1902 Encyclopedia > Cambridge (town), England

Cambridge (town)
England




CAMBBIDGE, the chief town of the above county, and the seat of a famous university, is situated on the Cam, in the midst of a healthy fertile country, which for the most part has been reclaimed from the fens. The trade of the town is derived from its being the centre of an agricultural district, and from the custom of the resident members of the university. The Cam changes its name to the Ouse as the Isis does to the Thames, and Cambridge is the head of navigation for barges from King's Lynn, which before the railways was connected with a very considerable business. Cambridge is now a chief station on the Great Eastern line, and is also connected with the Great Northern, the London and the North-Western, and the Midland lines. A large market is held on Saturdays. The town has returned two members since the time of Edward I. It is a very ancient corporation, and under the Municipal Reform Act is governed by a mayor, ten aldermen, and thirty common councilmen The university, a corporation separate from the borough, also returns two members. The town has an excellent free grammar school, founded by Dr Perse, good public institutions, and endowed alms-houses. The town owes its existence mainly to the university, which over-shadows it in importance. In this respect Cambridge and Oxford differ from all other universities, which are generally absorbed in the town in which they are situated. Cam-bridge, like Oxford, is of a singularly unique character, and affords examples of architecture from the dawnings of authentic history to the more modern structures designed to meet the wants of our own day. The original Cambridge was the ancient Roman Camboritum, a small settlement on the left or north bank of the Cam or Granta. A castle was built to overawe the fen country, of which some ruins may be traced, and Roman coins from the time of Ves-pasian downwards have been found. In Anglo Saxon times the river was called Granta, and the Roman town Grantchester, a name which still survives in the present village near the town. The modern name was derived from a great stone bridge, the only one in those parts that was thrown across the Cam, probably in old Roman days. Bede gives Cambridge or Grantchester the epithet of "desolate." It was exposed to the assaults of the Danes and repeatedly plundered. In the days of Edward the Elder we find that Grantbridge, a derivation of Cambridge, is giving its name to a shire, in a new division of Mercia. In the 11th century the borough began to expand beyond the narrow Boman limits. A population grew up by degrees on the other side of the river. Religious foundations gradually took their place in the borough. We begin to have authentic annals in the 12 th century. Learned men came hither anxious to teach, and scholars anxious to be taught. The students first lived in the houses of the townsfolk, as in German and Scottish universities; we afterwards find hostels, where students and teachers lodged together. It is probable that the great Benedictine monas-teries of the Fens may have had a part in the origin of the university. We find Henry III. (1231) issuing writs for the regulation of Cambridge " clerks," and making mention of chancellor and masters. A few years later we find the king entrenching the town with two gates, which, however, were burnt by the barons. In Wat Tyler's insurrection the colleges were attacked and ransacked by the rabble, it was supposed with the connivance and assistance of the Cambridge townsfolk, but were repulsed by the young bishop of Norwich. The first two Stuart kings and the first two Hanoverian kings cultivated friendly personal relations with the university. In the Civil War many of the colleges sent their plate to King Charles, but town and university without actual conflict came into the obedience of the Commonwealth. In other respects Cambridge has been so fortunate as hardly to possess any history.

We proceed to notice somewhat in detail the remarkable structures which have now a European reputation. Although there is no street to equal the glorious High Street of Oxford, yet the long street which begins with the Trump-ington Boad, and then as a narrow lane fronts Sepulchre Church, is lined with the most important colleges. What is called " the backs of colleges," where the Cam wanders beneath frequent arches through groves and gardens, has a more unique beauty than Oxford or any other university town can display. Within recent years there have been con-stant changes at Cambridge, and the aspect of the place has been materially altered; there have been great demolitions and reconstructions, and some very fine edifices have been added. The Fitzwilliam Museum, as we first enter Trump-ington Street, is a very striking edifice, and as large funds from time to time are accumulated for its extension, it will become increasingly valuable. Becently it has at a great expense received a remarkable amount of colour and decoration. The columned facade, with its portico and colonnades, is considered by some the most striking piece of architecture in the kingdom. It was the foundation of Viscount Fitzwilliam, an Irish peer, who bequeathed to the university his picture gallery, including fine examples of the greatest masters, 120 folio volumes of engravings, a valuable library, and £100,000. Various other valuable collections have from time to time been gathered into the Fitzwilliam Museum. The sculpture gallery is peculiarly rich There are also Colonel Leake's Greek vases, the Disney marbles, the Ellison collection of modern painters, the Mesmer collection. At a short distance from- the Fitzwilliam, at the end of a water-course, is Hobson's Conduit, removed here from the market-place, where it stood from 1614 to 1856. Hobson was a great benefactor to Cam-bridge, and is commemorated by Milton. The Pitt Press is found in this line of street, with a very church-like appear-ance. It was erected in memory of William Pitt the states-man. Addenbrooke Hospital, the Botanic Garden (arranged after De Candolle's system), the Anatomical Museum, and the Observatory, are very much worthy of examination. The renowned Senate-house, the centre of the university, is remarkable for its elaborate finish and perfect proportions.





In this fine room the university examinations are held and degrees are bestowed. The scenes witnessed here when the mathematical honour list is issued, and on the degree day following, are a very interesting episode of university life. The senior wrangler of the year receives a mighty ovation. Very near the Senate-house is the University Library ; the Georges were great benefactors to both. It is one of the few libraries entitled to copies of all new books. The number of books and MSS. is about half a million. The most remarkable MS. is that known to scholars as D, the Codex Bezce, the uncial MS. or vellum of the four Gospels and the Acts, presented by Theodore Beza. The front of the library is an Italian balustraded arcade ; the basement storyof the quadrangle is called " the Schools," a much more limited expression than the same Oxford term. In the "school" were once carried on the lectures and disputations from which " wranglers " and " sophs" derived their names. One part of the schools is devoted to the j Woodwardian or Geological Museum, enriched by the collec-tions of the late Professor Sedgwick. He taught geology to undergraduates in visiting the neighbourhood with them. Close to this is the Mineralogical Museum, enriched with diamonds presented by the late Lord Alford. The fine new buildings of the Union Society are noticeable. Various Cambridge churches are very interesting. The Round Church or Sepulchre Church is one of four similar churches in England (the Temple Church being one), modelled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. It was restored in 1841 by the Camden Society. Great St Mary's, like St Mary's, Oxford, is the church of the university. St Benedict (or Benet) Church is very interesting. Its restoration in 1869 fully displayed the magnificent Roman-esque arch of great antiquity, and traces of Early English and Pre-Norman remains. St Mary's the Less, next to Peterhouse, is a very ancient church. The old church of All Saints, opposite St John's, has been removed, and is rebuilt in Jesus Lane. There are a large number of modern churches. There is a wide market-place and several open spaces, such as Christ's Piece and Parker's Piece. The railway station, where different companies find a common home, is spacious and handsome. The so-called school of Pythagoras (the origin of the term is obscure) was doubtless the abode of a Thegn or Saxon gentleman. The mound of the Castle, a natural hill scarped and cut down, must have been of great importance in overlooking the fen country. It was probably within the lines of the Boman station, and a castle was built here by the Conqueror; many houses, according to Domesday Booh, being removed to make way for it. Edward I. lodged here, but the castle was soon in ruins. The massive gateway was removed to make way for the county courts. The county gaol, at the rear of the county court, was arranged according to plans of John Howard the philanthropist.

Each college in Cambridge has its separate interest,— something remarkable in chapel, hall, or library, in garden or gallery. We shall rapidly indicate some distinctive features Trinity in each. The largest of the colleges is Trinity, the largest 'College collegiate foundation in Europe. It is on both sides the street, for a new court, the Master's Court, was built at the expense of Dr Whewell, and his cipher, W.W., is on the capacious tower. The King's Gateway is the entrance to this famous college. The great canopied statue is that of Henry VIII., in whose time this vast portal was built by the scholars of Trinity. We pass into the great court with its velvet sward and the lofty stone conduit, known as NeviU's Fountain. On one side is the Master's Lodge, with a fine collection of portraits, and a set of state rooms. On the same side is the lofty Gothic hall, with a high-peaked Flemish roof. In term time when the great hall, with its uainted glass and armorial bearings, is crowded with students, the sight is remarkable enough. On entering the chapel the ante-chapel should be carefully noted, with the^ statue of Newton in a sitting posture, the statue of Barrow, a statue of Macaulay, and soon there wdl be one of Whewell. A second great gateway, with the niched statue of Edward III., leads into the second court. On the south is a third gateway with four towers on the angles, called,, from a statue of Queen Elizabeth in her robes, the Queen's Gateway. The library was begun by Barrow and designed by Wren. It is the most classic building in the university _—in Wren's favourite style of the old Italian. It overlooks the river, and below the library is a colonnade opening on the bridge and the Lime Walk. In the value of its contents this library ranks next to the university library; it pos-sesses the mathematical MSS. of Newton and the poetical MSS. of Milton. It numbers nearly 100,000 volumes. The woodwork is by Gibbons; the series of marble busts by Boubillac. Becent additions have been made of the busts of Brofessor Sedgwick, Mr Tennyson, and Mr Ellis. At the end of the room is Thorwaldsen's statue of LorC Byron, which was refused admission into Westminster Abbey.

The next largest college is St John's, which is famous for its series of splendid improvements. The college consists of four courts; the plain brick edifices are carried to the brink of the river, but on the other side of the river is the magnificent New Court designed by Bickman, the finest modern structure of all the Cambridge quadrangles. The massive antique gateway of the first court has the armorial bearings of the foundress of this college and Christ's College, the Lady Margaret, countess of Richmond and mother of Henry VII. The chapel and hall are in the front court. The second court is still larger, and is one of the very few untouched by modern restoration. The third court has a cloister on the west; and the antique library, unaltered for generations, takes up the whole upper part of the north side. The Master's Lodge, finished in 1865 by Sir G. G. Scott, extends westward. A light Gothic bridge over the Cam conducts into the New Court, a stately quadrangle, with a vaulted cloister along the south side. The magnificent chapel, erected mainly by the society, and enriched with many gifts, at great expense, was opened in 1869. It was erected by Sir G. G. Scott, and has some resemblance to the Sainte Chapelle at Paris. The roof and painted glass are especially remarkable. Chantrey's monument to Henry Kirke-White, erected at the expense of an American gentleman, is to be transferred to this chapel.

St Peter's College, or Peterhouse, is the oldest of the colleges. It was founded in 1257 by Hugh de Balsham, who was one of the first to separate between the monkish and scholastic element in education. The university long gave special honour and celebration to De Balsham. St Peter's is remarkable for eminent men, and for lay fellow-ships at a time when they were hardly known elsewhere. The gardens are good, and there is a small deer park.

King's College owns that magnificent chapel which widely dominates over all the buildings in the town and university. The college was originally commenced and endowed by Henry VI., in connection with Eton. Henry VII. deserves the title of a second founder. The chapel is one vast long-drawn nave. It is the latest and most sumptuous example of the Perpendicular order of Gothic architecture. The fretted roof, unsustained by a single pillar, is vaulted into twelve divisions. The centre of each is a pendant keystone, terminating alternately in roses and portcullises, each key-stone weighing more than a ton. Over the stone roof is the timber roof. An organ separates between chapel and ante-chapel. The painted glass is the most remarkable that has been bequeathed to us by the age of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., and belongs to a time when the art of painting had attained its highest excellence. There are five-and-twenty windows, with more than a hundred subjects. The chantries are fine. The exterior of the chapel, though very fine, hardly corresponds with the interior. The immense design for the college, entertained by Henry VI., has never been carried out, and the new buildings, erected at a great expense, have not been subordinated to the general design. The best of these is the Master's Lodge ; the Fellows' Buildings are incongruous. King's College Chapel is certainly the architectural gem of the university.





Caius (pronounced Key's) College, in point of size, is the third college in the university. It has a some-what special character, being termed the Medical College. The founder was a physician high in favour with Philip and Mary. His tomb, with the inscription " Fui Caius," is the great ornament of the chapel. In the painted glass of the chapel is a series delineating the miracles of healing. No college has undergone greater alterations within recent years than Caius College, the larger part of the college having been taken down and rebuilt. It has now some of the most striking architectural effects in modern Cambridge. The three famous gates—the Gate of Humility, the Gate of Virtue, the Gate of Honour—are re-tained Mr Fergusson says of the last " that it is one of the most pleasing as well as one of the most advanced specimens of the Early Renaissance in England." The new hall is by Trinity Salvin (1864). The little college of Trinity Hall has also nau' a special character, being the Legal College. To a great extent it has been rebuilt, after a destructive fire in 1851. The gardens are very fine. Queens' College is the work of the two rival queens of the Red Rose and the White, Margaret of Anjou and Elizabeth Woodville, who are always regarded as co-foundresses. Erasmus took up his abode here and promoted the new learning. His study is supposed to have been in the south-west tower of the old court. The chapel has been beautifully restored in recent years. A quaint bridge, called the " mathematical bridge," leads into the garden or wilderness on the other side of the Cam. On the south side of the Cloister Court is Erasmus's Court. It is said to be. in contemplation to fill up the western side Corpus with a new river front. Corpus Christi College has an imposing frontage, not unlike that of Christ Church, Oxford, though on a smaller scale. This college has the credit of having begun the series of reconstructions which has been in progress for years past up to the present time. The college is in intimate relations with the town of Cambridge, in which it has much property, and from which it has derived various benefactions. On the north end of the great quadrangle is the Old Court, which is said to retain more of its original features than any other court in the university Archbishop Parker lent his library to this college on condition that if twenty-five books should ever be missing the bequest should devolve to Caius College. Opposite Corpus Christi is the college long known as Catherine's Hall, the only hall in Cambridge, but in the unfulfilled expectation of many private halls being established now termed a college. It is extremely picturesque, with a side of the principal quadrangle planted with elms and open to Trumpington Street. It might almost be called ; the Theological College, as it has produced an extraordinary [ number of ecclesiastical writers. Clare College consists of o_ a single court, and is remarkable for its finished beauty, , with " more purity and grace than any other example , which can be named" (Fergusson). The bridge, avenue, ,iand lawn are noticeable. This college is supposed to be Chaucer's " Soler Hall at Cantabrage." Once one of the largest, it is now one of the smallest colleges. Here " Ignoramus " was acted before the delighted James I.

Emmanuel College has a peculiar interest of its own. Once its site was occupied by a house of Dominican friars, and it subsequently became the chosen college of the Puritans. The frontage of this college is long and imposing. Through an arcade we pass into the principal court, above an arcaded side of which is a picture gallery designed by Wren for the Master's Lodge. The library here is very good. Sidney Sussex College has a history very parallel Sidney to that of Emmanuel College. They were together styled Sussex, in the time of Charles I. " nurseries of Puritanism." Oliver Cromwell was a member of this college, and the best extant likeness of him is to be found here. There is also Bernini's bust from the plaster impression taken after death. This college was improved to the extent of entire obliteration by Wyatville, who has only left the old oriels of the Master's Lodge remaining. The lodge has a large pleasure garden attached. Next to this college is Christ's, opposite Christ's, to which a street runs westward that has some curious old houses and an old name, Petty Cury, the meaning of which has been much discussed; it most probably means " little cookery." Christ's College was the foundation of the Lady Margaret, the saintly foundress of St John's. Her portrait is in chapel and hall, and her arms over the gateway. Like Sidney Sussex, Christ's was restored in the last century, and nearly all traces of antiquity extinguished. Christ's is famous for its associations with the Platonists, and especially with Milton. His rooms are pointed out, and his mulberry tree in the garden has drawn pilgrims from every part of the world. The old tree is carefully propped up and mounded, and a new tree has been planted from an offshoot. Behind the college is an open space of park-like character leading down to the boats. Some of the latest restorations now in progress are in Pembroke. When Queen Elizabeth saw this college she exclaimed, " Oh domus antiqua et religiosa!" but the peculiar features which give this college its picturesque appearance are being inexorably sacrificed to modern requirements. The chapel was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and executed at the cost of his uncle, Bishop Wren, as a thank-offering for his liberation from a confinement of eighteen years in the Tower. The college has been called " Collegium Episcopale," from the number of its prelates. It also boasts the great names of Edmund Spenser, Gray, and William Pitt. Jesus College stands pleasantly back from the public Jesus., road, surrounded with gardens and meadows. The ivied walls have a very pleasant aspect. The college chapel is a very noble one, and may rank after King's College chapel and the new chapel of St John's. It is among the most magnificent of the recent restorations at Cambridge. It is part of the old church of St Rhadegund; the ante-chapel, which is being decorated under the care of Mr Rossetti, being portion of the original nave. The New Court or Garden Court is shadowed with trees of many years' growth. The college has recently laid out fresh grounds and build-ings. The cock, the badge or rebus of Bishop Alcock, the founder, is discernible in many parts of the college. Magdalene College is the only college on the north side of the Cam. It was founded by a lord of Audley End, whose representative always nominates the head of the college. It boasts three libraries,—the college library, the Peckard library, and the Pepysian library. The last contains the Pepy's MS. and much old black-letter literature. The last of the Cambridge colleges is Downing College. It was only founded in the year 1800, with large bequests from a Cambridgeshire baronet. The first undergraduate was in 1821, but the college has in later years received a consider-able development. The well-wooded grounds are handsome and extensive, and are thrown freely open to the public.

Some of the Cambridge localities should be mentioned. The suburb of Barnwell has the remains of an ancient-priory. At Stourbridge is the disused chapel of an ancient hospital for lepers. The greatest fair in England was one held here. The little village of Trumpington is a favourite locality. Granchester has some remains which make it a question whether it or Cambridge Castle was the site of the old Roman station. Byron's Pool is in the river here. Madingley is a fine old mansion, the residence of the Prince of Wales when at Cambridge, and possibly the scene of Gray's Elegy. Between this place and Cambridge is the Observatory. The central dome revolves on wheels, and can be moved by a single hand. The remarkable tele- scope was presented by the late duke of Northumberland in 1835. A favourite walk is to the very moderate elevation known as the Gogmagog Hills, an off-shoot of the chalk range, the summit of which has been a Roman camp and a lord-treasurer's abode. The Ladies' College at Girton may also be mentioned. Chesterton and Cherry Hinton .are familiar resorts of Cambridge men. These are environs _of Cambridge. The borough population of Cambridge in 1871 was 30,078, consisting of 13,742 males and 16,286 females. (p. A.)




Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries