Clare College, Cambridge

Clare College, Cambridge – website – another gorgeous college, though with slightly less visitors. It also has a longer history – Trinity is a baby in comparison. Clare is the second oldest of the colleges, founded in 1326, and generously endowed a few years later by Lady Elizabeth de Clare (Lady de Burgh – was she the original “Lady in Red”? (Peter making a joke about popular music)), a granddaughter of King Edward I. It became known as Clare Hall as early as 1339 (the present simplified title, ‘Clare’, dates from 1856).  Hugh Lambert and Nicholas Ferrar were members of the College.

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One reason for visiting was a more recent member of the College – Edmund Mortimer. He is listed on the Ponteland War Memorial, and remembered (with his brother) in a stained glass window in Milbourne. Edmund Mortimer was baptised at Milbourne in November 1879. He was educated at Lancaster, Repton, and went to Clare. He returned to Northumberland and worked as a land agent. He joined up on the outbreak of War, and went to France on 20 April 1915. He was killed in action six days later, at St Julien during the second Battle of Ypres. He was 35. He was buried near Wieltje, a small village on the outskirts of Ypres. Over the next few years, this village was in the front line, and the cemetery was destroyed – so his body was lost. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate. We remembered the brothers at a special service back in May. The War Memorial is in the ante-chapel – Hamo Sassoon is the brother of Siegfried.

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Once again the main part of the chapel is roped off. The current Chapel building is almost certainly the third  the College has had since its foundation in 1326. This lovely building dates to 1763. The ceiling is beautiful. It’s a lovely roof over the ante-chapel too.

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august b 407august b 408The painting of The Annunciation by Giambattista Cipriani (commissioned for the Chapel by the Duke of Newcastle in the 18th century) is above the altar because the Chapel, and the College, is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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The college website writes “The chief purpose [of the Chapel] has continued unchanged throughout those centuries – it is a place of quiet and beauty where the regular offices of prayer for the world and the College are offered daily. Three times a week during Full Term these offices are led by the world-renowed College Choir in the service of Choral Evensong.  The beauty and light-filled space … also serves as a space for peaceful reflection for all of any faith or none.  During the last century, as the musical reputation of the College has grown and developed, the Chapel has also been a place for recitals.  This also provides time and space for reflection.” There are many, many wonderful recordings of the College choir – find and enjoy.

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Let us have a walk across Clare bridge – it is the oldest bridge across the Cam. It dates from 1639-40 and the associated engineer is listed as Thomas Grumbold. To quote one website, “It is not entirely clear whether Grumbold was the designer or just a draughtsman. He was paid three shillings for a drawing of it.” It is a limestone bridge, though some of the stone is Barnack, recycled from an earlier construction. The balls are lovely – and one of them has a chunk missing. Barham family tradition (i.e. my grandad told me) it was removed after a drunken discussion and bet as to how many balls there were. The chap who was about to loose had a chunk cut out to change the number. I think there was also a story about undergraduates who made a polystyrene ball and pushed it down onto a puntload of Japanese tourists – who thought they were about to be hit by stone and ended up in the river.

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The Fellows Garden is beautiful. It was re-designed by Prof E.N. Willmer after WW2. Do have a look at this page. You might also like a look here which will tell you about Prof Willmer (and has a section on Gardening in Wartime, and another on Capability Brown). We have two of Prof Willmer’s paintings – many years ago my dad was one of those who published some lovely books Willmer had done and we had an exhibition of his work in Grantchester Village Hall. Dad bought a couple of his paintings, and I had them when dad died. I wish the sun had been out, the colours of the garden would have been even more incredible.

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