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Campus grounds

campus 1937A lot can happen in 150 years and the changes to the countryside and open spaces are all around us; the same is certainly true of Royal Holloway College. The college campus remains one of the most attractive in the country but compared to the way it was for the first 50 years of its existence it is a stark reminder of how much green space has been lost everywhere. The campus map (from 1937) shows the buildings and the remaining open spaces. The college campus when it first opened was dominated by the Founders Building (and still is) but there were very few other buildings. A bungalow was in place so the site architect could be based there and a swimming pool was built to the south of the main building and an ‘engine-room’ (later always referred to as The Boilerhouse) to enabled piped hot water to be delivered to Founders to heat the building. In 1888 the Moore Laboratory was in place (but then referred to as the Chemistry Lab) By 1900 a lodge had been built for the gardener and at the turn of the century there were few other buildings on the site. In 1926 a new building was provided to allow space for botany and physics laboratories and teaching space and that was it until the end of the war. The aerial picture from 1945 shows the campus as it was then. Campus 1949In 1952 the Williams Laboratory was opened as a temporary building (its still there) to provide additional space for Chemistry.
The campus map for 1965 shows the campus as it was then (with no additional building on the main campus). The architect’s bungalow (which until then had been used to house the college secretary) was converted into a Student Unions building but on the other side of the A30 a number of large houses became part of the college estate. I must admit that I had always thought there were just a few houses on that side of the road used for some of the smaller departments but in fact each house came with a substantial amount of land which extended almost the entire length of the main campus. You can see on the 1965 map just how extensive these grounds were.
campus 1965With the influx of male undergraduates in 1965 Kingswood, another large estate house about a mile away from the college was acquired and extended. This, along with some other buildings were bought into use and development started on the campus of two new halls of residence which by 1970 were in use. These were Athlone for women and Cameron for men. They were not quite as attractive as the Founders building and were built to be functional rather than appealing to the eye. These two halls were followed by a third hall on a smaller scale but similar architectural model; it was opened in 1973 as the first mixed hall of residence (called Williamson). Work also started on a new chemistry building – the Bourne laboratory, a new physic building (Tolansky) and a computer centre to supplement the prefab building put up at the end of the 60s. On the campus these were followed by a new Arts building in 1975.campus 1985
In the early 80s some new large buildings were put up in preparation for the expansion that was to come with the merger with Bedford College. The McCrea building and Queen’s building were both substantial structures and then the Wilson building was put up as an annexe to the Tolansky laboratory.
So by the end of the 1965 – 85 period the college was significantly larger. 

The campus grounds had changed beyond all recognition. In the early 70s the grounds were dominated by the Founders Building and the two "new" halls of residence - Athlone & Cameron. The Union Building, Lecture rooms A and B and a few others were scattered around but the bulk of the grounds were given over to rhododendron bushes, tall trees and muddy tracks and a variety of meadow area for team sports.
This Google Earth picture is from December 2000 but I’ve doctored it to remove the recent buildings from The Williamson field and replacing many of the other buildings which have been built since 1985 with woodland and pasture.
In 1985 it was still a very rural setting with lots of greenery. It would be fair to say that a lot of the land was still fairly wild and that was part of its appeal. In recent years some of that land has been landscaped and considerably enhanced so the campus retains much of its character.
Google Earth doctored


This section of the site will hold articles about the campus and the various buildings - both on and off-campus. Founders, of course, dominates the site and this part of the website includes information about its history and the various parts of it that are open to the public (from time to time). The alumni area of the site will also include infromation of interest to those who either had a room there for part of their time or who have fond memories of it for some other reason.

To current students (and even more so to the Fire Brigade) it will seem unthinkable that all the gas fires were a principal source of heating during the '60s and 70's. The fires were also very useful for making toast and cooking anything else that could be supported vertically.

Over time this section will hopefully be expanded to include more details about other buildings and locations around the college, whether new buildings that have been introduced over the years or older buildings that have disappeared since men were first admitted to the college.



 The beautiful gilded chapel includes sculptures by Ceccardo Fucigna and a fine 3-manual organ. The Chapel is non-denominational and there are a variety of services and events held including Choral Evensong from the 1662 prayerbook, Compline and Catholic masses, with music usually playing a central role. Royal Holloway is also the only university that still maintains a tradition of sung morning services.

Quads and Statues

The quads were typically those places you passed through when travelling from one part of Founders to another but they also provided a venue for the occasional event such as a poetry reading or summer tea.

Picture Gallery

The Collection of paintings was to provide an essential element for the fulfilment of Holloway's ideal of a first-rate educational establishment. The importance he placed on the Collection illustrates a typically Victorian belief in art as the ultimate civilizing influence. Like literature, art could teach; not only in the obvious sense of portraying a moral lesson, or illustrating an edifying text; but, in its own unique and inimitable way, through the medium of visual beauty. A picture collection of the first quality would add the ultimate refinement to a programme of education for young ladies.

Heedless of cost, and using the only criterion he understood — his own judgement — Holloway made his selection, with the aid of his brother-in-law George Martin, almost exclusively from Christie's sales' catalogues. All but five of the pictures were acquired in this way, and only once is Holloway known to have been outbid. A considerable furore arose in the press in protest against the artificially high prices which his methods stimulated, and against the fact that it was the dealer rather than the artist who benefited. But like other self-made Victorian collectors of little education, Holloway was wary when purchasing pictures. A sound provenance was crucial to him; and he felt that this was more likely to be provided by the major dealers and auctioneers than by private vendors.


Most people spent at least two years in a Hall of Residence and others spent all their time at RHC in one of the halls. Each of the halls had its own supporters and detractors with some desperate to move away from the hall they were allocated in their first year at the first opportunity and others choosing to spend their entire time in the one location.

The Halls of residence are now included in the "Buildings" section of the website. You can find those full descriptions, alongside with the comments made about them, by clicking on the appropriate hall name in the sections below.

The Founders Building is the heart of Royal Holloway College. It performs many roles as the administrative headquarters, the principal location for lectures and tutorials, student union offices, the health centre, chapel, picture gallery, library...... the list goes on. This section of the site will host all Founders related articles except its use as a Hall of Residence with the associated dining facilities. That aspect is covered in the Hall of Residence part of the site.

There will be so many memories of Founders, from the very first impressions when you came through the gates for your interview or to start your degree course to the time you left it 3 or 4 years later.

Submit your articles and share those memories.

This is an area of the site that seems to have gone from being a minor element to becoming quite a large part of the site. You can thank Covid, lock-downs and social isolation for that!!

Anyway the section will now list every building on the campus or that is part of the College within the Englefield Green area. Given the growth in the college that has become a very large number. The main focus of this section though is what was there when we arrived until we left. For this reason I have broken it down into six categories:

Buildings there before any of us arrived in 1965
Buildings that started use between 1965 and 1969
Buildings that started use between 1970 and 1974
Buildings that started use between 1975 and 1979
Buildings that started use between 1980 and 1984
Buildings that have been put up since we left

Some of the buildings will undoubtedly be assigned to the wrong category, so when you spot the errors please let me know. Better still let me know as much as you can about the building so it can be added to the information available to others.

Inevitably some of the buildings will have changed use during the period (or since) so let me know what you know as well, just add some comments below the relevant article.

The image above tries to show how the campus has changed as it has grown and the following sub-categories will show the stages it went through to get to where it is now.

The campus grounds in the 70s were wonderful. Only with hindsight (and seeing the extent of new building) does the real beauty of what was available to us at the time come into its own. As with so many things the grounds were taken for granted; the shortcut from the Union to the "new halls" through a forest of rhodedendron, bluebells and all other types of fauna and flora was a delight - but also a chore if it was cold, or wet, or ....

It was London University - but not as most people knew it. How many people saw it as a privilege to have all that on the doorstep and who would have preferred to have been at an inner city location?

The campus section of the website is being redesigned. There is a new section being produced that will cover all the buildings on the campus, from when it was first opened to what it is today (or in mid 2021 at least). This section will focus on the bits that are not buildings. These are the bits which are undergoing major redevelopment, in many cases with new buildings being added but in a few cases (a lot fewer cases) the redvelopent has involved some improvements, A particular case is the landscaping that has been done between Founders and the old swimming pool.