Walks index

Plaques and notices in Cambridge

Are you one of those people who, when they see a blue plaque on a wall, have to read it? If so, and you are in Cambridge, you may like to read the following. This is not all the Cambridge blue plaques. For a full list of those, click here. It is not just blue plaques either. I have added other plaques, notices, and anything written that I found interesting.

This page is arranged in themes. There are two maps, a large scale map of the centre and a smaller scale for the rest. Feel free to see the items in any order you'd like, or perhaps more sensibly, chose which you'd like to see. The map marks where to find the different items. For the city centre map, 100 metres is similar to 100 yards and 400 metres is about a quarter of a mile, so you can see that all of this is quite close together. On the smaller scale map, a kilometre is about half a mile, so everything is further away.

Things worth looking at are marked in red. Click on them, or on the links, for descriptions and pictures.

Scientists Notables of Cambridge Institutions Other Not really plaques
Old Cavendish
J J Thomson
Discovery of DNA
Alan Turing
Charles Darwin
Shields of scientists
Nerves and fertilising human eggs
Oliver Cromwell
Thomas Hobson
John Mortlock
Millicent & Henry Fawcett
John Maynard Keynes
Jack Hobbs
Charles Humfrey
Dr John Addenbrooke
Andrew Murden
John Reston
David Marshall
Stephen Perse
Cambridge Refuge
Parish marks
Alms houses
Philosophical Society
The Mitre
Basque refugees
War memorials
Olaudah Equiano
Oldest printer and bookshop
Queen Victoria
Ode to tobacco
Garret Hostel bridge
Edward Storey
Edward Fitzgerald
Charles Lamb
Don Casey
3D maps
Signs on pubs
Latin and Greek sign
Cycles near Parkers Piece
Date of developement
Mill Road benches
Guildhall benches
Shields on Cambridge station
Alan Turing Reformation The Eagle Discovery of DNA 3D maps Keynes founded the Arts Theatre John Mortlock Old Cavendish J J Thomson Stephen Perse Shields of scientists EDSAC Ode to tobacco Oldest printer and bookshop Nerves and fertilising human eggs Edward Fitzgerald Charles Lamb Milestones Charles Darwin barometer Hobson's conduit benches

Map of plaques and notices in Cambridge

Other map Golden helix 3D map Hobson's Conduit Hobson's Workhouse Jack Hobbs Reality Checkpoint Cambridge Refuge Parish Marks Alms houses Philosophical Society Queen Victoria Petersfield pub sign War memorial for gas workers Main Cambridge war memorial Decoration on Cambridge station Sign on pub Turnpike sign Andrew Murden memorial Oliver Cromwell Millicent & Henry Fawcett Cycles near Parkers Piece Garret Hostel bridge Date of developement The Mitre Jim Ede blue plaque Edward Storey plaque Charles Humfrey plaque Basque refugees Mill Road benches Rotary in Cambridge memorial no bikes pub sign Don Casey John Reston David Marshall

Map of plaques and notices in Cambridge

Click on the photos for a bigger version.


If you walk down Free School Lane, there are university buildings on one side. This site used to be called the Old Cavendish, but is now called the New Museums Site to avoid confusion with the new Cavendish Laboratory in West Cambridge. The Cavendish Laboratory was called after after William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, who was Chancellor of the University and donated money for the construction of the laboratory. The Cavendish Laboratory has had many famous physicists. As of 2006, 29 Cavendish researchers have won Nobel Prizes. Click here for more about the history of the Cavendish Laboratory.

The door of the Old Cavendish has this, from Psalm 111, "Magna opera domini exquisita in omnes voluntates eius" which can be translated as "Great are the works of the Lord. They are sought out by all who delight in them." This is a good tag for scientists!

A plaque in Free School Lane commemorates the Old Cavendish Laboratories.

Door of Old Cavendish Laboratory Door of Old Cavendish Laboratory Door of Old Cavendish Laboratory

The other plaque in Free School Lane is about J J Thomson became Cavendish Professor of Physics in 1884. One of his students was Ernest Rutherford, who would later succeed him in the post. Thomson was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the electron and for his work on the conduction of electricity in gases.

The others are inside the New Museum site. The plaque about B D Josephson next to the crocodile! The coat of arms of the university is further in, on the left. The motto is "Hinc lucem et pocula sacra", which can be translated as "From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge."

Plaque about J J Thomson In Old Cavendish Laboratory In Old Cavendish Laboratory


During World War II, researchers had shown that the mysterious substance which carries genes from generation to generation was DNA (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid), which exists within cells. However, no-one knew the structure of DNA or how it did this.

Francis Crick and James Watson were working on this in the Old Cavendish Laboratory, in Free School Lane. They saw a photo of x-ray diffraction of DNA made by Rosalind Franklin at King's College London. This led them to suggest a double helix as the structure of DNA, which also explained how DNA reproduces - the double helix splits into two, and the DNA then rebuilds itself from each half.

Inside the old Cavendish Labs there is a plaque on the wall of Crick and Watson's laboratory.

Plaque inside New Museums Site about discovery of DNA

Once they had made this discovery, Francis Crick and James Watson crossed Benet Street to the nearest pub, the Eagle, to celebrate. As they walked into the Eagle, Crick announced "We have found the secret of Life." A blue plaque outside the pub celebrates this. The original plaque only mentioned Crick and Watson. There was a fuss about this, so it has been replaced by a new plaque, which also references Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, the swcientists working in London, and "other scientists".

The Eagle

The Eagle.

The Eagle blue plaque

Original blue plaque on the Eagle.

The Eagle blue plaque

Current blue plaque on the Eagle.

The Eagle has other claims to fame. It is a very old pub. Its entrance shows that it used to be a coaching inn. A notice outside the pub decribes other people who have drunk there. There is also a Greene King brewery plaque. These are quite common in Cambridge.

The Eagle history

The Eagle brewery plaque

There are other references to the discovery of DNA in Cambridge. Francis Crick used to live in Portugal Place (just behind the Maypole pub). This golden helix is above the front door.

Golden Helix showing where Francis Crick used to live

DNA path

Close by, in Thompson Lane, the Varsity Hotel has this sculpture outside. It is called Helix, by Christophe Gordan-Brown, April 2011. Note that both these are a single helix, not a double one!

DNA path

Outside Cambridge, by the railway line, there is a path celebrating the decoding of the Human Genome in 2003. The stripes are the bases of a specific gene. Click here for more about this path.

Here, the sculpture which shows the start of the path is a double helix.

This sculpture is in Clare college grounds, off Queens Road. It was donated by James Watson himself! Click here for more details.

DNA Double Helix

This plaque is also inside the Old Cavendish. EDSAC, or Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator, was an early British computer. Its first computer programs calculated a table of squares and a list of prime numbers. It used mercury delay lines for memory, and derated vacuum tubes for logic. Input was via 5-hole punched tape and output was via a teleprinter.

Plaque about EDSAC

Alan Turing

This blue plaque is on the wall of part of Kings College. Alan Turing is best known for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park during World War II. He also developed the fundamental principles of computers. He was a student at Kings College.

Charles Darwin

This plaque is on the front of Boots, on the first floor level (so not easy to see).

It says "Charles Darwin lived in a house on this site 1826". Note the careful wording!

Shields of famous scientists

These shields (dated 1886) are on the corner of Pembroke Street (continuation of Downing Street) and Free School Lane.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) described an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry. He was at Trinity College.

Isaac Newton (1643-1727) made discoveries in optics, specified laws of mechanics and gravity, and invented calculus. He was also at Trinity College.

William Herschel (1738-1822) discovered Uranus, and infrared radiation. I'm not sure if William Herschel has any Cambridge connection. His son John Herschel (1792-1871) was at St John's College, and was a mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer, who also did valuable botanical work, so perhaps it is him who is referred to here.

William Hyde Wollaston (1766-1828) first reported the dark lines in the spectrum of the Sun and discovered the elements palladium and rhodium. He was at Gonville and was at Caius College.

Click for information about these coat of arms: Bacon, Newton, Herschel, Wollaston.

These plaques are inside the Downing site. This is not part of Downing college (although close by). It houses various scientific departments and facilties. These are on the outside of the Physiology Building.

Nerves and fertilising human eggs Nerves and fertilising human eggs

This is above the gate to the Downing Site. The motton says "Hinc lucem et pucula sacra" which means "Out of here comes light and sacred draughts". The lady in the middle holds a sun and a cup to represent these. She is labelled "Alma Mater Cantabrigia", which means "Bountiful mother Cambridge". If you look carefully at her, she is indeed bountiful - she's lactating! She's the University’s emblem.

Downing gate

This barometer is set into the doorway, on the right-hand side, of 9 Kings Parade. Apparently scientific instruments used to be made here.

Barometer Shop with barometer

Notables of Cambridge

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell was MP for Cambridge, and he also attended Sidney Sussex College. His head is buried there, but the college won't say exactly where (although they know themselves) because they don't want either Cromwell supporters or critics making a nuisance of themselves!

Blue Plaque about Oliver Cromwell

Blue Plaque about Reformation

Cambridge has other associations with the English Reformation. Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cramner preached at St Edward's church. They were both burnt at the stake at Oxford under Queen Mary. This plaque in Kings Parade gives another association.

Thomas Hobson

Thomas Hobson was a carrier, delivering mail from Cambridge to London. He was based in the George Hotel on Trumpington Street, now part of St.Catherine's College. He rented horses to students and academic staff of the university. Since he found that his best horses were getting over-worked, he made a rule of strict rotation, saying "That or none" which came to be known as Hobson's choice. Thomas Hobson lived in Chesterton Hall. He was a benefactor of Cambridge. This blue plaque mentions his workhouse, the Spinning House, where the poor were housed and given simple work such as spinning. The plaque is on Hobson House, on St Andrews Street.

Blue Plaque about Hobson

Hobson's conduit head

Hobson was also involved in a scheme to provide drinking water for Cambridge. Water was brought from Nine Wells, south of Cambridge, to the Market Place. The old fountain in the Market Place was moved to the corner of Lensfield Road and Trumpington Street (see above). South of it is Hobson's Brook, still with water from Nine Wells. North of it is the artificial channels or culverts, on either side of part of Trumpington St. These still have water in them for part of the year, but dry up during summer. They were installed in 1794 and 1815, so are not part of the original scheme. They are listed grade II.. The water is now used in the Botanic Gardens and college ponds.

The monument has two panels on it, which were added later in 1856. These describe a little of its history.

Plaques on Hobson's conduit head

Plaques on Hobson's conduit head

Transcription of the notice in front of the monument:
In 1614, a joint enterprise of the university and the town of Cambridge brought a supply of running water into the town from springs at Great Shelford. Thomas Hobson, the carrier (1544-1630) was a benefactor of the scheme and for that reason the watercourse became known as 'Hobson's Conduit'. This monument marks the end of the artificial watercourse. From this point the water runs in culverts to re-appear in runnels in Trumpington Street and St Andrews's Street. Other culverts feed ponds in certain of the colleges. From 1614 to 1856 the monument stood upon Market Hill where it served as a fountain. In the latter year, following the provision of a piped supply of water by the Cambridge Water Company, the "fountain" was moved to this site. It was reconditioned in 1967. This plaque was erected by the Hobson's Conduit trustees and unveiled by the Mayor Of Cambridge Councillor M.N.Bradford J.P. on 25th April. 1967.

Notice in front of the monument

Notice about Hobson's conduit head

The 'culverts' in Trumpington Street

Hobsons conduit

Bridge over Hobsons Brook

Bridge over Hobsons Brook

Where Hobson's conduit goes

This map showing where the water from Hobson's conduit goes is taken from this website, which explains the various branches.

The branch that goes through Parkers Piece has a manhole cover still there. It was used to supply a cattle pond. The pond was filled in in 1827. The photos show the cover, and where it is (foreground of a rather dried up Parkers Piece).

Hobsons Conduit on Parkers Piece Hobsons Conduit on Parkers Piece

Hobson's Conduit goes underground in St Andrews St, but there are grills above it, and modern plaques showing its route.

Start from Parkers Piece, and walk along that side of the road, walking towards the centre. At certain points, you will notice a grill running along the gutter.

Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Then the plaques start to appear. Outside the Grand Arcade (other side of road). Note the grill is still there:
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Outside Cambridge Magistrates Court (other side of road):
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Outside optometrist (other side of road):
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Outside St Andrews chruch (other side of road):
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Outside Christs college:
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Now cross over the road and walk back towards Parkers Piece. Outside Christs college gateway (opposite side of road):
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Outside Christs college (opposite side of road):
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

By entrance to Lion Yard (this shows the grill above the conduit):
Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

This shows how this grill goes along St Andrews St on this side of the road, all the way from the taxi rank to near the University Arms hotel. There are sometimes two! It seems to start as the drain from a gutter, but this is obviously just taking advantage of the existing drain.

Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St Hobsons Conduit on St Andrews St

Portrait of Thomas Hobson

This painting is in the Museum of Cambridge. It was donated by John Meynard Keynes.The inscription reads (spelling modernised):

Laugh not to see so plain a man in print
The shadow's homely yet there's something in't
Witness the bag he wears though seeming poor
The fertile mother of a thousand more
He was a thriving man through lawful gain
And wealthy grew by warrantable pain
Then laugh at them that spend not them that gather
Like thriving sons and such a thrifty father.

John Milton, the famous poet, who studied at Christ's College wrote two sonnets about Hobson.

Apparently, Hobson was not allowed to travel freely because of the plague, and then died. Milton imagines that since he was forced to stay still, Death was able to finally catch up with him!

On the University Carrier

Who sickened in the time of his Vacancy, being forbid to go to London by reason of the Plague.

Here lies old Hobson. Death hath broke his girt,
And here, alas! hath laid him in the dirt;
Or else, the ways being foul, twenty to one
He's here stuck in a slough, and overthrown.
'T was such a shifter that, if truth were known,
Death was half glad when he had got him down;
For he had any time this ten years full
Dodged with him betwixt Cambridge and The Bull.
And surely Death could never have prevailed,
Had not his weekly course of carriage failed;
But lately, finding him so long at home,
And thinking now his journey's end was come,
And that he had ta'en up his latest Inn,
In the kind office of a Chamberlin
Showed him his room where he must lodge that night,
Pulled off his boots, and took away the light.
If any ask for him, it shall be said,
"Hobson has supped, and 's newly gone to bed."

by John Milton

Another on the Same

Here lieth one who did most truly prove
That he could never die while he could move;
So hung his destiny, never to rot
While he might still jog on and keep his trot;
Made of sphere-metal, never to decay
Until his revolution was at stay.
Time numbers Motion, yet (without a crime
'Gainst old truth) Motion numbered out his time;
And, like an engine moved with wheel and weight,
His principles being ceased, he ended straight.
Rest, that gives all men life, gave him his death,
And too much breathing put him out of breath;
Nor were it contradiction to affirm
Too long vacation hastened on his term.
Merely to drive the time away he sickened,
Fainted, and died, nor would with ale be quickened.
"Nay," quoth he, on his swooning bed outstretched,
"If I may n't carry, sure I 'll ne'er be fetched,
But vow, though the cross Doctors all stood hearers,
For one carrier put down to make six bearers."
Ease was his chief disease; and, to judge right,
He died for heaviness that his cart went light.
His leisure told him that his time was come,
And lack of load made his life burdensome,
That even to his last breath (there be that say 't),
As he were pressed to death, he cried, "More weight!"
But, had his doings lasted as they were,
He had been an immortal Carrier.
Obedient to the moon he spent his date
In course reciprocal, and had his fate
Linked to the mutual flowing of the seas;
Yet (strange to think) his wain was his increase.
His letters are delivered all and gone;
Only remains this superscription.

John Mortlock

These plaques are on the wall of Barclays Bank in Benet Street. This building has been a bank for a long time, as these plaques show. John Mortlock was a famous, even notorious, politician. He ran Cambridge as his private fiefdom for many years. He used to drink at the Eagle.

John Mortlock

Blue plaque about John Mortlock

Plaque about John Mortlock

Millicent & Henry Fawcett

This is a double! There are two blue plaques, one above the other, on Brookside, to a pair of Cambridge notables.

Blue plaque about the Fawcetts Blue plaque about the Fawcetts

John Maynard Keynes

Despite its unassuming entrance, the Arts Theatre is one of the main theatres in Cambridge, featuring high-quality touring productions and West End shows, as well as local events.

The Arts Theatre

Blue plaque about Keynes and the Arts Theatre

As its blue plaque explains, this theatre was founded by John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist. Keynes was born in Cambridge as well as being part of the university.

Jack Hobbs

There is an open green space to the south of the city centre called Parkers Piece, used for sport as well as general recreation. On one side there is Hobbs Pavilion, originally a cricket pavilion.

The Hobbs Pavilion

Blue plaque about Jack Hobbs

It is named after Jack Hobbs, a famous cricketer who learned to play cricket on Parks Piece. Cricket is still played on Parkers Piece, and in the photo on the left, you can see a scoreboard (click for a bigger version).

Hobbs Pavilion was built by public subscription following Jack Hobb's incredible 1925 season, during which he broke W G Grace's record of test centuries. Jack Hobbs was born in Brewhouse Lane off Gwydir St, in 1882. The eldest of 12 children, he left St Matthews School early and became a baker's errand boy, but could often be seen honing his cricket skills on Parkers Piece at 6am. He joined Surrey crickey team at the age of 17. He finished his career with more than 5,000 runs from 61 England caps and is widely regarded as one of the greatest opening batsmen. He died in Hove in 1963.

CamLETS mural

Round the back of Hobbs pavilion, there is a mural about CamLETS. LETS stands for Local Exchange Trading System. It is a way a community can trade skills, services or goods without needing or using real money.

There is a charming weather vane on Hobbs Pavilion, with a cricket theme.

The weather vane on Hobbs Pavilion

Reality Checkpoint

In the middle of Parkers Piece, there is a lamp post called Reality Checkpoint. The idea was that this was the dividing point between the university and the city folk. Which group had to check their reality is not mentioned!

Sometimes the name was just scratched on the lamp post. The lamp post got repainted recently and the name got lost altogether! But it seems to have reappeared, looking very smart.

Parkers Piece

Cycles near Parkers Piece

At the edge of parkers Piece, in Gonville Place, there is a sign in the road showing where Cambridge was once part of the Tour de France. Nearby, there is a cycle counter.

Parkers Piece Tour de France Parkers Piece Tour de France

Charles Humfrey

Blue plaque about Charles Humfrey

This blue plaque is on Maids Causeway and says "Charles Humfrey 1772-1948, architext, developer, banker and mayor. The Doll's Close houses and terraces in Maids Causeway and Willow Walk are an enduring legacy to his native town."

(From Cambridge Past, Prsent and Future website)
Charles Humfrey, baptised in Great St Andrew's church, was given the same name as his father, a carpenter and builder. Charles jnr was sent to London to learn more of architecture from James Wyatt, and had some of his designs exhibited there. Humfrey returned to Cambridge to take up his father's business. He was fortunate to live at the time when the growth in population nationally meant more housing was required. In Cambridge, this and other changes led to the Enclosure Acts of 1802 and 1811 - the large open fields on other side of Cambridge, hitherto owned and occupied in narrow strips, were re-allocated and consolidated so that owners could use their fields as they wished, and not in co-operation with other strip owners. Those whose new holdings were close to the town now had the choice of agriculture or housing development.

Humfrey led the way, with the development of Doll's Close, a small field beside the Newmarket road, just beyond the existing houses. His comprehensive scheme was to combine a row of substantial houses beside the road, with views of the common and the river, with more modest terraces to the sides and behind. Curtain walls linked the ranges into a tasteful whole, with a passage through one side to provide a back entrance to the gardens and yards. Most of this scheme survives today, on Maids Causeway, Fair Street, Short Street and Willow Walk. When built, Willow Walk also enjoyed open views in front, but subsequent building of New Squre cut these off.

He designed many other houses and terraces in and outside Cambridge, mostly in Cambridge white brick and in the restrained but dignified style of the early nineteenth century. Many survive today, in Tennis Court Road, Parkside and elsewhere, and influenced the lesser developers of that era. With William Wilkins (Blue Plaque in Lensfield Road), Humfrey significantly shaped the style and appearance of Cambridge in that era.

Humfrey's own home, Clarendon House, occupied the area between the present Parker Street and Orchard Street. It was a fine house with extensive gardens of valuable fruit trees as well as lawns and borders. The servants' houses in Orchard Street were built with first floor windows at the back, so that they could not look over his garden wall. This street survives as one of the prettiest in Cambridge.

Humfrey's political interests were with the reformers of the day, and he became the second Mayor of Cambridge, after the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 cleaned up the previous corrupt administration. He also filled other public offices, and was very active in the social life of the town and University.

His financial affairs did not do well however, and despite his further useful housing projects across the town, he went bankrupt. His goods and house had to be sold in 1846, and he retired to Islington where he died in 1848.

Dr John Addenbrooke

Blue plaque about Dr John Addenbrooke Addenbrookes Hospital Old Addenbrookes, now Judge Business School

This plaque is not shown on the map, and is not worth making a trip to see, but you might notice it if you pass it. It is by the main entrance to Addenbrookes Hospital (centre photo) which is to the south of Cambridge, between Hills Road and Long Road. The plaque describes a little of the history of the hospital. The original site (right) is still known as Old Addenbrookes, but is now the Judge Business School and has nothing to do with medical matters. It is the large building opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum. You can still see 'Addenbrookes Hospital' written across the front, and the neighbouring restaurant has 'Outpatients' over the door.

Andrew Murden memeorial

In the corner of Christs Pieces, near the children's playground, there is a memorial to Andrew Murden.

It says "Andrew Murden, in memory of a man we all knew as a true brother of the union and a socialist through & through, erected by Cambridge Trade Union and Labour movement."

He was killed on A14 returning home on his bike on Christmas Eve. There is more about him here.

There is another memorial on Christs Pieces on the Public Art page, a rose garden remembering Diana, Princess of Wales.

Next to New Square, there is a modern building with shops. It has this plaque on it, round the corner.

It says "Reston House - John Reston DD Master of Jesus College from 1546-1551 bequeathed to it land in Aldermanbury in the City of London. This land was sold in 1956 & the sum received was used in the erection of this building."

John Reston

David Marshall

Marshalls is an important firm in Cambridge, based round the airport. This plaque, in Jesus Lane, honours its founder.


Free School Lane is a narrow lane alongside the New Museums Site (or Old Cavendish). It is called after the Free Grammar School which was founded in 1615. This plaque describes how this school was founded by Dr Stephen Perse. The school eventually became the Perse, a fee-paying school. The school has existed on several different sites in the city before its present home on Hills Road.

Plaque about Stephen Perse

Notice about Cambridge Refuge

The Grafton Centre is a shopping mall between Fitzroy Street, Burleigh Street and East Road. There is a footpath along its northern edge, and set into the wall, you can see this sign. It says "This wall and the ground on which it stands belong wholly to the Cambridge Refuge, July 1841. This stone was replaced March 10 1881." The Cambridge Refuge was set up to look after prostitutes, until they went in service as maids etc.

On the corner of Maids Causeway and Fair Street, you can see these strange markings. They mark the boundary of Holy Trinity Parish. Holy Trinity church is in Market Street, near Cambridge market in the city centre.

Parish marks

Almshouses in King Street

The almshouses are in Kings Street, near the Midsummer Common end. There are two plaques on the wall, as below.

This says "Joseph Merrill late of this town, Gentleman, at his Deceafe, in the Year 1805, bequeathed to the Truftees of Storey's Charity Cambridge, the Sum of 1667 Pounds, Stock in the three per Cent Consolidated Bank Annuities. In Trust that they caufe the Dividends arising from the same, to be distributed half yearly, to the poor Inhabitants of the Almshouses."

Notice about Alms houses

Notice about Alms houses

This says "Thomas Jakenett formerly a Burgefs of this town and Agnes his wife Founded an Almfhoufe in the reign of Edw. the 4th 1469, on the South fide in Gt. St. Mary Church-Yard, which was taken down in confequence of an Act of Parliament being granted for Paving and lighting the town of Cambridge, and was rebuilt in this fpot in the year 1790 at the joint expence of the Univerfity and the Inhabitants of Gt. St. Mary's Parifh."

Almshouses in King Street

These almshouses are also in Kings Street, near the Midsummer Common end.

There are two plaques on the wall, as below.

One says "Copy of tablet taken from old almshouses opposite Midsummer Common.
Elizabeth Knight late of Denney Abbey by her last will dated 18th of May A.D. 1647 and recorded in the prerogastive court of Canterbury ddi not only give these 6 houses with 18L per annum to be equally divided amongst those that shall inhabit them but also 160L to the corporation of Cambridge to be lent gratis to eight young tradesmen according to her said will.
These almhouses having fallen into decay were repaired and improved by donations of 500L and 200L from Alderman William Mortlock of Cambridge."

William Morlock did this in 1818.

The other says "These six almshouses were built in 1880 (to replace the six old and decaying houses opposite Midsummer Common) by the Trustees of the Borough Charities out of the funds and upon the estate of Knight and Mortlock's charity.
R.R.Rowe 1824-1899 Architect"

Almshouses in King Street Almshouses in King Street

This plaque is on a house in All Saints Passage. The house is now a doctor's surgery, but the Cambridge Philosophical Society still exists. Notable fellows have been Charles Babbage, Lawrence Bragg, Francis Crick, Paul Dirac, Stephen Hawking, John Stevens Henslow, Antony Hewish, Dorothy Hodgkin, Roger Penrose, Lord Rayleigh, Ernest Rutherford, Adam Sedgwick, J.J. Thomson and Alan Turing.

Cambridge Philosophical Society

The Mitre

This notice is on the side of the Mitre pub in Bridge Street. It says "The Mitre stands on the site of two former inns, The Blackamoor's Head and the Cock & Magpie, the two inns being separated by Blackamoor's Yard. The Blackamoor's head earliest recorded licensee was Robert Clarke in 1752, while Ann Lawrence ran the Cock & Magpie next door assisted by her eight daughters. By 1874 the Cock & Magpie was the only remaining pub on the site, although the premises did not become known as the Mitre until 1881."

This blue plaque is on one of the Victorian houses in Station Road, next to Tenison Road. It says "From January 1938 to November 1939 twenty-nine basque Childre, refugees from the Spanish Civil War, were cared for by local volunteers in this house provided by Jesus College."

The Mitre

Rotary in Cambridge Rotary in Cambridge

I noticed this when I wondered why a lamp post had a little fence round one side. At the base, it says "Century - 2022. Rotary in Cambridge".


Here are some more plaques, notices and other items which don't fit the themes above.

The main Cambridge war memorial is in Hills Road, at the end of Station Road. The young soldier is marching towards the city centre, back home from the war. But he is looking up Station Road towards the railway station, thinking of his dead friends that he left behind on the battle field. On the other side, you can see the old county coat of arms, supported by Great Bustards.

Cambridge war memorial

Cambridgeshire coat of arms

The Cambridgeshire county coat of arms is also on the Boots building, in Petty Cury. But without the Great Bustards! The other shield here is the university arms.

There is a little square and footpath to Tescos off Newmarket Road. In the square is a war memorial which just says "In remembrance of our fellow workers that fell in the Great War" and "in the Second World War" with the names. Tescos was built on the site of the old gas works, and this is the gas workers memorial.

War memorial for gas workers

Near to this second war memorial is the Equiano foot bridge across the river, with this plaque.

This plaque is on the building next to Great St May's church, opposite the Senate House. It commemorates the oldest printer and the oldest bookshop in England. In fact, the building is not that old, and Cambridge University Press (the oldest printer) only took over the premises (from another book shop) a few decades ago. But this was where it all started.

First printer and bookshop

Plaque celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee

Gwydir Street is off Mill Road. By the bollards, there is the Gwydir Enterprise centre, and on the wall, there is this Victorian plaque celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

On the corner of Market Street and Rose Crescent, the shop used to be a tobacconist called Bacon. There is a plaque on the wall in Rose Crescent with a light-hearted poem in praise of tobacco, mentioning Bacon. This was written by Charles Stuart Calverley (1831-1884). He came to Christs College, Cambridge after being expelled from Oxford.

Ode to tobacco

Calvery's Ode To Tobacco
(Written at Cambridge in 1862)
      A tribute to this firm

Thou, who when fears attack
Bidst them avaunt, and Black
Care, at the horseman's back
   Perching, unseatest;
Sweet, when the morn is grey;
Sweet, when they've cleared away
Lunch; and at close of day
   Possibly sweetest:

I have a liking old
For thee, though manifold
Stories, I know, are told
   Not to thy credit;
How one (or two at most)
Drops make a cat a ghost, -
Useless, except to roast -
   Doctors have said it:
How they who use fusees
All grow by slow degrees
Brainless as chimpanzees,
   Meagre as lizards;
Go mad, and beat their wives;
Plunge (after shocking lives)
Razors and carving-knives
   Into their gizzards.

Confound such knavish tricks!
Yet know I five or six
Smokers who freely mix
   Still with their neighbours;
Jones - (who, I'm glad to say,
Asked leave of Mrs. J - )
Daily absorbs a clay
   After his labours.

Cats may have had their goose
Cooked by tobacco-juice;
Still, why deny its use
   Thoughtfully taken?
We're not as tabbies are;
Smith, take a fresh cigar!
Jones, the tobacco jar!
   Here's to thee, Bacon!

"Black care" is an echo of the Latin poet Horace, Odes 3.1.41: post equitem sedet atra Cura (black care sits behind the horseman). A 'fusee' is a match that stays alight even in a strong wind. A 'clay' is 'a clay pipe. It is tempting to say that "Confound such knavish tricks" is an echo from the second verse of the National Anthem (1745) "Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish tricks".

Garret Hostel bridge

Garret Hostel bridge is the only public footbridge across the river between Magdalene Bridge and Silver Street Bridge. There is a plaque by it saying "This bridge was given in 1960 by the TRUSTED family members of Trinity Hall. It was designed by Timothy Guy MORGAN, an undergraduate of Jesus College, who died in that year.".

Garret Hostel

The passage over the bridge is called Garret Hostel Lane. There is an old piece of wall on the Trinity Hall side of the lane, sticking out slightly. There is a plaque on the side of the sticking out bit, high up, saying "Plan - shewing Trinity Hall - line of boundary - outside stable buildings" and a very simple plan underneath. There is no date, but "shewing" is a spelling suggests that it is pre-Victorian. The wall itself is listed, but there is no mention of the plaque.

Edward Storey

This plaque is attached to the wall of the Chophouse in Northampton Street. It says "Foundation of Edward Storey, established by will 1692, original clergy widows almshouses, built 1729"

Edward Fitzgerald

This plaque is attached to a house in Kings Parade, near Great St Marys. It says "Edward Fitzgerald 1809-1883". He was the translator of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Charles Lamb

This plaque is attached to 11 Kings Parade. It says "Charles Lamb lodged here August 1819". He was an English essayist, poet, and antiquarian, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb."

Don Casey

This plaque is on Newmarket Road, near St Andrew's the Lesser church. It says "Casey's Yard. Between 1963 and 2009 here in this yard, Donn Casey invented many objects useful to solving small and world problems. Most notably the FILCHIE clip and its instruments. To this day it is the clip most used and continues to give choice and independence in individual personal lives. DONN CASEY Australia 1931-2009 UK"

Not really plaques

There are some attractive 3D maps in Cambridge. These are not really plaques or notices, but they do use writing - braille. Since the maps are 3D, they can be felt as well as looked at, so they can be used by the blind. Two of them are on Kings Parade, outside Great St Marys church. The other one is near Queens Road, on Queens Green, round the back of Queens college. They are described on the Public Art page here and here.

There is more about him here.

On the wall of Great St Marys church, there is this plaque, which says "This disk marks the datum point from which in 1725 William Warren, Fellow of Trinity Hall, began to measure the one mile points along the roads from Cambridge, at which were set up the first true milestones in Britain since Roman times."

Plaque about milestones on Great St Marys

3D map outside Great St Marys

Here is one of those milestones. It is on Trumpington Road, at the end of Brooklands Avenue. It says "I mile to Great Saint Maries church Cambridge AD MDCCXXVIII". The year is 1728. This milestone is listed, and the listing says that William Warren set up the milestones "under the will of Dr William Mowse Master of Trinity Hall 1552-3. It is a rectangular stone with inset rounded head and has the arms of Trinity Hall impaling Mowse and a pointing hand." I think that the name Cambridge was removed during WWII to confuse the Germans, and now replaced.

Godmanchester turnpike

On the wall of Kettles Yard new building, on Castle Street, there is this notice about an old turnpike road. It used to be high up the wall, but is now at head height (and has been cleaned).

A turnpike is a road for which a driver pays a toll or a fee for use. The content of the notice are given to the right (in case you can't read it from the photo).

There are 8 furlongs to a mile, so the distance is 23.34 kilometres.


the Horse-fhoe Corner
14 miles 4 furlongs

Sign on pub

King Street is famous for its pubs, and notorious for the King Street Run, a pub crawl where people try to drink in every pub in the street. Luckily there are less pubs than there used to be.

The Champion of the Thames is one of these pubs. It has this sign on the corner, possibly directed towards the King Street Run. It says "This HOUSE is dedicated towards those splendid FELLOWS who make DRINKING a pleasure, who reach CONTENTMENT before CAPACITY and who, whatever the DRINK, can take it, hold it, enjoy it, and STILL remain GENTLEMEN"

Kings Street is not near Kings Parade by the way. Cambridge enjoys having similar street names for roads in different parts of the city!

Petersfield pub sign

This pub is called the Petersfield. It is situated on the corner of Sturton Street and Hooper Street. It has a good (if bogus) coat of arms, showing a punt, a bicycle, chimneys and something else. I thought it was a beehive, referring to the near-by shopping centre, called the Beehive site after the Co-op (which isn't there any more!). But perhaps it is a fermenting vessel, for making beer. Or a smelter, after the Ironworks (which is also not there...)

The Latin motto is "Comede gaudeo bibe" which translates as "Eat, drink, be glad!"

Kingston pub sign

This pub is called the Kingston. It is situated in Kingston Street. The sign outside says "Briritsh cask ales and World Beers. Curmudgeon Retres since 1879.Non Facile Est, which means "It's not easy."

Latin and Greek sign saying No Bikes

This Latin and Greek sign is in Portugal Street.

The Latin says "DUA ROTAE HI RELICTAE PERIMENTUR". This means "Two wheels left here will be destroyed" - that is - "Don't leave your bikes here!". Presumably the Greek means the same.

Latin sign saying 'I came, I saw, I drank' Latin sign saying 'I came, I saw, I drank'

Nearby, on Quayside, there is a wine merchant with a motto of "Vini, Vidi, Bibi". This means "I came, I saw, I drank". It comes from Julius Caesar saying "Veni, Vidi, Vici", or "I came, I saw, I conquered".

date on house

This date is part of the pargetting (plaster work) on an old building, 10 Bridge St, listed grade II. It is a C17 or C18 building, so it's a little startling to find a date of 1976. But this shows (very honourably) when the building was renovated.

Mill Road benches Mill Road benches Mill Road benches

These benches are at the highest point of Mill Road bridge, in memory of two well-known local people. One says "Allan Brigham 1951-2020 - He loved Mill Road and Mill Road loved him". The other says "Suzy Oakes 1950-2011 - Champion of Mill Road". Also marked on that bench is "Be the change." One of the Dinky Doors is between the benches.

Guildhall benches Guildhall benches

These benches are near the Guildhall, in Peas Hill. The notice says "The timber used for this seating area has been slvaged from the Rugeley Power Station prior to its demolition between 2019 and 2021. Following a brief stay in Margate, it was transported to Cambridge in 2022 and was locally crafted into these benches. - Cambridge Garden of Resilience".

The railway came to Cambridge in 1845. The station has shields decorating its front, along the top. They are given below, in order. These are from the coats of arms of the colleges of Cambridge University. They are mostly the undergraduate colleges. One shield is very overgrown, but it looks like Robinson College. There are also Wolfson College, Clare Hall and Darwin College, which are post-graduate colleges. Christs College and St Johns College share the same coat of arms as they were both founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort. There is also the shields of Cambridge University and the City of Cambridge, with four shields between them of local worthies. Newnham College is hard to find, and originally I thought it was missing, but Paul Read kindly sent me the photo (below) and explained it is "very difficult to find as it is above a canopy on the platform side on the south side of the building." Homerton College is also missing, but that used to train teachers, and has only recently become a general undergraduate college. The other missing colleges are Hughes Hall, St Edmund's College and Lucy Cavendish College, which take post-graduates and mature undergraduates. Click here for more information on Cambridge colleges.

On the northern building (on the left, facing the buildings): Robinson College, Wolfson College, New Hall, Clare Hall, Darwin College, Churchill College, Selwyn College
On the north side of the main building: Magdalene College, Christs College / St Johns College
On the front of the main building (1845): St Catharines College, Kings College, Trinity Hall, Pembroke College, Peterhouse, City of Cambridge,
7th Duke of Leeds (High Steward of Cambridge ?-?),
4th Earl of Hardwicke (Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire 1834-1873),
3rd Duke of Northumberland (Chancellor of Cambridge University 1840-1847),
1st Baron Lyndhust (High Steward of Cambridge University 1840-1863),
Cambridge University, Clare College, Gonville and Caius College, Corpus Christi College, Queens College, Jesus College
On the south side of the main building: Sidney Sussex College
On the southern building (on the right, facing the buildings): Trinity College, Emmanuel College, Downing College, Fitzwilliam College, Girton College
For Newnham, see above.

Robinson College
Robinson College

Wolfson College
Wolfson College

New Hall
New Hall (now Murray Edwards)

Clare  Hall
Clare Hall

Darwin College
Darwin College

Churchill College
Churchill College

Selwyn College
Selwyn College

Magdalene College
Magdalene College

Christs College / St Johns College
Christs College / St Johns College

St Catharines College
St Catharines College

Kings College
Kings College

Trinity Hall
Trinity Hall

Pembroke College
Pembroke College


City of Cambridge
City of Cambridge

7th Duke of Leeds (High Steward of Cambridge) ?-?
7th Duke of Leeds
High Steward of Cambridge

4th Earl of Hardwicke (Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire(1834-1873)
4th Earl of Hardwicke
Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire

3rd Duke of Northumberland (Chancellor of Cambridge University 1840-1847)
3rd Duke of Northumberland
Chancellor of Cambridge University

1st Baron Lyndhust (High Steward of Cambridge University 1840-1863)
1st Baron Lyndhust
High Steward of Cambridge University

Cambridge University
Cambridge University

Clare College
Clare College

Gonville and Caius College
Gonville and Caius College

Corpus Christi College
Corpus Christi College

Queens College
Queens College

Jesus College
Jesus College

Sidney Sussex College
Sidney Sussex College

Trinity College
Trinity College

Emmanuel College
Emmanuel College

Downing College
Downing College

Fitzwilliam College
Fitzwilliam College

Girton College
Girton College

Newnham College
Newnham College

Cambridge rail station
Cambridge rail station
showing some of the shields