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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

Cambridge (105,000 in 1991)
City on the river Cam; administrative centre of Cambridgeshire. The town developed round an Anglo-Saxon bridge over the river (the tower of St Bene't's church survives from that period) and William I built a castle on the hill in 1068 (the round Church of the Holy Sepulchre is Cambridge's best Norman monument), but the city's identity and fame is as the home of the second oldest university in Britain.

The effective centre is King's Parade, a street with old houses down one side and the wide expanse of King's College on the other. At its north end are three of Cambridge's best-known buildings: the parish and university church of Great St Mary (15–16C); the Senate House (1722–30 by James *Gibbs), in which formal university functions are carried out; and, the jewel of Cambridge's architecture, King's College chapel. Begun in 1446 by the founder of the college, *Henry VI, and complete by 1515, it is a perfect late example of the *Perpendicular style, known in particular for its superb fan vaulting and for its stained glass, nearly all of the 16C.

Parallel to King's Parade, on the other side of King's College, are the Backs – a continuous stretch of riverside gardens and lawns linking half a dozen colleges, and the scene of many punting parties in summer. The bridge at the southern end linking two parts of St John's College is known as the Bridge of Sighs (1827–31) because of a similarity to the bridge in Venice which leads to the state prison. The wooden bridge at the north end, the Mathematical Bridge in Queens' College, is traditionally said to have been designed by Newton in such a manner that it stands without nails or pegs. As often, tradition is false. The bridge dates from 1749 (to a design by W. Etheridge), was rebuilt in 1867 and 1904, and has always had iron bolts at its main joints.

The precise beginnings of the university are obscure, but it is known that in 1209 a party of students arrived from *Oxford, where there had been disturbances. At this time students made their own arrangements with individual masters and lived in whatever lodgings they could find. It was not until 1284 that the first residential college, Peterhouse, was founded – following the example of Merton at Oxford.

Individual self-governing colleges have remained the basis of the university structure. Fifteen others had been founded by the end of the 16C (most notably King's 1441, St John's 1511, Trinity 1544), but then there was a lull until the 19C, when four more were established – two of them the first colleges for women (Girton 1869, Newnham 1871). Since the 1950s there have been many new foundations, including Churchill in 1960. Nearly all the colleges now take students of both sexes.

The scientific achievements of the *Cavendish laboratory have brought the university great renown, and in the *Fitzwilliam it has a superb museum and art gallery. It is also known for its *botanic gardens. The University Library, (1930–4, by Giles Gilbert Scott) is one of the six *copyright libraries. The Cambridge University Press has been active as a printer since 1534 and as a publisher since 1584 – enabling it to claim to be the oldest surviving printer and publisher in the world.

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