Fairgrounds, Friaries and the Reformation -
a walk through the Cambridge river meadows with Prudence Jones
Outside the mediaeval city port, which we explored in 2009, three monastic orders set up residence, living on the produce of the river, its trade and its meadows. The Reformation meant that few of their buildings still stand, but the river fairs remained commercially successful for centuries afterwards, and have left the city with extensive common land. We will visit the 12th-century Leper Chapel and walk across Sturbridge Common, where the chapel's fair became the largest in Europe (here Sir Isaac Newton bought his prism), back along the river into Cambridge. We visit the remains of Barnwell Abbey, founded on an ancient sacred spring, and Midsummer Common, where the annual midsummer still fair takes place. The mediaeval buildings of Jesus College are the former St Radegund's Nunnery, whose Garlic Fair is marked by a road name at the end of the walk.
Meet at 0930h at the Leper Chapel, Newmarket Rd (Barnwell Junction / Abbey Stadium), and arrive at the Quayside at 12.30. The walk is about 2 miles, mostly on paved paths, but wear sturdy footwear and be prepared for showers. There may be cattle and horses on the commons. Newmarket Road has frequent buses, and there is some parking on residential roads near the Leper Chapel.