Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Letters from England (No. 2)

Victoria Station @ wikipedia.org
By Barbara Wittman, Archivist, Rotch-Wales Collection, Massillon Public Library
Visiting Scholar, Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge

Leaving southwest England from Poole by coach took a good deal of Thursday, January 12 (far too long due to road work in London ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games) to reach Cambridge in East Anglia northeast of London. After arriving at Victoria Station, in the City center, the coach making its way across town in heavy traffic passed by the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park along the Thames River, Parliament and Westminster Cathedral, Number 10 Downing Street, and St Paul’s Cathedral built between 1675 and 1710 by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire that destroyed a section of London including the Cathedral in the 1660s. The weather was mild, the town full of visitors and joggers, we passed the Bank of England and The Stock Exchange and at last turned on to the M11 motorway to the northeast and Cambridge which takes its name from the river Cam that runs through the town.

At the corner of Sydney Street, Cambridge
Once delivered at Parker’s Piece, a large green park, visitors take a taxi to deposit themselves and their luggage before seeing this very ancient place which never ceases to amaze regardless of the time of the year you arrive. The population of the modern city is around 110,000 people, many of whom work for the University and its 38 colleges, while other people are employed in the service industry, in shops and the local market. The town is tightly packed, and laid out historically around the colleges, the earliest of which was founded in the 13th after Oxford scholars took refuge in Cambridge in 1209. Peterhouse is the oldest Cambridge college, followed by the foundation of Clare College (1326), King’s College (1441), Queens’ College (1446), St Catherine’s College (1473), Jesus College (1496), Christ’s College (1505)[Darwin’s College], St. John’s (1511), Trinity College (1546)[Isaac Newton’s College], Emmanuel College (1584) and Sidney Sussex College in 1594. The Town abounds in narrow streets and ancient buildings. I provide you with a link to have a look yourself. I should also point out that an ancient ordinance states that horses, but not wagons could be brought into the Old St Mary’s Church town square. The bells of this church ring out beautifully on Saturdays at midday.