The Founding of Durham University

Durham has been at the fore of European scholarship for hundreds of years. Long before the University was founded in 1832, the scholarly monastic community gave Durham an unrivalled reputation for learning.

Durham College, Oxford (later Trinity College) was founded in the 13th century, and plans for a college in Durham were drawn up by Henry VIII in the 16th century, and again in 17th century by Oliver Cromwell.

But, after several earlier abortive attempts, a university was officially established in 1832 by the Bishop of Durham, William Van Mildert.

Apart from formal education in several disciplines, the establishment of a university in Durham brought well-educated youth to the city. The presence of a student body contributed to the city's vitality, bringing, among other things, humour and cheer, still present today.

The humour of the nineteenth-century student body has been preserved in the work of Edward Bradley, who, under the pen-name of Cuthbert Bede, captured student life in words and images. One of his sketches is shown below.

A sketch by Cuthbert Bede, a student at Durham University in the 1840s.