​Google Street View’s Special Collections team visited Cambridge University last year to photograph a number of locations, both inside and out.

Now, anyone with a desire to see the University at close range, can access it like never before.

Laurian Clemence, Google UK

The resulting tours, which are now available to explore online include:

  • Cambridge University Botanic Garden
  • Gonville & Caius College
  • Great St Mary's Church
  • Newnham College
  • Queens' College
  • St John's College
  • Trinity Hall

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some suggestions:

The Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The Cambridge University Botanic Garden is a 40-acre oasis of gardens and glasshouses set in the heart of Cambridge.  It is the home to the University’s living plant collection, beautifully displayed in a seamless patchwork of gardens and set within a wonderful collection of trees.

Over 8000 plant species from all over the world are displayed in the Garden.  This unparalleled collection of plants is used today for research and teaching and has been a focus and stimulus for science and research in the University since it opened in 1846.

Gonville & Caius

Caius College Chapel

With the core of its walls dating from about 1390, Caius College Chapel has a claim to being the oldest purpose-built college chapel in Cambridge still in use, though every century since has contributed something to this beautiful building.

The original chapel was 68 feet long, but today the building stretches to over 100 feet. The first major extension took place in 1637 when the College’s reputation in medicine and atmosphere of religious tolerance saw it grow increasingly popular with scholars.

Visitors are able to visit the Chapel when the College is open each day from 9am-2pm (except for exam times in summer).

Caius College Library

The magnificent Library at Caius serves both the needs of the College community and the research interests of scholars from all over the world. Since 1996 it has been housed in the imposing Cockerell Building, a Grade 1 listed nineteenth-century building just across Senate House Passage from the College’s Old Courts.

Google recorded the Upper Library, which, with its high domed ceiling, columns and vast stained glass windows is often judged the most beautiful in Cambridge.

Caius Hall

Last but not least, Caius’ spectacular panelled Hall was designed by Anthony Salvin in 1854. Used daily by students, Fellows and staff for lunch and dinner, its walls feature an array of paintings, including a portrait of the physicist professor Stephen Hawking, a Fellow of Caius for 51 years.

Great St Mary's Church

As well as being a parish church, the Church of the University of Cambridge, and a place of prayer and celebration for all the citizens of Cambridge – with four services on Sunday and others during the week, Great St Mary's run a lively year round musical programme, holding concerts and recitals performed by their own choirs and orchestra and by visiting musicians. There has been a church on the site since at least 1200 and the present building dates from the late 15th century. The church welcomes tourists and visitors every day and offers unparalleled views of Cambridge from the top of the Tower.

Great St Mary's is unique City Centre venue and are delighted to share the building and its facilities by offering privileged access to businesses, charities and individuals. They can accommodate concerts, conferences, meetings, art exhibitions, weddings and other events.

St John’s College

St John’s College Chapel

The Chapel was built in the 1860s by the famous architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott.

The Old Library

The spectacular Old Library, which dates back to the 1620s and has featured in lists of the best university libraries in the world.

The working library

The working library is used by students every day and has space for 120,000 open access books.

Scavenger hunt

To make things a bit more interesting St John’s College also made sure that there were a few items from the College’s 505-year history around during the photo shoot. If you are planning on taking a virtual tour on Google Maps, see if you can spot the following:

  • William Wordsworth’s life mask. The illustrious poet was a student at St John’s from 1787. This three-dimensional mould, capturing his likeness, was made by the artist Benjamin Robert Haydon in 1815. Wordsworth had to sit with his face covered with papier mâché, breathing through straws that had been stuck up his nose!
  • A “rebus” – or an image, punning somebody’s name, belonging to Hugh Ashton. Ashton, who died in 1552, was a household officer of the College’s foundress, Lady Margaret Beaufort. If you can find his tomb, you should be able to spot a rebus based on his surname, which depicts an ash tree, and a barrel (or “tun” which is an old word for barrel or cask).
  • A towel, in tribute to Douglas Adams. The author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy was at St John’s in the early 1970s. Since the book contains the sage advice, “never go anywhere without your towel”, fans celebrate Adams’ life on May 25 every year by carrying towels. We left one hanging around somewhere, along with some of Adams’ books, when Google dropped by.
  • Fred Hoyle’s telescope. Hoyle, a Fellow of St John’s, was the famous astronomer who inadvertently coined the phrase “Big Bang”, but his lasting legacy was in the field of stellar nucleosynthesis, in which he helped to unravel the process by which chemical elements are made inside stars. This telescope was given to him as a present when he was still a boy, and represents the start of a lifelong passion for astronomy.

If you would like to pay a real visit to St John’s, you can find opening times and visitor information here, and download or browse the visitor guide here. Prospective undergraduate students are always welcome to contact the admissions team, and details about how and where to find them can be found here.

Newnham College

Library

Newnham College Library is one of the best-stocked college libraries in Cambridge, as when the College was founded women were not allowed to use the main University Library. Now it is home to a collection of some 90,000 volumes including approximately 6,000 rare books. 

The stunning Grade II* listed Victorian Yates Thompson Library with its impressive ornamented ceiling is now complemented by the award-winning 2004 Horner Markwick extension.

Gardens

Known as one of Cambridge’s ‘best kept secrets’, Newnham’s 18 acres of gardens were not initially planned, they grew as the College expanded. The founders of the College wanted students to have easy access to fresh air and exercise. 

Now there is a sunken garden with a formal pool, a main lawn, tennis courts, herbaceous borders, a wild meadow and a stunning collection of Newnham Irises. And unlike at many Cambridge colleges, students can walk on the grass!

Clough Hall

Clough Hall was designed by Basil Champneys and completed in 1887. It was named in honour of Anne Jemima Clough, Newnham's first Principal.

The exterior of the Hall epitomises the ‘Queen Anne’ style of Newnham, with its red brick, white-painted sash windows and curving bay windows. 

The interior of the hall is open and airy as a result of these large windows.  Like the library, Clough Hall has a wagon roof, with elaborate plasterwork which Champneys insisted was included. 

Formal Halls for Newnham students and their guests take place regularly during term-time, and the space is regularly hired for weddings and other events. 

Queens' College

Queens’ College Old Hall

The Hall was erected in 1449, as part of the original College. Through the centuries, the Hall was renovated, ebbing with the tastes of the time.
Floreat Domus can be read, the College motto, meaning ‘May this House Flourish’; as can William Morris tiles above the fireplace, depicting Labours of the Month, the two patron saints, and two angels, as well as Margaret of Anjou and Elizabeth Woodville (the College Patronesses). The Hall was formerly used as the main dining hall, however, it ceased being used on a daily basis from 1978, with the opening of the new dining hall and kitchens in Cripps Court (also seen in Google Street View). Now, the Old Hall is used for feasts, special functions, recitals, and receptions.

Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall was founded by Bishop Bateman of Norwich in 1350, making it the fifth oldest Cambridge College. The buildings of Front Court, including the Chapel, the Hall and the Master’s Lodge originate from the late 14th century and the current appearance of Front Court dates from the 18th century.  The medieval windows and arches which remain in North Court give a glimpse of how the College may have looked in the 15th century.

Gardens

Trinity Hall enjoys sweeping grounds leading down to a riverside terrace and views across the historic River Cam.  Author Henry James wrote of Trinity Hall: “If I were called upon to mention the prettiest corner of the world, I should draw a thoughtful sigh and point the way to the gardens of Trinity Hall.” (1878)

Explore more

Many Colleges and museums across the City allow public access throughout the year with a variety of opening hours and charges. We have produced a guide for your information: www.cam.ac.uk/visitors.

For one special weekend in September, Cambridge welcomes you through the doors of some of its most beautiful and intriguing places. This year over eighty events, ranging from College gardens to the Fire Station and museums to the Mosque, explore the heritage, architecture and culture of this historic City.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive updates and information about our work please email opencambridge@admin.cam.ac.uk. And follow us on twitter @OpenCambridgeUK.


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