Caius' £7 annual payment to Trinity and other enjoyable land tidbits

Image credit: Jack May

The headline figures here should come as little surprise. While St John’s is the University’s most prolific landowner, the actual value of the holdings is some nine times smaller than that of Trinity with a current estimated land value of more than £700 million.

Trinity’s role as the biggest beast in town also seems to have been substantiated by our findings: as of June 2014, the College dedicated some £7 million per annum to supporting the wider University.

This poses a number of interesting questions about the scope of provision on offer in the various colleges of Cambridge University.

Unsurprisingly, newer colleges tend to have far less in the way of external land holdings other than their main sites and playing fields.

However, even the older colleges fall prey to Trinity’s substantial reach. The Cambridge Student was given access to an original deed agreed between Trinity and Gonville and Caius Colleges, which appears to suggest that much of the corner of Caius’ Tree Court, nestled between Trinity Street and Trinity Lane, is in fact, part of a long term arrangement with Trinity College.

Ror yLandman, Senior Bursar of Trinity College, told TCS: “Caius College pay us £7 a year on a small piece of land. That payment dates back to 1563!”

The deed reads: “The Master, fellows and scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge of the one part and the Master and fellows of Gonville and Caius College of the other part: Agreement to convey to the second parties and their successors four messuages with curtilages etc. in the parish of St Michael over against the church and churchyard between Michael Lane on the north and a tenement of Robert Lane, baker, on the south abutting on the High Street on the east and the gardens of Gonville and Caius College on the west.”

Cambridge folklore has long held that Trinity owned the land upon which Sidney Sussex is situated, with the latter paying a £1 rent charge on a very long lease – as reported by The Tab in 2009.

However, Landman was keen to set the record straight.

He told TCS: “The freehold interest was in fact sold in the 1590s and the College’s entitlement is simply to a rent charge (now a very archaic charge) in the order of £13 a year.” 

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