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Gipsy Hill College of Education

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2108 GH
Held at: Kingston University
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Full title: Gipsy Hill College of Education
Date(s): 1917-c1975
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: approx 12 shelves
Name of creator(s): Gipsy Hill Teacher Training College
Gipsy Hill College of Education


Administrative/Biographical history:

Gipsy Hill Teacher Training College was founded in Upper Norwood, Streatham, in 1917 as an independent and non-denominational residential college providing the first two-year course of training for teachers of children aged two to seven. Its first Principal was Lillian de Lissa, who received her training at the Sydney Kindergarten Training College, Australia, c1902-c1905, and subsequently established the first free kindergarten in Adelaide and the college which later became Adelaide Kindergarten Training College. She completed the International Training Course in Rome under the educational pioneer Dr Montessori in 1914. The college of which she became head in England was to train teachers who would apply innovative contemporary ideas to the education of young children. The college was housed in two Victorian houses in Gipsy Hill. Two more houses were later added as numbers - which included some overseas students - increased. Provisional recognition from the Board of Education subsequently became full and permanent. The Rommany Nursery School was opened as the college's demonstration school. During World War Two (1939-1945) Gipsy Hill College evacuated itself first to an hotel in Brighton and subsequently to Bankfield house near Bingley, Yorkshire. Meanwhile the premises at Gipsy Hill were damaged by enemy action. In 1946 the college became the responsibility of Surrey County Council and moved to a house on Kingston Hill (Kingston-upon-Thames), Kingston Hill Place, with nearby houses (Coombehurst adjacent, and Winchester and Tankerville about a mile away) providing additional accommodation. In that year Lillian de Lissa retired. In 1949 the college acquired Kenry House (adapted for Army use during the war), to which alterations were subsequently made (allowing Winchester and Tankerville to be relinquished). In the same year, in addition to the existing nursery-infant course, a junior course was introduced to extend the educational principles to the education of children aged seven to eleven years.

Demand for teachers continued and the College pioneered the London University BEd degree. Gipsy Hill College was included in the London Delegacy as a member of the Birkbeck College group for examination purposes, but became a constituent college of London University Institute of Education at its formation in 1949. In 1959 a course of training for secondary school work was introduced. The first day students were also accepted. Gipsy Hill became a College of Education in 1963. Extensions to Kenry House were completed in 1966-1967.

Demographic changes caused a contraction in the demand for teacher education by the 1970s and, in a climate of absorption of colleges of education by polytechnics, Gipsy Hill College of Education moved towards Council for National Academic Awards (rather than London University) validation before it eventually merged with Kingston Polytechnic in 1975 following negotiations between the Education Committees of Surrey County Council and the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames.

Variant spellings of the name as Gypsy are frequently found, but the college evidently took its name from Gipsy Hill in Upper Norwood where it was originally located.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records, 1917-c1975, of Gipsy Hill Teacher Training College and its successor, Gipsy Hill College of Education, including papers, 1917-1947, of the Principal, Lillian de Lissa, including correspondence, photographs, published material and artefacts; Governors' minutes, 1930-1947; staff ledger, 1920s; staff meeting minutes, 1930s-1940s; financial records, 1930s-1940s; correspondence, 1917-1918, 1943-1955, with the Board of Education, subsequently Ministry of Education; student records, 1917-1959; papers relating to examinations, 1917-c1925; syllabuses and inspectors' reports, 1920s; newsletter, 1940s-1950s; Old Students' Association correspondence, 1950s; photographs of buildings, staff, students and events, 1917-c1975; prospectuses; building plans; artefacts, including crockery and badges.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Available at the Learning Resource Centre, Kingston Hill site. Proof of identity required. Book in advance. Contact the Site Librarian.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Usual copyright restrictions apply.

Finding aids:

Unpublished outline handlist, but records are uncatalogued.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Passed to Kingston Polytechnic following the merger of the two institutions and inherited by its successor Kingston University.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Kingston University also holds the records of Kingston Polytechnic, with which Gipsy Hill merged.

Surrey History Centre holds a prospectus for Gipsy Hill Training College, c1960 (Ref: CC938/10).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, London, ii: South (2001); typescript history of Gipsy Hill College, c1960.

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:
May 2002

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