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Household and Social Science Department, 1915-1928

Department of Household & Social Science at King's College for Women, 1916 (Ref: Q/PH1/2)Department of Household & Social Science at King's College for Women, 1916 (Ref: Q/PH1/2)The Household and Social Science Department was founded as a branch of the Women’s Department of King’s College, with the aim of applying university standards and methods to the teaching of home science and economics.

In January 1908 the Women’s Department was incorporated into the University of London as a separate institution under the name King’s College for Women. The growth of the College from this modest beginning was chiefly due to the efforts of one of its founders, Sir John Atkins, who identified the need for a scientific approach to household arts, and devoted the remainder of his career to the promotion of this form of higher education for women. He enlisted interest from King’s College on the Strand, and although the course began with only a dozen students, it was sufficient to demonstrate the potential of the project.

Department of Household & Social Science at King's College for Women, 1920 (Ref: Q/PH1/11)Department of Household & Social Science at King's College for Women, 1920 (Ref: Q/PH1/11)By 1912, Sir John had succeeded in raising funds for the initiative and secured new premises at Campden Hill. Whilst home science and economics classes had been taught up to this point within King’s College for Women in Kensington Square, the move to Campden Hill saw the establishment of a specialist branch of the College, now known as the Household and Social Science Department, King’s College for Women.

Kitchen at Campden Hill, Department of Household and Social Science, King's College for Women, c1918 (Ref: Q/PH3/11)Kitchen at Campden Hill, Department of Household and Social Science, King's College for Women, c1918 (Ref: Q/PH3/11)The foundation stone of the new building at Campden Hill was laid by Princess Christian in 1914, with the Household and Social Science Department transferring its activities to the new site from 1915. Campden Hill included Queen Mary’s Hostel, the student residence, and a refectory with seating for 200. From 1957, with the term ‘Hall of Residence’ becoming more common than ‘Hostel’, Her Majesty The Queen consented to the renaming of the College accommodation as Queen Mary Hall. Sir John Atkins went on to work at the College for over fifty years, including serving as Chairman of the Governing Body for thirty-six years. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the College, Sir John was elected as its first Fellow in 1958.

In later campus developments, a new block was opened at the College in 1923, comprising of a library, lecture hall, committee room and administrative offices. The lecture hall, in addition to its academic value, was also used for entertainment purposes and, with the granting of a licence from London County Council, was also let to outside organisations, playing host to public events including lectures, meetings, theatricals and dances. This was followed in 1925 by the purchase of the College’s first playing field, allowing for the construction of hockey and lacrosse pitches in the Petersham meadows in Richmond.

For more images of the Household and Social Science Department at King's College for Women, see our gallery.

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