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Wesley House in the 1950s

The Revd Dr Brian E Beck


All students, unless already Cambridge graduates, were matriculated as members of Fitzwilliam College (at the time still ‘Fitzwilliam House’). All sat for the Theology Tripos, Part II only if already graduates, Parts I and II if a non-graduate (one such had to be admitted each year). Those who did well in Part II, and were not Cambridge graduates, could go on to a specialist subject in Part III. Cambridge graduates, having already had five years, were not eligible. Some might on leaving college be selected for a Finch Scholarship, to study in Germany or Sweden. A bright student might be entered for the University’s Carus Greek Testament prize. The names of those who won it include Eric Baker and Howard Marshall.


Attendance at selected University lectures was required. In addition NT classes were held by the Principal (Flemington – an excellent teacher), and supervision in other Tripos subjects, as required, by the Tutor (Philip Watson), who was thus expected to be a polymath. All learned NT Greek, some learned Hebrew also.


In addition to the Tripos there were in-house courses: lectures in systematic theology for the whole college (I think twice a week), one lecture a week for one term for the first year in homiletics, and one a week for one term for the second year in pastoralia. All were given in my day by the Tutor (previously by Flew). There was an annual test in theology marked by the College Visitor, who might, and sometimes did, admit that we knew more about the subject than he did.


On Friday evenings before dinner there was a visiting speaker. The college gathered in the student common room on ‘A’, presided over by the Principal. The speaker was usually a leading Methodist. The gathering would end at 6.30 with prayers in the chapel.

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