The Senate House

All you need to know.

The Senate House in a nutshell

The Senate House is an important building during the academic life at Cambridge University. This building is visited twice by students at the University: firstly during their matriculation and then for their final graduation ceremony. This seems like a great reason why one might want to put a huge effort over one’s studies. Since, when the academic year is finished all last year students are exposed on a large wooden board which contain their names and final results.

All you need to know about the Senate House

Most commonly known as the place where Cambridge’s University graduation ceremonies are held. The Senate House, stands tall to attention due to  its strategic location. This grand building is located between King’s College and Gonville and Caius College, and sits just opposite Great St Mary’s church. The Senate House dates back to the 18th century, designed by James Gibbs. Its original intention was used for political meetings, as this neoclassical mansion was the ideal place to gather and make important decisions, including those regarding the University governing system.

This building is very distinctive compared to the Colleges that surrounds it. Mainly in terms of architecture, but also because it is one of the few places where members of the public are not permitted to enter the building. The best architectural features of this building lie exteriorly. It was constructed from Portland stone and includes some arched windows and semi columns that are built into the façade. The most evident feature of this building has to be the balcony wall that lines the roof.

There are two stories that are particularly interesting about this building. The first one took place in the summer of 1958, when the students hoisted an Austin Seven car to the top of the Seneta House roof, as an elaborated yet risky prank. The second one, happened in 2010, when this building was the site of the protest against the increase of the tuition fees in England.

Academic journey

As previously noted this establishment is one of the most important buildings of the entire University of Cambridge, as it is where the students academic journey starts and finishes. During the graduation congregation, graduands are brought forth by the Praelector of their college, who takes them by the right hand, and presents them to the vice-chancellor for the degree they are about to take. The Praelector presents graduands with a Latin statement. Part of the ceremony takes place on the large green lawn just outside the building. This is the iconic spot where you can see the students wearing their formal gowns.

Cambridge University students graduating at the senate house in Cambridge

Cambridge hidden gems

Even though this building is not visible during a punting tour, it is still worth a visit for the beautiful photography shot of the Senate House with Kings College Chapel in the background. It is very easy to find located near the city centre, and what’s more there is a side passage along the Senate House that will take you to Garret Hostel Bridge and the River. You will be able to see people being punted along the River Cam enjoying their Cambridge Punting Tours. What’s more, you can cross this bridge and stroll around the Colleges Backs, soaking up this city natural beauty.

Posted on April 19th, 2020, by the Traditional Punting Company