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Physwick Hostel, Cambridge

Physwick Hostel
Cambridge University
LocationTrinity Lane
FounderWilliam Fiswick
Sister collegeGonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Physwick or Fishwick[1] Hostel is a former constituent of the University of Cambridge located on the south side of the present Trinity Great Court,[2] between the Queen’s Gate and Trinity Street.[3] It was founded in 1393 when William Fiswick (also known as Fishwick or Physwick),[4] the first esquire or armiger bedel of the university,[3] bequeathed his Trinity Lane hall to Gonville Hall[5] (later Gonville and Caius College).[1]

Chambers and lodgings were added by William Revell, rector of Titchwell, Norfolk, in his own benefice. Members of the hostel and main hall were able to use these for pleasure or in sickness during recurrences of the Black Death in England.[4][6]

Physwick was far more populous than the main college Caius, usually between thirty and forty in number,[7] but at one point over 80 commoner members at once,[4] although it did not breed distinguished theologians, bishops and dignitaries.[8] Walter Hart, Bishop of Norwich (1446–1472), maintained 12 students at Physwick.[6] It did however maintain a reputation for many years, educating many eminent and learned men, some of whom were summoned to fill honourable positions in the parent college, others to hold offices of state.[7]

Physwick hostel features in several of Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew series books.

In 1467 Gonville Hall also acquired St Margaret's Hostel and then in 1481 rebuilt the two as a single, substantial complex with hall and gate tower.[1]

In 1546 Physwick and St Margaret's were merged into the new Trinity College by Henry VIII along with Michaelhouse, King’s Hall and five other hostels: Gregory’s, Ovyng’s, Catherine’s, Garratt, and Tyler’s.

Principals of Physwick Hostel

It was administered by two Principals, one exterior, the other interior, who managed the finances, and directed the studies. The former was appointed by the Master of Caius College, the latter elected by the students themselves. That the selection of one of the Principals should be made by those whom he was to instruct is without parallel in early university institutions.[7]

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (January 2013)
Principal Number Date(s) of Appointment Principal Exterior appointed by the Master of Caius College
/ Interior elected by the students
- 1500 & 1503 John Tanne[9] B.D. exterior
- 1509 (Godfrey) Aleyn (Alan)[9] MA interior
- 1509-11 Edward Crome[9] MA D.D. exterior
- 1512-13 Nicholas Shaxton[9] MA D.D. exterior
- 1513-15 Robert Butler (Boteler)[9] MA exterior
- 1518-19 Richard Hoare (Hoor)[9] MA exterior
- 1519-21 John Skipp[10] MA D.D. exterior
- 1521 Thomas Bacon[11] D.D. exterior
16 12 November 1533 John Caius[12][13] MD exterior
- 1537 Thomas Ocley[9] MA exterior
- undated, died 1551 William Filey[14] D.D. exterior
- undated, MA 1523 Thomas Bonenfant[15] exterior


  1. ^ a b c Christopher Nugent Lawrence Brooke. History of Gonville and Caius College. pp. 24
  2. ^ 1959. The colleges and halls: Trinity College, A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge., Victoria County History
  3. ^ a b The Project Gutenberg eBook of Cambridge
  4. ^ a b c Fuller, T., 2009. The history of the University of Cambridge from the conquest to the year 1634, Cambridge University Press, pages 110-112
  5. ^ Colleges.
  6. ^ a b british borough charters, page 203
  7. ^ a b c Clark, J.W., 1890. Cambridge; brief historical and descriptive notes
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Venn, J., 1897. Biographical history of gonville and caius college: 1849-1897. vol i..
  10. ^ Skipp, John.
  11. ^ John Venn. Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College. pp. 28-29
  12. ^ Caius [Keys, Kees], John. The Galileo Project
  13. ^ Humphrey Davy Rolleston, 1932, 2009. IX - John Caius, The Cambridge Medical School, Cambridge University Press, pages 190-198
  14. ^ Trinity College. Memorials of Cambridge Vol 2, page 262
  15. ^ Alumni cantabrigienses; a biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge (Volume pt 1 vol 1) online. Cambridge University Press, page 65
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Physwick Hostel, Cambridge
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