[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013

CAMBRIDGE, comprises the parishes of All Saints, Holy Sepulchre, Holy Trinity, St. Andrew the Great, St. Andrew the Less, St. Benedict, St. Botolph, St. Clement, St. Edward, St. Giles, St. Mary the Great, St. Mary the Less, St. Michael, and St. Peter, it is the county town of Cambridgeshire, seat of a university, municipal and parliamentary borough, and market town, forming a hundred of itself. It is 51 miles to the north-north-east of London, or 57½ miles by the Great Eastern railway, on which it is a chief station. A branch line from Hitchen, on the Great Northern railway, joins the Great Eastern line here. The town is connected by other branch lines with St. Ives and Huntingdon to the north-west, and with Newmarket, Bury St. Edmund's, and Ipswich to the east The East Angliae, meeting the Great Eastern railway at Ely, connects Cambridge with Lynn Regis; and a branch line from Ely connects it, through March, with Peterborough.

Cambridge is a very ancient town, and is seated in a level country, on the banks of the river Cam, anciently called the Granta, a branch of the Ouse. It was the site of a Roman station, most probably that named Camboricum, on the Via Devana. Traces of old entrenchments exist in the northern part of the town. The Saxon name which appears in Domesday Book is Grantebrige, or Granta-bridge. At that time the town contained 373 messuages. The river is still called the Granta above Cambridge. In 871 the town was burned by the Danes, who had a station on its site for about 30 years. It was again burnt by them in 1010. Within one or two years after the Conquest, while the Isle of Ely was held by the Saxon nobles and prelates, a castle was founded here by the Conqueror. The town and county were laid waste in 1088 during the dissensions relating to the cause of Robert (surnamed Curthose) Duke of Normandy. In 1207 King John granted the town a charter, authorising it to choose a provost or mayor, During the wars of the barons the town fell alternately into the possession of each party, and suffered much from both. It was taken by the barons in 1215, and the following year was held by the king, who was there in September, about a month before he died. The barons speedily recovered possession, and held a conference here with Louis the Dauphin. During the reign of Henry III. the town was several times attacked, and once pillaged, by the inhabitants of the Isle of Ely. There were numerous dissensions between the townsmen and the university during the 13th and 14th centuries, the first grave one occurring in 1249. The jealousy of the townsmen at the privileges and pre-eminence of the university occasioned a rising in 1381, when they burnt the charters and records of the university; in consequence of which, the king (Richard IL) deprived the burgesses for a time of their charter, and withdrew from them their privileges. In 1388 Richard II. held a parliament here. Cambridge was occupied by the Duke of Northumberland after the death of Edward VI. He was then Chancellor of the University, and after failing in his attempt to capture the Princess Mary, and secure the throne for Lady Jane Grey, he proclaimed Mary queen, but was immediately after arrested as a traitor. During the civil war in the reign of Charles I., Cambridge was garrisoned by Cromwell (1643), and held for the parliament. Cromwell had previously twice represented the borough in parliament. From the flatness of its situation the town presents no picturesque features, but is seen to advantage from a distance. Visible on all sides are the tower of Great St. Mary's church, the lofty spire of Trinity church, and King's College chapel; and, internally, the buildings and grounds of the various colleges form the real attraction and beauty of the place. These extend along both banks of the Cam, encompassing the town on the west and north The two leading lines of street are Trumpington-street and Bridge-street, with its continuation through Sidney to Regent-street. These streets run nearly parallel with the river, and meet not far from the principal bridge. The town is above a mile in length from north to south, a small part of it lying on the north-west side of the river. Most of the streets are narrow, and the houses irregularly built, nevertheless there are many good hotels and shops of every description. Many improvements have been made during the last 30 years. The streets are paved and lighted with gas, and there is a good system of drainage. Near the centre of the town is the spacious market-place, now one of the best in the country, in which stands the guildhall, erected in 1747, and partly rebuilt in 1782. Here, too, is the old conduit, founded in 1614, by the renowned carrier, Thomas Hobson, by which a good supply of water is furnished from a distant spring. He likewise founded the spinning-house, and his tomb may be seen in St. Benet's church. On his death, in 1630, Milton wrote his epitaph on the Universities' carrier, "who died for heaviness that his cart went light." The household saying of "Hobson's choice," interpreted "that or none," originated from Hobson's rule to let the horses in his livery-stable in successive, order without deviation. His stable is at the present day of great note. The borough gaol is a large octagonal building, with castellated front and gateway. It was erected in 1829, and has 50 solitary cells. The county gaol is near Castle Hill, at the north end of the town. In the same quarter is the handsome building for the county assizes court. The Fitzwilliam Museum is in Trumpington-street; but this, with the colleges and other buildings connected with the university, will be described in the following article. The Cam is crossed by many bridges, the principal public one being the iron bridge, of one arch, connecting Bridge-street with Ely-road. The river is navigable up to Cambridge, and there is a good carrying trade in corn, coals, timber, and other goods with the port of Lynn. There is a large trade in corn, butter, cheese, bacon, &c., for the supply of the university and the London markets. A peculiar custom prevails here of making up butter in pounds, each a yard in length. There are iron and brass foundries, brick and tile works, a tobacco manufactory, breweries, maltings, and several extensive flour-mills. Cambridge is a borough by prescription. Charters and privileges were conferred on the townsmen by Henry I., John, Henry III., and other kings. The borough, first incorporated by Henry I., is now divided into five wards, and the government is invested in a mayor, 10 aldermen, and 30 councillors, with the style of the "mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses of the borough of Cambridge." It has returned two members to parliament regularly since the reign of Edward I. The limits of the borough remain unchanged by the Reform Act. The mayor is the returning officer. The revenue of the borough is about £6,500 per annum, and its population, according to the census of 1861, 26,351, against 27,815 in 1861, showing a decrease in the decennial period, of 1,464, while the number of inhabited houses has increased from 5,194 to 5,411. The assizes and quarter sessions are held, and the county elections take place, in the town. Cambridge constitutes of itself a Poor-law Union, and is the head of County Court and excise districts. Two newspapers, called the Cambridge Independent and Cambridge Chronicle, are published weekly. Cambridge gives the title of duke to George, prince of the blood-royal. The town is divided into 14 parishes, all in the diocese of Ely. The living of All Saints is a vicarage, value £130, in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Jesus College. The church, a neat stone edifice, with square embattled tower, stands in St. John's-lane, near Trinity and St. John's Colleges, and has a monument, by Chantrey, to the poet, Henry Kirke White, who died in St. John's College, and was buried in this church. The living of St. Andrew the Great is a vicarage, worth £120, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Ely. The church, a handsome modern structure, is situated in St. Andrew-street, opposite Christ's College. It was partly rebuilt by Christopher Rose in 1643, and again rebuilt about 1845; it contains a cenotaph to Captain Cook and his three sons, and the grave of his widow, who died in 1835. The register dates from 1564. St. Andrew the Less is a perpetual curacy, worth £48, in the gift of the trustees of the Rev. C. Perry. The church, which stands in the Newmarket-road, is a small structure, erected probably out of the ruins of the priory of Barnwell. Another church was built in Barnwell about the year 1830, dedicated to St. Paul, the living of which is a curacy, worth £120, also in the gift of Perry's Trustees. The population of this suburb has vastly increased of late years, from 420 in 1811, to 9,000 in 1851. The living of St. Bene't (or Benedict) is a perpetual curacy, value £151, in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College. The church, which stands near that college, has an old Saxon tower, containing six bells, and a monumental brass of 1442. It has recently been enlarged and repaired. The register dates from 1539. The living of St. Botolph is a rectory, value £122, in the patronage of the President and Fellows of Queen's College. The church stands in Trumpington-street, south of Corpus Christi College. It contains several old monuments, and was thoroughly repaired a few years ago. Over the communion table is a fine painting of the Crucifixion. St. Clement's is a vicarage, value £56, in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Jesus College. The church, which stands in Bridge-street, contains a monument to John de Helsyngham, Mayor of Cambridge, who died in 1329, on an octagonal font. The register dates from 1567. In 1821 a handsome tower and steeple were added by Granado Pigott, from the bequest of Mr. Cole, inscribed with his motto, "Deum cole; " and in 1855 the church was restored by public subscription, and a new organ built. St. Edward's is a perpetual curacy, value £66, in the gift of the Master and Fellows of Trinity Hall. The church, situated in Union street, is built of stone, in the early English style, and contains a fine font, several monuments, and an altar-piece of Christ and the two disciples at Emmaus. Bishop Latimer preached here. The register chest contains documents as early as 1527. The living of St. Giles is a vicarage, value with the perpetual curacy of St. Peter's united, £170, in the patronage of the Bishop of Ely. The two churches are in Castle-street, nearly opposite each other. St. Giles's, a very old building, but recently restored, contains a monument to Nicholas Carre, professor of Greek, who died in 1569. St. Peter's, which his a Norman entrance, has been long disused. It is only 29 feet long by 16 wide. The living of St. Mary the Great is a perpetual curacy, value £104, in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College. This fine church, usually called the University Church, stands in the centre of the town; its western front forming one side of a square, the other sides of which are formed by King's College Chapel, the University Library, and the Senate House. It was rebuilt between the years 1478 and 1519, and is a spacious structure, in the perpendicular style of architecture, with a lofty and well proportioned tower surmounted by octangular turrets, and forming a conspicuous object for many miles round. The tower, which contains a peal of twelve bells, was not erected till 1608. The interior of the church is light and beautiful, being 120 feet in length by 68 broad; it contains a fine organ, font, and register chest, with documents as early as 1535. The chancel has been recently restored. Queen Elizabeth was present at some disputations held in this church in 1564. The university sermons are still preached here, and there is a gallery at the east end for the accommodation of the vice-chancellor, heads of colleges, noblemen, and doctors. Side-galleries were provided for the masters of arts and undergraduates, by a bequest of William Worts in 1709. There are two side chapels and several monuments. The remains of Martin Bucer, the reformer, were interred here, but were dug up in the reign of Queen Mary, and burnt with those of Fagius. The tomb was afterwards restored. This church is the point from which distances are measured. The living of St. Mary the Less is a perpetual curacy, value £95, in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of St. Peter's College. The church, on the north side of Peter House, in Trumpington-street, was erected in 1327, on the site of an older church, dedicated to St. Peter, and is in the perpendicular style. The east window is exquisitely enriched with tracery, and filled with ancient stained glass. It was used as a chapel to St. Peter's College until 1632. It contains a Norman font, and a register dating from 1558. The living of St. Michael is a perpetual curacy, value £95, in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College. The church, situated in Trinity-street, opposite Caius College, was the burial-place of Fagius, and as such was laid under an interdict in 1556. After the burning of the remains of Bucer and Fagius at the Market Cross, the church was reconsecrated. In the church are a portrait of Charles I., with a Latin inscription, and the tomb of Dr. Conyers Middleton, principal librarian to the university, who died in 1750. This church was partly burnt down in 1849. The register chest contains documents dating from 1516. St. Sepulchre's is a vicarage, value £123, in the gift of the parishioners. The church, which stands in Bridge-street, is a circular structure, erected in the reign of Henry I. in imitation of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. It was founded by the Knights Templars, and is said to be the most ancient of four similar churches still remaining in this country. It is 41 feet in diameter, and has a peristyle of eight very massive pillars, from which spring circular arches with zigzag mouldings. The whole was carefully restored in 1843, under the direction of the Camden Society. It has a handsome painted window over the altar, representing the Crucifixion. The living of Holy Trinity is a perpetual curacy, value £96, in the patronage of the Bishop of Ely. The church, situated at the south end of Sidney-street, is a handsome cruciform edifice, in the Gothic style of architecture, with a western tower, surmounted by four turrets with pinnacles, and a good spire. It was probably erected about the time of Henry VI. on the site of a much older church, and was repaired a few years ago. It has several handsome windows of stained glass, a fine-toned organ, and register chest containing documents from 1566. Among the numerous monuments is an altar-tomb to Sir Robert Tabor, the first physician who administered bark in fever cases. He died in 1681. Here is also a monument to the young missionary, Henry Martyn, who died in the East in 1812. The curacy of Holy Trinity parish was held by the Rev. Charles Simeon. There are in Cambridge three chapels belonging to the Baptists, two to the Wesleyans, two to the Primitive Methodists, one to the Independents, one to the Roman Catholics, and one to the Society of Friends, which last is also used as a free library. There are several endowed free schools. The grammar school, founded in 1615 by Dr. Perse, senior fellow of Caius College, has an income from endowment of £450 per annum, and was rebuilt in 1842. It is for 100 scholars, and the parishes of Chesterton, Barnwell, and Trumpington share its advantages. The charity schools founded by William Whiston in 1703, and afterwards endowed by William Worts, have a revenue of about £60 per annum, and were long ago united with the National schools, founded in 1808. There are also British, industrial, infant, and ragged schools. A free library was founded in 1855, and a working men's college and reading-room have been more recently established. The lending library was opened in April, 1858, and received a munificent donation of books from the late lamented Prince Consort. The library is open daily from 12 to 4, and from 6 to 10 in the evening. A museum is attached to the library. Among the numerous charitable institutions of the town, the principal is the general hospital, usually called from its founder, Addenbrooke's Hospital. It was founded by Dr. John Addenbrooke, and was opened for patients in 1766. Its governors are the chancellor, vice-chancellor, and two representatives of the university, the Bishop of Ely, the lord-lieutenant of the county, and several other official persons. The building, a handsome structure, faced with Roman cement, stands at the south end of Trumpington-street. It was greatly enlarged after 1813, when John Botell bequeathed £7,000 for that purpose, and it is capable of accommodating 100 patients. Certificates of attendance on the lectures and practice of this hospital are admitted by the universities, the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, and by the Society of Apothecaries. It is mainly supported by voluntary contributions. There are almshouses in various parts of the town, founded at different times, among which are those for widows of clergymen established by Captain Edward Story in 1692, with a revenue of about £800 per annum; Wray's almshouses, endowed with about £200 a year; besides Knight's, Perse's, Hobson's, &c. An asylum for infirm members of friendly societies was established in 1837. In the town are a mechanics' institute, a literary institution, a young men's Christian association, and a mendicity society, the object of which is to relieve deserving objects. The Union poorhouse, built in 1838 at the cost of £6,500, is in Mill-road, and is a plain brick building, capable of accommodating about 250 inmates. The theatre is in Newmarket-road. It is a commodious building, and was re-decorated in 1854. The season usually commences at the end of August, and ends about the 10th October. Parker's Piece is a large cricket and pleasure-ground for the use of the public. The ground was laid out by Loudon, the botanist and landscape gardener. Near it is a spacious cemetery, recently formed, with an elegant chapel. The castle, situated at Castle Hill, from which there is a good view of the town, fell into decay at an early period, and there are now no ruins of it left; the gatehouse, which had been used as a prison, was taken down at the time of the erection of the County Court-house. Cambridge was the site of nearly 80 religious houses, consisting of priories, convents, hostels, &c. Of these the most ancient was Barnwell Priory, founded by Picot, the sheriff, in 1092, for monks of the Augustine order, and afterwards enlarged by Payne Peveril, standard-bearer to Robert Duke of Normandy. At the Dissolution it had a revenue of £351. The remains of the priory are now used as farm buildings: Among the other religious houses were the Benedictine nunnery of St. Rhadegund, founded about 1130, and part of which forms the chapel of Jesus College; the Franciscan monastery, founded about 1225, on the site of which stands Sidney Sussex College; the Bethlemite friary, founded in 1257, and the only one of the order in England; the Dominican monastery, founded before 1275, on the site now occupied by Emmanuel College; the Augustine friary, founded about 1259; the Carmelite, or White Friars, in 1316, the site now forming the garden of King's College; the Gilbertine priory, about 1291; the friary de Sacco, St. Mary's friary, St. Anne's hospital, &c. In St. Giles's parish is a very curious old mansion called Merton Hall, or more commonly Pythagoras' School, erected in the 13th century, and now converted into a barn. The ancient custom of Plough Monday, with its begging and merry-making, is still observed by the peasantry of the neighbourhood. The castle was occasionally a royal residence, and the town of Cambridge has frequently been honoured by royal visits. It was visited by Henry VII., Henry VIII., Queen Elizabeth, James I., Charles I., Charles II. (who was here on two occasions), William III., Queen Anne, George I., and George II. In 1843 it was visited by Queen Victoria and the late Prince Consort; and again in 1847, on the installation of Prince Albert as chancellor of the university. The British Association met here in 1833, and the Royal Agricultural Society in 1840. Cambridge is the birthplace of several distinguished men; among whom are Sir John Cheke, tutor to Edward VI. (1514); Jeremy Taylor (1605); Richard Cumberland, the dramatist (1732); Orlando Gibbons, the organist and composer (1583); James Essex, the antiquary and architect (1723); Drake, author of a translation of Herodotus (1667); Bishops Goldsborowe, Thirlbye, and Townson; Thomas Bennett, a Protestant martyr, burnt at Exeter in 1530, &c. Wednesday and Saturday are the principal market days, but markets are held daily. The corn exchange is a commodious building on St. Andrew's-hill, and is well attended on Saturday. The cattle market is at the back of St. Peter's-street, and is held on Saturday. There are two great annual fairs, the Midsummer, or Pot fair, and the Stourbridge fair. These are both held in the parish of Barnwell, and are proclaimed by the heads of the university and of the corporation. Midsummer fair commences on the 22nd June, and is for the sale of horses, cattle, pottery, &c.; Stourbridge fair, on the 8th September, for cattle, timber, wool, cheese, hops, &c.; it was formerly one of the greatest fairs in England, and lasted three weeks. The importance and duration of these fairs is considerably diminished. The races generally, take place in July, on Midsummer Common.

[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]