Emmanuel college cambridge

A deep dive into the secret life at Emmanuel college

Cambridge University is best associated with colleges such as King’s, St Johns and Trinity – all of which are viewable on our notorious punting tour. But this is only a fraction of the Cambridge collegiate collection. We want to pay our due diligence to the many other Cambridge colleges that you can only see on foot. In the spotlight today: Emmanuel College.

You might ask what is Emmanual College Cambridge known for? The beautiful outdoor spaces, friendly atmosphere and iconic ducks come to mind. Its central location allows you to step from the buzzing city-central atmosphere into tranquil spacious grounds. You might also ask, in comparison to other colleges, is Emmanuel College Cambridge good? Typically, since 1998, Emmanuel scored within the top five of the Cambridge colleges. That speaks for itself! Not too shabby…

Emmanuel College Cambridge the Paddock large tree summer day

the culture of Emmanuel College

There is a clear emphasis on friendliness at Emmanuel College. The college Master will occasionally open up his private garden to the students with a fresh supply of Pimms and snacks to encourage collegiate bonding. Students also get to know one another at the very popular new college bar which is frequently packed to the brim with academics eager to get in on the reasonably priced pints.

For the daytime, there is also the Emmanuel College cafe – Fiona’s Cafe – freshly renovated in 2022. It seamlessly combines a classical design to match the historical grounds with a sleek and colourful look with pops of neon. With a large floor to ceiling glass window – coffee can be enjoyed overlooking the glorious grounds.

Emmanuel College Fiona Cafe with neon sign and tables and chairs

The cafe is the ideal location for relaxed chitter chatter over studying. The library, on the other hand, is the main hub of academic study for college members. Emmanuel College library has both an old and new section; students can pick either and have the best of both worlds!

Emmanuel FORMALS

What are Emmanuel College formals like, you ask? Great question! How a college throws a formal – essentially a fancy three course candlelit meal in a dining hall – says a lot about the college culture. So how does Emma go about it?

Some Cambridge Colleges are rather structured with their formals. Then there is King’s College with their costume formals and breakdancing entertainment between courses (read more here). Emmanuel College has a relaxed atmosphere at their formals The catering staff serve the mains, and the students serve each other the sides of honey-glazed vegetables and whatever else might be on the menu. Because the catering staff leave some of the serving to the students, Emmanuel can cut down on costs! Therefore, it’s only approximately £9 for a full three-course meal at an Emmanuel formal!

Emmanuel College Cambridge University formal hall candlelit three course meal with students in gowns and portraits on the wall

For more casual dining, each college has its own ‘canteen’ serving lunch and dinner. This is essential for students; those living onsight often don’t have access to cooking facilities. Therefore, students have pushed for a discounted ‘meal deal’ in college. For under £5, they get a hot meal with sides. Whilst the Boots meal deal is a favourite, Emmanuel might just give them a run for their money!

Emmanuel’s amazing outdoor spaces

As one of the larger Cambridge Colleges, Emmanuel has a generous amount of green space to enjoy. There are numerous ponds with koi fish, large and unusual trees, ducklings chasing after their mothers, wisteria and room for picnics.

The main green space is called ‘the paddock’. This stretch of grass gives college members a luxurious walk on their way around the grounds. Emmanuel Gardners go to great lengths to ensure that all the space is prim and proper at all times. It’s easy to see why they take so much pride in their work.

A heron on the grounds of Emmanuel College Cambridge University with trees and buildings in the background

What better environment for an afternoon outdoor study session than with squirrels scurrying about, ducklings waddling along, flowers blooming and the sun beating? Students at Emmanuel College certainly have the privilege of living out a Disney meets Harry Potter dream. 

Emmanuel college culture is so impacted by their outdoors, in fact, that their college families are named after the ducklings. What is a college family? At all Cambridge colleges, new students are given a ‘family’ with two older students to become their ‘college parents’ and fellow ‘fresher’ students as their siblings. These new recruits to the families are the latest duckling additions. This is simply a way to better integrate new students into Cambridge life – and Emmanuel College has its own unique spin on the process.

the lovely team at Emmanuel College

Essential to any College community are the porters. You might ask – What is a porter at a UK university? They are a team who monitors the college 24/7 to guard and manage the daily operations. You’ll find them at the front gate of any Cambridge College you visit. Alongside working as guards and administrators of a given college, they are also trained to act as mental health support to students when needed. What’s more – every freshers week that comes around, you can guarantee that the porters will have a considerably tipsy student sat in their office that they want to keep an eye on until they are feeling better.

Emmanuel College Cambridge Front Gate Sunny day
Emmanuel College Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cmd1PXHOdE8/

All Cambridge colleges have ‘bedders’: essentially cleaners who, five days a week, clean the students’ kitchens and bathrooms – and even their bedrooms. Historically, the ‘bedders’ – short for bedmakers – were employed by the students themselves. Now, they are college employees and often build friendly and familial relationships with the students that they care for day in and day out. 

Emmanuel College goes one step further.

What makes Emmanuel College Cambridge good? Perhaps one of the best selling points of Emma is the laundry service. Students bring their clothes down to the lovely laundry staff who take care of everything from there. By the end of the day, students can collect their freshly washed and ironed laundry and go about their business. Whilst this may sound trivial, this is truly a very enviable trait about Emmanuel College from the perspective of the rest of the Cambridge students. It’s not unheard of for laundry facilities to be buildings away from your own accommodation – making the weekly chore that much more tedious.

Punting in Cambridge

Interested in what you’ve heard? Then you’ll definitely be keen to learn more about the many colleges on our punting tour. We start with Magdalene College and end with Queen’s College Cambridge – with iconic colleges in between! These are exclusive views of Cambridge that you cannot get on foot. This is really why the punting tour is a must-do for visitors.

River Cam Cambridge with numerous punting boats passing each other with bridge in backgroun

Our skilled punting chauffeurs are trained in giving their detailed descriptions of the colleges you will glide through on the River Cam. Throw any question at them. They love being kept on their toes by testing their knowledge. Punting chauffeurs love meeting new customers to spend the better part of an hour with; be sure to use them as a treasure trove of Cambridge information! Our chauffeurs won’t know as much, however, about Emmanuel College because it’s not on the River Cam. After reading this blog, you could teach them a thing or two!

Read our blog on the hidden world within King’s College Cambridge here. Keep an eye out for the next Cambridge College deep dive. Any suggestions? Here is the list of all the Cambridge colleges. Let us know which you want to learn more about!