The Cambridge University Catholic Chaplaincy, now popularly known as Fisher House, was founded by papal indult in 1895, when Catholics were allowed once more to read for degrees at Oxford and Cambridge. Since 1924, Fisher House, a cluster of two sixteenth-century houses, has been its home. Fisher House exists to support, encourage, challenge and guide the members of the University in living out their Catholic faith in Cambridge.
Fisher House is the collective spiritual home for all Catholic members of the University, from undergraduates to fellows. It is open each day for private prayer and celebrates Masses and the sacraments throughout the year.
Fisher House is also home to the Fisher Society, the student-run club for Catholics at the University. Catholic students and those who regularly attend Mass at Fisher House are automatically members of the Fisher Society, and anybody else is welcome to join the events it organises. During term-time, the Fisher Society organises weekly talks, known as the Apologia series, and regular social events. Its regular events include the Fisher Society Dinner, Christmas Party, barbecues, and Garden Party.
A number of groups affiliated with Fisher House also organise talks, discussion groups and social events in term-time, ranging from the Dolphins football team to the Benson Club literary group.
At the heart of Fisher House is our Chapel, constructed in 1976 and substantially redesigned in the 2010s. The Chapel is open for private prayer throughout the year, and is the centre of our community. It is accessed at the end of the corridor to your right as you enter from the glass doors.
The Chapel features a reconstruction of a 13th century Cimabue crucifix, commissioned by the Hamilton Kerr Institute and consecrated by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor in 2008. The stone altar, completed in May 2015, was consecrated by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and contains relics of the Cambridge Martyrs.
The Fisher Room is a multifunctional room to the right as you enter through the glass doors. It is open throughout the day as a social space for members to meet and relax, and is the venue for talks, socials and other events hosted by the Fisher Society and various groups. Access is by student card upon request.
The Fisher Room is also home to the Black Swan Bar, which is opened during some organised events and is licensed to serve a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The kitchen adjoining the room is available for students to use, with complimentary tea and coffee provided.
On the first floor is the Fisher House Library, which houses an extensive collection of books in theology, biography, history and literature. Books may be loaned upon request. During term-time, the Library is reserved for the use of students as a study space.
The Terrace is one of Cambridge’s best-kept secrets, and is available (weather permitting!) for all users of Fisher House, accessed via the Library. It is also the location for summer barbecues and parties. You can find out more about its Mary Garden on the dedicated webpage.
A small courtyard separates the two houses that comprise Fisher House; it is the resting place of Mgr Alfred Gilbey, a former Chaplain. An icon of Our Lady and the Holy Infant in the courtyard’s walls are visible from Guildhall Street.
Fisher House hosts its own Wi-Fi network, the password for which is provided upon request. Toilets are located on both floors, and there is wheelchair access to the first floor via stairlift.
Maintaining Fisher House
The finances of Fisher House, including building upkeep, are handled by the Cambridge University Catholic Association (CUCA), while the Chaplains are appointed by the Oxford and Cambridge Catholic Education Board (OCCEB), founded by the Vatican in 1895. The day-to-day running of the Chaplaincy is handled by the Chaplaincy team and the Fisher Society.