Get inspired on National Writing Day by visiting these iconic literary spots in Cambridge
There is plenty to write home about in Cambridge – ‘write’ being the operative word, since the city’s university is famed for the number of students turned author it has produced over the centuries.
Think Zadie Smith, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, E M Forster, A A Milne, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Lord Tennyson, the list goes on and on.
So, it’s no surprise that Cambridge is a ‘go to’ city for followers of National Writing Day on June 24 this year.
Why not spend some time yourself in some of those writing havens treasured by our, well, national writing treasures?
The Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester
Poet Rupert Brooke, together with writers E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf, loved The Orchard Tea Garden.
An outside space where they could sip Earl Grey alongside the River Cam and under the arching branches of weeping willow trees, it’s an idyllic spot and well worth a visit. There’s even a Rupert Brooke Museum on-site.
A lovely library and designed by none other than architect Sir Christopher Wren, this indoor space boasts a fascinating collection of first editions and rare books.
There is also a range of original manuscripts from authors far and wide in the Wren Library, including A A Milne and Sir Isaac Newton.
An independent outlet near the King’s College Chapel on a historic cobbled side street, David’s Bookshop is a haven for book browsers.
More than 120 years old, it’s a family-run bookshop, passed down through the generations and is a fab source of antique books and maps.
The Eagle Pub
It’s said that the discovery of DNA first came to be announced in Cambridge’s Eagle Pub. Sitting in the centre of the city, it now makes its own craft beer, called DNA.
The announcement of the existence of DNA was made back in 1953 by scientists Crick and Watson. The latter even mentioned the pub in his book titled The Double Helix.
The pub is also known for its Shakespeare references. Back in the day, the Bard’s scripts were performed here. Surely it’s not too far-fetched to believe he would have been in the audience at the time.
Cambridge University Colleges
See which particular university college your favourite writers attended by embarking on one of these walking tours, run during the Cambridge Literary Festival.
Past student authors include Wordsworth in St John’s, Charles Darwin at Christ’s, Salman Rushdie at King’s, and Isaac Newton and Bertrand Russell at Trinity.
The Cambridge Literary Festival takes place in the city in both the spring and autumn every year. You can listen to literary-based talks by authors, TV presenters, journalists, academics, and politicians.
Well-known personalities taking part in the spring online sessions this year included Irish author Colm Toibin, restaurant critic Grace Dent, journalist Martin Shaw, and author Maggie O’Farrell.
Even the Duchess of Cornwall gets in on the act, being a patron of around 100 writing-based charities.
@ClarenceHouse says: “Books never lose their signal or run out of battery and they will always take you to a thousand different worlds with every turn of a page.”
Find out more fascinating facts about Cambridge at our website CheckedInn today.
At one time it was used as grazing land and now and again you’ll still be able to spot the odd herd of cattle, heads bowed, and tucking in.
Milton Country Park
The last favourite spot in Cambridge to make our Top 5, Milton Country Park is 95-acres of greenery, lakes and woodland trails sitting just north of the city.
As well as picnicking here, you can also do a bit of paddleboarding, canoeing or open water swimming – if you remember to bring along the wet suit.
If for some reason, you forget your picnic well, there’s always a café to satisfy your hunger pangs (as well as a visitor centre to have a wander around).
Finally, if you’re wondering what to put in your picnic basket then super-chef @jamieoliver has the answer: “Think about recipes that are fun and colourful to keep kids interested and are big enough on flavour that the adults will love them, too. Try homemade hummus with crunchy veg for dipping or gorgeous grilled chicken skewers.”
Get more inside information on the best Cambridge spots at our website CheckedInn.