

Library Court, following the construction of the Library and Master's Lodge in the 1580s, was bounded to the west by the timber-framed Masters' Gallery, running along the top of a cloister. This allowed the Master direct, covered access between his Lodge and the Library (a small elevated doorway still exists in the south side of the Library to indicate the course of the gallery). A central opening in the cloister (Hamond, 1592; map of 1731 reproduced in Willis and Clark 1886) gave access to the 'Backside' area to the north (now the lawn overlooked by the Latham and Gatehouse Buildings) and the Fellows' Garden to the south.

GARDENS The Fellows' Garden lies at the south-west corner of the college, bounded to the north by the C17 dividing wall with the lawn beyond, to the east by the C19 Master's Lodge on the site of a C16 building, to the south by the dividing wall with Clare College Master's Garden, and to the west by a low wall above the river. From it there are views across the river to Clare College Fellows' Garden and south-west through Clare Bridge towards King's College. The Garden is entered in the north-east corner from Library Court via an elaborate mid C18 wrought-iron gate (removed from the Hall screen) supported by brick piers, with a short length of iron railing on a low brick wall to the north, connecting with the north boundary wall. The Garden is laid largely to lawn, with a gravel perimeter path, an herbaceous border along the north side, and a low grass terrace running up to the riverside wall. Two large horse chestnuts stand adjacent to the south wall. A paved terrace (C20) with a central rectangular pool lies adjacent to the Master's Lodge, reached from the house via a garden door in the west front above a short flight of stone steps.

The Fellows' Garden and the enclosed compartment to the north existed in the late C16 (Hamond, 1592), planted with trees and enclosed and separated by walls. Further gardens existed north of Front Court, also shown on later maps, now (1998) gone beneath North Court. In the late C17 (Loggan, 1688, 1690) the enclosure north of the Fellows' Garden contained perimeter trees around a lawn, and the Fellows' Garden was divided by a path running from west to east into two rectangular lawns enclosed by low hedges, with a perimeter path and a raised terrace walk along the riverside. A small building straddled the dividing wall between the open lawn and the Fellows' Garden, with access apparently from both; what might have been a privy stood at the south-west corner of the Fellows' Garden. By the early C18 (map of 1731 reproduced in Willis and Clark 1886) the north compartment was known as the Backside, containing perimeter trees, a broad path along the south side, and what appear to be two privy buildings adjacent to the river on the site of the present terrace. The Fellows' Garden (labelled the 'Felos Garden for Walking') was divided by two cruciform paths into four elaborate rectangles with steps up to the terrace at the west end, and seats at the north and south ends of the terrace.

The Garden was much adorned in the early C18. Yew hedges, planted in 1705, bordered the rectangular plots, and from 1710 horse chestnuts were planted along the boundary with Clare. An old summerhouse at the riverside was removed in 1708 and four leaden figures (of the Four Seasons) were set up on the retaining wall of the riverside terrace which was coped with Portland stone in 1735. In 1722 Nathaniel Lloyd presented four more figures for the garden terrace (Crawley 1976). All this, except the horse chestnuts and the coping, was removed c 100 years later, and replaced by 1830 with something very similar to the present layout (Baker, 1830), seen in greater detail on the late C19 OS map (1888), by which time the compartment to the north had gained something close to its current form with perimeter path and trees surrounding a lawn, retaining the privies by the river.


Loggan, Cantabrigia Illustrata (1690) H James, English Vignettes (1879) [reprinted in English Hours (1905), p 203] R Willis and J W Clark, Architectural History of the University of Cambridge 4, (1886) Architectural Review 50, no 601(January 1947), pp 13-18 Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire III, (1959), pp 362-8 N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire (1970), pp 178-82 C Crawley, Trinity Hall ... 1350-1975 /1976) R Gray, Cambridge Colleges (1984), pp 65-7 M Batey, The Historic Gardens of Oxford and Cambridge (1989), pp 21, 36, 75

Maps Lyne, Map of Cambridge, 1574 Hamond, Map of Cambridge, 1592 Loggan, Map of Cambridge, 1688 (from Cantabrigia Illustrata, 1690) Custance, Map of Cambridge, 1798 Baker, Map of Cambridge, 1830 Copy of an old plan in Clare College Treasury showing layout of Fellows' and Master's gardens before C17 rebuilding (in Willis and Clark 1886)

OS 25" to 1 mile: 3rd edition published 1925 OS 1:500: 1st edition published 1888

Description written: February 1998 Register Inspector: SR Edited: January 2001


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing