This dappled, sun-scattered site on a leafy Hampstead avenue tells a story spanning centuries. At its heart stands Kidderpore Hall, a magnificent white-stuccoed mansion built in 1843 by the ambitious East India leather trader John Teil. In 1890, the site was transformed into Westfield College, a pioneering establishment for women with an interest in botany. More recently in 1989, half of the site became a campus for students of the esteemed King’s College London.
John Teil’s remarkable vision
By 1843, Hampstead was known throughout London for its airy location and fresh wells and streams.
Built that year, Kidderpore Hall was the home of the powerful merchant John Teil, an East India trader with tanneries in the Kidderpore district of Calcutta. Ever the perfectionist, Teil insisted that his house embodied the graceful, restrained architectural style of the Greek Revival movement.
Neo-Grecian columns, sash windows, pristine white stucco. Originally a stand-alone structure at the top of the hill, Teil wanted the grounds around the hall to emulate a rural idyll, even importing decorative flocks of groomed sheep. Very much the preserve of “a select, amicable, respectable and opulent neighbourhood”, as an historian of the time put it.
Botany at Westfield College
In 1890, Kidderpore Hall was acquired by Miss Constance Maynard and Ann Dudin Brown for Westfield College, a respected educational establishment for women with a special interest in botany.
A 1903 lead-windowed library suggests the Edwardian Baroque. A 1928 chapel sits serenely in the harmoniously restrained Classical style. A wing from 1889 imitates the fine, regal élan of William and Mary. Living and working in these college buildings, the teachers and students formed the foundations for the now world-renowned Queen Mary University.
The site takes shape
Westfield College began building on site in 1891, starting with the Maynard building. By 1903, a library was completed, later known as The Skeel Library, after Caroline Skeel, an influential college lecturer. A new residence, Dudin Brown, was built alongside The Skeel Library in 1905.
In 1927, a third residence was built north of The Skeel Library. This building is now known as Chapman, after Lady Chapman, a longstanding member of Council. A year later, The Chapel was built in honour of Miss Richardson, a former Vice Principal.
In 1965, a new building was added on the site where Rosalind Franklin will sit. A new residence was completed next to Kidderpore Hall in 1982. This will be redeveloped and known as Willoughby, after Caroline Willoughby, an original staff member at Westfield College.
King’s College moved on site in 1992 after Westfield College merged with Queen Mary University and joined their campus in Bow. King’s College maintained a presence in Kidderpore Hall, The Skeel Library and several other buildings, some serving as residences for students and visiting academics. In 2015, the site was vacated.