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Cambridge Punt Guide

Virtual River Tour

It's hard to capture the Cambridge punting experience without experiencing it first hand but we've created a virtual tour so that you can enjoy the rich history and beautiful sights of the Cam virtually, albeit condensed.

The Quayside

The Quayside was once Cambridge's inland port, a hustling bustling centre of trade. This is where tradesmen would bring their barges of goods to be stored and processed in large factories and warehouses ready for distribution accross Cambridge and England. Luckily it was renovated in 1988 and is a lot less smelly and poluted now.
Featured: The First Court of Magdalene which is the second oldsest building on the river, circa 1480.

Magdalene College

Founding date: 1542

Founder: Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII

History: Magdalene College, pronounced M-Audley-n, was founded in 1542 by the Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII, Thomas Audley. Audley was rewarded for his loyalty during the Reformation of the Church of England in the form of a gift of land, the land on which Magdalene College now stands.

Magdalene Bridge
As it stands Magdalene bridge is the third oldest cast iron bridge in England, built in 1823. The bridge stands about four metres right of the original crossing built over the Cam by the Saxons in the 8th cetury, it was known as the Cam bridge, hence Cambridge.
Featured: The New Court of St. John's, their lavish student accomodation, completed in 1831. It is nicknamed the wedding cake due to it's tiered design.

St. John's College

Founding date: 1511

Founder: Magaret Beufort, grandmother to King Henry VIII

History: Magaret Beufort died in 1509, having found a Christ's College previously in 1505 she left instruction in her will to have St. John's founded. Her will was carried out by her chaplain, Bishop John Fisher who named the college after St. John the Evangelist as a hospital of the same name stood on the site previously.

The Bridge of Sighs
Completed in 1831, it was originally named the New Bridge; it's name was changed following a visit from Queen Victoria who proclaimed that it reminded her of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. Though the two bridges don't look too alike, the name was adopted as not to upset the Queen.
The Kitchen Bridge
The aptly named kitchen bridge provides a route from the New Court of St. John's to the kitchens. It was built in 1709 and inspired by the designs of Christopher Wren.
Featured: The Wren Library, built in 1695 and designed by Christopher Wren who also designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London. All the books are stored on the top floor to prevent the historic texts getting ruined during flooding.

Trinity College

Founding date: 1546

Founder: King Henry VIII

History: King Henry VIII came to Cambridge with the intention of dissolving the catholic institutions of Cambridge University such as St. John's college, his 6th wife, Catherine Parr convinced him to create his own institution instead in order to show the virtues of his new church, the Church of England. Trinity College is now the wealthiest and largest college in Cambridge with assets in excess of two billion pounds.

Trinity College Bridge
Built in 1764, Trinity college bridge was paid for with money left to the college by alumnus Dr. Francais Hooper whoes stone shield is proudly displayed on the bridge, along with the shield of Trinity College.
Featured: The Jerwood library, the newest building on the Cam, completed in 1998. The library is nicknamed 'The Titanic Building' as it resembles the bow of a ship entering the water.

Trinity Hall

Founding date: 1350

Founder: Bishop William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich

History: Trinity Hall was founded soon after the Black Death, a plague that killed over a third of the population of England between 1348 and 1350; this makes it the 5th oldest college of Cambridge University. It is said that Bateman founded the college in order to fill the defecit of lawyers and clergymen left by the Black Death.

The Garret Hostel Bridge
Although closest in proximity to Trinity Hall, Garret Hostel bridge is a public bridge. It was designed by a student of the University, Timothy Guy Morgan for a design competition in 1960. Unfortunately Morgan died of lukemia before the bridge was completed.
Featured: The Old Court of Clare, built between 1638 and 1715. This court holds several common rooms for Clare Collage. There is no record of who designed the Old Court, common theories suggest Inigo Jones, designer of Covent Garden in London.

Clare college

Founding date: 1338

Founder: Lady Elizabeth De Clare

History: Clare college was previously known as Clare Hall and before that it was University Hall, founded in 1326; this makes it the second oldest college of Cambridge University. De Clare is known colloquially as 'The Black Widow of Cambridge' due to her three very short marriages, each ending with a dead husband.

Clare Bridge
Clare Bridge is the oldest standing bridge on the river Cam, built in 1639 and left satanding as the only stationary bridge on the river by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War as he used it to access King's College where he kept his armies.
Featured: King's College Chapel, construction started in 1446 and took almost 100 years to complete whilst five king's reigns came and went. The Chapel is an engineering marvel and stands in the top three largest chapels in the world.

King's college

Founding date: 1441

Founder: King Henry VI

History: Founded as a finishing school for Eaton graduates, another institution founded by Henry VI just a year before in 1440 at the age of 18. The college remained exclusively for Eaton alumni until the 1850s when the first non-Eatonian fellow was allowed to lecture at King's.

King's Bridge
Built in 1819, the second iteration of the King's bridge, after the first was destroyed. It now stands as a memorial to King's alumnus Xu Zhimo, a very influencial Chinese poet who studied English literature at King's in the 1920s.
Featured: The Presidents Lodge, the oldest building on the Cam circa 1460s. The lodge serves to house the colleges president, not their master. King's and Queens' Colleges are the only colleges to replace their masters with presidents as in terms of heirarchy no one can be a master of a King or a Queen.

Queens' college

Founding date: 1448

Founder: Queen Margeret of Anjou, Queen elizabeth Woodville and Queen Anne Neville

History: It's no coincidence that King's and Queens' college stand side-by-side as the first Queen of Queens' was wife of Henry VI. The college was refounded by successive Queens as their husbands were struggling for power during the Wars of the Roses.

The Mathematical Bridge
An iconic bridge, the Wooden Bridge as it was originally called at Queens' college is the third iteraiton of the famous design, originally from the 18th century. The bridge uses radial tangents to achieve its iconic style which makes it impressively strong. The bridge is surrounded by myths and legends.
Featured: The Anchor Pub, previously The Riverside Jazz Bar. This is the pub where members of Pink Floyd would frequent, it is said they were inspired by the jazz musicians on show here.

Mill Pond

The Mill Pond marks the source of the stretch of the river Cam known as 'The Backs' as it traverses the rear of many colleges. There were two very important Mills in operation here using the natural flow of the river to mill their corn.
Silver Street Bridge
Built in 1958 and designed by archetect Edwin Lutyens, Silver Street bridge is named after the street which it spans, an area known for silver merchants in the old days.