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Susanna Gregory will be adding exclusive articles on the background to the Chronicles of Matthew Bartholomew on this page. We begin with a look at the origins of the college at the heart of the stories, Michaelhouse.

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The first college site

In 1323, Stanton purchased a 'messuage' (house and strip of land) from a woman called Dera of Madingle (Madingley). This was next to St Michael's Church on Cambridge's High Street. He also bought the 'advowson' of St Michael's Church, which meant he had the right to appoint the rector and get all the tithes that were owed to that particular church. It is possible that he originally intended his College to be located here, on the High Street. On 16 March 1324, he bought a house and garden from Roger and Robert Buttetourte that stood at the junction of St Michael's Lane and the mysteriously named Foule Lane. This house, originally thought to comprise two properties, had grounds that ran down to a navigable stream and included a working hythe.

The Buttetourtes' house formed the heart of the college. Stamp (1924) maintains it was an L-shaped building, but the original title deed in the Otryngham Book indicates that it was originally two houses, one standing north of the other. It is likely to have been a modified E-plan, where the two houses were joined by some kind of wing. The scholars moved in on Michaelmas eve 1324. To fund their living expenses, they were presented with the advowson of St Michael's Church and Dera de Madingle's house, which they probably rented out.