Document of the Term: College Stables

Friday 8 July 2016

The need for an undergraduate or Fellow to have a horse in College today is very low, but back in the 19th century a stable to house horses would have been essential for all Colleges. The construction in 1874 of a new Master's Lodge for the College on the corner of Silver Street and Queens' Lane, gave the College the opportunity to build more stables and also latterly a swimming pool. The new stables were located on the right hand side of the back entrance to College on Silver Street, next to what is today Mr Polito's barber's shop. Prior to being stables, the area had been occupied by dwelling houses, including one belonging to Mr Roe, which was purchased by the College in 1875 as part of the Master's Lodge project. 

Reference: XIX/2A Extract from the abstract of title for the land Mr Roe sold to the College in 1875

The stables were designed by William Fawcett, the Architect for the Master's Lodge and for the redevelopment of the exterior of E Staircase. 

Reference: M/1/1/17/1 Proposed front elevation of the stables. Some pencil drawing can be seen on the right.

Reference: M/1/1/17/2 Floor plans of the stables, again there are pencil annotations on the left

Reference: M/1/1/19/2 Specification of works for the new stables

As well as plans, the specification of works for the stables has also survived. This gives a unique insight into the process of constructing buildings in the late 19th century. New materials were used in the construction of the Master's Lodge, but it was clearly felt that materials could be re-used when constructing the stables! The old stables were just off Trumpington Street, to the left of King's Lane if facing the College. The new stables again occupied an area on the edge of College, perhaps for ease of access or to limit nasty smells! The stable building can can still be seen from Silver Street, though it is not known when it ceased to be used as a stable. Masters well into the 20th century were known to travel about on horseback.


'The Architectural History of the University of Cambridge and the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton' by the late Robert Willis, with additions and annotations by John Willis Clark, 1886 (Volumes II and IV)

Varsity horse race 2015, ,