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The banks of the River Cam at Grantchester
Grantchester shown within Cambridgeshire
|Population||540 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
The village of Grantchester is listed in the 1086 Domesday Book as Grantesete and Grauntsethe. It is also mentioned briefly in book IV, chapter 19 of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. John de Grauntsete, a lawyer who had a successful career as a judge in Ireland, was born in Grantchester, c. 1270. The present name derives from the common Old English suffix -ceaster (variously developed as "-cester", "-caster", and -"chester"), used in names of forts or fortified cities throughout England.
Grantchester is sometimes identified as the Cair Grauth ("Fort Granta") listed in the History of the Britons among the 28 cities of Britain, but the Roman Duroliponte and subsequent major British and Saxon settlements in the area were at Castle Hill in Cambridge, whose Old English name was Grantabrycge. The confusion arises from the lower stretches of the Granta having been renamed the Cam after the city.
Grantchester is said to have the world's highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners, most of these presumably being current or retired academics from the nearby University of Cambridge.
Students and tourists often travel from Cambridge by punt to picnic in the meadows or take tea at The Orchard. In 1897, a group of Cambridge students persuaded the owner of Orchard House to serve them tea in its apple orchard, and this became a regular practice. Lodgers at Orchard House included the Edwardian poet Rupert Brooke, who later moved next door to the Old Vicarage. In 1912, while in Berlin, he wrote a poem of homesickness entitled "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester". The house is currently the home of the Cambridge scientist Mary Archer and her husband, Jeffrey Archer. Grantchester has been the home since 1969 of the sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld OBE.
The footpath to Cambridge that runs beside Grantchester Meadows is nicknamed the Grantchester Grind. Grantchester Grind is the title of a 1995 comic novel written by Tom Sharpe. Further upstream is Byron's Pool, named after Lord Byron, who is said (by Brooke, at least) to have swum there. The pool is now below a modern weir where the Bourn Brook flows into the River Cam. Byron's Pool is a Local Nature Reserve.
Grantchester is the subject of "Grantchester Meadows" (composed and performed by Roger Waters) a song by Pink Floyd, with the village being home to band member David Gilmour. A few years later, David Gilmour also wrote a song about Grantchester Meadows, called Fat Old Sun. The village is also the setting for James Runcie's sleuth novels The Grantchester Mysteries, now adapted as an ITV drama titled Grantchester shown in the UK from autumn 2014 and filmed on location in Grantchester.
Every year on Boxing Day (26 December), Grantchester holds an inter-village barrel race which is around 40 minutes long and ends with a hog roast at the Rupert Brooke pub. This tradition dates back to the 1960s.
An underground passage is said to run from the Old Manor house to King's College Chapel two miles away. It was said that a fiddler who offered to follow the passage set off playing his fiddle; the music became fainter and fainter, until it was heard no more and the fiddler was never seen or heard of again. This story is told of many supposed tunnels. On a 17th-century map of Grantchester, one of the fields is called Fiddler's Close.
Panoramic photo gallery
- Nennius (attrib.). Theodor Mommsen (ed.). Historia Brittonum, VI. Composed after AD 830. (Latin) Hosted at Latin Wikisource.
- Ford, David Nash. "The 28 Cities of Britain" at Britannia. 2000.
- "Byron's Pool". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Map of Byron's Pool". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- Historic England. "Church of St Mary and St Andrew (1309436)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- [dead link]
- "Where to go bonkers on Boxing Day". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 235. ISBN 9780340165973.
- [dead link]
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