skip to content

Cambridge University Library


Halls of residence, usually unendowed, and varying greatly in size, wealth and permanence; a primitive form of the Colleges which, as corporate institutions, absorbed or replaced them (although few if any are recorded earlier than 1284). Some hostels were subsidiaries of Colleges, like Physwick Hostel, an annexe, since its foundation, of Gonville Hall. Physwick Hostel was suspended by Henry VIII, in connection with the foundation of Trinity College, but theoretically survived as a potential institution until its dissolution by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. In the nineteenth century, hostel or house was the term adopted for institutions, such as Selwyn, established on a less grandiose model than the traditional Colleges but with a more or less conscious aspiration to collegiate status at some future date.