A Peculiar Literary Legacy at the Wren Library

Share Published on October 25, 2017

Trinity College’s imposing Wren Library was built between 1676 and 1695, to close off Nevile’s Court on its fourth side.

The library is a Cambridge postcard icon — a “baroque hovercraft on fire” according to former undergraduate Clive James — but it might have looked very different had Sir Christopher Wren’s first set of drawings for the library been approved. Wren’s rejected plans were for a circular building with a domed roof. Undeterred, the young architect eventually transformed the rejected library plans into his magnum opus: St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Wren Library’s literary treasures extend beyond the front doors, all the way to the Nevile’s Court fountain, in which Lord Byron is said to have bathed while an undergrad at Trinity.

Guests can check the college is open by calling the porter’s lodge on 01223 338400.


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