History of Cambridge

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the eighth of the series, is on the history of Cambridge.

Map of Cambridge 1575

Map of Cambridge, 1575

The second concert of the DHSBE tour will take place in Trinity College Chapel, University of Cambridge.

What was to become the city of Cambridge  became an important trading centre during the Roman and Viking ages, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area as early as the Bronze Age. The first town Charter was granted in the 12th century.

Cambridge is located on the River Cam approximately 50 miles north of London. The city is located in an area of level and relatively low-lying terrain just south of  the Fens which varies between only 20 – 79 ft above sea level.The town was thus historically surrounded by low lying wetlands that have been drained as the town has expanded. The University of Cambridge, of which Trinity College is part, was founded in 1209, and now consists of 31 colleges.

Cambridge aerial view

Aerial view of modern Cambridge

Cambridge University famous alumni/alumna include: Monty Python members: Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, & John Cleese; Olivia Colman (The Favorite, & Fleabag), Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey), Stephen Fry (Jeeves & Wooster), Hugh Laurie (House), and Emma Thompson (Love Actually, & Sense & Sensibility).

Sir Isaac Newton, FRS – mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, alchemist, author, Fellow of Trinity College and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, is the most famous college alumni. In his book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687, Newton formulated the Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation that formed the dominant scientific viewpoint until it was superseded by the Theory of Relativity, and shares credit with Leibniz for developing calculus.

Cambridge Market

Cambridge Market

There has been a market in a square close by the colleges since 6th century established by Saxons. The present-day market takes place Monday-Saturday 10:00am –  4:00pm.Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope in 1668, and developed a sophisticated theory of colour based on the observation that a prism separates white light into the colours of the visible spectrum. Surprisingly, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study to the pseudo-science of alchemy.

Cambridge Botanical Gardens

Cambridge Botanical Gardens

Rivalry between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge is a phenomenon going back many centuries. One of the continuing manifestations of this rivalry is the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race (rowing), which has taken place annually on the river Thames in London since the mid-19th century. Cambridge, in light blue, has won the men’s race 84 times and Oxford, in dark blue, 80 times. The annual Oxford and Cambridge Women’s Boat Race dates from 1964, with Cambridge winning 44 races, and Oxford 30.