A Cambridge Atlas by B.A.Zanditon

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Cambridge Atlas

Newnham Grange Ground Floor 1 Newnham Grange: Now Darwin College. Margaret Keynes' book, A House by the River, gives a detailed history of the house and its occupants and the surrounding land. Raverat says they could see Newnham Mill from here. In Spring/Summer the trees now block this view though it may be visible from the upper windows.

1A The wall along the road: Where the children sat to watch the Prince of Wales go by/played. The wall is 9 foot high. Raverat did not like climbing.

1B Tennis Court: Raverat mentions she was bad at tennis. I looked for tennis courts and found them all over Cambridge. I was wondering which one she might have played on. When I visited the college I was told that the lawn I was standing by was the site of the tennis courts her father built. According to MK, part of the Old Granary was demolished to make space. Her father built a gallery along the end of the Old Granary for people to watch the games though it was, apparently, an unsuccessful viewing place. Today it leads you to the Painted Room which includes some of Raverat’s work.

1C Great Copper Beech in the garden at Newnham Grange: Where they had tea in summer. The Great Copper Beech is still in the garden though heavily pruned.


2 Old Granary: Home to hens; play space/hiding place for the Darwin children; remodelled into a flat. Keynes gives a history of the building works and tenants. Also site of the boat house (The Griffin, a row boat and The Escallop, a canoe) and The Gallery - a viewing area for watching tennis on the tennis court beside the house.

3 Little Island/bridge: Land now owned by Darwin College; where they played. Father built bridge to connect their land to Little Island. Route of the hens to Lammas Land.

Mr Motts cows
      crossing daily for milking.4 Big Island/bridge: Land now owned by Darwin College; where they played. Father built bridge from Little Island to Big Island. From the end of Big Island you get a good view of Newnham Mill, the Granta Brewery, can see cows still grazing on Sheep's Green, and can imagine Mr Mott's cows crossing daily for milking.

5 Lammas Land: Where the hens were meant to cross to from The Old Granary to forage her mother having made them a little wire bridge (named the Bridge of Sighs by Keynes) so they could cross the ditch separating Lammas Land from Little Island; where her father was practicing archery when Raverat wanted to tell him about her engagement. On current maps this is shown as Sheep’s Green; during the time the Darwins live here this was still Lammas Land and used as such. Keynes gives a detailed account of the ownership and use of this land.

6 The Cam: The Cam ran behind their house. They went boating on the river; watched processions and races on the river; fell into the river; hoped to be flooded by it but the water never came further than the door.

7 The weir: Still on the river though no longer any mills. Raverat mentions seeing and hearing it from the night nursery windows.

8 Anchor Public house: Where Raverat, coming home one night, alone, saw a group of undergraduates carrying the body of a young woman. Keynes clears up the mystery.

9 King's Mill (Fosters Mill): Could be seen from end of garden near Silver Street Bridge. They watched corn sacks being hoisted up into it from barges.

10 Laundress Green: Where the laundresses would lay out sheets to dry (MK).

11 Newnham Mill: Where Mr Mott's cows crossed 4 times a day for milking. Visible from the night nursery. Raverat says you could see it from the bay window her father threw out from the back of the house; there is no clear view in the Spring/Summer from those windows today. Still visible from the end of Big Island.

12 Coe Fen: Public land extending southward on the east bank of the river below Silver Street Bridge. Bathing places along it.

13 Sheep’s Green: Public grazing land below the site of Newnham Grange. Bathing places along it.

14 Builder's yard and houses on Silver St: Near side of Cam on Silver St., could be seen from the day nursery window.

15 Queens' Green: Zoe the horse pastured here; the hens scratched for food. Raverat describes lime trees; also elms near Queens' College.

16 Queens' College: Could be seen from the day nursery windows.

17 The Hermitage: House next door to Newnham Grange; home of Mrs P (widow of the Rev Stephen Parkinson) who then became Mrs C. (widow of Mr Gerrard Cobb who built Monte Cobbeo in Trinity Fellows Garden for the purpose of proposing to her). She was kind to the crossing sweeper leaving him money in her will.

18 Springfield: Home of Cara Jebb, mother's aunt and wife of Prof Richard Jebb. Raverat sent 'nearly every day' with notes from her mother to plan day's events.

19 The Backs/Queen's Road: Walked and cycled along to visit cousins on Huntingdon Road. Not comfortable place to be alone after dark.

20 Silver Street: A major route into the city when the Darwins lived here. Nearly all the life of Cambridge 'flowed backwards and forwards over our bridge and before our house'.

21 Silver Street Bridge: Also known as Little Bridge. Before the secondary branch of the Cam was closed off, there were two bridges on Silver Street known as the Little Bridges.

22 Sidgwick Ave: Being built when Raverat was a child. Called New Road.

23 Crossing sweeper's corner: Where the crossing sweeper stood (this was, I think, the NW corner of the intersection).; his face was badly mutilated; Mrs P/C provided him with a hot dinner every day.

24 Bull Bus (Bull Hotel): Mother sometimes took the Bull Bus to the railway station. In Spalding's Directory for 1887 under Cab Proprietors, John A. Moyes is listed at the Bull Hotel. Hence Raverat's usage, Bull Bus. In the 1895 directory, a Miss Moyes is listed. The Bull Hotel is now part of St. Catherine's College. According to one of the Porters, Hobson (of Hobson's choice) (1545-1631) had a livery stable on the site. You got the horse he gave you whether you wanted it or not.

Gap in railings 25 Gap in railings between no's 58/59Trumpington St: A blind beggar stood here. He had a dog and a stick.

26 Fitzwilliam Museum: Drawing lessons with Miss Mary Greene (aunt to Graham Greene). Mary Greene (Mary Charlotte Greene 1860-1951) lived in Harston; taught drawing to the Darwin children. You can find her paintings on line.

27 Cast Museum: Drawing lessons in the basement with Miss Mary Greene (aunt to Graham Greene). The building is now the Peterhouse College Library.

28 Tibbs Row: Early address of Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company (Uncle Horace's company).

29 15 Fitzwilliam St: Home of Mrs Potts where Aunt Cara stayed when she arrived in Cambridge, a beautiful and eligible young woman, and, coincidentally, where the lodger from The Old Granary moved when Gwen Raverat wanted to return to Cambridge.

30 Goody's, 5 Trumpington Road: St Faith's preparatory school where brother Charles went for two years. Referred to by Raverat as Goody's after the Rev Goodchild who founded it in a shed in Belvoir Terrace in 1884; moved to 5 Trumpington Road in 1895 when Charles would have been 8 years old. The Reverend is said to have named the school after his daughter Faith.

31 Cambridge Union Workhouse: 81 Mill Road. Aunt Bessy, when she moved to Cambridge, read to the old women who resided here. Now Ditchburn Place.

Brougham32 Guildhall: Went with mother to concerts; Mrs P/C drove past in her carriage and never offered a lift. In library I found a photograph of Reverend Parkinson in the first motorised brougham in Cambridge; Raverat does not say if Mrs P's carriage was horse drawn or motorised.

33 King's College and Chapel: Mother went to a ball here. Illustration showing mother sketching on the opposite bank of the Cam in front of King's Chapel. This is now not accessible from the Backs. The children went to chapel. Mother thought they needed religion. Walter the verger sat them in the High Places though they had no connection to the place.

Monte Cobbeo

34 Trinity Fellows Garden, incl Monte Cobbeo: Monte Cobbeo: created by Mr Cobb, senior fellow of Trinity College, in the Fellows Garden. A monticule with an arbour for the purpose of proposing to Mrs P, widow of the Reverend Parkinson of the Hermitage, Silver St. The monticule is still in the garden; it is to the left of the main gate. If you stand on the grass verge beside the gate, you can look toward it though it isn’t visible in summer through the shrubbery and trees. There is a small thatched arbour, with a bench, on its top, though whether this is the original arbour is not clear. The gardener who showed it me thought not.

35 Trinity College, incl Great Court and Lodge: Father, George, Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy, was a fellow here. The cousins had tea with their cousin Ralph Wedgewood in his rooms here. The family were invited to tea with the Master at Trinity Lodge after the Assizes when they finished off the Judge's special biscuits.

Flacks36 Flacks, 9 Bridge St, Bootmaker: Now a jewellery shop; the shop front has been altered.

37 Round Church: Mother went once and thought the sermons were too long so never went back. Children locked in with a lunatic.

Jolley Furniture 38 Jolleys, 33 Bridge St: Furniture shop - mother enjoyed travelling on the Cam. She would have come in their boat, The Griffin. The building on this corner was rebuilt in the 1960s and, prior to becoming a restaurant, was a piano shop.

39 Town Bridge: Magdalene Bridge - oldest bridge over Cam. Also known as the Great Bridge.

40 Castle Hill: Tramps and drunken men; Raverat also saw them on Newmarket Road. The Castle End Mission, established on Pound Hill in 1885, might account for the tramps.

41 Mount Pleasant and Shelly Row: Route they took to cousins on the Huntingdon Road. Tumble down cottages and unpleasant people. Once knocked off bike by boys throwing stones. Shelly Row is where they saw the boys wringing a chicken's neck. On Mount Pleasant, on the corner with Shelly Row, is still a wall that looks like the wall in the illustration of this incident in Period Piece. The wall no longer goes around the corner.

Pine Cone 42 The Orchard: Huntingdon Road. Home of Uncle Horace (Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company)/ cousins. Now part of Murray Edwards formerly New Hall. MK says part of New Hall built on the site of his house.

43 The Grove: Huntingdon Road. Grandmother Emma Darwin spent winters here after Charles Darwin's death. When she died and the house was sold, the cousins were annoyed that they had to go out onto the public way to gain access to each other. The land is now divided between Fitzwilliam College and Murray Edwards (formerly New Hall). Grove Lodge near the road doesn't seem to be the original house which is shown as being further back on an old ordnance survey map.

44 Wychfield: Huntingdon Road. Home of Uncle Frank/cousins. Now part of Trinity Hall. The house has been extended and is used as a student residence.

Chestnut Pods Chestnut Pods Stamp

45 Scott Polar Institute: Raverat worked for Naval Intelligence as a draughtsman in WWII. She made block diagrams for handbooks of information about countries that the services might visit. She had to invent her own method of showing terrain by studying contours on a map, often without the help of photographs. This information is from MK who gives a detailed account in her book. After the war Raverat was given 3 of the volumes to which she contributed.

46 Cattle market: Cattle were driven past Newnham Grange to the market then near to where The Junction now stands on Clifton Way.

47 Railway station: Mother took the Bull Bus to take the train to London. Sometimes took the tram that went up Trumpington St home. In 1883 it took 1 hour and 16 minutes to travel from Liverpool St to Cambridge and, by 1904, 4 minutes had been knocked off the down time and 2 off the fastest up express.

48 Granchester/Grantchester Mill: Site of picnics; journeys to which involved rowing past young men bathing naked; the same bathing spots are used today and, sometimes, there are naked bathers still. The flour for their bread came from the mill.

49 Byron's Pool: Furthest reach of the Cam, going upstream, that Raverat mentions. It features in the distance in the illustration of the Aunts and Uncles suffering at a picnic.

50 Trumpington Churchyard: George Darwin and Gwen Raverat buried here.

51 Harston: Home of Miss Mary Greene, artist and drawing teacher, aunt to Graham Greene.

52 Croydon cum Clopton: From where a cart brought people into town on market day; the driver did errands; Raverat says he could not read but never made mistakes. After their marriage Gwen and Jacques Raverat rented a house here.

53 6 Mile Bottom: Parents cycled to a dinner party here (10 miles out); mother forgot her skirt though she had her blouse and bodice.

54 Fleam Dyke Cottages: There are Fleam Dyke Cottages marked on one of my maps though whether these are the cottages where, after a picnic in Fleam Dyke, Raverat and her Aunt Bessy were invited to watch a pig sowing, is uncertain.

55 The Ouse: Mother insisted they have a picnic here to get to know people their own age. Took a bus rather than row. Someone fell in.

Route Map

© B.A.Zanditon 2014

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