The Doric Columns
MARISCHAL COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY ~ 1593
A College is a combination of schools or classes working together for a common purpose under one head or directing body; but what is a University? Cicero used the Latin "universitas" with the meaning of the whole human race. In Medieval Latin the term "vestra universitas" was frequently used to indicate those to whom Bulls, Letters, and Charters were addressed. The Pope it might mean the whole world, over which he at one time claimed temporal power, or the whole Christian world, over which he still claims Ecclesiastical authority. Used by a Bishop, it meant all the Churches and congregations and Priests under his jurisdiction. But used in connection with a College, "universitas" had quite a different meaning. It denoted a scheme of study which was in contrast with that in use in the only other schools of learning in the middle ages - the Cathedrals. By these the young Priests were taught Latin, perhaps Greek and Hebrew too, and Theology, and any other branches of learning desirable for a Priest to know, and nothing else. In contrast to this a University was a College where the whole circle of knowledge concerning everything that men took an interest in could be acquired:- religion, languages, law, medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, plants, and animals. Anciently men had no scruple about undertaking to teach everything that was worth studying, and a University in the Middle Ages better deserved this name than its modern representative. Then it might have been said with some truth that every student learned everything studied at the time; now we specialise and try to learn much, not many things.
Founded in 1593 by George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal of Scotland, Marischal College was created as a Protestant alternative to King's College in Old Aberdeen. This resulted in Aberdeen having 2 Universities at a time when there were only 2 in the whole of England.
THAY . HAIF . SAID : QUHAT . SAY . THAY : I.AT THAME SAY.
Church Land and Wealth
George Keith, the Earl Marischal,
he made some signs of restitution by founding
on the site of a
Inscribed within the principal entrance is his defiant motto. "They
say - what say they?
them say," which seems as if hurled at those who had frankly criticised his
Marischal, was one of
those working to reform King's, and it was
Keith who decided to set up a 2nd College - Marischal College - in
New Aberdeen in 1593. Again European influences are prominent, for
Keith had completed his own education at the Calvinist Academy in Geneva.
The exact status of Marischal College is not clear from its Charter, but
that no overt threat to King's was intended is shown by the fact that the
Principal of King's was one of those invited to select staff for
Marischal. This he refused to do, thus inaugurating the rivalry which was to
mark the relationship of the 2 Colleges for the next 250 years.
The Original Buildings
1633 William Guild, who had long been minister of King Edward but had been
called to Aberdeen in 1631 to be 1 of the Town Ministers, gave over by
to the Town Council a house which he had bought in front of Greyfriars Church
and an arched gateway at the end of it to be an entrance to the College. A few
years afterwards the Town Council put up the Burgh Arms above the gate, but
these were afterwards replaced by those of the founder of the University. About
the same time Greyfriars Church was shortened by 20 feet to improve the entrance to
the College, and an aisle was added to the east side for the accommodation of
the Professors and Students. In the Charter of the House and Gate Mr Guild is
styled Magister - that is Master of Arts, which degree he received from
College. Soon after the date of the Charter he is called Doctor of Divinity. There is no record of his having got this degree from King's College, but he may
got it from St Andrews University, as he built St Leonard's College there
and bequeathed his library to the University of St Andrews. In 1633
Council gave the College a backhouse to be chambers for students on condition
that the College gave up to the Town all claim to the Greyfriars Church, which
thereafter became one of the Town Churches.
In 1639 part of the Convent Buildings were destroyed by fire during the night, but by the munificence of Dr Patrick Dun (the Principal 1621), Mr William Moir, and a gift from the Town Council, the damage was repaired before the end of 1642. Dr Dun had an outstanding reputation as a practising doctor. He was a man of substance, and when Marischal College was burnt down he contributed handsomely towards the cost of the new buildings.
As the result of a report by Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of the Aberdeen Colleges in 1641 Charles I united the 2 Universities and gave them a Grant from the Scots Parliament of £500 sterling, besides confirming to them the Revenues of the abolished Bishopric of Aberdeen.
This was confirmed by the Scots Parliament and also by Cromwell, but no change was made in the staffs or teaching of the Colleges, and the Act of Parliament was held to have been revoked by the General Act Rescission of 1661
ENTRANCE TO MARISCHAL COLLEGE UNTIL 1893
Marischal College 1740~1840
A movement was begun in 1682 for rebuilding part of the College, and this was accomplished about 1700. The stones had come by sea from Morayshire, and the lime doubtless came from the Firth of Forth.
In 1715 the 10th Earl Marischal, then Chancellor of the University, joined the Jacobite Rebels and was forfeited the following year. The Rebellion had a disastrous effect on the College. The doors were closed for 2 sessions, and when Teaching was resumed it was with a new Staff of Professors.
Until the defeat of the In 1715 the last and 10th Earl Marischal, George Keith, was convicted of treason for his part in the Jacobite rising. His estates, including Dunnottar Castle, were seized by the Government.
Some additions to the buildings were made between 1737 and 1741 under the direction of William Adam, an Edinburgh Architect, at a cost amounting to £700. Soon after 1747 the residence of students within the College ceased to be insisted on by the University and was given up.
Marischal College, Broad Street, as it was between 1740 and 1840, when it was later demolished for re-development. It had been designed by William Adam, Architect with Baronial Staircase Towers and grand Entrances. It was situated on Broad Street with a large area before it. It consisted of a large Principle Building with 2 wings at right angles. On the ground floor it had the private schools for several classes except the Greek Class which met in the west wing. The 2 upper storeys were occupied as Residences by the 2 Senior Professors. The ground floor of the centre part of the building is the public school and on the 1st floor is the Common Hall 79ft long 22ft broad and 14ft high. Above this Hall is the Public Library which contained a great selection of books arranged according to the subjects that they treat. In the west end of the building are the common staircase, the lobby to the Hall, the apartment where the Theological Classes are taught, and lodgings for 1 of the Professors.
New Marischal College Buildings 1836~1906
The College was united with King's College in 1858 to form the University of Aberdeen. Marischal College is an extremely important building.
Its category A-listing indicates its national significance but it is above all an iconic monument for the City of Aberdeen. A. Marshall McKenzie's Broad Street frontage is not that old, it is a 20th century building completed in 1906. This period, however, was the heyday of the City's granite industry and Marischal College, reputedly the second largest granite building in the world, can be seen as the high point of the use of granite as a building material.
The monumental yet intricately detailed Broad Street facade inspired the poet John Betjeman to describe it as being "bigger than any Cathedral, tower on tower, forests of pinnacles, a group of palatial buildings rivalled only by the Houses of Parliament". It remains arguably the most striking landmark in the city.
Aberdeen University formerly continues to use the Marischal Museum, the Mitchell Hall and other accommodation to the rear of the Quadrangle.
New buildings having become necessary the Treasury gave a grant of £15,000, and the work was begun in 1836 and ended in 1844.
Within a year a Fire broke out in the new building, and the books of the library were carried out and heaped up in the quadrangle; but the fire was got out before much damage was done to the building.
OF MARISCHAL COLLEGE, SHOWING THE McGRIGOR OBELISK
An addition made on the north side of the original building was carried out westward to Broad Street, and it was completed in 1896. Soon after, the north tower at the end of the North Wing was finished. The south side addition was likewise extended to the west, matching that on the north side. Shipbuilder Mr Charles Mitchell had subscribed £1000 for the 1st south side extension, but he afterwards took upon himself the cost of extending and altering the East Wing to provide a Graduation Hall and a Students Union, and to elevate the Central Tower. These, which cost him £20,000 more, were completed in 1895. Ornamental additions to the Hall and Tower and further subscriptions to the buildings brought up his munificence to Marischal College to £30,594.
In 1860 King's College and Marischal College were fused into 1 University; but the 2 colleges were continued as separate buildings, some classes being held in the one and some in the other, but no subject was to be taught in both colleges. The old names, King's and Marischal, are still in use for the Colleges; but the union of the governing, degree-conferring bodies produced the University of Aberdeen. The united University prospered, and in 20 years a need was felt for more accommodation. The space in front of the building completed in 1844 was too small to allow more buildings there, so an addition was made along the south side of the College. The new building began in 1889, and the addition was completed the following year, at the cost of nearly £11,000. However, before it was finished, the University Act of 1889 had passed, and it was seen that more building would be required. Additions on a large scale were planned, for which it was estimated that £100,000 would be required. The Town Council promised £10,000, and afterwards more than doubled this. The Government promised £40,000, provided a like sum were raised locally. This was done, chief among the subscriptions being £6000 from Charles W. Mitchell, of Newcastle, the son of Charles Mitchell (1820-1895), by then of of the firm of Sir W. G. Armstrong, Mitchell, and Co., Newcastle, who was a former native of Aberdeen.
College Quadrangle from the interior
Left - "Marischal College (prior to the Mitchell Tower addition) from the roof of 75 King Street". It is signed "J. Small, 93" (1893). Right - from the North East
The West Front
Still there remained undone the contemplated West Front of the college, and by all it was admitted that the erection of this part must be put off indefinitely; but at the close of his Rectorial Address in 1900 Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal (Quebec), with quiet composure, said he was ready to give £25,000 if the University and its friends furnished a like sum. Mr Charles W. Mitchell on the same day announced that he would clear off the debt on the buildings already erected if £20,000 or so would do it. This left new subscriptions free to meet Lord Strathcona's generous offer, and the funds being thus secured, preparation for the West Wing was begun with the removal of Greyfriars Church, the site of which was required for the new building.
King Edward Vll and
Queen Alexandra open the new extension to Marischal College, during Aberdeen
University's 4th Centenary celebrations. Lord Provost Lyon was knighted.
The then existing buildings of Marischal College were, in respect of their surroundings, front aspect, and general appearance, precisely as erected by Simpson some 50 years before. The recent expenditure of ;£6,000 of Government money had merely doubled, by an addition at the back, the South Wing, which, with the central block and north wing, formed 3 sides of a square. There was thereby in part enclosed an ample area known as "the Quad.," the scene of many a fierce Peasemeal Battle during the Rectorial Contest. This area was completely enclosed in front by a line of buildings, some of them of great age, forming the east side of the street, which sorely belied its name of Broad Street, or "the Broadgate." The unsightly backs of these buildings faced the Quadrangle, the only entry to which through the line of buildings was by a gateway, dangerously narrow. Immediately behind these enclosing buildings, and at the West or South-west comer of the Quadrangle, but in a position unsymmetrical thereto, stood the ancient edifice, the Parish Church of Greyfriars, or "The College Kirk," with entry solely from the Quadrangle. Here surely was a situation which, in respect of vested rights and ownership, bristled with difficulties. It is to be feared that certain of the Parties interested did not always adequately recognize and respect the powers, rights, and responsibilities of others. The parties were -
(1) the Owners of the Properties
along the line of Broad Street, who could be dealt with only through
powers obtained under an Act of Parliament;
Mitchell Hall organ
ARMORIAL BEARINGS ON MARISCHAL C0LLEGE
They are arranged according to their
importance in this history, the Arms of the University itself occupying the
centre, the place of honour; but we shall take them in the order of their
probable age, because some of the older coats have entered into the composition
In all arts and sciences technical terms are used for the sake of
precision and brevity. In Heraldry technicality is carried to an extreme degree,
and the description of a shield in heraldic language is often unintelligible to
common people. The French language was originally used in this country in
describing shields, and many Heraldic Terms are of French origin. Some terms
even retain a French form, and more information regarding the meaning of
heraldic terms may be obtained from an old French dictionary than from a modern
English. Straining after brevity often results in obscurity, and we have in the
City of Aberdeen Arms an example of this. When the Lyon King of Arms grants a
Coat-of-arms it is given in writing. By paying a sum of money a representation
of the coat in colours may also be obtained, but this is of no force, even
though done by the Lyon himself. The written description is the only rule of
direction for finding what the coat-of-arms really is.
THE ARMS OF ABERDEEN (2nd from the right).
6. MITCHELL (1st On the right)
Charles Mitchell (1820 - 22 August 1895) was an Aberdonian who founded major
Shipbuilding Yards on the River Tyne. He became a public benefactor who funded notable
Arms - gules on a fesse argent between a demi-lion rampant in chief or and a canoe of the host with 4men paddling proper. In the bow a flag of the second, flowing to the dexter, inserted with the letters N.W. Sable in base. A hammer surmounted by a nail in saltire of the last. Crest on a mount vert, a beaver eating into a maple tree proper. Then follows the motto, "Perseverance."
Credit must be given to the designer of this striking heraldic device, which is really a brief record of the life of Strathcona. Here we see the Sable and Beaver typifying the Hudson Bay Co.; the Paddlers in the canoe represent the mode of travel on the great water ways of the new world in the early days; 4 or 2 for me . stands for North-West, the scene of his adventurous career; the Hammer & Nail signify the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the new Peer having with his own hand driven in the last spike.
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