Pembroke College, Cambridge

Pembroke College, Cambridge

founded in 1347

The oldest college to remain in its original location, Pembroke College is home to 700 students and fellows. Alumni include the youngest ever British Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, British actor Tom Hiffleston, best known for his role as Loki, and Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories, who donated £34 million to the college in 2005.

Foundation Of Pembroke College

Pembroke College was founded in 1347 by Mary de St Pol, widow to Aymer de Valence, who was the Earl of Pembroke. Originally known as The Hall of Valence-Mary, The college licence was granted by Edward III on Christmas Eve to found a new house for scholars. The college had strict rules against drinking and student debauchery and had a preference for French students who had previously studied in England. 

Great Granddaughter to Henry III, Mary de St Pol belonged to the French House of Chatillon. She married at 17 to Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, age 50 at the time. The marriage lasted only 3 years before Aymer de Valence’s death, after which Mart de St Pol began to use  her new wealth for religious and charitable causes before her estate was confiscated in 1372 by Charles V.

Pembroke Chapel

Pembroke was the first at the university to build a college chapel. In order to do so, a ‘papal bull’ was required, a public statement from the catholic church to provide protection to religious institutions. The original chapel was later replaced and is now used as the Old Library. 

The current chapel was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the architect behind St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Wren Library at Trinity. The chapel was Christopher Wren’s first public work and the first Oxbridge chapel to be built in a classical style.

Christopher Wren was chosen to design the chapel by his uncle, Matthew Wren, Bishop of Ely. Matthew Wren was imprisoned  in the Tower of London by Oliver Cromwell for 18 years during The Civil War. During his time in prison, he vowed to build a chapel for his former college if he was ever to be released. 

College Expansion

Pembroke College began to expand in 1870 following a growing number of new students. New Court was added in 1881, designed by George Gilbert Scott Junior. MasterLodge was built in 1933, Orchard Building in 1957 and Founders Court in 1997.

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15 February 2023

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15 February 2023

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14 February 2023
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