Wesley House in the 1960s

The Rev Dr John Barrett

Daily life

Although it was 20 years since the end of WWII, life was still pretty spartan. We relied upon gas-fires to heat our rooms, and were forever feeding the meters with coins. Hot water in the bathrooms was no longer limited to Fridays, but it never seemed very hot.

 

Until 1967, all students followed exactly the same daily routine - breakfast, chapel, lectures, study, lunch, study, supervisions, prayers, dinner, study, bed. We were not encouraged to go out, except at the week-ends, not even to join in university activities, though several did. Following University rules, gowns were to be worn for chapel, lectures, supervisions, examinations, formal dining, meetings with the Principal or Tutor, and when out of college in Cambridge after dark (though this last requirement seems to have been relaxed by the end of the decade). Occasional visitors were allowed between 9.00 and 10.00pm and my (then) fiancé discovered that Mr Burnham (Bunny), the Head Porter, and Fred, his assistant, were very susceptible to bribery with cream cake.

 

There remained a 10.00pm curfew, the time at which all visitors were required to leave and the gates were locked, and it was necessary to ring for the porter on duty to allow access. Late return to the House incurred a fine of one penny per half hour, which was donated to missionary funds, all of which was recorded in the signing-in book, regularly scrutinised by the Principal, who called students to explain themselves if such late returns were more than occasional.

 

Immediately on his arrival, Dr Rupp handed a gate key to every student. Though the university requirement to be in residence for a certain number of nights per term remained, and it was necessary to seek an ‘exeat’ if one was going to be very late back into the House.

 

The Rupps opened The Principal’s Lodge up for social evenings, when we sat on the floor, drank coffee, ate Mrs Rupp’s homemade biscuits, and listened as Gordon Rupp played us his favourite gramophone records and read us his favourite poems. Socially and educationally - these were very special occasions in the life of the House.

Wesley House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, CB5 8BJ

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