The word quatrefoil etymologically means "four leaves", and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts. In architecture and traditional Christian symbolism, a quatrefoil is a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter. It is most commonly found as tracery, mainly in Gothic architecture, where a quatrefoil can often be seen at the top of a Gothic arch, sometimes with stained glass on the interior.
There are many examples throughout the Quadrangle, and a selection appear below.
- Great Hall quatrefoils
- Clock Tower quatrefoils
- More East range quatrefoils
- Cloister quatrefoils
- Nicholson Gateway quatrefoils
- More quatrefoils
Images are courtesy of the University Secretariat. Click on images for enlargement.
Above: Three quatrefoils in the blind tracery at the top of the Cambridge stained glass window above the entrance to the Great Hall.
Above: "VR" for "Victoria Regina" at the rear of the Clock Tower.
Above: Quatrefoils in the Quadrangle - with carvings of heraldic and floral motifs in the centres. The date "1855" is on the front of the Great Hall.
Above: Quatrefoils opposite and on the staircase in the North Vestibule of the East range.
Above: Quatrefoils on an East range door.
Above: Quatrefoils on the cloister wall outside the Nicholson Vestibule.
Above: Quatrefoils on the wall and staircase leading from the Nicholson Gateway.
Above from left: Quatrefoils on the front of the Western Tower; and quatrefoils on copper rainwater heads in the Vice-Chancellor's Courtyard.