First digital events announced for this year’s Open Cambridge weekend

PUBLISHED: 11:53 07 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:28 01 September 2020

A view of Cambridge from the Great St Mary's Church tower. Picture: Supplied by Open Cambridge

A view of Cambridge from the Great St Mary's Church tower. Picture: Supplied by Open Cambridge

Supplied by Open Cambridge

Town and gown have joined forces to create a series of digital events that celebrate the history and heritage of Cambridge and beyond.

Queens' library. Picture: supplied by Open CambridgeQueens' library. Picture: supplied by Open Cambridge

Peek behind the doors of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and the Central Mosque, find out what a University Proctor does and where the most artificial landscape in England is, learn to make pot pourri or traditional Hungarian goulash, and discover the impact Cambridge has had on the world of sport.

These are a few of the many events going digital at this year’s Open Cambridge weekend over September 11-13, which is run in conjunction with Heritage Open Days.

One of those tipped to be a favourite is the Proctor’s Tea Party.

During a short film, the current team of Proctors at the University of Cambridge, including two women incomers for the first time in the university’s history, offer a fascinating insight into this historic but sometimes poorly understood role.

Queens' College Library. Picture: Sara RawlinsonQueens' College Library. Picture: Sara Rawlinson

Tim Milner, ceremonial officer at the University of Cambridge and film coordinator, said: “The role has changed a great deal over the centuries.

“Cambridge has lost most of the former engagement with discipline but acquired independent scrutiny of university business.

The Proctors play a major part in ceremonial events from October to July, such as degree congregations and university sermons.

“They help to maintain order and protect lawful free speech at university events, participate in various committees, and have duties concerning clubs, societies and the students’ union.

The Fens. Picture: A KirbyThe Fens. Picture: A Kirby

“For much of the year, the whole team meets weekly over tea and biscuits to discuss business, but since March that has happened online.

“A new academic year starts on October 1, which is when the Proctors change, and for the first time both incomers are women.”

A theme of this year’s Open Cambridge is hidden nature.

In Nature Tamed? The Fenland Landscape since 1600, Tony Kirby, honorary secretary of the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History and the county advisory group on archives and local studies, presents an insightful talk on what is probably the most artificial landscape in England.

A football and sculpture. Picture: Supplied by Open CambridgeA football and sculpture. Picture: Supplied by Open Cambridge

Tony said: “Over the past four centuries, engineers and landowners have attempted to transform a region, virtually unknown to outsiders, but with a rich ecosystem and distinctive way of life, into a tamed and productive agricultural landscape.

“Keeping the water at bay – whether from the rivers or the sea – has been a major challenge over the centuries.

“But nature has a habit of getting its own back and every solution has produced new and unforeseen problems.”

Tony explores how today’s Fenland was created, the technology involved and the changes in economic and social life that resulted.

University of Cambridge Library Storage Facility. Picture: supplied by Open CambridgeUniversity of Cambridge Library Storage Facility. Picture: supplied by Open Cambridge

But in the 21st century, nature may finally triumph after all, with human assistance in the case of ‘rewilding’ schemes, such as the Great Fen project or as rising sea levels threaten the region as never before.

For those who like to get crafty and hands-on, there are several events on offer.

How to make pot pourri is a step-by-step online tutorial inspired by paintings of roses in the Fitzwilliam Museum collection.

In Hungarian Goulash from the Clare Hall Kitchen, viewers can learn how to make a traditional Hungarian goulash with Clare Hall’s head chef, Cirill Patrovits via a YouTube video.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast presenter Dotty McLeod. Picture: BBC/supplied by Open CambridgeBBC Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast presenter Dotty McLeod. Picture: BBC/supplied by Open Cambridge

Alongside its many achievements, Cambridge has also had a major impact on sport, including the modern day laws of association football, the Marquess of Queensberry Rules for boxing, and one of the best cricket teams in the country, alongside innovations in a range of other sports.

While its sporting achievements continued well into the 20th century, what reduced the potential for an even greater impact?

During the presentation Cambridge’s Golden Sporting Age: a tradition unshared?, Nigel Fenner of Cambridge Sports Tours focuses on football, boxing, and cricket.

He explores the impact of student patronage and rivalry, and, shared with the town, a love of gambling as well as acceptance to ‘play alongside each other’.

Nigel uses the experience of his close relative Frank Fenner in founding Fenner’s Cricket ground, and the likely reasons why he left Cambridge, to understand why the golden sporting age he helped shape, did not deliver an even greater legacy than it did.

Additionally, several events offer revealing behind-the-scenes digital tours.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast presenter Dotty McLeod takes viewers on a tour of her studio.

Queens’ Old Library and its hidden treasures sees one of the librarians takes a look into the medieval past of the Old Library, unveiling a world of hidden treasures, such as the medieval lecterns, 16th century volumes in their original binding, and books belonging to Sir Thomas Smith (1513-1577), Queens’ Fellow, scholar, and Secretary of State to Edward VI and Elizabeth I.

As a legal deposit library since 1710, Cambridge University Library has been entitled to claim a copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland for more than 300 years.

Today, the university library collections encompass around nine million books, manuscripts, and other physical items.

Book lovers are invited to join Robin James, head of collection logistics and services, to explore the state-of-the-art book store in Ely, standing at the height of two giraffes, and with over 105km of shelving to house four million books from the libraries of the University of Cambridge.

There’s also a chance to discover Cambridge Central Mosque – the first eco-mosque in Europe.

Find out how its design evolved in the hands of the architects behind the London Eye, and how a place of worship with capacity for 1,000 people still aims to be carbon neutral.

For more information about Open Cambridge, visit the website www.opencambridge.cam.ac.uk/

Keep up to date with the festival on social media via Twitter at @OpenCambridgeUK


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