Hawks' Club

The front door of The Hawks' Club at 18 Portugal Place, off Bridge Street, Cambridge.

The Hawks' Club is a members-only social club for sportsmen at the University of Cambridge. It was founded in 1872.


Eligibility criteria

Application for membership is open to any man who is either a member of any college at the University of Cambridge or who has been admitted ad eundem to the University. He must have spent at least one term in residence, and must have earned a Full Blue, Half Blue or Second Team Colours (in a full blue sport) by representing the University against Oxford in a Varsity match.

Election process

Prospective members are elected in the style of a traditional English gentlemen's club. A prospective applicant must be proposed, seconded and have six further members sign their application form. The proposer is normally the team captain for the relevant sport and the seconder must be a member of the Hawks' Committee. The application is then reviewed by the committee: two "no" votes will reject an applicant, and he may not be proposed again at a later date. Certainly in recent years this has been extremely rare: as long as a prospective applicant has the relevant sporting credentials he is almost always admitted.

Members are admitted for life. The number of Hawks-in-residence at the University is limited to 230, not including MAs; there are several thousand members worldwide.

Honorary Hawks

Occasionally, individuals are admitted as an Honorary Hawk without fulfilling the above criteria (for example Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who did not study at Cambridge).

Dining Rights Club

Since 1993 individuals have also been elected to The Hawks Dining Rights Club. Members may use the clubhouse but do not become Hawks. Neither the Cambridge-only nor the men-only restrictions apply in this case, and the majority of members of this type are local business people and professionals. There are slightly fewer dining rights members than Hawks-in-residence, and the number peaked at 160 in 1998.


The Club colours are maroon and gold; members may wear the Club tie. Honorary members and Dining rights members wear a plain tie with a gold Hawk.


The Club's Committee consists of a President, Honorary Secretary and eight ordinary members, and is elected each academic year by the Hawks-in-residence.

There is a Management Committee of the Trustees, the President and the Secretary of the Club, the Stewards, the Administrator and the DRC President, who guide the Club's development.


The Hawks' Club was formed in 1872 when a proposal to allow members of other colleges into the St John's College Eagles club was rejected. This led to the Hawks' being set up as an equivalent club university-wide. In its early history it was primarily a cricket club, but by the turn of the century other sports were well represented.

As is common with student-run organisations, records are patchy in places and old lists of presidents and members have long been lost. The record is better for the period 1889–1963, as during this time a picture of each year's president was added to a display in the clubhouse, and these have survived to the present day. During the 1950s a number of subsequently notable sportsmen were presidents, and several are listed below.

It is not known whether a Blue was originally a prerequisite for membership; some early presidents do not appear to have competed against Oxford in any sport. However, the personal 'suitability' of candidates for membership does not appear to have changed since the Club was founded. The Club website states that "Candidates have to be clubbable" (i.e. "clubbable" in the sense of a traditional gentlemen's club) and "the Hawks' Club remains unashamedly elite", claiming to include only "the top one per cent" of University sportsmen.


The dining room laid for lunch.

The clubhouse was originally on Trinity Street, but by the 1890s it had moved to a St John's College property in All Saints' Passage. It remained there until 1966 when financial troubles meant the property had to be sold, despite surviving through both world wars, during which the Club was closed. After this it briefly occupied the same premises as the Pitt Club, until conflicts of interest regarding the differing objectives of the two clubs made this no longer possible.

There was no clubhouse until 1986, when a four-storey building at 18 Portugal Place became available. This property was bought by a group of members, who restored it from its previous existence as a dilapidated hotel staff hostel. The restored clubhouse was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in October 1992. It consists of a bar, members' lounge, dining room space for some 25-30 people, and the Club steward's flat on the top floor.


Hawks' Charitable Trust

The Club actively supports students who have financial difficulties keeping up their sport. Each year the Club awards a number of bursaries to members of the University under the auspices of the Hawks' Charitable Trust. These awards are equally available to both men and women, and total several thousand pounds each year.[1]


The Club promotes Rumboogie and Resurrection, events each Wednesday and Sunday evening at the Cambridge nightclubs Ballare and Kuda (more commonly known as Cindies and Life to the student population). At the end of each Michaelmas term it hosts a dinner in London for its members, usually at one of the large hotels, the night before the Varsity Rugby Match. It also hosts an event each June during May Week in the style of a Cambridge May Ball - "The Hawks' Event", at Fenner's Cricket Ground, which is organised and run by the Committee. In recent years a "Hawks' Charity Dinner" has been held in Lent term and a "Charity Ball" in Michaelmas in conjunction with the Ospreys' Club.

Club Awards

In 2004 two Club awards were introduced: Hawk of the year and Team of the year:

In 2010, the International Honours Book was created to record and detail the representative achievements of its members. There are currently full internationals in residence in fencing, squash, rifle shooting, rowing and rugby union.

As of 2012 the Club was researching its members who lost their lives in times of war.

The Hawk magazine

An old boys magazine called The Hawk is published aperiodically. As of 2012 the most recent issue was No. 9, published in October 2005. The magazine includes, among other things, news of current University teams and results, obituaries of notable members, and Club notices.

The Hawks' Talks Speaker Series

On 17 November 2010, the Hawks' Club launched the Hawks' Talks Speaker Series in conjunction with the Cambridge Union Society. Designed to bring distinguished members of the Club and other notable sportsmen to Cambridge, the Series seeks to host one major sporting-related speaker at the Union each term.

List of Speakers in the Hawks' Talks Series: 17 Nov. 2010: Gavin Hastings (CURUFC, Scotland & Lions); 18 Feb. 2011: Mike Brearley (CUCC, MCC & England)

Reciprocal clubs

Members have various reciprocal rights with a number of similar clubs around the world.[2]

Notable members

Looking down the staircase at the Club's premises on Portugal Place.

See also



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