A tour around Castle Hill, Cambridge

It seems it is just over a month since I last posted, oops!  Part of the reason was a dodgy internet connection which I am pleased to have finally got sorted out!  It’s good to get back to my blog 🙂

On Friday I spent a lovely evening on a tour of the Castle Hill area of Cambridge, organised by the Cambridge Folk Museum and conducted by local historian/author Honor Ridout.  The weather has been horrible recently so I had visions of a soggy tour but the weather was really kind to us.  It was a windy, but very pleasant, evening with lots of blue sky which was a welcome sight!

The Castle Hill area is where the Roman’s built their original settlement, thought to be called Duroliponte.  The area was chosen due to the convenience of the nearby river which was used as a crossing point.

Starting at the museum we made our way up the hill, stopping at certain points for Honor to point out interesting landmarks.

Our first stop was St Peter’s Church.

St Peter’s Church

St Peter’s Church is a saxon church but was built with some roman materials, it was a much bigger building when it was constructed in the 11th century.  However, the parish so small there was no need for such a big church so the congregation was amalgamated with nearby St Giles’.  Eventually, in 1781, most of it was demolished leaving the only part of the building standing today. Interestingly the steep church yard is one of a few in Cambridge that has not been emptied and flattened, which gives it a lot of character.  I would like to go back to St Peter’s to have a look inside.

St Giles’ Church

Further up the hill we came to the area of Whyman’s Lane/Bell’s Court.  This used to be the site of a pub called The Three Tuns, Dick Turpin is thought to have stayed there on his way to York!.  We also stopped to look at the architecture of Castle Street Methodist church before arriving at the top of the hill where the Castle was built, hence its name!

Castle Mound

The area where the castle stood is home to Cambridge County Council.  Opposite the council buildings is Castle Mound which is the only remaining part of the castle estate. Visitors can stand on top of the mound and be met with a great view of Cambridge, it is not known what is underneath the mound.

The castle was built by William The Conqueror in 1068, apparently twenty-seven saxon houses were knocked down to make room for it!  The first castle, which was made from timber, also served as a gaol and stood for 200 years before Edward 1 rebuilt it in stone.  The castle was finally demolished in 1842, the stone was used to build some of the university colleges.

On our way back down to the Folk Museum we took the back roads.  One of the roads we walked down was the Haymarket area, in the 19th century this was the site of Cambridge market, which has since moved to the centre of the city.


The route took us round to Pound Hill and down Northampton Street, which has some lovely old houses on the right hand side and Kettles Yard on the left hand side.  Kettles Yard is a group of three houses with an art gallery and one of the houses is used as a museum, you can read more about it here  I have visited both before and would recommend a visit if you are ever in Cambridge.

The tour finished at the Folk Museum where we enjoyed some welcome refreshments in their tea room.  The building which houses the museum was once used as the business centre for the nearby market.  It was also a pub before it became the museum.

Kettles Yard Area

Northampton Street

It was such an interesting evening and fascinating to find out more about my city.  It’s always amazing to find out little gems of history and find myself in parts of Cambridge I have never thought about walking around. It’s also fun trying to imagine life as it was when walking around historical places.

I haven’t written about everything but have included the bits that I found most interesting or remembered to take a photo of!  I hope you have enjoyed reading and got a flavour of the history of this part of Cambridge.


About Maria Explores...

Blogger and Freelance Writer
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