Unveiling of the Cripps Court Inscription

Unveiling of the Cripps Court Inscription

  29 Feb 2020   , ,


Hello everybody, I hope you can hear me.
It’s almost exactly 50 years since that fateful dinner party which the great
Arthur Armitage sat next to Sir Humphrey Cripps and discussed with him
how sensible it would be to have a Cripps Building at each end of the backs. There had
already been one at St. John’s and fortunately for this College, Sir
Humphrey agreed and indeed in many ways, this building saved Queens’ College
financially and in terms of society. Financially, it bolstered our income in ways
which enabled the College to be in a far better sustainable position it had
previously been and in terms of society it enabled us almost uniquely amongst
Cambridge colleges at the time to have our undergraduates on-site for all three
years of their undergraduate career and that I think has made major impact on
applications to this College but it’s a gift that kept on giving in the sense that
it’s a wonderfully adaptable building which has been adapted over the years.
We’ve had the fourth floor added to the top which I think everybody agrees has
improved proportions of the building. We’ve had the ramps around the side for
disabled access and we now have further plans for adapting Lyon Court in order
to provide a study centre for graduate students. So this building is
continuing to develop as a very important resource for Queens’ College
and without the generosity of The Cripps Foundation, all those benefits would not
have been enjoyed but it has been an anonymous building up until now and it’s
I think entirely appropriate given the role which the building plays in the life of the College, the
important role it has played over the last 50 years in resuscitating and
rejuvenating Queens’ College that it should not be anonymous
any longer and hence we asked the name of the court to be engraved for all to
see. Now, James I believe you have a short
oration for us, in English! 40 years ago, we admitted Sir Humphrey Cripps to an honorary fellowship. On that occasion as praelector, I delivered in Chapel a speech in Latin. Here is a
translation of it. It is one of our solemn customs that
on a prescribed day each year the President should recite the names of
those who have benefited the college by their generosity. First to be named is
Andrew Dokett, to whom we owe the design and establishment of the College and who
was first to hold the office of President. Our predecessors made all the
more certain that his memory should never vanish from our minds in that
they gave the name of Dokett to one of the buildings of which the College is
formed. Of the others whom we celebrate on that same equation, two men who brought a
special glory to the College by their lives and their learning John Fisher and
Desiderius Erasmus likewise have their memory preserved in memorials of stone. To these
three is now added a fourth, the man who we honour today, whose name will be
linked with the college forever by the same indissoluble bond. It is not
only by his generosity exceeding that which we have experienced at any time in
our history, but also by his industry, his prudence and his kindliness that that he
has put us in his debt for he was not content to watch from afar the progress
of the building which he had promised but he was ever present during its
design and construction encouraging and advising both architects
and workmen. I ask you to look at the building which we owe to him. It is not
only a residence for more than a hundred of our members, it is also equipped with
rooms in which we may meet and dine and it is adorned with delightful colonnades
and secluded gardens. Above all, there is a dining hall, of the most ample
proportions. When I look upon it I am reminded of Virgil’s description of the
Palace of Queen Dido at her feet. The hall is decked in splendour, fit for Queens. Fit for Queens’ indeed. I would now like to ask Robert Cripps to unveil the, if one could say unveiling, let us say release from its
green bond, the inscription on the wall. There were two little boys here just a
few minutes ago and I was that age once and I remember coming here when I was that age
and we always used to start at St. John’s because that’s where my dad went to College and
we would come along the Backs and we would end here in Queens’ and we would go over that bridge into what to me was always and still is a magical place. That Court is just
beautiful, in a modest but just wonderful way. Then
when I was at prep school I got the mumps and had to go to the sickroom, which was
an opportunity to read and they gave me Daughter of Time to read
and I became a fan of Richard III who was the greatest benefactor of this College, I believe. I believe because I believed
what Josephine wrote that he was badly done by and I still sort of feel that he was a bit, so to be hear today and to be doing that and having listened to the most
wonderful words about my father, I’m very proud to be here today and humbled too,and to be wearing this which my father deserved and my brother Edward,
my late brother Edward deserved, I feel maybe I don’t quite deserve it but I’m
very very honored by the what the College has done for me and I thank the
College now publicly for the first time for what you have done for me, thank you
very very much thank you for regarding that I should be
regarded as somebody important amongst you, thank you very much.

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