In 1324, Hervey de Stanton, Chancellor of England, and Lord Chief Justice, founded Michaelhouse College. They immediately began plans to rebuild St. Michael’s church in a grand style. A year into the reconstruction plan, Hervey de Stanton died, and was buried in the unfinished chancel.
The Master of Michaelhouse College had been assigned the role of Vicar, or priest, and the college used the south chancel aisle for its chapel (Gonville Hall used the north aisle.) Much later, the Master of Michaelhouse and Chancellor of the University, John Fisher, opposed the reform measures of Henry VIII, which would eventually lead to his execution. Henry’s reforms added Michaelhouse and King’s Hall in the Dissolution of the monasteries. Their lands were to be combined to erect the magnificent Trinity College.
For nearly three hundred and fifty years, St. Michael’s Church continued as a parish church. The congregation grew smaller and smaller, and the lack of clerical support grew larger. In 1908, St. Michael’s was merged with Great St Mary’s Church. Lacking purpose, the interior was eventually renovated to serve as a church hall for the parish in the 1960’s. This venture proved to be both expensive and unsuccessful. The main criticism was that much of its original stature had been greatly compromised. The 14th century church was also expensive to maintain, so the added expense of the remodel seemed unsubstantiated.
Work began in the year 2000 for a second major conversion, seeking better to honour and utilize this beautiful, historic piece of Cambridge history. The primary goals were to benefit the community, and become more self sustaining financially. Costing approximately £1.3 million, ‘The Michaelhouse Centre Cambridge Limited’ opened its doors in November 2002.