The painting, depicting Charles Cornwallis, was taken down as part of a refurbishmentJim Linwood / Flickr

A Divinity professor wants a painting depicting a Governor-General of British colonial rule in India to be re-hung up in Clare College.

Varsity has seen private committee minutes showing Douglas Hedley, a fellow at Clare, demanding that the college reinstate paintings of Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis to Clare’s Great Hall.

Speaking to the college committee, Professor Hedley justified his calls for Cornwallis’ image to be returned on the grounds of “safeguarding college heritage” and respecting Clare’s historical “major benefactors.”

Cornwallis, an Eton-educated Clare alumnus, played a foundational role in the establishment of colonial rule in India. Serving as Governor-General from 1786-93, Cornwallis is considered to have consolidated British control in India — paving the way for a century of direct rule during the Raj.

His introduction of the ‘Cornwallis Code’ began the systematic exclusion of non-British people from positions of political power.

Clare had removed the painting during a three-year refurbishment of the college, and so far has not reinstated it to where it formally hung in the Great Hall. The refurbishment has now been completed.


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The College has been considering whether to replace the painting with one of Eric Ashby, Master of Clare from 1959 - 1975, and present Master Loretta Minghella.

Hedley has been at the centre of student backlash in the past, with criticism being levelled at him for his alleged links to Republican billionaire Peter Thiel.

The professor was named in a 2021 investigation by the Byline Times, alongside other controversial Cambridge academics. These included the government’s new free speech tsar Arif Ahmed and National Conservatism Conference organiser James Orr.

Clare College was contacted for comment.