Friday, 8 January 2010

Sophie in Cambridge

Hello! Sophie here, I wanted to tell you about my visit to Cambridge this week. I went to talk to one of the professors, Susan Rankin, about studying there with her next year- very exciting! Once I got there (it was snowing with a vengeance in the East!), I had the chance to see Cambridge in thick snow, nice and peaceful with most of the students still at home. Definitely a rare treat!

These handsome chaps are the ducks at Emmanuel College, where Susan is based. The poor things were obviously very cold and hungry, and they were convinced I had food for them! So they mobbed me and tried to follow me out of college.

I was particularly taken with Mr Gentleman white duck, standing tall and proud with his lovely orange beak against the snow to impress the ladies! I can just see the pocket watch and monocle.

These photos are of Christ's College, one of my favourites. It was founded in 1437, which makes it fairly old even by Cambridge standards!

I think this is the dining room- imagine having formal dinner in here, dressed up in gowns with lovely food and wine and waiter service.

This is a different part of Christ's. Lucky students, having their rooms here!

A lot of Oxford and Cambridge colleges are made up of 'quads'. This is a gate between two different quads at Christ's, with a lovely college crest over the top.

This is the front quad, my favourite bit.

There have been lots of famous alumni at Christ's- Darwin, Milton and... Ali G!

The next photo is from Gonville and Caius (pronounced 'Keys') College. It's easy to spot, because they have trees in their front quad!

Caius is a beautiful little college, nestled in between some of the big famous colleges (Trinity, Clare, Kings).

This is one of the smaller gates into college. The main entrance is at the front, with grand doors and porters in the lodge just inside.

Next we move onto Corpus Christi College. This is another one of my favourites.

This quad is from the middle ages, and you can see in the middle its famous sundial. Corpus also have a famous grasshopper clock which lives a little way out of college, which is impressive if a little gruesome!

After that, I went to St John's, one of the massive colleges next to the river. There are impressive, very monastic feeling cloisters lke this one, which have barely changed for centuries.

St John's New Buildings, on the other side of the river. Well, new by St John's standards! This is one of my favourite parts of the college.

One last photo of St John's, because it was getting very dark by this point! The New Buildings are on the left. Imagine looking out of your window and seeing the river every day.

I went to see Newnham College after this, which is where I'm applying. It's a women-only college with beautiful grounds, but it was too dark when I got there to take pictures unfortunately. If I get in, I'll be able to post some pictures! This is Newnham in similar weather though.

There's one last thing I want to show you, and that's what I'll hopefully be studying there! I'm sure you'll have heard bits of Gregorian chant- think monks, the middle ages, grand stone monasteries... this is what I study! I look at manuscripts that are anything up to 1200 years old and decipher them, to see what they tell me about how the chant came about, where it came from, how it sounded and other things. I can't post an image here, because I'd be in big trouble with the libraries who own the copyright! So this is a link to a manuscript from 11th century St Gall, in Austria. About five lines from the bottom you'll see something starting 'Constitues eos principes'. This is the chant I'm working on!

That's all from me, I hope you've enjoyed looking around Cambridge! :)


  1. Thank you for sharing your time in Cambridge with us Sophie. Good luck with the application. It will be a beautiful place in which to study.

  2. Those are beautiful photos, Sophie! Good luck with your application. My brother in law and his brother both went to Cambridge and Alan took his doctorate there too. It obviously made an impression on my then 5 yr old DD2 - at school, she was asked what she'd like to do when she grew up. "Study at Cambridge!" was her response - not bad for someone from Sheppey! She's 12 now, and who knows?


  3. What beautiful photos, Cambridge is a beautiful place, good luck with your application when will you know if you are successful
    Hugs Janice

  4. I studied at Cambridge many years ago - it is the most beautiful place - and postgraduate work is so rewarding, something you will never regret taking the time to do.

    Pomona x

  5. Hi Sophie,
    many thanks for the beautiful photos and information, I wish you luck in all you do. I envy you your brain, young, sharp and longing for info to fill it. Keep it up Sophie. We will watch your progress on your mum's Blog.

    Ros, you must be so pround of Sophie, what a lovely girl.

    Jan xx