The Loch Ness monster seems to have bred some Nessie babies, for Stirling University, one of few British campuses to have its own loch, is rumoured to house a similar mythic creature. Pictures of sightings welcomed, but somehow we doubt they’ll be a deluge.
The University of York is famous for its duck population, with a quirky ‘duck density’ league table suggesting that 14 ducks inhabit every quarter of an acre on campus, the most of any UK university. One particularly aggressive duck with a red and yellow head is named ‘Beer Monster’ by students. Killing a duck is an expellable offence - one horror story involves a student rumoured to have caught, killed and ate one of the campus ducks, discovered when a cleaner found a pair of the ill-fated bird’s feet in his bin. York runs a Duck of the Day blog for daily pictures of ducks around campus.
Someone better call in the ghost busters, for several universities are rumoured to be haunted. The Lavender Lady walks Castle's back staircase at Durham University after dying in an accident, while the ghost of an electrician who fell from a gantry supposedly resides in the university's student theatre. Tradition once had it that, on opening nights, the actors would leave him a glass of whisky under a seat in the back row for good luck.
New College at the University of Oxford has a ‘squeaky mound’, renowned for squeaking at the sound of claps and thought to be the grave of Sweep from The Sooty Show, who is buried alive and crying for help.
Students at the University of Liverpool, whose Students’ Guild was built on the site of a mental institution, claim to have seen the ghost of a former patient wandering around.
flickr: Nick Perla (Energetic Spirit)
It was the financial support of the Wills and Fry families, who made their fortunes in tobacco and chocolate, respectively, that first enabled Bristol University to apply for a Royal Charter. Both families gave generous sums to the city and its university. It was the Fry’s chocolate factory that produced the first chocolate easter egg in the UK in 1873.
Rumour has it that Adolf Hitler planned to set up his UK headquarters in Senate House at the University of London, which is supposedly why it was never bombed in World War II. Many also consider the building to have been the inspiration for Orwell's Ministry of Truth in '1984'. Nothing too sinister about Senate House, then.
The University of Oxfordis another place thought to have been protected from bombardments during the nazi dictator’s invasion of Britain because he intended to make the city his capital.
(Yes that is a cat that looks like Hitler.)
Researchers at WMG at the University of Warwick have designed and developed a Formula 3 racing car that is powered by chocolate, steered by carrots and has a bodywork made from potatoes. Believe it or not, the car can still tackle corners at 125mph.
The University of Warwick
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is thought to have taken the name The Sun from Aston University’s first Student Union Newspaper, founded in 1951.
The University of Cambridge wouldn't let 19th-century romantic poet Lord Byron keep a pet dog. Being the badass that he was, he kept a tame bear instead. There was no mention of bears in university statute, meaning that the college authorities had no legal argument.
flickr: Tambako the Jaguar
It’s considered bad luck at Durham University to climb to the top of the cathedral before you’ve graduated. Tackle the tower steps at your peril, for if you reach the roof, you won’t be getting a first! A similar legend exists at Birmingham University, with students at risk of failing their finals should they stand under the Old Joe clock tower when it chimes.
Pendle College at Lancaster University is named after the infamous haunt of witches in medieval folklore. Unusually, the college’s logo is a witch silhouetted against a yellow moon. To add another fantastical touch, magic mushrooms grow in abundance on the hill on which Lancaster's campus is situated.
Durham University is thought to have the highest rate of inter-student marriages in Britain, with roughly 72 per cent marrying a fellow Durham alumnus. Figures suggest there are around 10,000 married Durham alumni, a third of whom started relationships after graduation.
The 1960s architecture of Brunel University was used as a backdrop for cult dystopian movie, A Clockwork Orange. The university’s buildings were used for the scene in which Alex undergoes the traumatising, albeit fictional, 'Ludovico' technique to induce nausea whenever he thinks of violence.
flickr: Photo Icarus
Upon joining the University of Oxford, all students swear an oath promising not to light a fire inside the internationally famous Bodleian Library, vowing: ‘I hereby undertake not to remove from the library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the library; and I promise to obey all rules of the library.'
Koen de Geus
Students at the University of St Andrew's risk facing bad luck and possible exam failure if they step on the initials of Patrick Hamilton marked in the cobbles outside St Salvator’s Quad. Hamilton was a student and Protestant martyr who was burned alive at the stake outside the college in 1528. Tradition holds that the only way to break the curse of accidentally treading on the stone is to run backwards three times around the quad at the change of class, naked. Fortunately an alternative way of cleansing exists in the form of the May Dip, when students gather on the beach to run into the North Sea at sunrise. Once exams finish in the summer, students jump on Hamilton’s initials to celebrate.
The University of Bradford is the only British university to have had a serving prime minister, Harold Wilson, as their chancellor. Bradford's first chancellor, Wilson held the position from 1966 until 1985.
Graffiti is permitted on college walls at the University of Oxford but only where it celebrates rowing victories over rival colleges in events such as Torpids and Summer Eights. At times, these murals have been known to require scaffolding for their creation. The very first boat race was won by Oxford on 10th June 1829 at Henley on Thames. Hugh Laurie took part in 1980 but his crew, Cambridge, lost that year.
Samuel David Rhinehart
Students at the University of Leicester were involved in the excavation of Richard III’s remains. On 4 February 2013, scientific tests confirmed that the battle-scarred skeleton with spinal curvature dug up from underneath a council car park was that of the last English king to die in battle. He had been buried five centuries ago but all physical trace had long since been lost.
University College London was the first to admit female students on the same grounds as men in 1878, while the first female graduate emerged from the University of Wales in 1896. The youngest Briton to graduate with a first-class degree was Ruth Lawrence, who despite never having attended school, was only 13 when she left the University of Oxford.
Law reformer Professor Jeremy Bentham left his entire estate to University College London in 1832, on the condition that he be preserved, dressed in his finest clothes, and mounted in a chair from where he would continue to attend the annual meeting of the Board of Governors. Despite dying 181 years ago, myth holds that his figure is still brought out to preside over UCL council meetings, recorded as 'present but not voting'. For the rest of the time, he lives in a cabinet on one of the university's corridors.
Led Zeppelin played their first ever gig in the Great Hall at the original Surrey University site in Battersea on Friday 25 October 1968.
Radiohead played an early show at Sussex University but were booed off stage by unimpressed students, while one of Coldplay’s first performances was a University of London fundraiser for the student support charity, Nightline.
Punk rockers The Sex Pistols debuted their sonic anarchy at the former St Martin's College, which is now part of University of the Arts, London.
Roehampton University heads up a recent promiscuity survey by studentbeans.com of nearly 7,000 sexually active students from 109 universities in the UK. Knocking last year's 'winner', the aptly-named Bangor University, off the top spot, the average Roehampton student confessed to having between six and seven sexual partners since starting their studies.
Loughborough University is home to the amusingly-named Bastard Gates, christened as such after the former Chairman of Governors, William Bastard.
One quaint rumour stands at Middlesex University that the late Queen Mother would sometimes take her afternoon tea in a cottage retreat in their grounds. Royal approval for multiple tea and biscuits breaks then.
The University of Edinburgh is home to the UK’s oldest student newspaper, The Student, which was started in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Coventry University contains a patch of grass full of tombstones next to its main admin block on campus. As a church used to stand on the university’s current site, the graveyard counts as sanctified ground and cannot be removed. Spooky!
Rumour has it that the University of Cambridge was set up by scholars in 1209 after they fled the hostile townspeople of Oxford. Now, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge refer to one other as 'the other place', with Oxford students calling their Cambridge counterparts 'tabs'.
Whenever a new Rector is installed at the University of Aberdeen, tradition dictates that he or she be carried by the student mascot, Angus the Bull, down the high street to a bar where they buy a round of drinks for student supporters.
flickr: Shannon (Shan213)
Ever heard of Bournemouth University’s beloved Gordon the Tramp? Gordon Roberts, with his large beard and Manchester United scarf, is famous for always knowing the time despite not owning a watch. Not actually a tramp, Roberts, in his eighties, lives in Charminster in Bournemouth. An online campaign was started in July 2011 to elect him as a carrier in the Olympic torch relay. Gordon told the Bournemouth Echo, "I might do it if I was asked but it would depend on what I was doing that day." Gordon did not carry the torch.
Durham University is home to several top-secret, invite-only clubs, including the '31sts', who would streak naked around Palace Green before the clock finished striking twelve on the final day of each month with 31 days - that’s seven times a year. Due to police sussing their game, the streaking is now confined to random incidents. Arguably the most famous elite society is the University of Oxford’s Bullingdon Club, known for raucous dinner parties back in its 80s heyday, where its rich members would get drunk and wreak havoc, obnoxiously settling the bill for any damage afterwards.
Finalists rushing to hand in their dissertations before the deadline are cheered on by hundreds at the University of Sussex. The annual Dissertation Dash sees staff and students congregate on the route between Library Square and Falmer House. This year saw the much-loved tradition scrapped in favour of a Deadline Day bar-based party, as there is no longer a single submission point and the event fell during exams.
flickr: Quinn Dombrowski (quinn.anya)