of Commonwealth Studies
of Education, University of London
School of Economics
School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Holloway, University of London
School of Oriental and African Studies
House Library, University of London
ROYAL HOLLOWAY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
Bedford College was founded in 1849 by Elisabeth Jesser Reid.
It took its name from its first home, No. 47 Bedford Square
in London's Bloomsbury - and despite successive moves the
name did not change. It was always felt that the institution
was more than the name. Elisabeth Reid, daughter of William
Sturch, a Unitarian businessman, was widowed at the early
age of 32 and left with enough money to patronise various
philanthropic causes. It is thought that she was influenced
to found Bedford College by a circle of influential friends
(including Jane Martineau, Anna Swanwick, Augustus de Morgan
and Henry Crabbe Robinson) and by memories of the limitations
of her own education.
At the outset, the government of the College was in the hands
of the Ladies Committee (comprising some influential women)
and the General Committee, made up of the Ladies, the Professors
of the College and three Trustees. The General Committee (later
the Council) soon took over the running of the College, while
the Ladies Committee directed the work of the Lady Visitors,
who were responsible for the welfare of the students, their
discipline and also acted as their chaperones. Initially the
Professors were shocked by the educational standards of the
women students who, for the most part, had had a home-based,
governess education. In response to this, Mrs Reid founded
a school close to the College in 1853.
First College building in Bedford Square
In 1860 the College moved into 48 Bedford Square
and this enabled it to become a residential establishment. The
Residence, as it was known, was under the charge of a matron,
Miss Thomas, who introduced the practice of students helping
towards the running of the house, and keeping their own accounts.
Mrs Reid died in 1866, leaving the College in
the hands of three Trustees - Elizabeth Bostock, Jane Martineau
and Eleanor Smith. These three women defied the views of the
Council that the existing funds should be invested in the running
of the school (which was closed in 1868) and instead ensured
that the trust fund was used to improve conditions and teaching
at the College and establish it as a fully-fledged institute
of higher education. The Council was replaced by a Committee
of Management and the College was reconstituted as an Association
under the Companies Act of 1867.
In 1874, the Bedford Square lease expired and the College moved
to York Place, off Baker Street. By the late 1870's numbers
were increasing, an entrance examination had been introduced
and a preparatory department for those below the standard required
for College entrance. All this coincided with an event of wider
significance - the opening up to women, in 1878, of University
of London degrees. By 1881 three Bedford students had BAs with
first class honours, in 1882 there was the first Bedford BSc
and in 1886 the First M.A. In 1880 the College introduced an
internal diploma - the Associateship of the College - for students
who did not wish to follow a degree course.
The 1890s were a period of expansion and consolidation for
the College. Government money came in regularly, student numbers
increased and new courses were put on. 1891 saw the opening
of the Shaen Wing, which contained laboratories and science
equipment. An administrative reorganisation in 1893 led to the
creation of a new post, that of Principal.
Emily Penrose was the first Principal of Bedford College. A
distinguished former student of Somerville College, she was
both a scholar, and a good administrator. Miss Penrose oversaw
the amalgamation of the day and boarding sides of the College,
which meant an increase in extra-curricular activities. She
established the post of Senior Student - a spokeswoman for the
students - encouraged the foundation in 1894 of a Students'
Association and in 1896 called the first general meeting of
the students. She was also one of the main influences in preparing
the college for its incorporation into the University of London
in 1900 - though she had departed in 1898 to become Principal
of Royal Holloway College. She was succeeded by Miss Ethel Hurlblatt,
from 1898 to 1906, and then by Miss, later Dame, Margaret Tuke.
Bedford College Laboratory
Miss Tuke was to be Principal of Bedford College
from 1907 to 1929 and under her the College was to develop and
flourish. With the Chair of Council, Sir Arthur Acland, she
oversaw the granting of a Royal Charter to the College. This
period also heralded another physical move - this time to new
buildings in Regent's Park. The architect was Basil Champneys
and the new college was opened by Queen Mary in 1913.
The succeeding years saw great changes in the
life of Bedford College. A Social Sciences Department was established
which oversaw long-running and popular courses in public health
and economics. A Students' Union was formed in 1913. The College
continued to expand physically, with the creation of new science
blocks, a library extension and a new sports pavilion. Miss
Tuke was replaced in 1929 by Miss Geraldine Jebb, who held the
post of Principal until her retirement in 1951. She was followed
by Dr Norah Penston (1951-1964). Post-war expansion eventually
led to the admission of male students in 1965.
Portrait of Sarah Parker Remond, the first black student at Bedford College (1859-61), by Ann Dingsdale (created at her studio at Cockpit Arts, Holborn).
In 1985 Bedford College joined with Royal Holloway
College to form a new institution within the University of London
- Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, now more commonly
known by its everyday title of Royal Holloway, University of
London. The merger provided more academic diversity and strength
as well as greater financial security, and also preserved the
pursuit of innovation and excellence which characterised the
Founders of the two parent colleges. The College is now among
the top research institutions in the country.