Bedford, Bedfordshire, England

2016 was a great year for our travels around England, as by the end of February we had finally visited all 48 English Counties. Third from last was Bedfordshire, and we arrived into the county town Bedford for an early morning start…


Status: Bedford Unitary Authority, Bedfordshire, Town, England

Date: 27/01/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Travelodge Bedford Goldington

Attractions: Castle Mound, Great Ouse River, Bedford Corn Exchange, St Paul’s Church, Magistrates Court, Harpur Shopping Centre, Bedford Bridge, Market Square, John Howard Statue, Reflections of Bedford Sculpture, Bunyan Church, Howard Congregational Church, St Peter’s Church, Civic Theatre etc

My favourite scene in the town is on the High Street, where, stood in front of the magnificent Church of Saint Paul, we gazed up at the statue of John Howard (1726 – 1790, English Prison Reformer). John was born in London, but was sent to live in Bedfordshire when he was five after his mother died.

He resided in Cardington, just outside Bedford itself, and in 1773 he became the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire. He became notable in 1774 when he gave evidence to the House of Commons about the dreadful prison conditions across England, along with recommendations on how to improve them, which were taken forwards. He would go on to publish a book in 1777 called “The State of the Prisons” which covered not just England, but Europe as well, and eventually led to “Single-Celling”, where prisoners each had their own individual cells instead of all being crammed in together.

To recognise his achievements, the statue of him was erected in 1890 by Alfred Gilbert (1854 – 1934, English Sculptor who also created the Memorial Fountain (Eros) in Piccadilly Circus, London), and it stands atop what was, until 1880, a drinking fountain.

The Church behind John Howard, St Paul’s, can trace it’s origins back to Norman Times. The precursor to what we see today was completed in the 1230’s, and was used by the Monks of Newnham Priory, as well as a Parish Church, although little of it remains, aside from the South Porch. It was later rebuilt in the 15th century, sometime just prior to 1414. The reformation would take it’s toll, as the Priory was disbanded and the Church fell out of use until a grant from the family of Thomas Christie (Then MP for Bedford) in 1697.

St Paul’s was vastly enlarged around the 1770’s, where it went from a small local Church to being one of the stand out buildings in the entire county.

At the North End of the Church lies the towns Market Stalls, which play host to various traders, customers and products every Wednesday and Saturday.

The Bedford Market dates back to 1166, when the town was granted a Market Charter by King Henry II (1133 – 1189). It’s present location was first used in the 1500’s, however its ever expanding size meant it had to be moved to a larger site. In 2002 stalls returned to the square here, at the heart of the town centre.

Just next to the Market Stalls stands a fantastic historical guide to the various interesting buildings in Bedford.

Each side of the post talks about a different structure, with a number for each one. This number is then also located on a map which takes up one side, allowing you to find the most historic buildings in the area.

Behind the post you can see the Bedford Corn Exchange, which opened in 1874. It became Bedford’s premier concert venue, and it remains in use for various performances throughout the year.

During World War II, the BBC Symphony Orchestra was relocated to the Corn Exchange for their safety. They were joined for 1944 by the BBC Proms, as the events previous home, the Queen’s Hall in Langham Place, Westminster, was sadly destroyed by a German bomb in 1941.

This central area of Bedford is absolutely stunning, with fine architecture in every direction.

We started to the rear of St Paul’s, outside the Civic Theatre (far right), built in 1861 by James Horsford as the Northern extension to Bedford Town Hall. The rest of the Town Hall, itself completed in 1767, is to the rear.

At the far end of the street, striking an elegant pose on it’s own is the Cowper Building, created by Basil Champneys (1842 – 1935, English Architect from London who also designed the famous John Rylands Library in Manchester). When it opened in 1886 it became part of the Girls Modern School, founded in 1882. This was later renamed the Dame Alice Harpur School, which eventually closed in 2012 after it merged with Bedford High School. Today the Council inhabit the building, which is in a prime location between the Town Hall and the adjacent Shire Hall.

To the left of the Cowper Building is the aforementioned Shire Hall, an absolutely stunning Victorian masterpiece which looks out onto the Great Ouse River. Designed in the 1880’s by Alfred Waterhouse (1830 – 1905, English Architect from Liverpool), as a Courthouse for the town, and indeed it still fulfils this function today.

The building was extended East in 1926 by Charles Holden, which can be seen in the picture above, just to the left of the Royal Mail Van. The brickwork is a different colour, but still fits in perfectly with its surroundings.

We moved North, away from the Guildhall, towards one of the towns most surprising modern additions, the “Harpur Shopping Centre”, shown above. It lies just across the road from St Paul’s Square, and what makes this particular shopping precinct interesting is that it is fronted by the old “Bedford Modern School”, whose stunning stone exterior was completed in 1834.

Prior to 1834, lessons were carried out in the adjacent Town Hall before the erection of a custom built premises. By 1974 the school had outgrown the building, so the developers moved in and created the brand new shopping centre behind it.

The square immediately outside the shopping centre is known as “Harpur Square”, and it is marked by an intricate statue called “The Meeting”. It is also known as the “Kid’s Statue”, and was created by John Mills.

Harpur square lies on… Harpur Street, which runs North away from the square past some of the towns main shopping thoroughfares.

Turning off onto Silver Street, we found one of the more unusual inhabitants of Bedford town centre, the “Reflections of Bedford” sculpture. Silver Street was apparently once home to a mint, and the statue is supposed to be homage to this, as well as the brick/lace trades of the town.

The designer was a man named Rick Kirby who, in 2008 had created another sculpture called the “Face of Wigan”. The design was later reused for his Bedford work in 2009, although they are slightly smaller than the 18ft original!

Heading back towards St Paul’s Square, we kept moving South, to meet the River Great Ouse, which is part way through its 143 mile journey from its source in Northamptonshire to the Wash between the Norfolk and Lincolnshire Coasts.

Crossing the river here is the Town Bridge, designed by John Wing, and officially opened in 1813. With the increase in Motor Traffic, particularly during the first half of the 20th century, it was widened in 1940, and can now accommodate two lanes of traffic in either direction.

The riverside offers a great view back at Bedford Town Centre. You can see the spire of St Paul’s Church over to the left, with the charming Swan Hotel to the right…

The Swan Hotel is a beautiful Georgian construct dating back to 1794, when it was rebuilt by Henry Holland (1745 – 1806, English Architect from London), for the then Duke of Bedford, Francis Russell (1765 – 1802, 5th Duke of Bedford). Today it is of course a hotel, with a great location next to the river.

Out in the small courtyard at the front of the building sits the South African War Memorial, which pays tribute to the British Soldiers killed during the Boer War. Sculpted by Leon Joseph Chavalliaud (1858 – 1919, French Sculptor from Rheims, France) in 1904, it is one of a number of similar memorials which can be found all over the country.

Following “The Embankment” which runs past the Swan Hotel East along the riverbank, we came across a large mound, atop which once sat Bedford Castle. Unlike many of England’s great Castles, it was only in use for a couple of centuries, however it is still one of Bedford’s most historically interesting landmarks.

Originally constructed by Henry I sometime after 1100, its first major combat role was during the period known as the “Anarchy”. This was a Civil War between Empress Matilda (daughter of Henry I) who was to be his successor after his death, and Stephen (grandson of William the Conqueror, nephew of Henry I). The war lasted from 1135 – 1154 and resulted in Stephen being installed on the throne. His successor, Henry II was Matilda’s son, restoring the correct line of the throne.

It was during the war that the Castle was attacked by Stephen on his way to tackle an invasion by the Scottish under King David, who was supporting his niece, Matilda. The Castle was later mostly destroyed after the battle. Whilst sections of the building were reinforced during the later English Civil War (1642 – 1651), most of it was left ruinous, and it was eventually demolished to make way for housing in the mid 20th century. All that remains today is part of the stone moat, where the Keep would have stood.

The view from the mound is stunning, looking out over the River Ouse, the Castle Park and the landmark Park Inn Hotel tower on the far side of the river, over to the right.

The rest of our trip to Bedford was spent exploring the many side streets which lead back from the Riverside round to St Paul’s Square, where we found a few items of interest, mainly clustered around Mill Street.

The first was the Bunyan Meeting Church, named after John Bunyan (1628 – 1688, English Writer from Elstow outside Bedford) . He was the writer of a book called “The Pilgrim’s Progress” which is widely regarded as one of the most important religious works of its era.

The Church itself was formed back in 1650, although the present building was only completed in 1849, whilst the stone porch at the front was added in 1876.

Further up Mill Street, we came across another Chapel, the “Howard Congregational Church” of 1774. The Church was founded by the aforementioned John Howard, after attempts to convert the Bunyan Church into a Methodist Church. The building was later enlarged in 1849.

The building itself is no longer used as a Church, and when I took this picture it was being converted into a new Night Club.

Further down the road you will find a charming little coffee house called Frescoes, which features a stunning mural on its exterior wall. It was created by a man named Iain Carstairs, who sadly passed away in early 2016 after a battle with cancer. The painting is a replica of the “Libyan Sibyl” by Michaelangelo, whose original creation can be found on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in Vatican City.

Our final stop was on the outskirts of the town centre. We had stayed in a travelodge the night before, just on the edge of the city then we had driven in and parked up just round the corner from St Peter’s Church. We walked in from there, to get a good look at some of the fine Georgian town houses which line the main route into the town centre.

This charming little Church is Norman in origin, and can trace its history back to the 12th Century. All that remains of the original Church is the stunning Square Norman Tower, whilst the rest was largely rebuilt in the 15th Century, a similar story to many Churches in England. It certainly stands out as being one of the older inhabitants of the town, the perfect place to end our tour.

Bedford is a lovely little town, with plenty of great architecture around the town centre, Georgian houses around the outskirts, and a number of large, green open spaces.

Transport wise it is well connected, as it lies directly on the A6, historically an important South-North route which continues up through Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lancashire etc. The M1 is also only a few miles away, where you can head South towards the M25 around London, or North towards Yorkshire and connections with the M6 for the North West and Birmingham.

Train services can take you direct to London and Sheffield, along with a number of other local services.

It was time to move on, and our next stop was the town of Buckingham…

St Ives, Cambridgeshire, England

Having already made a twilight visit to the town of Huntingdon on our way to Cambridge one evening, the next time we were in the area we popped into St Ives, as the sun was beginning to set…

St Ives:

Status: Huntingdonshire District, Cambridgeshire (historically Huntingdonshire), Town, England

Date: 18/02/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Market Square, Oliver Cromwell Statue, Great Ouse River, All Saint’s Church, St Ives Bridge, Bridge Chapel, Town Hall, United Reform Church, Golden Lion Hotel etc

We started by the edge of the Great Ouse River, outside the Church of All Saints before heading into the main town centre proper.

All Saints is the towns Parish Church, and has it’s origins as a small wooden structure in the Norman Era, during the 11th century. By 1150 it had been rebuilt in stone, and like most Churches of that era, it was rebuilt again, around 1470. Although some stonework remains of its earlier incarnation, what we see today is largely 15th century.

It sits in a prominent position directly next to the river, which cuts through the trees to emerge at the towns famous Stone Bridge, but more on that later.

Moving into the centre, we came across a small maze of tight, narrow streets whose buildings span various centuries. This was taken from “Bridge Street” looking up “Merryland”.

The building to the right, currently housing the “Genesis Hair Company” is a lovely Georgian construction from the early 1800’s, which make up a lot of towns in this area.

The other shops are of a similar time period, making for a lovely Dickensian feel.

The Market Square in the centre of St Ives is a quaint little place, marked by a statue of Oliver Cromwell (1559 – 1658, Leader of the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, MP for Huntingdon & Cambridge) who was born in nearby Huntingdon in 1559. Statues of Cromwell are rare as he is a divisive figure, but it has been displayed proudly here in St Ives since 1901. He is also notable as being the only British head of state in history that wasn’t a Royal.

St Ives, like many historic towns, has its fair share of Churches. We soon spotted the “United Reform Church” on the South Western side of the Market Square. Designed by John Tarring (1806 – 1875, English Architect from Plymouth), it was completed in 1836.

Directly to the left of the URC stands the “Golden Lion Hotel”, an old 19th Century Coaching Inn, lying just off the main route from Huntingdon towards Cambridge, and then London. It has been a prominent hotel in the town ever since.

To the left of the Hotel is “Stanley House”, which was taken over in 1924 by St Ives Town Council to become the new Town Hall. Prior to this it was temporarily the home of Lloyds Bank before their new premises were completed, and before that it was under the ownership of a Mr William Warner.

We cut up “Free Church Lane” and came out on the banks of the Great Ouse River, home to St Ives’s most famous landmark, the “St Ives Bridge”. Completed in 1425, it replaced an earlier wooden bridge from the 12th century built for use by the monks at nearby Ramsey Abbey so they could cross the river.

Perhaps it’s most notable chapter in history occurred in 1645, when Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian Forces held the town. The Royalist army under King Charles I would soon arrive, so they destroyed two of the arches on the far side, putting in a wooden drawbridge which could be pulled up when they attacked. Full repairs wouldn’t be carried out until 1716.

The Bridge is also notable for the small Chapel (shown centre) which was added by the monks when it was rebuilt in stone.

It is one of only four surviving Bridge Chapels in England, along with:

  1. Rotherham Bridge, Rotherham, South Yorkshire
  2. Chantry Chapel, Wakefield Medieval Bridge, West Yorkshire (see my post here)
  3. Old Bridge, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

The riverside here is a beautiful place, and if you look downstream the river seems to just empty out into the distance, just the next stage in its 143 mile journey from Northamptonshire to the sea.

A number of elegant Georgian buildings line the river, creating a scene that most likely hasn’t changed much for the last 250 years!

I had parked on Bridge Street when we arrived, so it was back to the car, leaving us with a lovely snapshot of historic St Ives.

The town is a stunning little place, and was well worth the visit on our way through. Although unconnected to the rail network, it lies next to the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge, and is only a few miles from the A1 from London – Edinburgh.

It was time to head off, but more adventures always await…

Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England

One of England’s smallest historic counties ceased to exist in it’s own right in 1974, although by name it is now a district in Cambridgeshire. I refer of course to Huntingdonshire, and we soon arrived in the county town, Huntingdon…


Status: Huntingdonshire District, Cambridgeshire (historically Huntingdonshire), Town, England

Date: 06/01/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Market Square, Town Hall, Cromwell Museum, Church of All Saints, South African War Memorial, Gazeley House, Church of St Mary, Falcon Inn, Wykeham House etc

As we were travelling down to Cambridge one evening, we decided to pop into Huntingdon on the way past. It was after dark, and by the lovely glow of the street lights, we arrived into the central Market Square, around which are located many of the towns major landmarks.

A beacon of light at the South Eastern edge of the square was Huntingdon Town Hall, from 1745. It replaced the earlier Court Hall, and indeed a new set of Courts/Cells were built on the ground floor, still visible today. The Council still regularly meet in the grand Assembly Room on the top floor, reputed to feature a number of impressive portraits, including those of King George’s II and III.

Outside, in the centre of the square stands the Huntingdon War Memorial, also known as the “Thinking Soldier”. It was beautifully created by Kathleen Scott (1878 – 1947, British Sculptor), the widow of the late Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868 – 1912, Royal Naval Explorer who perished in Antarctica in 1912). Unveiled in 1923, it pays tribute to all the soldiers from the town who gave their lives in WWI, and later WWII.

On the West side of the square you will find a number of historic buildings, many from the 18th century. A few in particular stood out, starting with the charming 16th Century “Falcon Inn”. Oliver Cromwell was born here in 1599, and of course was in charge of the Parliamentarian Army during the Civil War, and reputedly used the Falcon as his HQ when he was in the area. The Royalists captured the town in 1645, and blew out an arch of the Old Town Bridge over the Great Ouse River to slow down the Parliamentarian army.

To the right of the Falcon is “Wykeham House”, which opened as the Huntingdon Branch of the “London & County Bank” in the early 1700’s. The Bank eventually merged with “The Westminster Bank” to create the National Westminster Bank, or NatWest.

Huntingdon only has two remaining medieval Churches, one of which is the Church of All Saints, on the North Western side of the square.

Originally a Norman Church from the 12th century, it has been rebuilt a number of times over the years. One of the oldest sections is the 14th century Tower, with the rest of the building dating from the late 15th/early 16th. Like many other Churches across the country, it was given an extensive Victorian restoration by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811 – 1878) in the 1850’s, and later Harold Doe 100 years later.

Towards the rear of the Town Hall stands the Jubilee Drinking Fountain (shown far right), erected by the Borough Council in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee that year.

The square is also surrounded by a lovely array of cobbles, which together with the glow of the streetlamps help create the perfect night scene!

Oliver Cromwell also went to school in Huntingdon, in the old Grammar School building, shown above, opposite the Church. Originally built in the 12th century, it was one half of a long Hall, part of the “Hospital of St John the Baptist”. After the Hospital fell under the control of the local council in the 14th century, the Hall was shortened to its present length, and then converted into the Grammar School in 1565. Today it houses the Oliver Cromwell Museum, which opened in 1962.

Huntingdon is a beautiful little town, and I would love to experience it by day, which would no doubt lend a whole new perspective to it. The centre is very historic, and every building around the Market Square looks like it was built yesterday, despite its age.

The town is reasonably well connected transport wise, with the A1 from London – Edinburgh via the East Midlands/North East of England running just to the West. Huntingdon is also directly connected to Cambridge via the A14, and King’s Lynn in Norfolk via the A141/A47.

The local train station is on the East Coast Main Line, although the main services towards Scotland/London don’t call at the station. It is instead served by “Great Northern” trains from London towards Peterborough along the same route.

We were making a habit of twilight visits to Huntingdonshire, as on our second trip to the nearby city of Ely, we stopped in the area again after the sun had set, this time in St Ives…

Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England

Another stunning Cathedral City loomed on the horizon, as we spotted the main front of Peterborough Cathedral…


Status: Peterborough Unitary Authority, Cambridgeshire (historically Northamptonshire), City, England

Date: 07/01/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Costa

Attractions: Peterborough Cathedral, Guildhall, Town Hall, River Nene, St John’s Church, Old Custom House, Market Square, St Nicholas’s Gate, Abbot’s Prison, King’s Lodgings, NatWest Building, Queensgate Shopping Centre, The Grain Barge etc

We parked up in a large car park just outside the city centre, with the grand presence of the Cathedral looming over us.

Peterborough Cathedral originated as the Abbey Church for a Benedictine Monastery here, and many of the buildings that surrounded it still exist, although most are now private homes. The Monastery was disbanded during the reformation by King Henry VIII, with the Church becoming a Cathedral.

To the left is the “Little Dorter”, a small building connected to the ruined walls of the refectory. Dorter is another word for Dormitory, and the Listed Buildings website says the Little Dorter was an attachment to the main dormitory.

We made our way round to the main Cathedral Yard, to the stunning West front of Peterborough Cathedral. It’s a magnificent building, and certainly one of the grandest in England, with it’s own unique style.

The present building is a Norman rebuild of the original Anglo-Saxon Church, destroyed by fire in 1116. Two years later work on the new Church began, taking over a century to complete, in 1237, consecrated the following year.

It’s most impressive feature is the vast wooden ceiling in the Nave, which took 20 years to craft, from 1230 – 1250. Although it has been repainted at least twice over the centuries, it was but a retouch of the original, making it the only Cathedral in the UK to retain its original wooden ceiling.

The Cathedral’s main three arches are the standout feature of the building, and were originally built in the new Gothic Style, in front of the old Norman Towers near the end of the build. To integrate them back into the main front, two new towers, at either end of the arches were built, so the Cathedral now has an incredible four towers clustered around the entrance. The centre arch has a small entry gate at it’s base, called the “Galilee Porch” from 1375.

A few decades later, by the 1380s the main central tower had been rebuilt, again in Gothic to match the West front, although it reused the original structural beams at its base.

As I mentioned earlier, the reformation dissolved the monastery, and the Church became a Cathedral, seat of the newly created Bishop of Peterborough, head of a new diocese.

During the English Civil War major damage was inflicted by the Parliamentarians, who were responsible for the destruction of the old Abbey buildings, the ruins of which we saw earlier. Various restorations have been carried out since, with the final marble altar being added in the 1880’s.

The Cathedral is also the resting place for two important figures from British history, namely Catherine of Aragon (1485 – 1536, 1st Wife of King Henry VIII) and for a number of years, Mary Queen of Scots (1542 – 1587, Queen of Scotland from 1542 – 1567).

We passed through the stone “St Nicholas’s Gate” (shown centre) into the Market Place beyond, an enormous square that contains many of the city’s most historic buildings.

The Gate itself dates back to the late 12th century, built by the then Abbot, Benedict. The section to the right, the royal apartments, became known as King’s Lodgings. Various monarchs have visited the Cathedral over the years, King Stephen (1143), Henry II (1154), King John (1216), Henry III (1268) etc and presumably it was here that they stayed. The name may also come from the fact that after his arrest, King Charles I was held here for a short time before his trial.

The ground floor was used as the “Abbot’s Prison”, whilst at one point the court met above the main Gateway, also once used as a Chapel dedicated to St Nicholas, and later a music room.

To the left of the gate is “Number 1 Precincts”, a charming 19th century construct originally crafted by Lloyds Bank. The style mimics the prevailing architectural style around it, and is now home to a Starbucks.

To the right is the Natwest Building, one of the squares most ornate structures. Designed in the 1920’s by F C R Palmer (in-house architect for the National Provincial Bank, which later became part of NatWest) and W F C Holden, again to match its surroundings.

The centre of the Market Place is marked by a number of historic landmarks, starting with the truly beautiful Peterborough Guildhall (a perfectly detailed Lilliput Lane model of which sits on my shelf!).

The Guildhall, aka “Butter Cross” is a common feature in old English Market Towns, where the old outdoor markets were once held. The main rooms of the building are sat atop stone columns, allowing the markets to be held beneath. Indeed, the Butter Market was still being regularly held here until 1963.

Completed in 1671, the Guildhall has had various uses, starting out as a Courtroom/Meeting Hall. Later in life it was home to a Boys School (1779 – 1839), and prior to the present building being created, it was the Town Hall until 1932.

It even held an important position during WWII, being the HQ of the Fire Watch and the distribution point for Gas Masks in the event of enemy attack.

Behind the Guildhall sits the “Parish Church of St John the Baptist”. Despite the fact Peterborough Cathedral is a minutes walk away, it was an important building for the city. The Cathedral was for centuries an Abbey for the use of the Monks, so a new Church was built for the townsfolk, where they could pray and worship.

The present building was completed in 1407, and reuses stone from the original, which was moved here specially when the new Market Square was established outside the main gate to the Cathedral. It was almost demolished after the English Civil War, when a plan to use it’s stone to repair damage to the Cathedral from the war was put forwards. Despite permission being granted, happily it never happened, although like the Cathedral some of its stunning features such as the Stained Glass were destroyed.

I mentioned earlier the two famous figures once buried at the Cathedral, Catherine of Aragon and Mary Queen of Scots. Both women had their funerals here at St John’s, in 1536 and 1587 respectively.

On the South edge of the square is a rather interesting mock timber building from 1911, housing Pizza Express. It looks stunning, and features five highly detailed statues on the exterior:

Left: Athelwold (904 – 984, Bishop of Winchester) and Prince Rupert (1619 – 1682, Nephew of King Charles I).

Centre: King Henry VIII (1491 – 1547)

Right: King Peada (Died 656, King of Mercia from 655) and the Earl of Essex, although I am unsure which holder of the title it refers too.

Most of the squares Northern edge is taken up by the “Queensgate Shopping Centre”, opened in 1982 by Queen Beatrix (Born 1938, Queen of the Netherlands until 2013).

It is perhaps most well known for the Mechanical Clock Tower that has stood at it’s heart for over 25 years.

We left the square behind us, and headed South along the pedestrianised Bridge Street, past Peterborough’s impressive new Town Hall from 1933. The City Council still use the building for many functions, up on the first floor, whilst the ground floor is inhabited by a number of shops.

Before the Town Hall opened, the council were using the Guildhall in the Market Square. At this time in history, Peterborough fell under the jurisdiction of the “Soke of Peterborough” which in 1888 become its own county (although associated with Northamptonshire), until the 1960’s. This meant that the Town Hall was used by both the County Council of the Soke, and the City Council itself.

Now Peterborough is a Unitary Authority, broadly following the same boundaries as the Soke once did, with one council responsible for all services in the district.

Crossing the A15, and continuing South along Bridge Street past the Magistrates Court, we arrived at the original boundary of the city, the River Nene. The city spread South of the river centuries ago, away from the main centre around the Cathedral.

The UK’s tenth longest river, the Nene begins a 100 mile journey near Badby in Northamptonshire, and eventually empties out into “The Wash”, a large bay between the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coasts.

Above you can see the “Nene Viaduct”, built in 1850 by Sir William Cubitt (1785 – 1861) and his son Joseph (1811 – 1872) to carry the Great Northern Railway, from London to York, with a branch line towards Lincolnshire. The line was eventually subsumed into what is now the East Coast Main Line from London – Edinburgh.

Following the Town Halls completion in 1933, a new road bridge was built over the river here in 1934, called the “Town Bridge”. It replaced an earlier Iron Bridge which was taken down in 1933, and stood a few metres downstream of its successor.

Moored along the riverbank here is a floating pub/restaurant called the “Grain Barge”. The name comes from the fact that it is located within an old Grain Barge, becoming one of only four floating pubs in the country.

Had you been stood here prior to 1965, you would have seen a view unique in England. Before local government reform, three different counties met here. Peterborough has historically been part of Northamptonshire, whilst the grassy area to the left became Cambridgeshire a few metres further along the riverbank. The far side of the river would have brought you into Huntingdonshire.

In late 1965 this all changed, as Peterborough and Huntingdonshire were merged to create a new county. In 1974, this was in turn merged with Cambridgeshire, where they remain today.

Next to the Grain Barge is the old “Custom House” from 1790. Before the arrival of the railways in the mid 19th century, the River would have been the principal way to transport goods into the city.

It is thought the location of the Cathedral was deliberate, being relatively close to the river, where the buildings stone was brought in.

The Custom House would have been the home of the Toll Collector, who levied tolls on this section of the River.

Trade on English Rivers and Canals began to disappear after the Victoria Rail Revolution, making these type of Tolls redundant. The building is now used by the Sea Cadets.

Looking back towards the main city centre, Peterborough Cathedral is an impressive sight, dwarfing any other building around it.

Peterborough is a lovely historic city, with plenty of landmarks worth visiting. It also has good transport links, lying directly on the East Coast Main Line, between LondonEdinburgh via York, Durham and Newcastle, with branchlines out to Lincolnshire and Leeds. The City is also close to the A1, again from London to Edinburgh via important towns such as Stamford, Grantham, Newark and Berwick etc.

We had now visited all three cities in modern day Cambridgeshire, but our next trip was a quick foray into what was once Huntingdonshire…

Ely, Cambridgeshire, England

Cambridgeshire is home to one of England’s smallest cities, although it has its fair share of historic buildings…


Status: East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire, City, England

Date: 07/01/2016 & 19/02/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Peacocks Tearoom

Attractions: Ely Cathedral, Oliver Cromwell’s House, River Great Ouse, St Mary’s Church, High Street, Market Square, Market Street, Minster Tavern, Steel Eel-y, Jubilee Gardens, Ely Porta, Sebastopol Cannon, Bishops Palace, Townhouse Inn etc

Ely is located within the Fens of Cambridgeshire, a vast, flat area which was once a giant area of marshland. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Fens were systematically drained, resulting in an enormous, incredibly flat piece of countryside.

One of its standout landmarks is Ely Cathedral, and thanks to the flat nature of the surrounding land, it is visible for miles around. We got this picture as we approached the city along the A142 from the Cambridge area, and what a magnificent sight it was!

We had a good reason to be in the area, as one of my distant American Cousins was stationed at a local Airbase, and it was our first chance to meet them. They recommended a lovely little tea shop down by the river, before showing us round…

We had a rather interesting Chocolate Imperial flavoured cup of tea at Peacocks Tearoom, which is set in a lovely Georgian Building which was originally two separate houses. Established ten years ago, the Tearoom has many different teas from around the world for you to sample, and is extremely popular, with a small queue just to get in!

We then took in the beautiful view along the banks of the Great Ouse River…

Looking North West back towards the city centre from the far side of the River, the towers of Ely Cathedral rise up above the various Georgian buildings in this part of Ely.

We had previously visited Cambridge, and taken a walk along the River Cam which flows through its centre. That eventually empties out into the Great Ouse, which then flows through Ely, and completes its 143 mile journey when it reaches “The Wash”, a large basin between the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coasts.

Lining the riverside are the “Jubilee Gardens”, opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. One of its signature landmarks is the “Steel Eel-y” by Peter Baker, gifted to Ely by the Ely Rotary Club in 2006.

We made for the city centre, passing through the Jubilee Gardens, up to  Cherry Hill Park which runs parallel with Ely Cathedral.

It really does dominate the city, from pretty much any angle you care to look at.

We emerged out onto a road called the Gallery, exiting the park through the “Ely Porta”, also known as the Walpole Gate.

In 1083 the present Ely Cathedral was started, succeeding the original Church built by St Etheldreda (636 – 679) in 672. At this time it was an Abbey Church, although it also became a Cathedral in 1109 when it was also jointly the seat of the Bishop of Ely, covering most of modern day Cambridgeshire, and part of Norfolk.

The Abbey covered a large area, which stretched out into the gardens that surround it today. A new entrance to the Abbey complex was constructed starting in 1397, which became the Walpole Gate. It was named after Ralph Walpole, the Bishop of Ely from 1299 until 1302.

Ely Cathedral is rather unique in the UK. It has one of the longest naves out of any Church (12th century), at nearly 164 metres, as well as the stunning Octagonal Tower at the West End. In 1322, the original central Tower collapsed, and instead of simply replacing it, a new design was created. The interior was opened up, creating a vast new Lantern Gallery, atop which sat a new Octagonal Tower.

The final major part of the building work was the wooden ceiling of the Lantern Gallery by William Hurle. By 1350 the vast majority (aside from restoration work) of what we see today was complete, and the next major chapter of it’s history occurred in the 1530’s. Henry VIII instigated the reformation, abolishing the Monastery, after which it became an Anglican Parish Church, retaining Cathedral status. It remains the seat of the Bishop of Ely, as well as the Bishop of Huntingdon, his subordinate.

Lining the Southern edge of the Cathedral Yard lies the old Bishops Palace, built by the then Bishop John Alcock (1430 – 1500). Much of the building has been changed over the centuries, so that only the larger tower to the East (left) and the lower portion of the West Tower (right) are original.

In 1550 Bishop Thomas Goodrich (1494 – 1554) constructed the West Wing, and built up the remains of the West Tower to match the East. Much of the original Palace was then demolished by Bishop Benjamin Laney (1591 – 1675) who built the remainder of what we see today, during the late 1660’s and early 1670’s.

Today the building, along with the Ely Porta (now the School Library), is leased to the “King’s Ely”, an independent school which was established in 970.

The Cannon out in the Cathedral Yard was, like many others in the UK, captured by the British during the siege of Sebastopol in the 1850’s during the Crimean War. Queen Victoria herself later gifted it to the city in 1860.

Leaving the Cathedral Yard, past the cannon, we came out onto Church Lane, by two of Ely’s other notable landmarks.

To the left is the Church of St Mary’s, built by Bishop Eustace (Died 1215, also Chancellor of England in the 1190’s). The main Tower with Spire was added in the 14th century.

The Church is accompanied by a 16th Century timber-framed building, which was the home of Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658, Lord Protector of England) between 1636 – 1647. Cromwell was born locally in the town of Huntingdon, and a statue of him stands in the Market Square in St Ives.

Today you can tour the house which has been laid out as it would have looked when Cromwell was in residence. It makes for a cracking Museum, and is certainly worth a look.

We cut through to the High Street, where there are various historic old shops along its length, most dating from the 18th/19th centuries, when modern Ely began to expand.

At the far end lies the Market Square, home to the Ely Market, held on Thursdays, Sundays and other select days of the month.

The city’s Market Charter was first granted in 1224 by King Henry III (1207 – 1272), and it’s position by the river allowed goods to be imported and exported with ease. Until the Fens were drained, Ely itself actually sat on an island within the marshes, and the area was historically known as the Isle of Ely.

Heading along Market Street from the North end of the Market Square, we passed the entrance to “High Street Passage” which runs back through to the High Street.

A lovely network of small alleys hide a plethora of independent shops, crowned by the Cathedral’s Octagonal Tower in the background.

Just beneath the tower is a small shop called “Italian Jewellery”, at Number 4. Despite it’s 16th century brick exterior, the interior is timber framed from 100 years prior.

Continuing up Market Street, we reached “The Townhouse Inn”, which is one half of a stunning 18th century brick house, converted in 1996 into a Pub. The Townhouse sits at Numbers 60-68…

…whilst across the road at Numbers 39-41  you will find the “Market Street Brasserie”. Completed in the 18th century as part of a row of cottages, it was used as a Staging Post until 1845.

A large sign was uncovered on the 1st floor which explains all. It reads:

“Lynn, Cambridge and London. Vans, Fly and Stage Waggon. To the Bull Inn, Bishopsgate Street. Every Day. Isaac Marsh and William Swan Proprietors.”

The company, Marsh & Sons, operated coaches out of Cambridge towards London. Some of these services originated in Norfolk, and others ran on to Downham Market and Ely, before heading to Bishopsgate in the City of London where the Bull Inn was located.

Our last stop was on the Corner of St Mary’s Street and Minster Place, opposite the Western end of the High Street, close to the Cathedral.

One of the towns most ornate buildings is the local Lloyds Bank Branch, although so far I am unable to find a date for it’s construction.

To the left lies the “Minster Tavern”, which proudly boasts on its website that it is the oldest hostelry (Inn) in the city. Again I haven’t found a date for it but I believe it was around 1817 when the pub opened. It is also supposedly haunted by a Monk from the nearby Cathedral.

Ely is a beautiful city, and remains the standout settlement in the Cambridgeshire Fens. The Cathedral is unlike no other in England, in design and scale, and is one of the most visited attractions in the area.

Ely is located just off the A10 which runs between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, as well as the Fen Railway Line which follows the same route.

Various longhaul services pass through the city, including the regular Norwich – Liverpool service via Peterborough and Manchester, as well as other trains towards Birmingham, Leicester and London.

It was time to move on, to the Cathedral City of Peterborough, a few miles away…

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England

One of England’s most famous historic cities, and home to countless colleges that form one large university, is the city of Cambridge, on the banks of the River Cam…


Status: City of Cambridge District, Cambridgeshire, City, England

Date: 07/01/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Travelodge Cambridge Newmarket, Cafe Nero

Attractions: King’s College, King’s College Chapel, King’s College Courtyard, Bridge of Sighs, River Cam, St John’s College, Great St Mary’s Church, Market Square, Gonville & Caius College, Punting on the Cam, All Saints Churchyard, Memorial Cross All Saints, St Michael’s Church, Senate House, Old Schools, Pitt Building, Corpus Christi College, Corpus Clock, Mathematical Bridge, Edward the Martyr Church, Cambridge Guildhall, King’s Parade etc

Our exploration of the city began on perhaps Cambridge’s most famous street, “King’s Parade”.

On the West Side (left) stands the King’s College Screen, the main entrance to the College, alongside the Gatehouse. Before these were built however in the late 1820’s, this side of the street looked very similar to the other, containing a long row of shops which had to be demolished.

The East Side (right) has retained it’s historic charm, and I think this shot is one of my favourites from our travels around England. The well known landmark of a British Pillar Box (Queen Victoria Version) overlooks the traditional cobbles and stunning Georgian Buildings on the far side of the street. To complete the picture you have the tower of “Great St Mary’s Church” in the background, next to the shorter, turreted tower of “Gonville & Caius College”. More on those later however!

So this is the aforementioned King’s College Screen, designed by William Wilkins (1778 – 1839, English Architect from Cambridge) and completed in 1828. He deliberately designed the screen and the surrounding walls to match the medieval Kings College Chapel…

…just to the right of the screen. The Chapel has to be Cambridge’s most famous landmark, and aside from various medieval Churches dotted around the city, it is also one of its oldest buildings.

The history of the Chapel is closely linked to the development of King’s College itself, founded in 1441 by King Henry VI. Construction of the Chapel followed in 1446, however work on both the Chapel and the College slowed to almost a halt when the King focused his resources on the War of the Roses which broke out in 1455. It wouldn’t be until 1508 when King Henry VII took on his Uncle’s project, and finished building work. His son, King Henry VIII then completed the Chapels interior by 1544.

The original courtyard for the College was begun by Henry VI, and lies to the North of the Chapel, around which a small cluster of buildings would make up the College for the next few centuries.

This was later seen as inadequate, and new plans called for a brand new courtyard with the Chapel forming one side. This was finally realised, albeit in two stages.

The Western side is marked by the Gibbs Building (left) from 1731, named after the architect who finally tried to complete the courtyard once planned by Henry VI centuries earlier, James Gibbs (1682 – 1754, Scottish Architect from Aberdeen). He had planned to build three such buildings around the square, but lack of funding caused the project to stall.

It would be Mr Wilkins who fully enclosed the Courtyard in the 1820’s with the Screen to the East, and the new Library block to the South.

The centre of the Courtyard is marked by a large stone fountain erected in 1879, surmounted by a statue of King Henry VI, in recognition of his creation of the College.

Continuing past King’s College Chapel, we spotted what is known as the “Old Schools”. This was the original Courtyard of the Kings College Henry VI started, however over the years it has been significantly rebuilt, and now forms one large building.

The East Range, shown above in magnificent white, was created by Stephen Wright between 1754 – 1758 in Georgian Times. Behind it, are further ranges to the West and South by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811 – 1878, Architect from Buckinghamshire) circa the 1860’s. These sections incorporate the original 15th century Gatehouse from the colleges formation.

The North Range was added in 1837, by Charles Robert Cockerell (1788 – 1863, Architect from London) and is known as the Cockerell Building.

The Green outside is called the Senate House Lawn. On it stands a large Bronze Urn, which is a replica of the Warwick Vase, crafted by Sir Edward Thomson and given as a gift in 1842.

The original Vase was discovered in 1771 in Tivoli, at Hadrian’s Villa, in multiple fragments. It was later fully restored, and after a stint on the lawn at Warwick Castle, it is now part of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

The Green is named after the Senate House, located to the right of the Old Schools. A stunning neoclassical building, it was completed in 1730 to house meetings of the University Senate, the overall governing body of the University of Cambridge.

The architect for the building was our old friend James Gibbs, and it appears he didn’t have much luck with this project either. Much like the Gibbs Building in King’s College, this was meant to be just one side of a larger courtyard, but again the project stalled and only one building was finished.

In 1926 the Senate powers were transferred to the Regent House, which consists of members from all departments of the University. Today it is the main site used for the Degree Ceremonies across the 31 different colleges that form the University.

To the right of Senate House is the North East range of Tree Court at “Gonville & Caius College”, designed by Alfred Waterhouse (1830 – 1905, English Architect from Liverpool) in the 1870’s. The College is the fourth oldest at the University, founded in 1348.

Again to the right of Gonville & Caius is the Church of St Mary the Great, Cambridges most important Church. Aside from being the local Parish Church, it is also the University Church, where official sermons are held. It is also stipulated that all University Officers must live within 20 miles of the Church itself.

The Church has been owned by the University since 1342 when a now defunct College named King’s Hall was given it by the Crown. King’s was merged with various other areas of the University by King Henry VIII, and became Trinity College in 1342. The College built the present building between 1478 – 1519 (Tower added 1608), although a Church was first recorded here back in 1205. Aside from clerical functions, it was also used for University Meetings, which were later transferred to Senate House upon it’s completion.

Leaving King’s Parade behind us, we took a walk up Trinity Street, down the side of Gonville & Caius College, which features a stunning row of stone gargoyles at the top of the building.

Looking back you can see King’s Parade in the background, and to the left is St Michael’s Church, a small medieval Church built in the 1320’s. It was built by Hervey de Stanton (1260 – 1327, English Chancellor) to serve a new College he created called “Michaelhouse”, although this later became part of Trinity College. The Church originally had an impressive spire, however it was removed in 1818, and the tower was made flat.

Continuing North away from King’s Parade, we approached Trinity College, which remains Cambridge Universities largest and wealthiest constituent component.

In the distance the Tower of St John’s College Chapel filled in the skyline.

Just round the corner is the main entrance to Trinity College, marked by the large red brick Gatehouse completed in 1535. I mentioned earlier that it was King Henry VIII who was responsible for the amalgamation of colleges which created Trinity College, and a statue of him stands in a recess above the main archways on the gate.

To the right of the Gate is Trinity College Chapel, the main entrance of which is marked by a Clock Tower within the college courtyard.

Opposite Trinity College stands a large open space, marked by a tall memorial stone cross. This was once the accompanying Churchyard to All Saints Church, a medieval building which was demolished in 1865 as the road was widened.

A new Church bearing the same name was built over on Jesus Street, as it was thought the original was both far too small for the growing congregation, and in the way for further development in the area.

Just round the corner, before we passed through the Gatehouse to St John’s College, we stopped to admire the “Old Divinity School” which bounds the edge of the old Churchyard. This beautiful building was designed by Basil Champneys (1842 – 1935, English Architect from London) and almost perfectly matches the brickwork used on the adjacent St John’s College.

The building is used for lectures on Theology, the study of the divine, and was built close to what is the centre of the University, in between the various colleges. Its predecessor, the original Divinity School from the early 15th century is now part of the Old Schools next to King’s College, and when it was built was also at the centre of the much smaller University.

Directly opposite the Divinity School is the aforementioned main gate into St John’s College, which along with the First Courtyard directly behind it, dates from 1516. Not all of the colleges are accessible to the public, however St John’s is, allowing visitors to explore the stunning courtyards, as well as the famous Bridge of Sighs…

Moving through the Gatehouse, we passed through the First Courtyard, and into the Second Courtyard. This was built 70 years after the First, and was finally completed in 1602, to plans by Ralph Symons, who worked on various different colleges in the city.

Behind the Court is the ornately detailed tower of St John’s College Chapel, created by Sir George Gilbert Scott on the site of an old Medieval Chapel in the late 1860’s. Scott’s design was minus the main tower, including only a small fleche (spire) on the roof. It was only when Henry Hoare, a former student of the College, offered to finance a large tower did Scott change his designs, and it was eventually completed as seen today.

The most famous landmark within the complex that makes up St John’s is the Bridge of Sighs, named after its counterpart in Venice, Italy.

Designed by Henry Hutchinson (1800 – 1831, English Architect from Derbyshire) the bridge was completed in the year of his death, 1831. It crosses the River Cam, and connects the smaller Third Court with the “New Court” on the far side. It is one of the most beautiful structures in the entire city, and was a favourite of Queen Victorias when she visited.

We also witnessed a well known pastime in Cambridge, the sport of Punting. A punt is a long wooden boat with a flat bottom. A punter stands at one end, and pushes a long pole against the riverbed, to propel it forwards. A lot of the Cambridge Colleges have their own private punts, and the public can also hire them from local companies.

Punting is also popular in Oxford, although with one small difference. In Cambridge punters stand on the “Till” at the back of the boat, whereas in Oxford they stand inside the boat itself, at the other end.

Cambridge is a wonderful city, and everywhere you look there are buildings dating back centuries. The shopping streets are a wonderful mixture of architectural styles. Just take the scene above, on Trinity Street between Trinity and Gonville & Caius Colleges.

The centre building is “14 Trinity Street”, a beautiful old timber structure from the late 16th century. To the right of that is a complete contrast, an old Red Brick shop from 1783.

So many styles exist side by side, that Cambridge is honestly just a joy to explore.

By now King’s College was open to visitors, so we took the opportunity to visit the famous King’s College Chapel.

Inside the detail is just incredible, with a fantastic fan vaulted ceiling from 1515, 80 feet above us, stretching the length of the Chapel.

Henry VIII was famously married six times, and it was after his second to Anne Boleyn that he celebrated by creating the “Rood Screen” in the early 1530’s. It separates the Chancel from the Nave, and also supports the Chapels Organ.

Exiting the Chapel, we crossed the main College Green at the rear of the Chapel/Gibbs Building to the River Cam, and then over the “King’s Bridge” from 1818.

The Cam is the main navigation through Cambridge, and runs for a total of 43 miles from its source near Debden in Essex, to the Great Ouse near Ely.

It also offers one of Cambridge’s most well known views, of the River with the Chapel in the background. It was an episode of Doctor Who starring Tom Baker that first inspired me to visit Cambridge, as they were punting down this section of the river past the Chapel.

To the left of the Chapel you can see Clare College, founded in 1326, second only to Peterhouse from 1284. The main part we could see is the South Range of the College from 1642.

Moving back to King’s Parade from King’s College, we cut through to the old Market Square, located behind Great St Marys Church.

Originally the square was much smaller, containing various buildings. Many of these were destroyed in a fire in 1849, opening up the square.

The Cambridge Market is still held daily, with the first held by the Saxons around the 10th century.

From the Market Place we took a wander through some of the side streets, and eventually came out on “Bene’t Street”, which has a number of buildings of interest.

The first is the Church of St Bene’t, one of Cambridge’s most well preserved medieval Churches. Much of what we see today dates back to the 10th century, including the Tower, Chancel and the Nave. St Bene’ts also has the distinction of being the oldest Church in the entire county, and until 1579 it was used as the College Chapel for Corpus Christi College, the main buildings of which lie behind the Church.

Bounding the Eastern edge of the Churchyard is a large three storey building called “Friar House”, which makes up Number 13 Bene’t Street, as well as Numbers 1, 2 and 2a Free School Lane, which runs directly in front of it.

It is a bit more modern than the Church, but still hails from the 17th Century, and features an impressive timber frame.

The North end of the Churchyard, on the far side of the road is showcased by the Eagle inn, opened in 1667 as the “Eagle and Child”. Owned by Corpus Christi College, the building is notable for the Bar to the rear, which still features graffiti by RAF Airmen who were stationed here in WWII.

It is also notable for a historic announcement on the 28th February, 1953. Francis Crick (1916 – 2004, British Scientist) & James Watson (Born 1928, American Scientist), who worked in the Cavendish Laboratory and frequented the pub, announced to the world their discovery of DNA as genetic code.

Further up on the street was our next stop. On the left is the cities Guildhall from 1939 by Charles Cowles-Voysey (1889 – 1981), where the city council continue to meet. The Guildhall replaces its predecessor, formed out of two older buildings that once stood here, the old Shire Hall, and a Town Hall from 1782. It is an enormous construction, and takes up almost an entire block, reaching from here all the way to bound the South end of the Market Square. It then stretches back around the block to meet the far side of the building to the right.

This is the old Public Library, built in 1884 by G MacDonell as an extension to the new former Town Hall of 1862 behind it. Both parts of the building are now inhabited by restaurants.

Just up “Peas Hill” road, which runs up the side of the Guildhall, we came across another of the cities many Churches, called “St Edward, King & Martyr”. Named after Edward the Martyr (962 – 978, one of England’s shortest reigning Monarchs) the Church is closely associated with Trinity Hall College, as their original Church, St John Zachary, was knocked down to make way for King’s College.

Back on King’s Parade, we headed South, away from King’s College, towards the “Pitt Building”. This takes the form of the tall square tower in the background, completed in the early 1830’s to house the Cambridge University Press’s new Steam Presses. It was named after William Pitt the Younger (1759 – 1806, UK Prime Minister) who had attended Pembroke College here in Cambridge in his youth. Today the building is used as a Conference Centre, as the University Press use outside contractors to produce their books.

On the left is Corpus Christi College, founded in 1352. It is named after the Festival Corpus Christi, which celebrates the body/blood of Christ in the Holy Communion.

The building on the corner on the left was built in 1866 as the “London County & Westminster Bank”, which later became NatWest. In 2005 the lease expired, and Corpus Christi took it over for use as the new Taylor Library. The green sheet over the door covers the usual position of the “Corpus Clock”, a stunning Gold fronted clock which was unfortunately away for maintenance. Instead of hands, the mechanical Clock opens up slats around the main face to show the time, on three different rings representing the Hours, Minutes and Seconds, with a metal Locust atop it which moves as the seconds tick past.

Just past the Former NatWest is the College “New Buildings”, a series of Offices/Student Rooms built in 1826.

We were bound for the Mathematical Bridge, a wooden bridge which crosses the River Cam a bit further downstream past the Pitt Building. En route we passed the main entrance to St Catharine’s College, founded in 1473.

This is the “Main Court”, built around the late 17th Century. The North Range (right) is made up of the College Chapel of 1694, and the College Hall of 1675, whilst the South Range (left) was completed by 1681.

The final part of the Courtyard, the West Range (centre) connected the other two ranges in 1687. The Courtyard backs onto Queens College, which has a friendly rivalry with St Catharines after the Main Court relegated part of Queens to a back alley.

So this was our final stop, the Mathematical Bridge. It looks fairly recent, as though it were a piece of modern art or something. This is far from the case however, as it was actually designed by William Etheridge (1709 – 1776, English Architect from Suffolk) in the 1740’s. This isn’t the original bridge, which has been rebuilt twice since, most recently in 1905, but to the same designs as the first. It connects the Queens College Conference Centre to the left, with the College’s Cloister Court to the right.

Cambridge is a fantastic city, and certainly ranks very highly in the places we have visited so far. There is such an array of history and old buildings and it has an atmosphere we have only ever encountered once before, in Oxford. Being primarily a university city, it is a great place of learning, a place that has so far bred 14 Prime Ministers of the UK, as well as nearly 100 Nobel Prize Winners.

Cambridge is well connected to the rest of the country, with the M11 Motorway starting just North of the city, heading South to the M25 around London, or North to the A1 heading past Peterborough to the North East, then Scotland.

The local train station is the busiest station in the East of England, with services running West to Birmingham, South to London, East to Norwich and South West towards Ipswich in Suffolk etc.

The city even has its own airport, although as of 2016 there are no longer any scheduled passenger flights leaving it. It is still used by a number of flying schools, as well as private planes.

So if you find yourself in England’s East, a trip to Cambridge would certainly enhance your trip!

Cornwall & The South: Pt 50 – Aldbourne, Wilts

Our last stop on the way home was the beautiful little village of Aldbourne in Wiltshire, once the scene of a shootout between UNIT Soldiers, and an Alien Gargoyle…


Status: Wiltshire Unitary Authority & County, Village, England

Date: 15/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Village Green, The Blue Boar, St Michael’s Church, Market Cross etc

Aldbourne was only a quick stop on our long journey home, and I must confess to being a bit of a nerd here, as we only stopped as the BBC filmed a five part, 1971 serial of Doctor Who, called the Daemons starring Jon Pertwee, in the village.

We had arrived in the centre of the village green, one of the main settings for the story, which heavily utilised the Church of St Michael as a backdrop. The original St Michael’s was built by the Normans in the 12th century, and was later rebuilt around 1220 following a devastating fire. In 1460 a new Tower at the West end was built by Richard Goddard, replacing a Tower built decades before in the centre of the Nave.

It is an incredible looking building, towering over what is really quite a small village for such a large Church. It’s inclusion generated much controversy in Doctor Who, as a very accurate model of the Church was blown up at the end of the story. It was so accurate, it led some viewers to think the BBC had actually blown up a village Church just for television!!

In the centre of the Village Green sits the medieval Market Cross. The cross on the top was replaced in 1764, and has been deliberately angled like a “Gnomon”, the triangle on a sundial which is used to cast the shadow. Originally a Market would have been held in the Green, with fresh produce being sold from local farms.

In The Daemons, an ancient alien called Azal was discovered in a spaceship buried under a large mound on the outskirts of the village. He appeared three times to decide humanity’s fate, with the Doctor asking him to leave, and his nemesis the Master trying to take control of Earth for himself. Azal was defeated by an act of kindness by the Doctor’s assistant Jo, and he self destructed, taking the Church with it. Happily in real life the Church is intact, forming a great backdrop to the village.

A shoot out between the UNIT Troops and Bok the Gargoyle, animated by Azal took place on the Green and in the Churchyard, creating some of the series most memorable scenes.

Looking over the wall, the villagers under the control of the Master, who was masquerading as the new Vicar attacked the Doctor, and UNIT attacked Bok, climbing up into the Churchyard with a Bazooka!

The Churchyard is elevated above the rest of the Green, giving a great view out across the beautiful brick buildings which line it. Most date from either the 17th or 18th centuries, and I imagine this view has rarely changed over the last few hundred years.

The East side of the Green is bounded by the “Blue Boar Inn”, a lovely old pub which opened in 1822. It would also play a major part in the Daemons…

Renamed the “Cloven Hoof” for the duration of filming, the Doctor & Co stayed here whilst they dealt with the Master and Azal.

The village remembers its time on the big screen, and in 2015 a sign for the Cloven Hoof was put up outside to recognise this.

Before we left, I couldn’t resist setting up a little scene from the Daemons myself.

Featuring Bok the Gargoyle, with the Master in his reverend disguise, facing off against the Doctor and the Brigadier…

Anyway, our Summer Holiday of 2015 was over, but we had more adventures to come, so stay tuned to see one of the many places we went next…