Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

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Lucy Cavendish College
Cambridge University
Lucy Cavendish College Library
Lucy Cavendish College heraldic shield
Location Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge (Map)
Established 1965
Named for Lucy Cavendish
Gender Women
Age restriction Aged 21 or over
President Jackie Ashley
Undergraduates 140
Postgraduates 210
Students' Union
Boat club
Lucy Caroline Cavendish, a pioneer of women's education

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 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 specialising in cephalopod digestion;[5] this accounts for the presence of the nautilus shell in the college coat of arms.[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 8th President of Lucy Cavendish is Jackie Ashley, who took up the post in 2015.[9]

Student body[edit]

Lucy Cavendish has over 350 students, approximately 40% of whom are undergraduates and 60% graduates.[10] Students originate from over 60 different countries, making it a distinctly international college. 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.[11] The college website 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."[12] The average age of students in the college is 22.

Lucy Cavendish students are also called "Lucians".

Academic performance[edit]

The overall examination results of the college's comparatively few undergraduates has improved drastically in later years compared to other Cambridge colleges, with Lucy Cavendish recently making a record-breaking leap of 8 places in the Tompkins table – the best result for any mature college in the history of the rankings.[13][14][15]

College life[edit]

Students' Union[edit]

The Lucy Cavendish Students' Union is a vital part of student life at Lucy Cavendish. The SU oversees the vibrant 'Lucy Ents' scene, arranging a variety of events ranging from college parties and karaoke nights, nighttime punting, and yoga classes, to Cambridge 101 Survival Sessions on study skills and exam techniques. Lucy Cavendish is especially renowned for its vibrant themed college parties, known as "bops".

Lucy Cavendish is renowned for its vibrant college parties, known as "bops"

The SU is also responsible for running the College Bar, maintaining the atmospheric Common Room, and supporting the College's different clubs and societies. The SU represents student voices and any concerns related to their college experience.

Clubs and societies[edit]

There are multiple clubs and societies within the college, including a student newspaper, The Cavendish Chronicle, a student choir, and a boat club. Several societies are jointly run with other colleges, such as the Hughes-Lucy Cavendish Badminton Club.

Sports and rowing[edit]

The College has a growing profile in sport, and members of Lucy Cavendish are well placed to benefit from the facilities administered by the University, including the impressive new Sports Centre in West Cambridge. On site, members can take advantage of the 18-hour access gym, which has a treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine, cross trainer, weights and other multi-gym equipment. There are weekly fitness classes, and a variety of sporting Clubs and Societies; the Lucy Cavendish College/Hughes Hall Combined Boat Club is one of the most successful in Cambridge.

Formal Hall[edit]

Lucy Cavendish is unique in its commitment to an informal atmosphere. Therefore, the college's Formal Halls do not include a high table, enabling students and Fellows to socialise on equal terms. Formal Halls are hosted once every week in term time, in the Warburton Hall dining hall.

Buildings and grounds[edit]

Lucy Cavendish lies close to the city centre, in tranquil grounds featuring a wild flower meadow, pond and Anglo-Saxon herb garden, as well as our cluster of Victorian and 1990s buildings. Unlike most Cambridge Colleges, students are allowed to walk on all lawns, and are encouraged to make active use of the grounds.

Library, with the Marshall House in the background


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.[16]

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.[17] Meanwhile, the majority of the college's buildings, including Warburton Hall and the library, were completed in the 1990s.[16]

Lucy Cavendish College Library


Lucy Cavendish College Library was opened by HM Queen Margarethe II of Denmark in 2000. It is one of the most modern libraries in Cambridge, providing both individual study spaces and shared desks in three spacious reading rooms and a group study room. It offers a hot drinks machine and a number of informal and comfortable spaces for working or relaxing with other Members of College over refreshments. The Library holds approximately 30,000 books and a number of print journals and magazines, DVDs and anatomical models.

The sitting room at the top of the Library houses the Scribbling Women Collection, an informal collection of works written in English by women from the eighteenth century to the present day.

Music and Meditation Pavilion[edit]

Unusually, Lucy's grounds include a Music and Meditation Pavilion, which houses one of their many pianos, and can be used for music practice by individuals and ensembles, or as a quiet place for reflection.

Student accommodation[edit]

Most undergraduates and many students on nine-month graduate courses live within the College itself. The majority of on-site rooms are located in De Brye, Bertram and Warburton Hall. Students with a preference for nineteenth-century character may opt for rooms in the college's two converted Victorian villas, Barrmore and Strathaird.


Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize[edit]

In 2010, Professor Janet Todd OBE founded the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, with many shortlisted and winning authors securing publishing deals and furthering their writing. The annual Fiction Prize is open to the public and it provides a unique opportunity for unpublished female authors aged 21 and over to launch their literary careers.

List of presidents[edit]

Notable alumnae[edit]

Honorary Fellows[edit]


  1. ^ "Visiting Academics – Lucy Cavendish". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Kodate Kodate & Kodate 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Renfrew, Jane M. "Who was Lucy Cavendish?". Rooms of Our Own – Lucy Cavendish College. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Papers of the Dining Group 1951–1966". London Metropolitan University. 
  5. ^ a b Warburton, Anne (9 October 2001). "Anna Bidder obituary". The Independent. London. 
  6. ^ "Statutes for Lucy Cavendish College in the University of Cambridge" (PDF). Lucy Cavendish College. 1997. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Lucy Cavendish College Shield of Arms". Lucy Cavendish College. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "Women of Cambridge". University of Cambridge. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Sally Weale "Journalist Jackie Ashley takes over as president of Lucy Cavendish College", The Guardian, 21 November 2014
  10. ^ "Supporting Students". Lucy Cavendish College. 
  11. ^ "Application statistics". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  12. ^ "Lucy Cavendish College Information". Lucy Cavendish College. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Analysis: What does it take to top Tompkins?". Varsity. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  14. ^ "Trinity tops Tompkins Table for seventh straight year". Varsity. 14 September 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  15. ^ "Lucy Cavendish moves up 8 places in the Tompkins Table". Lucy Cavendish College. 
  16. ^ a b "Lucy Cavendish College Site and Buildings" (PDF). Lucy Cavendish College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Cambridge 2000 – Lucy Cavendish College: Madingley Road: Marshall House (Balliol Croft)". Cambridge 2000. 

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)