Sunday 17 August 2014

Also In Cambridge

As I hope I've already shown you through these pages there's a lot to see in Cambridge besides King's College Chapel. And it's beside King's College Chapel that we'll start off today.

The University's Senate House is not easily missed despite its grand neighbour. But it is easy to look briefly, register that it's a nicely proportioned white building and move on. However for those who linger, a closer inspection reveals a wealth of intricate and beautiful carving, even right up under the eaves.

And I would bet that even the most observant visitor will not be aware of the memorial to Cambridge men who gave their lives during the First World War. Unlike the sea of ceramic poppies which has "sprung up" at the Tower Of London, this is a plain and modest memorial, much more in keeping with the mood of the time. There is a list of the names of the fallen which is flanked by these two simply carved soldiers. To me it says all you need to know about the character of these men. For those who want to see the memorial it's on the east wall of Great St Mary's church, overlooking the Market Square, right in the centre of the city. (As Mike pointed out in the comment below this memorial is actually to the soldiers who gave their lives in the Boer War. My silly mistake!)

Many people coming to Cambridge will comment on the narrow, congested streets. And those travelling by taxi will undoubtedly have heard the views of the taxi drivers on the subject! However many of the streets have been made wider since medieval times. The older street pattern is retained in a few small areas such as the narrow streets around Portugal Place. The street gets its name from the fact that many businesses in the area relied on the import of port wine from Portugal. The said beverage was drunk in copious quantities in times past by the senior figures in the University, and maybe still is for all I know. The houses in this little neighbourhood are now highly valued residences, though in my younger days were mostly flats rented by students and other young people. Some wild parties took place there most weekends.

Someone who probably didn't go to wild parties, or drink too much port, is remembered by a plaque high on the wall of one of the houses "ALLAMA MUHAMMAD IQBAL" it says "Born 1877, Died 1938, Poet Philosopher of Pakistan, Lived here 1905-6 while at Trinity College". Although not a household name in the west, throughout Pakistan, India, Iran and Afghanistan he is regarded as The Poet Of The East. His writings gave rise to the birth of Pakistan where his birthday is now a national holiday.

And in almost every city in the world it's always worth looking up above the modern shop- and restaurant-frontages where often there is a wonderful display of varied architecture.

Take care. 


  1. Thanks for the tour of Cambridge. Its architecture is magnificent! -- barbara

  2. Since I have not yet been to Cambridge in person, I am so happy to be able to view its highlights through your eyes and your camera's lens!

  3. So much thought went into the old buildings which makes them so much more interesting than new ones. And the builders had such a good sense of design and pattern. When I see the statues of the WW1 soldiers I see two very ordinary men who had to fight an incredibly hellish war for the sake of the elite. Somethings don't change.

  4. Oh, I love to travel and I love to travel without moving! So thank you for this post! Wonderful!
    Have fun and all my best from Austria

  5. Loved that carving - and you're dead right about looking up, over shopfronts - some real gems with Boots underneath (or something). Another great photo tour. But those soldiers look as though they're from the Boer War rather than WW1?

  6. A wonderful tour of Cambridge John. The Memorial is magnificent as are the intricate carvings on the Senate House.

  7. I enjoyed seeing parts of Cambridge many tourists miss. The carvings on the buildings are amazing.

  8. Wonderful and fascinating tour. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. I found the plaque about the poet from Pakistan really interesting! And I love the statues of the soldiers - they do look modest like you say, and it's a nice memorial. The architecture is beautiful too. - Tasha xxx


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