The final part of the Anglia Outdoor challenge was to have a meal in an interesting outdoor location. We chose my old college Newnham as it has some beautiful gardens.
Surprisingly, as an Alum, it was very easy to get permission, it did help that we were planning to go during university holidays so we wouldn’t be disturbing any students.
We met outside the Porter’s Lodge and started the evening off with a tour. I used to give access tours a lot when I was at Uni so I’ve picked up a lot of titbits about the college.
Newnham is an all womens college, one of three in Cambridge. It was founded in 1871, however women were only allowed to attend lectures with a chaperone and were not permitted to sit exams. In the future they were allowed to sit the exams but could not qualify for a degree. It took until 1947 before they were allowed to hold degrees from Cambridge. Keep in mind that Cambridge is over 800 years old, and women have only been able to hold degrees for 70 years of that.
Many amazing women have attended Newnham. Millicent Fawcett read Mathematics and was ranked highest in the year of her final exams, scoring higher than the Senior Wrangler. The Senior Wrangler is the highest ranked person in the Mathematics Tripos, in those days, only men qualified. Today is obviously different.
Emma Thompson attended and an admirer once road a motorcycle down the corridor to surprise her. Miriam Margolyes also attend and read English.
I think I got them a bit interested but I did get some strange questions when I explained that I used to live in the buildings around us. One asked if I was ever allowed to go home!
We finished up in a lovely spot in the gardens, had a picnic and asked what they wanted to do next term!
We asked them all to bring a picnic and maybe something to share and they really did get into the spirit of sharing which was lovely to see.