From Oxford to Cambridge

Saturday, July 29th, was transfer day. Around 10 a.m., we boarded the double-decker bus from St. Catherine’s College in Oxford to Robinson College in Cambridge, about a two hour trip. Since our afternoon was free, our All Saints’ Group (which, by attrition now numbered eight; three people were only here for the first week), walked into town for lunch. Although Cambridge is generally more quaint and less busy than Oxford, you mightn’t have been able to tell on this day. Tourists were everywhere! We were concerned about whether or not we might find a place to eat together, but finally we found a pleasant spot that served very good food.

Walking from Robinson College, Cambridge to town

Punting on the Cam River

Lunch with the All Saint’s gang at The Senate

Have you ever seen a garbage can playing guitar? Come to Cambridge!

Walking back to Robinson College in the rain, crossing the quad of Claire College

After a delicious lunch of sea bass, an old-fashioned, and a glass of port, I joined the group for punting. I initially found it strange that we would all be kicking footballs, but soon discovered that the word has a different meaning here in Cambridge. From Wikipedia: “A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole.” So, we hired a private boat and punted for forty-five minutes on the Cam river. Parts were idyllic, although most of the time we were playing bumper boats with the mass of humanity also punting on this day, some of whom were punting their own boats with no experience and clogging up the narrow waterway. It was pleasant, however, slowly traveling the calm waters while viewing the backs of a number of Cambridge colleges.


Our punter (with Linda and Martha) with the “Mathematical Bridge” behind

Oxford had one; so does Cambridge — The Bridge of Sighs

On the evening of our first day in Cambridge, we were in for a special treat. Max McLean, founder and artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts, a New York City-based producer of live theater from a Christian worldview. He has performed a number of one-man shows based on works by C. S. Lewis and the Scripture. Cindy and I had seen his Screwtape Letters in the states. On this evening he performed “The Most Reluctant Convert,” a powerful and wonderfully presented story of the conversion of C. S. Lewis from atheism to Christianity. The after-show Q&A was equally enjoyable. He commented on how this audience was different than any other he performs for in that we were a group of people that traveled halfway around the world to study C. S. Lewis.

Robinson College, our home base in Cambridge.

The Set for Max McLean’s “The Most Reluctant Convert”

Max fielding some questions from the audience after his outstanding performance.

Sunday morning was free. I used the time to get caught up on blogging, among other things. Then, at 11:30, we boarded the bus for Ely Cathedral. Ely is situated about 14 miles northeast of Cambridge and is home to a massively beautiful church which dates from the 11th century. However before we visited the cathedral, we were blessed to visit with 90 year-old Mary Turner, the widow of a respected Greek Scholar Nigel Turner. She lives in a 17th-century house right across from the Cathedral. Martha, one of the ladies in our group, became friends with her many years ago on previous visits to the C. S. Lewis Summer Institute. She served us lunch and entertained us with her stories, her home, and her beautiful gardens.

Our first glimpse of Ely Cathedral upon exiting the bus.

The storybook home of Mrs. Nigel Turner

The majestic Ely Cathedral

Martha and Mary inside Marry’s lovely home.

What a view through the window!

In Mary’s kitchen with the food she prepared for our lunch. She was so kind and sweet!

From the garden in the rear of the home; Ely cathedral towering above in the background.

Mary’s lovely garden.

Our All Saints’ group in the garden.

After leaving her home, I walked a quarter-mile to see the house of the controversial Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, during the 17th century English Civil War. On the way back to the Cathedral, I walked down High Street in this small, ancient town of Ely. I spent my time before the beginning of Evensong walking through the Cathedral, admiring it’s grandeur. I was saddened by all the damage done during the reign of Henry VIII when he gave the order for the dissolution of the monasteries. So much beauty was destroyed in Catholic churches and abbeys. Most of the niches of the cathedral which once bore statues were empty. The beautiful stained glass of the Lady Chapel was destroyed. Other decorative features were defaced or destroyed as well.

Ely Cathedral

Oliver Cromwell’s home from the 1600s in Ely

Interior of Ely Cathedral

One of the distinct architectural features of Ely Cathedral is this octagonal tower in the center.

An architectural marvel.

Looking through the choir into the apse.,

One small detail of the beautiful stained-glass windows.

Thanks to Henry VIII — empty niches.

Looking up into the octagonal tower.

Evensong was a glorious experience! The C. S. Lewis Chamber Choir transported us into heavenly places with their song. The sounds of praise reverberated through the massive cathedral providing an aesthetic and spiritual encounter not experience by many. How blessed we were!

Our C. S. Lewis Summer Institute Choir rehearsing for Evensong.

Back at Robinson College in Cambridge, we had dinner before attending a performance by the Ad Deum Contemporary Dance Company, communicating the beauty of the Christian message through dance. It was a lovely end to the evening.

Ad Deum Dance Company

Communicating truth through dance.

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