1209 was a busy year in English history. King John was excommunicated and the final stones were laid on the original London Bridge. They’re both ancient history, but 60 miles north, something was established that is still with us to this very day.
Cambridge University – one of the most venerable seats of learning in the world – can trace its history back to 1209 AD. A year when a group of frightened Oxford scholars packed up their books and headed east to establish the University we all know today.
Putting its long history to one side, what is it that makes Cambridge University one of the best universities in the world? This city steeped in history is one of the reasons so many international visitors on extended vacations take advantage of our serviced apartments in Cambridge
Let’s take a closer look at that question and why Cambridge is the perfect place to holiday this year.
The History of Cambridge University
In the year 1209, a dispute arose between Oxford scholars and the townspeople. Three scholars were hanged, which lead to many scholars fleeing. A group of scholars moved to Cambridge and began what would become Cambridge University.
It received a royal charter from Henry III in 1231 and a papal bull in 1233. This, along with further papal endorsements in 1290 and 1318, meant that Cambridge gained a reputation in the whole of Europe.
Over the following centuries, the Cambridge colleges were established. The first was Peterhouse, established in 1284. Over the next 700 years, many more would be added, with the latest, Homerton College, granted full college status in 2010.
In its early history, it focused on teaching canon or church law. Starting in the 16th century there was a shift towards a wider range of subjects. It became famous for its teaching of mathematics and physics under Sir Isaac Newton.
Women were first admitted in 1869 but did not become full members until 1948. Now the ratio of male to female students studying at Cambridge is almost 50/50.
Why Cambridge Ranks So Highly
When rankings of the top universities in the world are published, Cambridge University ranks in the top ten. It’s held that high position for decades, even rising to number one back in 2011.
One of the key markers of success is the average salary of Cambridge graduates. Cambridge has long been associated with excellence in traditional subjects.
However, recent research showed that in creative courses, Cambridge is one of the best places to study in the future. Its graduates achieved some of the highest salaries of all graduates in the country.
Other markers of success include student experience and the quality of research produced. Students’ completion rates and prospects for graduates are also important factors. In all of these areas, Cambridge has excelled for decades if not centuries and continues to do so.
Cambridge Colleges Everyone Should Visit
Cambridge colleges are not just famous for their education. Their architecture is among some of the best in the whole of the United Kingdom. There are 31 colleges in total but we’ve narrowed it down to four that you must visit next time you’re in Cambridge.
The main attraction at King’s College is its chapel, but what an architectural gem it is!
It includes the largest fan vault in the world. A fan vault is the classic style of English gothic architecture and this is one of the best examples in the country. Its facade is also incredibly impressive and should top any list of Cambridge sights to behold.
The building is so iconic, it’s even used in the logo of the Cambridge City Council!
St John’s College
One of the largest Cambridge colleges, St John’s starts with the Great Gate, built in 1516. Look out for the yales – mythical beasts engraved on either side. This leads to the First Court which dates back to 1511.
Chapel Court is well worth a visit as it contains a mixture of architectural styles. The south range dates back to Tudor times, whereas the rest was completed in 1940.
Thought Venice was the only place with a Bridge of Sighs? Head over to the New Court and take in St John’s College’s very own version.
Trinity College is one of the largest colleges and a vital part of Cambridge history. The Great Court and Chapel are open to visitors daily. The Great Court is believed to be the largest enclosed courtyard in Europe.
Construction began in 1490 and took more than 100 years to complete. Look out for the Trinity College Clock and the King’s Gate.
Queen’s College is one of the oldest colleges in Cambridge, and its buildings span both sides of the river Cam. The key reason to visit? The bridge that links them.
Known as the Mathematical Bridge, it shows that it’s possible to create a curve where none exists. It’s made up entirely of straight timbers yet appears to curve. It was first built in 1749 and the latest version went up in 1905.
It’s a wooden edifice that ‘sums’ up Cambridge like no other!
Tourist Attractions in Cambridge
The colleges are not the only tourist attractions in Cambridge!
There are few things more quintessentially English than a lazy summer’s afternoon spent punting down the Cam. The views are truly spectacular as you glide past ‘the Backs’ – the rear parts of the colleges. Whether you hire your own or let someone else do the hard work, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.
The Fitzwilliam Museum is home to over half a million works of art. This includes paintings by masters such as van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Van Dyck. It is also an outstanding example of early Victorian architecture.
The whole city of Cambridge is a delight to walk or cycle around.
Choose Signet Apartments for Your Cambridge Stay
Whether you’re staying in Cambridge for the weekend or staying for a few weeks, you’re in for a treat. Cambridge University is sure to delight the most seasoned traveller. Immerse yourself in its rich history and enjoy its distinctive architecture.
Soak in the rarified atmosphere. Punt along the Cam in the time-honoured tradition. And make sure that your accommodation is as memorable as the rest of your visit.
Signet Apartments offer luxury serviced apartments in the very heart of Cambridge. Each apartment has dining and relaxing areas along with cooking facilities. With housekeeping provided, you have all the luxury of a hotel without the hefty price tag.
Book your Signet Apartment today!