Oxford and Cambridge may be famous the world over, but not every aspect of these famed universities is universally known. There’re plenty of secrets and little-known facts about these impressive institutions and what lies within them – but where do you find out about all the historic, hidden traditions?
Well, here at The Tamburlaine Hotel, we’re experts in the area. Yes, we may have opened our doors just a couple of months ago, but our staff are fully-immersed in the history of Cambridge and the age-old (friendly) rivalry with Oxford. So, what are some of the quirkiest Oxbridge traditions? Read on to discover our favourites…
Bizarre interview questions
If you, or someone you know, is planning on studying at one of these prestigious universities, it’s advisable to prepare for the unexpected. At Cambridge and Oxford, all prospective students are required to undertake an interview for admittance and although this is now the case at many universities, very few boast the same reputation as these two traditional establishments.
Designed to put potential students on the spot and see how they deal with the unforeseen, the questions can be somewhat intimidating to already nervous individuals. However for those able to see the funny side, queries like “Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?” can open up a fantastic dialogue and really help those sat in the elusive chair to show off their personality and intellect.
End of exam traditions
The end of exams is an exciting time for any student, so how do they celebrate? Many will head out with their friends and family, go for a group picnic in one of the many green areas around the city, or even head to the university-organised ball or party.
While this may be the case for many, at Cambridge, it’s an altogether more elaborate affair. Many of the university’s graduates partake in a race across the River Cam – in boats made out of cardboard nonetheless. Although these can be waterproofed in any way captains see fit, the base of the boat must be made out of plain cardboard. As you’d expect, not all boats finish the race!
Oxford students however keep their feet firmly on dry land – but often don’t stay dry for long. Covering themselves in flour, confetti and champagne (some of which they do glug), the tradition known as ‘thrashing’ provides the perfect photo opportunity for those who find themselves at the end of their academic studies. There’s also silly string, shaving foam and all kinds of party attire to distinguish them from their peers.
Being steeped in history, it’s little wonder some of the old traditions are still present and honoured today. But none are as unusual as the process of using collections of books. Both institutions have huge book collections and archives dating back many years, but unlike most universities, those students wanting to use the collections must sign a declaration of honour – which is recited to them in Latin. The declaration has not been amended for centuries, so covers a number of outdated points. One such example is the rule forbidding scholars from taking candles into the library.
There are of course many more quirky traditions for you to explore and read up about, but these are some of our favourites. So if you’re interested in finding out more about Oxbridge and these two grand universities, why not get the full experience and stay in one of these great cities?
The Tamburlaine Hotel is excellently located close to Cambridge Rail Station and Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Just a short drive from the city centre and the University of Cambridge, our luxury hotel provides the perfect base in which to learn all about the academics and quirky nature of these celebrated educational institutions.