The Perse School

The Perse in Cambridge

A bridge between town and gown

Tracing our steps

Dr Perse envisioned his free school as a vehicle to improve relations between town and gown, and a route to the University for children from all backgrounds. He and our alumni link us to many sites of the city and chapters of its history.

Our connections to the University continue today, with governors representing the Colleges, students attending lectures and workshops and a steady stream of undergraduates to Cambridge – typically around 20 each year.

  • Perse in Cambridge

    Gonville and Caius College

    The Perse’s founder, Dr Stephen Perse, took his BA degree here and was later elected to a Fellowship. A great benefactor of his college, he is remembered at the College’s annual Perse Feast. The chapel contains Perse’s wall effigy of 1615 and there is a statue of him in Tree Court. In his will Dr Perse left £500 for the building of new accommodation for his College. In 1617 work began on the Perse Building, which lay at the north side of what later (c.1685) became known as Tree Court.

    Visiting Gonville and Caius: The College is open daily from 9am to 2pm. Visitors are welcome to walk through the College Courts. Please note, as the College is an active place of learning and research, visitors aren’t ordinarily permitted to enter any buildings except the College Chapel.

    Gonville and Caius

  • Perse in Cambridge

    Whipple Museum, Free School Lane

    Site of the original school, 1618–1890, now the Whipple Museum of the History of Science (a blue plaque commemorates the School). It was not until 1750 that the street acquired its present name. It is worth noting that it was not called Perse Lane, suggesting that the School was for many years known simply as the (Cambridge) Free School. The Whipple Museum’s collection includes scientific instruments, apparatus, models, pictures, prints, photographs, books and other material related to the history of science.

    Visiting the Whipple Museum: The Museum is open from 12:30-4:30pm from Monday-Friday. Admission is free and open to all. Please also note that the Museum is closed for bank holidays. The Museum’s entrance is located on Free School Lane, (between Bene’t Street and Pembroke Street) in the centre of Cambridge.

    The Whipple

  • Perse in Cambridge

    Nine Wells, Great Shelford

    An obelisk of 1861 marks the benefaction of Perse and others towards the creation of what became known as Hobson’s Brook, cut in 1610 to bring clean water to Cambridge. The obelisk is situated on a high point in the south-east corner of the wooded area which together with the land surrounding the chalk springs is scheduled as a Site of Scientific Interest.

    Visiting Nine Wells: A walk in the local nature reserve is described by the Trumpington Local History Group.

    History Group walk

  • Perse in Cambridge

    Emmanuel College

    There are two memorials here to Robert Towerson Cory, first Old Persean to become Master of a Cambridge college. There is a long Latin inscription in the cloisters to the left of the chapel door and an inscribed white floor tile inside the chapel to the left of the altar.

    Visiting Emmanuel College: Emmanuel is open to visits from 9am to 6pm. Visitors can look around the chapel, however the insribed white floor tile by the altar is out of bounds.

    Emmanuel College

  • Perse in Cambridge

    Perse almshouses, Newnham Road

    Perse almshouses for the poor are located here, facing Fen Causeway. They were built in 1886 to replace the original almshouses for six single persons on the corner of Downing Street and Free School Lane, which were sold to the University in 1884. The alms people received allowances from the endowments Dr Perse left to Caius. Perse’s shield can be found on the right hand gable of the Newnham Road building.

  • Perse in Cambridge

    Holy Trinity Church, Market Street

    The church contains a wall memorial to Sir Robert Tabor (d. 1642), Old Persean and physician. He perfected a method of treating fevers with quinine without serious side effects and saved the life of both Charles II and the French Dauphin.

    Holy Trinity Church

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