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The second oldest college with beautiful gardens and bridge over the Cam

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Clare Bridge
Old Courts
Fellows Garden
Founded in 1326, Clare College is the second oldest in Cambridge.  Its famous gardens back onto the Cam, making trips for summer punters beautiful. The gardens were redesigned in 1947 after the devastating war years.  Many of the original features remain though, such as the yew trees, the chestnuts and a beautiful Swamp Cypress.

Clare College, Established 1326
Source WikiMedia (PD)

The front of the Old Court

Clare Old Court, built between 1638 and 1715
Its bridge over the river is also somewhat famous – for the wedge of stone missing from one of the 14 stone balls decorating it. Various myths and legends have sprung up about the missing stone –one being, that the original builder wasn't’t paid in full and so removed the segment to balance the difference.  The most likely, and somewhat dull explanation however, is that it fell out during repair to the stone ball, and is still lying at the bottom of the riverbed. This bridge is the oldest of Cambridge’s existing bridges.

Clare Bridge, the oldest surviving river bridge in Cambridge

The ball with the missing wedge on the bridge, said to represent the anger of the designer for being poorly paid
Another striking feature of the College is the Chapel, which was built in 1763-9 and designed by Sir James Burrough, Master of fellow Cambridge College, Caius. Whilst it often falls into the shadow of the neighbouring King's College Chapel, the quieter, less visited Clare Chapel remains a fine example of mid 18th Century architecture.

Clare Chapel, built in 1763-9 and is a fine example of mid 18th Century architecture

Clare Dining Hall
Photo © Lezan (CC)

Did You Know?

It is claimed that Clare College was so poorly funded that when first established, it only owned 2 chairs! one for the Master and one for visitors.

Part of the Fellows Garden, redesigned in 1947
A visit to Clare College is well worth it and provides an insight into much of Cambridge life- from the decedent gothic décor, to the religious piety of medieval Britain, from the hustle and bustle of central Cambridge to the tranquility of the banks of the river Cam.
Visitor Information
Clare College is open to visitors daily, April to October, 10.45am to 4.30pm. Entrance is FREE. Tel: 01223 333 200

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