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Visiting Hughes Hall, Cambridge, England: Graduate College With 19th Century Flemish Renaissance Gables

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The pavilion at Fenner's cricket ground, Cambridge

The pavilion at Fenner's cricket ground, Cambridge

Margaret Wileman Building Hughes Hall, Wollaston Road, Cambridge

Margaret Wileman Building Hughes Hall, Wollaston Road, Cambridge

Overlooks Fenner's university cricket ground

This 19th century Cambridge College is particularly distinguished architecturally by the Flemish Renaissance frontage of its main building, opened in 1895, the work of William Fawcett. In East Anglia, a region of England, Flemish gables are not unusual on older buildings and in my humble view the gables at Hughes Hall are among the finest examples of this feature.

The reference in the title to 'graduate college' needs further explanation. Most — about 80% — of the students are indeed graduates and the College does not admit students under the age of 21. A proportion of these relatively older students do, however, follow undergraduate courses. The College, in fact, states that it is indeed the oldest graduate College in Cambridge University.

The College overlooks Fenner's, the Cambridge University cricket ground. The striking, gabled frontage of the College has thus provided a backdrop to cricketing events for generations of Cambridge students.

Despite the proximity of these regular sports activities, the College is situated in a quiet district of Cambridge, away from the Downtown area. This probably gives the College a special attraction for older students pursuing Postgraduate taught courses or research. The College's main entrance is accessed from Wollaston Road. Wollaston Lodge, a mature building on the College site, was refurbished in recent years.

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In common with other Cambridge Colleges, Hughes Hall has its own scarf; its colours are light blue, dark blue and white.

This College has strong associations with 19th century efforts to promote the higher education of women. For decades the College has admitted men and women, while originally established as the Cambridge Training College (CTC) for women. Some of the disciplines of study in which the College is particularly strong include medicine, education and law.

Prominent people associated with the College have included: Elizabeth P Hughes, first Principal of the College in 1885, for whom the College was named in 1949; Richard D'Aeth, educationalist and President of the College 1978-1984 (1); Sir Peter Mansfield, 2003 Nobel Prizewinner in Physiology or Medicine, Honorary Fellow of the College. The current President of the College is former Ambassador Sarah Squire. (The head of the College was originally called the Principal, but later the title was changed to President.)

Also worth seeing

The visitor attractions in Cambridge include Senate House and King's College Chapel and the picturesque Backs along the Cam River, where several of the older Colleges are situated. Churchill College was founded as a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill.

Ely (distance: 26 kilometres) has a striking, Medieval cathedral.


How to get there

United Airlines flies from New York Newark Airport to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Rail services link Cambridge with London's Liverpool Street and St Pancras railroad stations. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

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