Not the kind of place you'd expect anyone of note to be buried then. But you'd be wrong. This is the final resting place of many of the finest minds of the last 150 years, including no less than three Nobel Prize winners and innumerable professors and academics.
These graves tell the recent history of Cambridge University and include many people of other faiths, many of no faith at all and also several women who have made their mark on the intellectual development of the world.
Tucked away, appropriately enough, in a distant, dark shadowy corner is the grave of John Couch Adams, the astronomer who first suspected the existence of the planet Uranus. He is unique in that he also has another memorial in Westminster Abbey.
Perhaps the grave which attracts most visitors is that of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. He was pronounced as a genius by Bertrand Russell no less, though I'm not sure that anyone else understood what he was on about; that's what Wittgenstein himself believed anyway. Typically of the man, the slab on his grave just bears his name and dates, the bare facts which he could be sure were irrefutable.
The many admirers who visit the grave rather mess up the stark simplicity of the stone by leaving flowers and other tokens.
There are several descendants of Charles Darwin interred here including the poet Frances Cornford. Never heard of her? Here's one of her odd but appealing poems.....
The Guitarist Tunes Up
With what attentive courtesy he bent
Over his instrument;
Not as a lordly conqueror who could
Command both wire and wood,
But as a man with a loved woman might,
Inquiring with delight
What slight essential things she had to say
Before they started, he and she, to play.
If you are old enough you may recall the name of John Bascombe Lock, the writer of Mathematics text books. They were certainly still in use when I went to school. His grave however seems rather forgotten and neglected, though his books are still in print some 100 years after they were written. Here's what Rev J B Lock had to say:
A C Benson was the son of an Archbishop of Canterbury and himself became Master of Magdalene College. He is mainly remembered as the man who wrote the words of Land Of Hope And Glory. He was also famous in his day as a writer of ghost stories. Everything he did in life was successful: in death he is remembered by one of the ugliest tombstones I've ever set eyes on.
Amongst all these academic heavyweights we find George Smee, a mere solicitor. However, as if to make up for this, he and his wife lie beneath a memorial designed and carved by Jacob Epstein which ensures that their grave is not passed by.
We could go on searching for the monuments to Nobel Prize winners like the nuclear physicist Sir John Cockcroft, or Max Perutz, the molecular biologist. And countless classicists, astronomers, historians, diplomats, scientists, philosophers, poets.......as well as many less celebrated former citizens of Cambridge.
Or we might just wander back towards the chapel and take a quick peek inside the door....
It's now the studio of American-born lettering artist Eric Marland, some examples of whose work can be found in the burial ground, including another poem by Frances Cornford.