Trinity College & Trinity Bridge

One benefit of taking a punting tour along the River Cam is the sheer wealth of attractions that can be seen in a single trip. Since our tours cover a good stretch of the River Cam, you will encounter a great number of fascinating buildings and bridges including Trinity College.

Trinity College

Famous as both the largest and the richest of Cambridge’s colleges, Trinity has a significant reputation and a deep history to match.

The college was founded in 1546 by Henry VII, merging two older colleges, Michaelhouse and King’s Hall. Michaelhouse had been established in 1324, while the King’s Hall was established in 1317. King’s Hall had flown the royal standard of its second patron, Edward III, and this was retained as the flag of the newly formed Trinity College.

From your punt, you will instantly notice the grandeur of Trinity. The oldest section of the college is the medieval range behind the Clock Tower, dating from the inception of King’s Hall in the early 14th Century.

Thomas Nevile, Master of Trinity at the turn of the 17th Century, built many of the magnificent buildings we see today, including most of the Great Court as well as the impressive, cloistered court that can be seen from the river.

Possibly the most famous building at Trinity is the magnificent Wren Library, built in the late 17th Century as the completion of Nevile’s Court. The Wren Library is home to many priceless treasures, from Newton’s original Principia Mathematica and manuscripts by Milton and A. A. Milne, to an 8th-century copy of the Epistles of St. Paul.

In the century after the college was founded, the college grew at a rapid rate and by 1564, it made up around 25% of the entire number of resident members of Cambridge university.

Trinity has unsurprisingly produced a number of notable alumni. In 1661, Isaac Newton, one of the most prominent physical scientists of all time entered the college where he remained until 1696.

Other famous alumni include Francis Bacon, Lord Byron (who notoriously kept a pet bear in his rooms at Trinity), Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ernest Rutherford, J.J. Thomson and Bertrand Russell.

Trinity Bridge

This stunning bridge crosses the River Cam at Trinity college, as the name suggests. The original bridge was constructed from stone in 1643, was pulled down by Cromwell’s troops, and rebuilt in 1651. Just over a hundred years later, in 1764, the bridge that we see today was built in its place by James Essex.

Essex was a builder and architect whose work can be seen at many of the Cambridge colleges. He was also responsible for Queens’ College’s Mathematical Bridge.

Trinity Bridge was constructed from Portland Stone and at almost five centuries old, is one of the oldest bridges on the river.

This bridge is also viewed as the easiest of the bridges to “bridge jump” – which means to climb quickly from a punt onto the bridge, and over, and back into your punt. It is discouraged by the college porters, who maintain a regular presence on the bridge to quell the activity. However, take a punting tour of the River Cam, and if you’re lucky you might just see someone having a go!

Posted on March 17th, 2021, by the Traditional Punting Company