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 Prof. 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 which admits only postgraduates and undergraduates aged 21 or over. It only accepts female students and fellows, making the college one of the only three women-only university colleges in England.[1][2]

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


The college was founded in 1965 by female academics of the University of Cambridge who believed that the university offered too few and too restricted opportunities for women as either students or academics. Its origins are traceable to the Society of Women Members of the Regent House who are not Fellows of Colleges (informally known as the Dining Group) which in the 1950s sought to provide the benefits of collegiality to its members who, being female, were not college fellows.[4] At the time there were only two women's colleges in Cambridge, Girton and Newnham, insufficient for the large and growing numbers of female academic staff in the university.[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] First formally recognised as the Lucy Cavendish Collegiate Society, it moved to its current site in 1970, received consent to be called Lucy Cavendish College in 1986, and gained the status of a full college of the university by Royal Charter in 1997.[6]

The first president of the 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.[7] She was succeeded by Kate Bertram until 1979, Phyllis Hetzel (Lady Bowden),[8] 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 Professor Janet Todd OBE, who took up the post in 2008.[9]

Buildings and grounds[edit]

For the first few years of the College's existence it occupied rooms first in Silver Street and then in Northampton Street. In 1970 it moved to its current site on the corner of Madingley Road and Lady Margaret Road, near Westminster College and St John's College, which had provided some of the land.[10]

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.[11] Meanwhile the majority of the college's buildings, including Warburton Hall and the library, were completed in the 1990s.[10]

Student body[edit]


Lucy Cavendish has over 350 students, approximately 40% of which are undergraduates and 60% graduates.[12] The majority of its undergraduates have applied directly but in comparison to the university-wide averages the college makes proportionately more offers to the university's 'pool' applicants.[13] 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."[14]

The overall examination results of the college's comparatively few undergraduates tend to be lower than at most other Cambridge colleges, with Lucy Cavendish consistently featuring towards the bottom of the Tompkins table with the other colleges that only admit mature students.[15][16][17][18]

Notable alumnae[edit]

Honorary Fellows[edit]

This stone was laid by HM Queen Margrethe of Denmark in Dec. 1993


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)