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The Gatehouse is the oldest in Cambridge, dating from the 14th Century

The College gardens in Library Court

The Croquet Lawn in New Court, designed by George Gilbert Scott

William Pitt the Younger, the youngest ever British Prime Minister and alumnus of the College

Sir George Gabriel Stokes, Lucasian Professor, was a mathematician and physicist at the College who made important contributions to fluid dynamics

Edmund Spencer, a famous English poet best known for his epic poem 'The Faerie Queene'

Pembroke College at night

Pembroke College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridgemarker, Englandmarker.

The college has over six hundred students and fellows, and is the third-oldest college of the university. Physically, it is one of the university's larger colleges, with buildings from almost every century since its founding, as well as extensive and immaculately maintained gardens. The college is a financially well-to-do institution, and has a level of academic performance among the highest of all the Cambridge colleges. Not only is Pembroke College home of the first chapel designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but it is also one of the Cambridge colleges to have produced a British prime minister, William Pitt the Younger. The college library, one of the finest in the university, with a Victorian neo-gothic clock tower, is endowed with an original copy of the first encyclopaedia to contain printed diagrams. The college's current master, Sir Richard Dearlove, was previously the head of the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Servicemarker.


On Christmas Eve 1347, Edward III granted Marie de St Pol, widow of the Earl of Pembroke, the licence for the foundation of a new educational establishment in the young university at Cambridgemarker. The Hall of Valence Mary, as it was originally known, was thus founded to house a body of students and fellows.

The statutes were notable in that they both gave preference to students born in Francemarker who had already studied elsewhere in Englandmarker, and that they required students to report fellow students if they indulged in excessive drinking or visited disreputable houses.

The college was later renamed Pembroke Hall, and finally became Pembroke College in 1856.


The first buildings comprised a single court (now called Old Court) containing all the component parts of a college — chapel, hall, kitchen and buttery, master's lodgings, students' rooms — and the statutes provided for a manciple, a cook, a barber and a laundress. Both the founding of the college and the building of the city's first college Chapel (1355) required the grant of a papal bull.

The original court was the university's smallest at only 95 feet by 55 feet, but was enlarged to its current size in the nineteenth century by demolishing the south range.

The college's gatehouse, however, is original and is the oldest in Cambridge. The Hall was rebuilt in 1875–6 by Alfred Waterhouse after he had declared the medieval Hall unsafe.

The original Chapel now forms the Old Library and has a striking seventeenth century plaster ceiling, designed by Henry Doogood, showing birds flying overhead. Around the Civil War, one of Pembroke's fellows and Chaplain to the future Charles I, Matthew Wren, was imprisoned by Oliver Cromwell. On his release after eighteen years he fulfilled a promise by hiring his nephew Christopher Wren to build a great Chapel in his former college. The resulting Chapel was consecrated on St Matthew's Day, 1665, and the eastern end was extended by George Gilbert Scott in 1880, when it was consecrated on the Feast of the Annunciation.

An increase in membership over the last 150 years saw a corresponding increase in building activity. As well as the Hall, Waterhouse built a new range of rooms, Red Buildings (1871–2), in French Renaissance style, designed a new Master's Lodge on the site of Paschal Yard (1873, later to become N staircase), pulled down the old Lodge and the south range of Old Court to open a vista to the Chapel, and finally built a new Library (1877-8) in the continental Gothic style.

Waterhouse was dismissed as architect in 1878 and succeeded by George Gilbert Scott, who, after extending the Chapel, provided additional accommodation with the construction of New Court in 1881, with letters on a series of shields along the string course above the first floor spelling out the Psalm text "Nisi Dominus aedificat domum…" ("Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but vain that build it").

Building work continued into the 20th century with W. D. Caröe as architect. He added Pitt Building (M staircase) between Ivy Court and Waterhouse's Lodge, and extended New Court with the construction of O staircase on the other side of the Lodge. He linked his two buildings with an arched stone screen, Caröe Bridge, along Pembroke Streetmarker in a late Baroque style, the principle function of which was to act as a bridge by which undergraduates might cross the Master's forecourt at first-floor level from Pitt Building to New Court without leaving the College or trespassing in what was then the Fellows' Garden.

In 1926, as the Fellows had become increasingly disenchanted with Waterhouse's Hall, Maurice Webb was brought in to remove the open roof, put in a flat ceiling and add two storeys of sets above. The wall between the Hall and the Fellows' Parlour was taken down, and the latter made into a High Table dais. A new Senior Parlour was then created on the ground floor of Hitcham Building. The remodelling work was completed in 1949 when Murrary Easton replaced the Gothic tracery of the windows with a simpler design in the style of the medieval Hall.

In 1933 Maurice Webb built a new Master's Lodge in the south-east corner of the College gardens, on land acquired from Peterhousemarker in 1861. Following the war, further accommodation was created with the construction in 1957 of Orchard Building, so called because it stands on part of the Foundress's orchard. Finally, in a move to accommodate the majority of junior members on the College site rather than in hostels in the town, in the 1990s Eric Parry designed a new range of buildings on the site of the Master's Lodge, with a new Lodge at the west end. "Foundress Court" was opened in 1997 in celebration of the College's 650th Anniversary. In 2001 the Library was extended to the east and modified internally.

Pembroke's enclosed grounds also house some particularly well-kept gardens, sporting a huge array of carefully-selected vegetation. Highlights include "The Orchard" (a patch of semi-wild ground in the centre of the college), an impressive row of Plane Trees and an immaculately-kept bowling green, re-turfed in 1996, which is reputed to be among the oldest in continual use in Europe.

Famous alumni of Pembroke College

See also :Category:Alumni of Pembroke College, Cambridge
Lancelot Andrewes 1555 1626 Master, Dean of Westminster, Bishop of Chichester, Ely, Winchester
C.F. Andrews 1871 1940 Author and supporter of Indian Independence
David Armitage Bannerman 1886 1979 Ornithologist
John Bradford 1510 1550 Fellow, prebendary of St. Paul's, Martyr
Clive Betts 1950 British politician
Tim Brooke-Taylor 1940 Comedian
Roger Bushell 1910 1944 Leader of "The Great Escape"
"RAB" Butler 1902 1982 British politician
Peter Cook 1937 1995 Comedian
Maurice Dobb 1900 1976 Economist
Ray Dolby 1933 Inventor
Timothy Dudley-Smith 1926 Hymnwriter and clergyman of the Church of England
Abba Eban 1915 2002 Statesman
Edward James Eliot 1758 1797 British politician
William Eliot 1767 1845 British politician
William Fowler 1911 1995 Nobel prize winner
Arthur Gilligan 1894 1976 England cricket captain
Alexander Grantham 1899 1978 Governor of Hong Kong
Thomas Gray 1716 1771 Poet
Stephen Greenblatt 1943 Literary critic, pioneer of New Historicism
Rupert Gwynne 1871 1924 MP for Eastbourne 1910–1924.
Naomie Harris 1976 Actress
Tom Harrisson 1911 1976 Ornithologist, anthropologist, soldier, co-founder of Mass-Observation Project
Oliver Heald 1954 British politician
Ted Hughes 1930 1998 Poet
Eric Idle 1943 Entertainer
Koyata Iwasaki 1879 1945 4th President of the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu
Clive James 1939 Novelist
Humphrey Jennings 1907 1950 Film-maker
Bryan Keith-Lucas 1912 1996 Political scientist
Peter May 1929 1994 Cricketer
D. H. Mellor 1938 Philosopher
David Munrow 1942 1976 Musician, composer, music historian
Richard Murdoch 1907 1990 Actor, comedian
Bill Oddie 1941 Comedian, Ornithologist
Madsen Pirie Economist
William Pitt 1759 1806 British politician
Rodney Porter 1917 1985 Biochemist
George Maxwell Richards 1931 President of Trinidad and Tobago
Nicholas Ridley c.1502 1555 Bishop of London, Martyr
Michael Rowan-Robinson Astronomer
Martin Rowson 1959 Cartoonist
Hugh Ruttledge 1884 1961 Mountaineer
Tom Sharpe 1928 Novelist
Indra Sinha 1950 Novelist
Christopher Smart 1722 1771 Poet, hymnist, journalist, actor
Chris Smith 1951 British politician
Edmund Spenser 1552 1599 Poet
George Gabriel Stokes 1819 1903 Mathematician, physicist
John Sulston 1942 Chemist
Peter Taylor, Baron Taylor of Gosforth 1930 1997 Lord Chief Justice
Peter Taylor Journalist
Karan Thapar 1955 TV interviewer
William Turner 1508 1568 Physician
P. K. van der Byl 1923 1999 Rhodesian politician
Lawrence Wager 1904 1965 Geologist, explorer and mountaineer
Wavell Wakefield, 1st Baron Wakefield of Kendal 1898 1983 Rugby player
Yorick Wilks 1939 Computer Scientist
Roger Williams 1603 1683 Theologian, founder of Rhode Islandmarker
Femi Fani-Kayode 1960 Former Nigerianmarker Minister of Culture and Tourism

Pembroke today

Pembroke College has both graduate and undergraduate students. The undergraduate student body is represented by the Junior Parlour Committee (JPC). The graduate community is represented by the Graduate Parlour Committee (GPC). Pembroke is unusual in having its recreational rooms named as "parlours" rather than the more standard "combination room" . There are many clubs and societies organised by the students of the college, such as the college's dramatic society the Pembroke Players, which has been made famous by alumni such as Peter Cook, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Clive James and Bill Oddie and is now in its 50th year.

International Programmes

Pembroke is the only Cambridge college to have a programme for international students to spend a semester (mid-January to mid-June) in Cambridge. The Semester Abroad Scheme is a highly competitive programme open to academically outstanding juniors who wish to follow a regular Cambridge degree course as fully matriculated members of the University. There are around thirty places each year.

The Pembroke-King’s Programme (PKP) is a summer programme which offers international students an exceptional opportunity to experience Cambridge student life over eight weeks, the length of a regular undergraduate term. Living in Pembroke or King’s Colleges, students choose three classes from the around thirty to forty on offer, including courses in the arts, social sciences, humanities and sciences. Courses are taught in the main by Cambridge-affiliated faculty and are academically 'Cambridge' in style, content and standard.

Pembroke also works with the University of California Summer Sessions and Japanese universities to provide academic programmes specifically tailored for their students.


Although the canteen food is affectionately known as "Trough," this is not necessarily an accurate description and catering at Pembroke is generally thought be quite good. In particular, catering manager David Harwood received the Cambridge Catering Award in 2005 for his "outstanding quality and affordable prices". In 2007 the UK's first Vegan tapas bar was opened, and in spring 2008 the students voted (by a large majority) for Pembroke to serve only free-range chicken (it will be the first UK college to do so). Also, since October 2008, freshly prepared sushi as well as a weekly taco bar is available. Pembroke is Cambridge's 2nd Fairtrade College (after St Catharine'smarker), and is also committed to serving local produce and sustainable fish where possible.

Institutions named after the college

Pembroke College, the former women's college at Brown Universitymarker in the United Statesmarker, was named for the principal building on the women's campus, Pembroke Hall, which was itself named in honor of the Pembroke College (Cambridge) alumnus Roger Williams, a co-founder of Rhode Islandmarker.

In 1981, a decade after the merger of Pembroke College into Brown University, the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women was named in honour of Pembroke College and the history of women's efforts to gain access to higher education.

See also

External links

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