Brief Tour of Cambridge

Brief Tour of Cambridge


You’ll presumably come into the city at 1 from the south. The church steeple is the highest point in the city. It’s a Catholic Church, built in the Victorian era but intended to look older, by someone who made their fortune selling glass eyes for dolls!

(If you go left, you’ll go past the Scott Polar Research Institute and Hobson’s conduit – a water system to improve the city’s sanitation designed by the man “Hobson’s Choice” is named after, because he ran a courier company from which you could hire horses. It didn’t matter which one you wanted – Hobson would always give you the one that was least exhausted, so you didn’t actually have a choice.)

But you’ll probably go straight ahead, past Downing College – designed to be the “first wholly campus-based college plan in the world” and thus the inspiration for many universities in the US and elsewhere.

The city centre is the yellow shaded area just beyond Emmanuel College and essentially pedestrian.

If you head down Downing Street towards the river, you can either get a trip along the river in a punt from The Anchor pub (2 – pink route) or walk along the red route past the most famous colleges: Queen’s, King’s, Trinity and St John’s.

Queen’s has a famous “Mathematical Bridge” (3) originally made without nails or bolts, until the college supposedly got fed up with students taking it apart all the time.

(Just off the road up to King’s is The Eagle pub on Benet Street where Watson and Crick first told people about their discovery of DNA.)

King’s has the famous Chapel (4) that is the symbol of the city and from where the BBC World Service broadcasts a carol service on Christmas Eve, which begins with the first verse of “Once in Royal David’s City” sung solo and unaccompanied. Supposedly the soloist does not know they’ve been chosen until the great doors open and the choir is about to process in.

Next to King’s is a tiny college called Gonville and Caius (5), where 3 of the athletes who ran in the Olympics with Eric Liddel (see the movie ‘Chariots of Fire’) were students.

Beyond that is Trinity College (6), where Isaac Newton was a fellow and the “Great Court Run” (again, in ‘Chariots of Fire’) was first completed by Harold Abrahams. The library has the original manuscripts of Winnie the Pooh.

The Round Church (7) dates from Norman times (11th century) but is one of only two churches in Britain from that time not to be built in the usual square tower style. Instead, it was modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The famous diaries of Samuel Pepys, which include a first-hand account of the Great Fire of London from 17th century, are housed in the library at Magdelene College (8)

The yellow box marks the approximate location of the original Bridge over the Cam river. This point was a crossroads of north-south road traffic and east-west river traffic, which is why the city grew up around it.

The Cam-Bridge was protected by the “castle” established in Norman times on the mound (9) where the Cambridge County Council is still located.

The city was transformed by the university (a federation of independent colleges), established in 1209 by scholars who fled Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople there.