History

The History of Goodenough College

In 1930, Frederick Craufurd Goodenough, Chairman of Barclays Bank, formed a Trust to raise funds for a hall of residence for male students from the British 'Dominions'.  The Dominions Students' Hall Trust aimed to create a collegiate setting that would enhance international understanding and prevent students from feeling isolated in the British capital. London House opened on one of London's finest Georgian squares.

After the Second World War a 'Sister Trust' raised finance for further expansion and William Goodenough House opened as a residence for female postgraduates and students with families. As part of the Lord Mayor's National Thanksgiving Fund the expansion was seen as a way of thanking both Commonwealth countries and the United States for their support during the War.

The two Trusts merged in 1965 and became London House for Overseas Graduates. The title later changed to The London Goodenough Trust for Overseas Graduates and then, in 2001 it became Goodenough College. It was felt that the name reflected more accurately the purpose and ethos of the institution with its 'collegial' setting and unique community environment.

Accommodation was originally reserved for students from Commonwealth countries but US students were admitted from 1950 and those from continental Europe in 1974. South African students continued to be admitted after the country left the Commonwealth in 1961.

In 2001 the College became fully international and its student community of 700 now represents over 80 countries.

Please click below to learn more about the history of each of our two Houses - London House and William Goodenough House.

When the Trust founded by Frederick Crauford Goodenough sought land for the proposed collegiate residence a suitable site was found between Guilford Street and Mecklenburgh Square. The University of London was moving from Knightsbridge to Bloomsbury at this time so the location was ideal. Initially, to save time and money, the Trustees purchased some roomy old houses on the site and Nos. 4-7 Caroline Place (now Mecklenburgh Place) opened as 'London House' in October 1931. The House was soon full, with a long waiting list, and by the start of World War II occupied all the Caroline Place houses.

The 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 was constructed as an 'economy version' with no flintwork . At the same time, architect Vernon Helbing created the College Chapel out of former offices.

 

London House closed for refurbishment in July 2013 and re-opened in September 2014. The accommodation has been updated and the Great Hall restored to its original glory. Wooden panelling was repaired or restored and a modern heating system introduced, which takes account of atmospheric conditions without affecting the historical fixtures and fittings.

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 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. Traditions developed, such as the London House Rugby Team singing lullabies to the inhabitants of William Goodenough House after the annual Sports Dinner. Many romances flourished between the two Houses, and in some cases resulted in marriage. The two houses, London House and William Goodenough House eventually became mixed in 1991.

Goodenough College has undergone a major refurbishment of all its facilities. William Goodenough House was refurbished during 2011-12 and re-opened in September 2012. It now has en-suite study bedrooms and family accommodation and specialist facilities for students with disabilities. 

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