AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0505 RHC
Held at: Royal Holloway, University of London
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Date(s): 1874-1985
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
View subfonds/series records
Extent: Approximately 379.5 boxes, 84 volumes, 13 rolls
Name of creator(s): Royal Holloway College, University of London
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Thomas Holloway (1800-1883) was a highly successful pill and ointment manufacturer, who pioneered the use of product advertising. He married Jane Driver in 1840, and together they built up a large and prosperous business. Having no descendants, Holloway decided to use his fortune for philanthropic causes, and was encouraged by his wife to found a college for the higher education of women. He purchased the Mount Lee estate in Egham in 1874, and building commenced on a large scale - Holloway and his architect William Henry Crossland wanted to recreate the gothic style of the Chateau of Chambord. Jane Holloway died in 1875, and the project became a memorial to her, though Holloway left the overseeing of the building work to his brother-in-law, George Martin. Thomas Holloway died before either project was completed, but not before the composition of a Royal Holloway College Foundation Deed (Oct 1883), which assigned the management and government of the College to twelve Governors, including the three Trustees of the College Estate, appointed by Holloway. He also left a large sum of money with which to endow the College. The College was officially opened by Queen Victoria on June 30th 1886.

The College opened in 1887 with twenty-eight students. By 1890 numbers had doubled and between 1920 and 1946 there was an average of just under two hundred students a session.

When Royal Holloway was founded London University was not yet a teaching university, but women as well as men were eligible for its degrees and the foundation deed of the College allowed the students to take degrees either at London or at any other university in the United Kingdom which would admit them to degrees or to degree examinations. In 1897 the Governors of Royal Holloway College called a conference to discuss whether the College should become an independent university, part of a larger university for women or part of the proposed teaching university for London. In the event it became a School of London University and had direct representation on the Senate, but owing to the fact that it lay outside the geographical boundaries established for the University, its inclusion had to be effected by a special act of Parliament. Following the reform of the University of London's constitution in 1926, Royal Holloway College was excluded from the Committee's first list of schools which were given direct representation on the Senate and the proposed Collegiate Council and the Governors felt obliged to protest in order to have the proposals changed. The position of the College in London University was then finally established although it has frequently been criticised as being too remote from the centre of things.

The life of the College was very much disrupted by the Second World War. On the outbreak of the War London University's administrative staff were displaced from Bloomsbury by the Ministry of Information and were installed at Royal Holloway College where they occupied the Picture Gallery and about one and a half corridors on the west side of Founder's Building. They stayed until 1941 when the War Office requisitioned the entire east side of the building for an ATS unit and the University was removed to Richmond. The College staff and students were then confined to the West side and to the North and South Towers for teaching and living accomodation and all the students, as well as many of the staff, were allocated a single study/bedroom in place of the two rooms provided for in the foundation deed. In 1943 the Governors appointed a Post-War Policy Committee to discuss the question of how the College should develop after the War. The Committee interviewed a large number of external witnesses, as well as representatives of the staff and students of the College and of Royal Holloway College Association. Its fundamental recommendations were that access to London should be made easier for the students and that the College should expand and become co-educational. Stemming from these it made further recommendations on staffing and finance. Lack of funds and building restrictions made it impossible for these recommendations to be implemented at once. Men were admitted in 1946 as non-resident post-graduate students and the number of undergraduates was increased by retaining the war-time arrangement of allocating each student one room instead of two. Numbers rose from 191 at the end of the Summer term of 1946 to 270 in the Autumn and then increased more steadily to 390 in 1962. In 1964 it became possible to embark on plans for expansion so as to admit men as undergraduates in 1965 and to increase the number of students to one thousand. This involved providing extra teaching and residential accomodation, first of all in converted houses in the neighbourhood of the College and more recently in new buildings on the main College estate. It also involved an increase in staff, a re-organisation of administrative work and radical changes in the size and functions of the Student's Union.

Royal Holloway College merged with Bedford College in 1985, and the joint institution became known as the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College.


Scope and content/abstract:

Collection of papers relating to Royal Holloway College, University of London, 1874-1985, namely papers of the Board of Governors (1886-1949) and the Council (1949-1985), 1883-1985, including deeds, Acts of Parliament, Statutes and regulations of the College, minutes, agendas and reports of the meetings of the Governors and Council, and printed annual accounts; records of Thomas Holloway, the founder of the College, 1874-1884, notably letter book, ledger and journal relating to the foundation of Royal Holloway College, and pamphlets on the organisation of schools and colleges; papers of the Trustees, 1874-1969, including legal papers relating to the foundation and construction of the College, minute books of Trustees' meetings, financial material such as accounts and cash books, and records concerning the opening ceremony of the College; papers of the Committees of the Governors and Council, 1887-1982, mainly comprising minutes, reports and memoranda; papers of the Royal Holloway College Staff Meeting, 1889-1985, notably minute books, memoranda, letters and circulars, and reports of the London University Committee on Academic Orgnaisation, 1965-1967; minute books of the Faculties, 1897-1967; papers of the Academic Departments, [1901]-1972, including brochures and syllabuses, student lists, departmental files, and minute books, especially relating to the Department of Music; papers of the Royal Holloway College Library, 1889-1984, notably reports and publications, Library working files, material relating to Library committees, and account books; papers created by the Principal's Office, 1887-1966, notably material concerning College functions, staff records, 1888-1956, papers of the Senior Student, 1909-1962, material concerning the College Chapel, papers relating to the University of London Constitution, 1895-1927, and other correspondence and memoranda on matters including scholarships, prizes, student societies, student fees and wartime activities; papers of the Registrar's Department, 1887-[1985], mainly comprising student records such as registers, scholarship details, teaching statistics, examination and prize records, college publication including calendars, prospectuses and brochures, and reports, letters and memoranda concerning University of London Visitations; papers of the Secretary's Department, 1886-1963, including correspondence and memoranda on subjects including the appointment of staff, financial matters, constitutional decisions, specifications and estimates for building work, the contents of the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery, with registers and inventories relating to the domestic, academic and administrative staff; papers of the Accountant's Department, 1887-1970, notably the main accounts of Royal Holloway College, 1887-1970, accounts for scholarships and prizes, 1887-1954, material relating to salaries and wages, and accounts relating to household supplies, 1887-1910 and 1961-1969; papers of the Residence Officers, 1886-1940 and 1970-1972, including records of the Lady Housekeeper, 1899-1939, the Chief Engineer, 1886-[1927], notably specifications and plans relating to the maintenance of the College, diaries of the Night Porter, 1888-1908, and records of the Catering Manager, 1970-1972; papers of the Curator of the Picture Gallery, 1881-1977, notably correspondence and papers relating to the collection, visitor books, sale and exhibition catalogues and press cuttings; records of the Royal Holloway College Association, 1887-1972, comprising copies of the College Letter, subscription records, minute books, and correspondence; records of the staff and student bodies of Royal Holloway College, 1889-1975, including minute books of the College Meeting, 1890-1925, the Library Committee, 1889-1892, and various war work committees; records of the Royal Holloway College Student's Meeting (later Union), 1895-1973, notably constitutional papers and handbooks, minute books, reports and memoranda, accounts, papers of the Student's Union Committees, and records of the Senior Student, 1906-1944; Royal Holloway College magazines, 1938-1972; papers of the clubs and societies of Royal Holloway College, 1889-1971, mainly comprising minutes and correspondence; various unofficial records relating to the College, 1863-1971, namely material relating to Thomas Holloway and his family, reminiscences, memoirs, press cuttings, drawings and sketches; photographs, 1886-[1969], of Royal Holloway College, its staff and students.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in sections as outlined in the Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Open to all registered users of the Royal Holloway, University of London Archives. Administrative and committee papers are closed for 30 years from the last date on file. Papers relating to individuals are usually closed for 100 years from the subject's birth. Users are advised to consult the College Archivist for specific details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies of open material may be supplied, subject to the condition of the original. Requests to publish original material should be directed to the College Archivist.

Finding aids:

'A guide to Royal Holloway College Archives' by Derryan Paul, Jun 1973.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Passed to the archives from the creating departments.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Royal Holloway, University of London Archives also hold material relating to Bedford College.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

The history of Royal Holloway College, 1886-1986 (Constable, London, 1987), by Caroline Bingham.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in accordance 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:
Sep 2000

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"