Michael A. Stecker

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Cambridge England
My visit to Cambridge England was in May, 1987
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Cambridge video

Cambridge University town

 Cambridge, England (administrative center of Cambridgeshire, population over 100,000), is located in central England on the Cam River. Cambridge is important as a center of learning and is the seat of the University of Cambridge, one of the great educational institutions of world. It is also a market center for the surrounding agricultural region and has research industries; the chief manufactures include electronic equipment and precision instruments. Cambridge has retained much of its medieval appearance and has many outstanding edifices, including the Church of Saint Bene't, a 10th-century Saxon structure; and the restored Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the four round Norman churches in England. King's College Chapel (begun in 1446) is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Europe. The city has numerous parks and gardens and many museums and galleries. including the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and County Folk museums. Cambridge is host to an annual arts festival and of a midsummer fair in existence since the early 16th century. A Roman military outpost probably existed in the vicinity of present-day Cambridge. In Anglo-Saxon times trade between central England and continental Europe passed over the bridge on the Cam River here. Cambridge received its first charter in 1207.

The bridge over the Cam River in Cambridge, England

The University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is the second oldest university in Great Britain after the University of Oxford. The University is a system of faculties, departments, and 31 independent colleges. Although the colleges and the university per se are separate corporations, all are parts of an integrated educational entity.

History of the University of Cambridge

Several religious orders, including the Franciscans and Dominicans, established houses of residence and affiliated schools in Cambridge early in the 12th century. Students of the University of Oxford and the University of Paris left to study in Cambridge in the 13th century. By the year 1209 the University of Cambridge had been formed. The origin of the colleges is traced to the associations of students, distinct from religiously affiliated groups, who began to reside in independent hostels, or halls. Over the centuries these halls were endowed by private benefactors, beginning with Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely, who in 1284 founded Peterhouse, the first of Cambridge's colleges. In 1318 Pope John XXII issued a bull recognizing Cambridge as a studium generale, or place of study; that is, a university. Five new colleges were established during the 14th century, four in the 15th, and six in the 16th; not until the 19th century were other colleges founded. The University of Cambridge figured prominently in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus was a professor of Greek and divinity at Cambridge from 1511 to 1514 and translated the New Testament from Greek into Latin there; the religious reformers William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, and Thomas Cranmer were educated at Cambridge. As a result of the decrees of King Henry VIII establishing the Church of England, the humanistic method of study replaced the scholastic. A reaction took place, however, during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), when Cambridge became a stronghold of Puritanism. In 1604, early in the reign of King James I, the university was granted the right to elect two members to the English Parliament; the right was ended in 1949. During the 17th century the group of scholars known as the Cambridge Platonists emerged, and, through the influence of such faculty members as the scientists Isaac Barrow and Sir Isaac Newton, an emphasis on the study of mathematics and natural sciences developed for which Cambridge has been subsequently noted. Girton College, the first such establishment for undergraduate women, was founded in 1869. Among major changes in the second half of the 20th century were a marked increase in the size of the older colleges, the establishment of nine new institutions, a growing emphasis on research and advanced studies, and a movement toward coeducation. State aid has been granted to all British universities since 1914. English clergyman John Harvard, for whom Harvard College (later Harvard University) was named, was a graduate of Cambridge, as were the statesman Oliver Cromwell, the most important leader of the English Revolution (1640-1660); the poet John Milton; the scientist Charles Robert Darwin, who developed the evolutionary theory of natural selection; and the economist John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes of Tilton. Charles, Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the throne of the United Kingdom, studied at Trinity College (as did his forebears Edward VII and George VI) and received a degree in June 1970.

University of Cambridge Attractions

The Fitzwilliam Museum, founded in 1816, is part of the university and houses a renowned collection of art and archaeological objects. Science buildings at Cambridge include the Cavendish Laboratory of Experimental Physics, the Sedgwick Museum of Geology, and the Scott Polar Research Institute. The University Library ranks, with the British Library and Bodleian Library at Oxford, as one of the greatest collections in Great Britain. King's College Chapel, a late 15th-century building, is famed for the beauty of its architecture as well as for its choral music. The Cambridge University Press (oldest publisher in the world), established in 1521, publishes books of scholarly and general interest.


Photos of the University of Cambridge
mouse click on any of the thumbnail images below for an enlargement

King's College Chapel


King's College Chapel Organ


Cambridge statues


Isaac Newton


St. John's entrance


The Crown


Gatehouse of King's College


Trinity College


Corpus Christi College


Cambridge hallway


The Backs


Cam punt




ducks on the Cam


Kings College Chapel


Newton's home


Centre For Mathematical Sciences


Cavendish Lab


DNA -- Eagle Pub


Eagle Pub