Colleges: Buckingham College

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1948.

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'Colleges: Buckingham College', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 2, ed. L F Salzman( London, 1948), British History Online [accessed 18 July 2024].

'Colleges: Buckingham College', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 2. Edited by L F Salzman( London, 1948), British History Online, accessed July 18, 2024,

"Colleges: Buckingham College". A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 2. Ed. L F Salzman(London, 1948), , British History Online. Web. 18 July 2024.

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By the Constitutions of Pope Benedict XII issued in 1337 every Benedictine monastery was bound to send to a studium generale or university one monk for every twenty members of their convent. (fn. 1) In England the two universities were Oxford and Cambridge, (fn. 2) and one immediate result of this order seems to have been the purchase by John Crauden, Prior of Ely, of a house in Cambridge which he converted into a hostel for monks of Ely studying at the University. (fn. 3) At a General Chapter of the Order in 1423 John de Bardeney, Prior of the Benedictine students at Cambridge, urged that a reasonable sum should be granted towards the support of the students and that, with the king's permission, a place should be acquired for an hospitium religiosum. (fn. 4) The idea was favourably received, but nothing was done about it, and at the chapter held in 1426 John Sudbury, then prior of the students, emphasized the inconvenience of the monastic students being scattered in lay hostels and stressed the necessity of a common hostel for them. (fn. 5) Steps were accordingly taken, and on 7 July 1428 licence was given for the Abbot of Crowland and certain trustees to acquire 2 messuages in the parish of St. Giles, held of the king in burgage and valued at 46s. 8d., where Benedictines studying Canon Law and Theology might dwell together. (fn. 6) These messuages were 'lez pondyards', for which the Abbot of Crowland paid 18d. to the town treasurer in 1432. (fn. 7)

The community housed in this hostel was probably always small, as most monasteries seem to have sent their scholars to Oxford, (fn. 8) and of those that went to Cambridge some entered the colleges of Trinity Hall and Gonville Hall. (fn. 9) John of Wisbech, Abbot of Crowland (1370-6), is recorded to have built rooms for the students from his own abbey, (fn. 10) and the predominance of this house is shown by the description of the head of the hostel in 1492 as Richard Cambrygge, prior monachorum Crolandie. (fn. 11) In a deed of 1472 the house is mentioned as 'the Hostel called Monkis place'; (fn. 12) but in 1483 the Abbot of Crowland owed 14d. for the hostel called 'Bokynham college'. (fn. 13) The title Buckingham College, which continued to be used after this date, is assumed to derive from Henry, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1460–83), or possibly from his grandfather Humphrey, 1st Duke, in commemoration of his benefactions; (fn. 14) but what those benefactions were and why they were made to this community is entirely unknown.

Buckingham College was one of the colleges in which Thomas Cromwell ordered in 1535 that daily lectures in Latin and Greek should be given. (fn. 15) The prior of the college in that year is alleged to have been Dr. Henry Holbeach, or Rands, monk of Crowland, who became Prior of Worcester in 1536 and later Bishop of Lincoln. (fn. 16) With the dissolution of the monasteries the college ceased to exist, and on 3 April 1542 the king granted the site and buildings of Buckingham College, with two gardens containing ponds, called 'two pounde yardes', to Lord Chancellor Audley for the establishment of his new foundation, the College of St. Mary Magdalene. (fn. 17)


  • 1. Wilkins, Concilia, ii, 595–9.
  • 2. Cambridge had obtained papal recognition in 1318: Cal. Papal Letters, ii, 172.
  • 3. See above, p. 207.
  • 4. Wilkins, op. cit. iii, 424.
  • 5. Ibid. 468.
  • 6. Cal. Pat. 1422–9, p. 475.
  • 7. Cooper, Annals, i, 184.
  • 8. Anthony Wood, City of Oxford (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), ii, 255. He estimates that three-quarters of the monasteries sent to Oxford.
  • 9. Norwich Cathedral Priory did not send scholars to Cambridge until late in the 15th century (H. W. Saunders, Rolls of Norwich Cath. Priory, 184), and then they seem always to have gone to Gonville Hall: J. Venn, Gonville and Caius College, i, pp. xvi-xvii, 14–27.
  • 10. V.C.H. Lincs. ii, 116.
  • 11. Grace Book B, i, 39.
  • 12. A. Gray, Hist of St. Radegund's, p. 126.
  • 13. Cooper, Annals, i, 227.
  • 14. Anthony Wood (loc. cit.) attributes the name to its having been 'reaedified in the r. of Henry VIII (1519) by Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham'.
  • 15. Cooper, Annals, i, 375.
  • 16. Cooper, Athenae Cant. i, 105; Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 17. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 283 (9).