Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

In many ways the crowning glory of Cambridge, King's College Chapel was started by Henry VI who laid the first stone here at the age of 19 in 1441. He had recently founded a College at Eton and wanted to create an even greater seat of learning at Cambridge.

At both colleges Henry seemed most concerned to build impressive Chapels. That at Eton was never fully completed, but King's would be more fortunate. In 1461 Henry was taken prisoner during the Wars of the Roses. Immediately this happened workmen downed tools at King's and did not return. Henry was murdered ten years later. The new King, Edward IV, did very little to complete the work and it was left to that misunderstood King, Richard III, to order construction to begin "with all possible despatch".

By the end of Richard's short reign the first six bays of the Chapel were completed - somewhere just over half. After his death at Bosworth it was left to the Tudors to complete the work.

Henry VII attempted to associate himself with his forebear Henry VI by starting work on the Chapel in 1508 - however, he died the next year and it is Henry VIII who finally completed the work in 1512.

The external structure of the College was now complete and Henry oversaw the interiors during the next 20 years. These were then removed by his son, replaced by his eldest daughter, altered by his youngest daughter and eventually removed by Oliver Cromwell. What we see today is the best reproduction of the original Tudor work that scholars in the Victorian period could manage.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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