Pembroke College

Pembroke College was founded in 1624 by King James I using money given by Thomas Tesdale, an Abingdon merchant, and Richard Wightwick, a Berkshire clergyman, and was named after William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, who was Chancellor of the University at the time.  The two founders were commemorated in the College’s coat of arms which, in recognition of the union of the English and Scottish crowns under  James the First of England and Sixth of Scotland, bears a rose and thistle above the three lions rampant of the Earl’s shield. The College was founded on the 15th century Broadgates Hall which had been a hostel for law students and its last Principal, Thomas Clayton MD, became the first Master of Pembroke College. Women were first admitted in 1979.

The archives contain documents relating to the College’s history, buildings and administration as well as papers pertaining to individual ex-staff and alumni of the College, photographs and memorabilia. The archives are typically referred to by various departments within College, external researchers, Pembroke Alumni and their descendants, and others such as purchasers of land or property which once belonged to the College. The material contained in the archives therefore provides both a source of formal records and management information for the College, and a picture of life at Pembroke through the years since its foundation.

Although J.R.R. Tolkien was a Fellow of Pembroke for twenty years, we do not have any significant material relating to him.

Enquiries regarding the archives should be made to the Archivist, who can provide basic information, answer straightforward questions and provide a list of material available on a given topic, but who is unable to carry out detailed research on behalf of enquirers.


Archivist: Amanda Ingram

Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 8.00am - 3.00pm (by appointment only)

Address: The Archivist, McGowin Library, Pembroke College, Oxford, OX1 1DW

Phone: 01865 276426



Further Reading:

Douglas Macleane, History of Pembroke College, Oxford (Oxford Historical Society/Clarendon Press, 1897 and F.E. Robinson, 1900)

Pembroke College Record – the College’s annual publication from 1932, available for consultation on request in the College library.

J.H.C. Leach, Sparks of Reform : The Career of Francis Jeune, 1806-1868 (J.H.C. Leach, 1994)

John Platt, Pembroke College: A History in Pictures (Pembroke College, 1996)

John Eekelaar and Tessa Harris (ed.), The Blackstone Lectures: Pembroke College Oxford (Quiller Press, 2001)

Brian Wilson, A Gentle History of The Silver Collection, Pembroke College, Oxford (Brian Wilson, 2004)

Brian Wilson, A Gentle History of The Stained Glass Windows and Heraldic Shields in the Dining Hall, Pembroke College, Oxford (Brian Wilson, 2012)

John Platt and Brian Wilson, A Gentle History of The Damon Wells Chapel, Pembroke College, Oxford (Brian Wilson, 2014)

Tim Brindley and Brian Wilson, A Gentle History of The Master’s Lodgings, Pembroke College, Oxford (Formerly Wolsey’s Almshouse) (Brian Wilson, 2017)

Pembroke in WWI: