Nasty, Brutish, and Short
On our final day at Cambridge, we were led on a tour by Dr. Nicholas James, the Director of Studies in Social Anthropology at Magdalene College, Cambridge. After a brief lecture on the history of urban planning with an emphasis on how the Enlightenment altered architecture, James led us through the town of Cambridge to better see the elements he discussed.
We began our tour just outside the walls of our home in Trinity Hall, where a few small stores and boutiques were found. We walked along the stone roads to the town square and the marketplace. James explained that the design of this square was over two-thousand years old, which displayed shops facing into the square and the church overlooking it. He claimed that this marketplace was mainly a tourist attraction, while the people of Cambridge chose to do their shopping in the mall a block away.
From the square James led us into Trinity College, where we were truly overcome by the beauty and history of Cambridge. After convincing the Porter to let us in the gate, James showed us onto the court, where a beautiful fountain stood in the middle. From here we visited the Trinity College Chapel, where we examined its gothic architecture.
The highlight of the tour was a visit to Sir Christopher Wren’s Library. Wren was ingenious in his design, for he created a library large enough to house thousands of books, while still allowing natural light to flow into the court and the view of the river to remain unobstructed. We were lucky enough to go into the library and view the large bookshelves and the towering stained glass windows. Most notably, Wren put two rows of busts down the main aisle of the library. On the right, there stood Ancient Greek philosophers, and the left displayed the faces of many Enlightenment scholars and philosophers. Much of the class agreed that this library, with it’s open lighting, revolutionary design, reverence for the Greeks, and focus on a new type of philosophy best exemplified the themes of the Enlightenment we were studying.
Photographer: Tony Bailey