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Cambridge notes – sounds like something from a different time.

When I think of Cambridge, I think of men with a faraway look, thinking about atomic physics or the philosophy of something or other.

I think of lazy days with students in gowns punting on the river Cam; of clever people with their heads in the cloud chamber (get it?), and spies.

But now that I live here, I think differently.


The Cellarer’s Chequer

The Cellarer's Chequer building on Priory Road in Cambridge

The Cellarer’s Chequer is where the supplies for a monastery are kept. The position of the cellarer himself was important in the monastery, second only to the abbot.

This cellarer’s chequer on on Priory Road in Cambridge, is all that remains of Barnwell Priory.

The priory was founded in 1092 by Picot of Cambridge, High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, as a house of Augustinian Canons Regular, Roman Catholic priests in St Giles’ Church by Cambridge Castle.

The priory was dissolved in 1538 as part of the general Dissolution or Suppression of the Monasteries by order of Henry VIII. The ruin was further destroyed in a fire in 1810.

Now, the Cellarer’s Chequer stands on the corner of a street, surrounded by houses and looking forlorn.

Punts On The River Cam In Cambridge

punts on the river Cam passing beneath the Bridge of Sighs at St John's College in Cambridge

You can punt for yourself and your party, or you can have one of the professionals from the punting companies do it for you.

The trick is to drop the pole vertically right by the side of the punt and then push, and the punt will move straight forward. Often I see people punting who are not trained. They drop the pole way to the side, which causes the punt to describe a circle, getting nowhere.

Also, roll up your sleeves, because the pole will be wet and your hands and arms will get wet.

These punts on the river Cam are passing beneath the Bridge of Sighs at St John’s College in Cambridge, mentioned in the last post with a shot from inside the bridge.

I worked on this second photo, of punts moored on the Cam down by the weir, to produce this impression.

punts moored on the river cam

The Bridge Of Sighs

The dictionary of etymology says that the word sigh dates to the 1200s and is probably echoic of the sound of the act of sighing.

The name of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice was said by Lord Byron to originate in the sigh given by convicts seeing their last view of Venice as they crossed the bridge to their summary execution in the time of the inquisition.

But in fact not, because by the time the bridge was built the inquisition was long over and there were no more summary executions.

The Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge is a covered bridge at St John’s College, Cambridge University. It was built in 1831 and crosses the River Cam between the college’s Third Court and New Court.

It has nothing in common architecturally with that in Venice, save that both are covered and so the one echoes the other.