Richmond had a great post on their facebook page about the history of the college and we wanted to share the story of Richmond’s history. Most students are acquainted with the Kensington campus, but 100 and 200 level courses are held at Richmond Hill where first and second year students reside. The campus is set on a beautiful six-acre site at the top of Richmond Hill, a much sought-after area just outside of London.
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Built in the 1840s to train missionaries, Richmond University now hosts students from all over the world. This historic university comes full circle; in the beginning, graduates were sent out all over the world. Now, people from all over the world are travelling to Richmond Hill.
It is a beautiful Gothic style building. Its grounds are stunning. Relatively few people are aware of it, yet this historic building on Queens Road has been teaching students for more than 160 years. The building and its grounds, containing rare specimens of plants and trees, has been used for educational purposes since the 1840s, when the Methodist Church decided to celebrate the centenary of Wesley’s Ministry by building two theological institutes, one near Manchester and one in Richmond.
In 1902 the college was recognized as a divinity school of London University. During the Second World War, the college became a war time administrative center of London University. In September 1940, more than 30 high-explosive bombs fell within 400 yards of the college.
In July of 1970 the Richmond Herald reported that “a decline in the number of people training for the Methodist ministry has brought about a decision to close the church’s Richmond College on Richmond Hill.” The college had 30 students in its final year from 1971-72 and 60 American women on study abroad programs.
The university first acquired AIFS study abroad students, developed into granting its own degrees and is now a full fledged American international university with two campuses, and more than a thousand students from more than 100 different countries.
AIFS founder Sir Cyril Taylor is recorded as saying he was glad the site was not being acquired as a hotel or by property speculators.
“It was built as a Wesleyan seminary to train missionaries to go out into the world, and now thousands of dynamic, modern young men and women are coming to us from all over the world,” said Dr Hackforth-Jones. “Things have come full circle.”