Dry weather reveals history of King's
The Back Lawn yesterday. Notice the square outline of the belfry and two diagonal paths in the bottom right.
The recent drought has revealed the lines of former buildings of King's. In the Back Lawn you can see the outline of an old belfry, of a bowling green and of several old paths crossing the lawn. In the front lawns, between the Screen and King's Parade, you can see the outlines of the old hall and Provost's study.
The belfry is in the north-east corner of the Back Lawn. It once contained five bells given by the college founder Henry VI (1421-71). The bells were recast several times, however, because they kept cracking.
The Fellows of the college decided to give up on the unreliable bells, and in 1739 the belfry was demolished. The bells were sold for scrap and the proceeds helped to pay for the Gibbs Building (the large Georgian building in the Front Court).
The other marks on the Back Lawn show two former paths that led to a bowling green and a kitchen garden, and the faded trace of the old back drive to the college, which ran through the middle of the lawn.
Click on an image to enlarge it:
A map of the college from 1688. Notice the structures in what is now the Back Lawn, including the square belfry. In the larger version of the image you can see the buildings that used to be on the front lawns of the college, by King's Parade.
An aerial photo of King's taken in the drought of 1955. Notice the diagonal paths and the faint outline of the belfry. You can also see the outline of the vegetable garden and bowling green, and the route of the old back path through the middle of the lawn.
Until 1835 many of the college buildings stood between the Front Screen and King's Parade. These buildings included offices, the old hall and the Provost's study. They were pulled down to make way for the Victorian Gothic buildings that now surround the Front Court.