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United Kingdom Royal Holloway College, University of London

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Apart from the fact that I did my Masters there, why would a photographer be interested in seeking this place out? Thomas Holloway made a fortune from the sale of patent pills and ointments. They were mildly laxative but otherwise had no medicinal properties. He hasd no children to pass his accumulated wealth to, so he looked for conspicuous structures that he could build that would carry on his name.

He built a sanatorium for the aid of the middle class with mental affliction. He had more left and, at the suggestion of his wife, he built a college for the higher education of ladies. This was a time when there were just 30 ladies in higher education in the whole of Britain. When Holloway College opened, it added a further 28 to their number and in the years that followed, it quickly reached 100. The college has teaching space and communal facilities on the lower floors and student accommodation on the upper floors. It was always somewhere special to study.

As you walk around, you’ll find brickwork that has no equal. The binding mortar was made the same colour as the 7 million bricks. The mortar you see was subsequently cut in and added like putty. Most buildings are built to a budget; clearly, this one had no budget.

If you’re there when the famous picture gallery open, go in and see an eclectic mix of amazing paintings that Holloway started buying for the college in his 80s. I survived the curse of Landseer’s “Man proposes, God Disposes” thanks to a Union Flag. There are some very special famous paintings here.

I confess I didn’t visit the chapel as a student but now… Above the alter, the ceiling features a tribute to the Michelangelo’s Sistene Chapel image of God touching the hand of Adam, but instead shows God reaching for the hand of Eve, fitting for a lady’s college. As you wander about, you’ll see a lot of images of ladies as the chosen gender.

Probably, the whole of your time here you will find of features that make you smile – the sheer indulgence is wonderful.

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Travel Information

The college is about 10 minute's walk from Egham train station, which is about 30 minutes from London Waterloo station. Walk up until you find Founder's Building. There is parking on-site if you drive.
Crowd Factor A decent amount of people
Best Timing Daytime during summer
Sunrise & Sunset 07:53 - 16:32 | current local time: 10:11
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