Biography of John Williams Archbishop of York 1582-1650
John Evelyn's Diary 1654 August. 31 Aug 1654. Through part of Huntingdonshire, we passed that town, fair and ancient, a river running by it. The country about it so abounds in wheat that, when any King of England passes through it, they have a custom to meet him with a hundred plows.
This evening, to Cambridge; and went first to St. John's College, well built of brick, and library, which I think is the fairest of that University. One Mr. Benlowes has given it all the ornaments of pietra commessa, whereof a table and one piece of perspective is very fine; other trifles there also be of no great value, besides a vast old song-book, or Service, and some fair manuscripts. There hangs in the library the picture of John Williams, Archbishop of York, sometime Lord Keeper, my kinsman, and their great benefactor.
Trinity College is said by some to be the fairest quadrangle of any university in Europe; but in truth is far inferior to that of Christ Church, in Oxford; the hall is ample and of stone, the fountain in the quadrangle is graceful, the chapel and library fair. There they showed us the prophetic manuscript of the famous Grebner, but the passage and emblem which they would apply to our late King, is manifestly relating to the Swedish; in truth, it seems to be a mere fantastic rhapsody, however the title may bespeak strange revelations. There is an office in manuscript with fine miniatures, and some other antiquities, given by the Countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VIII, and the before-mentioned Archbishop Williams, when Bishop of Lincoln. The library is pretty well stored. The Greek Professor had me into another large quadrangle cloistered and well built, and gave us a handsome collation in his own chamber.
Thence to Caius, and afterward to King's College, where I found the chapel altogether answered expectation, especially the roof, all of stone, which for the flatness of its laying and carving may, I conceive, vie with any in Christendom. The contignation of the roof (which I went upon), weight, and artificial joining of the stones is admirable. The lights are also very fair. In one aisle lies the famous Dr. Collins, so celebrated for his fluency in the Latin tongue. From this roof we could descry Ely, and the encampment of Sturbridge fair now beginning to set up their tents and booths; also Royston, Newmarket, etc., houses belonging to the King. The library is too narrow.
Clare-Hall is of a new and noble design, but not finished.
Peter-House, formerly under the government of my worthy friend, Dr. Joseph Cosin (59) [Note. Joseph appears to be a mistake for John?], Dean of Peterborough; a pretty neat college, having a delicate chapel. Next to Sidney, a fine college.