St Michael’s parish is thought to date from the original foundation of Cambridge city.
In 1324 Hervey de Stanton, Chancellor of England and Lord Chief Justice, founded Michaelhouse college and immediately ordered the rebuilding of St Michael’s church, in the decorated style. It was the first college chapel in Cambridge. Hervey de Stanton died a year later and was buried in the then unfinished chancel.
The Master of Michaelhouse college had been installed as Vicar; the college used the south chancel aisle for its chapel and Gonville Hall used the north aisle.
Two centuries later the Master of Michaelhouse and Chancellor of the University, John Fisher, opposed the reformist measures of Henry VIII, an opposition which later led to his execution. Henry’s reforms included Michaelhouse and King’s Hall in the Dissolution of the monasteries and their lands were combined for the building of the magnificent Trinity College.
For nearly 350 years St Michael’s continued as a parish church but with fewer and fewer congregation and clerical support, and in 1908 was merged with Great St Mary’s. It had no clear role and in the mid-1960′s the interior was converted to serve as a church hall for the parish. Though expensive, the conversion was not successful; critics thought it detracted greatly from the 14th century church while also being expensive to maintain.
For more detail about some events: Historical information.
In 2000 work started on a second major conversion, seeking better to honour the fine historic building and with the aim of serving the wider community while sustaining itself financially. The conversion costed £1.3 million and the Michaelhouse Centre (full name The Michaelhouse Centre Cambridge Limited) opened its doors in November 2002.
Michaelhouse is a registered charity (number 1068472) and operates under a licence granted by Great St Mary’s. It remains a fully consecrated building. The trustees are drawn from Great St Mary’s and other churches and denominations in Cambridge. The Michaelhouse Friends, an enthusiastic body of people, sponsor activities and provide active support.
Michaelhouse’s founding charter states its main objectives as being to advance the Christian faith, and to advance education particularly in the arts. In 2009 the trustees adopted the following Mission Statement:
To be a different kind of church, engaging with people, offering hospitality, and with a spirituality open to all.