“The great tower is finished, the whole whitened and has a charming effect.”
Horace Walpole, May 1754

St Mary’s University College

St Mary's University College has a long and distinguished history as a Catholic college for the education of teachers.

It was founded in 1850 by the Catholic Poor Schools Committee to meet the need for teachers to provide an education for the growing numbers of poor Catholic children.

It started in Brook Green in Hammersmith in the charge of the Brothers of Christian Instruction with an intake of twelve young men. In 1899, the Catholic Hierarchy asked the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) to take over the administration of the College.

Succeeding years saw an ever-increasing demand for Catholic teachers and by the 1920s the College at Brook Green was inadequate for its tasks.

In 1923 Strawberry Hill was purchased for St Mary's which then comprised about 250 students. The College at Strawberry Hill was officially opened in 1925. The Vincentian Fathers lived in the house until the early 1990s and at one point the Gallery was used as a lecture hall. Over time living accommodation and classrooms have been built and the College buildings enlarged to meet the present day needs of over 3,500 students.

Whilst the college was primarily concerned with teacher training up to 1975, courses leading to the University of London BA and BSc external degrees had been offered from 1920. In 1967 it became possible to stay for a fourth year to convert the Teacher's Certificate into a BEd degree. These degrees marked a new phase in the life of the College – now only a third of their work is devoted to teacher education, and the title of the BEd degree has been changed to BA. Much effort is directed towards courses leading to BA and BSc two-subject degrees, together with taught MAs, research degrees and various diplomas.