I took the train up to Cambridge for a little business trip on Tuesday. My train actually got cancelled and I worried I might not make my meeting on time. I hopped in a cab and a little while later the cabbie said, “We’ve got plenty of time, so I’m taking you on the scenic route.” I’m not sure where he got the idea that I had time to kill as he was driving me to an industrial park clearly for work, but regardless, Cambridge is beautiful and after my meeting I spent the afternoon on a blustery walking tour.
St. Botolph’s. People prayed to this saint for a safe journey to London, or to give thanks for a safe return.
Queens’ College. Note the punctuation. Queen Margaret wanted this college built after her husband, King Henry VI, started King’s. After she died, the next queen wanted in on this action, so it’s not Queen’s College, but Queens’.
To the left, note the older architecture, which dates to the 1440s. In the 1700s, they started rebuilding the school, the results of which are to the right. However, they ran out of money and did not finish the job.
This Queens’ College master’s lodge was once covered in an extra layer of plaster for warmth, but in 1911, they took it off to expose the Elizabethan wood. The floor was so warped, it was near collapse, but they fixed it up and now the master can enjoy a pleasantly drafty life there.
The Parker library contains books from the churches that Henry VIII closed down, including the oldest book in England: "the St Augustine Gospels, believed to have been brought to England by the Augustinian mission, sent by Pope Gregory I to convert the people of Britain in AD 598. The Gospels are still used in the enthronement of the Archbishops of Canterbury today and are transported to and from Canterbury for this occasion by the Master and college representatives.“
"The Corpus Clock is a large sculptural clock at street level on the outside of the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College. The dominating visual feature of the clock is a sculpture of a grim-looking, devouring, metal insect similar to a grasshopper or locust. The sculpture is actually the clock's escapement. Taylor calls this beast the Chronophage (literally "time eater”, from the Greek χρόνος [chronos] time, and φάγω [phago] I eat). It moves its mouth, appearing to “eat up” the seconds as they pass.“
People once performed plays at The Eagle, including Christopher Marlow’s first. During WWII, American airman used candle wax to draw their initials onto the ceiling, which is now landmarked. In the upstairs peak, to the right of the chimney, you can see the window is open despite the cold weather. It’s actually a local law that it must stay open forever. Legend has it that two small children died up there and the place is horribly unpleasant unless they have the freedom to fly out the window.
King’s Chapel dates back to the 1400s and hasn’t changed since Henry VIII’s time.
Henry VIII commissioned this oak screen that housed the organ…
…and the stained glass windows. Money ran out before the inside could be painted.
Cambridge is a town for cycling.
And shopping. There are many cute boutiques and, inexplicably…
…an open-air mall. Why, England, why? Why won’t you accept you’re not a balmy, Mediterranean country? Cold air is fine when shopping on Main Street, but what is the point of walking around a mall that is windy and freezing-ass cold? I went inside to try out this mad little experiment of theirs (I needed the loo) and found the experience most unpleasant.
But overall, I really liked Cambridge and look forward to going back when warmer weather returns.