News

Humanities Writing Competition Winners for 2017-18

May 21, 2018 News

Girton College’s Humanities Writing Competition is now in its seventh year, with an increasing number of entries being submitted year-on-year. The competition is open to any current Year 12 (or equivalent) student. The aim of the competition is to encourage the students to research, think and write about one of the five chosen objects from the Lawrence Room, Girton’s onsite College Museum of Antiquities. This aim encourages a range of written responses, from essays to poems, all showing evidence of interests and research outside the set school curriculum.

The prize-giving ceremony for this year’s finalists was held on Thursday 26 April, during which six students were welcomed to Girton College to celebrate their achievement.

Humanities Writing Competition Finalists for 2017-18

The objects chosen as the basis of this year’s competition were a painted Greek Tanagra athlete figure, a bull figurine from Cyprus, a boar figurine from Greece, an Egyptian ‘tomb group’ figurine, and a Roman glass cremation urn found on the Romano-British cemetery at Girton College (pictured below). Each object seemed to capture the interest of the entrants in different ways, with every object garnering a good number of entries.

Humanities Writing Competition 2017 18 Objects

First place was awarded to Olivia Sandhu (Nottingham Girls’ High School) for her piece entitled ‘The Animal in Ancient Religion, Art and Imagination’, an essay focusing on the bull and boar figurines with an eloquent discussion of human/animal relations in an early agricultural society.

A joint Second place was awarded to Molly Taylor (Pate’s Grammar School) and Sophie Holloway (Ipswich High School) for their pieces of creative writing. Molly’s piece ‘Boy in a Jar’, based on the Roman glass cremation urn, was commended for its unobtrusive but real feel for the period and thoughtworld, whilst Sophie’s monologue ‘The Sculptor and the Sculpted’, written from the perspective of the Tanagra athlete figure, was praised for being intellectually ambitious, well written and for showing a breadth of interest.

L-R: The Mistress awarding First place to Olivia Sandhu (Nottingham Girls’ High School) and Joint Second place to Molly Taylor (Pate’s Grammar School) and Sophie Holloway (Ipswich High School)

Elizabeth Down (Notting Hill and Ealing High School), Amira Nandhla (The King’s School) and Farren Yuan (Cheltenham Ladies’ College) were all awarded ‘Highly Commended’ for their respective essays; ‘The Roman Glass Cremation Urn’, ‘Was Migration Ultimately the Inspiration Behind the Bull Figurine?’ and  ‘An Examination of the identity of an Egyptian tomb group figurine’.

 L-R: The Mistress awarding the 'Highly Commended' to Elizabeth Down (Notting Hill and Ealing High School), Amira Nandhla (The King’s School) and Farren Yuan (Cheltenham Ladies’ College)

L-R: The Mistress awarding the ‘Highly Commended’ to Elizabeth Down (Notting Hill and Ealing High School), Amira Nandhla (The King’s School) and Farren Yuan (Cheltenham Ladies’ College)

All six of the finalists and their guests were invited to Girton College for the afternoon. On arrival, the group had the opportunity to browse the Lawrence Room with two of the College’s Fellows and judges of the competition, Dr Caroline Brett and Dr Gillian Jondorf, and view the objects that they had chosen to write their pieces on. Following this, Deasil Waltho, a Year 1 student studying Classics at Girton College, took the group on a tour of the buildings and grounds of Girton College, giving the finalists a chance to ask any questions they had on student life at Cambridge University. To conclude the afternoon the finalists were able to enjoy afternoon tea with the Mistress of Girton College, the judges of the competition and Girton College Fellows in Stanley Library, the original College Library.

The Lawrence Room

The winning entries are now on display in the Lawrence Room, which is open to the public from 2-4pm on Thursdays. Girton are grateful to Cambridge University Press and to Miss C. Anne Wilson for their kind sponsorship of the competition.


The Spring Ball Committee creates a new student award

May 11, 2018 News

Whilst our guests will certainly remember the evening for years to come, the Girton Spring Ball 2018 Committee has endeavoured to create a lasting legacy that will celebrate the sense of community and solidarity which is characteristic of our College. Through careful spending, successful negotiations with contractors, and refunds for excess products, the Committee has been able to pledge a five-figure sum to establish the Girton Pioneers Award. This award is designed to support the students of Girton and recognise their contributions to College life, and anyone who is the recipient of a Bursary can apply by demonstrating how their contributions have improved the experience of other Girtonians through participation in student societies, committees, or welfare initiatives.

The Girton Pioneers Award is the first award to be created by students, for students, and will be available every year until the capital in the Spring Ball account is sufficient to fund a full means-tested Bursary for a Girton student, in perpetuity.

“We hope that future Ball Committees and other student societies will contribute to this fund, and that this is the beginning of a tradition of current students investing their time and care to improve the experiences of the next generation to call Girton home.” (Jazz Darby, Girton Spring Ball 2018 President).

Photograph credit: Girton Spring Ball Committee, © ORP–Orquidea Real Photobook–Julieta Sarmiento Photography

Girton Spring Ball Committee © ORP–Orquidea Real Photobook–Julieta Sarmiento Photography


An Emily Davies Bursary has been endowed in perpetuity in the 2018 Telephone Campaign!

May 9, 2018 Alumni & SupportersNews

 The Telethon Team 2018

The Telethon Team 2018

Our 2018 Easter Telephone Campaign was a fantastic success; raising over £258,000 for the College, including the endowment of one undergraduate bursary in perpetuity, thanks to the generosity of alumni. This is the third full bursary that has been endowed in the telethon over recent years!

Alumni gifts also brought us one step closer to endowing a Fellowship in Physical Sciences to be named after Dr Christine McKie, as well as bolstering funds for Graduate Research Scholarships, Academic Resources and for the Unrestricted Permanent Endowment.

The student callers thoroughly enjoyed the many inspiring conversations and exchanging Girton stories. We are always heartened by the warmth and generosity of Girtonians across the globe – thank you so much for standing with us and championing academic excellence in diversity.

For more information, please visit:


The National Jane Martin Poetry Prize 2018 Winners are announced!

April 30, 2018 News

Girton College is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Jane Martin Poetry Prize, a national poetry competition established in 2010 in memory of Girton alumna Jane Elizabeth Martin.

The winning poems can be found here:

Nina Powles was born in New Zealand, partly grew up in China and now lives in London. She holds an MA in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Victoria University of Wellington, where she won the Biggs Family Prize for Poetry in 2016. Her poetry chapbook Girls of the Drift was published in 2014. Her debut poetry collection, Luminescent (Seraph Press, 2017) is a work of auto/biographical poetry exploring the lives of five women from New Zealand history. Her poems and essays have recently appeared in Best New Zealand Poems, Poetry, Hotel, and Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She is half Malaysian-Chinese and is Poetry Editor at The Shanghai Literary Review. You can hear Nina read some of her poems here.

Dominic Leonard studied English in Oxford and is about to begin an MA in Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. His poems and non-fiction have appeared in Poetry London, Oxford Poetry, The Scores, Disclaimer, Zarf, and elsewhere.

Nina and Dominic will be visiting the College on Thursday 3 May, along with one of the Judges Jeremy Noel-Tod, to attend the presentation evening and read some of their poems, which will be held in the Stanley Library from 6-7pm. All are welcome to attend and refreshments will be served.


Glimpses of Girton: Scandinavian Legends, Myths and Folklore in Girton Library

March 21, 2018 Glimpses of GirtonNews

Girton College Library’s Special Collections contain a wonderful selection of books which touch on the vibrant world of folklore and myth in Scandinavia.

The Land of the Midnight Sun,written by the explorer Paul du Chaillu in 1881 and now held in the Travel Collection, which is one of the Library’s Special Collections. Paul du Chaillu describes the elves, fairies and dwarves that populate Scandinavian folktales. He writes about the ‘Elfdans –  a dance of the elves… In old times the people said that this dance always took place over the spots where good people had been buried, and where their spirits dwelt’. The tale is accompanied by a beautiful illustration of dancing elves:

 Illustration by G. E. Fischer from Paul du Chaillu’s Land of the Midnight Sun, facing page 719.

Illustration by G. E. Fischer from Paul du Chaillu’s Land of the Midnight Sun, facing page 719.

 

Front cover of the Land of the Midnight Sun by Paul du Chaillu.

Front cover of the Land of the Midnight Sun by Paul du Chaillu.

This book was presented to the College in 1919 by Gwendolen Crewdson, a student from 1894 to 1898, and later a staff member, who served as Librarian (1900-02) and then Junior Bursar (1902-05). Gwendolen was also the niece of Alfred Waterhouse, the architect who designed many of the College’s early buildings. She gave her name to Crewdson Field, the College sports grounds next to the Girton Road, which she purchased in order to prevent it from being built on.

Fridtjov Nansen, a Norwegian explorer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wrote an account of his travels in Scandinavia, In Northern Mists: Arctic Exploration in Early Times, which is filled with myths from the lands he visited. It waspublished in 1911 andis held in the Travel Collection. His writing is brought to life by small woodcuts such as those shown below:

A woodcut from Fridtjov Nansen’s In Northern Mists: Arctic ExploA woodcut from Fridtjov Nansen’s In Northern Mists: Arctic Exploration in Early Times.ration in Early Times.

A woodcut from Fridtjov Nansen’s In Northern Mists: Arctic Exploration in Early Times.

Many of the books in the Library’s Special Collections about Scandinavian myth and folklore originally belonged to Dame Bertha Surtees Phillpotts, a student of the College (1898-1902), Librarian (1906-09), and later Mistress of Girton (1922-25) and University Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies (1926-32). She travelled to Iceland in particular many times and gathered a collection of books and pamphlets about the country, which she bequeathed  to Girton and which now form a special collection in their own right, the Newall Collection.

Girton Archive also holds a collection of Dame Bertha’s personal papers (archive reference: GCPP Phillpotts) – for the catalogue of her papers see: https://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0271%2FGCPP%20Phillpotts.

Dame Bertha Phillpotts’ bookplate in one of the volumes which form part of Girton Library’s Special Collections.

Dame Bertha Phillpotts’ bookplate in one of the volumes which form part of Girton Library’s Special Collections.

One of the volumes that belonged to Dame Bertha was Iceland: its Scenes and its Sagas by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), an Anglican vicar and scholar, published in 1863. The book illustrates Iceland’s mythic history through retellings of the sagas. His words are enlivened by copies of watercolours by Sabine Baring-Gould himself, such as the picture of Grettir’s Saga below:

Watercolour by Sabine Baring-Gould illustrating the setting of Grettir’s Saga, from his book, Iceland: its Scenes and its Sagas.

Watercolour by Sabine Baring-Gould illustrating the setting of Grettir’s Saga, from his book, Iceland: its Scenes and its Sagas.

Another book bequeathed by Dame Bertha was Icelandic Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil, written by Frederick W. W. Howell – a traveller and early photographer of Iceland. It was published in 1893 and is now in the Library’s Travel Collection. The work is filled with a wonderful series of sketches of Iceland’s landscape, history and mythology, including this lovely illustration of a Viking ship sailing above the text of Chapter 1:

Sketch of a Viking ship by Frederick W. W. Howell from his book, Icelandic Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil.

Sketch of a Viking ship by Frederick W. W. Howell from his book, Icelandic Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil.

Also in the Travel Collection is Pen and Pencil Sketches of Faröe and Iceland by Andrew Symington, published in 1862. It contains a section of short narratives drawn from Faeroese and Icelandic folklore, such as ‘The Goblin and the Cowherd’ and ‘The Goblin’s Whistle’. The book is illustrated throughout with exquisite wood-cuts by W. J. Linton, such as the one accompanying the title page shown below:

Frontispiece by W. J. Linton in Pen and Pencil Sketches of Faröe and Iceland by Andrew J. Symington.

Frontispiece by W. J. Linton in Pen and Pencil Sketches of Faröe and Iceland by Andrew J. Symington.

A northerly world of fairies, goblins, heroes and adventure awaits on the shelves of Girton Library’s Special Collections.

Bibliography

Baring-Gould, Sabine, Iceland: its Scenes and its Sagas (London: Smith, Elder and Son, 1863).

Du Chaillu, Paul, The Land of the Midnight Sun: Summer and Winter Journeys through Sweden, Norway, Lapland and Northern Finland (London: George Newnes, 1899).

Howell, Frederick W. W., Icelandic Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil (London: Religious Tract Society, 1893).

Nansen, Fridtjov,  In Northern Mists: Arctic Exploration in Early Times, translated by Arthur G. Chater (London: W. Heinemann, 1911).

Symington, Andrew J., Pen and Pencil Sketches of Faröe and Iceland, illustrated by W. J. Linton (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1862).


Margaret Smith Research Fellow, Anne Wolf, receives CHOICE Magazine award for new book

March 19, 2018 News

Book Cover - Anne Wolf - Political Islam in Tunisia - Hurst Publisher

The American Library Association’s (ALA) CHOICE magazine has awarded Margaret Smith Research Fellow, Anne Wolf’s, new book “Political Islam in Tunisia: The History of Ennahda” with its CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title award for 2017.

Political Islam in Tunisia uncovers the secret history of Tunisia’s main Islamist movement, Ennahda, from its origins in the 1960s to the present. Banned until the popular uprisings of 2010-11 and the overthrow of Ben Ali’s dictatorship, Ennahda has until now been impossible to investigate. This is the first in-depth account of the movement, one of Tunisia’s most influential political actors.

Based on more than four years of field research, over 400 interviews, and access to private archives, Anne Wolf masterfully unveils the evolution of Ennahda’s ideological and strategic orientations within changing political contexts and, at times, conflicting ambitions amongst its leading cadres. She also explores the challenges to Ennahda’s quest for power from both secularists and Salafis. As the first full history of Ennahda, this book is a major contribution to the literature on Tunisia, Islamist movements, and political Islam in the Arab world. It will be indispensable reading for anyone seeking to understand the forces driving a key player in the country most hopeful of pursuing a democratic trajectory in the wake of the Arab Spring.

For more information, please visit:


Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion Taster Day – 30 January 2018

March 15, 2018 News

On Tuesday 30 January 2018, Girton ran its first ever Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion (TRPR) Taster Day for Year 10 and 11 students. The day was hosted in collaboration with the Faculty of Divinity with academic speakers introducing the visiting students to a diverse range of topics from across the TRPR disciplines. Thirty-eight students travelled to Cambridge for the day, all seeking to explore the details of what the study of Theology, Religion and the Philosophy of Religion involves at university level, and the interesting research and careers this study may lead to.

  Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion Taster Day – 30 January 2018

The day kicked off with a talk from Hilary Marlow, the Director of Studies for TRPR students at Girton College, who introduced what Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion is and why it is important. The fact that 84% of the world is religious today seemed to surprise all the attendees and drove home the importance of understanding the religious, theological and philosophical reasons and motivations behind some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Emma Salgard Cunha, Access and Outreach Officer for the Faculty of Divinity, continued the message on the relevance of the study of TRPR in the world today as she looked at the array of careers Cambridge TRPR graduates have gone into. These careers ranged from law, the church, charity advocacy and even acting!

  Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion Taster Day – 30 January 2018

After a short break it was time for the taster sessions to commence, delivered by academics working in different areas of Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion.

Beth Singler’s enticingly titled topic ‘Will robots ever take over the world’ looked at how Artificial Intelligence is challenging how we understand ‘the human’ as a being, creator and worker. This led to interesting questions from our visiting students such as: ‘Should we treat all AI as sentient beings, unless we can prove otherwise?’ and ‘Who would be to blame if a self-driving car caused a fatal accident?’.

Jim Aitken then took over to introduce us to a different area of study encompassed within TRPR, the study of ancient manuscripts. The visiting students learnt that the way scripts are written and the physical properties of the script can be just as important as the content, even spelling corrections can tell us a great deal about the evolution of language!

  Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion Taster Day – 30 January 2018

Next up, it was time of lunch. This gave the visiting students the opportunity to talk to each other about their motivations for attending the day, as well as a chance to eat some pizza and meet Girton’s famous College cat, Buster (pictured below).

Buster, the College Cat attending the Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion Taster Day – 30 January 2018

Buster, the College Cat

After lunch it was time for the last two taster sessions. Ruth Jackson started us off with her taster session on ‘How do you tell a good friend from a bad one?’. In this session students examined the different relationships between famous duos such as: R2-D2 and C-3P0; and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. The following discussion questioned whether humans could ever be friends with robots.

The final taster session of the day was delivered by Hilary Marlow who delved into the complex issue of whether science has done away with God. The visiting students debated whether science can explain everything and whether science and God are really looking to answer the same questions.

Before the end of the day, the visiting Year 10 and 11 students got the chance to reflect on their own aspirations and ambitions and learn more about what university can offer. In the aspiring to university session the visiting students were given advice on their post-16 choices and got the chance to ask current Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion students questions about the course, university societies, student life and their future plans.

The Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion Taster Day was a great success with many students enthusiastically discussing the topical issues discussed in the taster sessions on their way out. The feedback and evaluation of the event showed that 88% of visiting students had a better opinion of studying TRPR after attending the event, with one comment noting the day had “sparked a passion that wasn’t necessarily there before.”

Many thanks to all the Girton College and University of Cambridge staff and TRPR Student Ambassadors who made the day possible.

For more information, please visit:


Two College Fellows, Dr Stuart Davis and Dr Stelios Tofaris, awarded the 2018 Pilkington Teaching Prize!

February 12, 2018 News

Dr Stuart Davis and Dr Stelios Tofaris, awarded the 2018 Pilkington Teaching Prize!

Left-Right: Dr Stuart Davis and Dr Stelios Tofaris

Congratulations to Girton’s Admissions Tutor and Jean Sybil Dannatt Official Fellow, Dr Stuart Davis, and Brenda Hale Official Fellow, Dr Stelios Tofaris, who have been awarded the University’s Pilkington Prize for 2018, in recognition of their teaching excellence in Modern Languages and Law.

They both join a distinguished coterie of 8 College Fellows who have previously won this coveted award including, Jochen Runde for Management Education (2017 winner), Sandra Fulton for Biochemistry (2016 winner), Nik Cunniffe for Plant Sciences (2015 winner), Andrew Jefferies for VetMed (2011 winner), Hugh Shercliff for Engineering (2011 winner), Martin Ennis for Music (2009 winner), Julia Riley for Physics (2009 winner) and Josh Slater for VetMed (2003 winner).

The Pilkington Prize awards were inaugurated in 1994 and endowed by Sir Alastair Pilkington to acknowledge excellence in teaching, this year marks the 25th anniversary. The prizes are awarded to individuals who make a substantial contribution to the teaching programme of a Department, Faculty or the University as a whole. There are twelve prizes awarded each year, with nominations made by each School.  The prizes are awarded annually by the Vice-Chancellor.

For more information, please visit:


Glimpses of Girton: Jane Catherine Gamble

January 25, 2018 Glimpses of GirtonNews

 

 A portrait of Jane Catherine Gamble by Alfred Edward Chalon, dating from 1838 (Archive reference: GCPH 4/4/1)

A portrait of Jane Catherine Gamble by Alfred Edward Chalon, dating from 1838 (Archive reference: GCPH 4/4/1)

Jane Catherine Gamble is today remembered in Girton College as an early and generous benefactor, but she was also an author, heiress and traveller, with connections that spanned across international borders. The rich variety of her life is reflected in her collection of personal papers, which are preserved in the College Archive.

For the catalogue of Jane Gamble’s personal papers (archive reference: GCPP Gamble) see: https://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0271%2FGCPP%20Gamble.

Jane was born in England in 1810 to a family originally from Virginia, and she returned briefly to the States following her mother’s early death. However, after her father’s remarriage, she was sent back to London to be raised alongside the son of her wealthy aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Dunlop, who provided her with a good education and a secure childhood.

Jane composed a journal called Fragments of a Life which is preserved in the Archive, written by hand onto unbound quires (reference: GCPP Gamble 1/35). It seems to have been created towards the end of Jane’s life, although based on diaries she kept from 1837 onwards, and provides a retrospective account of her activities. The journal describes Jane’s many encounters as a young woman with well-known artists and authors, such as Samuel Coleridge, Washington Irving, and Sir Walter Scott. There are letters from both Irving and Scott addressed to the Dunlops among Jane’s papers preserved in the Archives (archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/2/2 and 3/2/3). These letters are a reflection of the literary circles in which the Dunlops moved and in which Jane was brought up.

The watercolour accompanying Alfred Edward Chalon’s signature in Jane Gamble’s autograph book, dating from circa 1831 to 1841 (Archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/13pt).

The watercolour accompanying Alfred Edward Chalon’s signature in Jane Gamble’s autograph book, dating from circa 1831 to 1841 (Archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/13pt).

Jane kept an autograph book, dating from 1831 to 1841, in which she collected the signatures of her distinguished acquaintances, including Charles Robert Leslie, John James Chalon and Alfred Edward Chalon, each accompanied by a tiny watercolour by the artist (archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/13). In 1838, the latter painted the only portrait of Jane to survive (reference: GCPH 4/4/1). Perhaps inspired by the creative environment in which she grew up, Jane eventually published her own play in 1846 under the pseudonym, Miss D. Nutt. In the 1880s, she would publish a further eighteen plays under the same nom de plume. The Archive also holds manuscripts of Jane’s poetry and translations from Italian, French and German, attesting to her learning.

By 1851, Jane’s aunt, uncle, and cousin had all passed away, leaving her an heiress with the freedom to travel. Jane had been courted by a wealthy American, Henry Wikoff, who had followed her from London across Europe. The matter came to a head in Italy, where Henry was put on trial for conspiracy to force Jane to marry him. A report on his trial printed in The Athenæum Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts on the 13th of March 1852 refers to it as the ‘extraordinary trial at Genoa, which has excited so great a sensation all over the Continent’. Henry was convicted and imprisoned. Shortly afterwards, Henry published his own account called My courtship and its consequences in 1855, which proclaimed his innocence. Jane, on the other hand, remained resolutely silent and no mention is made of the episode in her journal. Instead her account of her travels in Italy is filled with picturesque vignettes, such as sailing through the canals of Venice accompanied by a singing Gondolier.

Relics from site of site of Battle of Waterloo, acquired on 29th of August 1825 by Jane Gamble (Archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/17). Photograph courtesy of the Digital Content Unit, Cambridge University Library.

Relics from site of site of Battle of Waterloo, acquired on 29th of August 1825 by Jane Gamble (Archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/17). Photograph courtesy of the Digital Content Unit, Cambridge University Library.

Jane’s later years were also filled with travel and adventures abroad. The Archive holds many varied and wonderful mementos gleaned from her journeys, including oak leaves and wood from Torquato Tasso’s oak in Rome, dated to the 19th of November 1852 (archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/12). There is also charcoal and cannon shot from the Battle of Waterloo, wrapped in paper with a note in Jane’s handwriting, stating that it was ‘Brought from La Belle Alliance, Monday 29 August 1825  Waterloo’ (archive reference: GCPP Gamble 3/17). Jane also acquired artefacts from her international network of friends and acquaintances, such as a piece of George Washington’s coffin, accompanied by a handwritten note that reads ‘Part of the Coffin of Washington lately removed at Mt. Vernon to me by Mrs. Lewis. GSN’. Mrs. Lewis, also known as Eleonora Curtis, was George Washington’s adopted daughter and part of Jane Gamble’s circle of acquaintance.

Pieces of George Washington’s coffin with outer wrapper labelled: ‘Part of the Coffin of Washington lately removed at Mt. Vernon to me by Mrs. Lewis GSN’ (Archive reference: 3/18).

Pieces of George Washington’s coffin with outer wrapper labelled: ‘Part of the Coffin of Washington lately removed at Mt. Vernon to me by Mrs. Lewis GSN’ (Archive reference: 3/18).

It is not entirely clear quite why Jane Gamble chose to leave her residuary estate to Girton, comprising about £19,000, as well as several possessions and her sizeable library. Her intelligence and learning may have made her sympathetic to the College’s purpose. Nevertheless, the bequest made Jane the first major benefactor of the College and enabled its expansion: the College used the bequest to finance the construction of Tower Wing, as well as allowing the College to purchase the adjoining seventeen acre field. This field, which sat between the fork of the Huntingdon Road and Girton Road, doubled the size of the College site. The College could now house one hundred and four students.[1] Jane Gamble’s generosity to the College is commemorated by the fireplace which now stands in front of the Porter’s Lodge, and bears the inscription: ‘the fund for the erection of this portion of the building was provided by the munificence of Jane Catherine Gamble.’ She is also remembered by the Gamble Prize, set up in 1888, and which continues to be awarded to students every year.[2]

Picture of the inscription commemorating Jane Gamble’s bequest to the College on the fireplace in Girton College Porter’s Lodge.

Picture of the inscription commemorating Jane Gamble’s bequest to the College on the fireplace in Girton College Porter’s Lodge.

Jane passed away in 1885. Her papers only came to Girton in 1935 when her bankers, Coutts of London, discovered that they held two boxes in Jane Gamble’s name, containing old documents and manuscripts, which were forwarded to the College and are now preserved for posterity in the Archive.


[1]Susan Bain, ‘Tower Wing and Jane Catherine Gamble’, Girton College Annual Review (2009), pp. 25-28

[2]Susan Bain, ‘Tower Wing and Jane Catherine Gamble’, Girton College Annual Review (2009), p. 28