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Downing College

there shall and may be erected and established one perpetual College for students…, which college shall be called by the name of Downing College, in the University of Cambridge" Downing College Charter, 22 September 1800
Downing College


Downing College was founded by Sir George Downing, 3rd Baronet, with wealth inherited from his grandfather, the 1st Baronet, a statesman who served both Cromwell and Charles II and built No. 10 Downing Street. Provision for a new Cambridge College was made in the founder’s will in 1717 but, following his death in 1749 and the death of his only surviving heir in 1764, a protracted legal battle with his widow and her heirs meant that the new College was not founded until 1800, the first new Cambridge college in over 200 years. 

Records in the archive cover the history of the Downing family estates dating back to the 1500s, the legal battle which preceded the foundation of Downing College in 1800, plans and papers relating to the original architectural designs for the new College and all aspects of its history from 1800 to the present day.

For further information, or to access the archive at Downing College, please contact