Thursday, July 5, 2012

London calling - part 2


It was cold and damp the entire day we were in Cambridge - two feelings I wouldn't mind right now if it wouldn't mean that I was standing in the basement under a leaky pipe.

I met up with the London Walks tour group at King's Cross station to take the train down to Cambridge.  BTW, If you're ever in London, I highly recommend that tour group.  I did several of their guided tours and was very happy with all of them.  

Yeah, that King's Cross...

After a stop at the American WWII cemetery where both Joseph Kennedy (JFK's older brother) and Glen Miller are memorialized and a bus trip through silicon fen we stepped out on to the streets of Cambridge for the walking part of our tour.

Cambridge has a long and interesting religious history.  We walked past a viking church.  Interesting fact - almost all viking churches are named St. Clement's because St. Clement was martyred on an anchor.  

There was also one of the few remaining Norman round churches.

And of course King's college chapel, home of one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance stained glass that still survives.  Interesting fact about King's College chapel is that the only reason the windows were not destroyed during the revolution is that Oliver Cromwell used the chapel as a stable and didn't want his horses and men to get cold and wet.

The other interesting thing about the chapel is that it was started in the Gothic style - flying buttresses and all that - but it was finished during the Renaissance period so along with all the religious symbolism, there were weird dragon carvings and other imagery you wouldn't expect.

Cambridge is a very old city that still has very old buildings in use - for example, this white one that looks like it's going to avalanche into the street at any moment.

Then there are all the famous colleges where students live and eat.  King's College founded by Henry VI in 1441:

Trinity college founded by the more portly Henry VIII.  He founded the college after he made a huge land grab from the Catholic church during the reformation and Trinity college is - to this day- an incredibly wealthy organization.

Here's the courtyard beside Trinity where Isaac Newton used to putter around, doing chemistry experiments.

As a side note, colleges continue to be added to Cambridge as wealthy people decide to donate money.  The most recent college was founded by a couple that made a fortune renting TVs.

We were actually able to go inside part of Emmanuel College, one of the protestant colleges.  We were told that the reason the American colonies were called "Emmanuel's land" was not for that other guy but because so much of the leadership that set sail were graduates of Emmanuel College.

Cambridge was and still is home to a bunch of smart people who do really nutty stuff.  For example, there is a student group (unofficial and very very banned) called the night climbers that like to climb on top of (and put things on top of) the buildings on campus.

Charles Darwin was there.  Here's his bug collection.

Not pictured is the room where Darwin sat and took pot shots (with blanks) at people walking by wearing top hats while he waited to get a spot in one of the colleges.  Evidently he dropped out of medical school because it was too icky and his father sent him to Cambridge to become a priest or something.

We also saw the lab where Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA and the pub where they made the announcement.

At the end of the day we went "punting down the Cam".  The river that runs through Cambridge is actually called the Granta, but because there's a really old bridge people thought Cambridge sounded like a better name for a town with a bridge over a river called Cam, not Granta, so... you get the idea.

Punting is like taking a gondolier boat ride.

You get some sweet views of the colleges from the river side.  This is where they filmed Harry Potter:

Not really.  It was actually here:

Just kidding.  But it should have been, right?

And that was the end of the trip.  We took the train back to London and arrived in the early evening.  I inhaled some dinner and crashed so I could get ready for another big day at ... Stonehenge.


  1. Platform 9 3/4 - awesome! I like the lawn at Emmanuel College. It looks like the perfect place for a good game of croquet.

  2. I does look nice, but I think you only get to walk on it if you are a dean or something.

  3. Great posts...can't wait for the next installment!