Flowers For Stephen Hawking at Gonville and Caius College

When I saw the flowers, my first thought was that someone must have died near that spot in an accident. Then I realised it might be for Stephen Hawking.

The College was open to visitors (the Cambridge Colleges vary on this policy) and the porter in the lodge said that, yes, Stephen Hawking had been a fellow of the College.

There was a sign in the first quadrangle pointing to the room outside the chapel where there was a condolence book. First of all, though, I went to the inside of the gate where I had seen the flowers and photographed them from the inside.

I don’t know much of anything about the theory of everything, but I feel a connection and signed the condolence book for Tamara and me, and said: …and for stepping out of your established role, with all its risks, and for speaking out about the National Health Service.

For readers not in the UK, the National Health Service is under threat from under-funding. Some critics, including Stephen Hawking, have said that the destruction of the publicly-funded National Health Service and a move towards a privatised system is not the inevitable consequence of rising costs in the real world, but part of an orchestrated plot to steal away the National Health Service for the benefit of the few.

Here’s a link to a BBC article from January of this year: ‘Stephen Hawking to take Hunt to court over NHS’: Challenge to Government Health policy

A group of campaigners, including Prof Stephen Hawking, has been given permission to challenge a government health policy in the High Court. They will pursue a judicial review against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS England over plans to create accountable care organisations (ACOs). These are to act as partnership bodies incorporating hospitals, community services and councils. Campaigners say it risks privatisation, but this is denied by ministers.

Door K

After I signed the condolence book, I got talking to one of the porters who kindly pointed out Door K, so I photographed that.

Here’s Door K in the distance at the end of the row, and then nearer until we get to the sign on the doorway.

Perhaps you think, like I did, that someone will come along at some point and paint out the name and replace it with the name of a current occupier of the room.

Nice Things In The Grounds Of Gonville and Caius College

Visiting The Colleges

The rules about entering the colleges are many and varied, but the general rule is that the colleges are closed to visitors during exam time and open at other times.

Some Colleges are free to enter for anyone. Others charge for visitors but let you in for free if you are a Cambridge resident and can show the fact from a driving licence or some other document. Yet other Colleges charge visitors but let you in for free if you apply for and get a special card to show you are a Cambridge resident.


  1. dapplegrey says:

    Thanks so much for this. He was an extraordinary man in so many ways, and I found this walk through the college very moving – it felt like being there, in a very tangible way. He’ll be remembered for ever and very much missed.


    1. Thank you. 🙂

      Yes, he was an extraordinary man – and he will be missed.


  2. Tamara says:

    I’m reading this three years after you wrote this, David, sorry I missed it previously. Thanks for pointing it out after we walked past the college this evening as we often do. This is a lovely, informative article, and kudos to you for praising Stephen Hawkings about his strong advocacy of the NHS. Thanks very much for putting us both in the condolence book, how thoughtful of you. Last but not least, I love the photo of Door K: Nothing like putting the reader right there ‘in situ.’


    1. Nice of you to say, thank you.


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