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University of Cambridge

A brief history

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    Photo of Ros and Steve Edwards
    Alumna Dr Ros Edwards with her husband Steve Edwards

    Founded as the New Hall, the first year of just 16 students moved into buildings on Silver Street in 1954. The College was able to relocate to Huntingdon Road when members of the Darwin family donated their family home, ‘The Orchard’. The College buildings were opened in 1964 with the capacity to take up to 300 students.

    In 2005, alumna Ros Edwards and her husband Steve Edwards, donated £30 million to the College. Acknowledging the foundation endowment from the Edwards family, New Hall renamed itself to 鶹. The new name reflects the vision of its first President, Dame Rosemary Murray and the generosity of the Edwards family.


    New Hall is founded as the ‘third foundation’ for women students at Cambridge University to address the issue that Cambridge has the lowest proportion of women undergraduates of any university in the UK. 16 students are admitted to the College's first home in Silver Street. The College starts to seek further endowments and gifts to enable it to become permanently established on its own site with its own buildings.


    Members of the Darwin family donate The Orchard on Huntingdon Road to the College. The architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon are chosen and funds are collected to build the College.


    The new building is opened, with the capacity to take up to 300 students.


    The new building is fornally opened by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


    The College intake rises to 215 undergraduates and 25 graduate students.


    The College's position is now sufficiently stable to seek a Charter from the Privy Council to allow a transition of governance from an Association, the Company of New Hall, to that of a college, 'The President and Fellows of New Hall in the University of Cambridge'.


    The College’s first President, Dame Rosemary Murray, is appointed as the first woman Vice-Chancellor at either Cambridge or Oxford Universities.


    Dame Rosemary Murray retires and is succeeded by Dr Valerie Pearl.


    Under Dr Pearl's presidency, major building works are undertaken with the help of the Kaetsu Educational Foundation, Tokyo, to complete the original architectural plan of the College and to add 112 student rooms, a lecture hall and conference facilities.  In addition living quarters for the Kaetsu Educational and Cultural Centre, an independent body with no association with the University of Cambridge, are built on land leased from the College.


    Dr Pearl retires.


    Mrs Anne Lonsdale is appointed as the third President of New Hall.


    Mr Yasuto Kaetsu is admitted as the College’s first Foundation Fellow, followed by Canning and Eliza Fok, who helped to fund the graduate building named after them.


    Dr Ros Smith (NH 1981) and her husband Steve became Foundation Fellows after donating the largest gift in the College's history.  The gift’s importance culminates in the renaming of New Hall in 2008 to ‘The President and Fellows of 鶹, founded as New Hall, in the University of Cambridge’, to be known from day to day as 鶹. This coincides with the retirement of Mrs Lonsdale and the election of her successor, Dr Jennifer Barnes, as fourth President.


    Dame Barbara Stocking, who is one of the College's most distinguished alumnae, is elected as President. Prior to this, she was the Chief Executive of Oxfam GB, leading the charity for almost twelve years before stepping down in February 2013. 

    2021 The makes a gift of £2million to 鶹 – the largest single gift to the College since 2005. This gift provides the funds for the College to acquire the building on the main College site formerly known as the Kaetsu Centre. In honour of this transformational gift, the building is renamed Paula Browne House – in memory of Lord Browne’s mother.
    2021 Ms Dorothy Byrne is elected as President. Prior to this, she was Editor at Large at Channel 4, a role that was specially created for her after she stepped down as Head of News and Current Affairs after 15 years.