The Face Behind The Framlingham Feast
This evening, Pembroke will once again host the biennial Framlingham Feast.
The Framlingham Feast honours Sir Robert Hitcham, a former student and benefactor of the college.
Sir Robert Hitcham came to Pembroke in 1587 as a pensioner before entering Gray’s Inn in 1589. From there he enjoyed a successful law career, rising to the ranks of Attorney General to Queen Anne, wife of James I, and sergeant-at-law in 1616. He also sat in the Houses of Parliament for the boroughs of West Looe, Cornwall, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, Cambridge, and Orford, Suffolk.
Shortly before his death, Hitcham purchased Framlingham Castle from the Earl of Suffolk for the sum of £14,000, around £2,000,000 in today’s currency. It was this purchase which he then bequeathed to Pembroke College. In his will he stipulated that the College should maintain the almshouses and a school for the poor in Framlingham. This connection to education has remained with a school named after him still situated on the land that was given to the College.
However, the rest of his wishes were not easily deciphered and it took Matthew Wren, who had originally encouraged Hitcham to purchase the estate of Framlingham as a gift for the College, to interpret how Pembroke might use the income. It was Wren who decided that the money generated could be used for new buildings as long as they bore Hitcham’s name and crest.
This led to additional buildings being added to the west end of Ivy Court, with construction starting in 1659 and completed in 1661. To this day, that section of Ivy Court and the Hitcham’s Cloister by the chapel both bear his coat of arms.