Cambridge: True or False

Lily Rosengard 21 October 2014

Welcome to the wonderful world of Cambridge.

We’ve all heard the rather fantastical stories churned out by punters along the Cam, but have you ever wondered whether anything they’ve said is actually true?

Cambridge is a mad place. A lot of extrodinary things have happened here, and a lot of extrodinary things have just been rumoured to have happened here.

Below is a selection of tales about the magical place we all live in. You might be surprised to find out that there are a few truths mixed amongst the myths. Can you decipher which are true and which are false? (scroll to the bottom for answers)

1- You can walk from Cambridge to Oxford on land solely owned by Trinity.

2- Fellows of St. Johns are legally allowed to kill and eat swans. 

Image Credit: Jean-Daniel Echenard

3- The Mathematical Bridge connecting the two halves of Queens’ College was originally built by Sir Isaac Newton only of wood, without any screws or bolts to hold it together. Some students decided to disassemble it one night, and then were completely unable to put it back together again, and hence is the reason why it is now bolted in the way it is.

Image Credit: Stephanie Nicolaou

4- Oliver Cromwell’s head is buried in Sidney Sussex. However, only the Master and two other members of staff at any time know where exactly. 

5- The Cambridge University admissions department made a serious mistake when they accepted you. They sent you the wrong letter and then felt too bad to call you back to explain the confusion.

6- The ducks at Emmanuel are all classed as fellows.

Image Credit: Pavlina Jane



1. False- no map has shown that this is the case. Sorry Trinity freshers…

2. True- these fellows are the only people outside the Royal Family who are legally allowed to kill and eat unmarked mute swans.

3. False- the bridge was erected 22 years after Newton’s death, so he couldn’t possibly have built it. It was in fact built by James Essex the Younger in 1749 to the design of William Etheridge.

4. Apparently true.

5. False. You 100% deserve to be here. If you didn’t have that feeling at least once (or all the time) in your Cambridge career, you may actually be a robot without you even noticing it yourself. Believe it or not, the admissions staff are pretty good at their job and have had a lot of practise. If they did send you the wrong letter, don’t worry, they would not think twice about calling you back. The good news is that they didn’t- so congrats to you.

6. True- as only fellows are allowed to walk on the grass. 

Are you surprised by the above? Do you have your own truths or myths that you think should be on this list? If so, comment below!