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Cambridge, England

Cambridge, in southeast England on the River Cam, is the site of one of Europe's oldest universities.

Cambridge University was chartered early in the thirteenth century, and much of the town's medieval architecture still remains: winding streets, spired churches, and turreted buildings. Sir Christopher Wren designed the chapel of Pembroke College in 1663. Early in the nineteenth century, Cambridge was a center of Greek-Revival architecture, including William Wilkins's neoclassical Downing College (begun in 1806). Cambridge has long been associated with statesmen and jurists such as Sir William Cecil, Edward Coke, Robert Walpole, and William Pitt the Younger. The distinguished poets and writers at Cambridge include Christopher Marlowe (BA 1584, MA 1587), Edmund Spenser, John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Robert Herrick, Sir John Suckling, John Milton (MA 1632), Andrew Marvell, Thomas Gray (BA 1738, Regius Professor of Modern History 1768), Laurence Sterne, Horace Walpole, Byron, and Coleridge. Wordsworth was at St. John's College from 1787 to 1791, but failed to take a degree.

Cambridge was also a center of religious and philosophical learning, hosting philosophers, theologians, and scholars such as Martin Bucer, William Tyndale, Roger Ascham, Francis Bacon, Lancelot Andrewes, Jeremy Taylor, William Law, and Richard Bentley. A rationalist group of philosophers and theologians known as the Cambridge Platonists was founded by Banjamin Whichcote in the middle seventeenth century.

For much of its history, however, Cambridge has perhaps been most renowned for its association with a long line of distinguished scientists and mathematicians such as Isaac Barrow (Trinity College, BA, 1648; MA, 1652; first Lucasian professor of mathematics, 1663-1669), Isaac Newton (entered as an undergraduate in 1661; Lucasian professor of mathematics beginning in 1669), John Flamsteed, and Henry Cavendish. Later distinguished scientists and mathematicians include Charles Darwin, James Clerk Maxwell (BA, 1854; first Cavendish Professor of Physics, 1871), and Ernest Rutherford. Cambridge's fame in scientific matters survives into the twentieth century, thanks to institutions such as the Cavendish Laboratory for experimental physics (founded 1871).