Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Once upon a university town…

Whiling away my maternity leave I have found a novel way to pass the time.
I have been on a college grand tour, a self imposed challenge to visit every undergraduate college in the university before baby makes an appearance.

I thought of the plan because I often find myself getting a bit resentful about the amount of green space in Cambridge, which is hidden away behind ornate (and so often closed!) doors.
This feels like an injustice when the open green spaces amount to not much more than scrubby areas of grass, greatly lacking when compared to the beautifully landscaped, lush and sculpture bedecked secret gardens the colleges are harbouring.

Some of the colleges are open to visitors for free, others charge a handsome sum for entry and some are only open at certain times to protect student lives from hoards of tourists.
My goal was to get into every single college without spending any money or getting in anyone’s way. I managed this with a little sneaking and some confident striding!

My favourite thing about the project was the amount of variation between the colleges. They range from the very oldest (Peterhouse founded in 1284) to the newest (Robinson founded in 1977). 
I wanted to visit the 29 ‘official’ colleges from the Cambridge website though there are other colleges in Cambridge apart from these.

I snapped a picture of something within each of the college grounds which took my fancy, each college has little quirks and beautiful bits, even the newer and less famous colleges had really charming parts, secret gardens, peaceful chapels and stunning stained glass windows were just some of the treasures I came across.  

My personal favourites from the project were Downing, which is open to all and has a beautiful library and Pembroke which was just completely charming. But I also loved the gardens at Murray Edwards College, the chapel at St Catherine’s and the secret swimming pool at Emmanuel.

The stained glass window I’ve chosen from Gonville and Caius was dedicated to my great grandfather Ronald Fisher who was a renowned Geneticist and Statistician. He was also a Fellow and then President of the college for many years. I believe it has something to do with his work into the ‘Latin Square’. 

All in all, I feel that I know this place a little better now and will be able to find some pretty shady spots to rest in when the sun is out this summer!

colleges in order of appearance (left to right) 

Christs, Sidney Sussex, St Johns, Trinity Hall, 

Downing, Murrey Edwards, Gonville and Caius, 

Corpus Christi, Pembroke, Magdaline  

Queens, Clare, Trinity, Lucy Cavendish 

St Catherines, Peterhouse, Emmanuel, Saint Edmunds 

Jesus, Robinson, Fitzwilliam, Churchill 

Newnam, Kings, Hughs Hall, Selwyn  

Wolfson, Homerton, Girton 

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