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Visiting the 'Bridge of Sighs' at St John's College, Cambridge: one of England's most famous sights

Updated on July 2, 2014
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
The Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge
The Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge | Source
Shield of St John's College, Cambridge
Shield of St John's College, Cambridge | Source
Cambridgeshire map
Cambridgeshire map | Source

Gracing the Cam River for nearly two centuries

First of all, don't confuse the neo-Gothic 'Bridge of Sighs', Cambridge, with the 'Bridge of Sighs', Oxford. Also, don't confuse St John's College, Cambridge, with St John's College, Oxford. (In fact, you may discover that not confusing Oxford and Cambridge universities is almost an art form in England.)

Anyway, once you know you are there at the Bridge of Sighs, St John's College, Cambridge, guidebooks and people may begin to tell you the differences between the Cambridge 'Bridge of Sighs' and the Oxford one. Some of the characteristics cited of these covered bridges at England's two ancient universities may include:

The Cambridge one was built in the 19th century (in 1831, in fact), while the Oxford one dtaes from the early 20th century.

The Cambridge 'Bridge of Sighs' does not have glass in its windows, whereas the Oxford one does.

The Cambridge one is built over water, while the Oxford one links two buildings over a road.

(The Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy, is different again.)

And so forth.

(So now you know...)

Underneath the picture supplied may be seen a number of boats, known as punts, which may be regularly hired for self-propelled 'punting' trips along Cambridge's scenic Cam River. The Bridge of Sighs at St John's College, and King's College Chapel are among the most popular sights visited on such river trips.

The Bridge of Sighs at Cambridge is one of a number of architecturally distinguished features at St John's College, Cambridge, including the College Chapel, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, the Tudor Second Court, built 1598 to 1602, the Old Library, built 1624 and the picturesque, neo-Gothic 'Wedding Cake' Building, or New Court, often photographed from The Backs.

The College was founded in 1511, and people associated with it over the centuries have included several Nobel Prizewinners, four British Prime Ministers, poet William Wordsworth and Kenneth Thomson, 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet, prominent Canadian businessman (who did not use his noble title in Canada).

There is a melancholy note to the design of the 'Bridge of Sighs', Cambridge. Its architect was Henry Hutchinson, who died in 1831, the same year as the completion of the bridge, at the early age of 31.

Also worth seeing

The many Cambridge Colleges in the city itself are well worth spending time to visit; some are open to the public more often than others; Senate House, near King's College Chapel, is a particularly noteworthy structure.

Ely (distance: 26 kilometres) has a striking, ancient Cathedral.


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

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada


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      Me 6 years ago

      How long did it take to get built? Length? Height?

      Any incidents?