The Historic Town of Cambridge

Cambridge, home to the world famous University of Cambridge, lies on the east bank of the pretty River Cam in East Anglia in the county of Cambridgeshire. Situated at a distance of 50 miles north of London, this centuries old historic town is also the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire and has a high technology centre called Silicon Fen similar to Silicon Valley in the USA.

In addition to the outstanding architecture, Cambridge is notable for its peaceful medieval streets, well-maintained gardens and awesome bridges. Daily Guided Tours are conducted including a Historic Tour, a Science Tour, an Architectural Tour, a Ghost Tour and a General Sightseeing Tour. Exploring Cambridge town on hired bicycles or taking sightseeing bus tours is a good idea.



Here are few of the many wonderful places to visit:

1. River Cam

The picturesque River Cam flows through the centre of Cambridge town and provides boating facilities. Cambridge University Boat Club organizes 2 bumps races in the Lent and Summer terms. Recreational punting, powered boating, canoeing, kayaking and sailing are popular on the River Cam. Swimming on the upper reaches of the river is another attraction.

2. Theaters

Cambridge Arts Theatre, situated on Peas Hill in central Cambridge with a capacity of 666 seats hosts dance, opera, drama and pantomime.

The Cambridge Corn Exchange holding 1800 standing or 1200 seated is located on the corner of Wheeler Street and Corn Exchange Street. It hosts a variety of theatre, dance and music performances.

The ADC Theatre is situated in Park Street, north off Jesus Lane and is the oldest playhouse in the United Kingdom. It can seat 228 persons.

The Mumford Theatre located on East Road offers a varied fare such as professional touring, local community and student theatre.

3. Festivals and Events

The Cambridge Midsummer Fair on Midsummer Common dating back to the 13th century is one of the oldest fairs in the country. With live music, rides, a comedy marquee and several market stalls, it is well worth a visit.

Cambridge Folk Festival, one of the largest folk music festivals in the United Kingdom, is held annually on the site of Cherry Hinton Hall in the village of Cherry Hinton in Cambridge.

The Strawberry Fair takes place in June on the Midsummer Common. It is a free fair providing a variety of music and entertainment. Several arts and crafts are showcased here. There is a separate entertainment area for children. Short films screened at this fair are another attraction.

The Cambridge Beer Festival is the second largest such festival outside London and is held on Jesus Green in May. It serves real ales, ciders, perries, beers and country wines. Several thousand pints of beer are consumed at this festival every year. There is also a stall selling a variety of traditional cheeses and breads, olives, pickled eggs, pork pies and Scotch eggs.

Cambridge Film Festival, held every year in September, is the most prestigious of its kind in the country. International films screened in the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival, archive retrospectives and independent films are shown here. The films screened at the Cambridge Film Festival are open to the public.

4. The Cambridge main market

The market is held from Monday to Saturday. Several items like fruits and vegetables, whole foods, flowers, hats, watches, fish, meat, cakes & clothing are sold here. Sunday is devoted to arts & crafts, antiques & a Farmers Market.

5. Bridges over River Cam (South to North)

Some of the important bridges over the River Cam include Fen Causeway Bridge, Crusoe Bridge, Silver Street Bridge, Mathematical Bridge, King’s College Bridge, Clare College Bridge, Garret Hostel Bridge, Trinity College Bridge, Kitchen Bridge, Bridge of Sighs, Magdalene Bridge, Jesus Lock footbridge, Victoria Avenue Bridge, Footbridge Midsummer Common, Cutter Ferry Bridge, Elizabeth Way Bridge and Riverside Bridge.

6. Museums and Galleries

Cambridge & County Folk Museum: Located on Castle Street, the Cambridge & Country Folk Museum is a treasure trove of tools and implements used by brickmakers, basket weavers, straw plaiters, bootmakers, chemists, barbers, tobacconists, chimney sweeps and thatchers. Displays also include a 19th century kitchen and toys and games.

Cambridge Museum of Technology: The Cambridge Museum of Technology is a Victorian pumping station & working museum located in Cheddars Lane. It showcases boilers, pumps and engines and a collection of letterpress printing equipment.

Cambridge University Museum of Zoology: Situated on Downing Street, the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology has materials collected by Charles Darwin on his voyage on the ‘Beagle’ and zoological specimens such as marine invertebrates, exotic birds and mammal skeletons.

Cambridge University Library: Cambridge University Library is on West Road and has a massive collection of over 7 million books & periodicals and a million maps. There is an exhibition centre where its collections are open for public viewing.

Fitzwilliam Museum or the Art Museum of Cambridge University: Fitzwilliam Museum is on Trumpington Street. Displays here include ancient and modern Western European paintings, Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Western Asiatic antiquities, furniture, coins and medals. Illuminated musical and literary manuscripts and rare private books are also displayed here.

Kettle’s Yard: Kettle’s Yard is an art gallery housing 20th century paintings and sculpture. It is situated on Castle Street. Works by artists such as Ben Nicholson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, Constantin Brancusi and Joan Miró are displayed here.

University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on Downing Street showcases the Gallery of World prehistory and Local Archaeology tracing the origins of mankind to the present rise of literate civilizations.

Museum of Classical Archaeology: Located on Sidgwick Avenue, the Museum of Classical Archaeology houses plaster casts of Greek & Roman sculpture which are arguably the best in the world.

New Hall Art Collection: The New Hall Art Collection is part of Murray Edwards College situated on Huntingdon Road. The collection is a permanent one of contemporary art by women artists and includes paintings, prints and sculpture.

Scott Polar Research Institute: The Scott Polar Research Institute is situated on Lensfield Road and displays an interesting collection of drawings, photos, manuscripts, relics and arts and crafts relating to Arctic and Antarctic or Polar regions.

Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences: Standing in Downing Street, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences houses animal and plant fossils of different geological ages from all over the world. There is also a mineral gallery. The museum is open year round.

Whipple Museum of the History of Science: Whipple Museum of the History of Science is in Free School Lane and displays scientific instruments, apparatus, models, pictures, prints, photographs, books and other material related to the history of science dating from the 14th century to the 19th century. Instruments used in the study and practice of astronomy, electricity, mathematics, medicine, microscopy, navigation, optics and general science are shown here.

Peoples Portraits Exhibition at Girton College: Located at Girton College in Huntingdon Road, Peoples Portraits Exhibition has a vast collection of portraits of people from different walks of life giving one an idea of the United Kingdom as it moved from the 20th Century to the 21st Century. The exhibition is open daily.

Wysing Arts Centre: Wysing Arts Centre on Fox Road is a research and development centre for the visual arts. Attractions here include a 17th century farmhouse, studio building and a huge gallery.

7. Historic Buildings

All Saints Church: All Saints Church is built in the Gothic revival style of architecture in the year 1871 and is situated in Jesus Lane. It has a magnificent decorated interior and beautiful fittings.

Cambridge University Press Bookshop: The Cambridge University Press Bookshop in Trinity Street is situated on the site of the oldest bookshop in England, selling books since 1581.

Christ’s College: Christ’s College on St Andrew’s Street had on its rolls the famous scientist Charles Darwin and John Milton.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Built in the year 1130, the church of the Holy Sepulchre on Bridge Street is a rare example of a Norman round church.

Churchill College: Churchill College named after Sir Winston Churchill is situated on Storey’s Way. It has sprawling grounds & beautiful sculptures.

Clare College: Located in Trinity Lane, Clare College is the second oldest college in Cambridge. It has pretty gardens, a renaissance style court and the oldest surviving river bridge. Hugh Latimer, the Protestant Reformer was a student here.

Clare Hall: Clare Hall is on Herschel Road and is the smallest of Cambridge colleges. Its facilities include a sports complex with a multi gymnasium, a swimming pool and a tennis court.

Corpus Christi: Corpus Christi was founded in the year 1352 and is situated on King’s Parade. It has a beautiful medieval court and houses the Grasshopper Clock. Christopher Marlowe the famous dramatist and poet who studied here.

Darwin College: Darwin College in Silver Street was named after Charles Darwin. Every year the Darwin lectures, a series of talks based on a single theme are given by eminent people specialized in their fields.

Downing College: Situated on Regent Street, Downing College has large beautiful lawns & neo-classical style buildings.

Fitzwilliam College: Fitzwilliam College in Huntingdon Road has a grand dining hall. It also has a chapel built in the modern style, magnificent gardens and a new library whose tower is the highest point in Cambridge.

Gonville & Caius College: Located in Trinity Street, Gonville & Caius College has three stone gates named Humility, Virtue & Honour. These gates are symbolic of the University student’s path. Two of the oldest courts are the Tree Court and the Gonville Court. Famous past students include Edward Wilson, William Harvey, John Caius and Stephen Hawking.

Grasshopper Clock: Situated in Corpus Christi College, the Grasshopper Clock is a strange looking clock with a 24 carat gold dial and a metal grasshopper or Chronophage. It took more than two hundred engineers, sculptors, scientists, jewellers and calligraphers a period of seven years to make this clock. This clock is featured in the Indian Movie – Paa.

Great St Mary’s Church: Great St Mary’s Church located in Market Square is the University Church and was completed in the year 1608. The church is built in the Late Perpendicular Gothic style. It has 2 pipe organs, the hearse cloth of Henry VII and a medieval font dated 1632. A grand view of Cambridge town and its colleges can be had from the tower of Great St Mary’s Church.

Holy Trinity Church: Situated on Market Street, the Holy Trinity Church is an imposing structure and is associated with the Evangelical movement.

Homerton College: The largest college in Cambridge, Homerton College is situated on Hills Road.

Hughes Hall: Hughes Hall on Wollaston Road has unique Victorian style architecture.

Jesus College: Jesus College in Jesus Lane boasts of past students like Thomas Cranmer the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury and Prince Edward the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II. It features large sprawling grounds and a 16th century Cloister Court.

King’s College Chapel: King’s College Chapel located on King’s Parade is the biggest of all college chapels in Cambridge. This chapel provides a unique example of perpendicular or late gothic architecture and has the distinction of having the largest fan vault ceiling in the world.

Little St Mary’s Church: Little St Mary’s Church in Little St Mary’s Lane is a built in the Gothic style. A memorial to Godfrey Washington, a former vicar of the parish is here in this church. The American flag was adapted from the family crest of stars & stripes of Godfrey Washington.

Lucy Cavendish College: Lucy Cavendish College was the UK’s first college for mature women and is situated on Lady Margaret Road.

Magdalene College: Founded in 1542 by the Lord Chancellor of Henry VIII, Thomas, Baron Audley of Walden, Magdalene College is situated on Magdalene Street. The library has a collection of 3000 books of Samuel Pepys including his famous diaries.

Murray Edwards College: Murray Edwards College (formerly New Hall) was founded as an all women’s college in the 1950’s. It is on Huntingdon Road.

Newnham College: Situated on Grange Road, Newnham College is only one of three all female colleges in Cambridge. The buildings reflect a pretty Queen Anne style of architecture. Rosalind Franklin, Emma Thompson & Sylvia Plath studied here.

Pembroke College Chapel: Pembroke College Chapel is situated on Trumpington Street and was built in 1665 by Sir Christopher Wren. It is the third oldest college in Cambridge.

Peterhouse: Peterhouse was the first college in Cambridge founded by Hugh de Balsham Bishop of Ely in the year 1284. It is situated on Trumpington Street. Charles Babbage the inventor of the early mechanical computer and Sir Frank Whittle the inventor of the jet engine studied here.

Queens’ College: Located on Silver Street, Queens’ College houses the unique wooden Mathematical Bridge. The President’s Lodge belonging to the 16th century is a beautiful half-timbered building. The first Greek teacher at the University, Erasmus of Rotterdam was a former member of Queen’s College.

Robinson College: On Grange Road is the most recent of all colleges in Cambridge, Robinson College founded in 1977. Its chapel features two beautiful stained glass windows designed by John Piper.

Selwyn College: Founded in 1882 in memory of George Augustus Selwyn who rowed in the first Cambridge/Oxford Boat Race as a crew member, Selwyn College is situated on Grange Road.

Senate House: Situated on Senate House Passage or King’s Parade, the Senate House was built in the years 1772 to 1730 in the classical style and is the parliament building of Cambridge University.

Sidney Sussex College: Sidney Sussex College on Sidney Street is famous for its former student, Oliver Cromwell, the great Lord Protector. The skull of Oliver Cromwell lies buried in the college ante-chapel.

St Bene’t’s Church: The Anglo-Saxon Church of St Bene’t’s has the distinction of being the oldest building in the county of Cambridgeshire with the tower, nave & chancel dating back to the year 1040. It is located on Bene’t’ Street.

St Botolph’s Church: The 14th century St Botolph’s Church, dedicated to the patron saint of travelers is situated on Trumpington Street.

St Catharine’s College Chapel: Located on King’s Parade, St Catharine’s College Chapel was founded in the year 1473 by Robert Woodlark. The phrase ‘Hobsons Choice’ was coined in this place.

St Edmund’s College: St Edmund’s College is situated in Mount Pleasant and is one of five graduate colleges in Cambridge.

St Edward’s Church: St Edward’s church is an Anglo-Saxon church named after King Edward the Martyr and is situated on Peas Hill. It dates back to the year 1400. St Edward’s Church is called the cradle of the English Reformation as Hugh Latimer, Bilney & Barnes were associated with this church.

St John’s College: St John’s College is a Tudor college founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort the mother of King Henry VII. It is located on St John’s Street. The college features a neo-gothic Bridge of Sighs and an awe inspiring tower in its chapel. Wordsworth and Wilberforce were former students in this college.

St Mary Magdalene: St Mary Magdalene is a former Leper Chapel built in the Norman architectural style and is situated on Newmarket Road.

St Michael’s Church: Located on Trinity Street, St Michael’s Church is built in the decorated Gothic architectural style. Harvey de Stanton the Chancellor to King Edward II lies buried here. The Michaelhouse Centre has a café, an art gallery and exhibition space.

St Peter’s Church: The smallest church in Cambridge, St Peters Church is in Castle Street. Constructed of stone rubble, the church has a 12th century stone font, a 13th century south doorway and 14th century spire with dormers.

The Church of Our Lady & the English Martyrs: The Church of Our Lady & the English Martyrs is in the Neo-Gothic style and built in the year in 1890. It is situated on Lensfield Road.

The Old Cavendish Laboratory: The Cavendish Laboratory in Free School Lane was founded in the late 19th century for pursuing scientific research in Cambridge. The DNA, the neutron and the electron have been discovered in this laboratory.

Trinity College: Founded by King Henry VIII, Trinity College is situated on Trinity Street. Sir Isaac Newton, the famous scientist studied here in the 17th century.

Trinity Hall: Founded in the year 1350, Trinity Hall is located in Trinity Lane and has the smallest college chapel in Cambridge. The Elizabethan Library and the college chapel are some of the interesting things to see in Trinity Hall.

Wolfson College: Wolfson is found on Barton Road and is one of five graduate colleges in Cambridge. The buildings are grouped around 2 main courts.

8. Gardens

Cambridge University Botanic Garden: With a collection of over 8000 plant species and pretty landscapes, Cambridge University Botanic Garden is a beautiful garden situated at Cory Lodge on Bateman Street. Attractions here include glasshouses, a winter garden, a chronological bed, a lake and rock gardens.

Christ’s College Gardens: The splendid Christ’s College Gardens are on St Andrew’s Street. An 18th century bathing pool, a mulberry tree planted in the time of James I and a row of beehives are found in this garden. The poet John Milton was a regular visitor to Christ’s College Gardens.

Christ’s Pieces Park: Centrally located on Emmanuel Street, Christ’s Pieces Park has attractive seasonal display beds during summer and winter. There are tennis courts in this park for tennis enthusiasts.

Clare College Gardens: Clare College Gardens designed as a 20th century English garden are magnificent gardens situated in Trinity Lane. The gardens feature old Yew and Chestnut trees, a gnarled Judas tree, a riverside swamp Cypress specimen, an ancient stonewall and 2 apple trees.

Emmanuel College Gardens: Emmanuel College Gardens date back to the year 1584 and are one of the largest gardens in Cambridge. The Fellows’ Garden displays an enormous copper beech tree, an oriental plane tree which is 200 years old and a small oak tree planted by Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate 400 years of the college existence.

Jesus Green: Jesus Green is a park situated on Chesterton Road, close to the River Cam. The outdoor swimming pool here is the longest in the United Kingdom. Jesus Green is a perfect place for picnics, sports and walking.

Parker’s Piece: Parker’s Piece is an open ground in Parkside. Basic football association rules were formed in the 19th century in this place.

The Cambridge Backs: A stretch of reclaimed land behind the riverside colleges, the Cambridge Backs is situated on Queen’s Road. The scenery around this area is breathtaking. In spring the Backs are covered with beautiful daffodils and crocuses.

American Military Cemetery: Situated at Madingley about 3 miles west of Cambridge is the historic American Military Cemetery. There is a Wall of the Missing with the names of 5126 Americans who died in World War 2. The American Military Cemetery also has a chapel with two large military maps, beautiful stained glass windows bearing the State Seals and a mosaic ceiling with a memorial to the Air Forces Dead.

Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill: Located on Quy Road, Anglesey Abbey is a recreated early 20th century luxury home. Some of the attractions here include an oak room with 17th century carved oak panels and an 18th century stone fireplace, a dining room with a 16th century walnut refectory table, a collection of 37 quaint clocks, a painted chestnut Madonna, jeweled crosses and a mirrored library with more than 4000 books. Anglesey Abbey Gardens is a fabulous place to explore with a collection of classical sculpture, a winter garden with wildflower meadows and shrubs such as Viburnum, Mahonia, Sarcococca and Chimonanthus. The Lode Mill built in the 18th century and restored in 1982 is a working mill.

Duxford Imperial War Museum: Located about 10 miles from Cambridge, Duxford Imperial War Museum is an interesting place to visit for aviation enthusiasts. It traces the history of aviation in Britain and the Commonwealth. The Aircraft Hall has over 30 exhibits of British and Commonwealth military and civilian aircraft. An interesting maritime collection is on display here.

Local Nature Reserves (LNR’s): The Local Nature Reserves (LNR’s) in Cambridge are reserves for the protection of the wildlife habitats and geographical features of Cambridge. There are 8 LNRs where nature can be studied and enjoyed. The Paradise LNR is situated to the south west of Sheep’s Green and Lammas Land Recreation Ground on the west bank of the River Cam. It is a pretty woodland with a central marsh area, wet woodland and several riverside willow trees.

9. Places Near Cambridge

Interesting places to visit that are a short drive or train ride away from Cambridge include Wimpole Hall and Farm, Abington Pottery, Audley End House & Gardens, Audley End Miniature Railway, Banham Zoo, Bassingbourn Barracks, Bodyflight Bedford, Bourn Mill, Burwell Museum, Bury St Edmunds, Cheeky Monkeys Play Barn, Chilford Hall Vineyard and Winery, Colne Valley Railway, Cromwell Museum, Elton Hall, the market town of Ely, Framlingham Castle, the village of Grantchester, Hobson’s Brook, Kentwell Hall, the village of Lavenham, the town of Huntingdon, Longthorpe Tower, Nene Valley Railway and Milton Country Park.

Quick Facts

Location: Cambridge lies on the east bank of the River Cam in East Anglia in the county of Cambridgeshire and is at a distance of 50 miles north of London.

Altitude: 39 ft to 80 ft

Temperature: January is the coldest month of the year with an average temperature of around 3?C and July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 16?C.

Best time to travel: The first week of June

Accommodation: Youth hostels, Bed & Breakfast (B&B), guest houses, campsites and hotels are available to suit all budgets.

Getting There

The international airports in London such as Stansted, Luton, Heathrow, City Airport and Gatwick are well connected with regular bus and rail services to Cambridge town. Stansted is the closest important airport to Cambridge.

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