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East of England
The Round Church, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Cambridge is one of only four round churches in Britain. Influenced by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Cambridge's round church was built in c1130 and is heavily Norman in style - though has been added to and restored at various times - particularly in the later medieval and Victorian periods. It hasn't been used as a parish church since 1994 and is now a study and visitor centre, with an exhibition about the story of Cambridge. The interior architecture of the round church is lovely - and there are some striking stained glass windows.
Great St Mary's (aka 'GSM') is a parish church and the University Church, the first home of the University in 1209. The present building dates from the 15th century. The Protestant reformer, Martin Bucer (1491-1551), preached here, was burnt nearby, and his ashes are interred in the church. Queen Elizabeth I visited the church and Stephen Hawking had his funeral service here. It is famous for its bells, which date from 1515, and its clock, installed in 1793. For a fee, visitors can climb the tower for fabulous views over the city. The picture is the view to the north, showing Gonville and Caius College in the foreground.
Christ's College was first established as God's House in 1437 by William Byngham, a London parish priest, for training grammar school masters. However, its site was needed for King’s College, so it had to move to its present location in 1448. Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, decided to enlarge God's House and in 1505 the College was re-founded as Christ's College. Lady Margaret has been honoured ever since as the Foundress. You can spot her coat of arms on the gatehouse and as pictured. Christ's became one of the leading Puritan colleges of Elizabethan Cambridge. In 1625 it admitted the young John Milton. The Garden still boasts what is known as 'Milton's Mulberry Tree'. Charles Darwin is another famous old boy. Further noted alumni include JH Plumb, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Simon Schama, Roy Porter, Colin Dexter, CP Snow, Rowan Williams and Sacha Baron Cohen.
IWM Duxford is a historic RAF airfield also used by the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War. It houses the Imperial War Museum's huge collection of historic aircraft and other large vehicles like tanks. Permanent exhibitions include the American Air Museum, Battle of Britain, Land Warfare and Historic Duxford (many of the buildings are original). You can get up close and personal with some of the most famous aircraft ever, including the Spitfire, Lancaster, Concorde and Vulcan. It's probably the best aviation collection and museum in the country, and enormous, so allow enough time. Air Shows are a regular feature and Duxford is also home to the Airborne Assault and Royal Anglian Museums.
The Cambridge American Cemetery commemorates almost 9,000 Americans who died while based in the UK, or travelling here, during the Second World War. It is the only World War II American military cemetery in the United Kingdom. The site was established as a temporary military burial ground in 1943, on land donated by the University of Cambridge, and has been granted free use in perpetuity by HM Government. It was dedicated in 1956, covers 30.5 acres and lies on a gentle slope overlooking farmland. Simple, white marble, headstones – mostly crosses – mark the resting place of 3,811 of America’s war dead - the missing are listed on large panels. There is a fascinating, and moving, visitor centre as well as an impressive memorial building.
The royal founders of Queen’s College were Margaret of Anjou (1430 – 1482) in 1448 and Elizabeth Woodville (c1437 – 1492) in 1465. Margaret was the wife of King Henry VI and Elizabeth was the wife of King Edward IV. The has also enjoyed the patronage of three further queens - Anne Neville (1456 – 1485), who was married to King Richard III, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900 – 2002), the late Queen Mother and HM Queen Elizabeth II. Queens’ College Cambridge is the only Oxbridge college to have the Queen as Patroness. Particular features of the College include the 15th century Old Court, Hall and Cloister. Walnut Tree Court is located on the site of a 13th century Carmelite Monastery. The Wooden Bridge – wrongly called ‘the Mathematical Bridge’ – dates from 1749, though the current version was completed in 1905. Famous alumni include Bishop John Fisher, Stephen Fry, Richard Dearlove and Emily Maitlis.
Ely Cathedral was founded by Queen Etheldreda in the 7th century on the site of an earlier church. Sacked by the Danes, it was re-founded by Benedictine monks in the 10th century. The present, magnificent yet serene, cathedral dates from 11th century, was heavily refurbished in the 19th century and is partly surrounded by parkland. Do not miss the amazing octagon tower, the ceilings and the Lady Chapel.
Hero or villain, Oliver Cromwell was one of those people who make a brief appearance on history’s stage and leave their mark. So his house has got to be worth a visit. Cromwell inherited the lease from a rich uncle, moved there with his family in 1636 and they stayed for 10 years - though Cromwell himself would have been away for much of that time. It stands opposite a small green, next to St Mary’s Church. It has been a pub, vicarage and at time of writing is Ely’s Tourist Information Centre. A tour of the house includes the fascinating kitchen and Cromwell's study.
And - it is meant to be haunted...wooooo!
Preserved cold war bunker designed to help continue some semblance of government following nuclear attack. Also known as 'the secret nuclear bunker'. Not recommended.
Known as 'Greensted Log Church', or simply, 'Log Church', this is reputedly the oldest surviving wooden church in the world, constructed c1060 using split oak logs. It is believed that an earlier church stood on the same site. The church is also famous as a resting place for the body of St Edmund, on its way from London to be finally interred in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in 1013.
When visiting, bear in mind this is not just a historic building of considerable interest, but also a fully functioning place of worship.