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Our history

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Our history

Today's Royal Holloway is formed from two colleges, founded by two social pioneers, Elizabeth Jesser Reid and Thomas Holloway. They were among the first places in Britain where women could access higher education.

Bedford College, in London, opened its doors in 1849, and Royal Holloway College's stunning Founder's Building was unveiled by Queen Victoria in 1886 – it’s still the focal point of the campus.

In 1900, the colleges became part of the University of London and in 1985 they merged to form what is now known as Royal Holloway.

Our timeline

Royal Holloway and Bedford Colleges combine over 150 years of historic discoveries, notable alumni and academic innovation. Our virtual timeline shows some of the milestones along the way.

Explore Royal Holloway

All undergraduates starting with us in 2020 onwards have the opportunity to take a Placement Year, which will add even more value to your studies.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

They say the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today