The Quadrangle

Quatrefoils

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.


Images are courtesy of the University Secretariat. Click on images for enlargement.


GREAT HALL QUATREFOILS

Quatrefoils
Quatrefoils

Above: Three quatrefoils in the blind tracery at the top of the Cambridge stained glass window above the entrance to the Great Hall.


CLOCK TOWER QUATREFOILS

"V"
"R"

Above: "VR" for "Victoria Regina" at the rear of the Clock Tower.


MORE EAST RANGE QUATREFOILS

A fleur-de-lis quatrefoil
A Tudor rose quatrefoil
A slightly different fleur-de-lis quatrefoil
1855 quatrefoil above the Great Hall entrance
An eagle quatrefoil
A waratah quatrefoil

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.

Quatrefoils on the doorway opposite the stairs
Quatrefoils on wooden stairs
Quatrefoils on wooden stairs
Quatrefoils on wooden stairs

Above: Quatrefoils opposite and on the staircase in the North Vestibule of the East range.

Quatrefoils on an East range door.

Above: Quatrefoils on an East range door.


CLOISTER QUATREFOILS

Quatrefoils
Quatrefoil

Above: Quatrefoils on the cloister wall outside the Nicholson Vestibule.


NICHOLSON GATEWAY QUATREFOILS

Quatrefoils
Quatrefoil

Above: Quatrefoils on the wall and staircase leading from the Nicholson Gateway.


MORE QUATREFOILS

Western Tower
Vice-Chancellor

Above from left: Quatrefoils on the front of the Western Tower; and quatrefoils on copper rainwater heads in the Vice-Chancellor's Courtyard.


LB