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Quincentenary: celebrating 500 years

In 2011 St John's College celebrated its 500th birthday; looking back at the last half millennium and, most importantly, forward to the next 500 years. The College marked the passing of this momentous year in various ways, and with a series of special events…

Royal visit

St John's College was honoured to receive a visit from The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on Wednesday 27 April 2011.

With the Royal Standard flying over the College, The Queen visited the newly restored foundations of the original medieval chapel and unveiled a commemorative plaque. The royal party also listened to an excellent performance by St John's College Choir before attending lunch with Fellows and students in the Combination Room.

In the afternoon, The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh joined over a thousand students, Fellows and members of staff for a Garden Party on the College Backs. To complete the day, The Queen cut a special 500th birthday cake and departed the College to the avid flag-waving of pupils from St John's College School.

View a gallery of photos from the royal visit...

Quincentenary weeks

As part of the Quincentenary celebrations, St John’s mounted two extra-special Quincentenary Weeks as a celebration of all that is great about our College. Over 1700 Johnians and their guests attended events over the two weeks in July and September, as well as Fellows, staff and students.

Other events

Other events in 2011 included special concerts by the College Choir, a Heritage Open Day and a Garden Party for College staff. The May Concert also featured a new composition by John Rutter, commissioned to mark the College’s quincentenary.

View a gallery of photos taken throughout 2011...

Quincentenary prizes

Thanks to the generosity of a donor, the College marked its Quincentenary in 2011 by creating two essay prizes, open to competition among school and college students in Year 12.  The Wilkinson Essay Prizes.

St John’s College, Cambridge: A History

St John's College: A History, edited by Peter Linehan, was published in April 2011. This beautifully illustrated volume, including contributions by a number of Johnians, is a comprehensive account of the College's five centuries.


The College marked the year with a range of commemmorative merchandise and a special vintage of Pol Roger champagne.