Wodelarke, Robert (DNB00)

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WODELARKE, ROBERT, D.D. (d. 1479), founder of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, was the son of Richard and Joan Wodelarke (De precibus statutes of the college). He was one of the six original fellows of King's College, was the third surveyor of King's College chapel during its building, and superintended the works till Henry VI's deposition in 1455. Henry had promised 1,000l. a year, and when this payment ceased Wodelarke paid the sum of 328l. 10s. 4d. out of his own means. He was provost of King's from 1452 to 1479, and did much to promote learning in the university. He bought a site on 10 Sept. 1459, and on St. Catharine's day, 25 Nov. 1473, he formally founded a college, or hall, or house, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and to St. Catharine of Alexandria, patroness of Christian learning. He intended to endow a master and ten fellows learned in philosophy and theology, but the troubles of civil war obliged him to reduce his original scheme to a master and three fellows. He built the college on two tenements in Mill Street, Cambridge, and endowed it with funds described in a memorandum drawn up by him and still preserved in the college (Philpott, Documents, p. 1). The college was to be called St. Catharine's Hall or Catharine Hall, a name which it retained till, on the general revision of collegiate statutes in 1860, with the other ancient collegiate foundations of Clare and Pembroke, always before called halls, it was designated college, perhaps because in the university of Oxford the word hall indicates a subordinate position. He drew up the original statutes (ib. p. 11), and obtained a charter from Edward IV on 16 Aug. 1475 (ib. p. 8). He obtained licenses for divine worship in the college chapel on 15 Jan. 1475 and 26 Sept. 1478 (ib. pp. 30, 31). His sister Isabel, wife first of William Bryan of Swyneshed, Lincolnshire, and afterwards of John Canterbury, added to the endowment in 1479 (ib. p. 32). He gave the college a library of eighty-seven volumes of manuscript, including three books of Aristotle, ‘Cicero de officiis,’ one book on medicine, one on geometry, five histories, the ‘Etymologiarum’ of Isidore, and all the standard works in theology. The college thus founded has ever since been pre-eminent for learning, and has produced, besides eminent men in most branches of knowledge, more than twenty bishops and three senior wranglers. Wodelarke was chancellor of the university in 1459 and in 1462, and died in 1479.

[Corrie's Catalogue of the Original Library of St. Catharine's Hall (Cambridge Antiquarian Society), 1840; Philpott's Documents relating to St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, 1861; Willis and Clark's Architectural History of the University of Cambridge; Austen Leigh's History of King's College.]

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