I was invited, with guest (so thought I should take Rosemary), to the Gonville and Caius Commemoration of Benefactors. This took place on Sunday 14th November. Because of the likelihood of flowing wine we decided to stay the night. Our first choice of the Camping and Caravan club was stymied cos they were closed. We also thought of the Caravan and Camping club which was open, but the location was not good for public transport.
So we opted for an hotel, choosing Graduate Cambridge because of its free parking and the easy walk into Caius. It used to be the Double Tree by Hilton. On the site of the Double Tree, there used to be the Garden House Hotel which was destroyed by a fire on 23 April 1972 in which two guests died and before that it was The Garden House where a riot took place in 1970. Protesters against the Greek Junta, the “Colonels’ regime”, gathered outside the hotels for several days, culminating with a crowd of several hundred – mostly Cambridge University students organised by socialist groups – demonstrating against a Greek dinner for 120 guests being held in the River Suite at the Hotel from 7:30 pm on 13 February.
The company behind the Graduate operates hotels in university cities, mainly in America. The Graduate Cambridge and the Randolph in Oxford are the only two hotels they operate in the UK. The Cambridge hotel has been completely revamped, with excellent WIFI speeds far excelling mine at home. The reception area is themed with bookcases, books & college crests. The hotel has one downside – long meandering corridors which go on and on forever.
We arrived in the afternoon, got dressed in our glad rags and walked over to Gonville and Caius for four o’clock. The events of the celebration were:
- 4.00 pm Tea in the Fellows’ Combination Rooms
- 4.45 pm Lecture from Dr Arif Ahmed in the Bateman Auditorium
- 6.00 pm Commemoration of Benefactors Service in the Chapel
- 7.00 pm Reception in the Fellows’ Combination Rooms
- 7.30 pm Commemoration Feast in Hall
We had a lovely time starting with tea, and an excellent, thought provoking lecture on “Freedom & Free Speech”, mainly in universities. The Caius Choir performed well. The historic (1631) sermon, “Death’s Duel” by John Donne, seemed a tad sombre & bizarre, but fascinating at the same time. The reception flowed with drink and noise in the Senior Combination rooms, where the Feast provided excellent, beautifully presented food (from the newly refurbished kitchens) matched with equally splendid wines.
We ate breakfast at the hotel the next morning, after a quick walk around town, but were rather underwhelmed with the experience. Rosemary’s egg benedict had a hard yolk, soggy toast was served & luke-warm coffee! (No idea why we didn’t say anything.) You can get a better full English at any Joe’s Café.