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.


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