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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0370 WFD
Held at: Queen Mary, University of London
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Date(s): early 16th century - 2010
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
View subfonds/series records
Extent: 230 boxes, 90 outsize items
Name of creator(s): Westfield College
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Westfield College was established in Hampstead, North London, through the efforts of Ann Dudin Brown and Constance Louisa Maynard. Ann Dudin Brown provided a benefaction of 10,000 to establish the College. Following a meeting held on 11 Feb 1882 it was agreed that a residential women's college based on religious principals should be founded in London.

A pioneer of women's education, the college was the first specifically aimed at preparing women for University of London degrees and, taking the Oxbridge women's colleges as its example, it was also the first London women's college to make residence a requirement. The College opened on 2 Oct 1882 with just 5 students and 2 members of staff, including Constance Maynard as Mistress. It was situated in two houses at Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead. The name of the College was undecided and during the its early years it was referred to as the College for Ladies and the Ladies College at Westfield. Westfield probably derives from the name of the area or the houses in Maresfield Gardens. Several names for the College were proposed including St Hilda's but none were adopted. It was only following the move to permanent buildings that the name Westfield College was formally adopted, as the name had been informally used for a number of years.

The first graduands of Westfield College were presented for University degrees in 1887, one of whom was Anne Wakefield Richardson who joined the academic staff in April 1887 as Resident Lecturer in Classics. By 1889 the 'five original' staff members were in post who, in addition to Constance Maynard and Anne Richardson, included Frances Gray, Josephine Willoughby, and Mabel Beloe. Lilian Whitby was appointed to the Resident Staff in 1896 following the departure of Miss Willoughby and Miss Gray, and Caroline Skeel joined in 1899 along with Miss Sturdwick.

On Lady Day (25 March) 1891, the College moved to its permanent location on Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead. The College buildings consisted of Kidderpore Hall, which later became known as Old House, and the New Wing, later renamed Maynard Wing. It gradually extended to include the Skeel Building (1903) housing the Library, and the Dudin Brown Wing (1905).

In 1902 Westfield College became a School of the University of London in the Faculty of Arts. Although science in the form of Mathematics and Biology was taught, the facilities were insufficient and therefore though attached to Westfield, students were External students and took the advanced part of the course at other colleges. However, in 1906, Ellen Delf was appointed to teach Botany and developed the College's facilities enough for the University of London to approve the Laboratory for work up to the final BSc examination in Botany in 1910. In Oct 1915 the University recognised the Botanical Laboratory for Honours work, which meant it was now possible for Westfield students to sit for Honours BSc as Internal students.

Constance Maynard continued to be Mistress of the College until 1913. She was succeeded by Agnes de Selincourt who adopted the title Principal. Miss de Selincourt died four years later from a tetanus injection following a bicycling accident. Anne Richardson became Acting Principal until the appointment of Bertha Phillpotts in 1919.

During the 1920s the policy of restricting the intake of students for the Bachelor of Arts to those who were prepared to read for Honours, was introduced, although the different structure for the Bachelor of Science meant that Pass students were still accepted. However, by this time General Students, those who did not intend to take any examination, were no longer accepted although exceptions were sometimes made for overseas students.

In 1933 Westfield was granted its Royal Charter of Incorporation, marking the College's Jubilee. By this time the College had extended considerably now occupying buildings along both sides of Kidderpore Avenue. During the war years, 1939-1945, the College was evacuated to St Peter's Hall, Oxford, where it had its very first male students; six Jesuit students who were evacuated to Oxford where Westfield was the only College at which they could continue their London arts degrees. The College buildings in Hampstead were let by Tavistock Clinic, the Young Women's Christian Association, and were also requisitioned by the Admiralty for training the Women's Royal Naval Service.

In 1947 Ellen Delf Smith retired and the College gradually ceased to admit students for a natural science degree. By 1950 the teaching of Botany ceased. However over the next decade the developing of a Science Faculty was at the fore-front. In 1959 demolition began for a new Science Building. In 1960 the University formally acknowledged Westfield College as a School in the Faculty of Science as well as a School in the Faculty of Arts. The new building was completed by Oct 1961 at which point Westfield began to offer degrees in Botany, Zoology, Physics, and Chemistry. Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the Science Building in May 1962, after which point it was renamed the Queen's Building.

The 1960s marked a decade of change and development. Not only had a comprehensive range of Science degrees been introduced, but it was decided to alter the Royal Charter in order to allow the admission of men undergraduate students. Men students were formally admitted to the College from 1964. In 1966 Westfield College appointed its first male Principal, Bryan Thwaites, who continued to be Principal until 1984. The College also embarked upon an expansionist policy to double its student numbers from 600 to 1200 and pursued a comprehensive development plan for which Sir Hugh Casson's firm of architects was commissioned. In 1963 the new Refectory building was completed. In 1965 Orchard II, a residential wing with further laboratories, was opened, and by 1967 the Queen's Building had been extended to include a Zoology wing. The 1960s also saw the purchase of several houses along Finchley Road.

A purpose built library was completed in 1971 and named the Caroline Skeel Library. During the same year students were admitted for the first time to study Computer Science. A further hall of residence was opened and named Kidderpore Hall, which comprised four houses for both male and female students. A Supplemental Charter was granted in 1976 which, among other provisions, removed the religious constraints of the original Charter.

However, by the 1980s the organisation, governance, and structure of the University of London began to be questioned. The Committee on Academic Organisation, better known as the Swinnerton-Dyer Committee, was established in 1980 to consider the situation of the University over the next 15 years and to make recommendations that would enable large financial savings. The Chairman of the Committee was Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer. As a result of the Committee and previous reports, including the Flowers Report and the Murray Report, the University Court concluded that teaching in the sciences should be concentrated in 5 institutional groups; Imperial College, University College, Kings College/Queen Elizabeth College, Queen Mary College, and Bedford College/Royal Holloway College. Smaller colleges, including Westfield, were encouraged to collaborate and/or merge with the larger institutions. Consequently, it became apparent that Westfield College would be unable to continue in its current form. Negotiations for collaboration and/or mergers took place with several institutions including King's College and Queen Mary College.

In 1982 the decision was made to transfer the Science Faculty to Queen Mary College. The transfer was completed by 1984. Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Biochemistry, and Zoology, and 68 members of staff were transferred to Queen Mary College in Mile End, some Physicists were transferred to Royal Holloway, and Computer Science was transferred to King's College. The financial situation of Westfield College did not improve and in 1987 the College Council agreed to a full merger with Queen Mary College. As part of the agreement it was decided that the name of Westfield would be retained and although the new college would be located in Mile End, new residences would be created in Mile End to maintain the Westfield ethos as a residential college. The Westfield Trust was established in 1988 to preserve something of the original intentions of the founders of Westfield College. On 1 Aug 1989 Queen Mary and Westfield College was inaugurated. All departments were transferred with the exception of the Department of the History of Art, which transferred to University College London. Part of the Hampstead campus was sold to King's College. The Hampstead campus continued to be used by Queen Mary and Westfield College, better known today as Queen Mary, University of London, until 1992, when all activities were relocated to Mile End.

Principals of Westfield College: Constance Louisa Maynard, 1882-1913 Agnes de Selincourt, 1913-1917

Anne Wakefield Richardson, Acting Principal, 1917-1919 Bertha Phillpotts, 1919-1921 Eleanor Lodge, 1921-1929 Dorothy Chapman, 1929-1939 Mary Stocks, 1939-1951 Kathleen Chesney, 1951-1962 Pamela Matthews, 1962-1965 Bryan Thwaites, 1965-1984 John E Varey, 1984-1989


Scope and content/abstract:

This collection contains the archives of Westfield College, University of London, from its pre-history to its merger with Queen Mary College in 1989.

It comprises records relating to the pre-history and constitution of the College, c.1881-1976, including Trust deeds and charters; Council records, 1882-1992, including Council minutes, reports, Committee minutes, and correspondence; annual reports, 1883-1989; financial records, 1892-1989, including account balance sheets, ledgers, cash books, mortgages, and appeals; records relating to the administration of Westfield College through the University of London, 1900-1982, including inspections, quinquennium development plans, University Grants Committee visitations, and papers relating to the Murray Report and the Swinnerton-Dyer Committee; Academic Board and its Committee minutes, 1903-1989; Principal's College papers, 1917-1989; Principal's personal papers, mid 19th century-late 20th century; staff administration records, 1929-1996, including starters and leavers books, appointments, and minutes of the Westfield College branch of the Association of University Teachers; student administration records, 1882-1993, including student registers, index cards, examination papers, scholarships papers, wartime arrangements, and testimonials; records relating to student and staff residences, 1946-1992; records relating to College sites and buildings, c.1890-1996, including the Kidderpore Estate, wartime tenancies, halls of residence, the Queen's Building, and Caroline Skeel Library; Faculty records, 1921-1989, including minutes of Faculty of Science and Faculty of Arts, correspondence, photographs, and reports; records relating to Non-Degree courses, 1901-1983, including papers and correspondence of the Divinity Faculty, Citizenship course, and International Foundation Year; records relating to the College's international links, 1915-1984, including the Women's Christian College in Madras, American universities, and the I Fang Girls' Collegiate School in China; Westfield College Union Society records, 1907-1985, including Union and Committee minutes, and the Union constitution; records relating to student societies, 1894-1970, including the Debating Society, Glee Club, Tennis Club, Dramatic Society, and Boat Club; records relating to the Senior Common Room, 1931-1988, including minutes, and events and activities; Library records, c.1905-1990, including minutes, account books, accession register, visitors books, correspondence, and photographs; Chapel records, c.1910-1992, including service books, prayer books, correspondence, and photographs; records relating to negotiations and proposed mergers, 1964-1991, including negotiations with Birkbeck College, Bedford College, Royal Holloway College, Central School of Speech and Drama, and Imperial College; records relating to negotiations, planning, and implementing merger with Queen Mary College, 1933-1992; publications produced by or relating to Westfield College, 1892-1997, including brochures, prospectuses, Hermes, College magazines, Rag Mag, student handbooks, publications by individual departments and societies, Westfield Bulletin, and Hampstead Harrier; records relating to College events, c.1891-1980s, including presentation day and banquet, posters and programmes, lectures and conferences, royal visits, the College Jubilee, the College Centenary, and the Visiting Artists Programme; photographs of staff and students, c.1885-c.1986; records relating to College Alumni, 1887-1980s, including budget letters, directory of old students, photograph albums and scrapbooks, and reminiscences and memorabilia; staff reminiscences and memorabilia, 1907-1993; obituaries and memorials relating to former students, staff and members of Council, 1917-2004; and artefacts and collected memorabilia, 1769-1988, including medals, coins, badges, portraits, and the College Coat of Arms.

This collection also contains the Westfield Print Collection, early 16th century-1968; the records of the Westfield College Association, 1900-1991; and the records of the Westfield Trust, 1908-2010.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Latin, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, French, German

System of arrangement:

This collection has been arranged by function, chronologically, and, where possible, respecting the original order of the records.

It has been divided into 29 series: constitution; Council; annual reports and calendars; financial records; University of London; Academic Board; Principal's College papers; Principal's personal papers; staff administration; student administration; residences; sites and buildings; faculties; non-degree courses; international links; Westfield College Union Society; student societies; senior common room; library; chapel; governance - negotiations and proposed mergers; governance - Queen Mary merger; publications; events; photographs of staff and students; alumni; staff reminiscences and memorabilia; obituaries and memorials; and artefacts and collected memorabilia.

It also comprises 3 sub-fonds: the Westfield College Print Collection; Westfield College Association; and the Westfield Trust.

Conditions governing access:

The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: For more information about the Archives see the website:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist. Applications for copies for research or publication should be made to the Archivist: Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 7873, email:

Finding aids:

A detailed catalogue is available in the Archives Reading Room, or downloadable from the Archives website,

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Transferred to Queen Mary College in 1989.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Archives of Queen Mary University of London/Queen Mary and Westfield Archives, 1989-2000; Westfield College Association archives, 1900-1991, Westfield Trust archives, 1908-2010, Westfield College Print Collection, early 16th century-1968.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

J. Sondheimer Castle Adamant in Hampstead: A history of Westfield College, 1882-1982 (Westfield College, 1983). Women at Queen Mary Online: A Virtual Exhibition, Eleanor, Westfield College 1882-1932 (London: Favil Press, 1933)

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Catalogued by Toni Hardy, July 2010.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
September 2010.

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