Cambridge has been on our bucket list for a while, and after a really nice weekend in Oxford we made it our next priority. We’ve had several friends and family members tell us things like, “Oh Cambridge is just lovely,” or “Cambridge is such a nice little town,” so we decided to check out their recommendation. We (the three of us plus my mom is visiting from America!) popped into the Fitzwilliam Museum first, then did the same type of free walking tour as we had done in Oxford. The tour started outside of the King’s College chapel.We got a nice overview of British history and learned about Cambridge University’s history and the town’s history. The university is a bit smaller than Oxford, was founded by former Oxford students, and the two universities are fierce rivals. Applicants aren’t allowed to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same year to prevent one university the embarrassment of accepting the other university’s reject. Ha!
We saw several of the colleges – this is Pembroke College:
Pembroke has a really pretty chapel designed by Sir Christopher Wren – the same architect that did a theatre in Oxford, and more famously, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (among many other buildings). One of Trinity College’s libraries:
I would have loved to have gone punting on the river Cam, but the weather (cold and rainy) made it a little less than appealing.The back of King’s College chapel – where we started our tour.
After the tour we walked past the Round Church – one of four round medieval churches in England, then went to the the Cambridge & Country Folk Museum. The highlight of the museum (for us) was a hands-on nursery with toys that Daughter definitely appreciated. We also did a little shopping on Trinity street and found a yummy BBQ restaurant (a bit of a rarity) called Smoke Works.
Unfortunately our weather has taken a dramatic, though not unexpected turn for winter so we had to work a little harder to enjoy our time outside. I sincerely wish I could paint a prettier picture of Cambridge, but it was a dreary day. The river and the punting boats are darling, but punting in the rain just doesn’t have the same appeal as punting with a picnic on the river in the sun. The town is really nice, and the university is lovely and inspiring, but I preferred Oxford to Cambridge. I will admit that the circumstances like the rain, the temperature and the fact that we’re all on the verge of getting a cold certainly swayed my opinion.
We stayed outside of town and the next morning we went to Audley End House; an English Heritage Manor House.
The main rooms in the house are all closed as it’s winter, but we still got to see the gardens and the service wing – where the servants did the washing (laundry), cooking, made butter, chopped firewood etc.
I can’t help but think of Downton Abbey when reading things about the organization of the service and footmen and kitchen maids, even though the rooms were set up for the Victorian era, so a little earlier than Downton.
The gardens and playground impressed us (a black swan! new toys!) and provided us with some entertainment, but we got even more entertainment from the stables. The highlight was a little show – a retired horse and rider showing us a few skills and teaching us how the rider communicates with the horse. On our way home we discussed stopping at a few different places (Coventry, Kenilworth Castle, something along those lines), but so many things start close earlier in the winter and we were all pretty beat. However, a silver lining: since my mom is visiting and we had a rental car, Derek and I drove to see a movie that night before returning the car. We saw Maze Runner; we both read the book earlier this year so we were excited about it. Hooray for a free babysitter! I mean, thanks Mom!
P.S. Here is Derek’s MOvember page in case you’re interested in donating to Men’s health, supporting the growth of his lip rat, or want to learn more about Movember.