April 21, 2007
The main reason to go to an old college town is to see the old colleges. Too bad that some of the colleges don’t like to see visitors. The first one we wanted to see was one of those: All those impressive gates of Trinity College had signs “Closed to Visitors”. Fortunately, St. John’s College was more willing to take our pounds and let us in. It turned out to offer quite a range of architecture: A 16th century front gate, a neo-Gothic chapel, a Victorian court with a late 20th century addition that fits surprisingly well. On the other side of the Cam, a 1960s addition that reportedly won awards but now looks in worse repair than the older buildings, with the exception of the 16th century Merton Hall.
The old center of the town is compact, easy to explore by foot, and car traffic is limited thanks to rising bollards, but then the town has a belt of surprisingly spacious parks, home even to some cows, before turning into modern sprawl.