The end of the Adonians? Peterhouse to cease hosting infamous society during term

Has the (not so) “secret” gay dining society at which fellows and old boys wine and dine male undergraduates finally been shunned by its long-standing host?

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Is change afoot in Peterhouse? With the recent announcement of its first female (and first LGBT+) Master in the form of the BBC’s Bridget Kendall, this most traditional of Cambridge colleges is certainly making some interesting moves.

Known for hosting the Adonian Society’s fabled dinners, Peterhouse has decided to stop the eye-brow raising events taking place in term time.

The four course dinners, which see undergraduates scattered throughout the hall, cost £70 to attend, but the majority of students will be “sponsored” by the older man who invites them.

One student, who went to an Adonian event at Peterhouse last term, told The Tab: “Did one of the creepy old guys try to feel my friend up? Yes. But he was very sweet about it. I guess that counts for something.”

Reports of previous dinners centre on the – hardly unexpected – political incorrectness of proceedings, with a toast, apparently ironic, to a notable dictator marking out the most recent event: “Gentlemen, I’ve been told by a few of you that we need to make a toast to an important man, who died about forty years ago today. Now, I’ll be the first person to admit that he did some absolutely atrocious things, but by god he kept the communists at bay. Gentlemen, to General Franco!”

Despite such reports, Peterhouse claims it has changed its arrangement with the Adonians simply for practical reasons.

A University spokesman said on behalf of Peterhouse: “Over a number of years, Peterhouse has found there to be an ever growing level of demand on its (limited) dining facilities, particularly during Full Term. It has now moved to a policy of restricting the use of its dining facilities to official College and University Societies and Events during Full Term.”

Dispelling possible accusations of any bad blood, they added: “It continues to be delighted to take bookings from third party organisations, like the Adonians, out of Full Term, in-line with the normal terms of business offered to external conference guests.”

Let’s brush the Franco thing aside.

Rare though explicit acknowledgement of the Adonians by the University may be, one Cambridge fellow familiar with the society, who asked to remain anonymous, was not impressed: “That Peterhouse describes itself as ‘delighted’ to take bookings from the Adonians is extraordinary.”

“Any society that behaved like they do, but with young women, would be on the front page of the newspapers, and rightly so. The days of the Adonians should be over.”

All the same, students lucky enough to have been invited informed The Tab that the dinners are not nearly as lewd as the summer garden party, which was described by an attendee as “scrambled eggs and orgies”.

So, for now, it seems the legend lives on. What Master-in-waiting Kendall will make of it all remains to be seen.