Dr Anne Bidder, the first President of Lucy Cavendish College
(Courtesy of Cambridge Newspapers Ltd.)
'We are not ladies who lunch!'
The Beginnings of Lucy Cavendish College
Lucy Cavendish College is the latest and perhaps the last women's college to be founded in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1965 and was an experimental female academy for women graduates. The development of the college grew out of the vision and determination of a handful of women who formed a Dining Group in Cambridge.
In 1950, Margaret Braithwaite and Kay Wood-Legh met for lunch at a Cambridge restaurant with the intention to make it a weekly event and to invite other academic women to join them. The first invitation was to Anna Bidder. All three were graduates of Newnham College. All were involved in research and teaching in the university, although none held a fellowship at either of the then women's colleges, Girton and Newnham. Each missed the intellectual environment and wider advantages of a collegiate community.
Their weekly lunches were replaced by meetings over dinner and the Dining Group was born. The group agreed that a new women's college, a 'Third Foundation', was needed to increase the number of undergraduate places for women in Cambridge. 'Feeling very daring' Anna Bidder later recalled, 'we ordered three glasses of wine and drank to the ide'.
In collaboration with a second group, led by Dame Myra Curtis, the Dining Group lobbied the University for a third college for women. From the determination of their Third Foundation Association emerged New Hall in 1954.