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Kings College Organ
Henry VI – The Royal Saint
Henry VI illustrated in the stained glass of the Chapel
Henry was 19 when he laid the first stone of the 'College roial of Oure Lady and Seynt Nicholas' in Cambridge on Passion Sunday, 1441. At the time the town was still a port so Henry exercised a form of compulsory purchase in the centre of medieval Cambridge, levelling houses, shops, lanes and wharves, and even a church. It took three years to purchase and clear the land.
Initially King's was to have a Provost and 12 impoverished students (the number of the apostles) but after work had begun on the Old Court, Henry decided to have 70 scholars (representing the 70 early evangelists chosen by Jesus) drawn exclusively from the king's other foundation at Eton. For over 400 years King's College admitted only Etonians and claimed the privilege that its students should receive degrees without being examined.
Henry drew up detailed instructions for Eton and King's, and at both places his first concern was the chapel. No other college had a chapel built on such a scale: in fact, the building was modelled on the plan of a cathedral choir, the architect being Henry VI's master mason, Reginald Ely.
The foundation stone of the Chapel was laid on the feast of St James, 25 July 1446, by the king; it was the first step in his plan for a great court, of which the Chapel was to form the north side.
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