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New Hall, Cambridge

For the Canadian businessman, see N. Murray Edwards.

Colleges of the University of Cambridge

Murray Edwards College

Full name The President and Fellows of Murray Edwards College, founded as New Hall, in the University of Cambridge[1]
Named after Dame Rosemary Murray, Ros and Steve Edwards
Established 1954
Admission Women
President Dame Barbara Stocking[2]
Undergraduates 360[3]
Graduates 132[4]
Sister college St Anne's College, Oxford
Location Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, UK
College website
JCR website
MCR website
Boat Club website

Murray Edwards College is a women-only constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It was founded as "New Hall" in 1954, at a time when Cambridge had the lowest proportion of women undergraduates of any university in the United Kingdom, and when only two other colleges (Girton and Newnham) admitted women students. Unlike many other colleges, New Hall was founded without a benefactor and did not bear a benefactor's name. However, it was announced in June 2008 that New Hall would be renamed in memory of its first President, Dame Rosemary Murray, and alumna Ros Edwards (née Smith) and her husband Steve Edwards who had recently made a donation of £30 million[5] to the College.[6][7]


New Hall was founded in 1954, housing sixteen students in Silver Street where Darwin College now stands. By 1962, thanks to the generosity of members of the Darwin family who gave their family home, "The Orchard", to the project, the College had a new site on Huntingdon Road, about a mile from the centre of Cambridge. The architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon (also known for their design of the Barbican in London), had been chosen and funds were being collected. Building began in 1964 and the new college was completed in 1965. It could house up to 300 students at that time.

With the conversion of the last men-only colleges into mixed colleges in the 1970s and 1980s, some people questioned whether New Hall would or, indeed, should remain a women-only college. Since the 2007 announcement that Oxford University's last remaining women-only college, St Hilda's, would admit men, Cambridge is the only university in the United Kingdom with an admissions policy that discriminates, with respect to admission to some of its colleges, on the basis of sex.[8][9] Murray Edwards has progressed further than other Cambridge colleges in this area as it allows male staff.[10]

The college offers free formal halls each week to graduate students and maintains a fund for graduate research, including the Stephan Körner graduate studentship for studies in philosophy, classics or law.[11]

New Hall received its Royal Charter in 1972. The Arms of the college are emblazoned as follows:

Sable a Dolphin palewise head downwards to the dexter in chief three Mullets fesswise a Bordure embattled Argent

In plain English, this means: on a black background, place the following features in silver. Vertically in the centre, place a Dolphin with head downwards to the left. On top, place three stars horizontally across. Bordering the arms, place a square wave representing the battlements of a castle.

The black castellation round the arms marks the college's location on Castle Hill. The three stars are borrowed from the Murray coat of arms, while the heraldic Dolphin symbolises a youthful spirit of exploration and discovery, and a kindly intelligence.

In addition to the arms, the college had designed a new logo to mark its transition from New Hall to Murray Edwards College. It is based on the design of the interior of the dining hall, known as the Dome. It is called the 'spark' and symbolises the modern, open and youthful outlook of the College.[12][13] However, on consultation with its alumnae, the College will continue to use its arms in official materials.

College Buildings

Like many of the other Cambridge Colleges, Murray Edwards College was not built all at one time but expanded as the need arose, over several time periods. The College therefore has several accommodation blocks of differing style. In order of construction:

  • Orchard Court (also known as Old Block) recalls the original name of the grounds now occupied by the College, which was formerly known as The Orchard, a large house part-owned by Norah Barlow, granddaughter of Charles Darwin. It is divided into the Wolfson, Nuffield and Spooner Wings, named after donors to the College during its first few decades. Part of the original structure designed in the 1960s and completed in 1965.[14] In 2009, part of this block has been refurbished to improve fire safety and living standards.
  • Pearl House (formerly known as New Block), named after Dr Valerie Pearl, the second President of the College. The building was constructed with funding from the Kaetsu Foundation. All rooms are en suite. Wheelchair access is available to each floor via the central lift. Opened in 1994.[15] First year undergraduates are usually accommodated in this block.
  • Buckingham House. The current building was a rebuild of another building of the same name that stood on this site, and was opened in 2001.[16] All rooms are en suite. The building is wheelchair accessible and has a lift. Contains a 142 seat auditorium which has been used for lectures, film festivals and concerts.[17]
  • Canning and Eliza Fok House is named after the Hong Kong entrepreneur Canning Fok and his wife Eliza Fok, who donated the funds for constructing this accommodation block. All rooms are en suite. The building is wheelchair accessible and has a lift. Opened in 2008.[18] Canning and Eliza Fok House is specifically built to accommodate the growing population of graduate students at Murray Edwards, and has a large shared kitchen/living area between 8 bedrooms.

The first buildings of the College on Huntingdon Road were designed by the architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, and are listed Grade II* (particularly important buildings of more than special interest).[19] This includes:

  • The Dome
  • The Fountain Court
  • The Library
  • Orchard Court


The College garden has an informal style, first planned and planted by the first President Dame Rosemary Murray.

In 2007, the gardeners of Murray Edwards (then New Hall) attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It was the first time a Cambridge college attended the show to presented a garden.[20][21] The theme of the garden was The Transit of Venus, and was awarded a Bronze Flora medal in the Chic Garden Category.[22][23] After returning from the show, the garden was recreated in a slightly larger form beside the library.

The gardens benefits from the creative endeavours of the staff, fellows, and students. Since 2012, gardening allotments are provided for fellows, undergraduates and postgraduates[24] for growing herbs and vegetables, in addition to the many flowers and herbs already planted by the gardeners.

Women's Art Collection

Murray Edwards is home to the New Hall Art Collection, the largest collection of women's art in Europe, and the second largest in the world (the largest being the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, USA).

The New Hall Art Collection was started in the early 1990s, when the College has few pieces of art and most of them were portraits of old gentleman. The College wrote to 100 women artists and asked each to donate one piece of art, and more than 75% of the artists approached agreed to give a piece of work.[25] Donations have continued since and thus, the Art Collection now contains work by many famous women artists, including:



See also


External links

  • Official website

Coordinates: 52°12′51″N 0°06′31″E / 52.214188°N 0.108560°E / 52.214188; 0.108560

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