A Town on the Cam and its Centre of Learning

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The Romans had built a fort and a bridge at the point of the great bend of the Cam.  The settlement grew and in Saxon times it became market centre.

In the 12th Century there was an incident in distant Oxford which would change the fortunes of the settlement forever.   Two scholars were executed over the death of a woman by town officials without the usual referral to ecclesiastical authorities.  Teaching was suspended at the Thames-based centre, and scholars departed for the continent, and others to the small bridge settlement which was under the authority of the Bishop of Ely.

From 1209 scholars began to study on the banks of the “Granta” and Henry III granted the new learning centre a charter in 1231.  The Bishop of Ely, Hugh Balsham indirectly established one of the centre’s key features, the college system, when he founded Peterhouse in 1284.

Since then, kings, nobles, and other important benefactors have endowed more “houses” and the now University of Cambridge came to have thirty-one colleges and several associated centres.  My own college is a “newer” one being established in 1768.

The university has several sites and facilities including the Old School, many of them along “the Backs” of the River Cam; the Addenbrookes Hospital campus, and the Fitzwilliam Museum among them.

This centre of learning has produced the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Christopher Marlowe.  There are also numerous prime ministers, and bishops among its alumni, as well as 118 Nobel Laureates.  The University’s libraries have over 15 million, and the grounds of the centre hold world class architectural achievements.

Hinc lucem et pocula sacra.



Haunted Wordsmith Non-fiction Prompt

3 thoughts on “A Town on the Cam and its Centre of Learning

  1. So there, I didn’t know the history of Cambridge, which is a tad amazing. But I did know that the motto doesn’t refer to sacred draughts (never sure if that’s the windy type or the chequered board game) but sacred knowledge. After all, what would ecclesiastics want with a board game?

    Liked by 1 person

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