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Old Botanic Gardens, Downing Street and Free School circa 1850

Old Botanic Gardens, Downing Street

History of the Old Botanic Gardens, Downing Street

Romilly’s Cambridge Diary December 1842 (editor’s note):

Between 1763 and 1846 when the Garden on its present site was opened the Botanical Garden lay to the east of Free School Lane and was entered from Free School Lane and Pembroke Street. the site had, however, become too small, the soil was impoverished and it was closely surrounded by houses. In 1831 the University had therefore bought a field for ‘the purpose of forming a new Botanical Garden.’

According to the New Guide to … Cambridge 1831, the Botanic Gardens were:

situate in Downing Street, but having another entrance by Free School Lane, contains nearly four acres, supplied with water by a channel which runs through the middle.

This piece of land, with a large and ancient edifice which formerly belonged to the Augustine Friars, was purchased by Dr Richard Walker, Vice-Master of Trinity College, for £1600…

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