A Victorian guide to Cambridge student life


Pages from the Fresher's Don'tImage copyright
St John’s College, Cambridge

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The tongue-in-cheek guide was written by St John’s student, Arthur John Story

Undergraduates were encouraged to smoke but told not to use tea cosies in a Victorian guide to student life.

The Fresher’s Don’t was published in 1893 for Cambridge University students.

It is on display at an exhibition at St John’s College, which was then an all-male establishment.

The guide includes advice on the opposite sex, including “not to get too familiar” with the landlady’s daughter – and a reminder not to “speak to girls without introduction”.

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St John’s College, Cambridge

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It highlights difficulties in meeting “ladies of his own station” and reminds him he should not shout while playing “Footer”

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St John’s College, Cambridge

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Arthur Story would have had a room similar to this one, where he advised freshers to offer tea, coffee and tobacco “whether you smoke yourself or not”

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St John’s College, Cambridge

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The exhibition includes a photograph of Cuthbert Holthouse, the last St John’s student to receive a wooden spoon for coming bottom of the class in Maths

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St John’s College, Cambridge

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Letters, exam papers and accounts are also on display



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