Oxford University, with its origins in the twelfth century, is the oldest British university and has for centuries been an internationally renowned centre of learning.
From the early days of the University, Broadgates Hall, from which Pembroke College was founded, existed as a hostel for law students.
The combined generosity of an Abingdon merchant, Thomas Tesdale, and a Berkshire clergyman, Richard Wightwick, provided the necessary endowment for the transformation of Broadgates Hall into Pembroke College, originally intended to provide places at Oxford for boys from Abingdon School. In 1624 King James I signed the letters patent to create the present college, which was named after the third Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain and Chancellor of the University, who had done much to promote the foundation. The two were commemorated in the College’s coat of arms, shown right in its official form, which, in recognition of the union of the two crowns in the person of 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 Grant of Arms from the College of Heralds to Pembroke College, dated 14th February 1625 and signed by Richard St. George, Clarenceux King of Arms, describes the shield as:
“Per pale azure and gules three Lyons rampant Argent, in a Cheife party per pale Argent and Or, in the first a Rose Gules, in second a Thistle of Scotland proper”.
Pembroke was a predominantly male domain until 1979, when female undergraduates were first admitted. Today, about 50% of students are female.