Welcome to the final resting place of some of Cambridge University’s most influential astronomers, biologists, engineers, poets, and philosophers—including three Nobel Prize winners.
This beautiful graveyard, called the Ascension Parish Burial Ground and dubbed the “brainiest cemetery in Britain,” hosts dozens of famous tombs, including that of the 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Rock star Patti Smith famously once took a Polaroid photo of his grave, which formed part of her “Land 250” exhibition in 2008.
Also buried here are Nobel Prize-winning physicist Sir John Cockcroft, who split the atom in 1932, and biochemist Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, who won a Nobel for his discovery of vitamins. Five members of Charles Darwin’s family are also resting here, although Darwin himself was buried at Westminster Abbey.
Astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington, who confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by observing the 1919 solar eclipse, is buried at Ascension, and he is in good company; the astronomer John Couch Adams, who discovered the planet Neptune, is also laid to rest at this burial ground.
The graves of several authors can also be found, including A. C. Benson, who wrote the lyrics to “Land of Hope and Glory,” as well as the poets Frances Cornford (the granddaughter of Charles Darwin) and Fredegond Shove. Along with those two female poets, there are several notable women buried here, including mathematician Charlotte Scott, who was a pioneer in the campaign for women’s education. She is joined by philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe and Sarah Clackson, who was Britain’s foremost Coptologist.
Know Before You Go
The graveyard is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m to 7 p.m. Tours may be offered during Open Cambridge weekends. There is no parking onsite, best to use Huntingdon Road.