Robinson College, Cambridge


On Thursday 26 January we had a Cambridge day. My wife’s book-buying odyssey started in Waterstone’s (I escaped to the café), and continued to Heffer’s. Then we had a lunch break. Julie went back to Heffer’s and I went for a walk. I cut through King’s College, Clare Memorial Court, past the University Library, instead turned down Burrell’s Walk and crossed Grange Road to enter Robinson College.

Robinson College – website – is a new foundation he types, then realises that 1977 is hardly “new”. Her Majesty opened the College on 29 May 1981, and Julie and I were in the crowd watching. (We were at Selwyn, which is the next college along Grange Road).

I remembered Robinson as a very red brick place, now the bricks have mellowed. The architects were a Glasgow firm, Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. The first undergraduates arrived in 1980 – that was a good year. The man who gave the money did not go to the opening.

I remember my mum telling me that David Robinson had made his fortune in “radio rentals”. Reading about him I find out he had a TV and radio business, then saw the impact Her Majesty’s Coronation made, and started his rental business. My mother did not mention that he also made a fortune as a racehorse owner … mum would not have approved. He used his money wisely – including this Cambridge College, the Rosie Maternity Hospital (named after his mother – our Theo was born and well cared for there), and large donations to Papworth Hospital (Gareth was under their care for a while). Thank you. He is remembered in the Chapel.

I think I had only been in the Chapel once – indeed I haven’t been in the College that much. I remembered the lovely windows. There is a little on the College website about the chapel, a music list and a few sermons, but nothing about the choir – I then found their own website not linked to the main one! There is a choir video on youtube.

The windows are by John Piper. I can find some interesting articles about him, but nothing that really covers these windows. The articles are here and here.

You can find better photos on the web. I remember it being commented on that you can only see the full light of the sun when you go forward to receive Communion.

The other Piper window is in a side chapel, which is being used as a storage area. I like the window, but was not impressed at the level of care.

I enjoyed my visit – no tourists get out this far. The Gardens are supposed to be rather beautiful – I’ll come back later in the year.Julie was still in Heffer’s …


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One Response to Robinson College, Cambridge

  1. Gordon Ridley says:

    I listened to the Robinson College choir singing Tallis and Byrd. Most enjoyable. Some beautiful pictures too. Thank you.

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