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Newton’s personal annotated copy of Principia Mathematica… Darwin’s hand-written working papers on evolution…the very earliest compilation of Shakespeare’s plays. Holdings of the University Library in Cambridge, these may be the highlights of an exhibition of artefacts rarely on display in one of the greatest libraries in the world, a cultural repository celebrating its 600th anniversary this year. The Library’s splendid anniversary exhibition, ‘Lines of Thought’, reveals items in the collections that have underpinned truly significant developments in human thought through the centuries.

On the other side of Cambridge adjacent to Peterhouse stands the Fitzwilliam Museum, arguably the finest small museum in Europe. Though founded only in 1816 and so younger than the Library, it proudly marks its 200th anniversary with exhibitions of treasures such as the 13c Trinity Apocalypse manuscript with its vividly drawn ghouls and monsters in battle with angels, and the Macclesfield Psalter with its cinematic and vivid marginalia offering an astounding window on everyday life in the 14c. We will be welcomed by Dr Susan Reynolds who will personally show us significant manuscripts from the original bequest by Viscount Fitzwilliam.

Up the Backs, north of the Museum is the 1920’s house where Inscape was founded in 1986. Though we won’t visit the kitchen table where Inscape was spawned, we will raise our caps to Inscape’s accomplishments during its thirty year mission to honour evidence of human creativity in all its forms from the beginnings of human history to the present day.

To complement the exhibitions, Inscape has arranged the most special private visits to choice collections of medieval illuminated manuscripts in college libraries: the Pepys Library in Magdalene, the Wren Library of Trinity, the Parker Library at Corpus Christi and the Old Library at Queens’. We supplement these visits with lectures and gentle architectural and Fellows’ garden walks. The tour is intentionally planned as an Inscape Retreat with the by-now familiar later start and extra time in the afternoons for rest, recuperation and absorption of what we have seen. This feast for eyes and mind will be accompanied by actual feasts in panelled and ancient private rooms at Trinity Hall, Christ’s College, and Peterhouse. In this year of hugely significant commemorations, we have created a very special visit to Cambridge, the ultimate cultural repository.

COST £1515 members, £1565 non-members, single room supplement £375; deposit £250. This cost includes four nights accommodation with breakfasts, four morning coffees, one lunch with wine, three private dinners with wine, all tuition and lectures, entry fees, private tours, all travel during the tour, all gratuities, VAT. This cost excludes travel to and from Cambridge.