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Clare College, Cambridge

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Background Information

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Colleges of the University of Cambridge

Clare College

Clare College
Named after Elizabeth de Clare
Established 1326
Previously named University Hall (1326-1338)
Clare Hall (1338-1856)
Admission Men and women
Master Prof. Tony Badger
Undergraduates 440
Graduates 210
Sister colleges Oriel College, Oxford
St Hugh's College, Oxford
Location Trinity Lane ( map)
Clare College heraldic shield: The Clare coat of arms is divided into two equal parts. On the left hand side there are the three chevrons of the de Clare family. On the other side of the shield is the Cross, the symbol of the Christian roots of the College.
College website
Union of Clare Students website
MCR website
Boat Club website
Clare Bridge, over the River Cam
Clare Bridge's missing wedge
The Scholars' Garden
Clare hosts an annual May Ball, during which the college is lavishly decorated.
Cambridge University, Clare College in Winter
Clare College, Cambridge University

Clare College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England.

The college was founded in 1326, making it the second-oldest surviving college of the University after Peterhouse. Clare is famous for its chapel choir and for its gardens on "the Backs" (the back of the colleges that overlook the River Cam). The current Master is Tony Badger, Paul Mellon Professor of American History.

Clare is consistently one of the most popular Cambridge colleges amongst prospective applicants. As of 2012, it had an endowment of around £65m.


The college was founded in 1326 by the university's Chancellor, Richard Badew, and was originally named University Hall. Providing maintenance for only two fellows, it soon hit financial hardship. In 1338, the college was refounded as Clare Hall by an endowment from Elizabeth de Clare, a granddaughter of Edward I, which provided for twenty fellows and ten students. The college was known as Clare Hall until 1856, when it changed its name to "Clare College". (A new " Clare Hall" was founded by Clare College as an exclusively postgraduate institution in 1966.)

Clare's Old Court, a Grade I listed building, frames King's College Chapel as the left border of one of the most celebrated architectural vistas in England. It was built between 1638 and 1715, with a long interruption for the English Civil War. The period spans the arrival of true classicism into the mainstream of British architecture, such that its progress can be traced in the marked differences between the oldest wing to the north, which still has vaulting and other features in the unbroken tradition of English Gothic, and the final southern block, which shows a fully articulated classic style. The college's chapel was built in 1763 and designed by Sir James Burrough, the Master of neighbouring Caius College. Its altarpiece is Annunciation by Cipriani.

Clare has a much-photographed bridge over the river which is the oldest of Cambridge's current bridges. Fourteen stone balls decorate it, one of which has a missing section. A number of apocryphal stories circulate concerning this - the one most commonly cited by members of college is that the original builder of the bridge was not paid the full amount for his work and so removed the segment to balance the difference in payment. A more likely explanation is that a wedge of stone cemented into the ball as part of a repair job became loose and fell out into the river.

Clare's bridge connects Old Court to Memorial Court, which was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and dedicated in 1926. A new court, Lerner Court, was opened in January 2009.

College life

Clare is known as a liberal and progressive college. In 1972 it became one of the three male Cambridge colleges that led the way in admitting female undergraduates. Clare continues in this tradition and has won praise for the transparency of its admissions process.

Clare is known as one of the most musical colleges in Cambridge. Its choir is internationally recognised and has performed all over the world. Many Clare students play instruments, and the college orchestra ( Clare College Music Society (CCMS)) is well known. Like most Cambridge colleges, Clare allows students to have a piano in their college rooms.

Clare Ents

As well as popular jazz and comedy nights, Clare is renowned for Clare Ents, a student night held every Friday in term time. The night is popular with students across the university and in the past it has hosted such acts as Tinie Tempah, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Chase and Status.


Clare's student newspaper, Clareification, won "Best University College Paper" in "The Cambridge Student" in 2005. Published by the Union of Clare Students, it comprises satirical articles mocking Cambridge traditions, reports on silly student antics, and college gossip in the "Clareifornication" column. It is often the subject of criticism by some staff for risqué and tasteless content, and was described by the Master, Professor Badger, as "an unholy cross between the Sun and Private Eye". On February 3, 2007, the college cut its funding to the paper following the publication of the guest-edited February 2 edition, retitled "Crucification". In addition to the paper's usual satirical attacks on Christianity, this edition also featured several articles which mocked Islam, and a reproduction of the cartoon illustrations of the prophet Mohammed which provoked international protest when they first appeared in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.

Academic performance

The undergraduates of Clare College have usually performed very well based on the results published in the Tompkins Table, placing Clare within the top ten colleges from 2000 to 2005. However, their performance in the following years (2006-9) demonstrated a poorer performance, leaving them in 12th in 2006 and dropping to 18th in 2009. Their 2010 performance (8th position) however showed an increase of 10 places over their previous years performance, and in 2011 they reached fourth place.

Entrance into Clare College is very competitive. Overall, Clare has approximately 5 applicants per place. Yet the high quality of applicants means that many of them are awarded places at other colleges through the Winter Pool. Of applicants in 2007, 151 were given offers by Clare, and a further 75 applicants were made offers at other Cambridge colleges.

Famous or notable alumni

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