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Cambridge University Library


The School of Pythagoras, which was built around 1200AD, and therefore predates St John’s College in whose demesne it stands, is thus the College’s oldest building. It is a very rare survival of a stone town house of the period. It was originally a private house, but has had many uses - and a period as a ruin - in its history. Nobody really knows how it acquired its name, but there is no surviving evidence that it was ever a school, and certainly it was unknown to Pythagoras. During the sixteenth century, a small manor house was added to its west side, now used for accommodating graduate and post-graduate students. This is called Merton Hall, recalling the fact that until 1959 both it and the School of Pythagoras were the property of Merton College, Oxford. The School of Pythagoras has been used as a theatre and the headquarters of the College dramatic society. It is now the home of the College archives.