Our bar and restaurant name is borrowed from a Persian emperor in a play by 16th century dramatist and Cambridge alumni Christopher Marlowe. The hotel features echoes of Cambridge’s old school charm. Christopher Marlowe was the son of a shoemaker in Canterbury and attended Kings School Canterbury as a boy and then came over to Corpus Christi, where he received his BA degree, in 1584.
Corpus Christi is one of the ancient colleges in the University of Cambridge, founded in 1352 by the Guilds of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today it is an active community of scholars and students spread across two campuses – their buildings in the heart of mediaeval Cambridge, and the vast postgraduate site at Leckhampton. Corpus is the sixth-oldest college in Cambridge. With around 250 undergraduates and 200 postgraduates, it also has the second smallest student body of the traditional colleges of the University.
The College is known to be one of the more academically successful colleges in the University of Cambridge. In the unofficial Tompkins Table, which divides the colleges by the class of degrees achieved by their undergraduates, Corpus’s 2012 position was 3rd, with 32.4% of its undergraduates gaining first-class results. Corpus ranks among the wealthiest of Cambridge colleges.
A must-see section of the college is of course The Corpus Clock. It is one of the newest and most extraordinary public monuments in Cambridge. It is a unique device for the measurement of time and is hypnotically stunning. The face of the clock is plated in pure gold and is made to simulate ripples. It was created by a series of explosions in a vacuum, hitting the hard metal into shape. The ripples relate to the Big Bang, the central impact which created the universe and the beginning of time. The clock has no hands or numerals, but displays the time by opening individual slits in the clock face backlit with blue LEDs. The slits are arranged in three concentric rings displaying hours, minutes, and seconds. The stand-out feature of the clock is a metal sculpture of an insect similar to a grasshopper or locust. They call this beast the Chronophage (time eater). It moves its mouth, looking like it is eating up the seconds as they pass. The hour is tolled by the sound of a chain hitting into a small wooden coffin hidden in the back of the clock.
Make sure next time you visit Cambridge you take a look at this fascinating and impressively beautiful college.
*Visitors are welcome to Corpus Christi College throughout the year. Please remember that the College is a living and working place.