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Our guide to 25 highlights at Open Cambridge 2021





A free heritage festival packed with talks, guided walks and behind the scenes peeks at places normally closed to the public is about to begin - and we have picked 25 of the highlights.

Open Cambridge runs from September 10 to 19, taking in 65 events that focus on the city’s culinary heritage and culture under the Heritage Open Day’s 2021 theme ‘edible England’.

What does the UK eat? (49962367)
What does the UK eat? (49962367)

Commenting on this year’s programme, Sue Long, Open Cambridge manager, said: “We’re delighted and excited by the extent to which both town and gown have come together and run with this year’s theme, creating some truly excellent, imaginative events. I urge people to browse the programme when it comes out on the 16th as there is sure to be something that grabs their attention… and it’s all completely free!”

Open Cambridge, run by the University of Cambridge public engagement team and supported by the Cambridge BID, has extended its usual three-day run to 10 days of tours, walks, films, talks and a host of activities that bring together local people and visitors to celebrate the unique heritage, culture and community of Cambridge.

The event is part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme, which is designed to offer special access to places that are normally closed to the public or charge admission.

Open Cambridge 2021: our selection of the best events

Behind-the-scenes tour of Cambridge University Farm

An event for the whole family. The farm, which was established in 1900, includes a herd of pedigree Holstein Friesian cows and a flock of North Country Mule ewes, and an anaerobic digester producing electricity from slurry produced by the dairy cows. Visitors can see the animals, machinery and anaerobic digester plant on a guided tour led by staff working on the Farm and learn how the Farm aims to manage livestock operations in ways that demonstrate animal welfare, and farm in a sustainable manner, including maintaining and enhancing the conservation value of the farm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see the animals, machinery and AD plant on a guided tour led by staff working on the farm.

  • When: Saturday, September 18
  • Where: Cambridge University Farm, Huntingdon Road, Girton

George and his Chocolate Factory

George and the Chocolate Factory. (49962321)
George and the Chocolate Factory. (49962321)

Discover how George Cadbury’s marvellous chocolate factory transformed the lives of factory workers. Storytelling, craft and of course chocolate!

Cadbury's chocolate is now a much loved global brand and it all started at the Bournville chocolate factory in Birmingham, less well-known is why this famous “factory in a garden” was built.

This children's workshop will tell the story of George Cadbury, a Quaker entrepreneur who saw the poverty and poor housing of the people who worked in factories across Birmingham and with his brother decided that they deserved better.

There will be storytelling, craft and of course some chocolate! The event is suitable for under 12s. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult throughout the event.

  • When: Saturday, September 11
  • Where: Jesus Lane Friends Meeting House

Explore Edible England in the Madingley Hall Gardens

Culinary selection. Pic: Madingley Hall. (49962313)
Culinary selection. Pic: Madingley Hall. (49962313)

A garden tour focusing on edible plants throughout the garden at Madingley Hall led by professional herbal practioners offering foraging forays and healthy eating tips. There will also be homemade seasonal dishes and preserves prepared by the Madingley Hall chefs and local food stalls on offer. Local Food Stalls. The Madingley Hall Cafe will be open but there will be no admittance to the hall itself.

  • When: Saturday, September 18
  • Where: Madingley Hall

The Great Meat Scandal and Other Stories from Mill Road Cemetery

Mill Road Cemetery. Pic: Claire Martinsen. (49962303)
Mill Road Cemetery. Pic: Claire Martinsen. (49962303)

Meet in the Centre Circle of Mill Road Cemetery and join local expert researcher Claire Martinsen on an hour’s walking tour of one of Cambridge’s lesser-known places of interest: Mill Road Cemetery. Learn about the food fraud scandal that rocked the university and reached the national newspapers in the late nineteenth century. The tour will also visit monuments of others connected with the food or hotel trade in Victorian Cambridge where business boomed for many as the town expanded rapidly.

  • When: Wednesday, September 15
  • Where: Mill Road Cemetery

The Cook, The PM, His Wife and Their Foodways: Archival adventures concerning the Churchills and their food

Dr Annie Gray. Pic: Kristy Noble Photography (49962277)
Dr Annie Gray. Pic: Kristy Noble Photography (49962277)

Winston Churchill was a keen eater, drinker and bon viveur. Hear from Annie Gray, author of a recent biography of Churchill's longest-serving cook, as she discusses what and how the Churchills ate, and shows us some of her favourite items from the Archives.

Ranging from exhaustingly long Edwardian menus, through to the pared-back light lunches of the Second World War., the talk will not only paint a picture of the changing dining habits of the Churchills themselves, but also reflect on wider trends within food in fashionable society. Dr Annie Gray is one of Britain’s leading food historians and has been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet.

  • When: September 10-19
  • Where: online

From Roman to Anglian Cambridgeshire: New discoveries

A fifth century pottery cremation urn from the Roman to Anglian cemetery at Girton College. Pic: Girton College. (49962245)
A fifth century pottery cremation urn from the Roman to Anglian cemetery at Girton College. Pic: Girton College. (49962245)

This event is based at the Lawrence Room, Girton College, where cremation urns and grave-goods from a late Roman and early medieval cemetery in the college grounds are on display. Ongoing discoveries of Roman and early medieval sites in the Cambridge area prompt us to reassess exactly what this transition consisted of, and how burials – the most commonly found archaeological remains from this period – can help us to reconstruct the beliefs and social organisation of the time.

  • When: Saturday, September 18
  • Where: Lawrence Room, Girton College

Robinson College Garden Tours

Discover the spectacular College grounds, a fusion of several original Edwardian gardens, each with their own distinctive character given focus by a new small lake.

  • When: Friday, September 10 and Saturday, September 11
  • Where: Robinson College

Contemporary Art for the Bewildered

Do you know a young person who is mystified by Contemporary Art? This workshop over two weekends will bring you face to face with some of the most interesting artworks made over the last 50 years. Each two-hour-long session will include a prompt for a home project, to be made from readily available materials, that will help you interpret your learning in a creative way.

Facilitator: Dr Prerona Prasad, curator of The Heong Gallery and Downing College Cambridge.

  • When: September 11-12 and 18-19
  • Where: The Heong Gallery

Mill Road History Presents: The History of Indian Restaurants in Cambridge

The History of Indian restaurants in Cambridge. Cambs collections. (49962363)
The History of Indian restaurants in Cambridge. Cambs collections. (49962363)

The first Indian restaurant was the Kohinoor which opened in 1943 on Mill Road. In this film, Shahida Rahman explores the history of the restaurants in Cambridge and tells her father’s story who established restaurants in the 1960s and 70s. Find out how Indian cuisine has been adapted over the years to suit the English palate.

Cambridge Fire Station Open Day

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue. Pic: Open Cambridge. (49962351)
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue. Pic: Open Cambridge. (49962351)

Cambridge Fire and Rescue Service team members with Fire Engine outside of the Fire Station able to engage with the public about various topics including safety messages, education, recruitment and operational incidents, training and equipment.

  • When: September 10 and 17
  • Where: Cambridge Fire Station

Horticulture at a Memorial Site

Horticulture at a memorial site. Pic: American Cemetery (49962326)
Horticulture at a memorial site. Pic: American Cemetery (49962326)

The 30 acres of ground that make up Cambridge American Cemetery includes fine lawns, formal and informal planting, ancient woodland - and over 1000 roses.

To understand why the cemetery looks like it does, take a walk with Head Gardeners Paul Hinchley and Alex Shore, and you will begin to appreciate the original landscape architect’s vision.

  • When: Saturday, September 18
  • Where: Cambridge American Cemetery

What did the Americans bring to the table in WWII?

Among the enthralling stories of wartime valour and derring-do, was a tale of Americans bringing their food and culture to these shores. Rationing was harder for the British than anything endured in the States. Airmen, soldiers and sailors arriving in Britain were just not prepared for the sheer drabness of everything; even the food was grey. They found the one thing that they could do to help lighten our darkness was bring gifts of such unsavoured delights as tinned hams, ‘jello’ and candy. Learn more during this 50-minute walking tour of the American Cemetery at Madingley.

  • When: September 11, 12 and 18
  • Where: Cambridge American Cemetery

Six Centuries of food at Corpus Christi

An exhibition about food at Corpus Christi in manuscripts, memorabilia and treasures from the College Collections

  • When: September 11 and 18
  • Where: The Parker Library, Corpus Christi College

Cambridge Central Mosque: Discover Europe’s First Eco-Mosque

Tour of Cambridge Mosque on Mill Rd with Bidwells. Picture: Keith Heppell. (9951415)
Tour of Cambridge Mosque on Mill Rd with Bidwells. Picture: Keith Heppell. (9951415)

Explore the first Eco-Mosque in Europe on this guided tour. 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 one thousand people still aims to be carbon-neutral

  • When: September 11, 12, 18 and 19
  • Where: Cambridge Central Mosque, Mill Road

Food and Drink in Cambridge Guided Tour

Museum of Cambridge. Pic: Museum of Cambridge. (49962309)
Museum of Cambridge. Pic: Museum of Cambridge. (49962309)

This is an after-hours guided tour of the Museum of Cambridge, which will take you through the culinary tastes and customs of the inhabitants of the city since the 17th century until today.

  • When: Thursday-Saturday each week from Friday, September 10 until Sunday, September 19
  • Where: Museum of Cambridge

Nine Centuries of Food

A personalised menu card for the Confraternitas Historica banquet held on St Nicholas Day 1913, illustrated by Sidney Rogerson. Pic: Sidney Sussex College. (49962311)
A personalised menu card for the Confraternitas Historica banquet held on St Nicholas Day 1913, illustrated by Sidney Rogerson. Pic: Sidney Sussex College. (49962311)

A display of items relating to cooking and catering from the 12th to the 20th century, including the earliest known English collection of recipes, a book of culinary and medical recipes compiled by Lady Fairfax, wife of the Parliamentary general Sir Thomas Fairfax, pottery used by the Cambridge Franciscans and during the early years of Sidney Sussex College, and a wide range of decorative and unusual menu cards.

  • When: September 16, 17, 18
  • Where: Sidney Sussex College

Champagne and diets: A musical look at the world of Victorian food and drink

Champagne and diets - a musical look at the world of Victorian food and drink. Pic: University Library. (49962257)
Champagne and diets - a musical look at the world of Victorian food and drink. Pic: University Library. (49962257)

Explore the world of Victorian food and drink through the Music Collections held at Cambridge University Library.

  • When: Tuesday, September 14
  • Where: Cambridge University Library

Cambridge sport: In Fenners' hands

FP Fenner - old man with hands as trophy. (49962317)
FP Fenner - old man with hands as trophy. (49962317)

Frank Fenner opened Fenner's Cricket Ground in 1848 to ‘promote cricket to prevent its decay in Cambridge'.

While Cambridge Town was one of the best sides in the country, thanks to Frank's ability to bring the best Town and Gown players to play alongside each other, some University players, teams, and opponents felt intimidated playing on Parker's Piece, the large public facility open to all-comers.

An enclosed ground would not only help to manage heightened Town versus Gown tensions, but also provide Frank, a local tobacconist, with a business opportunity, in charging for admission.

Nigel Fenner, related to Frank, and author of ‘Cambridge Sport: In Fenners’ hands’ (due for publication late 2021) describes the significant, and markedly different impact his ground had on University, and Town cricket, and perhaps on 'sport for all' in Cambridge

  • When: Thursday, September 16
  • Where: Cambridge YMCA

Alan Turing’s Cambridge

King's College, Cambridge. (48994814)
King's College, Cambridge. (48994814)

This tour will cover his time in Cambridge and the scientific advances that preceded him. The route will include the old Cavendish Laboratory, Trinity College, The Eagle Public House, Turing’s college, King’s, and the plaque there commemorating him.

  • When: September 14 and 17
  • Where: St Edward King and Martyr

Artists and Gardeners: A tour of edible highlights from Newnham College’s art collection and gardens

This tour includes an introduction to paintings from Newnham's art collection depicting edible delights, and continues with a visit to the College's new permaculture Food Forest Garden and ‘Incredible Edible’ potager beds.

When: Thursday, September 16

Where: Newnham College

Fantasy feast: Collaborate and create in clay

Food abounds in the collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum, in paintings, prints and in ceramics. Working with tutors Abi Moore and Sarah Nibbs, take inspiration from the collections to contribute to a collaborative feast in clay, working in the tradition of fashionable eighteenth-century ‘trompe l’oeil’

When: September 11

Where: Fitzwilliam Museum

Virtual behind the scenes tour of the Museum of Zoology Bird Room

Jack Ashby at the Museum of Zoology with one of the exhibits. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jack Ashby at the Museum of Zoology with one of the exhibits. Picture: Keith Heppell

Get a peek behind the scenes at the Museum of Zoology and see the amazing bird specimens not on display with curator of birds Dr Daniel Field.

  • When: September 10-19
  • Where: online

Historic Cambridge Tour

Trinity College. Picture: Keith Heppell
Trinity College. Picture: Keith Heppell

Join one of Cambridge Tour Guides’ Green Badge guides for a guided walking tour through the historic centre of Cambridge.

On this tour you will learn about the many famous people that made Cambridge the extraordinary place it is today, including some of the university's 110 Nobel Prize winners. We will see several famous colleges, such as Trinity, where Sir Isaac Newton spent his entire academic life, and King's where Alan Turing began his work. No tour would be complete without the old Cavendish Laboratory where the electron, proton and neutron were discovered and where the structure of DNA was determined. And of course we shall see and hear about the hugely historic Eagle pub, complete with its RAF bar and ghost.

  • When: September 10-19
  • Where: St Edward King and Martyr

Bug hunt at Trumpington Community Orchard

Come and see the sort of bugs that live in Trumpington Community Orchard with a local expert to help you search through the undergrowth. There will also be a selection of edible plants ready for potting up so that you can take one home.

Local apple juice will be available by the cup at a small charge.

  • When: Saturday, September 11
  • Where: Trumpington Community Orchard

Cambridge Scavenger Hunt

Explore your local area in our Open Cambridge scavenger hunt, and be in with a chance to win some great prizes. Tag Open Cambridge in your pictures with the hashtag #CambridgeScavengerHunt to enter. Take on the challenge with a group of friends or go solo. Can you tick off every item in both hunts?

There will be two hunt options – the Cambridge edition and the ‘British village’ edition.

Bookings can be made at https://www.opencambridge.cam.ac.uk/.

Keep up to date with the Festival via Twitter: @OpenCambridgeUK or Instagram: @CamUniFestivals.

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