At each stop on the walk there will be a story and an activity. Worksheets for children to use during the walk need to be downloaded and printed off at school and brought with you.
Story Six: Thomas Hobson (1544–1630)
Thomas Hobson was buried at St Bene’t’s nearly 400 years ago, but nobody knows exactly where any more. Thomas was born in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Whilst he was alive, the bells were put in the bell tower, and he might even have helped to pay for them
Thomas Hobson paid for quite a lot of things to help people worship and live in comfort. But he didn’t start out in life with a lot of money to spare. His father owned a cart and four horses, and Thomas inherited them. He built up a business transporting things and people, and after a while Thomas made enough money to buy an inn called ‘The George’, just outside St Catherine’s College. It had room in the stables for 40 horses!
During Thomas’ life-time there were big changes in the way people worshipped. The Bible was translated into English, so everyone could understand it.
He gave a big English Bible to St Benet’s’, so that the people who came to church could hear and read God’s Holy Word in their own language. He had made lots of money with his business, and he wanted to give some of it back to God. He gave a really grand version of the Bible, printed to look like a medieval manuscript. It is called a Black Letter Bible, which means it is in a special gothic script. This is what it might have looked like.
Being right in the middle of town, Thomas could see some of the problems of town life. One big problem in Cambridge was water. The local water was so dirty that people drank small ale, which was a kind of weak beer. They hoped the alcohol would kill off the diseases. Students at St John’s College were given eight pints of small ale a day to drink, and they had their first pint at breakfast! There was a lot of plague and fever in Cambridge, especially in the summer, because of the King’s Ditch, which people used to empty their rubbish bins into.
When they were building the new John Lewis, they found part of the King’s Ditch, so it was close to here. Thomas Hobson got together with some other people and they paid for Hobson’s Conduit to be built.
It was a series of channels which brought clean running water into Cambridge from the Ninewells spring near Great Shelford. It was used to flush out the King’s Ditch, and there was a pump in the market square, where people could fill up bottles and jugs. You can still see the channels along Trumpington Street, and the old pump has been moved to the corner of Lensfield Road. It made life a lot easier for the people living in the middle of town.
Thomas gave the people of Cambridge clean water to drink, and when he gave the Bible to St Bene’t’s Church he gave them the Word of God, which Christians believe is also the water of life – the living water that will never run dry.
We have clean water in our country, but there are still lots of places in the world where people don’t have clean water, or even much water at all.
Activity Six: Uses of Water
Children will look at all the things we use water for on their sheet, and give them a mark from 1 to 10. Number 1 is the most important thing we need water for, and number 10 is the least important. Children will underline or circle the things that are essential to life and leave out the things we don’t really need.