New Court from the Backs, Cambridge

New Court, St John's College, Cambridge, designed by Thomas Rickman (1876-1841) and Henry Hutchinson (1800-1831). 1825. Like James Savage and Anthony Salvin, Rickman was an important figure in the early years of the Gothic Revival, both by precept and because of his writings, especally his popular, well-illustrated An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of Architecture in England (1817). The architectural historian James Stevens Curl describes the latter as "the first systematic treatise on Gothic architecture in England," and says that its "importance ... cannot be over-emphasized" (34). The gifted Hutchinson joined Rickman as partner in 1821, working with him until his tragically early death ten years later. It was Hutchinson who designed the beautiful and much-loved Bridge of Sighs over the Cam.

Reginald Turnor strongly approves of Rickman's work at St. John's:

The New Buildings [at St John's] seem to me by far the best romantic Gothic work in either university. They are, of course, magnificently sited, and the "Bridge of Sighs," by Rickman's partner Hutchinson, cleverly links them with the old buildings over the river. But even apart from the loveliness of the surroundings, Rickman's work seems to me to have a charming kind of Gothic gaiety not approached by Wilkins at Corpus, King's, Trinity, or Emmanuel. (53)

High praise indeed, from this opinionated architectural historian.

Victorian and modern images of St. John's College

[Dates are those of the photographs, drawings, and engravings and not of the buildings represented.]

Photograph, caption, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Curl, James Stevens. Victorian Architecture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1990.

Turnor, Reginald. Nineteenth Century Architecture in Britain. London: Batsford, 1950.

Last modified 2 February 2012