Whitelands College

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Whitelands College
University University of Roehampton
Location Roehampton, London, England
Established 1841
Named for Whitelands House on the King's Road in Chelsea
Website http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/whitelands/

Whitelands College is the oldest of the four constituent colleges of the University of Roehampton.


Parkstead House, Roehampton, London

Whitelands College is one of the oldest higher education institutions in England (predating every university except Oxford, Cambridge, London and Durham) and was founded in 1841 by the Church of England's National Society as a teacher training college for women. A flagship women's college of the Church of England, it was the first college of higher education in the UK to admit women. The college is one of the five oldest institutions for training educators in England.

The college was named after a Georgian building, Whitelands House, on King's Road in Chelsea where it was originally based. Whitelands House was demolished and rebuilt in 1890 due to the increasing number of students. The college outgrew Whitelands House in 1930 and moved to buildings designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in Southfields, near Putney. Whitelands college was formally opened by Queen Mary in 1931. (The original Chelsea building was sold to the British Union of Fascists in the summer of 1933 and became known as "the Black House".)[1]

The college buildings include a Grade I listed Georgian villa, Parkstead House. Built in the early 1760s for the 2nd Earl of Bessborough, the house was extended and renamed Manresa House after the property became a Jesuit novitiate in the mid-nineteenth century. From the novitiate, the Jesuits founded St Joseph Church in Roehampton.[2]

The first May Day festival was held at Whitelands College in 1881 at the instigation of the Victorian philanthropist John Ruskin, a friend of the then College Principal, the Reverend Canon John Faunthorpe.

During the Second World War, the students of Whitelands College were evacuated to Homerton College (University of Cambridge), Bede College (Durham University) and Halifax.

In 1975, Whitelands College entered into an academic federation with three other south-west London teacher training colleges – Digby Stuart, Froebel and Southlands – to form the Roehampton Institute of Higher Education (RIHE).


In 2000, the Roehampton Institute of Higher Education federated with the University of Surrey to become the University of Surrey Roehampton.

The University of Surrey Roehampton announced that it would submit an application for independent university status in late 2003. This was granted on 1 August 2004.

In 2005, Whitelands College vacated the Southfields site in Putney and relocated to Parkstead House, a Grade I listed Neo-Classical Palladian villa on a 14 acre site overlooking Richmond Park, in Roehampton. (The main building on the Southfield site was later converted into luxury housing.)[3]

In 2016, The University of Roehampton celebrates 175 years since the foundation of Whitelands College in 1841.


  1. ^ Thomas P. Linehan, "East London for Mosley", Routledge, 1996, p. 254.
  2. ^ Welcome, Whitelands College Retrieved 17 February 2013
  3. ^ Whitelands College History, Roehampton University, 14 March 2009.

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