Durham University the Leading Alternative to Oxford and Cambridge
St. Cuthbert, Lindisfarne, and the Vikings, a story of Durham University the leading alternative to Oxford and Cambridge
- Saint Cuthbert started it all
- Lindisfarne became st Cuthberts home
- Henry Vlll tried to set up the college, but it was William lV that finished the job
- Durham university is housed in the grounds of Durham Castle
- St. Marys
Saint Cuthbert started it all
Picture it! The occasion is 876 years after the birth of Christ, somewhere in the north of England on a wild and windy day in November, a group of men are pushing a bier carrying the coffin of Saint Cuthbert.
The picture is a piece of public artwork in brass called the Journey, showing the coffin of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne being carried by 6 monks, eventually to Durham.
St. Cuthbert was originally buried at Lindisfarne Priory; his tomb had become a magnet for all and sundry.
Lindisfarne became st Cuthberts home
His tomb became a healing place, many wonderful things happened, in fact so much, the he became known as the "Wonder-worker of England" but in 875 the monks of the monastery had become so worried about the increasing threat from an invasion from the Danes, they fled Lindisfarne taking with them their most valuable belongings, including the relics of St. Cuthbert.
At low tide it is possible to walk across the sands to the island of Lindisfarne.
This route is marked with posts and has refuge boxes for stranded walkers, just as the road has a refuge box for those who have left their crossing too late.
Sir Walter Scott wrote of the tides at Lindisfarne
For with the flow and ebb, its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry shod o'er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day the waves efface
Of staves and sandalled feet the trace.
The monks roamed the land for seven years, along with the remains of St. Cuthbert until finally in 883 they were given a church in Chester-Le-Street near Durham, paradoxically by a newly Christian converted Danish king.
Henry Vlll tried to set up the college, but it was William lV that finished the job
King William IV granted Durham University its Royal Charter in 1837
It was long thought that an establishment should be set up, for the people of the north of England, to provide an affordable place of education; Henry VIII tried to set up a college at Durham in the grounds of the old monastery but failed.
In 1657 another attempt to set up a College was opposed by Oxford and Cambridge with the backing of Richard Cromwell who had promised nothing would be allowed to prejudice the two ancient universities.
Durham University was at last founded in 1832; Housed in Durham Castle is the University College, making it the oldest inhabited university building in the world.
Durham university is housed in the grounds of Durham Castle
Durham Castle houses University College, making it the oldest inhabited university building in the world
In 1846 Hatfield College was founded to providing affordable accommodation however these “Poor” students were expected to bring a servant with them to cook, clean and take care of them.
In 1888 St. Cuthbert’s Society was established. Today Durham University is home to
- 17,410 Students
- 12,275 Undergraduates
- 5,415 Postgraduates.
And not a servant to be seen.
It holds the proud title of being the third oldest and the leading alternative University in England after Oxford and Cambridge.
The building of St. Marys College for women took place in 1947 and opened in 1952 by Queen Elizabeth II it is now a mixed sex College.
St. Mary’s was Established in 1899 and houses
- 641 Undergraduates
- 35 Postgraduates.
St Mary’s is the only college to have been originally founded in the 19th century.
For further reading, on the great learning seats of England see