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Senate House

Walk in the footsteps of luminaries at this grand hall, where graduation ceremonies are held for Cambridge students. 

The Senate House is a historic 18th-century structure that was used for political meetings, and is now where students celebrate graduation from the esteemed University of Cambridge. Take photos of the stately building from the gates beside its well-kept front lawn.

Architect James Gibbs designed and built the house between 1722 and 1730. The Council of the Senate gathered in this neoclassical mansion to make decisions regarding the university governing system. In the summer of 1958, the students pulled an elaborate prank by hoisting an Austin Seven car to the top of the Senate House roof. The incident made the headlines in the newspapers at the time. In 2010, the Senate House was the site of a protest against an increase in tuition fees in England.

This majestic structure is made from Portland stone and features several attractive architectural features, including arched windows and semi-columns built into the façade. Note its grand pediment above the second tier of windows and the balcony wall that lines the roof. 

Go to the house at the end of the academic year to see the University of Cambridge students entering it for the glamorous graduation ceremony and then celebrating on the large lawn outside. You’ll see that the students wear special gowns for the occasion. This is the best time of the year to witness some of the university’s quirkier traditions such as the mathematics ceremony, where lists of degree results are thrown like confetti from the top balcony. 

Members of the public are not permitted to enter the building, which has an elegant interior with a black-and-white checkered floors.

The Senate House is beside the Church of St. Mary the Great and King’s College Chapel in the center of the city. Go to the King’s College section of the university campus and you’ll find the Senate House overlooking the picturesque grounds of Tree Court. There is a parking lot beside the site.


Guide to Exploring Senate House


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Hilton Cambridge City Centre £138
Hilton Cambridge City Centre

Hilton Cambridge City Centre

Downing Street, Cambridge, England
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Cambridge City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and Cambridge Corn Exchange. University of Cambridge and King's College are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 19 minutes by foot.

    Clayton Hotel Cambridge formerly known as The Tamburlaine Hotel £116
    Clayton Hotel Cambridge formerly known as The Tamburlaine Hotel

    Clayton Hotel Cambridge formerly known as The Tamburlaine Hotel

    Station Rd, Cambridge, England
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Cambridge, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Arts Theatre. St Catharine's College and Church of St Mary the Great are also within 1 mi (2 km). Cambridge Station is only a 2-minute walk.

      ibis Cambridge Central Station £59
      ibis Cambridge Central Station

      ibis Cambridge Central Station

      2 Station Square, Cambridge, England
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in the business district, this hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of University Botanic Gardens, University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University. Addenbrooke's Hospital and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 2 miles (3 km). Cambridge Station is only a 2-minute walk.

        University Arms, Autograph Collection £136
        University Arms, Autograph Collection

        University Arms, Autograph Collection

        Regent Street, Cambridge, England
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Cambridge City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Parker's Piece, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Corn Exchange. Anglia Ruskin University and King's College are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 15 minutes by foot.

          Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge £119
          Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge

          Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge

          15-19 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, England
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Cambridge City Centre, this romantic hotel is steps away from Fitzwilliam Museum and University of Cambridge. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 18 minutes by foot.

            Gonville Hotel £122
            Gonville Hotel

            Gonville Hotel

            Gonville Place, Cambridge, England
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Cambridge City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, University of Cambridge, and Anglia Ruskin University. Cambridge Corn Exchange and King's College are also within 15 minutes. Cambridge Station is 15 minutes by foot.

              The Varsity Hotel & Spa £115
              The Varsity Hotel & Spa

              The Varsity Hotel & Spa

              24 Thompsons Lane, Cambridge, England
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Cambridge City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Pepys Library and Trinity College. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 29 minutes by foot.

                Cambridge Hotel City Center on the River Cam
                Cambridge Hotel City Center on the River Cam

                Cambridge Hotel City Center on the River Cam

                Granta Place Mill Lane, Cambridge, England
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Cambridge City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of The Backs and University of Cambridge. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 23 minutes by foot.