The majority of tourists that come to Cambridge arrive to see the historic University and its magnificent buildings. One of the most famous and popular with tourists is King's College Chapel. Other attractions that you should not miss include Great St Mary's Church, a Tudor style building built in 1478, Jesus College, originally a 12th-century nunnery that today features spacious grounds and a pretty 16th-century cloister court and of course a trip on the famous Cambridge punts.
The Corpus Clock is a fascinating and beautiful clock on the outside of the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College. It is best viewed from the junction of Benet Street and Trumpington Street. It was designed and funded by a former member of the College, John Taylor, with engineers, sculptors, scientists, calligraphers and jewellers being involved in its contruction. Famous Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking unveiled the clock in September 2008. The clock face features a 24 carat gold plated steel disc which is 1.5 metres in diameter, The time is displayed by blue LED lights shining through small slits in the clock face. The slits are arranged in three rings, showing hours, minutes and seconds. A mysterious feature of the clock is the metal insect sculpture, which appears to be a grasshopper or locust. John Taylor named this insect The Chronophage, which translates to The Time Eater from the Greek words for time and eat. The mouth of the insect moves, appearing to eat the seconds and can periodically be seen to blink! The motion of the insect creates a strange grinding sound, which is broken by the rather disturbing hourly striking of a chain clunking into a wooden coffin in the back of the clock. The clock is only exactly accurate once every five minutes, which Taylor described as 'life's irregularity'. He purposely designed the clock to be terrifying to depict the fact that time is generally not on your side. The clock is mechanically controlled and although it stopped three times during its first month of operation, it is expected to run for a minimum of 200 years.
Kettle's Yard comprises a beautiful house and fine art gallery. It was formerly the home of Jim Ede, an English art collector and one-time curator of the Tate Gallery in London, who moved to Cambridge with his wife, Helen in 1956. Ede held daily 'open house' sessions for visitors to view his art collection, and was particularly interested in attracting the younger generation, who might find the larger galleries rather daunting. In 1966 Ede donated his collection, and his house, to the University of Cambridge, adding an exhibition gallery before he moved to Edinburgh in 1973. The house and gallery remain a department of the University today. The house has been kept as Ede had it, and houses a permanent collection of paintings and sculptures and other items which belonged to Ede. Part of the house takes the form of a library and archive, comprising Ede's collection of books, and letters from other collectors and artists. Kettle's Yard also hosts visiting exhibitions throughout the year and holds live classical music events, such as its popular Lunchtime Concerts where students from the University showcase their talents. In 2011 the house gained support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which provided a grant of £2.32 million towards the extension of the gallery. This building work is taking place during 2013, requiring sections of the house to be closed at certain times. It is hoped that the project will be finished by the end of 2013, when the new enhanced gallery facility will be fully open. There is a shop on site, selling interesting items of relevance to the Ede's collection.
King's College Chapel was the idea of Henry VI, who drew up the designs himself to ensure it was as large and beautiful as the other chapel he had constructed at Eton. The King laid the foundation stone on 25th July 1446, the Feast of St James. Sporadic building of the Chapel continued through the War of the Roses, the murder of Henry VI at the Tower of London on 1741, and the reign and death of Edward IV in 1483. The work was then taken over by Richard III and by the end of his reign part of the Chapel was in use. King Henry VII inherited the Chapel, after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and upon his death in 1509 his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort oversaw its completion during the reign of her grandson King Henry VIII. When Henry VIII died in 1574, over a century since the laying of the foundation stone, King's College Chapel was complete and recognised as 'The Work of Kings'. Today the Chapel plays an important part in the life of the College, being a place of worship for scholars with the Chapel Choir singing Evensong every day during term time. The Chapel is also the venue for the renowned 'Christmas at Kings' televised Christmas service.
The Senate House is one of the central buildings of Cambridge University, used for the University's ceremonial events, including graduation. The impressive and imposing building was designed by James Gibbs and constructed between 1722 and 1730 using Portland Stone. The first stone was placed by Thomas Crosse, Vice-Chancellor and the building was officially opened in July 1730, with the west wing being completed in 1768. Originally the venue for meetings of the Council of the Senate, the building is now largely used for graduation ceremonies. When each academic year closes, class lists are posted on the outside of the building. The results of the Mathematical Tripos are then announced from the balcony of the Senate House, leading to the well known traditional scene of class lists being thrown into the air and falling to the ground like confetti. The building has seen some action during its days, with a group of engineering students placing an Austin Seven van on the roof one night in 1958. Protesters, comprising Cambridge students and residents, occupied the Senate House grounds in November 2010 in support of the 'National Day of Action' called by students. For the house's 800th anniversary, the front of the building was illuminated by a light show which illustrated key points in the history of the University. The house is a Grade I listed building and whilst the interior is closed to the general public, viewing the building from the outside should not be missed.
The Gate of Honour is one of the earliest examples of Italian Renaissance style architecture in England, having been built in 1575. The gate has the appearance of a miniature triumphal arch and is one of three gates which were built at the same time. The gates are located within the Gonville and Caius college and were constructed to symbolise the scholars' academic journey. The two other gates are named 'The Gate of Humility', which stands in the Master's Garden and 'the Gate of Virtue' which is in Caius Court. The Gate of Honour is also in Caius Court and forms part of the graduation ceremonies, with students passing through it on their way to the Senate House. The gate was designed by Dr John Caius, a co-founder of the College, who travelled widely across Europe and studied at a medical education centre in Italy, where he gained his love for Italian architecture. When he designed the gate, he became known for breaking away from the traditional medieval archicetural styles. In the 16th Century, the gates were used to shut off the College courtyards, which were deserted due to outbreaks of the plague. The gate is an unusual structure with a hexagonal stone top displaying a sundial on each face. The gate is best viewed from Trinity Street or Senate House passage.
The Sidgwick Site is located on the western edge of Cambridge and is one of the largest University sites. Is is named after Henry Sidgwick, a philosopher who was a scholar at Cambridge in the 19th Century. The site was originally constructed in 1952, with many of the original buildings remaining alongside more recent additions. It was built to accommodate the increasing number of students attending Cambridge University. Architects Casson Condor designed the site, proposing a series of raised buildings situated around courtyards, but only one of their suggestions, 'the Raised Faculty Building' was ever built, and it still stands today. The History faculty was built in the mid 1960s, designed by Stirling & Gowan, and was seen as a radical building for its time, a mixture of terracotta tiles and glazing. In contract, the Law Faculty, designed by Foster & Partners in 1995, is a high-tech building constructed of bright white steel and glass detailing. The newest additions to the site are the Divinity Faculty, completed in 2002, and the School of Criminology which opened in 2005, both designed by Allies & Morrison. Many University departments are located here; archaeology, criminal law, modern languages and philosophy to name but a few. The site is also home to an impressive lecture block. Some of the buildings within the site are eye-catching to say the least; enormous mirror-fronted structures in a variety of interesting and unusual shapes, and the site is also home to two of the most iconic modern structures in Cambridge.
St Bene't's Church is an Anglican church located in central Cambridge, and the oldest standing building in the city. The church was constructed when Canute was King of England and it takes its unusual name from the shortening of 'Benedict'. The church is famous for its Anglo Saxon tower, which was built between 1000 and 1050AD. Whilst the original tower remains, much of the church was rebuilt during the Victorian period. Due to its proximity to Corpus Christi College, the church served as the College chpel until 1579. Although no longer the official chapel of the College, the College is still the Patron of the church. Among other famous people people connected with St Bene't's, Michael Ramsay, who became Archbishop of Canterbury, was vicar here in 1938. The vicar from 2006 until 2011 was the Reverend Angela Tilby, who will be familiar to those who listen to the BBC's 'Thought for the Day'. Those with an interest in campanology will like to know that Fabian Stedman, a leading name in the history of bell ringing, was Clerk of the Parish in the mid 17th Century. The Eagle pub stands opposite St Bene't's, which Francis Crick and James Watson announced in 1953 that they have discovered the structure of DNA. St Bene't's provides a wonderfully calm environment within the bustling city of Cambridge, with an interesting history and beautiful architecture. Daily services are held at this popular church where events and various groups are also arranged.
Officially 'The Church of the Holy Sepulchre', the Round Church is an Anglican church in the centre of Cambridge. The church is a Grade I listed building, managed by Christian Heritage. An unusual and intriguing structure, and one of just four round churches still in use in England. It is also Cambridge's second oldest building. Inspired by the round church in Jerusalem, the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulchre built the Round Chuch in 1130. The church was originally a wayfarers' church, but in the mid 13th Century it became a Parish church. Follwing the Civil War in 1643 the church was in a poor state of repair and Anthony Salvin of the Cambridge Camden Society was appointed to make amends. In keeping with the original structure, Salvin replaced the bell storey and replaced the Gothic style windows with those of the Norman style. A new south aisle was added, and the north aisle rebuilt and extended at the same time. The Victorian stained glass window was destroyed by a bomb in the Second World War and was replaced in 1946. In 1994 the church's congregation moved to the Church of St Andrew the Great nearby, for they had grown to large to be accommodated by the Round Church. Today the church is open 6 days a week for visitors, also offering a film/documentary, guided walking tours and well-informed staff to answer questions and provide further information.
The Leper Chapel, officially the Chapel of St Mary Magdelene, is thought to be the oldest building in Cambridge. The chapel was built during the reign of Henry I, in around 1125. It was formerly part of the leprosy isolation hospital, hence its name. The majority of the Chapel was rebuilt during the 13th Century, but parts of the east wall are original. King John gave the Chapel royal dispensation in 1199 to hold a fair to raise funds to support sufferers of leprocy. The Stourbridge Fair, a three day event, was held on Stourbridge Common behind the Chapel and became one of the largest Medieval fairs in Europe. Through the years the fair raised so much money that being a priest at the Leper Chapel become one of the most lucrative roles in the Church of England. With the decline in leprosy in 1279 the hospital stopped taking in new patients and the remaining patients were moved to Ely and the Chapel closed. The Chapel remained a storage building for the stalls for the fair and was used as a public house when the fairs took place. In 1816 Thomas Kerrich bought the Chapel and donated it to Cambridge University, who then donated it to the Cambridge Preservation Society in 1951 - their ownership continues to this day, although they are now known as Cambridge Past, Present and Future. The Chapel is now used for worship and cultural and community events, promoted by the group 'Friends of the Leper Chapel' which was formed in 1999 to promote its use.
St Botolph's is a traditional Anglican church, dedicated to the patron saint of travellers, a 7th Century abbott of East Anglia. The church was constructed in 1350, prior to which Norman and Saxon churches stood on the site. The interesting tower, on which can be seen carved symbols of the Four Evangelists, was added during the 8th Century. The church has many beautiful and interesting features inside, including a wooden font and cover from 1637, a 300 year old pulpit and a lecturn which was made and gifted to the church in 1875. The north window is a stunning stained glass window, a memorial to Dr Campion, Rector of St Botolph's from 1862 to 1890. The Victorian architect Bodley rebuilt the chancel in the 19th century, which now displays beautiful decorated ceilings and Rood Screen paintings. This is the only medieval Rood Screen remaining in the churches of Cambridge. Charles Darwin's family were parishioners of St Botolph's and there is a memorial to Charles Darwin by the vestry door. The south aisle chapel was added during the 15th Century and houses a splendid monument to Thomas Plaifere, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, who died in 1609. The church still holds services throughout the months, with Holy Communion at 10:30am every Wednesday.
St Edward King and Martyr Church dates back to the 13th Century and is dedicated to Edward the Martyr, King of England from 975 until his murder in 978. It is said that the first sermon of the English Reformation took place at St Edward's, at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 1525. In 1400 the church was rebuilt and the present chancel and arches of the nave were added. During the time when Henry VI ordered land to be cleared to make space to create Kings College, the nearby churches of St John Zachary, which was used by Trinity Hall, was demolished. In 1445 St Edwards Church was granted to Trinity Hall and to this day the chaplain is still appointed by the college. Today the church is a Christian centre which fosters meditative Christianity, spiritual growth and pastoral care. The church is tucked awa behind its leafy churchyard, which boasts mock-orange bushes which provide a stunning display of blossom in the springtime. There are three services at St Edwards on Sundays - 08:00, 11:00 and 17:00. On most Tuesdays there is a talk at 17:30 and on alternative Wednesdays the church hosts contemporary music events.
The impressive All Saints Church was designed and built by architect G F Bodley between 1863 and 1870. It is a superb example of Gothic Revival styling and is a Grade II listed building. Between 1869 and 1871 the spire and tower, which can be seen today, were added. The spire is of particular note, being a prominent Cambridge landmark at 175 high. It was once the tallest building in Cambridge, but now sits in third place behind the chimney of Addenbrooke's Hospital and Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church. The church is well known for its highly decorated interior and dramatic features, such as an alabastar font and oak aisle screens. Almost every surface within the church is adorned with gilded, stencilled or painted decorations. The wall paintings play a significant part in the beauty of the church, being very well preserved. There is also an impressive stained glass east window. The church has been cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust since 1981 when it ceased its role as a parish church. It is currently used for events such as art exhibitions and the Cambridge Presbyterian Church hold their Sunday morning worship there. The former churchyard, now an open space, is called All Saints Garden. The church welcomes over two million visitors each year and has its own set of publications to download from its website, including walking guides.
The Cavendish Laboratory was built as a training laboratory following a significant donation by University Chancellor William Cavendish in the late 19th Century. Cavendish wished to aid the pursuit of sciences in Cambridge, and discoveries such a the Electron, Neutron and DNA have been made within the Laboratory since that day. The Laboratory is currently the Department of Physics at Cambridge University. It started its days located in Free School Lane in the centre of the city, but moved to its present site in the early 1970s when expansion became necessary. During World War I research into the atomic bomb was carried out at the Laboratory, and it also has links to the production of plutonium and neptunium. Despite being a site for physics, the Laboratory has also had a significant impact on biology, through research into X-ray crystallography and the structures of biological molecules. Francis Crick, Maz Perutz and James Watson made a breakthrough in discovering the structure of DNA at the Cavendish Laboratory and were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. To this day the Laboratory remains a site for major research projects and activities. The Laboratory hosts a number of events and talks throughout the year, which are detailed on its website.
The Downing Site is one of the key buildings of Cambridge University, located in the heart of the city centre. Until the mid 19th Century the main focus at Cambridge University was the teaching of mathematics, classics, philosophy and theology, due to its main function of training men for the clergy. At this time the University was divided socially, with undergraduates of nobe rank being given special privileges, such as not needing to take exams! Prince Albert, Chancellor in 1847 changed this, bringing the University in line with German educational establishments and introducing additional subjects uch as engineering, languates and sciences. The Downing Site was built in response to Prince Albert's reforms. The Site became home to new teaching facilities for subjects including agriculture, archaeology, anthropology and physiology. The first building to open was the Botanty School in 1905, which still exists today under the name of the Plant Sciences Department. The second to open was the Sedgwick Museum, which was constructed in dedication of the geologist Adam Sedgwick. One of a number of the University's museums, it is still in use today and is open to the public.
Cambridge Chauffeur Punts has grown its fleet to 27 punts since it was founded in 1993. As well as the normal punts, the company also owns double punts which are capable of transporting school parties and other large groups of up to 100 people. With Cambridge Chauffeur Punts you can either take advantage of one of their chauffeur guides, or punt yourself. The punts operate along the upper section of the River Cam towards Grantchester and also pass the well known College Backs on the middle section of the river. A standard tour with a chauffer guide lasts around 45 minutes, punting you between Silver Street and Quayside, along the length of the Backs, and back. During this tour you will take in Queens College, the Mathematical Bridge, Kings College, Claire College, Trinity Hall, Trinity College, St Johns College, the Bridge of Sighs and Magdelene College. Blankets and umbrellas are provided for those more inclement days! As well as being professional punters, the chauffeurs are also local experts who will talk you through all the facts and historical stories about sights. Half day tours can also be organised, on any part of the river. If you wish to eat during your tour, Cambridge Chauffeur Punts will organise a two course Thai meal for you to enjoy whilst you are punted along the river. The company has linked with Salathong Thai Restaurant, who provide locally-acclaimed freshly cooked food at reasonable prices. You can also make your trip extra special by adding strawberries and champagne for dessert. If some musical accompaniment takes your fancy, you can book a professional guitarist to serenade you along the river! There are a whole variety of options to choose from including tours ranging from 45 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes and Walking and Punting Tours.
The award winning Granta Punting Company offers chauffer punting tours by Cambridge University students. Their moorings are just a 2 minute walk from Queens College and there is also paid parking available next to the moorings. The tours are very professional and lots of fun! Self-hire punting and canoeing is also available, together with large group and school tours. For something different, the Granta Punting Company offers the rather romantic 'Punting by Candlelight'. The company has teamed up with Carluccios Restaurant to provide picnics by the river and you can also book a BBQ to enjoy by the moorings. If you fancy eating whilst punting, you are able to order an Indian meal to enjoy on board. However, if you only fancy a drink, Granta offer pitchers of Pimms, Prosecco or Chilled Champagne to order for your journey. Special offers on tours are available by pre-booking through Granta's website, but you can also just turn up on the day. If you would like to give someone a unique present, gift vouchers are available to purchase.
Lets Go Punting is a small independent company specialising in a variety of punting tours on the River Cam. Shared chauffeur punting tours last 45 minutes and you will travel in a large ferry punt which seats up to 12 people. Sights include the Chapel at Kings, the Bridge of Sighs and Mathematical Bridge. Private chauffeured punting tours are available for up to 12 people and last around 50 minutes, with the option of personalising your tour. This tour offers a guide to the history and architecture of the 7 colleges and bridges along the route. Special evening tours can be booked with the option of ordering an Indian Meal from local restaurant Inders Kitchen to enjoy during your tour. For a special birthday treat, Birthday Tours are available which include a homemade birthday cake (Victoria Sponge, Lemon Drizzle or Chocolate Fudge!) and bouquet of balloons. Lets Go Punting are the only punting company in Cambridge to offer Wine Tasting and Cocktail Making Tours and combination tours of Punting and Walking, Punting and Cycling or any combination thereof can also be organised. Various picnics and meals can be pre-ordered, and gift vouchers of various options can be purchased as gifts. Discounts on all tours are available when pre-booking through the company's website.
Established in 1910, Scudamore's Punting Company offers a wide range of punting-related services. Some services are available on the day at the mooring, with others requiring pre-booking, or being seasonal. The College Backs tour takes in the famous 1 mile stretch of the River Cam. This tours provides views of lovely gardens and lawns and some of the most impressive buildings in Cambridge, including Kings College Chapel, the Wren Library and the Bridge of Sighs. These public tours run every 45 minutes in shared punts seating up to 12 people. Self-hire punts are available for either the College Backs or the Upper River towards Grantchester, with kayaks, canoes and rowing boats also available on the Upper stretch. For something different, Scudamore's offer a Ghost Tour which lasts 90 minutes and runs every Saturday as a scheduled service. The tour is based around supernatural happenings and macabre tales of some of the most famous locations in Cambridge. This mysterious tour finishes with a walk through the haunted lanes of the city. The Grantchester tour takes in the quieter Upper River, with beautiful views of woodland, fens and open meadows. There are a variety of tours available on the Upper River, including a private guided tour, a Punt and BBQ option and wildlife tours. Scudamore's also run special Treasure Hunts, carefully developed to combine sightseeing, entertainment and education. The Treasure Hunts are based on and off the water and are best suited to groups split into teams, who will be provided with maps, question sheets in order to find the answers to the questions for a chance to win a prize for being the winning team. If you have something special to celebrate, Scudamore's can cater for a range of events, such as birthdays, marriage proposals, anniversaries, retirement parties and Valentine punts to name but a few. These events can be tailored to specific requirements. Advance sales and discounts are available at the company's website.
The Sunday Arts & Crafts and Local Produce Market takes place every Sunday and Bank Holidays in Market Square. The market has a traditional atmosphere and is jammed full of original and interesting stalls to browse around. The charming art and craft stalls include paintings, pottery, furnishings and sculptures. Local farmers also attend the market to sell their wares, including fruits and vegetables, organic meats, cheeses, cakes and apple juice. All stallholders at the market produce or make their own products.
The Mathematical Bridge spans the River Cam, connecting the two parts of Queen's College in Cambridge. It was designed by William Etheridge and built by James Essex in 1749. A popular myth is that the bridge was designed and built by Sir Isaac Newton - this is incorrect, as it is impossible for Newton to have been involved, as he died in 1727, years before the bridge was constructed! The bridge has been named 'mathematical' as it appears to be in the shape of an arch, but in reality is constructed purely of straight pieces of timber. Etheridge previously worked with James King the head carpenter on the building of the first Westminster Bridge in London from 1737 to 1750. It is from King that Etheridge probably learnt this method of trussing. The bridge has been rebuilt twice, in 1866 and 1905 to restore it to good condition. Despite the bridge not being original, it became a Grade II listed structure in 1950 due to its rare 18th Century trussing techniques.
Most visitors to Cambridge start by dropping in to the Cambridge Tourist Information office to pick up some free advice, maps and brochures of the various attractions. Another popular way to get familiar with the city is to take either a walking tour or a bus tour. The main operator of bus tours in Cambridge is Cambridge city sightseeing which also operates similar services in many other cities around the world. If you are yet to book your accomodation for your stay in Oxford why not have a look at some of the best late deals - Cambridge hotel deals.
Cambridge Folk Festival
(Wed 25th Jul, 2018)
Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the premier music events in Europe and one of the longest running and most famous folk festivals in the world. It has become hugely popular and a regular sell out attracting ten thousand people, many of whom return year after year.
The Pink Festival
(Wed 22nd Aug, 2018)
The Pink Festival brings you the outdoor festival experience you’ve been waiting for! It's gay pride, it's a family event, it's a music festival, it's a party – it's anything you want it to be!
The Duxford Air Show
(Mon 03rd Sep, 2018)
Imperial War Museum Duxford's annual air show.