Pembroke College was founded in 1624 on the site of Broadgates Hall, a medieval hostel for law students. In his will, Thomas Tesdale (1547-1610), an Abingdon merchant, left funds for the education of boys from Abingdon School. This was initially intended to be at Balliol but the decision was eventually made to found a new college with an additional benefaction from Richard Wightwick (c.1547-1629), a Berkshire clergyman. The College is named after the 3rd Earl of Pembroke, William Herbert (1580-1630), who was Lord Chamberlain and Chancellor of the University.
The College library was founded on a large bequest from John Hall (Master 1664-1710), which was later substantially added to by Henry Chandler (Fellow 1853-1889 and one of the Curators of the Bodleian Library) and George Birkbeck-Hill (1835-1903). Originally housed in Docklington’s Aisle in St Aldates Church, the library moved into Broadgates Hall and then into a purpose built building, The McGowin Library, in 1974.
The College Archive contains documents relating to the College’s history, buildings and administration as well as papers pertaining to individual members of the College, photographs and memorabilia. The material contained in the archives therefore provides both a source of formal records and management information for the College, and a picture of life at Pembroke through the years.
A number of items from our special collections have been digitised with support from The Helen Roll Charity and The Wellcome Trust. These have included MS 20, a Bohemian Book of Hours from before the time of Jan Huss and the Hussite rebellion, and MS 2, the Breviarium Bartholomei, which is a medical textbook from the early fifteenth century, as well as a number of key documents from the College Archive.