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Pembroke College

The noblest mind the best contentment has." Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene. Book i. Canto i. St. 35. 
Pembroke College

Pembroke College was founded in 1347 by Marie de St Pol, Countess of Pembroke. The third oldest of the Cambridge Colleges, it was the first to have its own Chapel, which was for a period the College Library and which is now known as the Old Library. The present Chapel (purportedly Christopher Wren’s first building) was thanks to his uncle, Matthew Wren, who vowed during his imprisonment in the Tower that he would devote part of his fortune to some holy purpose. The current Library building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in the 1870s and was extended in 2001 by the architects Freeland Rees Roberts.

In addition to the extensive modern teaching collections, the College Library and Archive are home to a range of special collection materials from the 14th-century foundation documents to the modern papers of its old members such as Ted Hughes. These complement a collection of medieval manuscripts (housed at the University Library) and approximately 30,000 early printed books and incunabula. The printed special collections also include modern private press editions and books formerly owned by notable members of the College.

As funding becomes available, we are working with the University’s Digital Content Unit to make our special collections available online so that we can share our treasures with a wider audience.

For details about and access to our archival and printed special collections, please contact For access to our medieval manuscripts, please contact the University Library’s Manuscripts team at