Open Cambridge 2013

Open Cambridge 2013 was a big success. Sadly I was too busy over the weekend to jump wholeheartedly into it but I did manage to squeeze in a few things. On Friday afternoon I managed to scrape in a visit to Corpus Christi College perhaps best known to tourists because of its clock and it’s famous alumni Kevin McCloud. Open Cambridge gave us the chance to go into the Taylor Library behind the clock and peek into the students’ workplace. The building was previously used by the Natwest Bank but when the lease expired in 2005 the college took the opportunity to use the space for a library. On the other side of the site is the Parker Library, which houses a stupendous collection of medieval manuscripts and early printed books including 25% of all known surviving Anglo-Saxon documents. I was particularly pleased to see Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (MS 61) which has a frontispiece showing the man himself reading to what is presumed to be Richard II court. Having just seen the picture in Freya’s presentation I was thrilled to see the original in real life! Access to the library is obviously very limited but if you have a hankering to study the manuscripts, you can now do so online.

On Saturday I got to go behind the scenes at the Cambridge Archives, on a lengthy tour that included the conservation room where we got to see the quest to preserve information on the front line! The archive is mostly used by historians or citizens researching their family history. The reading room had an interesting and eclectic mix of documents on display including photos of prisoners once held on the site, school records and beautifully kept scrapbooks of drawings and notes. The archives are limited for space but will take documents that are deposited and as a results has some interesting collections so it’s well worth a visit if you’ve got a particular interest in something local.

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