Published: 09/01/2024Cambridgeshire, is a region that blends history with beauty. As you wander through its charming towns and picturesque landscapes, you will encounter architectural wonders that reflect the area's diverse history and the vibrant energy of the present. Let's explore some of the most intriguing and unique buildings and architectural features that make Cambridgeshire a captivating destination – one that we are proud to call home. Grab a cuppa and see how many you have visited; you might need to add a few to your personal bucket list of must-see places…
The Mathematical Bridge
Our architectural adventure begins in the iconic city of Cambridge, where the Mathematical Bridge stands as a testament to engineering brilliance. As you stroll along the River Cam (or take a trip on a traditional punt), this wooden marvel connects Queen's College with the stunningly beautiful Wren Library. Contrary to its name, the bridge's design doesn't involve complex mathematical equations – it's all about good old-fashioned trigonometry and clever woodworking.
Constructed in 1749, the Mathematical Bridge boasts a distinctive intertwined design of timbers, creating a picturesque arched pattern. As you gaze upon this masterpiece, you can't help but appreciate the craftsmanship that went into its creation. Rumour has it (and don’t quote us on this) that students take pride in the myth that the bridge can be dismantled and reassembled without using any nails – a story that adds a touch of awe to this already fascinating structure.
Venturing beyond Cambridge, the city of Ely welcomes you with its stunning cathedral that seems to rise majestically from the flat expanse of the Fens. Ely Cathedral, also known as the Ship of the Fens, is a mesmerising blend of architectural styles spanning from Norman to Gothic. The cathedral's intricate carvings and soaring towers are a testament to the skilled craftsmen who dedicated decades to its construction (it was undoubtedly a labour of love!).
The breathtaking octagonal lantern, visible for miles around, bathes the interior in light. As you explore the cathedral's nooks and crannies, you will discover medieval stained glass, ornate chapels, and the fascinating Lady Chapel: a serene sanctuary with a captivating history. If you are visiting the Fens in 2024, this is one place you must visit.
The Round Church
Returning to Cambridge, the Round Church, officially named the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, invites you to step back in time. Dating back to the 12th century, this circular church is one of only four round churches remaining in England. Its unique design was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and its distinctive shape symbolises the circular nature of the world.
As you enter this beautiful building, you are greeted by medieval arches and a tranquil atmosphere that transports you to a bygone era. The Round Church stands as a quiet oasis amidst the bustling city; it offers a serene haven to escape for reflection…something we all need occasionally.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Nestled in the heart of Cambridge, the Fitzwilliam Museum is a cultural gem that oozes architectural splendour. Built in the 19th century and expanded over the years, the Fitzwilliam Museum houses an extensive collection of art and artefacts spanning centuries and continents.
The museum's architecture serves as a canvas for the impressive mix of exhibits it houses, creating a blend of aesthetics and historical significance.Inside, you'll find galleries packed full of ornate mouldings and intricate details that add to the visual experience. The Great Staircase, an architectural masterpiece in itself, leads visitors through a journey of ancient artefacts, Renaissance masterpieces and modern works. The Fitzwilliam Museum showcases the diversity of human creativity within a stunning architectural backdrop.
St. John's College Chapel
While many college chapels in Cambridge boast impressive architecture, St. John's College Chapel stands out as a true masterpiece. As you approach the chapel, the soaring spire and carvings draw you in…and take your breath away!
Built in the 16th century, the chapel's Gothic architecture is a testament to the skill and vision of its creators. The fan-vaulted ceiling inside is a marvel of medieval craftsmanship, and the stunning stained-glass windows tell stories of faith and history. Whether you're attending a service or simply marvelling at the architectural details, St. John's College Chapel is a must-visit for anyone seeking a memorable experience in the heart of Cambridge.
For those with a passion for outdoor exploration, Wandlebury Ring offers a unique blend of natural beauty and ancient history. This Iron Age hillfort, situated on a chalk hill just south of Cambridge, is surrounded by circular earthworks that date back over 2,000 years. As you wander through the meadows surrounding Wandlebury Ring, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the Cambridgeshire countryside. The simplicity and longevity of the earthworks create a connection with the distant past, reminding visitors of the relationship between humanity and the landscape.
Whether you're interested in history, nature, or a bit of both, Wandlebury Ring provides a serene escape just a stone's throw from the bustling city.
The Guildhall, Cambridge
Tucked away in the heart of Cambridge, the Guildhall stands as a testament to architectural beauty. Built in the 1930s, this imposing structure blends medieval and Tudor architectural elements, creating a visually striking building in the city centre.
The wow factor of the Guildhall is not limited to its exterior, though; the interior boasts a stunning main hall adorned with wooden panelling and stained-glass windows. The civic chambers, where important decisions are made, are full of tradition and architecture. As you explore, you will find a perfect mix of historic charm and modern functionality.
Our architectural journey concludes in Peterborough, where the awe-inspiring Peterborough Cathedral commands attention with its Gothic grandeur. This magnificent structure, dating back to the 12th century, boasts a jaw-dropping West Front adorned with intricate sculptures and a stunning wooden ceiling. As you wander through the cathedral, you will encounter the breathtaking fan vaulting of the New Building and the serene atmosphere of the Lady Chapel.
The cathedral's rich history, including the burial place of Catherine of Aragon, adds a layer of intrigue to its architectural beauty.
Which is Your Favourite?
Whatever your taste, each architectural delight discussed in our blog adds another layer to the rich history of this beautiful and culturally diverse region. So, whether you're a local or a visitor, Cambridgeshire invites you to uncover the hidden stories etched in its buildings and landscapes.