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Cambridge Student Pranks

Unveiling Cambridge University's best stories!

Posted by on October 17th, 2020.

Cambridge University Secret Society

The famous University of Cambridge has been a symbol of knowledge and prestige, and it is recognised as such globally. However, it is also home to some of the most hilarious and daring pranks of all time. Some of these pranks were undertaken by a secret society, known as ‘The Night Climbers’. Their secret society focuses on scaling the city’s buildings at night with very little equipment and even less permission. To leave their mark, the Cambridge Night Climbers would always leave something obscure on top of the buildings they scaled.

Despite the fact their identity has never been revealed, their stories are far from forgotten. Their ability to climb up the buildings around the city were so impressive that a number of stories have been shared about the adventures of the Night Climbers. Perhaps two of the best pranks took place at Kings and Trinity College.

Night Climbers Pranks

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King’s College Chapel

The Night Climbers used King’s College Chapel for one of their most audacious climbing feats. They free-climbed to the top of the chapel (the tallest stone fan vaulted chapel in the world) and left a traffic cone on the top left steeple of the building. Extremely annoyed with the event, the master of the college, tried to find those responsible. Obviously no one came forward and confessed to the crime which left no other option left for the master but to hire someone to retrieve this object.

Evidently, the only way up a landmark of this size, if you’re not a climber, is with a lot of scaffolding. Therefore, a few days later the scaffolders started erecting a scaffold. However, after several days they still hadn’t reached the top. On the third day it started to rain “it’s not that far left to go, we’ll just come back tomorrow and finish the job”.  Little did they know, during that same night, the ‘Night Climbers’ climbed back up the chapel and swapped the traffic cone over to the right steeple.

Even though this prank was not well received by the college master, for the Night Climbers it was the beginning of a long tradition of placing strange and interesting things on top of King’s College Chapel. These objects have include Santa hats, toilet seats, a bicycle and many more…

Trinity College

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The founder of Trinity College, King Henry VIII, ordered that his statue was placed on top of the main Great Gate of the college. This statue represented his royal and powerful position, so a golden orb and sceptre were placed in his hands. Perhaps this was what caught the attention of the Night Climbers? Or perhaps, there isn’t any real reason why, besides causing mischief and havoc!

So the story goes, the night climbers stole the golden sceptre, replacing it for a wooden chair leg, which to the untrained eye could go unnoticed even to this day. The fellows of the college couldn’t find the sceptre anywhere, although they weren’t happy about it, they’ve decided to keep the chair leg in its place ever since. Apart from in the 1980s when a groups of students decided to prank the college once again by replacing the chair leg with a bicycle pump. Strangely the fellows reaction was to immediately request that the leg chair was put back in its rightful place.

To know more about the Night Climbers and their amazing pranks around Cambridge, come and enjoy a punting tour with us! Our tour guides are a huge fan of these stories and many more, so they would be more than happy to share them with you whilst you sit back and relax on a traditional wooden punt.