Fonds Cradock - Papers of Sir Percy Cradock.

Identity area

Reference code


Unique identifier

GB 275 Cradock


Papers of Sir Percy Cradock.


  • 1940–2012 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

7 boxes plus 2 volumes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Percy Cradock was born in county Durham in 1923, the son of a colliery cashier, and was educated at Alderman Wraith Grammar School, Spennymoor. After serving in the RAF during the Second World War, in 1946 he came to St John's College, Cambridge to read law. He was elected president of the Cambridge Union in 1950, and published a history of the Union Society in 1953. After obtaining his LLM he remained in Cambridge as a supervisor in law and was called to the Middle Temple in 1953. He entered the Foreign Office in 1954, serving in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Beijing. He was present in Beijing in 1967 when the British Embassy was stormed by red guards and some embassy staff were assaulted and held under house arrest. He served as under-secretary in the Cabinet Office 1971-75 and as ambassador to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) 1976-78. In 1978 Cradock returned to Beijing as British Ambassador, and in 1982 became leader of the British team in the formal negotiations on the future of Hong Kong (due to revert to China in 1997 under the terms of a 99-year lease signed in 1898). He returned to London in 1984 to supervise the Hong Kong negotiations and became Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's foreign policy advisor. He also served as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1985 to 1992.

In retirement, Cradock wrote three books. 'Experiences of China' (1994) was a memoir of his time there; 'In pursuit of British interests' (1997) discussed the issues he dealt with whilst at Downing Street; 'Know your enemy' (2002) was a history of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

He was appointed CMG in 1968, was knighted KCMG in 1980, and was promoted GCMG in 1983. He was an Honorary Fellow of St John's College from 1982 until his death in 2010.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Given to the Library November 2016, following the death of Cradock's widow.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection includes photographs, audio-visual media, memorabilia, certificates, press-cuttings, correspondence and reviews relating to Cradock's books, a small quantity of papers relating to Cradock's professional activities, and some personal correspondence.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • German
  • Chinese

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area


Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Papers of Sir Percy Cradock.

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

26 Jul 2017




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places