History

A quick history lesson

History

Westminster College was built in 1899 to the design of architect Henry Hare, who had been commissioned by the Presbyterian Church of England to build a college in Cambridge. The English Presbyterian College had been founded in London in 1844, but moved to its new building in Cambridge largely at the urging of two remarkable twin sisters: Mrs Margaret Dunlop Gibson and Mrs Agnes Smith Lewis. The sisters were formidable Biblical scholars. They studied, photographed, translated and published Biblical manuscripts at St Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai; and brought further manuscripts back from Cairo, some of which are at the College and others in Cambridge University Library. Their portraits hang in the Dining Hall, and the research scholarship they founded is still awarded.

In 1967, Westminster College joined together with Cheshunt College, which had been founded in 1768 in Trevecka, in Wales, by the Countess of Huntingdon, to train young men for ministry. The Countess and her College played a significant part in the English and Welsh evangelical revivals, and after the Countess’s death in 1791 the College moved to Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire – and then, in 1905, to Cambridge.

In 1972, the Presbyterian Church of England joined together with the Congregational Church in England and Wales to form the United Reformed Church. Westminster College now serves the needs of the United Reformed Church for initial and continuing ministerial education, and also admits students of other denominations; and it is part of the Cambridge Theological Federation.

The College is a Grade II listed building. Visitors will usually see the Dining Hall, whose ceiling incorporates the badges of Presbyterian Churches from around the world; and the Chapel, added in 1921– in memory of William Black Noble, second Lieutenant with the Northumberland Fusiliers, who died in Flanders in 1915 – which has some fine stained glass windows by Douglas Strachan.

In 2010 the URC’s General Assembly warmly endorsed our £7million appeal to refresh, update and expand our facilities. Across the URC people responded with magnificent generosity and work on the College was completed in 2014.

We now have 38 en-suite bedrooms over three floors, and all of our teaching and meeting rooms have been dramatically upgraded and equipped with AV equipment, Wi-Fi, and comfortable furnishings. Our dining facilities have been improved, and a new lift has been installed so all floors are accessible. For the first time, the Library will not be out of reach if stairs are difficult.

Westminster is the perfect location for meetings and conferences due to its convenient location: close to the M11 and the A14, but only a short walk from the City centre for companies wishing to include sightseeing or punting on the agenda.