After visiting a few colleges, I felt Emma
was the one in which I felt most welcome
Emily, 2nd Year
The Chapel windows were originally plain. The present stained glass, executed by the firm of Heaton, Butler, and Bayne, was completed in 1884 as part of the commemoration of the College's tercentenary.
Click on a window to get detailed descriptions of the figures depicted:
The History of the Windows
The actual designer was most probably Clement John Heaton the younger (1861-1940) but the general scheme of subjects was suggested by the Revd F.J.A.Hort (the celebrated New Testament scholar), Fellow of Emmanuel from 1872 to 1892. Though the scale is much smaller, the basic intention was similar to that of the windows in Trinity College chapel, planned a decade or so before by Hort's friends and colleagues there, Westcott and Lightfoot. The figures are chosen to illustrate the continuity of the history of the Church, and the special part played in it by members of the College.
Going from east to west, the first two windows on either side show theologians of the early and middle ages and of the English reformation (men, it is lightly said, who might have belonged to Emmanuel had it existed); the remaining four show theologians who actually were of Emmanuel. Those on the north side are men whose contributions were chiefly to the organisation of the Church and to systematic theology; those on the south to spiritual life and thought and to speculative theology. The plan exhibits a feeling for the Church as a unity less fashionable in the 1870s and 1880s than now: the Cambridge Platonists of the seventeenth century are to be seen as the legitimate heirs of Origen and Eriugena; the Catholic John Fisher and the Protestant Thomas Cranmer, both reformers, though in different ways, both martyrs, share a window.
St Augustine of Hippo c.334-430
Augustine was born in Tagaste in North Africa, the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother. Though he soon abandoned any original Christian leanings he became deeply interested in philosophy, and between 373 and 383 was a devotee of Manichaeism. Disillusioned at length with this, he went to Rome to teach rhetoric, and subsequently to Milan, where he came under the influence of the Bishop, St Ambrose. Gradually he veered from Platonism through neo-Platonism to Christianity, and was baptised in 387. Returning to Africa he formed a sort of monastic community at Tagaste. In 391, under pressure from his friends, he was ordained, and in 396 became Bishop of Hippo. He wrote voluminously, and his work has been immensely influential on all subsequent Christian philosophy. Both his own intellectual and spiritual development, and his need, as Bishop, to combat the various heresies of his time, led him to face and to overcome virtually all the major philosophical problems that can be incident to Christian belief and church life. The history of his age, which saw the collapse of Rome to the Goths, underlined the need for Christianity to be self-sufficient in its own spiritual strength as the City of God, and independent of temporal powers.
Augustine is shown holding his book De civitate dei (The City of God). Behind, the imperial Roman world is symbolised by a triumphal arch and three antique columns.
St Anselm c.1033-1109
Anselm was born at Aosta in Italy, but in 1059 went to the monastic school at Bec in Normandy, then under his fellow-countryman Lanfranc of Pavia. In 1078 Anselm became Abbot of Bee, and from time to time visited England, where Lanfranc was now Archbishop of Canterbury. At Lanfranc's death it was the general desire of the English clergy that Anselm should succeed him but until 1093 King William 11 refused his assent. Anselm continued to be involved in controversy with the king, nominally over the question of the recognition of Urban II as Pope, but in reality over the spiritual rights and authority of the church. As a theologian and philosopher Anselm is regarded as the most important figure between St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.
Anselm is shown holding his two books, Monologion and Proslogion, which are principally concerned with the philosophical arguments for the existence and nature of God. Behind him is seen part of Canterbury Cathedral as it would have appeared in his day.
Born at Alexandria, Origen was from an early age learned both in holy writ and in the philosophy and science of the Greeks. After his father's martyrdom under Severus, in 202, he became a teacher to help support the family, and was put in charge of the Alexandria school for Christian converts. He sold his non-Christian books in return for a small daily grant which kept him going so long as he lived frugally and went barefoot with the simplest of clothing. In early manhood his enthusiasm led him to mutilate himself as a safeguard against other lusts of the flesh.
Under the renewed persecutions in the reign of Caracalla he fled (A.D.215) to Caesarea in Palestine, and later settled there permanently. Saint Jerome reckoned Origen the greatest teacher of the Church after the Apostles. The effectiveness of his theological writing was doubtless in part due to his very thorough understanding of the Greek philosophy and culture of the ancient world within which Christianity had to live.
Origen is here represented holding his principal book, De principiis, a systematic exposition of Christian doctrine. In the background are the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - and a palm-tree to symbolise Caesarea.
John Eriugena c.825?-c.891
Otherwise known as JOHN SCOTUS, Eriugena was born in Ireland, as both his "surnames" imply. His fame rests upon his writings in philosophical theology. Early among these (c.857) was a work on predestination, in which Eriugena argued that predestination to evil was impossible, because it was incompatible with the unity of God and of his will. He also translated the books of mystical theology attributed to St Paul's Athenian convert Dionysius the Areopagite (see Acts xvii.34). These (actually datable about A.D. 5OO) aim at a synthesis between Christian dogma and neo-Platonic philosophy, an approach which is also apparent in Eriugena's most important work De divisione naturae. In it he teaches the unity of nature as proceeding from God, the first and only real being. Matter exists only as dependent on thought, and our thinking is the proof of our being (cf. Descartes, cogito, ergo sum). Reason is a manifestation of God to man.
Eriugena has been thought to be the John who came to England at the request of King Alfred the Great for teachers from Gaul. William of Malmesbury says he was little in person and of a merry wit.
Eriugena is shown here in the dress of an early Benedictine monk, holding his book De divisione naturae. Behind him, seen against the night-sky, are a tall narrow belfry tower and a Celtic monumental cross, characteristic of the Irish church of his time.
John Fisher 1459-1535
Fisher, born at Beverley in 1459, was educated at Michaelhouse, of which College he was chosen Master in 1497, before he was forty. In 1504 he was appointed Chancellor of the University, and also Bishop of Rochester. As a bishop, in an age when prelates were much given to pomp and even self-indulgence, he was widely respected and beloved for his simplicity of life and his generous benevolence. Though by nature conservative, he saw the good of the new academic approaches to biblical study and theology, and may be regarded as a "reformer before the Reformation". As confessor to the Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, fisher doubtless influenced her endowment of the Lady Margaret Preachership and Professorship of Divinity, and her foundation or re-foundation of two Colleges Christ's and St John's. Fisher was himself the first occupant of the Lady Margaret Chair, not long after held by the great Erasmus, whose residence in Cambridge was largely due to Fisher's patronage.
Fisher came into conflict with King Henry VIII over the divorce of Catharine of Aragon; nor was he happy with the Act of 1531 making Henry head of the Church in England, or the Act of Succession which made the issue of Anne Boleyn heirs to the throne; and the situation was not improved when the Pope recognised Fisher's merits by making him a Cardinal. He was confined in the Tower, and eventually beheaded on a charge of treason in 1535.
John Fisher was one of the most upright, godly, and learned men of his age. He was canonised by the Roman Church in 1936.
Fisher is here shown holding a model of Christ's College. In the background his work for the University is recalled by Great St Mary's Church (rebuilt in his time) and the Nova Capella (now the Regent House) which was the "Senate House" of his day. On the other side is the Tower of London, where he spent his last days.
Thomas Cranmer 1489-1556
Born in Nottinghamshire, Cranmer was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he became a Fellow. In 1532 he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and became a protagonist in the overthrow of papal supremacy in England, and apparently the king's instrument in his various marital manoeuvres to secure the succession. His Protestant tendencies found their fuller development under Edward VI, and he was principally responsible in the abolition of much Catholic ritual including the veneration of relics and images. Cranmer was also the principal compiler of the Book of Common Prayer of 1549 and 1552, which owes to him its impressive English style. With the Catholic reaction under Queen Mary, Cranmer was tried and sentenced for treason, but his life was spared for the time.
Subsequently however he was imprisoned and tried for heresy; a series of recantations (afterwards repudiated by him as written in fear) were of no avail, and he died courageously at the stake in 1556.
Cranmer is shown holding the 1549 Prayer Book. In the background are seen the gatehouse of Jesus College and part of the archiepiscopal residence of Lambeth Palace.
John Colet 1466-1519
Colet was the eldest son of a sometime Lord Mayor of London. He studied at Oxford, graduating M.A. in 1490, and there first came under the influence of the new trends in classical and theological studies. He travelled to Italy, where Greek studies were increasingly assigning to Plato the central position which had so long been Aristotle's, and seeking a new philosophy of Christianity through the neo-Platonism of Plotinus. Colet's own Greek studies seem to have been centred on the New Testament and the early fathers. He was much influenced by Origen and by the works at that time still ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite. Returning to Oxford about 1496 Colet rapidly became famous for his Latin lectures on the Epistles of St Paul, in expounding which he sought primarily the direct meaning for the original recipients of the letters, and so their significance for Christians of his own time. (A contemporary MS of his commentary on Corinthians is preserved in the College Library.)
In 1504 Colet was appointed Dean of St Paul's. The inheritance of his father's vast wealth enabled him in 1510 to re-found and endow St Paul's School, in which a re-thought approach to Latin teaching, together with Greek, was to go hand in hand with godliness as the educational basis for a revitalising of the Church in England. As a scholar Colet consorted on easy terms with Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, who were his friends; as a man he was noted for his ascetic and charitable life.
Colet is here shown holding a model of the school he founded (though a later building than the one actually erected by him!). In the background is seen the old St Paul's Cathedral.
William Tyndale c.1490-1535
Born "about the borders of Wales", Tyndale was educated first at Oxford (where he probably heard Colet lecture). Subsequently he moved to Cambridge, attracted, most likely, by the opportunities here for the study of Greek, which had begun under Erasmus. In 1522 he took orders, and was appointed tutor in a Gloucestershire family, a post which left him time for much preaching. He found the country clergy ignorant and uninspiring, and resolved to translate the New Testament into English as the most direct way of bringing true Christianity to the people. It was to a clerical opponent that he made the famous remark: "If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scripture than thou doest." The printing of his translation had to be carried out secretly in Germany (where he knew Luther), and when copies were smuggled into England the Bishops decreed that they be seized and burnt. Tyndale, to escape arrest, moved to Marburg, where he published (in 1528) his most important original work The obedience of a Christian man, which defended reformers against charges of encouraging disobedience to the civil power. It also insisted on the paramount authority of scripture in matters of doctrine. Thus work met with the approval of King Henry VIII; not so The Practyse of Prelates (1530), which included an attack on Wolsey's administration and on the king's divorce proceedings. By 1531 the king was demanding the surrender of Tyndale by the Emperor, on the charge that he was spreading sedition in England. For some time he found refuge in the English Merchants' house at Antwerp, but in 1535 he was betrayed and arrested, and executed (for heresy) in the following year.
Tyndale holds a quill pen, and his translation of the New Testament, the first English version printed. In the background is represented the scaffold on which he died.
Laurence Chaderton c.1536-1640
The first Master of Emmanuel, Chaderton was born about 1536, the son of a wealthy Roman Catholic gentleman of Oldham, Lancashire. He entered Christ's College in 1562, and was a Fellow from 1568 to 1577. During his time at Christ's he became a protestant, despite his father's threat to disinherit him. He was a good scholar, and much admired as a preacher. Though a Calvinist, he was moderate and tolerant, and while showing sympathy for the scruples of his more extreme brethren over such things as the use of the surplice and the sign of the cross, he himself regarded these as matters of indifference. Nor was he a separatist, but always staunchly loyal to the Church of England as by law established. In all respects he was an ideal choice as first master of the new Emmanuel College founded by Sir WaIter Mildmay in 1584. Under his headship the College flourished and grew rapidly. In 1622 he resigned office, on the grounds that he was getting old for the job, but survived until 1640, dying in his 103rd year. He was buried in the Old Chapel (now the Old Library), and his remains were later removed to the present building; his tombstone is in the floor just within the entrance from the ante-chapel.
Chaderton is shown holding a scroll inscribed: UT VERBUM DOMINI CURRAT ET GLORIFICETUR - "that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified" (2 Thessalonians iii.1), referring to his preaching, and the Founder's intention that the College should be a seminary of preaching clergy. In the background are seen the original chapel of the College and the dining hall.
John Harvard c.1610-1638
Harvard, the son of a Southwark butcher, entered Emmanuel in 1627. Two years after taking his M.A. he emigrated to America and was admitted a townsman of Charlestown, Massachusetts, in August 1637. It is not certain whether he was episcopally ordained before he left England, but it is known that he preached and ministered in the "First Church" at Charlestown. About a year after his arrival there he died of consumption, and bequeathed one half of his estate (about. £780) and his library of 320 volumes to the new college which had then recently been founded in New Town (later named Cambridge). Though not strictly the founder he was the first major benefactor of the college which since then has borne his name. He was by no means the only Emmanuel man among the many who sailed to New England in the 1630s in search of a more tolerant religious atmosphere, though his is doubtless the best known name among them. Their, and his, influence in the early growth of American society and culture cannot be easily overestimated.
No contemporary portrait of Harvard exists, and the picture in the window is based partly on likenesses of his contemporary John Milton. He holds a scroll inscribed: POPULUS QUI CREABITUR LAUDABIT DOMINUM - "a people which shall be created shall praise the Lord" (Psalm cii.18). At his feet stands an urn marked SAL GENTIUM - "the salt of the nations" (perhaps with an allusion to Matthew 5.13, "Ye are the salt of the earth"). In the background are the Harvard monument on the supposed site of his grave at Charlestown and a sailing ship such as that in which he would have crossed the Atlantic.
Benjamin Whichcote 1609-1683
Whichcote was born at Stoke in Shropshire in 1609, entered Emmanuel in 1626 and in due course was elected a Fellow. In 1643 he was presented to the College living of North Cadbury in Somerset, but a year later was appointed by the Parliament to be Provost of King's College, a post he retained until the Restoration. After subscribing to the Act of Uniformity he was appointed in 1662 to St Anne's, Blackfriars, and in 1668 to St Lawrence, Jewry. Whichcote was the leader of the group of theologians known as the Cambridge Platonists, a fundamental principle of whose beliefs was that the rational is not opposed to the spiritual, but rather represents the divine power working in man. Like Plato they believed that man could and should strive to become god-like; they believed in free-will, but also in Grace. Unlike the Calvinists, they stressed rather the love than the justice of God; and taught that true religion must show itself in an active Christian love. Whichcote's own goodwill and charitableness, in an age of much bitterness of theological controversy, were widely known and respected. He died in 1683.
Whichcote is shown holding a scroll inscribed: LUCERNA DOMINI SPIRITUS HOMINIS - "the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord" (Proverbs xx.27), a favourite text of the Cambridge Platonists. Behind are shown King's College, Cambridge, and the church of St Lawrence, Jewry, as it was rebuilt by Wren during Whichcote's incumbency.
Peter Sterry 1614-1672
Born in Surrey about 1614, Sterry entered Emmanuel in 1629 and was elected a Fellow in 1636. A distinguished theologian and preacher, he was one of the fourteen divines proposed in 1643 by the House of Lords for membership of the Westminster Assembly, the body set up by the long Parliament to reform the Church of England. From 1645 onwards he preached frequently to Parliament in St Margaret's, Westminster, and in 1649 was appointed one of Cromwell's personal Chaplains. After Cromwell's death he retired to Hackney, where he took pupils and devoted himself to writing. Among his more important works is his Discourse of the freedom of the will, printed posthumously in 1675. Several MS volumes of his unpublished meditations and discourses are preserved in the College library. Sterry is often grouped with the Cambridge Platonists, but though he was their friend and contemporary, and shared their reputation for tolerance and Christian charity in an age of religious acrimony, he differed from them about the freedom of the will, and was more of a mystic, influenced by the writing of Jacob Boehmen.
Sterry is shown holding a scroll inscribed: UT SIT DEUS OMNIA IN OMNIBUS - "that God may be all in all" (I Corinthians xv.28). In the background are depicted seventeenth-century Whitehall and St Margaret's Church, Westminster.
William Bedell 1571-1642
Born at Black Notley in Essex, Bedell entered Emmanuel in the first year of its existence (1584). A model of both scholarship and godliness, he was elected a fellow in 1592, was ordained in 1597, proceeded to his B.D. in 1599, and two years later relinquished his fellowship, in accordance with the Founder's statutes, to take up pastoral work. After serving a few years at Bury St Edmund's he was appointed chaplain to Sir Henry Wotton, English Ambassador at Venice (1607-1610). Venice was at the time under a Papal interdict, and consequently exploring the possibility of breaking wholly with Rome, perhaps even of association with the Church of England. Bedell, though remaining staunchly Protestant, gained much insight into Catholicism, and became an intimate friend of Fr Paolo Sarpi (in effect the religious spokesman of Venice) some of whose works he afterwards translated. He also furthered his Hebrew studies by consorting with the learned Jews of Venice, and through their chief Rabbi Leo acquired a valuable thirteenth century MS of the Hebrew Bible, later bequeathed to Emmanuel.
On his return, Bedell resumed parochial duties in Suffolk, until in 1627 he was appointed Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. There he did much to put the College's affairs in order, and revived instruction in the Irish language, as a means towards the training of an Irish-speaking clergy. Later, as Bishop of Kilmore at a time when ecclesiastical property was looked upon as spoil for the conquering English, and there was bitter antagonism between Protestant and Catholic, Bedell won the respect of both sides by his personal integrity and good will, and by his genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of the Irish.
During the rebellion of 1641, unlike many English bishops there, he remained at his post, and for a time was left unmolested. Later he was held hostage in the castle on Loch Uachtar, and did not long survive his release. At his funeral the local insurgents appeared with a drummer and a squad of musketeers - not to break up the ceremony, but to give him military honours. An Irish contemporary called him optimus Anglorum, "the best of the English". He encouraged and supervised a translation of the Old Testament which has remained the only Irish version for over 300 years.
Bedell is depicted holding a scroll reading: AEDIFICARE DESERTA SAECULORUM -"build the old waste places" (Isaiah lviii.12). In the background are the Piazzetta and Doge's palace at Venice, and the castle in Loch Uachtar. At his feet lie the three volumes of his big Hebrew Bible MS, now in the College Library.
William Sancroft 1617-1693
Sometime Master of Emmanuel and one of its greatest benefactors, Sancroft was born at Fressingfield in Suffolk. He entered Emmanuel in 1633, and was elected a Fellow in 1642. A year later came the Earl of Manchester's visitation of the Universities, and the ejection of sixty-five royalist fellows and heads of houses, including Richard Holdsworth, who had succeeded Sancroft's uncle as Master of Emmanuel in 1637. Sancroft, although a royalist, retained his fellowship till 1651, and ultimately anticipated ejection by voluntary withdrawal. In 1657 he took further evasive action and travelled abroad until the Restoration. His first appointment was as Chaplain to John Cosin, Bishop of Durham, whom he assisted in the editing of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. In 1662 he was appointed Master of Emmanuel, and though he left again within three years to become Dean of St Paul's, his plans for the College, especially the provision of a new chapel, were actively pursued. The year of the dedication of the new building (1677) saw also Sancroft's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury. The crucial events of his primacy centre on the year 1688, when King James II issued, without the authority of Parliament, his Declaration of Indulgence, offering religious and civic equality to Roman Catholics and Dissenters. Sancroft with six of his bishops protested to the king at this unconstitutional act, so leading to their imprisonment and trial for sedition. After the vacation of the throne by James, Sancroft, scrupulously conscientious as ever, felt unable to swear allegiance to William of Orange while the former king still lived. In February 1690 he was therefore officially deprived of the Archbishopric, and a year later left Lambeth to live in seclusion at Fressingfield until his death in 1693.
Sancroft is portrayed holding a scroll reading: MEMENTO DIERUM ANTIQUORUM - "Remember the days of old" (Psalm cxliii.5). Behind him are shown the College Chapel and the gatehouse of Lambeth Palace. His library is alluded to by the books that lie at his feet.
John Smith 1616-1652
Smith was a native of Achurch, near Oundle in Northamptonshire. He entered Emmanuel as a sizar in 1636, and was a pupil of Benjamin Whichcote, who also helped him financially in his student days. After graduating M.A. in 1644 he was "intruded" as a fellow of Queens', along with seven others from Emmanuel, "they having bine examined and approved by the Assembly of Divines sitting in Westminster.. .as fitt to be fellowes". Though thus favoured by Parliament as a Puritan he was not a political figure. He made a deep impression, both by his learning in theology and oriental languages and by his spirituality, among the Cambridge Platonists. He was a man of extreme modesty, and as a preacher able and ready to accommodate his language even to a rustic congregation. He died at the early age of thirty-five, of consumption, and was buried in the chapel of Queens' College, to which he bequeathed his library. The praise lavished on him by Simon Patrick (later Bishop of Ely) in his funeral sermon has been echoed by later readers of his Select Discourses (1660), published after his death by John Worthington. His writing was admired both for its depth of thought and its eloquence of style by S.T.Coleridge and by Matthew Arnold.
John Smith is here depicted holding a scroll inscribed: RENOVARI IN AGNITIONEM SECUNDUM IMAGINEM CREATOR IS - "renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col.iii.10). In the background to the left is shown the gate-tower of Queens' College, and to the right the Athenian Acropolis, to symbolise the background of Greek philosophy which infused the theology of the Cambridge Platonists.
William Law 1686-1761
Born at Kingscliffe, Northamptonshire, Law came to Emmanuel in 1705 and was elected a fellow in 1711. He was a deeply conscientious Jacobite, and is said always to have worn a ring with a portrait of the Old Pretender. After the accession of George I he declined the oath of allegiance and abjuration, which meant he could no longer hold a College fellowship, nor, though in holy orders, any ecclesiastical benefice. Between 1727 and 1737 he lived mainly at Putney, in the Gibbon family, where he was at first tutor to Edward Gibbon, the father of the historian. He left in that family "the reputation of a worthy and pious man, who believed all that he professed, and practised all that he enjoined". Later he retired to his native Kingscliffe, together with Miss Hester Gibbon and Mrs Archibald Hutcheson, to a life of seclusion and good works. His charity was denied to none, and he erected and endowed almshouses and schools in the village. For all his saintliness he might never have been known much beyond Kingscliffe, had he not been a writer of unusual distinction. His book A Serious Call to a devout and Holy Life is a classic of English devotional literature, and exerted an immense influence. It has been acutely suggested that its power and stimulus derive both from Law's sensitive understanding of human character, and (especially in his own time, the Age of Reason) from his method of representing the un-godly life as not merely sinful, but ridiculous, as a degradation of human intellect and potential excellence. In his other books he entered effectively into philosophical and religious controversies of the day, and in his later years was much influenced by the German mystic Jacob Boehmen. But it is the Serious Call which is his most enduring monument. Of it, Gibbon the historian wrote: "If he finds a spark of piety in his reader's mind he will soon kindle it to a flame"; Samuel Johnson declared it "the best piece of parenetick divinity"; and John and Charles Wesley acknowledged the impulse it gave at a formative period of their lives towards their later evangelical work.
Law is depicted holding a scroll inscribed: CREDITE IN LUCEM UT FILII LUCIS SITIS - "Believe in the light, that ye may become sons of light" (John xii.36). In the background, to the right, is seen Kingscliffe church, with part of the Hall Yard House where Law lived; and to the left the Petrikirche at Görlitz in Oberlausitz, near where Jacob Boehmen was born.