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St. Mary's University College

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St Mary’s was founded in 1850 by the Catholic Poor Schools Committee to meet the need for teachers to provide an education for the growing numbers of poor Catholic children. It started in Brook Green in Hammersmith in the charge of the Brothers of Christian Instruction with an intake of twelve young men. In 1899, the Catholic Hierarchy asked the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians) to undertake the administration of the College, which they did through successive Principals until 1992 when Dr Arthur Naylor, the first lay Principal, was appointed.

By the early 20th Century there was an ever-increasing demand for Catholic teachers and the site at Brook Green was inadequate for its needs. The sale of Brook Green in 1923 enabled St Mary's to purchase Strawberry Hill and build living accommodation and classrooms for about 250 students. Strawberry Hill is an example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture, created by Horace Walpole between 1747 and 1792, with further additions by Countess Waldegrave in the 19th Century.

St Mary’s at Strawberry Hill was officially opened in 1925; since then the buildings have been enlarged and a second campus comprising a 15 acre of sports ground acquired in nearby Teddington Lock to meet the needs in 2010 of just under 4,000 students and some 750 staff.

From the 1920s until the 1980s St Mary’s awarded external degrees of the University of London and from the 1980s of the University of Surrey until the award of its own degree awarding powers by the Privy Council in September 2006 following an 18-month period of intense scrutiny by the Quality Assurance Agency. In July 2010 the first cohorts of students to graduate with a St Mary’s University College degree will do so at a ceremony in Westminster Cathedral.

While the training of teachers remains at the core of its work, St Mary’s now offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees across a range of disciplines in the Humanities and the Human Sciences. Its particular research strengths are in Theology and English, both of which had elements of their research profiles assessed as world leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise in the United Kingdom.

The University College Chapel was designed by Sir Albert Richardson (1880-1964), one of the last and most renowned architects to work in a traditional style. The windows were filled with stained glass by the studios of Gabriel Loire, master glazier at Chartres Cathedral. Their underlying concept is the mysteries of the Rosary.

There is a long tradition of sporting achievement at St Mary’s. Recent alumni include Rebecca Romero, Olympic Gold medallist in 2008 and Silver medallist in 2004. With its specialist sports facilities St Mary’s has been designated as a Pre-Games Training Camp for the London 2012 Olympics and has been chosen by the South African Olympic Team as their base for 2012 preparations.

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Waldegrave Drawing Room

The Waldegrave Drawing Room was built around 1855 when Frances Braham, the wife of the 7th Earl of Waldegrave, extended the Gothic villa "Strawberry Hill".Read more