Goodenough College

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Entrance and coat of arms

Goodenough College is a postgraduate residence and educational trust on Mecklenburgh Square in Bloomsbury, central London, England. Other names under which the college has been known are London House, William Goodenough House, and the London Goodenough Trust.


Goodenough College is an educational charity that provides residential accommodation for talented British and international postgraduates and their families studying in London. The College provides a vibrant community for all those who live here through a unique programme of intellectual, cultural and social activities that aims to provide Members with an international network and a truly global outlook.

The current director of the college is Rebecca Matthews MA (Cantab), Former Managing Director of the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017.

Goodenough has residential and study facilities and an extensive extra-curricular programme, which includes a conference series aimed at examining subjects of international concern. As of 2018 the College is home to approximately 700 International postgraduate students and their families, representing approximately 80 different nations.

The college is located in London and set on Mecklenburgh Square, around a private garden to which only residents have access.



The college was incorporated in 1930, by a group of prominent Londoners, including the chairman of Barclays Bank and founder of Barclays Bank DCO (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) Frederick Craufurd Goodenough. Goodenough and his friends wanted to provide able young men coming to London from the dominions and colonies, future leaders of what was then a large empire, with a collegiate life along Oxbridge lines in London. The college was a moot hall and at the same time a place where they would form lasting friendships in tolerance and understanding.

The search for a site for the new college was centred on Bloomsbury, to which the University of London was preparing a move from South Kensington. An ideal island site for sale freehold was found between Guilford Street and Mecklenburgh Square, and the College bought it in 1930.

London House[edit]

Plans were to design and build a new college, but this would take time which the governors did not want to waste. In the traditional manner of Bloomsbury's philanthropic institutions, they made a start in a small way in some of the roomy old houses on the site. London House first opened its doors in October 1931, in Nos. 4–7 Caroline Place (now Mecklenburgh Place) on the west side of the site. The house was soon full, with a long waiting list, and by the start of World War II occupied all the Caroline Place houses.

A new London House for 300 single students was built between 1935 and 1963 to the designs of the architect Sir Herbert Baker, his partner Alexander T. Scott, and their successor Vernon Helbing. It was completed in three stages:

Stage 1 (1935–37). The south-east corner including the Great Hall, Charles Parsons Library, common-rooms and the Guilford Street entrance. This was the only part to be completed in Sir Herbert Baker’s lifetime.

Stage 2 (1948–53). The rest of the south wing, the west wing and the north-west corner. Alexander Scott continued in Baker’s style, with some simplification of detail.

Stage 3 (1961–63). The north wing, including the north-east corner. It was built to a lower cost than the other stages, for example, no flintwork. At the same time, architect Vernon Helbing created the college chapel out of former offices.

William Goodenough House[edit]

In the 1940s, at the instigation of the Chairman of the College Governors, Sir William Goodenough, the Lord Mayor of London launched a Thanksgiving Fund, to raise money in the U.K. and do something to thank the people of the Commonwealth and the United States for their generous gifts, especially of food parcels, during and after World War II. The money raised was used to build William Goodenough House for women and married students from those countries, replacing houses destroyed or badly damaged in the war on the north east of the Square. At the same time the bombed houses in adjacent Heathcote Street were rebuilt as an annexe, and the House was completed in 1957. Later wings, Julian Crossley Court (1974) and Ashley Ponsonby Court (1991) brought the capacity of the House up to 120 rooms for single students and 60 flats for married couples and families.

The two parallel institutions developed their own characters over time – the quiet surroundings of the WGH common rooms appealed to some LH residents, and various "Willie G" girls preferred the noisier atmosphere of the London House bar. Traditions developed, such as the LH rugby team singing lullabies to the inhabitants of WGH after the annual sports dinner, and many LH-WGH romances flourished, and in some cases resulted in marriage and even children. The two houses, London House and William Goodenough House eventually became mixed in 1991.

The Goodenough on Mecklenburgh Square[edit]

Nos. 22–25 Mecklenburgh Square survived the war and were used as a nurses’ home until 1989 when they were handed back in a very dilapidated state. At first, the houses were repaired and used as inexpensive accommodation for short-stay visitors, mostly returning alumni and other academics in London to attend conferences and seminars. By 1997, however, it was apparent that the building required modernization if they were to meet the standards that would be required in the 21st century.

The houses were closed, and plans made to add No. 21 and renovate and upgrade at a cost of £3.5 million. There were delays because the Georgian houses are listed buildings in a conservation area, and the work required the approval of both English Heritage and the London Borough of Camden planning department. Eventually, the plans were passed, and the Goodenough Club opened its doors in April 2001. The hotel is open to academic and professional visitors as well as conference delegates from around the world, and was renamed as The Goodenough on Mecklenburgh Square in 2018.[1]

List of heads of Goodenough College[edit]

Directors of the college, 1945–present[edit]

As the name of the college and of the Director's equivalent position has changed over time, the title of each appointee is given.

Directors of the college

Name Job title and tenure Career background
Brigadier Ernest Cecil Pepper CMG, CBE, DSO, DL (1899–1981) [2] Controller of London House, 1945–1949;
Warden, London House, 1950–1969
former Commandant of the School of Infantry
Sir Francis "Frank" A. Loyd KCMG, OBE, MA (Oxon) (1916–2006) [2] Director, London House for Overseas Graduates, 1969–1979 former Queen's Commissioner (i.e. Governor) of Swaziland
Sir A. John Wilton KCMG, KCVO, MC, MA (Oxon) (1921–2011) [2] Director, London House for Overseas Graduates, 1979–1986 former Ambassador to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
David A. Emms OBE, MA (Oxon) (b. 1925) [2] Director, The London Goodenough Trust, 1987–1995 former Headmaster of Cranleigh School, Sherborne School and Dulwich College
Major-General Timothy P. Toyne Sewell DL (b. 1941) [2] Director, The London Goodenough Trust, 1995–2001;
Director of Goodenough College, 2001–2006
former Commandant of Sandhurst
Major-General Andrew S. Ritchie CBE, BA (Dunelm) (b. 1955) [2] Director of Goodenough College, 2006–2018 former Commandant of Sandhurst
Rebecca L. Matthews (Knight of the Order of Dannebrog), MA (Cantab), MA (Lond) (b. 1968) Director of Goodenough College, 2018-present Former Managing Director of the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017

Wardens of London House, 1947–2008[edit]

Up until the 1970s, London House was a single-sex men-only building. The position of London House warden was abolished in 2008.

Wardens of London House

Name Job title and tenure
Philip Crofton [2]
Reggie Gaskell [2]
Peter Pepper [2]
Lieutenant Colonel George L. Sprunt [2] Controller of London House, 1947–1965
Lieutenant Colonel Eric C.T. Wilson VC[2] Controller of London House, 1966–1977
Colonel W.C.J. Naylor DSC [2] Warden of London House, 1977–1983
John D. Pepper [2] Warden of London House, 1983–1993
Commander Christopher J.S. Craig [2] Warden of London House, 1993–1995
Rosemary Wilson OBE [2] Warden of London House, 1995–1997
Andrew H. Mellows [2] Warden of London House, 1997–1999
Chris Wright [2] Warden of London House, 1999–2008

Controllers and wardens of William Goodenough House, 1950-–2007[edit]

From the instigation of William Goodenough House in 1950, it was run by a separate warden. Up until the 1970s, William Goodenough House was a single-sex women-only building, while London House was a men-only building. The position of William Goodenough House warden was abolished in 2007.

Wardens of William Goodenough House

Name Job title and tenure Career background
Dame Jocelyn May Woollcombe DBE (1898–1986) [2] Controller of William Goodenough House, 1950–1956 former Director of the Women's Royal Naval Service
Air Commodore Dame Felicity Peake DBE (1913–2002) [2] Controller of William Goodenough House, 1956–1961 former founding Director of the Women's Royal Air Force
Joanna Sybil Macdonald Dannatt MBE, MA (Cantab) (1913–2010) [2] Controller and Warden of William Goodenough House, 1961–1982 former ATS cipher clerk and translator
Jill C. Morrogh [2] Warden of William Goodenough House, 1982–1989
Sandra E. Lello MA (Oxon) [2] Warden of William Goodenough House, 1989–1992 former Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Mary M. Lomas [2] Warden of William Goodenough House, 1992–1994
Noelle Vickers [2] Warden of William Goodenough House, 1995–2001
Annie Thomas [2] Warden of William Goodenough House, 2001–2007

Chairmen of the board of governors, 1931–present[edit]

Chairmen of the board of governors

Name Tenure Career background
Frederick Crauford Goodenough DCL, BA (Zurich) (1866–1934) [2] 1931–1934 Chairman of Barclays Bank
Sir William Macnamara Goodenough LLD, DL, JP, MA (Oxon) (1899–1951) [2] 1934–1951 Director of Barclays Bank
Sir David M. Evans-Bevan Bt (1902–1973) [2] 1951–1965 Director of Barclays Bank
Sir Julian S. Crossley Kt, MA (Oxon) (1899–1971) [2] 1965–1971 Chairman of Barclays Bank
Lieutenant-Colonel Frederic Seebohm, Baron Seebohm Kt, TD, MA (Cantab) (1909–1990) [2] 1971–1983 Chairman of Barclays Bank
Sir Ashley Charles Gibbs Ponsonby Bt, KCVO, LL, MC, MA (Oxon) (1921–2010) [2] 1982–1989 Managing Director of J. Henry Schroder Wagg
Colonel Graham Stephen Paul Carden CBE, TD, DL (1935–1992) [2] 1990–1991 Chairman of Greenfriar Investment Co.
Rosina "Wendy" Philippa Price French, Lady French, MA (Cantab) (1927–2000) [2] 1992–1997 Barrister and former Editor of the All England Law Reports
Sir Christopher Wates, MA (Oxon) (b. 1941)[2] 1997–2006 Chairman and CEO of Wates Building Group
Dr Tidu Maini, BSc (Lond), PhD (Lond) [2] 2006–2009 Pro-Rector for Development and Corporate Affairs, Imperial College London
Jonathan Hirst QC, MA (Cantab) (b. 1954) [2] 2009–2016 Head of Brick Court Chambers
Eric Tracey 2016-Present Chartered Accountant

Notable alumni[edit]








See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′28″N 0°7′5″W / 51.52444°N 0.11806°W / 51.52444; -0.11806