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27 March 2020
The jewel in Newnham’s aesthetic crown, or rather jewels, are the six Champneys buildings, details here. It was a fantastic tribute to the early women at Cambridge that it was thought so important to give them excellent buildings and beautiful gardens. Let’s raise a glass to all those hundreds of people who dug into their pockets, just out of idealism, because of their belief in women’s education. In A Room of One’s Own Virginia Woolf wrote: ‘The gardens … lay before me in the spring twilight, wild and open, and in the long grass, sprinkled and carelessly flung, were daffodils and bluebells, not orderly perhaps at the best of times, and now wind-blown and waving as they tugged at their roots. The windows of the building, curved like ships’ windows among generous waves of red brick, changed from lemon to silver under the flight of the quick spring clouds.’ In a changing world the buildings are a constant. When ‘all this’ is over, go and look at them (you just walk in through the porter’s lodge, smiling at the – female – porter as you do so) and can then wander freely round the garden. There will be roses and wisteria by the time we can do so. Courage, as the French say.
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