Cambridge University

Directly translated into English the university’s motto is: ‘From here, light and sacred draughts’ which put in a modern or appropriately says ‘ from this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge.’

Cambridge university exists under the ‘Collegiate System’ which mean that it comprises of a number of colleges or campuses who jointly take responsibility for the education of the students. A person may be a member of one campus but take all of his or her actual lectures and tutorials in several others whilst joint facilities include the library and museums.

It began in 1280 when Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of nearby Ely, was allowed by Edward I to house a number of (supposedly a group disaffected from Oxford) students in the town’s Hospital of St John. They failed to get on with the monks already in situ and in 1284 acquired two buildings of their own which was named Peterhouse and given Charter by the King. The legend that the group originally came from Oxford gives rise to a claim from the latter that much to Cambridge’s chagrin, they are evidently the older of the two rivals. Cambridge is, though, the second oldest university establishment in the UK and worldwide the seventh. Already by 1318, the establishment was named Pope John XXII a “stadium generale” – in modern terms, a place of study – a “university”.

Today (November 2015) there are 31 colleges: those founded between 1284 and 1800 are classed as ‘Old’ whilst those originating after that date are ‘New’. Although a great number of these were male-only, none are now yet, ironically seven accept just female students. When the last to admit women, Magdalene (pronounced ‘Maudlin’) finally did so, a group of protesting male students hung a coffin over the River Cam to show their opinion of events. Lucy Cavendish College , in addition, does not permit male fellows*. . There are also a few which are for the education of either mature **or post-graduate ***students. Each college has its own colours and coat of arms.

Founding Dates of Colleges in alphabetical order:

Christ’s 1505
Churchill 1960
Clare 1326
Clare Hall 1966
Corpus Christi 1362
Darwin 1964
Downing 1800
Emmanuel 1584
FitzWilliam 1869
Girton 1869
Gonville & Caius 1348
Homerton 1768
Hughes Hall 1885
Jesus 1496
Kings 1441
Lucy Cavendish 1965
Magdalene 1428
Murray Edwards 1954
Newnham 1871
Pembroke 1347
Peterhouse 1284
Queen’s 1448
Robinson 1977
St Catharine’s 1473
St Edmund 1896
St John’s 1511
Selwyn 1882
Sidney Sussex 1596
Trinity 1546
Trinity Hall 1350
Wolfson 1965

Cambridge University Libraries

– Cambridge University has 114 libraries in which the actual University Library is the central research library which has existed for over six centuries. It has grown to hold around 8 million titles and still is said to still receive in the region of 80,000 more books per year. This does not count those which are donated. Some of Rivers own documents are there along with those of colleagues such as Haddon and Myers. It is not possible for just anyone to use the facility however and appointments must be made to enquire about eligibility ( ) The same can be said for the majority of the museums.

Whilst it is possible for members of the public to view the current displays at the university museums, a person will normally be required to obtain an ‘academic reference’ in order to be allowed to examine further collections by appointment. This does not make it simple for a person who has no academic links to access elements they wish to research and, if this is the case, it is advisable to contact the establishment the collection is at to discover how you, individually, may be permitted.

Cambridge University Museums

Fitzwilliam Museum
This museum was founded, and originally paid for by Richard, VII Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion who, in 1816, bequeathed to the University of Cambridge his collection of art and library, for “the Increase of Learning and other great Objects of that Noble Foundation”.

Kettle’s Yard –
‘A living place art could be enjoyed… where young people could be at home unhampered by the greater austerity of the museum or public art gallery.’
In 1956 Jim and Helen Ede bought four cottages near the church of St Peter, badly in need of repair: these they restored and remodelled with the help of an architect, Roland Aldridge. It was rather a difference to the stately home they had first intended buying when they arrived in the city
Until 1966, Jim Ede personally guided visitors around, when they gave the house and contents to the University of Cambridge. In 1970, it was extended under the supervision of architects Sir Leslie Martin and David Owers., and an exhibition gallery was added.

Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology was formally established in 1884. These were owned by both the city and the colleges. The local Cambridge Antiquarian Society began gathering material in 1839, while a number of Cambridge colleges also owned various collections. And a campaign to establish a proper ihome for these was led by the local Cambridge Antiquarian Society (CAS), initially based in Little St Mary’s Lane, which is behind Peterhouse College.

The museum began with 851 objects from the CAS, mostly from Cambridgeshire, plus over 1,500 Fijian artefacts from Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon (Governor of Fiji 1875 to 1880) and the Museum’s first curator Baron Anatole von Hügel. Other objects came from Alfred P Maudslay, a pioneer of Central American archaeology.
Growth of the human sciences

Cambridge scholars, like J.G. Frazer, established wide networks of collaborators among missionaries, travellers, and colonial officials, and used them to gather objects, images, and information relating to native peoples and histories all over the world. This information was assembled alongside information and material relating to the British and European past, leading to classics of comparative anthropology such as Frazer’s The Golden Bough(1890).

Although anthropology was not yet taught in the University, and archaeology was largely restricted to Classical antiquity, research in these fields was fast developing. In 1888 and 1898, two expeditions to the Torres Strait (between Australia and Papua New Guinea) laid the foundations for the development of anthropology as a modern, field-based discipline and the museum hold several collection related to these.

•Museum of Zoology

The museum houses an extensive collection of scientifically important zoological material designated as being of outstanding national and international significance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
•Museum of Classical Archaeology

The Museum of Classical Archaeology is dedicated to the study and teaching of the classical past through the material and visual cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. Our collections are rather unusual, however. We don’t only hold objects from 2,000 or so years ago – we also hold objects produced in the 19th century to replicate ancient artefacts which were housed somewhere else in the world.

•Whipple Museum of the History of Science

The Whipple Museum’s collection includes scientific instruments, apparatus, models, pictures, prints, photographs, books and other material related to the history of science.
The Museum and its collection
The museum’s holdings are particularly strong in material dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries, especially objects produced by English instrument makers, although the collection contains objects dating from the medieval period to the present day. Instruments of astronomy, navigation, surveying, drawing and calculating are well represented, as are sundials, mathematical instruments and early electrical apparatus.
The Whipple Museum was founded in 1944 when Robert Stewart Whipple presented his collection of scientific instruments to the University of Cambridge.

•Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest of the University of Cambridge museums, having been established in 1728 as the Woodwardian Museum. Since then the collection has grown from about 10,000 fossils, minerals and rocks, to at least 2 million. A walk through the museum will take you on a 4.5 billion year journey through time, from the meteoritic building blocks of planets, to the thousands of fossils of animals and plants that illustrate the evolution of life in the oceans, on land and in the air. Also a major teaching and research resource in the Department of Earth Sciences, the Sedgwick Museum collections are a national treasure.

•The Polar Museum SPRI is a world-leading research and information centre for the study of the polar and cold regions . Named in honour of Captain R.F. Scott of the ill-fated 1912 expedition

•Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The original Botanic Garden of Cambridge University was founded in 1762 in the centre of the City, now known as the New Museums Site. This small Garden was conceived as a typical Renaissance physic garden, inspired by the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. It grew herbaceous plants used in the teaching of medical students at the University
•We owe the existence of today’s much larger Botanic Garden, occupying a 40 acre site between Hills Road and Trumpington Road, to John Stevens Henslow, the Professor of Botany at Cambridge from 1825 – 1861.

Henslow laid out the Garden to accommodate a wonderful tree collection. But he also planted his ideas about variation and the nature of species that would be taken up in a revolutionary fashion by his famous protege, Charles Darwin.

Short but Interesting Facts

– The college year is constituted of 3 terms similarly to British schools; generally other UK universities run on a two semester system. The Cambridge terms are known as the Michaelmas (autumn – October to December), Lent (late winter- January to March) and Easter (spring – April to June).

– Girton College which was established in 1869 was the first nominally opened for undergraduate women but they could still not obtain an actual degree from the university. This did not happen until 1948 when a woman, Elizabeth Windsor/ Bowes-Lyon, later the Queen Mother was finally awarded one. It was given by Trinity, the college later attended by her grandson Charles, the Prince of Wales.

– The main colleges only began to admit both men and women much later; the first was Darwin, the post-graduate college whilst the last all-male college did not accept women was Magdalene until 1988.
– John Harvard, the founder of Harvard University in the US – the oldest university in the United States of America, was a graduate of Cambridge.

– The statesman Oliver Cromwell and the popular poet John Milton were graduates of the University of Cambridge. After the Restoration of the English Monarchy in 1660, Oliver Cromwell, its first ruler of the abandoned republic system, was disinterred and posthumously hung, drawn and quartered with parts of his body being sent to various locations around the country. His head came to rest at Sidney Sussex, his old college, in a place known only to a very few people since attempts were made to recover it.

– During ‘Rag Week’ , when fun pranks are made, costumes worn and funds raised for charity some rather more outrageous incidents have happened . Twice cars (an Austin Seven and a Reliant Robin) have been suspended over the river from the Bridge of Sighs, and at some point the statue of Henry VIII obtained a chair-leg in the place of his sceptre – it is still there.

Samuel Pepys passage from Maudlin to local brothel

Location of railway station

Originally it was intended that the railway station, built in 1843/44 , would be closer to the town but the university objected, claiming this would tempt their students towards the ‘fleshpots of London’, taking them away from their studies.

* According to Wiki, in academia, a fellow is a member of a group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of mutual knowledge or practice. The fellows may include visiting professors, postdoctoral researchers and doctoral researchers.

** In the UK a Mature student is anyone entering university for their first degree (usually a ‘Bachelors’ of some kind) after the age of 21.

*** The University of Cambridge website states that ‘Once the student has a first degree, he/she is called a graduate and may choose to take a higher qualification (e.g. a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree, PhD etc.). He/she will then be called a postgraduate student. ‘