Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

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Colleges of the University of Cambridge

Lucy Cavendish College

Lucy Cavendish College Library
Named after Lucy Cavendish
Established 1965
Admission Women aged 21 or over
President Janet Todd
Undergraduates 140
Graduates 210
Location Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge (Map)
Lucy Cavendish College heraldic shield
College website
Student Union website
Boat Club website
Lucy Cavendish College Library

Lucy Cavendish College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is a women-only college, which admits only postgraduates and undergraduates aged 21 or over. It is one of the last three remaining women-only University colleges in the country and in addition to its exclusion of male students, it also bans male staff.[1]

The college was founded in 1965 by women researchers and lecturers of the University of Cambridge who felt that women were not thoroughly represented within the university. It was originally known as the Lucy Cavendish Collegiate Society. It moved to its current site in 1970, was granted consent to call itself "Lucy Cavendish College" in 1986, and gained the status of a full college of the university by Royal Charter in 1997.[2]

The college is named in honour of Lucy Cavendish (1841–1925), who campaigned for the reform of women's education.[3]


The origins of Lucy Cavendish College are traceable to "The Dining Group" which sought to provide the stimulation of high table conversation to its members who were not Fellows of Colleges.[4] At the time there were only two women's colleges in Cambridge, Girton and Newnham, and these were not enough to accommodate the large numbers of women recruited to teach and provide academically based services.[5]

The college was named in honour of Lucy Caroline Cavendish, a pioneer of women's education and the great aunt of one of its founders, Margaret Braithwaite.[3]

The first president of Lucy Cavendish College, from 1965 to 1970, was Anna McClean Bidder, one of the founding members of "The Dining Group" and a zoologist specializing in cephalopod digestion;[5] this accounts for the presence of the nautilus shell in the college crest.[6]

Anne Bidder was succeeded by Kate Bertram until 1979, Phyllis Hetzel,[7] Dame Anne Warburton (the first female British ambassador in 1976), Baroness Perry of Southwark, and Dame Veronica Sutherland.

The current and 7th President of Lucy Cavendish is Janet Todd, a scholar of early women writers, who took up the post in 2008.

Buildings and grounds[edit]

For the first few years of the College's existence it occupied rooms in Silver Street and then Northampton Street until it moved to its current site in 1970 on the corner of Madingley Road and Lady Margaret Road, near Westminster College and St John's College, which provided some of the land.[8]

The majority of the buildings, including Warburton Hall and the Library were completed in the 1990s.[8]

In 1991 the college bought Balliol Croft, a neighbouring house to its grounds and former home of the economist Alfred Marshall and his wife Mary Paley Marshall, with whom he wrote his first economics textbook. The building was renamed Marshall House in his honour and used for student accommodation until 2001 when it was converted back to its original layout and used as the President's Lodge.[9]

Student body[edit]

Lucy Cavendish has approximately 350 students, approximately 40% of which are undergraduates and 60% graduates.[10] It is less popular with applicants than most other Cambridge colleges, as a result more students than usual enrol at the college via the "pool" system, this pattern also occurs at the other women-only colleges.[11][12] Cavendish The college web site states that "Students from every corner of the UK mix with students from around the world. Students with ‘Access’ qualifications interact with students who have studied for A-levels and the International Baccalaureate. Former bankers, singers, journalists and police officers mix with recent graduates of universities from around the world. Women come at any age to study any subject offered by the University."[13]

Following the 2007 announcement that Oxford University's last remaining women-only college, St Hilda's, would admit men, Cambridge is the only university in the United Kingdom where colleges have admissions policies that discriminate on the basis of gender.[14][15] Lucy Cavendish's policies in this area extend further than the other two women-only Cambridge colleges, as it not only bars male students, but also excludes male staff from becoming fellows of the college.[1][16]

Academic performance[edit]

Lucy Cavendish fares very poorly relative to the academic performance of the other 29 Cambridge colleges. It has ranked last or second to last in every year of the Tompkins table since 2008[17][18][19][20]

Notable alumnae[edit]

Honorary Fellows[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lucy Cavendish College | University of Cambridge
  2. ^ "Statutes for Lucy Cavendish College in the University of Cambridge". 1997. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Renfrew, Jane M. "Who was Lucy Cavendish?". Rooms of Our Own - Lucy Cavendish College. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Papers of the Dining Group 1951-1966". 
  5. ^ a b Warburton, Anne (9 October 2001). "Anna Bidder obituary". London: The Independent. 
  6. ^ "The Lucy Cavendish College Shield of Arms". Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Women of Cambridge". 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2011-03-26. 
  8. ^ a b "Lucy Cavendish College Site and Buildings". Lucy Cavendish College. 
  9. ^ "Cambridge 2000 - Lucy Cavendish College: Madingley Road: Marshall House (Balliol Croft)". 
  10. ^ Supporting Students - Lucy Cavendish
  11. ^ Why are so many students pooled to single sex colleges? | The Tab Cambridge
  12. ^ Application statistics
  13. ^ "Lucy Cavendish College Information". Lucy Cavendish College. 
  14. ^ "Single-sex colleges: a dying breed?". HERO. June 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  15. ^ Martin, Nicole (8 June 2006). "St Hilda's to end 113-year ban on male students". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ Garner, Richard (14 July 2009). "Trinity reclaims place as top Cambridge college". The Independent (London). Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Cambridge Results 2011 - Tompkins Table - Education News - Education - The Independent
  19. ^ A trinity for Trinity College as it again tops university league table for undergraduate degree results - News - Student - The Independent
  20. ^ Tompkins Table 2013: The Results | The Tab Cambridge

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°12′40″N 0°6′37″E / 52.21111°N 0.11028°E / 52.21111; 0.11028 (Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge)