Past Events

Churchill as a Painter

Thursday 8th February 2018

We enjoyed a most informative and stimulating evening at the German Historical Institute in Bloomsbury Square, the stylish home of John Nash and featuring notable John Adam ceilings and other decor.  Greeted with welcoming drinks by the Director Professor Andreas Gestrich we then moved into the splendid Lecture Room where Professor Peter Alter - Duisburg-Essen, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and a German expert on Churchill - took us through one of the less well-known aspects of Winston’s life. With multiple colour illustrations of his artwork Peter described in detail when, where and in what circumstances each was painted, highlighting the way Churchill found painting to be so engrossing that it could free him, for hours on end, from the great pressures and depressions that he suffered at various periods in his remarkable life; and mention was made of the considerable value of his artwork these days.  There was a lively debate and we then moved on to another hour of socialising with drinks and canapés, and with further informal discussion on this and related topics. The Institute was most generous in providing all liquid refreshment, and so we thank them greatly - as we do Professor Alter who we hope will offer us more of his insights on British and international matters in future.

Organised by David Peace and Sylvia Le Comber

Exclusive British Museum Tour

12/15th January 2018

Our two tours, one in the evening and one in the afternoon, were led by Blue Guide and Society Member Caroline Piper who succeeded in educating and entrancing some 40 of our members. In just two hours each time Caroline took us from 4th Century BC Egypt to Assyria to Athens to Rome and finally to Saxon England, identifying, describing, contextualising and bringing to life magnificent artefacts from each period, the real jewels in the Museum’s collection, while answering all of our questions in the most expert way. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience: members were fully engaged throughout and for many of us it was completely different from normal wanderings which so often involve just brochures, headphones and label-reading - this was far more personal and lively. We hope Caroline will do more for us in future.

Organised by David Hughes

Pall Mall Party 2017

Monday, 11th December 2017

The End-Of-Year Party in the Oxford and Cambridge Club was a great success. Hosted by David Peace the Society Chairman, and with everyone enjoying the excellent service of Club staff, more than 140 Cambridge alumni/ae from all colleges and their guests came together in this beautiful building, much appreciating the splendid Smoking Room (where you can’t smoke of course). For four hours we met old friends, made new ones and, after David's short speech, came forward to him and Committee member Sarah Sarkhel with ideas and proposals for interesting things that he and his small team might be able to organise in 2018 - though an Oxford v Cambridge Mens’ Run with the men in high heels will need a bit of thought! 

Our thanks go to the Secretary of the Club for his great support and for all Cambridge people who have helped and contributed throughout the year. We look forward to another successful year ahead.

Organised by David Peace

Flower Arranging Course

Friday, 24th November 2017

On a dark Friday night at the end of a busy week in November twenty one Cambridge Society novice florists braved a stampede at Oxford Circus and rush hour on the tube to get to the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers for the Society's very first flower arranging class.  The idea for the evening had been suggested to the Society by expert florist and ex Cambridge graduate Kim Ropek, and we are enormously grateful to Kim for organising this event and for making the Academy available to us.

In the spacious teaching rooms beneath the Academy, Kim gave us a quick introduction to the history of the flower market at Covent Garden. She then encouraged us to create our very own autumn table wreaths, using a beautiful range of flowers and autumn foliage supplied by the Academy.

As we put together our choices, Kim and her helpers were on hand to provide top tips on everything from how to create a natural looking arrangement to how to transform an ordinary bouquet into a Christmas wonder with glitter and hairspray. A wonderful calm settled over the class as everyone shed the stress of the week and concentrated on creating  their own designs. We were delighted to see some chaps had also taken up the offer of the class too.

By the end of the evening every one of us had created a beautiful, unique wreath to take home. We were able to go back out into the bustle of Covent Garden armed with dozens of ideas for making other seasonal displays, and feeling rejuvenated after experienced the calm oasis of Kim's teaching rooms.

Organised by Sarah Sarkhel

High-Level Networking Evening

Monday, 9th October 2017

Clifford Chance again did us proud. Around 40 lucky Cambridge souls came together for an evening of focused networking during which each was given a minute to make their pitch – and this time it was the widest range of interests we have ever seen. Being able to button-hole the individuals that you need to talk to saves so much time and effort, and to do so in on splendid 30th floor, with wine and canapés, made it so much more memorable and effective. Our thanks go again to the staff and to Clifford Chance itself, especially as it has generously offered its premises for the next two years also.

Organised by David Peace

An Evening with Art, Wine, and Good Company!

Friday, 25th September 2017

Leopardi’s Dream, the engravings of Francis West, was the theme that drew three dozen of us together at the Coningsby Gallery in Fitzrovia for an evening of art appreciation and - perhaps equally pleasurably – the appreciation of good conversation, wine and nibbles. Highly enjoyable for all concerned, and a tribute again to the welcome and support given by the Gallery to our Society. We will continue with this fine tradition.

Organised by Sylvia Le Comber

Freshers' Evening 2017

Wednesday, 13th September 2017

This year about 180 eager, excited, apprehensive teenagers from London schools came together for the Society’s Freshers’ Evening in central London and settled in for a couple of hours of friendship-making, networking, fact-finding, experience-sharing and so on, armed with a glass or two of their choice and all helped by the University’s Alumni Relations staff and an excellent tribe of current students who had volunteered to come along to help the soon-to-be-freshers with advice on all things Cambridge. Quietened at one point only by a short address from the Society Chairman, the gathering enjoyed a most informative and motivating evening, with excellent feedback.

Organised by Timothy Murphy and Claire Baxter

Varsity Cricket 2017

Friday, 23rd June 2017

The 2017 Varsity Match at Lord’s With perfect weather and a perfect gathering of the Society’s Cambridge chums and their guests, plus a pretty good selection of drinks of various strengths served by our own staff in our own box in the Tavern Stand, all looked set for a thoroughly enjoyable day. And so it proved, with the Oxford men batting first and attaining a challenging score of 264 in its 50 overs. After lunch our own lads wielded the willow and crept to nigh on the winning score until, in the final over, our last man left the pitch with a shortfall of just 9 to draw, 10 to win. Our women were all out for 229 and then Oxford made it to 230 for 3. Though both matches were nail-biting and ultimately disappointing for us, this was one of the most exciting and dramatic of our Society’s events at Lord’s over the years, and we all left with memories of a great day and a determination to put the record straight next year.

Organised by David Peace

An Evening of Art, Wine and Conversation

Thursday, 25th May 2017

On May 25th a group of 20 members met at the Coningsby Gallery for another evening of conversation and networking accompanied by wine and canapes. As with previous evenings at the gallery, the art on display provided an interesting talking point.

Organised by David Hughes

Regency Revolution Walks

Friday, 5th May 2017

Most generously our Society Member and expert guide Lester Hillman took two groups of us, at and at 6.30 pm, through the main streets, back streets, secluded alleys and hidden corners of the Angel, Clerkenwell and Smithfield, informing and entertaining us with a plethora of references, stories, anecdotes and rumours from the days of Wat Tyler and the Peasants Revolt right through today’s political shenanigans, taking in Henry VIII, the Spa Field Riots, the murder of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, the murder of Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, two underground lines plus a river and a canal all on top of each other, and large number of other colourful accounts from our most colourful history. Lester has a huge fund of knowledge and succeeds in linking it in the most imaginative and intriguing way. These walks, like those he has done for us in the past, were greatly enjoyed by all. We look forward to the next ones!

Organised by David Peace and Sylvia le Comber

London on Film Walking Tour

Thursday, 27th April 2017

Twenty-five Society members and guests met outside the Tate Britain on a blustery, slightly drizzly Thursday evening for our London on Film walking tour led by Cambridge alumna Caroline Piper, a fully qualified Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Caroline led us on a fascinating tour of London locations used for a range of films, including James Bond and Harry Potter interspersed with interesting historical comments about the locations we passed. We very much appreciate Caroline donating her time and expertise to provide an excellent evening and we have started discussing ideas for another guided tour early in the new year, possibly of the British Museum, another of Caroline's specialities.

Organised by David Hughes

Guided tour of Freemasons' Hall

Thursday, 20th April 2017

Entering the Freemason's Hall, the home of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge, the centre of London Freemasonry, forty Society members and guests left the hustle and noise of Covent Garden behind us for an evening exploring this magnificent building, learning about Freemasonry and Cambridge Society fellowship over wine and canapés. The evening started with a tour of the building by an expert in both the building and Freemasonry. Particularly fascinating was the Memorial Shrine, the massive Masonic bronze doors and the Grand Temple. We were then privileged to spend some time seated in the Grand Temple whilst Trevor, our expert guide, answered a wide range of questions about Freemasonry. The evening concluded with wine and canapés in the library where we continued informal discussions with Trevor and met new Cambridge Society friends. Special thanks to member David Semmens for introducing the idea and to David Swain, the Metropolitan Grand Secretary, for organising the evening.

Organised by David Hughes

The Boat Races 2017

Sunday, 2nd April 2017

For the sixth year running we enjoyed superb views over the start of the boat races from our Victorian-style drawing room on the first floor of an elegant Grade II listed building. With a three-course meal, our own bar, a television and excellent company, what more could we ask for? Well, four victories would have topped it all off! To date this remains one aspect of the occasion we have yet to perfect. We are working on it, of course! Meanwhile, we contented ourselves with two out of four victories, thanks to assured performances from our women - the first and reserve boats crossing the finishing line with 11 and 13 length leads respectively.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay

An Evening of Art and Conversation

Monday, 6th March 2017

This was the second evening held at the Coningsby Gallery in Tottenham St, a minute from Goodge St station, and again it was very enjoyable. Some 45 of us gathered in the most informal way for drinks, sandwiches and exotic nibbles to view a selection of the remarkable works collected by Henry Miller and now displayed for sale. The atmosphere in this relatively small Gallery is perfect for art appreciation and also for the friendly socialising and networking that characterises so many of our events. We owe a great debt to Andrew Coningsby for allowing us to get together in his gallery - and for helping with the washing up and for storing our unopened bottles for the next Society event there! By popular request this is going to be a regular number in our annual Programme.

Organised by Dave Hughes and Sylvia le Comber

Winter Wine Tasting

Friday, 24th February 2017

What a splendid evening! 60 Society members and their guests were directed through a discreet passageway off St James’s Street into the smallest public square in London. We were then ushered through the front door of an elegant Georgian townhouse and shown down into the spectacular Sussex wine cellar of Berry Bros.& Rudd, which was exclusively reserved for us for the evening.

After guests had been offered a glass of something sparkling, there was a well-informed introduction from the company’s Wine & Spirits Education Specialist. Then the tasting began in earnest and we were invited to spend the next two hours or so moving between floors and sampling six specially selected reds and whites while making notes and comparing opinions. It was a wonderful way of breaking the ice and everyone had their own recommendations and favourites.

After the formal tasting, “post-tasting” wines were made available and the general socialising continued; and all this to the ready supply of copious canapés designed to complement the drinks. It was an extremely enjoyable time, expertly managed by BB&R, and one which our members said we should certainly repeat. We will make every effort to do so.

Berry Brothers and Rudd

Organised by Sarah Sarkhel

Silent Georgian Evening

Tuesday, 17th January 2017

As instructed, for almost an hour we twenty Society members remained silent in wonder, wandering up and downstairs and around the candlelit terraced Georgian house gazing at the perfect representation of a middle-class Huguenot weaving family, each decoration and artefact authentic of the period. Sight (every room on the four floors), sound (the church bells, the horses' carriages) and smells (the cigars, the coal in the cellar) and the cold of the attic, stimulated the senses in a way rare if not unique in any other establishment. And then a glass of champagne and an in-depth chat with one of the curators in front of a log fire in the drawing room - expert information about the period and the history of the Dennis Severs House in Spitalfields. A first class experience and one that we will certainly consider doing again.

Organised by Sarah Sarkhel

Pall Mall Party

Monday, 12th December 2016

Up to 150 Society members and their guests came together in the magnificent Smoking Room of the Oxford and Cambridge Club on Monday 12 December for our grand End-of-Year Pall Mall Party. Now the regular final event in our annual calendar it was again a spectacular affair with the Club looking its very best, bedecked as it was with Christmas trees and decorations throughout. Society members had the opportunity to visit other parts of the Club under the guidance of Club staff who very kindly gave their time to help us, and during the evening David Hughes, a member of our Committee, talked to the gathering about the Society and in particular our goal of making each event a unique occasion, only available via the Society. This is only possible through the support of our members to come up with good ideas for unusual, private, tailored experiences. Once you have contacted us with your idea, one of our committee members will work with you to turn the idea into a great event! It’s rare that a London Club allows so many non-members in for such a festive occasion so we were again privileged and most grateful. Feedback during the evening and afterwards indicates it was A Great Success. It always is.

Organised by David Peace

Cambridge Art in Fitzrovia

Thursday, 10th November 2016

Over 40 Society members and their guests gathered for what we knew would be a fascinating and most enjoyable evening in the elegant Coningsby Gallery near Tottenham Court Road. The paintings on display were from the prolific and talented Cambridge artist Michael Aubrey whose works are exhibited and owned all over the world. With the very welcome - especially on that cold November evening - supply of wine and canapés we admired the oeuvres and socialised in a warm private setting that again proved how valuable our Society is for those who want to meet others with similar interests. Michael (pictured) introduced us to his works and talked through the background and his continuing love of painting. We were privileged to have this special evening, and our thanks go also to the Coningsby Gallery for their warm welcome and support.

Organised by Sylvia Le Comber

High Level Networking

Tuesday, 11th October 2016

On the 30th floor of Clifford Chance in Canary Wharf over two dozen of us met for half an hour of drinks and nibbles; then a relaxed and humorous plenary session where each of us explained in 60 seconds what type of people we were and why we were networking that evening; and then another hour and a half with drinks and canapés for really focused talking with those whose interests aligned with our own. The venue was splendid, the views over the Dome, the Wharf, the skyscrapers and the yachts was magnificent, and the hospitality of Clifford Chance extremely generous. We were truly privileged and it was a most successful evening, the only disappointment being the more-than-a-dozen others who had reserved places and who had had to withdraw that morning or else simply did not show up, all too late for us to offer places to those on the waiting list. We all discussed the difficulty, and our Committee will decide on the best way forward should we do this type of evening again - which those attending very much hope we will.

Organised by David Peace

Exploring Our Maritime Heritage

Wednesday, 5th October 2016

A group of 26 CamSoc members travelled down to Portsmouth on a beautiful blue-sky day for an afternoon and evening exploring our maritime heritage through two great warships, the Mary Rose and HMS Victory.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Victory, Lieutenant Commander BJ Smith, personally led our comprehensive tour of the Ship, the oldest commissioned warship in the world and the flagship of the First Sea Lord. Lt Cdr Smith’s intimate knowledge of the Victory and Her campaign history gave us a fascinating insight into this historic Ship and the lives of those who served on-board, including of course Admiral Nelson.

We then moved on to the Mary Rose Museum, recently opened to display the restored hull and artefacts after almost 35 years of conservation work. Cambridge alumnus Chris Dobbs (Trinity Hall 1976), who was the Diving Archaeological Supervisor on the salvage project and is now the Head of Interpretation & Maritime Archaeology for The Mary Rose Trust, opened the evening with a lecture summarising the entire project from the sinking of the Ship, its rediscovery and salvage and finally the restoration process. Then Chris’s team of experts guided us around the museum, bringing to life the enormous range of the crew’s personal artefacts recovered from the wreck.

Overall an excellent day made especially unique by having Lt Cdr Smith and Chris join us to share their passion and deep knowledge.

We are very grateful to Society members Royal Navy Commander Adrian Balhetchet and Committee member Dave Hughes for arranging the event.

Organised by David Hughes and Adrian Balhetchet

Freshers' Evening 2016

Wednesday, 14th September 2016

Every year we work with the University to provide a Freshers’ Party for students from London schools about to go up to Cambridge in a couple of weeks’ time.  This is one of the ‘Welcome to Cambridge’ events held all over the world, but ours is the biggest (and, we like to think, the best).  This year some 150 excited, nervous, noisy and extremely polite young people congregated in our Central London venue for an evening of meeting each other, hearing a little about the alumni Societies and - critically - learning from the real experts, our student volunteers who were with us as freshers last year and who came back to advise them on Life As It Really Is in Cambridge these days. From the University we also had members of the Alumni Relations office, the Director of Admissions, the President of the Students Union and some of his Officers.  All in all the freshers had an experience second to none, and we had difficulty getting them out at curfew time.  A very successful evening.

Organised by Timothy Murphy and Claire Baxter

Varsity Cricket 2016

Friday, 1st July 2016

From 10:00 we congregated in our private Society Suite with the matches due to start at 11:00, but grey was the weather and rain fell until 12.30.  Play started at 12.40 when the lads took to the field wearing black armbands in memory of the first day of the Somme. 5 minutes later the heavens opened again but play resumed a little later at a reduced 41 overs and the rest of afternoon was delightful, with huge support for both sides.  Oxford batted first and set a target of 192, amended to a 184 target when our overs were further reduced, but alas we could not make it and at 18.30 we were all out for 140. The teams retired for a well-earned glass or two, and our Society members, in high spirits despite the result, did likewise in local hostelries.  Another very enjoyable Society day with, naturally, the added prospect of a triumphant one next year.

Organised by David Peace, Sylvia Le Comber

Botticelli Reimagined

Monday, 27th June 2016

19 CamSoc members attended the Botticelli Reimagined Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum on 27 June courtesy of our hosts, Appetite UK. What a pleasure to wander around this wonderful museum without the crowds. The exhibition itself was fascinating and included a collection of works attributed to Botticelli (he did not sign much of his own work). We also had the opportunity to visit two other exhibitions, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear and Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design.

Organised by David Hughes

HMS Duncan

Tuesday, 24th May 2016

Our visit to HMS Duncan was absolutely stunning – a private tour around our latest Type 45 destroyer led by (to many of us) remarkably young officers and lasting almost 2 hours – everywhere from flight deck to ops room to bridge to sick bay to sleeping quarters to weapons bays to ward room, with in-depth explanations of how it all works and some hair-raising and often hilarious stories of “encounters”.  All most impressive, and a rare insight into the lives, duties, dangers and responsibilities of our men and women serving on the front line. A privilege. We’ll be staying in touch with the RN in the hope that we can be similarly hosted in future, perhaps on other ships.

Cambridge Society of London HMS Duncan Royal Navy

Organised by David Peace

The Boat Races 2016

Sunday, 27th March 2016

The boat races afternoon this year treated us for the first time to four full contests between our oarspersons and those of our old rivals. As ever, the very best arrangements to enjoy the occasion were found with our Society with our ideal location in a private room on the first floor of an elegant Grade II listed building overlooking the start of the races. Following mingling and a delicious three-course lunch, we leaned out of our windows to cheer our women down the first stretch as they managed to hold level with the dark blue favourites in rather tempestuous conditions.

We turned to our television only to watch Oxford steadily build an unassailable lead and our boat sink very gradually deeper into the water. While the umpire red-flagged the race, both sides battled on with the dark blues finishing over a minute ahead of our women who did well to stay afloat. Our attention swiftly turned to the men’s race which saw our crew gain a full length’s lead before Hammersmith Bridge was reached. Around the apex of the Surrey bend we powered further ahead in the rough conditions. Oxford held on well, but our lads’ determination enabled them to cross the finishing line three lengths clear and claim the first victory for the Cambridge men in five years.

The reserve races for each gender balanced out the first-team results, with victories for Isis (Oxford’s reserve men) and Blondie (Cambridge’s reserve women). Four races in one afternoon seems like an excellent idea to maintain for the future - not least because it improves the chances of us having a good excuse to open the champagne!

Organised by Alastair Gourlay

RGS Shackleton Exhibition

Wednesday, 17th February 2016

Forty of our members attended a most impressive private viewing at the Royal Geographical Society. The evening started with Rita Gardner, RGS Director, sharing her views on the vital importance of the study of geography in tackling many of the world's challenges including climate change and population growth. Meredith Hooper, curator of the Enduring Eye exhibition, Antarctic expert and visiting fellow of Wolfson College then took the stage to introduce us to the exhibition. Meredith joined us as we toured the exhibition, her extensive research into the life and work of Frank Hurley, the expedition photographer, providing many fascinating insights and anecdotes that brought Hurley's already outstanding photography to life. After viewing a wide range of Shackleton artifacts from the RGS archives we moved to the cosy Lowther Room for refreshments - all of us with a deep sense of awe and admiration for Shackleton and his men in having survived such an ordeal. We are very indebted to David Hughes, a member of our Cambridge Society of London, for proposing and initiating this and for working hard with the RGS to make it such a success. Thanks also to our Committee member Sylvia Le Comber for her support and help.

Organised by David Hughes, Sylvia Le Comber, David Peace

Pall Mall Party

Wednesday, 16th December 2015

Our December Party in the Oxford and Cambridge Club was again a very convivial affair, with some 140 members and guests enjoying the year-end pleasures of that magnificent building in like-minded company. As the “hosting” member of the Club I emerged unscathed – you all behaved yourselves admirably. Thank you.

Organised by David Peace

Kallos Gallery 2015

Thursday, 12th November 2015

Our Mayfair Reception in the very impressive Kallos Gallery on 12th November went extremely well. Seventy of us gathered for an extended three-hour period where champagne and canapés were served throughout - and in what better way could you hope to spend a November evening at the colossal price of £10 per head? For Guests of Members it was £2 more, but we think they got a rather good deal also! The additional ingredients made it even more worthwhile though: the stunning Ancient Greek artefacts, all on display and all discussed informally with Dr Glenn Lacki who runs the Gallery on behalf of Baron Thyssen, proved to be fascinating. While some of the larger items had recently been sold for eye-watering amounts, we were able to admire some exquisite jewellery and delicate vases - so much so that it was with difficulty that we stopped our members actually touching them. However Dr Lacki did allow us to handle extremely valuable ancient gold coins, and for many of us that was a very special experience: they might, perhaps, have been in the hands of Pericles or Alexander himself. All in all, a major, classical success.


Organised by David Peace

Regent Revelations

Wednesday, 12th August 2015

Regent Revelations Recounted

On 12th August Society member Lester Hillman led us on two spellbinding guided tours along the Regent's Canal. We are very grateful to Lester for his contribution to the Society. Here is his enthralling account of those walks:

"It was almost worthy of an announcement by Regent House...

"The Cambridge Society London inaugurated the bicentennial commemorations of the Regent's Canal. The regency opening had taken place on Monday 12th August 1816, the birthday of the Prince Regent. One hundred and ninety nine years to the day around 40 members and guests of the Society gathered at today's coffee house by Camden Lock, where the1816 opening had been marked.  It was here also that in 2012 the 'Canals and Rivers Trust', the present day guardians of the Regent's and most other canals, was itself launched. The coffee shop start was fitting: it was a business start-up meeting in a coffee house off Oxford Street that saw the idea for a canal born in 1811.

"The Society offered two walk times and the towpath walk options took in links to the American anthem and the Beagle II Open University's 2003 Martian landing mission centre at Camden Town. It is still within living memory that the surface of Mars was once believed to be criss-crossed by canals. There were local links to Shakespeare's Henry V, to filming for the latest James Bond ('Spectre' is due out in November), to Michael Caine's film career spanning five decades including 'Alfie' in the 1960s and there were links to radio crime series 'The Net and the Canal'..

"Post-Agincourt peace negotiations with the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund had played out where later, in 1815, fights and frauds took place at the 'Greys Inn Bridge'. Espionage and World War II deceptions, gin revenue evasion, infringements of the Town & Country Planning Acts and graffiti wars all surfaced from the murky depths.

"Having passed under the 'Cambridge Street' bridge, today known as Camley Street, it was time to search out the Camley Arms, a fine hostelry described in the 1960s. Alas it had been discovered to be an elaborate and colourful hoax (beautifully illustrated by the late Assheton Gorton (King's) who went on to design Cruella de Vil's 'Dalmations House'). Not to worry, King's Cross offered a multitude of options and there was even time to hop aboard the 'Cambridge Express' for a 'King Street Run'."


Oganised by Alastair Gourlay, David Peace and Lester Hillman

Varsity Cricket 2015

Saturday, 27th June 2015

Oxford won the toss and chose to bat. Over the next few hours we watched them achieve a score of 202 with particular credit due to some of their lower-middle order batsmen. We then headed off to the Coronation Garden for our picnics with reasonable confidence about our prospects for the afternoon. As we enjoyed some premature champagne and some delightful home-made delicacies, many of us staggered back to our suite a little late - hearing a roar from the crowd on the way. Upon decamping in our box, we discovered that we had lost our first wicket for only one run. Our Light Blue men struggled a little with the strength of the Oxford bowling and Dark Blue wicket-keeper Westaway took a total of 7 catches from behind the stumps. Westaway also had the accolade of being the only man to score a half-century on the day - so a true man of the match. We were bowled out for 159 in 34.2 overs. Many of us then wandered over to the Nursery Ground to see us fare no better in the women's match as we finished 105 runs short. Still, the sunshine and joviality of the day left many of us in strong spirits as we headed off to another venue nearby. Next year the result will - naturally - be entirely different, so stay tuned for our 2016 Revenge!

The full scorecard for the men's match is available here:

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace

The Boat Races 2015

Saturday, 11th April 2015

For many years a great deal of inequality has existed in sport. Those spectators who prefer watching the fairer gender in action have not been well catered for. Fortunately, at least in this respect, all Society members and their guests were fully satisfied at the boat races event this year - as we were treated to both the female and the male contests in one afternoon!

Rewinding a little, the afternoon actually began on an equestrian theme. We watched the Grand National on our television with great enthusiasm, not least because there were forty horses and we had forty people. Each attendee was awarded a horse upon arrival. Congratulations to member Keira McNeice for her victory with Many Clouds!

The women's and the men's boat races that followed shall not be dwelt upon as the wrong shade of blue surged to victory in each case. We did, however, very much enjoy the spectacles, the excitement and the atmosphere, watching the start of the races directly from our windows in our elegant Victorian-style private room and then turning to our television for the remainder of each race. Between the main races, the men's reserve crews competed and, unfortunately, our Goldie boat was unable to prevent a victory for the dark blues, known in this case as Isis.

The outcomes of the three boat races soon faded from our memories as we tucked into a delicious three-course meal and drank the evening away. All in all, an entertaining and enjoyable occasion with delightful company.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay

Pall Mall Party

Wednesday, 17th December 2014


The Society’s festive Pall Mall Party the week before Christmas was both a jolly and elegant occasion. Members, potential members and their partners gathered in the magnificent chandeliered Smoking Room of the Oxford and Cambridge Club, all fully compliant, of course, with the Club’s dress code, their ‘no smoking in the Smoking Room’ policy and other rules! We enjoyed a relaxed evening of drinks and ‘Gourmet Nibbles’ with a brief break in the middle when our Club host for the evening and the Society’s Chairman, David Peace, spoke. He described the Society’s purpose and reviewed our excellent year (walking the path of the Fleet River, cheering on our crew at the Boat Race from our private room, our Oxbridge singles party at the British Film Institute, our private suite at Lord’s and entertaining two hundred Cambridge freshers), then looked ahead to 2014. As a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Club, David Peace also tirelessly took full responsibility for five thorough tours of the splendid Club from top to bottom. The experience certainly seemed to dazzle some into seriously considering membership of the Club or at least calculating when they might be able to afford the prospect. All in all, we spent a most agreeable evening reminiscing over old times at Cambridge and musing over what’s happened since, while making new friends in refined surroundings.

Organised by David Peace

Cambridge Singles Evening

Wednesday, 29th October 2014

What Happened in the Drawing Room...

... shall largely remain in the Drawing Room. We held our fourth Singles Evening at the British Film Institute in their elegant private venue known simply as 'The Drawing Room'. Once again some sparks were in evidence as more than sixty members packed into the room and became familiar with one another with the help of some tasteful ice-breaking activities. We will no doubt discover over the coming months and years the sustainability of the electricity that was generated on the evening.

As ever, it would not have been possible without such a wonderful team of volunteers. Marc Cardle did sterling work with decorations, chocolate arranging and manning the door, while Sarah Sarkhel and Celyn Brazier made superb contributions as bouncers, welcomers and team communicators. Richard Tandoh and Helen Liu were ideal as the host and hostess of the games.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay

Freshers' Evening

Wednesday, 17th September 2014

In they came, more than 200 of them – nervous, apprehensive, excited, proud –having just left school and about to take their places at our University in the Fens.  The Society’s traditional London Welcome to the soon-to-be Freshers took place on 17 September in an excellent venue in the centre of the metropolis, organised by our Committee and with helpers from Cambridge Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) and – especially valuable – current students who had just finished one or two years there already.

Once parted with the modest sum of £5, and with badges showing name, college and subject, our guests were free to mingle and to partake of liquids from the bar. Did they stand awkwardly in corners, shyly avoiding contact? They did not. Did they mutter pleasantries to each other sotto voce? Not at all. Did the evening decline into small huddles of like minds or shared colleges? Of course not! As expected the next three hours became a raucous din of a couple of hundred young people delightedly meeting as many others as they could, swapping stories and contact details, sharing aspirations and anxieties, gleaning as much information as possible from the soon-to-be second and third-years (the real experts) and generally celebrating together the joy of having secured places at what our Chairman reminded them is the best university in the world. Everyone left by 9:30pm elated and happy with this “London Welcome to Cambridge” – and what better way can the London Society encourage future allegiance to our alma mater and to its Societies around the world? Our sincere thanks go to those student volunteers and to staff from DAR who did the background admin with the Colleges and helped us during the evening. The Freshers’ Party is a firm fixture in our Society Calendar, and we do this willingly as a service to the University.

Organised by Marc Cardle, Alastair Gourlay, Jennie Hastie, David Peace and Jan Pudney.

Highs and Lows of the City

Tuesday, 5th August 2014

Society member Lester Hillman led two groups on a whirlwind walk, taking in some surprising highlights of the City of London. As with all of Lester's previous Society walks, his remarkable encyclopaedic knowledge of the area and plethora of anecdotes kept us spellbound. We climbed aboard the City's 'Stealth Bomber', explored Milk and Honey Streets (the birthplaces of John Milton and Mrs Beeton), Guildhall and the Yard in front where London's Roman amphitheatre once stood. After the second walk we enjoyed an extended tour, crossing Southwark Bridge, resplendent in a shade of turquoise rather reminiscent of the modern Cambridge "light blue". We then dined the night away at a fine Turkish restaurant. As always we’re very grateful for Lester’s support for our Society, and by popular acclaim we will be keen for him to lead us on new adventures in the future.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay, David Peace and Lester Hillman

Varsity Cricket: The Matches 2014

Friday, 20th June 2014

The Varsity cricket ended with a six, a smashed window and the match ball in our very own suite. Were we to blame? Find out below!

Over the first few hours of this most relaxed of Society events, we watched our side reach 177 all out. Our members used the extended luncheon interval to enjoy the bicentenary spirit, inspect the pitch and then retire to the Coronation Garden for our picnics.

As the Dark Blues came in to bat we took some quick wickets and our party felt rather confident of the outcome. However, steadily Oxford began to accumulate runs and they managed to reach to 173 for 9 with one over remaining. With just five runs required, they hit a six, claiming victory. Their final hit sailed over the pitch, over our heads, bounced in our box near the drinks missing everyone, then bounced up and crashed through the glass above our door. We have the ball, and it will be on display at future Cambridge Society of London Varsity Cricket events!

A thrilling finale and a marvelous day despite the result! The full scorecard is available here:

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace.

The Boat Race 2014

Sunday, 6th April 2014

With the race starting unusually late this year (at 6pm) we began our festivities mid-afternoon in our delightful Victorian-style drawing room directly overlooking the start of the race. As the boats lined up we threw open our windows and saw the crews set off and power past. As the crews left the first stretch we turned to our television screen only to see a slight clash of oars between the Oxford seven-man and our two-man, Luke Juckett. This caused a mis-stroke which tipped Luke's head and shoulders briefly underwater, throwing him off his seat for five strokes and damaging his rigger. This allowed Oxford to steal the advantage early in the race, which they built on, finishing 32 seconds ahead of our crew. We consoled ourselves over a delicious three-course dinner and socialising with stimulating company until late in the evening.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay.

The Churchill Soirée

Wednesday, 12th February 2014

“We are linked but not compromised. We are interested and associated but not absorbed.”

Those were Winston Churchill’s views on Britain’s relationship with Europe as we learnt at our sell-out event at the German Historical Institute. With a hall packed by our members in the unique Nash-designed building we listened intently to Professor Peter Alter (Cologne, Freiburg, Duisburg, Sussex, Oxford & Cambridge Universities) talking about and then debating with us the Great Man’s views, and Matters Arising Since. Extremely stimulating and with a wide mix of members from every background, the talk was combined with a special inter-war German photography exhibition and socialising over drinks and canapés. It all made for a first class evening. We’re most grateful to Peter for coming over from Cologne to talk to us, and to the Institute for its very generous support.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace

The Pall Mall Party

Tuesday, 17th December 2013

The Society’s festive Pall Mall Party the week before Christmas was both a jolly and elegant occasion. Members, potential members and their partners gathered in the magnificent chandeliered Smoking Room of the Oxford and Cambridge Club, all fully compliant, of course, with the Club’s dress code, their ‘no smoking in the Smoking Room’ policy and other rules! We enjoyed a relaxed evening of drinks and ‘Gourmet Nibbles’ with a brief break in the middle when our Club host for the evening and the Society’s Chairman, David Peace, spoke. He described the Society’s purpose and reviewed our excellent year (walking the path of the Fleet River, cheering on our crew at the Boat Race from our private room, our Oxbridge singles party at the British Film Institute, our private suite at Lord’s and entertaining two hundred Cambridge freshers), then looked ahead to 2014. As a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Club, David Peace also tirelessly took full responsibility for five thorough tours of the splendid Club from top to bottom. The experience certainly seemed to dazzle some into seriously considering membership of the Club or at least calculating when they might be able to afford the prospect. All in all, we spent a most agreeable evening reminiscing over old times at Cambridge and musing over what’s happened since, while making new friends in refined surroundings.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace

High-Level Networking Evening

Tuesday, 8th October 2013

Our special High Quality, High Impact, High Level (thirty floors up over Canary Wharf) Networking Evening was, as always, a most enjoyable and successful event. Clifford Chance provided their customary and very generous hospitality and those attending, from all walks of life and with a wide range of interests, made numerous contacts and no doubt a number of new friends. This was made much easier by the central session in which everyone had the chance to talk about him/herself for sixty seconds under the stern (in fact rather lenient) control of our bell-ringing Chairman. Contact details of all were later distributed, and thereby “our Cambridge Community in London” became so much closer and more self-supportive. Clifford Chance is a first class, spectacular venue and we’re most grateful to them; if any Society members can offer similarly impressive facilities do let us know.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace

Freshers' Evening

Wednesday, 18th September 2013

Few of the two hundred or so then-school-leavers will have forgotten their three hours of raucous friend-making at our Society’s Freshers’ Evening. Were they nervous? Of course they were! That lasted for about twenty seconds though, after which mass joy and anticipation took over. We interrupted them briefly to congratulate them, to tell them about the Cambridge Societies around the world and especially our London one - the best, naturally - and we also dropped a gentle hint that they shouldn’t forget to get a degree. And that was it: the rest was all noise, laughter, contact-swapping, and targeting of those very kind soon-to-be-second-years (the real experts) who had volunteered to come back to tell them about College life “like it is”. Everyone left by 9:30pm happy in the knowledge that they were going to the best University in the world – and what better way can the London Society encourage future allegiance? Our thanks go to those student volunteers and to Claire, Anna and Jan from CARO who did the background admin with the Colleges and helped us on the evening. The Freshers’ Party is a firm fixture in our Society Calendar, and we do this willingly as a service to the University.

Organised by Claire Baxter, Alastair Gourlay, David Peace and Anna Wright

Varsity Cricket

Saturday, 15th June 2013

Well, what can we say? It was of course enormously enjoyable - old friends, new friends, guests, families, and so on, all the normal ingredients of our annual private box at Lord's for the One Day Varsity Matches. And did anything go wrong? All we can say, really, is that "the results were not exactly as we had hoped" – but we can blame (a) the weather, and (b) Messrs Duckworth and Lewis! And for those who don't know who they are, we're certainly not going to explain here (partly because their formula for computing "what if" scores foxes evens our Committee's brains).

Our early batsmen took us to 48-4 and then under threatening skies we soldiered on to a score of 153-8 off 46.3 overs, at which point the heavens opened and we retired for lunch under the stands or with picnics beneath the trees of the Coronation Garden.

We returned to a sunlit ground to find that the Lords of Lord’s had interpreted Messrs D & L’s alchemy by ending our innings and offering Oxford a target of 158 to be achieved in 43 overs. Oxford charged ahead amassing 25-0 off the first six overs and they powered on to 73-1. Rain stopped play once again and (pace D & L) Oxford faced a revised target of just 89. They were finally able to celebrate with a score of 89-3. The Devil was in the Duckworth-Lewis Detail!

Humour aside, it was a super day in our suite with friends in high humour from a wide mix of disciplines, interests, backgrounds, nations, and ages - and here we send our good wishes to one of our oldest members, 94-year-old Martin (Emmanuel 1938), whose fall occasioned excellent help from a doctor and a search-and-rescue colleague in our Society group and then from the Lord’s and St John’s Ambulance teams. After hospital treatment Martin is back in full vigour and is determined to join us again next year!

A commentary on the day’s action may be found here:

The full scorecard is available here:

And we're still trying to get a record of the Ladies' Match!

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace.

Oxbridge Singles Evening

Wednesday, 15th May 2013

The venue for our Oxbridge Singles Evening last Wednesday was the Drawing Room at the British Film Institute, which was chosen for a number of reasons. It certainly has appealing quaint décor with traditional furniture and a well-stocked bookcase, as well as comprehensive bar facilities and a warm overall atmosphere. However, perhaps most importantly, for those without the correct approach, it can be a challenge to find within the labyrinthine British Film Institute. This is something that would make our friend Charles (of Darwin College fame) proud. Only the best of the best genes might combine as a result of our singles party - we try to do our bit for the future of humanity.

This filter left us with nearly sixty keen singletons neatly divided between the genders, though with a suitable bias towards the right university. A few games stimulated the imaginations of the attendees and brought some of them closer together. By all accounts it looked like a few couples were forming by the end of the evening. Further details shall remain in the Drawing Room.

I shall spare our games prize winner further publicity, though congratulations to him for matching with three ladies!

Organised by Alastair Gourlay. Very grateful to Anna Griffiths (games hostess), Richard Davies (chief decorator), Marc Cardle, Olivia Mardon, Haili Wu and Theea Reijonen (welcomers and decorators).

The Boat Race 2013

Sunday, 31st March 2013

The Cambridge Society of London's Boat Race Party was once again held from the vantage point of our first floor private room, the Wolsey Room, at the Duke's Head in Putney. Forty of us gathered in the elegant room for more than four hours of merriment before, during and after the race. Flinging open the windows and cheering on our crew, our optimism was uncontrolled even until the end, when it was considered appropriate to have a compensatory drink in support of our gallant lads.

Thank you to David Peace (Chairman) for his rousing words at various points throughout the afternoon. Special thanks to those who generously bought Champagne before the race. This may have represented an extended celebration of last year's result, optimism for the race ahead, or, perhaps most likely, simple celebration of the jolly occasion! We are especially grateful to the Secretary of the German Cambridge Society, Timo Graf, for joining us and for his gift of delicious chocolates from his hometown.

All in all, and despite the result - a mere technicality - it was a most enjoyable afternoon.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay. We are again grateful to the Duke's Head for their splendid private room and excellent service.

Fleet River Walk

Saturday, 2nd February 2013

World Wetlands Day 2013 saw members and friends perched above the head waters of the Fleet River in Highgate North London. There followed an odyssey to the tidal Thames at Blackfriars completing perhaps the first recorded Cambridge exploration of the river. Along the way watering holes and sites of previous Society gatherings were visited from cool Clerkenwell galleries to London Olympic 'warm up' events.

Anticipation was such that one busy graduate could not wait. On Wednesday 30th January HRH Prince of Wales, Cambridge alumnus and father of the Duke of Cambridge, dropped below the Fleet between Farringdon and King’s Cross to help mark the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground railway.

The starting point, Pond Square, with neither a square nor a pond in evidence, proved no obstacle to those gathered on a crisp sunny morning. Nearly twenty in number the group immediately plunged more than 200 feet down hidden farm lanes to join the river at the Hampstead Heath ponds. Here turbulence currently rages over flood prevention and changing risk assessments.

There was a surprise detour to a farm tucked away amongst railways and homes, not far from where Karl Marx once lived. The Kentish Town City Farm founded in 1972 is the oldest in the country. Pausing on the Cambridge Street bridge over the Regent’s Canal near the Camley Street Wildlife Park the group learnt that 'Camley' is a modern corruption of Cambridge.

From the outset Fleet-side links to Cambridge had been immediate and historic. William Platt, a notable seventeenth century Johnian benefactor lived in Highgate and downstream at Old St Pancras Church his memorial festooned with heraldic devices can be seen. St John's College has generously contributed to its upkeep over the last two centuries.

Victualling was at 'St Pancras en Seine' the French nick name for the International Station and the scene of a Society visit in 2008. Next door the Francis Crick Institute is now taking shape and the 25th April will be the 60th anniversary of Crick and Watson’s article in 'Nature'.

Fleet-footed, the group departed King's Cross just as the 14.15 hours 'Cambridge Express' pulled out in the opposite direction. Taking a quick bearing off the shrouded light house above the raging Euston Road the calm waters of the former St Chad's Well were negotiated. Fleet flow is put at 4mph but we plotted a beguiling course. Clerk’s Well and names like Turnmill Street and Seacoal Lane provided reassurance we were on the right course and at one point the river was heard gushing down the Farringdon valley. Sherlock Holmes and Watson are once said to have strolled Fleet Street. There is less agreement as to whether Holmes had a Cambridge education and it proved a hot topic as the group headed towards journey’s end at the Thames. Here waters abstracted hours earlier in the Fleet’s upper reaches were poured by Lady Anne Walker whereupon some claimed to see the tidal Thames turn.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and Lester Hillman.

Drinks Among Drawings

Wednesday, 7th November 2012

A remarkable mix of some 30 members and friends of all vintages, backgrounds and interests congregated in the Breese Little Gallery in Clerkenwell. Owners of the gallery Josephine Breese and Henry Little, who both studied History of Art at Cambridge, had invited us to a private viewing of drawings and paintings by two leading Sri Lankan artists, Chandraguptha Thenuwara and Jagath Weerasinghe. We enjoyed delicious wine and canapés, good socialising, and expert guidance on the exquisite artwork. Josephine, whose background included some years in Sri Lanka, described to us the special significance of the oeuvres including the symbolism in each piece, which tried to bring harmony to the beautiful island cruelly divided by social unrest for so many years. This was a message of hope, and also a useful and instructive reminder to all present of the value of art in bringing people together.

The generosity of Henry and Josephine was much appreciated, as were the services of Antonia (a Cambridge friend of theirs, whose company’s wines we greatly enjoyed) and of Anastasia who ensured that glasses and plates were ever full. This was our first event at the Gallery and we all said we hoped it would not be our last.

Organised by Josephine Breese, Alastair Gourlay, Henry Little and David Peace.

Freshers' Evening

Wednesday, 19th September 2012

Our Annual Freshers' Evening was a terrific success! It always is - the freshers just make it so. Meeting this year in a venue very close to Great Portland Street Station some 200 school-leavers from London, perhaps a little apprehensive, found themselves immediately bonding with one another. They had a thoroughly good and noisy time for 2 hours as they chatted amongst themselves and also to the 'helpers' who had generously come back at the end of their first year to tell the new boys and girls 'what it’s really like'. Our Chairman said a few words of congratulations, our good friends Jan Pudney and Anna Wright from the Cambridge Alumni Relations Office were in support, the bar was open, and the freshers seemed to thoroughly enjoy the evening and make some valuable new friends.

While the event is not open to our Society members, in common with many of the Regional Cambridge Societies run by volunteers around the world, we organise a freshers' event for the University and we record ours (the largest, of course) with pleasure.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay, David Peace, Jan Pudney and Anna Wright.

Guided Tour of the Supreme Court

Thursday, 13th September 2012

On a balmy evening in mid-September a group of Society members congregated in Parliament Square for a Very Special Event - a guided tour of not only the highest courts in the land (which are open at other times to the general public) but also of the private library of their lordships and a peek at an ancient tapestry and other secrets. Very ably conducted by the head of public relations, we were treated to an extremely well-informed account of the history and current operations of the courts and of those who work there. Whether or not we should be pleased at this we don't know, but it transpires that all 12 of the Judges of the Supreme Court are from either Oxford or Cambridge - and we rather suspect that we have the majority! Being allowed into those areas of the Middlesex Guildhall was a rare privilege, and we were most grateful to our Secretary, Alastair Gourlay, and Eva Goetz, a member of the Society, for arranging it. Around 10 of us subsequently dined with gusto at the Quirinale restaurant nearby and left at about 10.30pm, having had an extremely enjoyable evening.

Organised by Eva Goetz, Alastair Gourlay and David Peace.

Varsity Cricket

Saturday, 16th June 2012

Sun-drenched it wasn't; knuckle-biting it was, for the men anyway. And what an exciting day for everyone!

Our Society's famous Lord's Suite Party did us proud on a day when the heavens had threatened to overwhelm us, and we thought that our great Coronation Garden Picnic might end up as Soggy Sandwiches under the Stands.

In the event, everything worked in our favour: no rain, no disruption to the play, a complete walkover for our women on the Nursery Ground - they got the enemy all out for 89; and one of the tensest men's matches in recent years, with the light blues confident of victory after a 50 over innings of 269 for 9 but then increasingly nervous as Oxford crept up and seemed to be within reach of victory only to face a sudden tail end collapse for 252. So, mixing metaphors unashamedly, Full House. It was most exhilarating. The full scorecard is available here:

And our members and their guests? A good mix of "generations and genders", the oldest having gone up in 1938 and the youngest just a few years ago, plus a couple of bemused guests from Germany and The Netherlands - and you know how much fun it is trying to explain the game to the uninitiated! Then, our normal excellent service of biscuits and soft and not-so-soft drinks provided by very attentive staff, a perfect picnic in the Garden, and the added pleasure of having our Vice-Chancellor join us as the tension was mounting - with his rousing words ensuring ultimate victory, of course.

This great day is a long-standing tradition of our London Society and a firm favourite with our members and guests - and with two consecutive years of double victories there's "all to play for" next year!

We would like to thank our members and guests, Lord's and its excellent staff, the Vice-Chancellor, and of course our superb men's and women's teams for making it yet again a day to remember.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace.

Art on the Green

Thursday, 24th May 2012

On an amazingly tropical evening our in-the-know members gathered at the Frameless Gallery on Clerkenwell Green to meet, chat and network while studying and admiring the remarkable installations brought to London from Vienna by our Cambridge alumni hosts Vanda and Ciprian, owners of the gallery. Drinks, nibbles and strawberries were served throughout the evening, and we were surrounded by the jovial hubbub of the culture vultures who were out enjoying the last night of the 2012 Clerkenwell Design Week. This was an elegant and informal evening where everyone made new friends and contacts in an intriguing setting with some fascinating pieces of creativity. We commend our hosts for their efforts and we intend to organise more of such events, mixing the arts and our Cambridge community in the capital.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay, Ciprian Ilie and Vanda Prochazka.

The Boat Race 2012

Saturday, 7th April 2012

Well, we said it would be spectacular but nothing could have prepared us for the theatre that unfolded in front of our eyes - probably the most dramatic Boat Race in its 158 years: the neck-and-neck half-way struggle, the nearly decapitated swimmer, the restart, the broken oar, and the collapse not only of Oxford but sadly of their Dr Woods at bow. And where were we, the Society? Right there at the start, in a grand private room - painted light blue - on the first floor of a Victorian Grade II listed building directly overlooking the river. Our bar opened at noon and as the 40 of us got to know each other; the food (in copious quantities!) began arriving at 1pm. We all tucked in for an hour and then just before 2pm we picked up the BBC on our big screen. Shortly afterwards we flocked to our windows to witness the boats set off and power along the first stretch while cheering madly with the thousands below. As the eights went out of sight we returned to our food, our liquids, and to the TV - to be stunned at what followed. As you can imagine there was high emotion in the room - shock, worry, dismay, amazement, and then applause and utter delight at the result, tinged only with concern when we saw the casualty (subsequently restored to good health we're glad to say).  The last of us left at 5pm, and we were left with the strong impression that guests had very much enjoyed the afternoon. There seemed to be a broad consensus that this should become an instant Cambridge Society of London tradition - and that is what we intend. We're not sure that we can arrange quite so much drama for next year, but we'll do our best!

Organised by Alastair Gourlay. Speeches by David Peace. Many thanks to the Duke's Head for the splendid private room and excellent service.

Cambridgeshire Cookery Class

Saturday, 3rd March 2012

Fourteen members spent a few highly entertaining hours preparing and cooking the Huntingdon Fidget Pie under expert instruction. We then feasted on our creations together over wine at the dining table and much fun was had by all!

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and Sarah Sarkhel. Our Chef Trainer Extraordinaire was Marika Gauci.

High-Level Networking Evening

Tuesday, 1st November 2011

We very much enjoyed the keen participation and the entertaining variety of 60-second (or thereabouts) introductions at this event!

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace. Many thanks to Clifford Chance for the breathtaking venue.

The Society Dinner, Oxford & Cambridge Club

Thursday, 6th October 2011

Our Society Dinner in the Edward VII Room at the Oxford and Cambridge Club was a friendly and enjoyable evening with a fascinating and international cast of diners including a shipping magnate, a former diplomat, a television director, a finance expert, a Queen’s Counsel, senior army men and your rather more humble Secretary and Chairman, plus of course partners. Conversation and merriment were in good supply, as were the food and wine, all served by staff in our private room. For those who wished, our Chairman had led a stroll round the Club before the dinner and that possibly raised appetites even more. It was when we each had the opportunity to say a few words about ourselves that the really interesting talking began. By the end people were moving round to develop new friendships (not with other’s partners, we hope) and in the following days we had many thanks, good wishes, and the hope that we will organise similar dinners in future – which of course we will.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace. Grateful to the Oxford and Cambridge Club for their excellent service.

The Freshers’ Party

Wednesday, 21st September 2011

Our Annual Freshers' Party was a triumph! At our secret location in Marylebone 200 teenagers (mostly) were let in upon payment of the princely sum of £4 and then proceeded to engage joyfully with each other for three hours, refreshing their enthusiasm with the occasional glass of water or juice or wine. The hubbub was interrupted for a short time by a would-be teenager, our sexagenarian Chairman, who congratulated them on their success in going to the greatest university in the world and then briefed them on the support they can get throughout their lives from the various Cambridge Societies around the world and also from CARO, the Cambridge Alumni Relations Office. Our Committee, who organised the event for the University, tried to maintain order (not difficult - the freshers were well-behaved though remarkably noisy!) with the extra support from Jan and Anna from CARO and who had already given us great help in liaising with colleges and providing the attendee details. But the greatest experts were in fact the half a dozen or so volunteers who had enjoyed themselves so much this time last year that they had come back after their first year in college to be the wise old men/women with the real lowdown on “What Life Is Like In Cambridge Today”. It all started at about 6pm, and we ushered them out at around 9pm. Everyone seemed really pleased and excited. We cleared up, mopped our brows, and went off for an Indian. It was over for another year - but tremendously fulfilling. We are proud of our young students and of the work that CARO does, and we in the Cambridge Society of London are delighted to host, as we always do, the largest Cambridge Freshers' Event in the world.

Organised by Rupert Considine, Alastair Gourlay, Anna Kay, Sylvia le Comber, David Peace and Jan Pudney.

One year and seven minutes to the Olympics

Wednesday, 27th July 2011

With just one year to go to the 2012 Olympics the Cambridge Society of London was back at St Pancras International to see the Central London portal to the Games. At the statue of Sir John Betjeman the irony was not lost on the gathering, cruelly denied as he was a Cambridge education and seldom remembered for sporting prowess! The group were rewarded with a peep inside the new St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, just reopened 5th May, followed by a visit to the ‘German Gymnasium’ constructed in the 1860s with links to the origins of the modern Olympics. Then off to the St Pancras platforms for the Olympic Javelin trains which will spirit spectators back and forth to Stratford, just seven minutes away. With the benefit of giant models and vantage points across the site, the whole King’s Cross development was viewed. We then followed the course of the buried Fleet River upstream to our reception venue in St Pancras Old Church, a millennium back in time and a wonderful venue for refreshments on a summer evening. The event was led by Lester Hillman (St Catharine’s 1970) who has spent a lifetime on the infrastructure works in the area and gave us great detail and also many amusing anecdotes about the history and development of the site. We have asked him to do other tours in future – the Fleet River, perhaps? – and we will keep up the pressure up!

Organised by Sylvia le Comber and Alastair Gourlay. Superb tour designed and led by Lester Hillman.

The Varsity Cricket Matches: A Special Society Day at Lord’s

Sunday, 26th June 2011

We were blessed by a day of pure sunshine amongst countless days of rainfall in London for the Oxford vs. Cambridge Varsity Matches at Lord’s cricket grounds.

In the morning some Society members enjoyed a thorough tour of Lord’s, taking in the full history of the venue and learning about the Oxbridge clash, which dates back to 1827.

Richard Timms won the toss for Cambridge and walked out on to the lush green Lord’s turf to open the batting alongside Philip Hughes. By this time most Society members and guests had arrived in our fantastic double box suite, and were resplendent with their light blue rosettes. Whilst enjoying the drinks service, we witnessed very strong batting performances from Zafar Ansari and Paul Best, who scored 73 and 61 respectively. Our run rate gradually increased as the overs went by and towards the end of our allotted 50 overs we started taking increasing risks, picking up numerous boundaries in the process. We were finally 264 all out, very efficiently paced with just three balls remaining of the 50th over.

This signalled the opportunity to head to the Coronation Garden to enjoy our picnic lunches. Interpretations of the picnic lunch suggestion varied widely: while some had brought a few sandwiches, others carried entire elaborate hampers offering outstanding gastronomic experiences. Several of those in the former group were grateful for the generosity of the latter.

We ambled back to the Society’s box to view our old rival’s batting efforts. The pressure was on Oxford from the off and Thomas Probert took full advantage, having Jeffery caught behind for a second-ball duck and removing Agarwal thanks to a slip catch from Philip Ashton as they fell to 36 for 2. The Dark Blues soon needed six an over as Probert and our bowlers kept things tight. Their hopes rested on Daniel Pascoe and he tried to thwart Cambridge. But, despite constructing an unbeaten 58 off 51 balls, he could not do it on his own and his colleagues fell around him and they were all out for 212 in the penultimate over.

The match’s scorecard is available here:

A number of Society members also wandered over to observe the Ladies’ match in progress on the Nursery Ground. I am very glad to report that our Cambridge women also secured a victory over Oxford.

Lord's Cricket grounds

Organised by Alastair Gourlay and David Peace. Matches won by Cambridge!

Oxbridge Singles Evening

Friday, 15th April 2011

I hope you'll be pleased (and if you weren't there, perhaps rather envious) to hear that our Singles Evening on the South Bank was a terrific success.  More than 60 members, their guests and a number of Oxford people booked, turned up, caroused, and had a very enjoyable time.  Many thanks to everyone who made it such a great evening.  And for those who didn't get there, well, we'll be doing it again!

2012 Update: A marriage has resulted from this event!

Oxbridge Singles Night

Organised by Marc Cardle and Alastair Gourlay.

The Boat Race

Saturday, 26th March 2011

For the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race we had a prime area reserved with views directly across the Thames, right at the start of the race. We were located by the 'Surrey station' (the south side of the river, as Boat Race enthusiasts will know) on the patio of the Thai Square restaurant in Putney.

We enjoyed the pre-race build up over drinks and hot snacks, suitably immersed in the atmosphere. The excitement mounted towards 5pm when the crews set off on the 4 1/4 mile course. As the crews powered into the distance we turned to the large screen on the other side of the river to watch the remainder of the race.

While Cambridge was not successful this year we certainly succeeded in drowning our sorrows, before moving on to a superb restaurant nearby for dinner. Our chosen destination was a private dining room at Enoteca Turi, a fully justifiably Michelin-recommended restaurant, where we savoured a three-course meal.

Organised by Alastair Gourlay.

Notice of General Meeting 2010

Thursday, 2nd December 2010




The Committee of the Cambridge Society of London gives notice of a General Meeting of members, and you are invited to attend.

The Meeting will start at 7.15pm (1915 hours)

in the

Fitzrovia Room, International Students House

229 Great Portland Street W1W 5PN

(1 minute’s walk from Great Portland St tube)


Thursday 2nd December 2010

The main purpose of the meeting is to vote into full time membership of the Committee three Society members who are currently co-opted.

The background to this is that with the sad death of our previous Secretary Sandy Ross-Macdonald, and in light of the rapid increase and variety of London-Cambridge organisations in the capital, the Committee wishes (a) to increase the Committee membership and (b) to bring in new ideas, expertise, and resources. Three such Society members have been co-opted onto the Committee and it is hoped that the General Meeting will now endorse them as full Committee members.

The provisional agenda therefore includes the single proposal: “That Sylvia le Comber, Marc Cardle and Alastair Gourlay be appointed to the Committee”. A separate vote can be taken for each person if required. Should any member wish to offer any other proposal, please send me details by 18 November.

As a reminder, if anyone feels that they would like to help the Committee in future they are welcome to send details of their background and experience in originating and running events for the Committee’s consideration at any time.

As there is only one current proposal we envisage that this will be quite a short formal meeting, although we would also welcome the opportunity to discuss with members any ideas for the future, and especially for 2011. That could be a most interesting and helpful discussion.

It is important that we get 10 voting members to make a quorum, and so I would much appreciate it if you could tell us in advance of your intention to attend at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . It will also help us to judge the quantity of wine required!

The Committee looks forward to seeing you at around 7pm in International Students House on Thursday 2 December, for a 7.15 start.

Thank you.

Organised by David Peace.

Oxbridge Singles Evening

Friday, 12th November 2010

Cambridge Society of London members mingled with accomplished fellow alumni/ae from Oxford and Cambridge of all ages and their friends at the Benugo bar in Waterloo. Friendly relations were certainly in evidence and the live music created a superb atmosphere.

Organised by Marc Cardle and Alastair Gourlay.