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The Pentacle Club

One hundred years ago, in May 1919, the Pentacle Club was founded by the eminent mathematician WW Rouse Ball. The Club consisted of members of Cambridge University who were interested in magic, the subscription was half-a-crown a term. Club members from the University would meet periodically to learn new magic techniques and to watch demonstrations by professional performers.

The annual shows in the 1920s gave the Club the opportunity to perform the latest illusions, such as sawing a woman in two. The programmes included magical playlets. The most famous of these - ‘The Marvels of Modern Medicine’ involved a golfer having his leg sawn off, and then drilled with holes before being replaced. Another patient was decapitated, the severed head smoking a cigarette with the aid of a pair of bellows before being restored. This sketch was to feature in many Pentacle Shows during and after the Second World War, when it was called ‘Bloodless Surgery’.

Over the decades, as today, the Club has performed in venues including theatres, May Balls, outdoor events, cabarets and birthday parties. In the 1960s, when Oxford University also had a magic club, there was an annual Oxford vs Cambridge magic competition in London, judged by The Magic Circle. Indeed, many Pentacle Club members are also members of the prestigious Magic Circle.

The Club admitted members from outside the University for the first time in 1963 and since then the membership comes mainly from Cambridge and the surrounding areas. Magic remains as popular as ever. It develops personal skills, as well as providing enjoyment for many. Our magical prediction is that the Club will be here for the next hundred years!


The magic of discovery