One of Cambridge University’s oldest private member’s clubs has broken with more than 180 years of tradition by voting to allow female applicants to join.
The Pitt Club, founded in 1835 to honour William Pitt the Younger, an alumnus of Pembroke College and Britain’s youngest ever prime minister, asked all ‘resident’ members to cast a vote on Tuesday.
The decision means that women, who until now have only been permitted to attend events as guests of male members, may now apply for entry via election.
In a formal statement released yesterday, a Pitt Club spokesman said: “On Tuesday 7th November, a majority of the resident members of the University Pitt Club voted to elect female members. The Club looks forward to welcoming its first female members.”
It is thought that the decision to hold a vote on mixed membership was made in order to improve the club’s reputation, which has been harmed over the years by tales of debauchery and controversial initiation ceremonies.
While the club was originally founded as a political society, in recent years, critics have compared it to Oxford’s notorious Bullingdon Club - a claim which its members have frequently refuted.
However, like its Oxford counterpart, entry into the Pitt Club is only possible through election via a members’ vote, which will often require applicants to perform risque initiations.
Notable former members include King Edward VII and King George V, the economist John Maynard Keynes and, more recently, Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne is alleged to have been a member.
After purchasing a permanent base on Jesus Lane, Cambridge, in 1907, Pitt members enjoy a luxurious clubhouse designed by the architect Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt.
In 1933 a plaque of Pitt’s head was gifted to members by General Sir Neill Malcolm. It continues to adorn the pediment over the entrance to the Club.
Faced with serious financial difficulties during the 1990s, the bottom floor of the Grade II listed building was leased out to the Pizza Express chain on a 25-year leasehold.