Clare College Cambridge

Memorial Court


After the First World War, Clare’s rapid expansion necessitated new building.  A new court was constructed on the other side of the Cam and Queen’s Road, on land which had been acquired in the nineteenth century.  The new court, designed by the architect, Sir Giles Scott, was conceived specifically as a memorial to the Clare men who had lost their lives in the First World War.  The monumental memorial arch which forms the entrance to the court is pierced to accommodate a large bell and carries the names of the Clare men who died in both twentieth-century world wars.

Thirkill and Ashby Courts

Memorial Court was extended in the 1950s when Thirkill Court, named after Clare’s distinguished Master from 1939 to 1957, Sir Henry Thirkill, was constructed.  The building of the College’s new Forbes Mellon Library, boldly placed in the centre of Memorial Court, effectively dividing the court into two, with the halves linked via passages to the left and the right of the bulk of the building.  A separate court has therefore been created to the west; this was named Ashby Court in honour of Lord Ashby, Master from 1958 to 1975.  

Lerner Court 

Constructed on the last pocket of land available on the original Memorial Court site, Lerner Court was constructed in 2008.  Remaining sympathetic to Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s architectural vocabulary, as expressed in Memorial Court, the new buildings use the same materials and echo its volume and proportions.  The court combines two main functions: an accommodation wing and a state-of-the-art study centre which includes an underground 150-seater auditorium, a spacious, light-filled, double aspect foyer with a portico terrace extending into the court and a double height music/conference room.

The space created by the new buildings is as important as the buildings themselves.  Lerner Court – named for Randolph Lerner, an alumnus and major benefactor of the College – does not simply replicate other courts, but aims to be a dynamic, landscaped space, laid out by the distinguished landscape architect, Robert Myers.