Pembroke College, Cambridge

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Pembroke College

Pembroke College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.

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 to the first chapel designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but it is also one of the Cambridge colleges to have educated 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 Service.



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 Cambridge. 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 France who had already studied elsewhere in England, 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.

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