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Visiting Thorneycreek at Bin Brook, Robinson College, Cambridge, England: Arts and Crafts Building Dating From 1895

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Seemingly unparalleled seclusion

At Robinson College, Cambridge, Thorneycreek (which is sometimes referred to in full as Thorneycreek House) is a building dating from 1895, in Arts and Crafts style (1). Features of the building include gable roofing, Mock Tudor boards, and tall chimney stacks.

While Robinson College is a 20th century College of Cambridge University, it incorporates this fine example of very 'traditional' architecture. This, together with the lush vegetation around Bin Brook and the monumentality of the Gillespie, Kidd and Coia red brick building which separates the College gardens from Grange Road, arguably makes for one of the most tranquil and aesthetically pleasing and secluded environments in a University city where these are not few and far between.

The College grounds, which previously belonged to St. John's College, lie around Bin Brook, which leads downstream to St. John's. While The Backs at St. John's and Trinity (and at certain other venerable Colleges on the Cam River) have gardens which are relatively open view to passers by, Bin Brook at Robinson is thus rather secluded. Indeed, the imposing elevation of the modern College building (see below) almost gives the impression of an Arabian city, with a private oasis hidden from general view. (Do allow a blogger a little imaginative liberty...!)

The presence of an Arts and Crafts building at a modern College is also a feature at Robinson College's neighbour, Clare Hall, which thus incorporates Elmside, another Arts and Crafts building, dating from 1885.

In my humble opinion, the sense of seclusion of both Thorneycroft and Elmside are almost unparalleled.

Robinson College was founded in 1977 by Sir Derek Robinson (1904-1987)(1) and opened by The Queen in 1981. Its Chapel has windows by John Piper and an organ by Frobenius. Interestingly, for a modern College, its Chapel has traditionally used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. At formal dinners, Latin Grace is by tradition said.

The College is known for its proximity to the University Library.

Some former students and fellows

Alumnae of the College have included: Rebecca John, Welsh journalist and linguist; Dame Justine Thornton, Barrister and Judge of the High Court of England and Wales;

Alumni of the College have included: Sir Nicholas Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Greg Hands, former Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury;

and very many other distinguished individuals.

Fellows of the College have included: Dame Athene Donald, FRS, physicist and Master of Churchill College, Cambridge; Albrecht Froehlich, FRS, mathematician; Janusz Kochanowski, Polish lawyer and diplomat;

and very many other distinguished individuals.

January 8, 2021

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(1) See also: Tim Robinson, Cambridge College Gardens, London: White Lion Publishing, 2019, p. 229.

(2) Sir Derek Robinson was a well known local businessman; it is interesting that in contrast to this, some of the older Colleges were founded by either Royalty or members of the Peerage.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Also worth seeing

In Cambridge itself, among its ancient Colleges are King's, Clare, Trinity, and St. John's, all of which have gardens on The Backs, on the Cam River.

Ely (distance: 26 kilometres) has a striking Cathedral, a landmark over the surrounding countriside for hundreds of years.


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. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Other of my hubpages may also be of interest


MJFenn (author) on January 09, 2021:

Liz Westwood: It's not always open, but if you visit you may see how secluded and tranquil an environment it is. Thank-you for your comment.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 08, 2021:

This article puts an often overlooked Cambridge college on the map.

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