THE green man

For over 500 years the building on which THE GREEN MAN PUB stands has been an important part of the historic village of Grantchester.

grantchester village

The well-known village of Grantchester stands by the river Cam almost 2 miles south-west of Cambridge. The modern spelling of its name has tempted some antiquaries and historians to identify it as the 'Grauntaceaster' of Bede and other Anglo-Saxon writers, and thereupon to find in earthworks by the river the remains of a Roman camp or city, and even to transfer to Grantchester the legendary prehistory of Cambridge University. There was probably a small Roman settlement near the village. Its name, however, came from the Grantasetan, settlers beside the Granta.

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grantchester meadows

Icy wind of night, be gome.
This is not your domain.
In the sky a bird was heard to cry.
Misty morning whisperings and gentle stirring sounds
Belied a deathly silence that lay all around.Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground.
See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water.
And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees,
Laughing as it passes through the endless summer making for the sea.
In the lazy water Meadow
I lay me down. "Pink Floyd 1969"

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the green man

The Green Man Pub has been a vibrant part of the Grantchester and Cambridge communities for centuries. Our five-hundred year old building offers a cosy atmosphere with wood-burning fireplaces, while our expansive beer garden leads to the enchanted Grantchester Meadows and provides the perfect setting to relax with friends and family


The Meadows are an embodiment of beauty whether it is summer or winter. The peace and quiet you get there when you take a walk through it is worth going for that reason.
Grantchester Meadows stretches along the footpath from Newnham in Cambridge to the village of Grantchester.

The River Cam winds through it and it's a popular walk for dog owners at all times of the day, as well as for those heading out for a pub lunch in the famous village of Grantchester.



The village of Grantchester lies in the beautiful and historic English county of Cambridgeshire. It is situated on the River Cam and has historic links with the University of Cambridge. In 1897 a group a students from the university persuaded the owner of Orchard House to serve them tea. This became a regular practice and now it is a tradition for students and now tourists to punt along the river to Grantchester and take tea at The Orchard. One of the lodgers at Orchard House was poet Rupert Brooke, who subsequently moved next door to The Old Vicarage. In 1912, whilst in Berlin, he wrote a poem about homesickness entitled 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester', which talked of Grantchester and the people of Cambridgeshire. The Old Vicarage is currently the home of Cambridge scientist Mary Archer and her husband, Jeffrey Archer (Baron Archer of Weston-Super-Mare).

Grantchester is a popular abode for current and retired Cambridge Academics, and claims to have the world's highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners. Legend states that an underground passage runs from the Old Manor House to King's College Chapel, two miles away. There is a tale that a fiddler said he would follow the passage, playing his fiddle all the while. The sound of his fiddle got fainter and fainter, until it could be heard no more. Nor was it ever heard again.

Historic grantchester

Ancient Britons

In Ancient British times, Grantchester was known as "Caer-grant," and is described in an Ancient piece fo writing as the "most celebrated town, & residence of British kings!" Later it was known as "Cairgrant," and this means "British castle on the river Granta."


In Roman times, Grantchester is said to have been a flourishing city. At some point, this city was extended to Grantbridge, now corruptly Cambridge. In the seventeenth century, an antiquarian by the name of Rev. Cole, who also left manuscripts in the British Museum, said that when Julius Caesar returned to Rome, he carried with him learned men of Cambridge University. He also claimed that the University was first placed at Grantchester, and only later transferred to Cambridge itself. So there was a University in Julius Caesar's time?? (Actually there wasn't, but it sounds believable!) During ROman times there was a camp in the garden (then fields) of a house now known as Ball's Grove? It would have commanded the road to the ford. There are some banks and possible moats in the garden of the house. Another possible camp position is on the south side of the Manor House. Before the Cambridge (originally the Grant-bridge) was built, it is likely the ford at Grantchester was the best crossing place as it would be shallower than further down the river. Where the banks would be close enough for a bridge, it would be to deep for a ford. Once the bridge was built, the fords would fall into disuse and Cambridge's importance rose as Grantchester's declined.

There wree two fords at Grantchester. Once, an extension of what we now call Coton Road goes down to the river and fords it below what is now the Red Lion Pub. The other is where the bridge now stands. Of the two tracks to that ford, one went down Spring Lane, a current track to the west of the Orchard; the other one followed the current road to the bridge.


The ancient British name "Cairgrant" was changed again in Saxon times, this time to "Grantacester." Maybe Cambridge is the same thing as Grantchester! Maybe Cambridge was Grantchester first!

The Norman Church

The church in Grantchester was built in the early 1100s, possibly on the site of an Old Saxon church. The oldesdet part of the church is the core of the north wall, which goes back to c. 1100.

Parts of the church: Part One

Building material

When they built the church, they mostly used "clunch," which is hard limestone, but is easy to carve. It washes away easily, because it is chalk. In the past, it enabled buildings to "breathe." Fortunately, mixed with plaster, it keeps the damp out. Unfortunately, being mixed with plaster isn't good for the clunch, so it suffers.


The font is twelfth or thirteenth century. It is made in a simple design and is lead lined. It has a plug in the centre.

Easter Sepulchre

There is a small recess in the North Wall where the sacrament was kept from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.

Chancel Roof

The roof of the chancel in Grantchester church is from the fourteenth century, is the oldest wooden structure in Grantchester and is one of the oldest around Cambridge. A skilled carpenter built the chancel roof; and has lasted two-thirds of a millenium. It is seen only about once a century when the rotten tiles need to be replaced.

Rood Screen

There is a door and stairway above the pulpit that would have led onto the Rood Screen. A Rood Screen is a wooden structure, often beautifully carved, which separated the sacred part of the church from the parishioners' part of the church. We have no descriptions of the rood screen, so it is believed it was destroyed during the Reformation.

Window Tracery

The stone window tracery in the chancel of the church is carved in the style of six hundred years ago. It is very beautiful, especially for such a small parish church. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is responsible for maintaining the chancel. The chancel was built c. 1340.

The Poor Man's Bible

As the Bible was not originally written in English, and in any case most people were illiterate, a church's stained glass windows were used to illustrate the Bible stories. They were known as "The Poor Man's Bible." In Grantchester "The Poor Man's Bible" is made of fourteenth century glass, but was only placed in Grantchester Church in the nineteenth century by Heeton and Butler.


There are no brasses in Grantchester, although one little bit of one, which turned out to beloing to the tomb forming the base of the South Aisle Altar, has been found in the British Museum.

Boys in Riot

In 1381, two Grantchster men were ringleaders in a riot in Cambridge. Edmund Lyster who was Mayor, with the richer citizens of Cambridge Town, chose James of "Grancetter" and THomas his brother, and appointed the former their ringleader in all the mischief they intended to do to the University. THe warlike Bishop of Norich, Henry Spencer, who also bloodily put down the Peasant's Revolt in Norfolk, suppressed this riot. All privileges of the town were forfeited and seized upon by the king.

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And is there honey still for tea?

Church of St. Andrew & St. Mary, Grantchester

Famous Grantchester resident-Rupert Brooke

3rd August 1887 – 23rd April 1915

The Old Vicarage Poem

grantchester Legends

An underground passage is said to run from the Old Manor house to King's College Chapel two miles away. It was said that a fiddler who offered to follow the passage set off playing his fiddle; the music became fainter and fainter, until it was heard no more and the fiddler was never seen or heard of again. On a 17th century map of Grantchester, one of the fields is called Fiddler's Close.


The footpath to Cambridge that runs beside Grantchester Meadows is nicknamed the Grantchester Grind. Further upstream is Byron's Pool, named after Lord Byron, who is said (by Brooke, at least) to have swum there. The pool is now below a modern weir where the Bourn Brook flows into the River Cam.


Grantchester is the subject of "Grantchester Meadows", a song by Pink Floyd, composed and performed by band member Roger Waters.


Grantchester is said to have the world's highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners, most of these presumably being current or retired academics from the nearby University of Cambridge.