And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
This typically British hymn is built on the premise that Christ visited England during his adolescence. And it was used in one of my favorite movies, “Chariots of Fire” which derived its title from the second stanza.
Well, the connection here is that one of the featured runners in “Chariots of Fire” is Harold Abrahams, a student at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University.
While I certainly cannot claim to have seen all the places in England that I want to see, I have seen quite a few places. In addition to London, I have visited Bath, seen Stonehenge, seen Salisbury Cathedral. I have been to Blenheim Palace (where Winston Churchill was born, in what is really his ancestral home); I have visited Coventry and seen Coventry Cathedral. I have visited Stratford-on-Avon, twice. And I have visited Oxford University.
But I had never seen that other fabled English university, Cambridge. So, one of the places we visited during our recent trip was Cambridge. The day we traveled there was a cold and rainy day, and at first I thought that might ruin the visit. Not so. The various colleges at Cambridge were mostly deserted, so close to Christmas, and there certainly were very few tourists there. So, unlike Oxford which we had visited in the middle of summer while it was crawling with tourists, Cambridge was a lovely enchanting place.
Other colleges had lovely quads, and interior lush lawns. St. Johns’ College has a replica of the Bridge of Sighs, in Venice.
Cambridge has many famous alums, including: Charles Darwin; John Milton; Jan Smuts; Sacha Baron-Cohen; Jane Goodall; John Cleese*; Graham Chapman*; David Frost; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Alan Turing; Emma Thompson; William Wordsworth; Isaac Newton; Germaine Greer*; Sylvia Plath; CS Lewis.
What a lovely day we had.
Note 1: all photos here are from our day in Cambridge.
Note 2 *: on the off chance you missed the significance of these particular alum, Cambridge is where MONTY PYTHON got its start! Yes, Germaine Greer was one of those involved in the earliest comedy of the gang that eventually became Monty Python.