Selwyn College, Cambridge

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Archive Image of the Month

Let Selwyn's Archivist, Elizabeth Stratton, give you a taster of the College Archives. Every month Elizabeth selects a particularly interesting piece from the archives and provides an insight into its history and significance. 

 Archive Image of the Month – April 2018

Filling in the sunken lawn, 1961

Archive Image 66 April 2018

The original college lawn was a few steps down from the surrounding path, and remained so until 1961 when a large volume of topsoil suddenly became available with the building by Caius College of Harvey Court in West Road.

Looking for a convenient means of disposal, Caius offered to fill and level the court. The Selwyn fellowship consulted architects and landscape designers who were unanimous in urging them to proceed: agreement was reached, with only one vote cast against.

Some returning undergraduates did not approve of the hasty decision, and a short-lived gravestone was put up with flowers, to the memory of a distinctive lawn. In William Brock’s Selwyn College: A History he says: ‘…old members with long memories found it difficult to forgive the Fellows for what they regarded as an act of desecration’.

Others barely noticed the change, while incoming undergraduates in the Michaelmas term of 1961 saw only a beautiful Cambridge court. Additional improvements were made later including the perimeter path of fine York stone paving slabs, carried out with the financial support of alumni in two stages in 1971 and 1996.

We are grateful to Tom Hendy (SE 1959) for donating to the archives the photo of the lawn being refilled.

The short history can be read here:

As always, any questions about the college archives can be directed to the archivist on We are always grateful to hear from members of college about any photographs and memories you may have of your time at Selwyn and they can also be uploaded directly here:

Previous archive images can be seen here:

Elizabeth Stratton, April 2018


The Archivist is always delighted to arrange Archive visits and to receive Selwyn memorabilia, photos and stories. To contact Elizabeth Stratton, please email:



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