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Corpus Christi College

Corpus!” he cried leaping to his feet, “do you mean Corpus Cambridge? I was at Oxford myself but you Corpus people at Cambridge have got a library … I say you’ve got a library …. That would madden Paracelsus himself." John Cowper Powys, A Glastonbury Romance (London, 1933), p. 246.
Corpus Christi College


Corpus Christi College was founded in 1352, becoming the sixth College at Cambridge University. Unusually, it was founded by townspeople, members of two Cambridge guilds: the Guild of Corpus Christi and the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary, primarily to train priests. The College gives pride of place in its list of benefactors to Margaret Andrew of Chesterton who, by her deathbed will of 7 May 1349, gave lands to both the Guild of St Mary and the Guild of Corpus Christi.

The largest donation to the College’s collections came from former Corpus student and Master of the College, Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker (1504–75). These treasures form the core collection of the Parker Library. It is internationally renowned for its collection of medieval and renaissance manuscripts, as well as holdings of early printed books. All significant premodern manuscripts in the collection have been fully digitised and can be viewed online on Parker Library On the Web.

Around 350 manuscripts from the Middle East and India which are owned by the College are deposited in Cambridge University Library. These manuscripts must be requested and consulted at the Cambridge University Library manuscripts reading room.

The College Archives contain a rich collection of material dating back from before its foundation in 1352 to the present time covering its activities, members, buildings, land holdings and livings. The ancient archives, and some of the modern archives, are catalogued on Archives Search. Digitised images are available from the Cambridge Digital Library in the field notebooks and slides of the late Professor Oliver Rackham. For all enquiries, please contact the Archivist at

For all queries concerning images from Parker Library manuscripts, please contact