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The founding of St Mary's

St Mary's has a long and distinguished history as a Catholic institution 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 number of poor Catholic children.

Hammersmith campus
Students at the St Mary's campus in Hammersmith during the 1850s.

It started in Brook Green in Hammersmith, where it was ran by the Brothers of Christian Instruction, with an intake of just six young men. In 1899, the Catholic Hierarchy asked the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian) to undertake the administration of the College.

Hammersmith campus
The Quadrangle at the St Mary's campus in Hammersmith in the 1850s.

In the years to follow, there was an ever-increasing demand for Catholic teachers and by the end of the 1920s the College campus at Brook Green was inadequate.

Brook Green abutted onto Cadby Hall, the headquarters of J Lyons & Co who, at this time, also wanted to expand. As a result of successful negotiations, St Mary's was able to purchase Strawberry Hill House and build living accommodation and classroom space for about 250 students. The College at Strawberry Hill was officially opened in 1925.

Waldegrave Drawing Room in 1925
The Waldegrave Drawing Room during the 1920s, after the College moved to Strawberry Hill in 1925.