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 Â£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