Cambridge

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The city of Cambridge (/ˈkeɪmbrɪdʒ/ KAYM-brij) is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia, on the River Cam, about 50 miles (80 km) north of London. According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, its population was 108,863 (including 22,153 students), and was estimated to be 130,000 in mid-2010. There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area in bronze age and Roman times, and under Viking rule Cambridge became an important trading centre. The first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although city status was not conferred until 1951.

Cambridge is most widely known as the home of the University of Cambridge, founded in 1209 and consistently ranked one of the top five universities in the world. The university includes the renowned Cavendish Laboratory, King’s College Chapel, and the Cambridge University Library. The Cambridge skyline is dominated by the last two buildings, along with the chimney of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the far south of the city and St John’s College Chapel tower.

Today, Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the city. Its economic strengths lie in industries such as software and bioscience, many start-up companies having been spun out of the university. Over 40% of the workforce have a higher education qualification, more than twice the national average.

The green space of Parker’s Piece hosted the first ever game of association football, and the Strawberry Fair music and arts festival is held on Midsummer Common. Cambridge is adjacent to the M11 and A14 roads, and is around 49 minutes from London Kings Cross by non-stop train, with other rail links to Norwich, Birmingham and elsewhere.

Settlements have existed round the Cambridge area since before the Roman Empire. The earliest clear evidence of occupation is the remains of a 3,500-year-old farmstead discovered at the site of Fitzwilliam College. There is further archaeological evidence through the Iron Age, a Belgic tribe having settled on Castle Hill in the 1st century BC. Evidence of widespread Roman settlement has been discovered in Cambridge including numerous farmsteads and a village in the Cambridge district of Newnham.

After the Romans had left Saxons took over the land on and around Castle Hill and renamed it Grantabrycge – ‘Bridge over the river Granta’. Over time the name evolved to become Cambridge, while the river Granta became known as the river Cam to match the name of the city. Their grave goods have been found in the area. During Anglo-Saxon times Cambridge benefited from good trade links across the hard-to-travel fenlands. By the 7th century the town was less significant, described by Bede as a “little ruined city” containing the burial site of Etheldreda.[10] Cambridge is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as “Grantebrycge”, a period when settlements existed on both sides of the river and Cambridge was on the border of East Anglian and Middle Anglian kingdoms.

The arrival of the Vikings in Cambridge was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 875. Viking rule, the Danelaw, had been imposed by 878. The Vikings’ vigorous trading habits caused Cambridge to grow rapidly. During this period the centre of the town shifted from Castle Hill on the left bank of the river to the area now known as the Quayside on the right bank. After the Viking period the Saxons enjoyed a return to power, building churches such as St Bene’t’s Church, wharves, merchant houses and a mint, which produced coins with the town’s name abbreviated to “Grant”.

In 1068, two years after his conquest of England, William of Normandy built a castle on Castle Hill. Like the rest of the newly conquered kingdom, Cambridge fell under the control of the King and his deputies. The distinctive Round Church dates from this period.

The first town charter was granted by Henry I to Cambridge between 1120 and 1131. It gave Cambridge monopoly of waterborne traffic and hithe tolls as well as recognising the Borough court. In 1209, Cambridge University was founded by students escaping from hostile townspeople in Oxford. The oldest college that still exists, Peterhouse, was founded in 1284.

In 1349 Cambridge was affected by the Black Death. Few records survive but 16 of 40 scholars at Kings Hall died. The town north of river was severely affected being almost wiped out. Following further depopulation after a second national epidemic in 1361, a letter from the Bishop of Ely suggested that two parishes in Cambridge be merged as there weren’t enough people to fill even one church. With over a third of English clergy dying in the Black Death, four new colleges were established at the University over the following years to train new clergymen, namely Gonville Hall, Trinity Hall, Corpus Christi and Clare Hall.

In 1382 a revised town charter effects a “diminution of the liberties that the community had enjoyed”, due to Cambridge’s participation in the Peasants’ Revolt. The charter transfers supervision of baking & brewing, weights & measures, and forestalling & regrating, from the town to the University.

One of the most well-known buildings in Cambridge, King’s College Chapel, was begun in 1446 by King Henry VI. The project was completed in 1515 during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Cambridge played a significant role in the early part of the English Civil War as it was the headquarters of the Eastern Counties Association, an organisation administering a regional East Anglian army, which became the mainstay of the Parliamentarian military effort prior to the formation of the New Model Army. In 1643 control of the town was given by Parliament to Oliver Cromwell, who had been educated at the University’s Sidney Sussex College. The town’s castle was fortified, with troops garrisoned there and some bridges destroyed to aid the defence. Although Royalist forces came within 2 miles of the town in 1644, the defences were never used and the garrison was stood down the following year.

In the 19th century, in common with many other English towns, Cambridge expanded rapidly. This was due in part to increased life expectancy and also improved agricultural production leading to increased trade in town markets. Inclosure Acts of 1801 and 1807 enabled expansion of the town over surrounding open fields and eventually in 1912 and again in 1935 the boundaries were extended to include areas such as Chesterton, Cherry Hinton, Fen Ditton, Trumpington, and Grantchester.

The railway came to Cambridge in 1845 after initially being resisted, with the opening of the Great Eastern London to Norwich line. The station was placed outside the town centre following pressure from the University, who restricted travel by undergraduates. With the arrival of the railway and its associated employment came expansion of the areas around the station, such as Romsey Town. The train link to London stimulated heavier industries, such as the production of brick, cement and malt.

From the 1930s to the 1980s the size of the city was increased by several large council estates. The biggest impact has been on the area north of the river, which are now the estates of East Chesterton, King’s Hedges, and Arbury where Archbishop Rowan Williams lived and worked as an assistant priest in the early 1980s.

During the Second World War Cambridge was an important centre for defence of the east coast. The town became a military centre, with an R.A.F. training centre and the regional headquarters for Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire established during the conflict. The town itself escaped relatively lightly from German bombing raids, which were mainly targeted at the railway. 29 people were killed and no historic buildings being damaged. In 1944, a secret meeting of military leaders held in in Trinity College laid the foundation for the allied invasion of Europe. During the war Cambridge served as an evacuation centre for over 7,000 people from London, as well as for parts of the University of London.

Cambridge was granted its city charter in 1951 in recognition of its history, administrative importance and economic success. Cambridge does not have a cathedral, traditionally a prerequisite for city status, instead falling within the Church of England Diocese of Ely. In 1962 Cambridge’s first shopping arcade, Bradwell’s Court, opened on Drummer Street, though this was demolished in 2006. Other shopping arcades followed at Lion Yard, which housed a relocated Central Library for the city, and the Grafton Centre which replaced Victorian housing stock which had fallen into disrepair in the Kite area of the city. This latter project was controversial at the time.

The city gained its second University in 1992 when Anglia Polytechnic became Anglia Polytechnic University. Renamed Anglia Ruskin University in 2005, the institution has its origins in the Cambridge School of Art opened in 1858 by John Ruskin. The Open University also has a presence in the city, with an office operating on Hills Road. Cambridge City Council plans to renew the area around the Corn Exchange concert hall, and plans for a permanent ice-skating rink are being considered after the success of a temporary one that has been on Parker’s Piece every year for the past few years.

Cambridge is a non-metropolitan district served by Cambridge City Council. Cambridge Local Authority District covers most of the City’s urban area but some extends outside this into South Cambridgeshire District. Cambridge is one of five districts within the county of Cambridgeshire, and is bordered on all sides by the mainly rural South Cambridgeshire district. The city council’s headquarters are in the Guildhall, a large building in the market square. Cambridge was granted a Royal Charter by King John in 1207, which permitted the appointment of a Mayor, although the first recorded Mayor, Harvey FitzEustace, served in 1213. City councillors now elect a mayor annually.

The University of Cambridge used to have a seat in the House of Commons, Sir Isaac Newton being one of the most notable holders. The Cambridge University constituency was abolished under 1948 legislation, and ceased at the dissolution of Parliament for the 1950 general election, along with the other university constituencies.

Cambridge is situated about 50 miles (80 km) north-by-east of London. The city is located in an area of level and relatively low-lying terrain just south of the Fens, which varies between 6 metres (20 ft) and 24 metres (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 underlying geology of Cambridge consists of gault clay and Chalk Marl, known locally as Cambridge Greensand, party overlayed by terrace gravel. A layer of phosphatic nodules (coprolites) under the marl were mined in the 19th century for fertiliser. It became a major industry in the county, and its profits yielded buildings such as the Corn Exchange, Fulbourn Hospital and St. John’s Chapel until the Quarries Act 1894 and competition from America ended production.

The River Cam flows through the city north from the village of Grantchester. It is bordered by water meadows within the city such as Sheep’s Green as well as residential development. The name ‘Cambridge’ is derived from the river. Like most cities, modern-day Cambridge has many suburbs and areas of high-density housing. The city centre of Cambridge is mostly commercial, historic buildings, and large green areas such as Jesus Green, Parker’s Piece and Midsummer Common. Many of the roads in the centre are pedestrianised. Population growth has seen new housing developments in the 21st century, with estates such as the CB1 and Accordia schemes near the station, and developments such as Clayfarm and Trumpington Meadows planned for the south of the city.

 

Year Population
1749 6,131
1801 10,087
1811 11,108
1821 14,142
1831 20,917
1841 24,453
1851 27,815
1861 26,361
1871 30,078
1881 35,363
1891 36,983
1901 38,379
1911 40,027
1921 59,264
1931 66,789
1951 81,500
1961 95,527
1971 99,168
1981 87,209
1991 107,496
2001 108,863
2010 125,700
2011 123,900

 

The town’s river link to the surrounding agricultural land, and good road connections to London in the south meant Cambridge has historically served as an important regional trading post. King Henry I granted Cambridge a monopoly on river trade, enabling this area of the economy to flourish. The town market provided for trade in a wide variety of goods and annual trading fairs such as Stourbridge Fair and Midsummer Fair were visited by merchants from across the country. The river was described in an account of 1748 as being “often so full of [merchant boats] that the navigation thereof is stopped for some time”. For example, 2000 firkins of butter were brought up the river every Monday from the agricultural lands to the North East, particularity Norfolk, to be unloaded in the town for road transportation to London. Changing patterns of retail distribution and the advent of the railways led to a decline in Cambridge’s importance as a market town.

Today Cambridge has a diverse economy with strength in sectors such as research & development, software consultancy, high value engineering, creative industries, pharmaceuticals and tourism. Described as one of the “most beautiful cities in the world” by Forbes in 2010, tourism generates over £350 million for the city’s economy.

Cambridge and its surrounds are sometimes referred to as Silicon Fen, an allusion to Silicon Valley, because of the density of high-tech businesses and technology incubators that have developed on science parks around the city. Many of these parks and buildings are owned or leased by university colleges, and the companies often have been spun out of the university. Cambridge Science Park, which is the largest commercial R&D centre in Europe, is owned by Trinity College; St John’s is the landlord of St John’s Innovation Centre. Spinout companies include Abcam, CSR, ARM Limited, CamSemi, Jagex and Sinclair. Microsoft chose to locate its Microsoft Research UK offices in a University of Cambridge technology park, separate from the main Microsoft UK campus in Reading.

Cambridge was also the home of Pye Ltd., founded in 1898 by W. G. Pye, who worked in the Cavendish Laboratory; it began by supplying the University and later specialised in wireless telegraphy equipment, radios, televisions and also defence equipment. Pye Ltd evolved into several other companies including TETRA radio equipment manufacturer Pye Telecommunications. Another major business is Marshall Aerospace located on the eastern edge of the city. The Cambridge Network keeps businesses in touch with each other. The FTSE100 software company Autonomy Corporation is located at the Business Park on Cowley Road.

Because of its rapid growth in the 20th century, Cambridge has a congested road network. The M11 motorway from east London terminates to the north-west of the city where it joins the A14, a major freight route which connects the port of Felixstowe on the east coast with the Midlands. The A428 connects the city with Bedford and St Neots, and the A1303 to Newmarket and beyond to Colchester.

As a university town lying on fairly flat ground and with traffic congestion, Cambridge has the highest level of cycle use in the UK. According to the 2001 census, 25% of residents travelled to work by bicycle.

Cambridge railway station has direct rail links to London with termini at London King’s Cross (via the Cambridge Line and the East Coast Main Line) and Liverpool Street (on the West Anglia Main Line). There is a non-stop train to King’s Cross every half-hour during off-peak hours, with a typical 50-minute journey time. Trains also run to King’s Lynn and Ely (via the Fen Line), Norwich (via the Breckland Line), Leicester, Birmingham New Street, Ipswich and London Stansted Airport. A second station, Cambridge Science Park, is due to open in 2015.

Cambridge also has its own airport, Cambridge Airport used mainly by business, leisure and training flights, and to fly in aircraft for maintenance.

Cambridge’s two universities, the collegiate University of Cambridge and the local campus of Anglia Ruskin University, serve around 30,000 students, by some estimates. Cambridge University estimated its 2007/08 student population at 17,662, and Anglia Ruskin reports 24,000 students across its two campuses (one of which is outside Cambridge, in Chelmsford) for the same period. State provision in the further education sector includes Hills Road Sixth Form College, Long Road Sixth Form College, and Cambridge Regional College.

Cambridge played a unique role in the invention of modern football: the game’s first set of rules were drawn up by members of the University in 1848. The Cambridge Rules were first played on Parker’s Piece and had a “defining influence on the 1863 Football Association rules.” which again were first played on Parker’s Piece.

The city is home to Cambridge United F.C., who played in the Football League at the Abbey Stadium from 1970 to 2005, when they were relegated to Conference National, the division in which they currently compete. When relegation became inevitable the club was placed in administration with substantial debts, but it emerged from administration in time for the 2005–06 season. The club’s biggest success came in the early 1990s, with two successive promotions, two successive FA Cup quarter-final appearances, a run to the Football League Cup quarter-finals, and reaching the brink of promotion to the new Premier League.

The River Cam running through the city centre is used for boating. The University has its own rowing club, Cambridge University Boat Club, and most of the individual colleges have boathouses on the river. The main focus of university rowing life are the two sets of bumps races held at the end of the Lent and Easter terms. Cambridgeshire Rowing Association was formed in 1868 and organises competitive rowing on the river outside of the University. Shallower parts of the Cam are used for recreational punting, a type of boating in which the craft is propelled by pushing against the river bed with a quant pole.

Cambridge’s main traditional theatre is the Arts Theatre, a venue with 666 seats in the town centre. The theatre often has touring shows, as well as those by local companies. The largest venue in the city to regular hold theatrical performances is the Cambridge Corn Exchange with a capacity of 1800 standing or 1200 seated. Housed within the city’s 19th century former corn exchange building the venue was used for a variety of additional functions throughout the 20th century including tea parties, motor shows, sports matches and a music venue with temporary stage. The City Council renovated the building in the 1980s, turning it into a full-time arts venue, hosting theatre, dance and music performances. The newest theatre venue in Cambridge is the 220-seat J2, also known as The Shed, part of the Junction complex in Cambridge Leisure Park. The venue was opened in 2005 and hosts live music, comedy and night clubs as well as traditional and contemporary theatre and dance

The ADC Theatre is managed by the University of Cambridge, and typically has 3 shows a week during term time. It hosts the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club which has produced many notable figures in British comedy. The Mumford Theatre is part of Anglia Ruskin University, and hosts shows by both student and non student groups. There are also a number of venues within the colleges.

The city has been the setting for all or part of several novels, including Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Rose Macaulay’s They Were Defeated, Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, Rebecca Stott’s Ghostwalk and Robert Harris’s Enigma, while Susanna Gregory wrote a series of novels set in 14th-century Cambridge. Gwen Raverat, the granddaughter of Charles Darwin, talked about her late Victorian Cambridge childhood in her memoir Period Piece and The Night Climbers of Cambridge is a book written by Noel Symington under the pseudonym “Whipplesnaith” about nocturnal climbing on the Colleges and town buildings of Cambridge in the 1930s.

A significant portion of E.M. Forster’s Maurice (novel) took place on the campus of the University of Cambridge set during the Edwardian period of the early 20th Century. The experience of university life for the two protagonists was an integral element to the development of later events in the story. The cinematic version Maurice (film) produced by Merchant Ivory Productions had many scenes filmed on location at the University of Cambridge.

Fictionalised versions of Cambridge appear in Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden and Minnow on the Say, the city renamed as Castleford, and as the home of Tom Sharpe’s fictional “Porterhouse College”.

Several fairs and festivals take place in Cambridge, mostly during the British summer. Midsummer Fair dates back to 1211, when it was granted a charter by King John. Today it exists primarily as an annual funfair with the vestige of a market attached and is held over several days around or close to midsummers day. On the first Saturday in June Midsummer Common is also the site for Strawberry Fair, a free music and children’s fair, with a series of market stalls. For one week in May, on nearby Jesus Green, the annual Cambridge Beer Festival is held. Started in 1974, it is Britain’s second largest beer festival outside London. 90,000 pints of beer and a tonne of cheese were served in 2009.

Cambridge Folk Festival, one of the largest festivals of folk music in the UK, is held annually in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall on the outskirts of the city. The festival has been organised by the city council since its inception in 1964. The Cambridge Summer Music Festival is an annual festival of classical music, held in the University’s colleges and chapels. The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival is an eight-week season of open-air performances of the works of William Shakespeare, held in the gardens of various colleges of the university. Started in 1977, the Cambridge Film Festival was held annually in July, but moved to September in 2008 to avoid a clash with the rescheduled Edinburgh Film Festival.

Following the Public Libraries Act 1850 the city’s first public library, located on Jesus Lane, was opened in 1855. It was moved to the Guildhall in 1862, and is now located in the Grand Arcade shopping centre. The library was reopened in September 2009, after having been closed for refurbishment for 33 months, more than twice as long as was forecast when the library closed for redevelopment in January 2007.

Cambridge has a number of churches, some of which form a significant part of the city’s architectural landscape. Like the rest of Cambridgeshire it is part of the Anglican Diocese of Ely. A Cambridge-based family and youth organisation, Romsey Mill, had its centre re-dedicated in 2007 by the Archbishop of York, and is quoted as an example of best practice in a study into social inclusion by the East of England Regional Assembly.

Great St Mary’s Church has the status of “University Church”. Many of the University colleges contain chapels that hold services according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, while the chapel of St Edmund’s College is Roman Catholic. The city also has a number of theological colleges training clergy for ordination into a number of denominations, with affiliations to both the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University.

Cambridge is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia and is served by the large Gothic Revival Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church at the junction of Hills Road and Lensfield Road. There is a Russian Orthodox church under the Diocese of Sourozh who worship at the chapel of Westcott House, and a Greek Orthodox church under the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. There are three Quaker Meetings in Cambridge, located on Jesus Lane, Hartington Grove, and a Meeting called “Oast House” that meets in Pembroke College.

An Orthodox synagogue and Jewish student centre is located on Thompson’s Lane, operated jointly by the Cambridge Traditional Jewish Congregation and the Cambridge University Jewish Society, which is affiliated to the Union of Jewish Students. The Beth Shalom Reform synagogue which previously met at a local school, has recently purchased land to construct a purpose-built synagogue building. There is also a student-led egalitarian minyan which holds services on Friday evenings.

The Abu Bakr Jamia Islamic Centre on Mawson Road and the Omar Faruque Mosque and Cultural Centre in Kings Hedges serve the city’s community of around 4,000 Muslims until a planned new mosque is built.

A Buddhist centre was opened in the former Barnwell Theatre on Newmarket Road in 1998. In 2005 local Hindus began fundraising to build a shrine at the Bharat Bhavan Indian cultural centre off Mill Road where Hindu groups conduct worship. The shrine was completed in 2010.

Cambridge is twinned with two cities. Like Cambridge, both have universities and are also similar in population; Heidelberg, Germany since 1965, and Szeged, Hungary since 1987.

 

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