Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge 3952

Cambridge, England, Cambridgeshire, Cambridge

Brief Description

Sidney Sussex College was founded in 1594 on the site of a friary dating from 1240 of which nothing remains. The gardens consist of: The Master's Garden, The Fellows' Garden, Cloister Court and the main College Garden.


The college was founded in 1547 by Lady Francis Sidney, Dowager Countess of Sussex. Loggan's map of 1688 indicates that the early layout consisted of two open ended courts with an entrance arch into the northern court. Between the north court and Jesus Lane was a Bowling Green overlooked by a summerhouse, a knot garden and an orchard.

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Detailed Description

Today the courts facing Sidney Street are enclosed by a high brick wall surmounted by railings, through which climb wisterias and cotoneasters with Solomon seal beneath. Cloister Court to the north is built over the Bowling Green, but the lawn is edged with a narrow border of evergreen shrubs.

The main garden is reached through a gateway at the end of Cloister Court. Here are mature chestnuts, beech and planes under-planted with spring bulbs. Yew hedges enclose a secluded garden dominated by the Arch on a raised terrace, with its ginkgo surrounded by golden foliage plants. There are two flower borders with a central path forming the division between the Master's Garden and the College Garden.

New buildings along the southern boundary have allowed a more adventurous solution to landscaping. Walkways and flights of steps present varied viewpoints over lawns and shrubberies. Clumps of evergreens have been used to give some enclosure and reduce the impact of new buildings over the garden. In summer there is dense shade from the trees and in spring there are drifts of bulbs beneath the mature trees throughout the gardens.

  • College (featured building)
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Terrace, Lawn
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Detailed History

Sidney Sussex College is built on the site of a friary dating from 1240, of which nothing remains. The church was destroyed in 1547 and the stone used to build Trinity College Chapel. The College was founded by Lady Francis Sidney, Dowager Countess of Sussex, in 1594.

Loggan's map of 1688 shows the College consisting of two adjacent open ended courts facing the road, with an entrance through an Arch into the northern court. This had a central path with a lawn to each side. The southern court had a short avenue of trees along the street side. Between the north court and Jesus Lane was a Bowling Green overlooked by a summerhouse, a knot garden and an orchard. This became the Fellow's garden.

To the east of the College buildings was a bank containing the King's Ditch with a double avenue planted alongside and then the extensive grounds of Sidney College Close, bounded by a wall. By 1789 only the summerhouse and knot garden had been lost, and a copy of the Arch in a classical style was made in 1749 and erected in the corner of the Close towards Jesus Lane. The Close Garden was landscaped in the latter part of the 18th century, and became the Master's Garden. Following the completion of the Cloister Court the Master's garden was reduced in size to incorporate the Fellows' Garden to the north.


  • Tudor (1485-1603)