A Punting Tour along the River Cam is not only beautifully relaxing, but it also provides the chance to experience the history of Cambridge from a unique angle. Among the many sights to be seen along the river are Trinity Hall College and Garret Hostel Bridge.
Trinity Hall College
Trinity Hall College is the fifth oldest surviving College of the University of Cambridge, having been founded in 1350 by Bishop Bateman of Norwich.
The aim of the College was to promote the study of canon and civil law. This was necessary because a large number of lawyers and clergymen had lost their lives to the Black Death in 1349. To this very day, the study of Law is still a prominent tradition of the college.
The college site was purchased from John de Crauden, Prior of Ely, to house the monks while they studied. 700 years on, the college remains on this site. The hall, the Front Court, the chapel and the Master’s Lodge all date back to the late 14th century. While there is no significant remaining evidence of their origin from the medieval era, the windows of the North Court, along with the arch on the back wall, provide an insight into the appearance of the college during the 15th century.
The Front Court as we see it today dates back to the 18th century. At the bequest of the master, Sir Nathaniel Lloyd, the Front Court saw a series of decorative changes to the building. The walls that face the court were ashlared and there were new windows added, providing an elegant and uniform appearance. The medieval panelling and smoke-blackened beams were replaced with classical pillars and panelling carved with baroque designs.
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that new buildings appeared at Trinity Hall. This was down to an increase in the number of students which prompted the Latham Building to be built. This was named after Henry Latham, who was the college’s master from 1888 to 1902.
Despite the college being 700 years old, the last century has seen the most architectural work take place. In the last few decades, the North Court has benefited from new staircases, and the college has gained a new Junior Combination Room, a bar and a music room. In 1998, the construction of a new library took place and it now houses 30,000 books. The Jerwood Library, as it is known, has a unique design and has gained a lot of attention as a result of it.
Trinity Hall College is perhaps one of the most attractive colleges in Cambridge. With its splendid gardens, detailed architecture and, of course, its riverside location, it has a lot to interest from an aesthetic standpoint.
Garret Hostel Bridge
The history of Garret Hostel Bridge dates back to 1455, when Henry VI presented the Mayor and burgesses of Cambridge with part of a small garden called Henn Abbey. The town had previously granted Salthithe Lane to Henry for King’s college, which meant that there was no longer a common way from Milne Street to the river for the townsfolk. Henn Abbey Garden was given as a replacement, so that the town could make a new lane for this purpose. This was Garret Hostel Lane, so called because the hostel which housed Trinity Hall scholars was located at the other end of the way. The upkeep of this lane was taken on by Trinity Hall in 1544.
At the end of the lane was a bridge (called ‘Pons Gerardi’ by Caius in 1573), and until 1769 this bridge was maintained by a joint effort between Trinity Hall and the town. In 1591, 1626 and 1646, the Garret Hostel Bridge was rebuilt as part of this collaboration. When the bridge was replaced by a timber bridge designed by James Essex in 1769 (the original Mathematical Bridge), Trinity Hall agreed to pay half of the cost of the work undertaken, with the condition that they would be freed from all future claims. As a result, the town took on complete responsibility for rebuilding the bridge after it collapsed in 1812. It was reconstructed in timber again in 1814 and 1821, before finally being replaced in 1837 by an iron version which stood there until the 1960s.
Garret Hostel Bridge was redesigned in 1960 by a Jesus College student, Timothy Morgan. This is the bridge we see today, with a smooth curved design meant to evoke the wings of a gull in flight. Sadly, Morgan died before the bridge was completed. Today’s bridge has a portal frame of concrete and it spans a total of 80 feet. The concrete is made from Cornish granite. York Stone adorns the upper deck of the bridge and the handrails are made of satin-polished bronze.