You might remember Paddy and Plunkett spotting this rather lovely place from their punt trip along the River Cam a couple of weeks back…
Plunkett was especially taken with the beautiful buildings of King’s College, and decided to make it his first port of call the minute his paws were back on dry land!
On the way there, the Beasties passed the front gate of another of Cambridge’s many colleges…
This is Trinity College, which has the reputation of being the wealthiest of all the city’s educational establishments. It was founded by Henry VIII, who at that time was going around the country closing down monasteries and helping himself to the land they owned. The colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, being religious organisations and quite moneyed, were next in his sights. They appealed to Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, and managed to reach a compromise – instead of closing some of Cambridge’s existing colleges down, they were amalgamated as Trinity College AND given a nice little gift of some of the confiscated monastery lands to get them started! To this day, it remains one of the biggest landowners in Britain. Henry VIII is still here keeping an eye on things, too – that’s his statue standing guard over the entrance!
But this isn’t where we’re going… Onwards to King’s College! Nearly there now!
Rebellious impulses satisfied, it was finally time for Plunkett to get his history fix!
King’s College formerly went by the less snappy name of “The King’s College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge”, and a good number of British monarchs were involved in its founding and construction. Henry VI got the ball rolling in 1441, and he also laid the first stone of the College’s famous chapel in 1446. His original plan for a modest establishment for “12 poor scholars” was abandoned when he learned about a bigger, fancier college that William of Wykeham had founded in Oxford (60 years earlier – I guess news travelled more slowly in those days), so he updated the charter of King’s College, calling for a superior institution with more grandiose buildings and a larger number of students. Unfortunately, he then got tied up in the Wars of the Roses, and work slowed due to lack of funds. It took another two generations of King Henrys to finish the chapel, which was the only part of Henry VI’s plan to actually be realised. Let’s go and take a look, shall we?
“Huh. I don’t get it, Plunkett… What’s the big deal?”
“Paddy, look up!”
And even Paddy’s breath was taken away by the fantastic fan-vaulted ceiling!
It’s the largest of its kind in the world, and Plunkett could have gazed at it all day.
Luckily, Paddy was good enough to point out that the glorious stained glass windows were also worth a look!
This chapel is still very much in use, and is most famous for its choir, who perform in services almost every day during term time. But the biggest event in the King’s College Chapel calendar is the annual Carol Service on Christmas Eve, which has been broadcast on the BBC for decades, to a global audience!
There are also lots of beautiful little details to be spied, if you stop to look at things from a Beastie-eye point of view. Plunkett found this very fine door lock, although he was a little confused about which step he was supposed to be minding…
“Step? What step? It’s been completely worn away by big stomping human feet!”
Meanwhile, Paddy had ended up somewhere far spookier… The Tomb Chapel!
Trust him to find the most ghoulish thing on offer here! I expect he’ll be waiting in the shadows to jump out at Plunkett when he wanders in…
“Who, me? Never!”
Uh-huh. I’ll believe that when I see it, Paddy!
More from Paddy and Plunkett in a couple of weeks! And next Tuesday, look out for a new Explorer Beastie adventure – see you then!