Historic University City founded in 1209
Cambridge is, without doubt, one of England's most beautiful cities. The University founded in the 13th century dominates the city centre. Elaborate college buildings hug the meandering river Cam with pretty bridges connecting the historic quarter to gardens and playing fields.
Cambridge is a city of just over 125,000, with a history dating back 2,000 years to Roman times, so the city is older than Oxford. A competitive spirit thrives between Oxford and Cambridge, personified in the famous boat race, which takes place annually in April.
There are 13,000 undergraduates, eight museums, a library, botanical garden and close connections to high tech local businesses. Cambridge is a lively place of creativity, beauty and state-of-art industries.
A brief history of Cambridge
A small Roman garrison of once stood on Castle Hill, located at the head of a river network leading to the sea and only 60 miles north of London. Trade began to grow, and places of worship appeared, these religious sites were the nucleus of a centre of learning. Scholars and teachers gathered in the pursuit of knowledge, mainly in theology, church law, civil law and logic.
The date of 1209 is an approximate date of the foundation of the University. In that year disaffected scholars from Oxford migrated to Cambridge, and the rivalry began. The college system, modelled on those at Oxford and Paris, started in 1284 with Peterhouse. There are now 31 colleges, and the older have layouts reflecting their early monastic connections - grouped in square courtyards attached to chapels and great dining halls.
The architecture of Cambridge spans a considerable time, from the middle ages to the Victorian era and right up to the present day. The crowning architectural glory of Cambridge must surely be Kings College chapel.
Kings College Chapel
One of the finest examples of gothic architecture in the world, Kings College Chapel is a breath-taking masterpiece in stone. Founded by the pious King Henry VI, worship was undoubtedly at the forefront of his mind. Like many places of prayer, the east end completed first, allowing consecration and services to start, even while construction continued on for many years. The beginning of services brought immediate income financing the remaining building works.
After the Wars-of-the-Roses the Royal houses of Lancaster and York unite under King Henry VII. Henry's marriage with his rival's daughter Elizabeth unified the warring Royal families. Emblems of the new Tudor dynasty decorated churches and chapels across the country including King's. The grand Tudor heraldic ornamentation is in your face, making a statement. Crowns, portcullises, Tudor Roses, greyhounds and dragons carved in wood and stone throughout the chapel.
See the intricate fan-vaulting eighty feet above your head, the biggest and best collections of 16th century stained glass, the entire design will inspire awe and amazement.
Punting on the River Cam
You may not have the athletic ability to join the boat race team, but you will enjoy a pleasant and gentle glide down the River Cam on a punt. The 'punts' developed in the middle ages for hunting ducks and eel fishing in calm shallow waters. This practice was common north of Cambridge on the marshy flatlands of the fens. Punting for pleasure started during the 18th Century in Oxford and Cambridge.
Imperial War Museum Duxford (aircraft museum near Cambridge)
Duxford is one of the world's leading aviation museums. However, Duxford also has tanks, military vehicles and naval exhibits.
Duxford was one of the first Royal Airforce Stations. On the 1st April 1918, the naval air force and Royal flying corps merged to create the world's first fully independent air forces, the RAF. Duxford was all part of that new force. The famous Spitfire landed here in 1938 and be seen in flight on special days, and you can even fly in a Spitfire as part of your Duxford experience.
Touring and accommodation
Our suggested day tour from London, the Cambridge and Duxford museum tour is an easy day tour from London, which we can customise to meet your requirements.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands. Merging Wales with England makes for a dynamic experience of mountains, stately homes and cosy country pubs.
Cambridge, England's Riverside Gem
Go Punting on the Cam, See King's Chapel and Enjoy a Pub Lunch
- Tailored Day Tour
- Expert DRIVER GUIDED Tour
- Tour Inside the University Buildings
- Tour Duxford Air Museum nearby
- VIP Tours Available
Kings College and River Cam
River Cam Punting
The River Cam, Cambridge
Kings College Chapel Ceiling
Shop for University Attire