The Gown around Town

Last weekend, I was in Cambridge at graduation weekend ( a slight miscalculation of timing!). 

There were a number of gowns, mostly black with white fur (students graduating with BAs) and smartly dressed, proud parents about town.

Persons taking their first Cambridge degrees wear appropriate gowns (in the case of undergraduates their undergraduate gown which varies in colour or design from College to College), with the hood of the degree to be taken. The hoods clearly indicate the degrees sought by graduands, and those seen at General Admission include (in order of precedence):  

    Master of Law: black and light cherry silk
    Master of Engineering: black cloth lined with bronze silk
    Master of Natural Science: black silk lined with pink and light blue silk
    Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine: mid cherry silk and more fur
    Bachelor of Music: dark cherry satin and white fur
    Bachelor of Arts: black cloth and white fur
    Bachelor of Education: black cloth, blue silk and white fur
    Bachelor of Theology for Ministry: black cloth, black silk and white fur.

The ‘fur’ used is now made of synthetic material.

I was there to visit Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology  to examine their collection of  local Anglo-Saxon metalwork. Some of the artefacts of Professor Grahame Clarke’s excavations of Star Carr  are on display to the general public, including a stag antler headdress.

In the late afternoon, on the Saturday, we stood on the Silver Street Bridge and viewed the Wooden Bridge, popularly called the Mathematical Bridge, at Queen‘s College.The bridge has many myths surrounding its construction. One claim being that it was designed by Isaac Newton. However, Newton died in 1726, over twenty years before the bridge’s creation. The first bridge was designed by William Etheridge (1709-1776) and built by James Essex the Younger (1722-1784) in 1749. It has subsequently been rebuilt in 1867 and 1902 following the original design.


Sunday morning was another visit to Granchester and The Orchard, where there is a Rupert Brooke museum.

The Orchard, first planted in 1868, became a Tea Garden purely by chance. A group of Cambridge students asked Mrs Stevenson of Orchard House if she would serve them tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees rather than, as was usual, on the front lawn of the House. They were unaware that, on that spring morning in 1897, they had started a great Cambridge tradition. The students enjoyed their rural tea, and word spread around the colleges.

Here, at Orchard House, Rupert Brooke took up residence in 1909 before moving next door to the Old Vicarage. He had moved out of Cambridge, hoping to escape his hectic social life there, but in vain. The charismatic young Brooke drew a constant stream of visitors, and eventually became the centre of a circle of friends, later dubbed by Virginia Woolf the Neo-Pagans. So the Rupert Brooke Society and the Rupert Brooke Museum could have no better home or setting.

Brooke had fallen in love with his idyllic life in Grantchester, and, while in a homesick mood on a trip to Berlin, wrote one of his best-known poems, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, the famous final lines immortalizing afternoon tea in The Orchard:

Stands the church clock at ten-to-three
And is there honey still for tea?

Today the Tea Garden is still open. Over morning coffee or a light luncheon, you can soak up the atmosphere of a bygone age or follow the footsteps of generations by sharing in the great English tradition of afternoon tea.


Viking ship update:

This morning reported near Kristiansand.

Navigation data

State: Harboured

Latitude: 58° 7’14″(N) Longitude: 7° 59’0″(E) Ground course: 194 ° (T)Ground speed: 0 knots Speed through water: 0 knots Max speed through water: 2 knotsReported: 03/07/07 07:29 UTC Received: 03/07/07 09:59 UTC+2Average wind speed: 4 knots Max wind speed: 6 knotsWind direction: 188 ° (T) Wind direction standard deviation: 10 ° (T)

Sea water temperature: 17 °C

Barometric pressure: 1000 hPa

Tuesday, July 3rd.01:30 a.m. Strong breeze. Pouring rain. 8-10 knots. Two more crew-members evacuated. One sea sick, one with hypothermia (severe cooling of the body )02:45 a.m. We dock on Bragdøya near Kristianssand. Sailing distance so far: Roskilde – Bragdøya 240,5 nautical miles in 34,5 hours. An average of 7 knots.


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