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May 2019. The English city of Cambridge is an architectural gem, thanks in no small part to the University of Cambridge and its thirty-one gorgeous colleges. Of these, Mike and I only actually explored King’s College and the wondrous King’s College Chapel. But we also ended up passing a string of other colleges that day as we moved between the city sights. The above photo shows The Great Court of Trinity College, which dates back to the reign of Henry the VIII in the mid 1500s. Trinity is said to be the University’s richest college, with net assets of £1.4bn, while its most famed undergraduates includes the philosopher Francis Bacon and the poets Byron and Tennyson. To explore Trinity, tickets can be purchased at The Great Gate, though I grabbed my shot from the free viewing point beneath Queen’s Gate on Trinity Lane.
May 2019. It’s well worth heading over to Trinity College’s Great Gate, even if you don’t plan on going in. For it is right here to the side of the gate at Porter’s Lodge that you can see a descendant of Isaac Newton’s legendary apple tree. To appreciate this quirky site fully, it’s necessary to rewind back to the mid 1600s when Newton was sitting in his garden at the family home, Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire. Perched under a tree, the old legend goes that Newton was hit on the head and… ta-dah!… had a Eureka moment that led to his theory on universal gravitation. The tree that lives at Trinity College is one of many clones around the world and is located directly under Newton’s old college room.
May 2019. Another Cambridge college we passed that day is St. Catharine’s on Trumpington Street. Known locally as Catz College, it dates back to 1473 and has been home to a number of notable alumni, including the journalist Jeremy Paxman, actor Ian McKellen (you may know him better as Gandalf), comedian/director Richard Ayoade and BAFTA winning actress Rebecca Hall.
May 2019. Founded in 1352, Corpus Christi is Cambridge University’s sixth oldest college. Famous folk to have lived here include the playwright Christopher Marlowe and the conservative MP and former environment secretary Owen Paterson. Corpus Christi also has a reputation for being The Haunted College, with a number of so-called apparitions having been sighted here. The most famous of these is Henry Butts, a former vice chancellor of the university who hanged himself at the Master’s Lodge on Easter Sunday, 1632. In 1904 three students, reportedly plagued by his terrifying apparition, are said to have carried out an unsuccessful exorcism!
An essential Cambridge sight connected to Corpus Christi College is the stupendous 24 carat gold plated stainless steel Corpus Clock, found outside The Taylor Library. Conceived and funded by the British inventor John C. Taylor, this amazing creation has no hands or numbers on its face! So how does it work? Well… and I’m quoting Wikipedia here, “it displays the time by opening individual slits in the clock face backlit with blue LEDs. These slits are arranged in three concentric rings displaying hours, minutes, and seconds”. The Corpus Clock is topped by a sinister insect that Taylor calls The Time Eater. Listen carefully and you can actually hear a low grinding sound as the beast appears to eat up the seconds. It’s kind of terrifying really, which is exactly how Taylor wanted it. Basically it’s telling us “that time is not on your side. He’ll eat up every minute of your life, and as soon as one has gone he’s salivating for the next”.
Once you’ve checked out The Corpus Clock, you’re perfectly placed for a stroll down King’s Parade, one of the city’s main streets. On the west side you’ve got King’s College and The Senate House, on the eastern side there’s a collection of cafes, souvenir stores and the excellent Fudge Kitchen.
For Cambridge street food head to Market Hill, aka Market Square, a compact warren of world food stalls with excellent Indian, Chinese and British dishes on offer. There are also a few clothes stores, comic book stalls and second hand record shops.
Cambridge has some fantastic bookshops scattered around the city. One of its best is just a short walk from Market Square, tucked away in St. Edward’s Passage. G. David Bookseller is the place to come for antique, second hand and remaindered books. These guys started out with a market stall in 1896 before opening the current shop at the end of the century. They’re not keen on you taking photographs inside, especially in the antiquarian book room in the back where there are around four thousand beautifully bound books specialising in English literature, travel and science.
My bus back to London left from Cambridge Parkside, a stretch of road running alongside the 25-acre city green known as Parker’s Piece. The park played an important part in the history of modern football when, in 1863, a group of students established a set of match rules that would go on to have a defining influence on the game we know and love today. Dubbed The Cambridge Rules, they included the emphasis of skill over brute force, no hacking and the idea that it was forbidden to use your hands to control the ball in any way!
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