More Cambridge colleges and other sights
Against my will, in the course of my travels, the belief that everything worth knowing was known at Cambridge gradually wore off. In this respect my travels were very useful to me.Bertrand Russell
I’m not sure the above is an argument against studying at Cambridge or in favour of travelling. I prefer to think of it as the latter!
This is a continuation of the visit to Cambridge started in my previous Monday Walk post.
I left you all at the stunning Kings College chapel. Now let’s continue our walk.
From Kings we walked past the Old Schools which house the Cambridge University offices and formerly housed the Cambridge University Library. My photos below are of the entrance gate on the west side. This building was designed by George Gilbert Scott, who was also responsible for the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial, among many others.
We walked through Senate Passage and emerged on to Kings Parade by Senate House. This is where all the university degree ceremonies are held. It was designed and built by James Gibbs in 1722–1730, in a neo-classical style using Portland stone.
Gonville and Caius College
We passed, but didn’t go into, Gonville and Caius College, named for its two founders. Gonville, Rector of Terrington St Clement in Norfolk, first founded the College as Gonville Hall in 1348. When it went into decline in the 16th century a former student and Fellow, John Keys, who also spelled his name as the Latin Caius, came to the rescue and re-founded his old College of Gonville Hall as ‘Gonville and Caius College’. My assumption is that the two stone figures above the Great Gate which show men holding buildings must be Gonville and Caius.
We continued our walk north along Trinity Street, passing the Great Gate of Trinity College which was built at the beginning of the 16th century. Above the gate is a carving of King Henry VIII who founded the College in 1546, one of the very last acts of his life. It was formed by amalgamating two existing colleges, King’s Hall and Michaelhouse. Look carefully at the carving on my photo below. Henry is holding a chair or table leg in his right hand! It is thought that this was substituted for the original sword, but no one knows when, or how, although it seems likely to have been a student prank.
St John’s College
A little further on we came to another Great Gate, that of St John’s College. The statue above it is of St John the Evangelist, with an eagle (his traditional symbol and an emblem of the College). He carries a poisoned chalice with a snake twined around it, representing the legend that once, while at Ephesus, John was given a cup of poisoned wine to drink. Before drinking, he blessed the cup and the poison departed the cup in the form of a serpent.
Passing through the gate we were in the college’s First Court. From here we had good views of the college chapel’s impressive tower, the tallest building in Cambridge, which we had already seen in front of us as we walked along Trinity Street.
Front Court dates from the early 16th century though it has been considerably altered over the centuries, especially on the north side where this chapel was built. The chapel is relatively new by Cambridge standards, having been built between 1866 and 1869 to replace a smaller medieval chapel which dated back to the 13th century.
The main part of chapel was closed. We could only peer at it from the entrance area through a wrought iron screen. I would like to be able to say that I didn’t see the ‘no photos’ sign until after I had taken this one!
We carried on into Second Court. This was built from 1598 to 1602 and is far more intact than First Court, with a symmetry to its Tudor buildings.
On the far side of the Second Court (the west) is another imposing gate, a copy of the Great Gate. Above the archway is a statue of Mary Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury. She financed the building of the court, which was added in 1671.
I was taken by the little faces set into the archway. All are different and all rather gargoyle-like in their ugliness!
We walked through Third Court and little Kitchen Court. From there we came out on to the Wren Bridge over the Cam. As the name suggests, the bridge was based on designs by Sir Christopher Wren, albeit for a bridge intended for a different place.
The Bridge of Sighs
The Wren Bridge is the perfect vantage point for views and photos of Cambridge’s best-known bridge, the Bridge of Sighs. This was built in 1831 and is named after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, presumably because both are covered. University legend however has it that the bridge is named for the sighs of students as they walk from their rooms in one of the courts on the Backs to their tutors’ offices.
On the far side of the Cam we had a lovely view of New Court, the first college court to be built on this side of the river. It was built between 1826 and 1831 in the Gothic Revival style, to accommodate the growing number of students. It has the flamboyance typical of that style, and in the September sunshine and with beautiful flower beds outside, looked like a very grand stately home.
The Round Church
St John’s was the last college that we visited. Feet were growing weary and I had a train to catch. So we decided to catch a bus back to the main city centre bus terminus from where I could catch a second bus to the station and my friends one to their home.
We found a pleasant spot in which to wait for our bus, outside the Round Church (more properly the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). This is one of just four medieval round churches still in use in England. It was originally built in 1130, modelled on the 4th century Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Although it has seen many structural changes since then a sign outside proclaimed it the oldest church in Cambridge.
A fitting place perhaps to end our walk around this historic city.
enjoying your walk in Cambridge so much because it takes me back to the time when I walked these streets. I stayed at a modern college, Fitzwiliam , for my course before my internship in England
How lovely that you got to experience Cambridge Tanja! I’m sorry I only just picked up on your comment – sometimes my notifications seem to go astray 🙁
No worries.thanks,it was wonderful
For me, you saved the best for last with the round church although I was also attracted to so many other features on you Cambridge stroll.
That’s interesting Annie. Including the church was an afterthought – I only took the photo because I was bored waiting for the bus 😆
Ahh, That’s a funny one, Sarah!
So many wonderful details captured here Sarah, many of which remind me of my own adventures in Cambridge. I particularly like the cheeky looking carvings, the cross-eyed man/woman/creature with his/her tongue out brought a smile to my face.
Thanks Leighton – yes, they are a bit cheeky, aren’t they?!
Oh, the Places We See
Thanks for including so many photos. We’ve only touched down into England and have much more to see. I, too, love architecture, especially details like the statues you shared. It’s amazing what the workmen could do, and I wonder if part of that art is lost forever. Beautiful post.
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed this 🙂 I hope you get to see more of England one day!
Thanks for taking us along on your walk through these beautiful architectures,..the well manicured gardens… the facade and the interior and the river!
Glad you enjoyed it Teresa 🙂 Have you ever been to Cambridge? If not, you would love it I think!
All those buildings look as though someone has been out and just polished them. The photograph of the Senate building really took my eye, I love it, but then I love them all. Do you know, I’ve never been to Cambridge but now you’ve made me want to visit.
They do certainly look after these buildings Mari, and they were looking especially good when I visited as they were just getting ready for the new intake of students. It’s a somewhat unreal place in a way, very ‘exclusive’ as you would imagine, but really worth a visit for the stunning architecture!
Great photos of beautiful buildings in a great city. George Gilbert Scott has a place in our hearts…firstly, St Pancras is and always has been one of my favourite buildings anywhere in the world. Reminds me of exciting childhood journeys but also I really like the way it was enhanced in recent times. Scott though also designed Brownsover Hall in Rugby – which is where we got married! These shots of Cambridge really are evocative, a great feel for a fairly unique place.
Oh yes, I love St Pancras too, and I agree about the newer additions. For me now it’s the place where journeys to Paris start 🙂 I didn’t know about Brownsover Hall however. Glad you enjoyed the photos!
Beautiful tour of Cambridge! My dad was in the military and would send me postcards from all over the world, but the first one he ever sent was from Cambridge and that picture is still hanging on my mirror waiting for the time when I’ll be able to see it in person 🙂
That’s lovely, keeping that photo until you can visit yourself. I hope you make it one day soon!
What a beautiful architectural walk, Sarah. Those buildings each tell their own history. My favorite image, though, is that chapel interior.
Haha, I really shouldn’t have taken that photo but I couldn’t resist grabbing one quick shot!
Russell’s quote is an endorsement of Cambridge and travel I think. Your photos bring out the beauty, majesty and power of the architecture. Being educated there must be quite an experience.
An endorsement of travel, yes, but since he found he had to unlearn what he learned here, maybe less so of Cambridge. It would indeed be an experience to be educated here but I’m not sure to what extent it prepares you for real life (whatever that is!), which I think is the point Russell was making. Thank you for the kind words about the photos 😊
It is true that life is the best educator in many ways. Everyone experiences life. Few get a Cambridge education to go along with it.
Very true 🙂
Mike and Kellye Hefner
Such stunning architecture and you photographed the colleges beautifully.
Thank you – I was lucky to have such a lovely day to capture them on!
I remember I did St. John’s but I can’t be sure which of the others I went in. So much personality in the architecture, isn’t there? I’m only on nodding terms with Oxford too. Do you have a preference? I remember waiting for a good shot of the Bridge of Sighs, then I too had to leave to get back to Wisbech, via Peterborough. The exciting lives we do lead! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m sure our paths will cross one day… if it’s meant to be. Enjoy the rest of summer.
‘via Peterborough’ – exciting indeed! I used to say I preferred Oxford but that’s maybe because I’d visited more and knew it better. Since this latest visit to Cambridge I’m more torn. It’s hard to beat the view from the Backs, for instance 🙂 But the location of Oxford, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is arguably better than Cambridge? Yes, one day … 😘
I’m not keen on the flat lands but Ely is gorgeous. I have a friend in Wisbech who I really must contact this week! Time just slips away. 🤭💗
I’m just back from a weekend in Norfolk (a friend’s birthday celebrations) and I have a fondness for those big skies, but they were rather flat when we were out exploring on Sunday so I didn’t come away with any good images this time. All my best shots are of bumblebees, it seems!
The world needs bees 🤣💟
Brings the city I visited many years ago back to life! Perhaps another visit is overdue 😊
I was thinking the same thing as I wrote this, even though it’s not that long since I was there! There’s so much to see in this small city 🙂
I visited Cambridge more than 40 years ago when I was about to start my university training. Your pictures recall many good memories of that period when – thanks to the generosity of my parents – I was able to visit England and Scotland and became very fond of both of them. You caught beautiful days to take the pictures. The institutions appear even more majestic than on a cloudy day. Thank you for providing background information on these beautiful edifices and statues.
Thank you, I’m very happy to have brought back those good memories for you 🙂
The city definitely ought to take you on as a tour guide, Sarah! And pay you well.
Haha! Well, I benefitted from the knowledge of my friends, one of whom is an ex scholar and is still currently involved with his old college, volunteering in their archive. He was an excellent guide so much of this I learned from him as we walked, supplemented with just a little research 🙂
Marvellous architecture, Sarah!
It is, isn’t it? A beautiful city, if slightly unreal-feeling (to me anyway)
It has more than an air of privilege, I found.
Yes, completely – maybe for a select few it is their reality but that’s not true of the majority who visit and marvel at the history and architecture. But there’s no denying the beauty of the place.
Aletta - nowathome
You have shown incredible buildings Sarah! I love the architecture!
Cambridge is full of beautiful buildings Aletta – these are just a handful of them!
Aletta - nowathome
Oh wow! That is just amazing!