The history behind the Oxbridge rivalry

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St John's College

The historic rivalry between Britain’s two oldest universities has been ongoing for centuries and as a result has become famous around the world, with millions of people tuning in to watch events such as the boat race every year.

If you’re planning to experience the rich history of the famous university town, our hotels in Central Cambridge are situated close to many of the historic institutions. To give you more of an insight into the rich history of the Oxbridge rivalry before you head to The Tamburlaine Hotel Cambridge, we’ve put together this handy historic guide.

The rivalry between Britain’s oldest and most iconic universities began in the year of 1209 when a number of scholars at the University of Oxford decided to break away and establish their own educational institution. At the time, Oxford was the only establishment for higher education in the UK but after a dispute with the local townspeople, a collection of associates disbanded and created the University of Cambridge which was given a royal charter by King Henry III in 1209. This split was the starting point for a rivalry that would continue on for hundreds of years.

Although there is a strong sense of rivalry between the two major British universities, they actually have a great deal in common when it comes to educational practices, average expenditure and number of famous alumni. Both Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for providing a world-class education to thousands of students every year. In fact, both institutions have consistently ranked in the top 6 universities in the world for as long as the rankings table has existed.

Both universities boast successful and highly reputable internal departments and faculties. Cambridge University Press has been responsible for publishing some of the most iconic literature in history and has been matched only by the success of Oxford University Press. In addition to this, both universities boast a selection of museums including the beautiful Fitzwilliam Museum which is located just around the corner from The Tamburlaine Hotel Cambridge.

There has been a huge selection of famous faces that have passed through the leagues of Oxbridge over the centuries. Both universities have provided an educational launchpad for a number of famous actors, philosophers, politicians and scientists. Some of the iconic names from Cambridge include Hugh Laurie, Charles Darwin and Dame Jane Goodall. Oxford boasts an equally impressive alumni roster with names like Stephen Hawking, Oscar Wilde and Margaret Thatcher.

In spite of having so much in common, the two universities continue to battle it out in various events and activities today. It may actually be the similarities which have led to such a fierce rivalry in which each university is fighting for the top spot. Not only do the two famous educational institutes compete on a global academic level but they regularly go head to head in a number of sports. Polo, hockey, cricket and rugby are some of the many sports in which Cambridge and Oxford regularly face off. Not forgetting the annual boat race between the two universities which regularly draws in a huge number of spectators every year.

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