Weekly City Spotlight: Cambridge


Kings College Chapel, Cambridge

The city of Cambridge is rich in heritage and is located in East Anglia, situated approximately 50 miles to the North of London, on the River Cam. Steeped in history, Cambridge offers breath-taking architecture and is home to the world renowned University of Cambridge. A beautiful place to explore, by punt on the River, by bicycle or via the many walks which take you through this remarkable city.

Evidence shows of settlements in Cambridge prior to the Romans, with inhabitants during the Iron Age, and even earlier with a settlement on the site of which is now Fitzwilliam College originally dating back some 3,500 years.  In Saxon times, Cambridge was known as Grantabrycge, which meant Bridge over the River Granta, in time the area became known as Cambridge and the River Granta was subsequently renamed and called the River Cam.

Records show that with the presence of the Vikings in Cambridge in 875, an increase in trading resulted in the growth of Cambridge’s population.  When the Saxons returned, many more buildings were erected and St Bene’t’s Church was one of a number of churches built during this period.  William of Normandy instructed a castle to be built on Castle Hill in 1068 and in the early 1200’s Cambridge University was established.

A Centre of Excellence for Education
Cambridge is home to the University of Cambridge which consists of over 30 colleges.  These colleges are termed as either “old” or “new” depending on the period they were founded.  “Old” refers to those which date back to between 1284 and 1596, and the “new” colleges between 1800 and 1977, Peterhouse College is the oldest founded in 1284.  Kings College and Trinity College are amongst some of the best known, with Kings established in 1441 by its founder Henry VI, initially to provide a college for a small group of poor scholars.  Trinity dates back to 1546, and royalty who have studied there include Prince William of Gloucester and Edinburgh, King Edward VII, King George VI as well as Prince Charles. Sir Isaac Newton, Mathematician and Physicist also attended Trinity.

Recognised as a centre for leading edge technology, the University of Cambridge has been the birth place of a number of companies which are innovators in their field, leading the way in areas such as bioscience and software.

Cambridge is also home to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, this globally recognised teaching hospital is situated on the Cambridge BioMedical Campus, and was founded in 1766.

Popular Culture
Cambridge is a beautiful city and has been the focus for film, TV as well as books.

Films & TV
Chariots of Fire – (1981), starring Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers and John Gielgud amongst others, Chariots of Fire features two athletes and their journey to compete in the 1924 Olympics in Paris.  Various locations throughout Cambridge feature in this film, including Trinity College where the Trinity Great Court run was filmed.

Cambridge Spies – (2003), was a TV drama which portrayed the Cambridge Five, who were a group of spies operating during World War II.  Only four of the five were ever identified, the spies were recruited by Arnold Deutsch to pass information back to the Soviet Union.  Those identified had all attended Cambridge University.

Porterhouse Blue – (1987), based on Tom Sharpe’s novel (1974), this TV series focussed on life at the Porterhouse College in Cambridge. Both David Jason and Ian Richardson starred in this award winning satirical drama which was filmed at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge.

Grantchester Grind – (1995), is Tom Sharpe’s novel which follows on from Porterhouse Blue reflecting on the lives of Skullion and Sir Godber Evans in later life.

Air and Angels – (1991) written by Susan Hill (famously known for writing The Woman in Black), is written in 2 parts, one set in Cambridge and follows the Revd Thomas Cavendish who is a university don, and the other set in India following a teenage girl named Kitty and what takes place when their two paths cross.

Floating Down to Camelot – (1985) by David Benedictus follows the lives of a Cambridge undergraduate, Bill, and Helen an English literature student, and what takes place during their time together.

Social Media
Cambridge has its own official tourism website, Visit Cambridge, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts.

Famous Faces
Syd Barrett – born 6 January 1946 and Dave Gilmour – born 6 March 1946, both of Pink Floyd fame were born in Cambridge.  Barrett attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys with Roger Waters, another member of the group.

Douglas Adams – whose famous work included The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was born in Cambridge on 11 March 1952 and attended St John’s College.  Originally a radio show, the Hitchhiker’s Guide went on to become a best-selling series of books, selling over 15 million copies, a TV show and in 2005 a feature film.

Richard Attenborough CBE – was born in Cambridge on 29 August 1923, a celebrated actor, producer and film director, he has received Academy Awards, BAFTAs and Golden Globes for his work.

Ronald Serle – whose work is instantly recognisable was born in Cambridge on 3 March 1920.  He studied at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology and went on to become a very successful artist and cartoonist.  Serle’s work included the creation of the St Trinian’s School which began as a cartoon in 1941 and went on to become as series of books by Serle and later turned in films.

Kings College Chapel – This magnificent building with its stunning architecture is recognised as being the largest of the many chapels in Cambridge, work began on the chapel in 1446 and it was built in stages throughout the 1400’s and early 1500’s. The breath-taking fan-vault ceiling and stained glass windows are a sight to behold.

Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum – designed by George Besevi, the Fitzwilliam Museum was founded to house the amazing collection of art, and the extensive library featuring music and manuscripts that Richard, VII Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion, left to the University of Cambridge in his will.  Situated on Trumpington Street, admission to this grand building is free and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

St Bene’t’s Church – with evidence of the church dating back to 1000 AD, St Bene’t’s Church tower is the oldest building standing in Cambridge.  Situated in Bene’t Street, work was carried out in Victorian times to rebuild parts of the church.

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