Tag Archives: Trinity College

Cambridge, England

Over the weekend, we visited Cambridge, England.  Just 60 miles north of London, Cambridge is famous for its prestigious university that just about dominates the city.

Cambridge University was established in 1209, as early records suggest.  Many of the world’s most important scientific discoveries were made by Cambridge alumni, such as the structure of DNA, the splitting of the atom, and the discovery of the electron.  It is a fascinating place rich in history, ancient architecture, and eager learners.

The University has 31 colleges, each with its own facilities (library, courtyard, chapel, housing, etc.), that operate independently of one another.  Here a few of the colleges and sights from our visit…

Kings College

King's College Gatehouse and King's College Chapel (on right)

Kings College Chapel

King's College Chapel (side view)

Trinity Lane

King's College Chapel at end of Trinity Lane

King’s College Chapel seems to be more famous than its college.  Many feel it is the most impressive building in Cambridge, as it is one of the best examples of late Gothic architecture in England.   Started by Henry VI and finished by Henry VIII in 1515, its incredible fan vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows are a testament to the fine craftsmanship of the times.  We were fortunate enough to be there during evensong when the King’s College Choir filled the extraordinary space with sound.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII - Founder of Trinity College

Trinity College’s founder, Henry VIII, stands high above Trinity Gate, as you enter the University’s biggest college.  This college was founded in 1546.

Trinity College Great Court

Trinity College Great Court

The Great Court at Trinity College is considered to be the largest of its kind.  It is a college tradition to race around the courtyard (approximately 370 meters) and try to beat the clock’s 24 high noon bells before they stop ringing in about 43 seconds.  The Great Court Run, as it is aptly named, was featured in the film Chariots of Fire. (Incase you’re wondering—no, we didn’t attempt to beat the clock’s bells.)

Apple Tree

A Descendent of Newton?

This lone apple tree is reputedly a descendent of the tree that stood in (Cambridge grad) Sir Isaac Newton’s garden, which eventually lead to his theory of gravity.

Corpus Clock

Corpus Clock

Designed by alumnus John Taylor, the Corpus Clock is a striking, gold-plated, steel timepiece on the northwest corner of Corpus Christi College.  It was unveiled in 2008 by Stephen Hawking, another Cambridge grad.  The green, metal grasshopper at the top, called the Chronophage, appears to not only “eat time” but also grab the attention of passersby.

St. John's College Chapel

St. John's College Chapel (on right)

St. John's College New Court

St. John's College New Court

St. John’s College, established in 1511, is said to be one of the University’s most photogenic colleges.

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs at St. John's College

The covered Bridge of Sighs crosses the River Cam and links two quadrangles at St. John’s.

Mathematical Bridge

Mathematical Bridge (the popular name) over the River Cam

The simply named Wooden Bridge joins the two halves of Queen’s College.  It is an interesting and curious structure that comes with popular tales about its origin—one claims it was built by Isaac Newton, another claims it was built without nuts or bolts.  What we do know, however, is that it was built in 1749 by James Essex (Newton died in 1727) and the popular name “Mathematical Bridge” is due to the mathematical arrangement of the wood (which I will not try to describe here).

Punting on the Cam

Punting on the Cam

If you’re wondering what these folks are doing, well, they are “Punting on the Cam.”  You can hire one of the long, narrow, flat-bottom punts and propel yourself, using a long pole, down the River Cam.  I’m sure it’s a great way to see the city, once you get the hang of it.

Pembroke College

A View of Pembroke College

We enjoyed our visit to this historic university town.  It was an “educational” experience.

Oxford, England

Christ Church College

Christ Church College, University of Oxford

We left London’s Paddington Train Station mid-morning Saturday and arrived in Oxford just shy of an hour.   As soon as you set foot in Oxford, an air of scholarly sophistication surrounds you.  The 38 independent colleges that make up the University of Oxford dominate the city, but in a good way.

Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press

We ventured down Walton Street and walked past the famous Oxford University Press—the largest university press in the world and one of the largest publishers in the UK.  A minute or two down the road we found Manos, a Greek deli, and enjoyed chicken souvlaki wraps to fuel up for our day of sight-seeing.

The Cake Shop

The Cake Shop's Creations

Oxford city center is a hub of restaurants, cafes, retail stores, souvenir shops and the historic Oxford Covered Market which sells everything from flowers to fish to cookies and coffee.  It’s a great place to buy a gift or watch the busy staff at The Cake Shop decorate a unique, custom, sugary masterpiece.

Saxton Tower

Saxton Tower

Also in the center of the city is the Saxton Tower (of St. Michael at the North Gate) which is the oldest building structure in Oxford, dating back to around 1050. For a small fee, you can climb to the top of the tower for a magnificent view of the city.

One of the Colleges we visited was Trinity College, founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope.  We meandered through the Durham and Garden Quadrangles and popped into The Chapel (built in 1694) and marveled at its beautiful English baroque design, the amazing wood carvings and the ceiling painting of the Ascension.

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera

We also walked through the Old Schools Quadrangle to admire the magnificent buildings of the Bodleian Library—one of the largest research libraries in the UK.  As we exited the Quad, one of Oxford’s most famous landmarks stood before us—the Radcliffe Camera (camera means room in Latin).  It is one of the earliest circular libraries in England (built in 1749) and is still in use today, as it is part of the Bodleian.

The Great Hall

The Great Hall, Christ Church College

Another College we visited, was Christ Church College—one of Oxford’s largest.  It is my guesstimate that it is also one of the most toured Colleges by visitors, thanks to a small book called Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and a small movie called Harry Potter. Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll), a mathematics tutor at Christ Church, was inspired by many things at the College and penned his famous tale about Alice (named after one of the Dean’s daughters).  Many scenes from Harry Potter were filmed at Christ Church as well.  The Dining Hall, with its long communal tables and wood paneling was reproduced as Hogwart’s Great Hall, minus the flying ghosts.

At the close of our day in Oxford, we walked along the path through the serene Christ Church Meadow until we reached the River Thames, or the Isis as it’s known here, to watch rowers at practice.  A great way to end the day…