This was the one day I had for doing sightseeing as I was in Cambridge during finals and had a lot of grading to do. I started the day with a visit to a church. As a sociologist of religion, I periodically go to church to see what the “natives” are doing. In England I go basically to confirm the findings of British sociologists of religion who have detailed the very low attendance rates in England (about 7% of Brits attend services on any given Sunday). I had intended to attend the Cambridge Methodist Church, as that is the one predicted to be completely defunct by about 2030-2040 given its current rate of decline. But I got lost on the way, found a big church nearby, and just decided to go there. It was the Cambridge Presbyterian Church. I’ll spare you the details (which I did write down; that’s why I went, after all). Basically, there were more people there than I thought and I ended up meeting a very nice guy who works at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Douglas Leckie. We had a nice little chat afterward over tea (provided by the church). I was interested in what he does and he was interested in what I do, though he must have been somewhat shocked when I told him I was only there observing with the expectation that the service would be ill-attended.
After my brief chat, I headed out to see a few of the colleges that I really wanted to see. While there are many, many famous people who have attended or taught at the various colleges in Cambridge, the two of most interest to me are Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton, two of the most famous scientists ever. Darwin attended Christ’s College and Newton taught at Trinity College. So, I had to stop by those two colleges. I also wanted to see the corpus clock and the mathematical bridge. My first stop was Christ’s College, which is closed to the public. I snapped a photo of the entrance:
From Christ’s College I headed to Trinity College, which is open to the public. Inside the antechamber to the chapel are sculptures of some of the famous people who have taught or attended Trinity College, including: Newton, Francis Bacon, and Lord Tennyson (here’s a list of some of the other famous people).
Just inside the entrance is the Great Court, which is pretty impressive:
Here’s a panorama of The Great Court I shot on my phone:
Just to the north of the The Great Court is the entrance to the chapel, where, just inside, are the statues I mentioned. Here’s one of just a couple of pictures I took that included me in the photo:
From Trinity, I went to St. John’s College and paid for the tour. The tour is self-guided and based on a pamphlet you receive. I walked through the college, which is impressive, and came upon Cambridge’s version of the “Bridge of Sighs”:
Having just seen the original “Bridge of Sighs” in Venice, I wasn’t sure which came first. Turns out the one in Venice does; this one is named after it. This one is a more positive reason to sigh – it’s a pretty bridge in a beautiful setting. So, upon seeing it, it will make you sigh at its beauty, not because you’re going to prison and won’t get to see Venice again for who knows how long (the reason for the name given to the bridge in Venice by Lord Byron).
I stopped for lunch just after this, then attempted to visit King’s College and Queen’s College, but both were closed. I did stop by the Corpus Clock along the way:
It’s pretty impressive and the symbolism is cool. Basically, the creature is symbolically eating your time (rather than chiming on the hour, it plays the sound of nails being driven into a coffin).
I also got a quick glimpse of the Mathematical Bridge at Queen’s College and took my only other self-photo there:
It was mid-afternoon by this point and I was still working through jet lag, so I headed back to my room after seeing the Mathematical Bridge.
I spent the rest of the afternoon grading, then went out to dinner that night.
While I was in Cambridge two more days, I didn’t have time to do anymore sightseeing, for the most part. I spent all of the 13th in my room grading papers, until the evening, when I met up with some of the other workshop participants at The Eagle, a famous pub in Cambridge where Watson and Crick worked out the structure of DNA. The 14th was the workshop, which took place in the Sociology building, which is part of PPSIS. That was an all day affair, though I did have time for a proper English breakfast in the morning (toast, egg, bacon, sausage, and baked beans), which I probably won’t ever have again. I left Cambridge early on the 15th and spent the day traveling, arriving home late in the evening. And that was my short trip to Cambridge.
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