12 August 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
75, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

The chapel in Gonville and Caius College claims to be the oldest purpose-built college chapel in Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme this week is seven college chapels in Cambridge, and my photographs this morning (12 August 2021) are from Gonville and Caius College.

Gonville and Caius College dates from Gonville Hall, founded in 1348 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The chapel in Gonville and Caius College claims to be the oldest purpose-built college chapel in Cambridge that is still in use. The core of its walls dates from ca 1390 and every century since has contributed something to the building.

Gonville and Caius (pronounced “Keys”) is the fourth oldest college in Cambridge. It is said to own or have rights to much of the land in Cambridge, and several streets, such as Harvey Road, Glisson Road and Gresham Road, are named after alumni.

Gonville Hall was founded in 1348 and dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Edmund Gonville. A permanent licence to celebrate the Divine Offices was granted by Pope Boniface IX in 1393, when the chapel was first completed.

The first Master was John Colton, or John of Tyrington. He was born in Terrington St Clement in Norfolk ca 1320, and began his career working for William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich. Some sources say he had a degree in theology from the University of Cambridge, and that in 1348 he received a degree of Doctor of Canon Law (DCL) when he became the first ever Master of the new Gonville Hall.

John Colton first came to Ireland as Treasurer, in 1373, and became Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral the following year, although the Patent Roll shows he was still only a deacon. Colton was also Vicar of Saint Mary’s, Wood Street, London, and in 1377 he was also appointed a Prebendary of York Minster, although he appears to have held that office for only a year.

He was Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1379-1382, and became Archbishop of Armagh in 1383. He accompanied the Justiciar of Ireland, Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, on an expedition to Cork in 1381. Mortimer died on that expedition and Colton briefly replaced him as Justiciar.

Colton is remembered for writing or commissioning the Visitation of Derry, although the actual author was probably his secretary, Richard Kenmore. This is an account of his ten-day tour of the Diocese of Derry when the see was vacant.

Colton was busy as archbishop, reconsecrating churches and graveyards, settling a bitter property dispute and hearing matrimonial causes. His most colourful action may have been his injunction to the Abbot of Derry instructing him to refrain from cohabitating with his mistress ‘or any other woman.’

Archbishop Colton died in Drogheda on 27 April 1404 and was buried in Saint Peter’s Church, Drogheda. He was described as ‘a man of great talent and activity, of high reputation for virtue and learning, dear to all ranks of people for his affability and sweetness of temper.’

The college was re-founded as Gonville and Caius College In 1557-1558 by Dr John Caius with by a charter from Philip and Mary.

The original chapel was extended in 1637, and a fund was opened in 1716 for its repair and improvement. The stone facing on the exterior walls dates from this period and from 1870, when the east end was substantially rebuilt in Byzantine style and the whole building was extensively refurbished by Alfred Waterhouse. The Byzantine style of the apse contrasts with the rest of the chapel.

The organ gallery was once the Master’s private oratory. The admission of a Master or of Fellows or Scholars always takes place in the Chapel.

Charles Wood was born in Armagh in 1866 and studied composition under Charles Villiers Stanford before going on to study music in Cambridge. He became an organ scholar at Gonville and Caius College in 1889, became organist in 1891, and was elected a Fellow in 1894, the first fellow in music to be elected by a Cambridge college.

He succeeded Stanford as Professor of Music in Cambridge in 1924, but died two years later in 1926. His students included some of the great composers of the 20th century, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Michael Tippett and Thomas Beecham.

As for Archbishop Colton, his statue, with the angel holding his coat-of-arms stands as Archbishop of Armagh, can be seen on the side of Saint Michael’s Court, owned by Gonville and Caius. Saint Michael’s Court stands opposite the main college building and Trinity Lane on the corner of Rose Crescent and Trinity Street, once the High Street of Cambridge, on land surrounding Saint Michael’s Church.

Saint Michael’s Court was built in 1903 by the architect Aston Webb, and was completed in the 1930s.

Gonville and Caius College is the fourth oldest college in Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 18: 21 to 19: 1 (NRSVA):

Matthew 18: 21 - 19: 1 21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29 Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’

1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

Archbishop John Colton and an angel with the coat-of-arms of Armagh on the side of Saint Michael’s Court in Trinity Street, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (12 August 2021, International Youth Day) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for young people across the world. May we listen to their concerns and ideas, as they face an uncertain and challenging future.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Gate of Honour at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Tree Court is the largest of the Old Courts … it is so named because John Caius planted an avenue of trees there (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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