The Kitchen Bridge, CAMBRIDGE

The Cambridge Punt Company Boating Station

The Wren Bridge, most commonly known as 'The Kitchen Bridge'.

Designed and named after Sir Christopher Wren, The Wren Bridge is known most commonly as ‘The Kitchen Bridge’. Constructed between 1709 and 1713, the bridge was built by Robert Grunmbold, a local architect who had previously worked on The Wren Library at Trinity College. The bridge cost £1,353 in total, around £90,000 when adjusted for inflation.

Situated within St.John’s, The Wren Bridge is the second oldest bridge along the River Cam. Built to replace a pre-existing wooden bridge that was originally part of a public footpath. There has been a river crossing at the same location before the foundation of the college, when the site was a medieval hospital operated by monks. 

The name ‘Kitchen Bridge’ comes from the fact when the New Court was built in 1831, students and fellows would need to cross the Wren Bridge on their way to the Buttery Dining Room across the river. 

The Kitchen Bridge is one of the most decorative along The Backs with many interesting features that are easy to miss. The bridge was carved from a single block of limestone and incised to give the appearance of masonry. Carved by Francis Woodward, the achievements-of-arms of the Foundress, Lady Margaret Beaufort, can be seen above the central arch. Above the arch to the left of the central arch sits a Tudor rose, and to the right a portcullis. Neptune, the Roman god of freshwater and the sea is placed within the panel to the left of the central arch, and within the right panel there is a carving of ‘Father Cam’.

Two flood-marks can be seen from the river when heading upstream as you exit the right arch. The highest mark dates back to March 14th 1947. A great flood caused by heavy rain and thawing rivers caused over £12 million in damages, close to half a billion pounds in today’s money.

There are two yales standing on pillars above the gate leading to Third Court. Yales are a mythological creature and symbolic of the Beaufort family. They are creatures which have the head of a goat, body of an antelope and tail of an elephant. The horns on the head are said to spin around in order to detect external danger.

Want to see the kitchen bridge and its intricacies for yourself? Join a punting tour today. 

Trip Advisor

star rating  The most Amazing Punt Company river tour that i had with “ Josh “ he made the journey unforgettable he was explaining everything and show us every sight with details... read more

avatar thumb rafa717
15 February 2023

star rating  Great team, excellent customer service! Joe was our guide and he was amazing. Full of knowledge, patience and great sense of humour. Thank you for having us.

avatar thumb AfsanaN7
15 February 2023

star rating  Absolutely lovely experience. Easy to find. Our tour guide, Josh, had so much knowledge about the area.

avatar thumb neyrah2023
14 February 2023
Scroll to Top