Top 10 history hot spots of Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire is bursting with history, culture and tradition. With so many different places of interest, it can sometimes be difficult to choose where to go and what to do. So to help you out, we've compiled our pick of its top 10 historic attractions.

Ely Cathedral

1. Ely Cathedral

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Towering above its flat surroundings, this magnificent building is one of Cambridgeshire’s most iconic landmarks. Thousands of visitors come every year to admire its architecture and discover more about its history.

Work on the present-day building began in the 11th century and it became a cathedral in 1109. But the first Christian building on the site dates back to 673, when St Etheldreda set up and ruled a monastery in Ely after the end of her second marriage. After her death, her shrine became the focus for many medieval pilgrims.

Today, regular, guided tours by trained and knowledgeable guides take place throughout the year. Make sure you visit the unique Octagon Tower, which is arguably the most striking part of the cathedral. Built in the 1320s, it is a masterpiece of medieval engineering and a delight to behold.

More details can be found on the Cathedral’s website.

2. Grantchester Village

This picturesque village is situated on the River Cam, just a short distance away from the centre of Cambridge. Steeped in history, it features a medieval church, thatched cottages and a pool where Lord Byron used to swim. Renowned for being quintessentially English, it also hosts a variety of excellent pubs and a selection of beautiful walks.

Visit the Grantchester website for more information about the activities and events on offer throughout the year.

King's College Chapel

3. King’s College Chapel

The Chapel to King’s College is one of Cambridge’s most well loved buildings, and rightly so. Its construction started in 1446 under Henry VI and it took over a century to build. In addition to its spectacular veneer, it boasts the largest fan vault in the world and some of the finest medieval stained glass.

Built as a place of daily worship for students and scholars, the Chapel plays a central role in college life. It is famous for its choral services and evensong usually runs at 5.30pm from Monday to Saturday. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Visit the website for further information.

4. Wimpole Estate, Arrington

This National Trust property comprises of an impressive mansion and a working country estate. Visitors are invited to peruse the beautiful Georgian interiors, of which the iconic Yellow Drawing Room is perhaps the most impressive.

There is just as much, if not more, on offer outdoors. Take a stroll through the pleasant gardens and explore the bustling farmyard. You can also venture further across the landscaped park, through woodlands, lakes and fields. A variety of different family-friendly events are hosted throughout the year, from outdoor theatre to wild camping.

Visit the website to find out more.

5. Anglesey Abbey

The Abbey is a country house situated in the village of Lode, just northeast of Cambridge. It was formerly a priory built by a community of Augustinian canons in the twelfth century, but it was converted into a house around 1600.

Today, the 98 acres of landscaped grounds are divided into a number of different walks and gardens. The house is open for general viewing on Wednesdays to Sundays, when guests are invited to explore its elegant luxuries at their leisure. It also plays host to an extensive collection of high quality 18th and 19th century works by well-known English artists and sculptors.

Visit the website to find out more about the Abbey.

Trinity College of Cambridge University, UK

6. Trinity College

Renowned for being one of Cambridge’s wealthiest colleges, Trinity College was founded in 1546 by Henry VIII. The magnificent architecture, sweeping lawns and classical cloisters provide a feast for the eyes – and its vast grounds are perfect for a peaceful stroll.

Trinity abounds with history and tradition and has been home to some of the world’s greatest scientists. One of its major claims to fame is the apple tree that prompted Isaac Newton to develop the theory of gravity.

Visit Trinity’s website for further information.

7. Peckover House

Peckover House is an archetypal Georgian town house with a walled garden. It was inhabited by the Peckover family for 150 years, who were staunch Quakers and ran a very successful private bank. The combined simplicity and elegance of their lifestyle can be seen clearly in the house and grounds.

The gardens themselves are a peaceful haven, complete with summerhouses, an orangery, a croquet lawn and a spectacular rose garden. Events run throughout the year, ranging from art classes to summer concerts.

Visit the website to find out more.

8. Longthorpe Tower, Peterborough

This 14th century, three-storey tower displays one of the most well preserved set of medieval murals in northern Europe. The paintings depict many religious, moral and cultural themes, including depictions of the Wheel of Life, the Nativity and King David. They were whitewashed over during the time of the Reformation and remained hidden until their rediscovery in the 1940s.

Today, visitors are invited to admire the paintings in this Grade I listed building. Guided tours take place on the first Saturday of every month.

Visit the website for more information.

9. The Manor at Hemingford Grey

Built in the 1130s, the Manor is widely thought to be one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Britain. In spite of 900 years of history, much of the original house has remained intact.

During the 1800s, the manor was home to the sisters Maria and Elizabeth Gunnings, who had a reputation for being among the most beautiful women in Europe. Yet it was its long-term resident, Lucy Boston, who made the manor famous. After buying it in 1939 and becoming inspired by its rich history, she wrote several books set there.

Today, the garden is open daily to visitors. Tours of the house are also available, but strictly by prior appointment.

Visit the website to find out more.

10. The Orchard Tea Garden

The idyllic Orchard Tea Garden is one of those rare oases where time stands still. The Orchard became a Tea Garden purely by chance, when a group of Cambridge students asked the owner of Orchard House if she would serve them tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees. This was just over 100 years ago (in 1909) and the tradition still continues today. The Orchard is lauded for its morning coffees, light luncheons and afternoon teas.

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Visit the website to discover more.