Except a cathedral. Despite its size, the ancient settlement casts a jealous and eastwardly focused eye on the much smaller towns of Ely and Bury St Edmunds. Both of these much tinier conurbations boast cathedrals. Indeed where Bury’s cathedral is grand, Ely’s is positively grandiose.
Every school age child used to know the incontrovertible fact that every city has a cathedral. In fact having a cathedral defined its very city-ness. When the first city planners did their planning in Cambridge, did they just forget? Or was it a conscious decision to omit the one thing that would proclaim the burgeoning city’s important status across the land? And if so, why?
Whisper it quietly but even Oxford has its own cathedral which presides over that other golden hued ancient academic city. There is a security about having a community’s spiritual wellbeing cared for on the spot. Oxonians must be very pleased. Cantabrigians must be a little irked to have to don their flippers and waders and, taking their courage in their hands, venture into the murky darkness of the Fens for their town based centre of worship.