Lyon Court

The long-delayed Phase 3 of the Cripps Court development was built in 1986–​89 and was named Lyon Court: a reference to the family name of the then Patroness: Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, H.M. The Queen Mother.

Internal planning took place in the early 1980s, and, following a competition between four local companies of architects in December 1984, Bland Brown & Cole were selected. The chosen design continued the basic modular layout and materials of the earlier Powell & Moya building (Cripps Court Phases I and II), with pitched lead roofs referencing the gables of Fisher Building. The foundations were dug and constructed in 1986, and the main contract for the building ran from March 1987 to March 1989. The following account, after completion, is reproduced from The Record for 1990:

“Lyon Court

Lyon Court is the name which has been given to the new courtyard formed by the Phase III development of Cripps Court. Our Patroness has graciously consented to our use of her family name to commemorate her long association with the College. The College took possession of the new buildings in Lyon Court on 3rd March 1989. They were put into immediate use.

Technicians from the Bats moved into the Fitzpatrick Hall that afternoon (a Friday) and worked more or less without sleep over the weekend to prepare the theatre for their first show the next Tuesday evening. The effort which the Bats put in, both then and subsequently, to fit out the Fitzpatrick Hall as a theatre can only be described as heroic. A fair amount of the theatre equipment installed in the Fitzpatrick Hall has been purchased by the Bats to supplement the provision made by the College. The Bats financed these purchases out of an appeal made to their former members, to whom we are all grateful. During that first hectic weekend the College also fitted out the stage with sets of black curtains with legs and borders as part of its permanent provision for the use of the stage both for drama and for lectures.

During the Easter Vacation 1989 the Fitzpatrick Hall was used for the first time by conferences as a lecture theatre. The College is providing audio-visual aids, such as overhead projectors and 35mm slide projectors, to support these functions.

The National Student Drama Festival, held in Cambridge during the Easter Vacation 1989, used the Fitzpatrick Hall as a venue for two of its productions and several of its workshops.

The College has purchased badminton equipment for the Fitzpatrick Hall, so that we are now able to support the sport in College. These facilities have been taken up not only by the student Badminton Club, but also by the Staff Social Club. The Film Club also use the Hall for evening film shows.

The JCR Committee, in its capacity as organiser of student entertainments, has purchased disco sound equipment for the Fitzpatrick Hall which is now in use almost every Friday and Saturday evening during term, either for private parties or public JCR discos. The availability of the Fitzpatrick Hall for discos and parties has greatly reduced the demand on other parts of College less suitable for these activities, to the benefit of all.

The scale of usage of the Fitzpatrick Hall after less than one year in our hands is such that we cannot contemplate letting the Hall during term time to student functions of other colleges or the university. This is a remarkable testament to the strength of the collegiate commitment of our students.

The Angevin Room, a small seminar room created within Phase II of Cripps Court, has been enlarged and incorporated into Phase III as an interval crush bar for the Fitzpatrick Hall. The installation of the bar in the Christmas Vacation 1989/90 was funded by the Development Appeal. The room has also been equipped with teaching aids.

The Squash Courts building is also in intensive use. There are three Squash Courts, of which two have glass backs and can be viewed from the courtyard itself.

The fourth room on the ground floor has been set up as a Multigym with the help of a loan from the College. It has attracted over 180 subscribing members from amongst the students, Fellows and staff.

The building also has, at first floor level, a room with superb views over the Backs. This room was specified originally as a table tennis Room, but the high standard of its finishes and outlook are such that it is in demand for many other activities as well as table tennis. We have equipped it with teaching aids and a full set of tables and chairs for possible seminar use, and indeed we are experimenting with holding Governing Body meetings there. This room has been named the Bowett Room in recognition of the part played by Derek Bowett as President 1970–1982 in supporting the Cripps Court development and being the driving force behind the Development Appeal.

The wide diversity of facilities within the Phase III development of Cripps Court has demonstrated to all resident members of the College the extent of their indebtedness to the Cripps Foundation for this magnificent culmination to a far sighted project, first planned 20 years ago. We acknowledge also with gratitude the contributions made by our members to the Development Appeal which have enabled the College to equip the buildings and thereby realise their full potential.

Other Phase III works

Less impressive sounding, but no less important to the functioning of the College, has been the completion of the surface paths and roadways in the areas affected by the building of Cripps Court Phase III.

The College kitchens now have, for the first time in the history of the College, a properly finished delivery area and loading bay. New Catering Offices are in use, enabling us to dispense with the portable cabins which have stood outside Fisher Building and in the Round for some years.

An access road has also been laid around the west side of Lyon Court to provide a new route to the Gardeners’ Building and staff car park in the Grove. It also leads to the new underground car park under Lyon Court, which we are not yet able to use because of certain technical problems.

The electricity sub-station is now encased in brickwork matching the Fisher Building, as is the boilerhouse built on to the end of Fisher Building during Phase I. These changes have made a considerable improvement to the appearance of the College from the Backs.

In the area between Fisher Building and Cripps Court, a new extension to the Cripps cycle sheds serves to reconcile the square shape of Cripps Court to the curved outline of Fisher Building (and it takes quite a few cycles as well!).

A new path has been laid along the entire length of Fisher Building, connecting the Porters’ Lodge to all the staircases and the delivery area. Planting has commenced in beds beside this path.”
[Lyon Court, by Robin Walker, in Queens’ College Record 1990, pp. 5–7] 

Architects: Bland, Brown & Cole, of Cambridge.
Structural Engineer, Mechanical and Electrical Consultant: Ove Arup & Partners.
Quantity Surveyor: David Langdon and Everest.
Acoustics Consultant: Fleming & Barron.
Main Contractor: (1987–9) Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd.
Foundations: (1986) Stent Foundations Ltd.

The Multi-Purpose Hall in Lyon Court was named the Fitzpatrick Hall as a reference to the Fitzpatrick Hall (demolished in 1971 to make way for Phase I of Cripps Court), which had provided common-room facilities and a bar for students, and an indoor venue for the Bats drama performances. The old Fitzpatrick Hall had been named after Thomas Cecil Fitzpatrick, President 1906–31, and benefactor to the college.

The benefactor desired an improved finish to the courtyard itself, which accordingly was re-modelled in 1991, to its current design. [Queens’ College Record 1992, p. 6] 

On 9th June 1992, the court was formally named Lyon Court by the Patroness, the Queen Mother, as recorded by a small bronze plaque in the court on the north wall of the Green Room. [Queens’ College Record 1993, pp. 1, 3] 

From 1992 until 2016, the College Nursery occupied the Green Room and Dressing Rooms of the theatre. [Queens’ College Record 1993, p. 5; Queens’ College Record 2016, p. 27] 

In 2002, the JCR/Bar on the ground floor under EE staircase was extended into Lyon Court by means of a Conservatory. [Queens’ College Record 2003, p. 11] 


Construction of the foundations in 1986 was preceded by the demolition of the Squash Court building which had been erected in 1936.

During consultations with students during the design period in the early to mid-1980s, the students had requested a Billiards Room and full-sized billiards table. The room was duly incorporated into the design. By the time the building was finished, the students had lost interest in billiards, and the billiards room was re-purposed as a Multi-Gym.


Lyon Court: Project report at architects’ site.

Further reading

1985: From the President, in Queens’ College Record 1985, p. 2.

1986: Cripps Court: Phase III, by Robin Walker, in Queens’ College Record 1987, p. 3.

1987: Cripps Court Phase Ill Development, by Robin Walker, in Queens’ College Record 1987, p. 2.

1988: Cripps Court Phase Ill Development, by Robin Walker, in Queens’ College Record 1988, p. 4.

1989: Cripps Court Phase Ill Development, by Robin Walker, in Queens’ College Record 1989, pp. 7–8.

1989: Cambridge Classic, by Charles Knevitt, in Concrete Quarterly, No. 163 (Winter 1989), pp. 2–​5. (ISSN 0010-5376) [Lyon Court, Cripps Phase 3] 

1990: Lyon Court, by Robin Walker, in Queens’ College Record 1990, pp. 5–7.

1992: Cripps Court Phase III: Case Study, by Bland, Brown & Cole.