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Cambridge, England - A town of cathedrals - 9th September 2001

Posted by Edmond on Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Cambridge is renowned for its elaborate cathedrals that are dotted throughout the city and its famous colleges that have a distinct sense of character. As one walks around the colleges, cathedrals and tight back streets, there is a distinct european influence that can already be found in places such as Brugge or Brussels. On the other hand, the history of academia established within Cambridge University and its network of colleges coupled by the quiet, clean environment makes this Cambridge an ideal place to study if one can afford and live up to the prestige of the colleges. This entry contains some general information about Cambridge.

Cambridge tour:
1. Guided walk from Guild hall
2. Kings College and Chapel
3. Trinity College
4. St John's College

Cambridge is just about an hour away from London via train from Kings Cross Station. The best days to go are during Saturdays in September as the chapels and colleges are opened for visitors. On arriving at Cambridge station, catch the bus into Regent Street and walk down to the tourist information centre at Guild Hall via the Lion Yard Shopping Centre.

The tourist information centre provides information on guided tours and general information on the city. Guided tours have to be paid for at the centre before the tour starts. The walking tour starts at the Eagle Inn, the first inn and pub that was established in Cambridge. The tour then proceeds on to the St Benet's church, which was the first chapel built in Cambridge and the adjoining houses and hostels where the first scholars arrived from Oxford to begin their studies. The tour continues on to more churches - Little St Marys Church and St Botolphs church as well as Peterhouse, which was a place where the scholars and students established Cambridge University. The tour also crosses through Mill Lane and Silver Street where people can go punting, and to Queens Lane, which borders the Queens College and Trinity College, and ends with a guided walk through King's College and the Chapel.

The most significant part of the walking tour is undoubtedly the Kings College and Chapel, named because of the various kings that were involved in the construction of the college. In 1441, the foundation stone of the college was first laid by King Henry VI. But after the murder of King Henry VI in the Tower of London, the King's College and the chapel especially, were built under the guidance of subsequent Kings, namely Richard III and Henry VIII. More significantly, the construction of the chapel, which proved to be the most difficult, was interrupted by the War of the Roses (1455-1485). Within the chapel, visitors are allowed to walk around and inside the side chapels and explore the history and artefacts. Of particular note is the Rubens painting "The Adoration of the Magi" at the front of the chapel, donated by A. E. Allnatt in 1961.

But to fully experience the academic background and history of Cambridge, it is a good idea to also visit the Trinity College and St Johns College, although they have a less glamourous feel than the Kings College. These are the colleges that are right next to the Kings College. There is an entry fee of 1 pound to enter these colleges and tourists can wander around the college grounds and enter the chapel. Again, it is advisable to go to these colleges before 3pm since they may close fairly early on weekends. Sometimes the chapels may be closed due to church services.

Originally the St John's hospital in the 13th Century, St John's College was converted into a college in the 16th Century by John Fisher. Like the Kings College, there is also chapel located in the First Court which was built in 1868. In addition, there is a stone carving and statue of Lady Margret above the doorway on the hall. The west exit in the chapel leads to the Chapel court where the main library can be seen. At the second court, the Shrewsbury tower can be found with the carving of the coats of arms and a statue of Countess Shrewsbury. This leads to the third court, followed by the Wren bridge, where the Bridge of Sighs can be seen. Across the bridge, the gothic-styled cupola and classical buildings of the New court can be seen. Despite its old-fashioned style, the court was built in 1831 for the purpose of providing accomodation for students.

Edmond, 2002