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Walking with Women

Unlocking the female stories of Cambridge’s past through snapshots of architecture, history and poetry

WELCOME Is the Cambridge experience merely “an array of old men staring down at you from oak-panelled walls’’? Not any more! This guide to Cambridge’s city centre focuses on the role that local women have played in making this city what it is today. From the squalid cages of Regent Street’s infamous Spinning House to astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell’s stolen star-mapping, the guide aims to provide a punchy, easy-to-digest glance at the often-forgotten female tales and tragedies locked within this historic city’s buildings and public spaces. Walking with Women was conceived and designed by Shape East poet-in-residence, Hollie McNish, in collaboration with Page to Performance poetry. It originated in response to an overwhelming cry by local female residents, school pupils and professionals about the lack of connection they felt to their city centre’s bricks and mortar. Since its conception, the guide has received a tremendous amount of support from local historians, poets, architects and enthusiasts, all of whom have given their free time to research, write and re-write this collection. The stops on the tour are not intended to be made in any set order; we have not numbered them for this reason. Feel free to dip in and out as you wish, read over a cup of coffee or spend the afternoon strolling through 100 years of historic tales. The stories included in this the guide have all been nominated by local people and though we are aware that there are a huge amount still missing, we hope this will provide an adequate introduction to some of Cambridge’s female past! If you wish to organise a Walking with Women guided tour, a poetry recital, want to order more copies of the booklet or simply wish to send us your thoughts, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. Hollie McNish Poet in Residence, Shape East

1884 Castle End Mission 1957 Kettle’s Yard House The Folk Museum 1936

1960 The ADC

Senate House 1890 The Market Square 1897

1913 The Market Square Fountain

The Old Examinations Hall 1939

The Old Cavendish Laboratory 1967

Our Lady and the English Martyrs 1885

1891 The Spinning House

Map 1884 1885 1890 1891 1897 1913 1935 1939 1957 1960 1967



“ ” ...a veritable mother in Israel whose open handed hospitality enriched the lives of many Cambridge men - Lavington Hart

Castle End Mission. Despite

its noble name, Castle End was one of Cambridge’s notoriously poorest areas. As new housing was built in a rapidly expanding town, older, often squalid properties of Castle End remained. Immediately north of Northhampton Street, the neighbourhood became renowned for deprivation, crowded streets and red light hues, offering little sanctuary other than the public house... and Castle End Mission. Castle End Mission, The Working Men’s Institute and Mission Room, was built in 1884 to accommodate the expanding number of local working men attending literacy and mathematics classes begun by Mrs Mark Ives Whibley in 1879. It was constructed from red Suffolk Brick with Bath stone decorative dressings and cost £700 to build. The funds were raised entirely by Mrs Whibley.

Mrs Whibley. On Sunday 11th

February 1879, Mrs Whibley ran the first ‘Castle End Morning School’ in a small rented room in Kettle’s Yard. The 1870

UK law granting universal access to free Primary school education had just been passed and the intention of the classes was to teach the three R’s (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic) and Religion to the mainly illiterate male population of Castle End. Two men attended. Within a few weeks the number of men grew to 7. The classes moved to Mrs Whibley’s home and then to a small room in Frost’s Passage. For 5 years the classes were taught to an expanding number of local men. Mrs Whibley recruited students from the university to teach voluntarily, often to their professors’ dismay. By 1884 the school was too popular to remain in the room on Frost Passage. Through her ‘untiring zeal’ Mrs Whibley collected the funds and Castle End Mission was built and the classes began once again. It is said that one reason why Castle End is different today is thanks to Mrs Whibley and her work in the education of the area’s men.

What a friend is Mrs Whibley All our sins and griefs to bear! She will learn us proper speaking Drink or swear we don’t now dare. Oh, what pains we boys have suffered, Ignorant of pen and ink. Though she’s full of regulations, Mrs Whibley makes us think. Mrs W’s determination Got new buildings for our class; Brick-built, fancy, with a privy, Arches; fittings, polished brass. We have learned to count our blessings, Scores and grosses; wheat and tares; We’ve rised up like Darwin’s monkeys But continue with our prayers. Girls no better than they should be Are Temptation, that’s for sure: Solid Mrs Dubloo’s structure Helps us strive and to endure. She would have us self-improving, ardent like this new hall’s coals; students sit with us and teach us. Mrs Whibley loves our souls. Professors look down upon us; From our hill on them we glare. We take pride in honest labour, Conduct worthy is our care. Swedish Drill and Gym-n-ast-ics, Sunday School for one and all: Brighter visions we shall compass In Castle End’s proud Mission Hall. Ah! Men! Amen. by Angela Brown



“ ” ...the stretch of her spine still spins on that spire of Cambridge’s skyline - Hollie McNish, poet

Our Lady and the English Martyrs (OLEM), the Catholic

parish church is one of the most important landmark buildings in Cambridge, largely due to its 65 metre spire piercing Cambridge’s skyline. The construction of such a central Catholic church caused much controversy among local Anglicans and University members at the time. The church was designed by architects Dunn & Hansom of Newcastle between 1885 and 1890 and built by the Cambridge firm Rattee and Kett. It is constructed in Casterton stone for the foundation, Ancaster for the plinth, and the remainder in Combe Down, and follows a traditional cruciform structure. The foundation stone was lay in 1887 and the church consecrated on 8 October 1890. The first Mass was attended by all the bishops of England and Wales, except for Cardinal Manning and Bishop Vaughan. OLEM stands as a striking example of 19th century Gothic revival architecture, begun in the 1870’s in England and deeply intertwined with philosophical movements

associated with a re-awakening of High Church or Anglo-Catholic self-belief and the growth of religious nonconformism.

Pauline Duvernay, later Yolande Lyne-Stephens, was a famous ballet dancer who debuted in London in 1831. She is known for introducing several new dances to England, including La Cachucha, a dance attested to originate in Cuba. Tremendously popular and known as a beauty, she retired in 1837 and in 1845 married Stephens Lyne-Stephens, and devoted herself to charity work, including the foundation of OLEM Mr Lyne-Stephens was heir to a glass manufacturing empire founded by the illegitimate child of a Cornish servant; when they married, he was the ‘wealthiest commoner in England’. When he passed away in 1861, he left behind no male heirs, and a scramble among fortune-hunters to stake their claim. Duvernay continued to live in the estate he had purchased at the time of their marriage, but scandalised society with her passionate relationship with a British general.

by Hollie McNish



“ ” It will take ... Cambridge 40 years to get the idea of women’s graduation through their thick skulls. - William Aldis, 1890, Professor

The Senate House was designed by James Burrough and built in 1722– 1730 by architect James Gibbs in a neoclassical style using white Portland limestone. The site, previously used for houses, was purchased by an Act of Parliament, dated June 11, 1720. It was officially opened in July 1730.

celebration. Her success became the subject of national and international newspaper coverage and debate, helping to silence the popular claim that the female brain was too illogical to be allowed the vote. Interest was heightened by the Fawcett family connection with the suffrage movement.

The Senate House was originally intended to be one side of a quadrangle, but the rest of the structure was never completed. The House is now used for Cambridge University degree ceremonies, - the only time people may walk on the lawn - and for the formal admission to office of the Vice-Chancellor and the Proctors.

Philippa’s second cousin, Marion, described the scene: “...the gallery was crowded with girls and a few men...the men’s names were read first... At last the man who had been reading shouted ‘Women’. The undergraduates yelled ‘Ladies’ and for some moments there was a great uproar.

Philippa Fawcett. In 1890,

A fearfully agitating moment for Philippa it must have been; the examiner could not attempt to read the names until there was a lull. Again and again he raised his cap, but he would not say ‘ladies’ instead of ‘women’ and quite right I think... At last he read Philippa’s name, and announced she was ‘above the Senior Wrangler’. [above all others] There was great and prolonged cheering; many of the men turned towards Philippa...and raised their hats.”

Philippa Fawcett scored the highest mark in the Cambridge University maths exams, a subject still largely considered a male domain. Philippa’s success raised some uncomfortable questions: while Philippa’s results exceeded those of all the male students, Cambridge still did not allow women students to gain a degree or official classification. The announcement of the results in Senate House was met with much cheering and

With that figure Fiction was made from ‘fact: That Penises plus Pens made matheMatics Minus Vaginas who need not apply Just divide their thighs to multiply. Sometimes I can’t believe the visions That women can’t make logical decisions That long division, for example, takes the clarity of masculine brains wombs make us clearly insane And we smile and we laugh and we strain As we stroke this lions mane Watch these men parade like Kings through jungle glades And remain tamed Trained housewives Devoid of numeral capacity some claim I wonder if these men ever watched their little housewives Baking cakes Noted the precision it takes Equating measurements easily Doubling percentages if more should come as guests Or fractioning proportions if less Investing in economies of scale if the cake is for a bake sale where profits go to the Sufragettes perhaps I guess I’m just making a point That we’ve never found numbers too hard and it feels quite great to prove that at last

by Hollie McNish



“ ” ...and the crier of the town is often there to discipline the ladies of pleasure with his whip. -

The Spinning House. In 1627,

Thomas Hobson provided land for a workhouse for ‘poor people of the University and Town…and as a house of correction for stubborn rogues. Throughout the 17th century the house imprisoned the unruly and ‘work shy’ and taught the unemployed a trade. By the early 18th century, however, it was increasingly being used for the imprisonment of petty offenders and ‘prostitutes’ arrested by patrolling University Proctors. Any woman suspected of wrongdoing could be seized, forced to undergo an immodest inspection and taken to the House to await sentencing. Records suggest a 10 shilling wage to whip prisoners. Such powers over local women were resented by the townsfolk. The building had sixty cells, six feet by eight, lining corridors on two floors. Each had a heavy door with spy-hole and food turntable. Conditions were brutal: in 1846 a 19 year old girl, Elizabeth, died of a cold within 10 days of her arrest.

Daisy Hopkins. On December 2,

1891, a 17 year old Daisy Hopkins was arrested with charges of ‘walking with a member of the University’. By all accounts she was a known prostitute. However, on arrest she was reportedly neither ‘working’ nor was the Undergraduate wearing his regulation academic dress. Nevertheless, she was found guilty and sentenced to 14 days. The local and London papers protested this case. Townsfolk raised legal costs for a long legal battle. The Attorney General had to concede that such a charge could not be deemed a crime. The towns’ counsel quickly replied that Daisy had therefore been falsely imprisoned. Parliament became involved. On June 18th 1893, an Act was passed removing the University’s power to arrest local women suspected of soliciting; local magistrates were now to deal with such cases. In 1901 the House was demolished, a site where dozens of women had been half starved, half frozen, often for simply being the wrong sex in a public place.

And it had been a pretty day, Bare twigs scratching and tapping On the window, saying come and play And me – saving myself for the night to come But conceding to a blue gown, deep as December, To take the gold, the fire of my eyes, His sparkling when they lit on me. He wanted to walk with me, to talk and Know the town. To know us better. Such a pretty tongue he had – Gilded with the rhythms of other shores, Breathing his life onto my fingers as the night deepened, Reluctant to relinquish them. And then Fred Wallis – his voice as flat as marshes, Hand heavy, and sharp as winter branches, Bids me come and, in the mess of shouting, The blistering spin of the world lurching, My gentleman releases me, quite limp now, A rag hanging, like the shreds of my blue best In the fists of the proctor’s bull-dogs. Tonight I dangle on the nail of Hobson’s Choice – They’ve drained the town into this frozen hulk of Stone and spy holes, snow and ice-cold welcomes, Tight belts, ten-shilling welts, And evidence carved from rough-spread legs. They say now I’ll have my own silk, which means A tiger quick and ready to defend me Better than my best dress ever did, so All I can see in front of me is gowns; The Town behind me, but my voice silenced As the pretty mister cringes, whispering our words Which seem to matter more than Mister Lyon’s Latin. So here again, in four walls bare as virtue, They have my body, locked and spinning in A muttered silence that no curse can break, No gold, no nudge, no fist. And all my name now means, or ever will Is this.

Walk with Me by Fay Roberts



They then savagely attacked the mannequin, decapitating it...tearing it to pieces - Sheila Hanlon, historian

The Market Square in

Cambridge is thought to have begun as an Anglo-Saxon settlement. When the Vikings were defeated by Anglo-Saxon residents in about 925 AD, historians believe that the commercial centre of the City moved to the Peas Hill area, next to where the present-day Market Square is located. During the Middle Ages the site of the Market Square was occupied largely by houses, thought to have occupied an L-shaped space to the east and south sides of the current Market Square. The Market Square that is known today was relocated there in 1855 after a fire levelled many buildings on that site in 1849.

of a building opposite the Senate House. Banners reading “No Gowns for Girtonites” and “Varsity for Men” flew alongside it. The lady cyclist in her rational costume was a readily recognised symbol of the new woman whose entrance into higher education the male students resented. At the time of the protest, women were permitted to study at Cambridge, but were not granted full degrees. Newnham and Girton Colleges for women opened in the 1870’s, and in 1881 women gained the right to write the Tripos examination. The 1897 ruling would have admitted women as full members of the university.

The Cyclist. In 1897, a proposal was

The resolution did not, however, pass. Upon hearing this result, the triumphant mob tore down the effigy. They then savagely attacked the mannequin, decapitating and tearing it to pieces in a frenzy. What remained of the poor lady cyclist was stuffed through Newnham College gates.

On the day of the debate, these students filled the area between Cambridge’s Market Square and the Senate House and an effigy of a woman on a bicycle was suspended out of the window

Women studying at Cambridge University were not to receive the titles of full degrees until 1921, and even then it was without associated privileges.

put before Cambridge University’s Senate to grant full degrees to female graduates. Male students responded with outrage.

Cycle Free! Newnham, the place to be! Dangling woman trying to cycle free, no hope to be, Our education ceasing us from becoming free. Trapped and defeated, does it take a war to have independence? Don’t let us be that symbol! you say. Don’t stop us getting full degrees! Cramming our faces through the gates destroying our heads and making us bleed. 1921 - 2012, how things have changed, but the debate Still goes on, women still treated differently. Will women ever be equal? In education or in work? Has society changed for the better? Look at what women have accomplished! We are free! No men to destroy our brains, no loss of blood to a point. We are not animals herded, living in cages and sinking within. We limp forward, wounded with pride and hope that one day we will be equal and our problems put aside. by Roseanna Waterfall (Winner of our young people’s poetry competition. Entrants were asked to write a piece based on the information given for this stop.)



“ ” I don’t understand why the government doesn’t just give them the vote and be done with it’. - Cambridge Policeman, (in ‘Suffrage Pilgrimage’ ,The Cambridgeshire Collection)

The Fountain in the Market Square represents an important development of modern infrastructure in Cambridge. The idea for this water system was first conceived in 1574. A University official suggested a stream be diverted to the centre of Cambridge to relieve what he described as “the corrupt air” from inadequate sanitation. Construction began in 1610. It was one of the first times that Town and University officials collaborated on a joint venture. The fountain supplied fresh water to residents for nearly 250 years, until a fire swept through much of the Market Place in 1849, prompting its removal in 1856. It was relocated to its present site at the corner of Lensfield Road and Trumpington Road. Today’s fountain was built in 1856, originally covered by a stone arch. It is now purely symbolic, as its original function of providing clean water to Cambridge city centre was formally cut off in 1970 with the construction of the Lion Yard Shopping Centre, now the Grand Arcade.

Mrs Rackham. At 10:30am on July

21st 1913, Mrs Rackham stood at the fountain, addressing a crowd covering near the entire Market Square, one of several local women about to march to London’s Hyde Park to demonstrate for the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies.

The pilgrimage was a nationwide event, to demonstrate support for women’s suffrage and undo the bad press caused by more militant suffragettes, which many claimed discredited the campaign of votes for women. This referred mainly to the arson and vandalism strategy of the Women’s Social and Political Union (W.S.P.U) campaigners known for targeting railway stations and sports grounds. In Cambridge, threats of these attacks put the annual boat-race under police protection. Despite their contrasting strategies however, the campaigners aims were closely aligned: to give women the right to vote. The speeches at the fountain were kept short and sweet: ‘a time for action not talk’ said Mrs Rackham; and the women needed to reach Royston by evening.

by Jessie Durrant



“ ” My duty as a museum curator is, primarily, to collect and to preserve material objects from the past - Enid Porter, Folk Life and Traditions of the Fens

The Folk Museum is a timber-

framed, wattle-and-daub building on the site of the former White Horse Inn, which was open from 1646 until 1934. The inn was one of 31 in the immediate vicinity, all serving the river trade. The idea for a Folk Museum emerged from a 1933 Women’s Institute exhibition, during which Mrs. Madeline Adeane wished for a permanent collection of items to ensure ‘tradition was not dead, ‘and that the things of old are still revered.’ The idea was taken up by Cambridge’s Rotary Club. Much of the initial collection came from women, local historians, and collectors such as Catherine Parsons, the first Honorary Curator. The ground floor of the museum has stayed true to Parsons’ initial vision. Another early supporter was Florence Ada Keynes. The Museum opened in 1936. A 2005 renovation designed by Freeland Rees Roberts Architects extended disabled access, created new offices, and revitalised the yard while conserving the historic portions of the building.

Enid Porter was curator of the

museum from 1948 to 1976. She was an outstanding oral historian, collecting stories from every space of society; gathering tales in ‘carpenters’ sheds, in farmyards, in public houses, in fields or listening unashamedly to snatches of conversations in trains, buses and streets‘. She never used tape recorders, but preferred to hand write notes or memorise peoples’ stories if she ‘felt that the sight of pencil and paper would alarm an informant and bring their flow of conversation to an abrupt halt’. She was well known for encouraging anyone who passed the museum to come in and talk about their memories with her. Enid Porter transformed the museum from 4 rooms to 10, acquired the vast bulk of its collection and did all of this whilst living in a very basic cottage at the back of the building and taking a minimal wage for the full 30 years. She was awarded the Coote-Lake medal by the Folklore society and an honorary Master of Arts by Cambridge University.



















So footprints didn’t melt when the rain came

by Hollie McNish



“ ” We were involved in meeting hospital trains and escorted the wounded to hospital - Edna (BBC History - WW2 People’s War)

The Examination Hall was

completed in 1909, designed by architect W.C.Marshall. In a quiet and secluded location for a ‘peaceful’ examination experience, it was deemed a well-needed, light and comfortable new setting for students to undergo the gruesome timeticking process. Comprising an east and west room, the space allowed a maximum of 490 victims ‘to suffer simultaneously’ (The Cambridge Review, June 3, 1909). The design maximised light and air ventilation, with opaque and high-fitted windows in the east room and rooffitted windows in the west minimizing distracting sun rays. The Hall was first used on June 23rd 1909 for the Darwin Banquet, before being prepared for its less celebrated guests.

Edna. In the 1930’s, social roles were

clearly defined; a woman’s place was at home, a man’s at work. With the onset of war, everything changed. Edna recalls: “I was 19 when the war broke

out, and I volunteered as an ambulance driver in 1939. Not many working class girls could drive then, but my father was an engineer and had taught me. I did my training, and was called up as a Civil Defence Driver... I was based in Cambridge... We were involved in meeting hospital trains and escorted the wounded to hospital. We also met wounded prisoners, who went to the exam hall in Downing Street, Cambridge... Cambridge had apparently been circled on maps by Hitler who apparently didn’t want it bombed, but some stray bombs did fall on the way back... I remember a German bomber came down on Histon Road...When we got there, the injured had already been evacuated, but two old ladies were unaccounted for. As I was only about 100 yards from home, I popped home to get some tea to keep warm. I woke my parents up who were furious I had woken them...” In December 1941, the National Service Act made the conscription of women legal. By mid 1943, almost 90% of single and 80 % of married women were employed in the war effort.

EDNA In line, outside the Examination Hall We queue, unloading each wounded Enemy. I’m Civil Defence. I answer duty’s call. I’d never thought to see a Fritz at all, Nor find myself at University, In line, outside the Examination Hall. His face is clean-lined, classic, like the wall And columns, insignia’d, in front of me. I’m Civil Defence. I answer duty’s call. I bet you’re glad you let no bombs to fall On all this glass and Latin property In line outside the Examination Hall! On that mosaic I’d like to see you crawl But must deliver you with dignity. I’m Civil Defence. I answer duty’s call. Allow my real thoughts out? I’ve not the gall. Princess Elizabeth drives vans like me. I’m Civil Defence, I answer duty’s call In line, outside the Examination Hall. by Angela Brown



“ ” I can’t even put my knitting down anywhere! - Helen Ede, Kettle’s Yard Archives

Kettle’s Yard was originally the

Cambridge home of Jim and Helen Ede, who moved here in 1957. With the help of architect Roland Aldridge, they converted four derelict cottages into a home in which Jim’s remarkable collection of modern art could be displayed. The space was envisaged by Jim as ‘a living place where works of art could be enjoyed . . . where young people could be at home unhampered by the greater austerity of the museum or public art gallery.’ To this end, he held an ‘open house’ every afternoon of term-time, guiding visitors around his home. Works of art, furniture, glass and ceramics in the house were interspersed with natural objects, placed just so to play with surface texture, light patterns, and the changing angles and intensity of sunlight between day and season to create continuously changing visual effects. In 1966 he gave the house and its contents to Cambridge University. In 1970 the house was extended, and an exhibition gallery designed by architects Sir Leslie Martin and David Owers. The

house still remains largely as it was then, including one fresh lemon placed each week in Jim’s designated fruit bowl.

Helen Ede’s bedroom and bathroom were closed to the public, the only part of Kettle’s Yard not arranged by Jim. The works in the room now echo its function for contemplation and retreat. While Jim held his open house tours and meetings, Helen often kept to the privacy of her room. Despite this, she clearly loved aspects of life here - her Bechstein piano and hosting musical recitals in particular. Nonetheless, Jim’s vision for Kettle’s Yard, the strict placement of objects within the house - stones, paintings, table and piano top ornaments – also had some often overlooked practical inconveniences for his wife: family friend Simon Barrington Ward recalls her joking “I can’t even put my knitting down anywhere!”. Through cooking and love, calmness and support, Helen undoubtedly made Jim’s vision possible as a home for them both.

Lemon Pips Not the ‘life of the party’, The wife of the arty, intuitive one. The one the house hails as a master The one whose collections and parties And open house spaces created a new kind of gallery. Apparently, She shut her door a lot. Inside her room As students gazed about her home. Some claimed they didn’t even know he had a wife Did she like the life? Yes. She liked it too, The tunes, the music nights, the hymns, Just not as much as him. Mainly, a supportive wife for Jim. For Jim, the man they talk about The man whose story’s written down The man the walls here shout out loud about His eye for detail, Streams of light, precisely placing every piece in place Just right So shadows played to blades of chosen light And seasons shone through open skies to slide into the house in twisted lines And danced inside. I wonder whether sometimes at night she got up Just to move things around while he slept Crept across the floorboards, snores from below And just so, And just for a laugh, Pulled those precisely placed pebbles apart just a tip, cut the lemon in half and picked out the pips, pushed the piano back a quarter an inch, then watched the next day as he slowly began to notice things changed just a bit. Her stomach in stitches, drowning in giggles as big as the knitting she couldn’t put down, trying her best not to make any sound as he turned round and asked: “Did you move this?” I expect she didn’t do this. But given her position I would’ve. by Hollie McNish



“ ” Women are just as funny as men, I absolutely believe this - Abi Tedder, Varsity

The ADC. Formed in 1855, the ADC

Theatre is Britain’s oldest functioning University playhouse. It faced initial opposition from University authorities concerned that theatrical interests would hinder students’ academic performance. As a compromise, performances were originally limited to just one, annually. The club began in two upstairs rooms of the Hoop Inn, and eventually purchased this property’s freehold in 1882. Throughout its history, it has only gone dark only twice: in 1914 due to concerns of WWI and in 1933 when a fire destroyed large parts of the original buildings. After eighteen months of reconstruction the present day theatre opened its doors. It was at this time, in 1935 that women were first able to participate. Due to financing issues, the University obtained the leasehold for the theatre in 1973. Several redevelopment projects have taken place since. The most ambitious expansion took place from 2004-2008, with complete redesign of the theatre, including addition of the Larkum Studio, dressing and greenroom spaces, certifying this evolving monument to the perseverance of creativity within the University.

Germaine Greer. One of the most renowned acts now housed on the ADC theatre stage are the Footlights, a famous Cambridge University comedy club begun in 1883.

Whilst the ADC accepted women in club and on stage from mid 1930, the Footlights remained male-only until then president and soon-to-be Monty Python, Eric Idle, refuted the rule in 1964. Amongst the first three women to sign up was Germaine Greer. Debuting in the 1965 show ‘My Girl Herbert’ as a flipper donning stripping nun, with one critic approving of ‘an Australian girl who had a natural ability to project her voice’, she launched quickly into the London arts scene. In 1970, she wrote ‘The Female Eunuch’ and soon became a leading face of 1970’s feminism. A popular male comedy duo of this time joked on stage that uptight feminists needed to be raped by a ‘real man’ to cure them of their silly ideas – a testimony to the desperate need for more women in comedy. In 2011, the Footlights made history by staging their first ever one woman show at the ADC, staring Abi Tedder.

I am not an observer, I will not sit back and watch, but watching on TV screens it seems that’s all I’ve got. Between the Mother, Wife or Sexpot, Virgin, Bride or Whore. Five thousand years the same old tale and it’s making my wits sore. Cos I don’t sit and gaze out window panes for strangers to ride to town, stand around in Rom Com rainy streets with a white nightie dripping down and I don’t mop the Bad Mans sweaty brow, run to hold his gang fight wounds. And to be a stronger woman, I don’t need a fitted leather cat suit. I don’t shoot bad looks at every girl who’s prettier than me and I won’t blame the single girl he cheated with if my boyfriend cheats on me, Bassy diamonds aren’t my best friend and I hope to God they never will be and I don’t wash my car in high heeled shoes and a loose gold string bikini. Cos I am more than soap sud nipples perked through see-through t-shirt gowns and we are more than sleeping beauties, more than ‘10’ marked swimsuit gowns. We are Politics, we don’t just kiss bits of presidents gone bad and we are footballers and sports players not just kiss and tells and WAGS... So let’s take off our tops with buttoned blouses undo the burning bras, lie back and dream of Jimmy Choos on blood red hot rod cars! Let’s make like MTV in nightclubs, cat fighting over wasters, singing “don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” to other womens’ dates there. Let’s take red pen and mark our weak spots before Heat Magazine can, paint our bodies ready for the plastic surgeons hand. Let’s lie back and dream of cleaning again as day break turns to night, as button hole by button hole we undo our freedom fights. Let’s lie flat on our backs, eyes staring to the sky, middle fingers up to all of those who died to give us rights.

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There was a tradition...that whenever a woman walked into a lecture hall all the guys in the room would stamp...their desks and whistle and catcall. Every time... So I had to stop and think, “Do I really want to do physics badly enough that I am going to live with this?” - Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, Interview with David De Vorkin, Carengie Institution

The Old Cavendish was built in

1873 for Cambridge University, which established its reputation for Physics in the 1600’s, but didn’t require a dedicated laboratory for another 200 years; 28 ‘Cav’ researchers have since won Nobel prizes. The Cavendish had the very first purposebuilt physics lecture theatre, with rising seats overlooking the demonstration bench, a new design at the time. It was also designed with the traditional, Christian framework of learning in mind, with a medieval-style entrance, Porters Lodge and a biblical text over the door. In 1937, a room used by previous Cavendish Director Lord Rutherland - the first man to split the atom - was sealed for almost 40 years, for fears of contamination of radioactive materials. Not initially open to women, Professor Clerk Maxwell later allowed women in but only during Summer holidays when he was away in Scotland! In 1974, the labs were relocated to West Cambridge and the building now houses a small museum dedicated to its history.

Jocelyn Bell - Burnell went

from being one of few girls ‘allowed’ to study science at school to making a discovery that changed our view of the universe. As a Ph.D. student at Cambridge, she helped build a radio telescope and analysed the quasars - very energetic and distant nuclei - it detected. In July 1967, while reviewing telescoped data in the laboratory, she detected “scruff” on the chart-recorder papers. Temporarily dubbed “Little Green Man 1” (LGM-1) until she detected a second, third and fourth signal, the source was eventually discovered to be a pulsar - a rapidly spinning neutron star wherein one teaspoon of matter would equal that of a mountain on earth. Despite being the first to detect pulsars, her male supervisor took the Nobel Prize for this in 1974. The joke ‘No-Bell Prize’ was thus invented. As first female president of the Institute of Physics, Bell-Burnell has campaigned to improve the status and number of women in physics and astronomy.

A thick halo of light rings your eye. Child’s lashes flicker in the morning sun laying flat on waxen eyelid as you fight the urge to blink 
 Curious, if unimpressed by syllabuses and classroom chat Your brain skirts the universe in bold leaps Set free by a visit to the observatory Icarus would have envied your wings A blink, a pulsing flash of time And you’re blinking back the Glasgow rain, In classes with girls who listen and answer but knit booties for babies under their books Men don’t like girls who are too clever, they say 
But you’re watching the shutter slide back over the telescope’s voyaging eye Feeling your heart jump as its pushed to the lens The havoc the stars play on its strings 
this is it life beyond imagination kiss the sky eat it up 
 By the banks of the cam the ground shifts opens a door to another world as the people come and go The trickling stream screaming with careless laughter 
You, eyes to the sky, grow strong, sinews tighten and tan from clinging to tops of telegraph poles this week you’ll map the universe listening in to other worlds as Phoebus heaves the earth ever forward And when the science men, nodding and wise in their Scandinavian towers Forget that it was you, ear pressed to the door of life Who heard the blips, the dancing feet of the little green men The warning lighthouse flares of a thousand ghosts of suns, Re-writing our understanding of life 
 you’ll ruffle your child’s hair, climb the telescope, lid rimmed in a halo, unearthly bright eyes tipped to the sky, and smile by Michelle Madsen


This guide has only been made possible through the help and commitment of a dedicated group of volunteers. We hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about Cambridge’s female past and the places and spaces in which this has taken place. Thank you also to those women who have complained about the lack of female insight into the city! Unless otherwise stated: Design and Poetry by Hollie McNish. Text edited by Frannie Ritchie. Poetry collated by Page to Performance ( Photography by Frannie Ritchie.

1884 1885

Castle End Mission and Mrs Whibley by Shape East Poetry by Ange Brown References: The Story of Castle End Mission: Its First Fifty Years by H.C. Carter Information kindly provided by Maureen Kendall of Castle End Mission OLEM by Shape East / Yolande Lynn-Stephens by Frannie Ritchie Poetry by Hollie McNish Nominated by Susan Smith References:


The Senate House and Philippa Fawcett by Shape East (quotations from ‘And what became of the Women? by Caroline Series) Poetry by Hollie McNish Image copyright: References:


The Spinning House and Daisy Hopkins by Caroline Biggs Poetry by Fay Roberts References:


The Market Square by Jane Baker The Cyclist by Sheila Hanlon: Image copyrights: 1897 Vote: Newnham College, Cambridge Vegetables: Aerial view of Market Square:



The Fountain by Jane Baker / Mrs Rackham by Shape East Poetry by Jessie Durrant Information kindly provided by Sue Slack, Local Studies Assistant, The Cambridgeshire Collection, Cambridge Central Library. Folk Museum and Enid Porter by Tamsin Wimhurst, Folk Museum 2005 renovation information from Sarah Morrison, Architect Poetry by Hollie McNish Image copyrights: References:


Old Examinations Hall by Shape East Information collated by Ange Brown from Cambridge Collections Edna (BBC History - WW2 People’s War) ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at’ Poetry by Ange Brown Design credit:


Kettle’s Yard and Helen Ede by Shape East Information kindly donated by Sarah Campbell / Kettle’s Yard Poetry by Hollie McNish Image credits: Light: The House: References: Kettle’s Yard Oral History Project:


The ADC by Gillean Denny Germaine Greer by Shape East Poetry by Hollie McNish References: My Girl Herbert, Cambridge Footlights 1965 Revue

1967 and

The Old Cavendish by Shape East Jocelyn Bell-Burnell by Michelle Madsen Poetry by Michelle Madsen Image credit: NASA/HST/CXC/ASU/J. Hester et al. References: Interview Transcript: Thanks finally to Allan Brigham, Deborah Thom, Honor Rodout and Mary Lockwood for their help, to the amazing Cambridgeshire Collection, and:

MEET THE CONTRIBUTERS Angela Brown - poet, historian and storyteller Angela Brown is a storyteller, teacher, heritage education officer, poet and registered tour guide. She has worked with History off the Page in every kind of primary school in the UK, as well as in cathedrals, churches, sacred monuments, language schools, underground air raid shelters, historic houses, art galleries, national science and environment weeks and parks. She creates stories, poems and projects on a range of topics, from research to final performance. Fay Roberts - poet and event organisor Born in 1975, Fay is a classically-trained singer from Cardiff who has been getting on stages since the early 80s. She was finally bitten by the performance poetry bug in Spring 2006 after a favour to a friend turned into a place in the final of a poetry slam. She has co-managed and co-hosted Poetry Kapow! (a series of live poetry events) in Milton Keynes, frequently performs across the Midlands and South East, and is part of a Milton Keynes poetry collective calling themselves Bardcore. She has been based in Cambridge since summer 2009, where she co-hosts the Cambridge chapter of Hammer & Tongue and her own poetry night allographic. Frannie Ritchie - photographer, editor, urban designer Franny Ritchie is an urban designer based in Cambridge, UK. Her most recent design and editing project is “Bronx, Meet Your Waterfront Plan,” funded through the Public Service Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The project won the “By the City, for the City” competition sponsored by the Institute for Urban Design. Ms. Ritchie also recently completed a research project on the future of parking and urban transportation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently, she is the Design Support Manager at Shape East in Cambridge, UK.

Gillean Marie Denny - architect Originally from Philadelphia, USA and an architect by training, Gillean came to the UK as a Gates Scholar to complete an MPhil and PhD in Environmental Design at the University of Cambridge. With a background in theatre stage design and sustainable grass-roots architecture, she is now completing her PhD on the environmental burdens of fresh produce consumption and urban farming. Gillean has worked on several design-build development projects in North America, and continues to design for numerous stage productions each year on both sides of the Atlantic.

Jessie Durrant - poet Jessie Durrant has been performing since 2010, and has been tearing up the East of England ever since with her raw rhythms and heartfelt lyrics. She has won the Peterborough Annual Speakeasy Slam and the Hammer & Tongue Cambridge Annual Slam Final.

Hollie McNish - poet and workshop leader Hollie McNish is a published UK poet hailed as a’ who has released two poetry albums, Touch and Push Kick, both to critical acclaim with the latter prized for contributions to maternal research by the University of London . She has appeared in venues as diverse as Glastonbury festival, Ronnie Scotts Jazz Bar, London’s Southbank Centre and Cambridge University, has been featured on Radio 4’s Poetry Diaries, Women’s Hour and BBC 2. Her first written collection, Papers, was published by Greenwich Exchange, London, in March 2012. She co-runs Page to Performance, alocal poetry organisation

MIchelle Madsen - poet and writer Michelle is a poet, writer, journalist and food artist. The founder and host of Hammer and Tongue London, part of the UK’s largest slam poetry network, Michelle has featured on stages as far afield as San Francisco, Berlin and Aarhus and she made her small screen debut on the BBC’s Why Poetry Matters series in May 2009. Empassioned, cutting and electric, Michelle’s words conjure up the macabre and the glorious, and might, just might make you think.


Sheila Hanlon - historian Sheila Hanlon completed her PhD in History at York University, Toronto. She holds a Vera Douie Fellowship at The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University, where she is the curator of “Cycling to Suffrage: The Bicycle and Women’s Rights, 1890-1914,” an exhibit held until Sept 2012.

Tamsin Wimhurst - educator and historian Tamsin Wimhurst is the Education Officer at the Cambridge and County Folk Museum. There she consistently engages with a wide variety of organisations and individuals, from artists to scientists, babies to the elderly, and has established the reputation of the museum as a creative and inspiring space for education. Tamsin has initiated numerous websites from a local cemetery site to support the local community through to one that entertained and educated families on a wide range of different activities. /


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Walking with Women is an alternative guide to Cambridge’s female history, combining architecture, storytelling, history and poetry. The walk was designed by Shape East, in association with performance poetry organisation Page to Performance.


Walking with Women: Tour of Cambridge  

A guided tour of Cambridge city centre, focusing on the role which local women have played within the city's bricks and mortar. Including ar...

Walking with Women: Tour of Cambridge  

A guided tour of Cambridge city centre, focusing on the role which local women have played within the city's bricks and mortar. Including ar...