Those of you who remember me introducing you to Sidney and Selwyn might suspect that there's more to Peter than first meets the eye. And indeed there is , for while Sidney and Selwyn turned out to be Sidney Sussex College and Selwyn College, Peter is actually Cambridge's oldest college - Peterhouse (1284).
Peterhouse (not Peterhouse College, you'll notice) has an unusual layout for a Cambridge college. There is no fortress-like gatehouse and it's the Chapel that takes centre-stage, connected to both sides of the quadrangle by attractive, though not very functional, collonades.
The doors to the Chapel, which was built in 1628, are usually shut but a gentle push soon reveals that they are seldom locked and you are free to go in and look around.
The carving behind the altar dates from the 15th century and shows the Virgin Mary cradling the dead Christ.
Back outside again and on into the second courtyard (there are only two at Peterhouse) which is less interesting both historically and architecturally than the first, though I'm rather fond of the corner pictured above with its exotic greenery.
Lets return to the main courtyard then. Dominating the southern side of the court is the Hall, the oldest part of the college, dating from the 13th century. It's said to be the oldest building in Cambridge which is still used for its original purpose, in this case a dining hall. Not much of the original structure is visible as several restorations have taken place over its lifetime, the most recent of which was in the Arts and Crafts style in the 1860s.
The door was open, no one was about and there was no sign saying "private" so in I went, though half-expecting some college functionary to come, huffing and puffing, to ask me to leave.
So that's the High Table, situated next to the great window, where the senior members of the college partake of their meal.
On the walls is what you might first take to be wallpaper but which is actually stencilled paintwork designed by William Morris.
Once more into the courtyard to admire the graceful proportions of the Chapel, flanked by its collonades. A handful of other tourists had now appeared, the first I'd seen in Peterhouse. It often amazes me how little-known some of the city's attractions are, even to residents. As you'll see in my next post there are also other unsuspected delights here too.
Just as I was leaving a rather red-faced man appeared, huffing and puffing, from the Porters' Lodge; "Excuse me, sir, but have you viewed the Chapel; a lot of people don't realise that it's open".