Trinity College and the Cavendish Laboratory

After the foundation of the Natural Sciences Tripos in 1851, the University of Cambridge found itself in need of a laboratory dedicated to experimental physics. As Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1861 to 1891, William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, agreed to fund such a building. One of his conditions was that the …

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Building the Wren Library

In an earlier blog we learned how, by the seventeenth century, the existing library at Trinity was proving inadequate. The ambition to build a new library is popularly ascribed to Isaac Barrow, Master of Trinity from 1673 until his death in 1677. Barrow secured the services of his friend, architect Christopher Wren, for no charge. …

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The Sidney Psalms and Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke

Trinity College Library owns two manuscripts catalogued by M.R. James as ‘Sidney’s Version of the Psalms’ (O.1.51) and ‘Sir Philip Sidney's Metrical Version of the Psalms’ (R.3.16). In fact, these metrical paraphrases were authored by both Philip Sidney and his sister, Mary. It was Philip’s early death in 1586 which allowed his sister to emerge, …

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Wren’s lecterns on tour to exhibition

Trinity College Library has lent some of the rotating lecterns and readers' stools designed by Sir Christopher Wren as part of the furnishing of the Wren Library to a pop-up exhibition at Downing College. Over the last two years Cambridge-based photographer Sara Rawlinson has taken pictures of almost all of the College libraries in Cambridge. …

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Julian Trevelyan and Hurtenham

Trinity College has lent a number of items to an exhibition on the artist and Trinity alumnus, Julian Trevelyan (1910–1988) at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. Julian was the son of Robert Trevelyan and Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven. As a young child, Julian created a complex imaginary town which he named Hurtenham, …

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Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Trinity College Library: Poems on the Cross, with a new kind of blue

The last of the five manuscripts lent by Trinity College to the British Library’s Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition is one of the most intriguing and visually appealing manuscripts in the Wren Library. B.16.3 is a collection of poems by one of the most talented writers of the ninth century, a monk named Hrabanus Maurus. Hrabanus (or …

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The Conservation and Rebinding of the Pauline Epistles

Copied in Northumbria in the eighth century on leaves of tough, rather crudely finished parchment, the Epistles of St Paul (B.10.5) is the oldest book in the Wren Library.  Although several leaves are missing – some are in the Cotton collection at the British Library – those that remain have survived over 1,200 years of …

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