The Fascinating, Must See Libraries of Cambridge University

Campus Oxford has a lot to offer to students looking for the summer experience of a lifetime. There is our original Oxford Summer Program, our specialist Social Entrepreneurship and Ecological Leadership Programs and one more, the Cambridge Summer Program, that offers the chance to experience the ‘other’ side of one of the most storied university rivalries in the world.

Because they are mentioned together so often, many people mistakenly believe that Oxford and Cambridge are basically the same thing, just set in two different towns. That however is far from the case, as each has very different educational, social and cultural experiences to offer.

There are some similarities of course. For example, just as Oxford University and the city surrounding it boasts some of the finest and most fascinating museums, libraries and art galleries in the world. And having recently taken a look at some of the finest that Oxford has to offer, we thought it it was high time to take a look at Cambridge too, beginning with its most fascinating libraries:

The Pepys Library – Magdalene College, Cambridge University

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Campus Oxford students are based at Magdalene College and so the Pepys Library is one Cambridge library they are almost certain to pay a visit. Samuel Pepys was a student at Magdalene and it was there that he actually began keeping his legendary diaries.

Housed on the second floor of the Pepys Building, which in itself is an architectural wonder, it not only houses the original six volumes of Pepys diaries but also his records from his time as the Secretary to the Admiralty, which include details of Henry VIII’s iconic lost flagship, the Mary Rose. There are also over 1,800 printed ballads, Sir Francis Drake’s personal almanac the earliest copy of John Heywood’s The Play of the Weather, published in 1533 shortly after being performed for Henry VIII.

The Wren Library – Trinity College, Cambridge University

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This splendid library, as it name suggests, is housed in a building designed by the legendary architect Christopher Wren and boasts a wide and varied collection books and manuscripts that offer something for almost everyone.

These priceless works include Isaac Newton’s first edition copy of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica with handwritten notes for the second edition and some of his original notebooks, an eighth-century copy of the Epistles of St Paul, Several works printed by William Caxton, including the first book printed in English and the first dated printed book produced in England and even A. A. Milne’s handwritten manuscripts of Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner!

Parker Library – Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University

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Much of what is known about the Anglo-Saxon and early Medieval history of the British Isles and beyond is thanks to the world renowned collection of books, manuscripts and documents held in trust by the Parker Library.

There you will find the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 890), the Old English Bede, and King Alfred’s translation of Pastoral Care, which was a manual for priests, as well as the Latin St. Augustine Gospels, one of the oldest bound books in existence. There are also a number of Geoffrey Chaucer’s original manuscripts and notebooks and even a number of handwritten pieces attributed to the doomed Queen Anne Boleyn, as the library’s primary benefactor and donator was Archbishop Matthew Parker, who, before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth I, was her mother’s personal chaplin.