REVEALED: Cambridge’s Secret Societies

That Cambridge is riddled with secret societies might be the only non-secret thing about them.

apostles Cambridge Cambridge University i made one of these up pitt club sardines on toast secret societies societies student life Students university

The Pitt Club, The Apostles: questions about joining them are plastered over fresher and offer holder groups long before the Cambridge hopefuls know how they’ve done on their A-levels.

Through journalism worthy of The Panama Papers (seriously, this reporter even went to the UL) The Tab worked to get rid of some of the myths and bring these societies as far into the light as they will go.

The Apostles

So named because of their original 12 members, The Cambridge Apostles are quite possibly the most famous and mysterious secret society around. Supposedly dedicated to intellectual pursuits, (although the third google suggestion is “Cambridge Apostles Homosexuality”, so it’s possible they have other pursuits on their mind) the Apostles hold meetings weekly, during which one of the members delivers a prepared speech on a given topic, and then they discuss said topic. Sounds a bit like a supervision to me….

Their membership is made up of the cleverest kids in Cambridge, of which apparently there is a large concentration of in King’s, Trinity and John’s. Nonetheless, it was assured that the only elitism was intellectual. Apostles who have graduated are known as Angels, of which there are eleven buried in the Ascension Parish Burial Ground. There’s also one who is currently a Trinity fellow, which is another kind of death.

Apparently the preferred snack of the Apostles is sardines on toast, so there is genuinely nothing fun about being a member- although apparently the bond is “the strongest corporate bond” Henry Sidgwick (he of the site) ever encountered. More than anything, they sound dull as heck. Attempts to infiltrate them were unsuccessful, and mostly involved trying to email the people listed as Angels on the Wikipedia page for The Apostles.

Never forget the egg debate of 1904

Never forget the egg debate of 1904

The Knights Borogrove

Secretive and shrouded in urban legends, The Knights Borogrove are committed to the preservations of birch trees in the U.K. Meetings are famed for being debauched. Like The Apostles, these meetings are held in the rooms of members, with it alternating every week.  They discuss conservation strategies whilst indulging in savage drinking games such as the Curacao Can Can, and the Hennessey Hokey Pokey.

Named after the Lewis Carroll nonsense poem “Jabberwocky”, the Knights Borogrove were originally founded in his alma mater, Christchurch College, Oxford, but made the move to Cambridge after the famous schism amongst the Oxford secret societies.

One of these people is definitely a member

One of these people is definitely a member

The Gonville & Caius Loungers

The Gonville Loungers are Cauis’ oldest society, and their purpose is exactly what it says on the tin: they lounge. Originally conceived as a breakfast and brunching society, as a response to the Cambridge dining societies, the Gonville Loungers count Fitz alum Nick Drake of ‘Nick Drake and the Bad Seeds’ amongst their old members, for no apparent reason. The rules of The Loungers demand that you: ‘stand by ye gate once a day and observe what strange creatures God hath made.’ Not entirely dissimilar to what most of us do in the library as an attempt to soothe the bored soul.

This reporter’s research led her to an old newspaper clipping with the headline They Came without Trousers to the Party. Although this might seem like a reference to the famed gay Peterhouse society The Adonians, it is in fact discussing a Loungers tradition of holding annual dinners where the dress code is Black Tie, Sans Pantalons. A member of Henry Kissinger’s staff was a Lounger, and held the dinner in 1970 Washington D.C., shocking the American politicians who hadn’t gone to kind of university where trouserless black tie (or indeed, incidents involving pigs) were the norm.

Attempts to infiltrate The Loungers weekly meetings mostly involved walking by Caius at differing moments in the day and seeing if anyone was leaning against the wall looking particularly secretive or society-like.

Cambridge grads, always making headlines....

Cambridge grads, always making headlines….

The Pitt Club

The Pitt Club are dull. They sound dull from the off- a club that only accepts rich people so they can stand around drinking above Pizza Express. Rumours that Sidney Sussex owns the building where both fine establishments are were left unconfirmed, but our tenacious investigation did lead us to one account which said that The Pitt Club went bankrupt and had to sublet the bottom floor to Pizza Express as an attempt to make money and continue funding the lavish dining society antics.

Intrigue, insecurity, mystery and misogyny, all in one place!

Intrigue, insecurity, mystery and misogyny, all in one place!

In interviews with various potential Pitt Club members (this particular reporter did not go to a posh enough private school to allow her to rub shoulders with the real thing), we learned that really, the most scandalous thing that happens in the Pitt Club is that sometimes they get with the waitresses at Pizza Express.

Sounds wild. 

Can’t wait to get back to Cam and attempt to infiltrate one of these societies? Expend your pent-up energies by filling out our drug survey instead. Don’t worry, it’s completely anonymous.