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Queens' College and Mathematical Bridge
Let's start with formalities: Queens' is called Queens' and not Queen's. It was founded by Margaret of Anjou in 1448 and refounded by Elizabeth Woodville, Queen consort of Edward IV., in 1465. Thus: Two Queens. Like the big neighbouring Colleges, it has a lot of beautiful buildings to see. The College is separated by the Cam into the "dark side" and the "bright side", which are both connected by the "Mathematical Bridge". There are a lot of legends surroundig this bridge, for example that it was designed by Isaac Newton or that it was originally constructed without nuts and bolts and gains its stability through its own weight. Students were said to have dismantled it for maintenance, being unable to put it back together. All of these are unfortunately untrue - for example, it was erected 22 years after Newton's death. The bridge was rebult twice, but its original design was never altered. The present bridge dates from 1905. The half-timbered President's Lodge from around 1460 is the oldest building of the college, the oldest building located at the river and one of the oldest in Cambridge after all. The gatehouse however is probably the best known building. Most of the college is erected on the grounds of a former Carmelite monatsery, from which nothing remains.
Despite its long tradition, Queens' is said to be one of the more relaxed Colleges. Famous alumni include Erasmus of Rotterdam and Stephen Fry. Although the architecture at Queens' is really beautiful, I would give preference to other Colleges when it comes to a visit - especially, if you are short of time. Furthermore, Queens' is also one of the few colleges which charges for visits. You can however get a good view onto much of the College grounds, including the Mathematical Bridge from the bridge at Silver Street (in front of the Anchor Pub).
THE MATHEMATICAL BRIDGE
Between the beautiful medieval splendour and the hideous concrete carbuncle that make up Queens College the wooden bridge often mis-named the Mathematical Bridge spans the river Cam
Ignore all the urban myths about it, the first wooden bridge was built in 1749, and this copy replaced it in 1904, it wasnt designed by Sir Issac Newton and has always been held together by nuts and bolts
you get a great view of the bridge from a punt
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Not to be outdone by her husband Henry IV his Queen, Margaret of Anjou issued a charter to found The Queens College [or to give it it`s full title The Queens College of St Margaret and St Bernard] in 1448 with the intention to "laude and honneure the sexe feminine", thus was created Queens, less flamboyant than Kings, smaller, more peaceful and quieter
this is a true gem, it feels very small and no doubt with students milling around it will be different, but on a late September afternoon it was very tranquil
lets not think about the hideous 1970`s monstrosity that is Cripps Court across the bridge, but about the wonderful Medieval buildings that make up the original college, in particular Old Court, called with some merit the most picturesque court in Cambridge
a visit here costs an unbelievably low £1.50, dont miss it when you visit Cambridge
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Queens Mathematical (Wooden) Bridge
Traveling down the River Cam, there is this wooden bridge. According to the official web site of Queens College:
The bridge was built in 1749 by James Essex the Younger (1722-1784) to the design of William Etheridge (1709-1776). It has subsequently been rebuilt to the same design in 1866 and 1905.
For those who have fallen prey to the baseless stories told by unscrupulous guides to gullible tourists, it is necessary to point out that Isaac Newton died in 1727 and therefore cannot possibly have had anything to do with this bridge. Anyone who believes that students or Fellows could have disassembled the bridge, cannot have a serious grasp on reality, given the size and weight of the wooden members of the bridge. The joints of the present bridge are fastened by nuts and bolts. Only a pedant could claim that the bridge was originally built without nails. Our guide was brilliant, and told us the stories were just a myth. I wonder, what is a pedant?
For much more of the story of the bridge:
Wooden Bridge Facts
For a wonderful old photograph of the bridge, thought to be near 1865, see the following link: Look closely, and you can see, it is a young boy sitting near the little girl, and not part of the bridge, and the gentleman in a top hat, is well ... just so "British."
Wooden Bridge 1865
Queens College was first founded in 1448 by Margaret of Anjou and then, unusually, again in 1465 by Elizabeth Woodville, Queens' is fiercely proud of its royal patronesses, including our most recent, the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
All I can say, from my experience, the Mathematical Bridge (although "correctly" called the Wooden Bridge) was a visual delight to this non-historical American. It is interesting to learn a few bits and bobs, but I mainly wanted a pic. Speaking of the pic, I have no idea who that nice couple is. Perhaps they will see themselves here, and send someone a postcard.
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The original bridge, erected in 1784, was said to be able to stand without any nails or screws - but some students took it to pieces and could not work out how to put it back together again!
The present bridge, with nails and screws, is a 20th Century copy of the original.
The legend is that the Mathematical Bridge was initially built by Issac Newton in such a clever way that no nuts or bolts were needed. Centuries later, wishing to discover Newton's method, some Maths undergrads took the bridge apart - and couldn't put it back together again. Hence all the nuts and bolts....
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Punting is a popular pass-time in Cambridge, particularly in summer when the river is packed. If you visit in Spring, it's much quieter - tranquil yet a little too cold maybe.
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