History

Chichele College was founded c.1425, as a Chantry College for secular canons, by Henry Chichele, Higham Ferrers' most famous son.

Henry Chichele (1362–1443)

Born in The Tollbar area of the town in 1362, Henry's academic potential was spotted at an early age, by William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, who was staying at Higham Castle.

He studied at New Hall Oxford, achieving a Doctor of Law degree in 1396. A close friend of King Henry V, he worked as a diplomat, administrator and priest, being appointed Arch Bishop of Canterbury in 1414; a position he held until his death in 1443.



The College (c.1425–1542)

The college was dedicated to Queen Katherine, The Virgin Mary, Edward the Confessor, St Thomas of Canterbury, Henry's parents and the souls of the dear departed. It housed eight priests, four clerks and six choristers.

The prime function of the canons was to offer mass for the souls of the patron's family and to provide an educational facility, teach in the grammar school, train the choir and maintain the Bede House, which stands in the grounds of St. Mary the Virgin churchyard in Higham Ferrers.

It was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1542 (The Dissolution of the Monasteries) and retained by The Duchy of Lancaster, who still own the site.


From 1542 …

The college fell into disrepair. 

In the eighteenth century it became an inn, The Saracen's Head, then later a farm. The Ministry of Works took over the site in 1949 and the standing building was renovated during the 1950's. It now resides under the guardianship of English Heritage.

Since 2011 Chichele College has been managed by English Heritage in partnership with Higham Ferrers Tourism, Business and Community Partnership.