Travel Report: Cool Spots Around Cambridge, England.
Cool Spots Around Cambridge, England.
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, I only actually explored King’s College and the wondrous King’s College Chapel. However, 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. They say Trinity is the University’s richest college, with net assets of around £1.4bn. Moreover, it boasts a dizzying roll call of famed graduates, including the philosopher Francis Bacon and the poets Byron and Tennyson. To explore Trinity, you can purchase tickets at The Great Gate. I grabbed my shot from the free viewing point beneath Queen’s Gate on Trinity Lane.
Newton’s Apple Tree.
It’s well worth heading over to The Great Gate, even if you don’t plan on going in. Because it’s 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 fully appreciate this quirky site, it’s necessary to rewind back to the mid 1600s. One day, Newton was sitting in his garden at Woolsthorpe Manor, the family home in Lincolnshire. As the legend goes, Newton was reading under a tree when an apple fell and hit him on the head. Then… ta-dah!… he 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. Fittingly, it sits directly under Newton’s old college room.
Cool Spots Around Cambridge.
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. The broadcaster and journalist Jeremy Paxman studied here, as did the actor Sir Ian McKellen and comedian/director Richard Ayoade.
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 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, apparently plagued by his terrifying apparition, reportedly carried out an unsuccessful exorcism!
The Corpus Clock.
The stupendous 24 carat, gold plated, stainless steel Corpus Clock lies 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! Rather, 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.
A sinister insect that Taylor calls The Time Eater sits atop the clock. Listen carefully and you can actually hear a low grinding sound as the beast appears to eat up the seconds. It’s certainly terrifying, which is exactly how Taylor wanted it. It basically tells us “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”.
After checking 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, a collection of cafes, souvenir stores and the excellent Fudge Kitchen.
For Cambridge street food head to Market Hill, aka Market Square. This compact warren of world food stalls has a little bit of everything, from Indian and Mexican dishes to Chinese cuisine and traditional British staples. 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 room in the back. There, you’ll find around four thousand beautifully bound books specialising in English literature, travel and science.
Cool Spots Around Cambridge.
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. This 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 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. Furthermore, they insisted on no hacking and forbade the use of one’s hands to control the ball.
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