Her­itage week­end... cam­bridge

Brim­ming with beau­ti­ful ar­chi­tec­ture and rich cul­ture, this his­toric city has much more to of­fer than its aca­demic prow­ess

Period Living - - Recipes - Fea­ture Holly Reaney

There is some­thing quintessen­tially Bri­tish about Cam­bridge, with its grand 17th- and 18th-cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture, deca­dent col­lege build­ings and quaint back streets. Ex­plore the plethora of in­de­pen­dent shops, re­lax in one of the many his­toric pubs, and dis­cover some of the de­light­ful restau­rants, cafés and ho­tels that this re­mark­able city has to of­fer.

Think of Cam­bridge and you think of the univer­sity, and no won­der: founded in 1209, it is one of the world’s old­est and most pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions, with alumni in­clud­ing Sir Isaac New­ton, Charles Dar­win, Stephen Hawk­ing, and David At­ten­bor­ough. If you’re search­ing for a sam­ple of the aca­demic in­tel­lect that Cam­bridge ex­udes, then there’s plenty of op­por­tu­nity to in­dulge with guided tours of King’s Col­lege, Hid­den Cam­bridge and the Parker Li­brary at Cor­pus Christi Col­lege. Visit the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge’s Fitzwillia­m Mu­seum and ex­plore its five de­part­ments, which house an­tiq­ui­ties from across his­tory and the globe. Founded in 1816, this trea­sure trove of fas­ci­nat­ing arte­facts, im­pres­sive ar­chi­tec­ture and modern art stands up to vis­its time and time again. Some­thing of a hid­den gem, the mu­seum is lo­cated just a ten-minute walk along Trump­ing­ton Road from King’s Col­lege. 2019 prom­ises a ground-break­ing graphic art ex­hi­bi­tion show­cas­ing the work of 19th-cen­tury il­lus­tra­tors and graphic de­sign­ers the Beg­garstaffs, along­side its per­ma­nent ex­hibits.

A visit to Cam­bridge is not com­plete with­out a punt along the river Cam. Pass un­der the Bridge of Sighs and ex­plore the gar­dens and col­leges, af­fec­tion­ately known as ‘the Backs’; icons of Bri­tish ar­chi­tec­ture that only this city can of­fer.

Where to stay

Lo­cated in the his­toric heart of Cam­bridge, on the out­skirts of Parker’s Piece, 25 acres of lus­cious park­land, The Gonville Ho­tel com­bines so­phis­ti­cated in­te­rior de­sign with an ex­cep­tional guest ex­pe­ri­ence. Built in

1830 as a Se­nior Fel­lows house for Gonville & Caius Col­lege, the build­ing was trans­formed into a guest house in 1845 and, in 1962, the ho­tel was taken on by the cur­rent chair­man’s grand­fa­ther, Harold Rid­geon, who started a legacy that con­tin­ues to­day.

The ho­tel has been sig­nif­i­cantly in­vested in and ex­panded over the years, and its strong fam­ily ethos en­sures a wel­com­ing, com­fort­able stay. With plush king-size beds, sump­tu­ous bath­rooms stock­ing Bri­tish-pro­duced lux­ury toi­letries, and the award-win­ning on-site spa, the Gre­sham Well­ness Cen­tre, re­lax­ation re­mains at the heart of The Gonville.

The ho­tel cel­e­brates its her­itage with large-scale Cam­bridge scenes taste­fully repli­cated onto the bath­room tiles, along with spe­cially com­mis­sioned art­work and maps adorn­ing the walls. For an ex­tra-spe­cial stay, the pre­mium Fea­ture rooms have stun­ning four-poster beds, roll-top baths, and gar­den ac­cess through el­e­gant French doors.

Af­ter dark, head to The Atrium bar, with its ex­ten­sive cock­tail menu and spe­cial­ist se­lec­tion of lo­cally pro­duced gins. Host­ing live jazz per­for­mances ev­ery Fri­day and Sat­ur­day night, it’s the per­fect place to start a so­phis­ti­cated evening in Cam­bridge.

Prices for dou­ble rooms start at £143 per night; visit gonville­ho­tel.co.uk or call 01223 366611.

For a more bud­get-friendly op­tion, go slightly away from the main city for a self-cater­ing stay at The Old Chapel in Ful­bourn. The quaint twobed­room cot­tage has been beau­ti­fully con­verted from an 1855 Bap­tist chapel. Its large gar­den gives you a flavour of the beau­ti­ful lo­cal coun­try­side, and its ac­ces­si­ble lo­ca­tion makes the chapel a great hub for ex­plor­ing ev­ery­thing the city has to of­fer. From £79 a night, old­chapel­ful­bourn.co.uk. ➤

Where to eat

Opened in 1834, Parker’s Tav­ern, set on the edge of Parker’s Piece park, quickly be­came a pop­u­lar stop­ping point for vis­i­tors and lo­cals alike. It is this rich her­itage that the re­cent re­launch seeks to cel­e­brate. The buzzing, friendly at­mos­phere be­gins at the bar, and con­tin­ues through into the restau­rant. With in­te­ri­ors de­signed by Martin Brud­nizki, Parker’s Tav­ern unites the old with the new, pay­ing homage to the city’s univer­sity her­itage through the blue pan­elled walls and li­brary-style lamps. A quintessen­tially Bri­tish menu, de­vised by head chef Tris­tan Welch, of­fers a real taste of Cam­bridge, with her­itage-in­spired cook­ing and lo­cal in­gre­di­ents tak­ing cen­tre stage. Welch al­lows ‘Mother Na­ture to set the tone’, re­sult­ing in a sea­sonal and di­verse menu that, in win­ter, her­alds freshly caught fish and homely game pies with a warm­ing rice pud­ding souf­flé and Cam­bridge burnt cream. De­scribed as the city’s an­swer to crème brûlée, it is a de­li­cious in­car­na­tion of the clas­sic dessert, achiev­ing a per­fect bal­ance of rich cus­tard and caramelise­d sugar. A def­i­nite must on a visit to Cam­bridge. Book on­line at park­er­stav­ern.com or call 01223 606266. Fin­ish the night with a night­cap at one of the old­est pubs in Cam­bridge. Opened in 1525, The Ea­gle on Bene’t Street has earned its place in his­tory. The walls and ceil­ings of ‘the RAF bar’ are cov­ered with the sig­na­tures of Bri­tish and Amer­i­can World War II air­men, who were de­ter­mined to leave their mark.

Where to shop

Oxbow & Peach started from the founders’ per­sonal pas­sions of us­ing vin­tage items to make their houses more homely. Lo­cated a few miles out­side of Cam­bridge, its pop-up shop is the ideal stop for dis­cov­er­ing a vin­tage gem to take back home with you. For de­tails of open­ing dates and times visit oxbowand­peach.co.uk.

With stalls sell­ing ev­ery­thing from hand­crafted jew­ellery to leather wares, All Saints Gar­den

Art and Craft Mar­ket is not to be missed. You’re guar­an­teed to find beau­ti­fully be­spoke hand­made gifts. See all­saints­mar­ket-cam­bridge.org.uk.

Lo­cated in Gwydir Street’s im­pres­sive Dales Brew­ery build­ing, Cambs An­tique Cen­tre spe­cialises in an­tique fur­ni­ture and stu­dio pottery. Visit camb­san­tiques.com to see a sam­ple of its stock, although this barely com­pares with the wealth of treasures wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered in store.

Where to visit AN­GLE­SEY Abbey

Just over six miles from the heart of Cam­bridge lies the his­toric An­gle­sey Abbey. This Ja­cobeanstyl­e manor house and its 114 acres of gar­dens are a sight to be­hold all year round. We caught up with vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence man­ager Janet Jeph­cott.

What’s the his­tory of the Abbey?

De­spite its name, the pri­ory was never an abbey. Ini­tially founded as a hos­pi­tal in 1136 in mem­ory of Henry I, who died in 1135, An­gle­sey Abbey was con­verted into an Au­gus­tinian Pri­ory in the 13th cen­tury and con­tin­ued as such un­til the dissolutio­n of the monas­ter­ies in 1536 by Henry VIII. The pri­ory’s ru­ins then formed the core of the cur­rent house, which was built in the early 17th cen­tury. The es­tate was bought by the multi-mil­lion­aire grand­son of one of Amer­ica’s first oil pi­o­neers, Lord Fairhaven, in 1926 as a base from which he could over­see the fam­ily’s stud at Great Bar­ton. Lord Fairhaven ex­ten­sively re­mod­elled the prop­erty to cre­ate the lux­u­ri­ous coun­try house we see to­day, and turned it into a fit­ting home for his ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of art­works.

How is the house pre­sented to­day?

To­day the prop­erty is un­der the care of the Na­tional Trust, be­queathed to them on the death of Lord Fairhaven in 1966. True to his wishes, the house to­day is pre­sented just as it was at the time of his death. His­tor­i­cal reen­ac­tors con­tinue to un­der­take the same daily tasks in the same pre­cise man­ner as was de­manded by Lord Fairhaven in both the house and gar­dens. Through­out sum­mer 2019, we will be un­cov­er­ing the un­told sto­ries of An­gle­sey Abbey from the 800 years since it started life as a pri­ory. Ad­mis­sion: Na­tional Trust mem­bers free, adults £15.80, chil­dren £7.90 (in­cludes ad­mis­sion to house and gar­dens). Tel; 01223 810080; na­tion­al­trust.org.uk/an­gle­sey-abbey

CAM­BRIDGE Univer­sity BOTANIC Gar­den

With over 8,000 plant species, spread across 40 acres, this her­itage-listed gar­den has been de­signed for year-round in­ter­est and is a spec­ta­cle to be­hold. 2019 also marks the 40th an­niver­sary of the

Win­ter Gar­den. Head gar­dener Pete Ker­ley shares some of his 40 years of wis­dom and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Tell us about the Win­ter Gar­den.

When Pe­ter Or­riss and Nor­man Vil­lis be­gan plant­ing the Win­ter Gar­den in 1978, it was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary idea. We’ve al­ways tried to be at the fore­front of win­ter in­ter­est and the gar­den is con­stantly chang­ing. Opt­ing for trees with bright barks like the Prunus ser­rula, or Ti­betan cherry, pro­vides colour, while a var­ie­gated holly arch is just one el­e­ment that pro­vides struc­ture to the gar­den.

To cre­ate a mystical feel, we’ve worked with the win­ter sun to cre­ate ac­cents of colour and light. We’ve planted Rubus phoeni­co­la­sius, Ja­panese wineberry, on the north side of the path as, when the sun hits it, all the thorns be­come il­lu­mi­nated into a fab­u­lous dis­play. Of all the plants in the Win­ter Gar­den, my favourite is the Daphne bholua ‘Jacque­line pos­till’. We’ve planted them near the path so they per­fume the air on en­trance to the gar­den. It’s a mag­nif­i­cent scent – you could sit un­der­neath it all day and just breathe in the smell.

What ad­vice can you of­fer on how to repli­cate the Win­ter Gar­den at home?

Think about plac­ing as well as colour – dog­wood ‘Midwinter Fire’ be­comes flu­o­res­cent if it catches the win­ter sun. Be­go­nias are an ex­cel­lent plant to pro­vide a great struc­ture through the win­ter while also bloom­ing stun­ning pink flow­ers in the spring. Ad­mis­sion: adults £6, chil­dren free.

Tel: 01223 336265; botanic.cam.ac.uk

Op­po­site: Punt down the river Cam and ad­mire the serene col­lege gar­densAbove: Cam­bridge univer­sity was founded in 1209 and is made up of 31 col­legesLeft: Over eight mil­lion books are housed in the univer­sity li­brary

Clock­wise fromabove left: The Gonville Ho­tel is per­fect for a re­lax­ing night away; his­toric ar­chi­tec­ture is a sta­ple of the Cam­bridge street; The Old Chapel of­fers a beau­ti­ful mix of coun­try and city life

Above: Parker’s Tav­ern is known for its de­li­cious sea­sonal menu Left: The Ea­gle was a haunt of sci­en­tists Wat­son and Crick, and it was here that they an­nounced their dis­cov­ery of the struc­ture of DNA for the first time Clock­wise from right: Oxbow & Peach op­er­ates on a ‘pop-up’ ba­sis, open for a few days ev­ery few weeks; with 40 years’ her­itage, All Saints Gar­den, Art and Craft Mar­ket is open ev­ery Sat­ur­day; Cambs An­tique Cen­tre of­fers stu­dio pottery, light­ing and an­tique fur­ni­ture

Above: Cam­bridge Univer­sity Botanic Gar­den is one of the largest uni­ver­si­ty­owned botanic gar­dens in the worldBe­low: the beau­ti­ful ex­te­rior of An­gle­sey Abbey re­tains its tra­di­tional glory

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