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Clarendon Street, in Cambridge, has some of the most sought-after houses in the city; just minutes away from the town centre but in a quiet area with little through-traffic and plenty of peace and quiet. What’s more, one of Cambridge’s biggest and most popular open spaces – Parker’s Piece – is right on the doorstep.

However, this area has not always been quite so salubrious. In fact, much of the area around you resembled something of a slum for many decades in the 19th century, and was frequented by a large number of prostitutes.

The university saw these women as a threat to the well-being of the student population and, until the late 19th century, maintained the right to imprison anyone it considered to be a ‘loose woman’.

‘Crimes’, which often led to several weeks in prison, included wearing a “dropped neck” or exposing “bare arms”. However, certain accounts of the period suggest that what the university referred to as prostitution was more likely to have been a form of child abuse, with Cambridge’s students taking advantage of young girls who had no choice in the matter.

Find out more about Parker’s Piece on our Cambridge tour. Click here for more information.