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A global gathering for Girton College’s anniversary

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More than 1,000 people from all corners of the world gathered over three days to mark 150 years of Girton College.

Girton150 Festival weekend. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (13249230)
Girton150 Festival weekend. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (13249230)

Participants to the Festival of Ideas at the weekend reflected on a radical history, engaged in cutting-edge debate, and enjoyed a display of music and the arts.

Highlights included the world premiere of Jasper Dommett’s Fanfare to Girton, a keynote lecture by Britain’s top diplomat, Dame Karen Pierce, a performance of Jessica Swale’s game-changing play Blue Stockings, and a march through time with historical re-enactment, period costume, and a Victorian band.

To launch South Cambridgeshire’s blue plaque scheme, the first plaque was unveiled at Girton College, to honour its two principal founders, Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon, to complete the festivities.

The pioneering women believed that higher education should be accessible to women on the same terms and to the same level as men, and because of their vision, determination and hard work, Girton was founded as the first residential college for degree level instruction and examination of women in the UK.

The mistress of Girton College, Prof Susan J Smith, said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to honour our founders by displaying a blue plaque on our iconic tower in their memory. People sometimes forget how brave, determined and game-changing they were, and I hope that catching sight of the plaque will remind visitors of that bold pioneering spirit that still drives this college on.”

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