Building Name

Wesleyan Theological College Richmond

1841 - 1843
Queens Road
Richmond Hill, Richmond
London, England
Wesleyan Methodists
New Build
Grade II
Evans of Oxford

In the 1840s the Methodist Church decided to celebrate the centenary of Wesley’s Ministry by building two theological institutes, one at Didsbury near Manchester which opened in 1842 and another in Richmond opened a year later. Thus the manor house of Squire Williams and the spacious grounds on the brow of Richmond Hill became the site of The Richmond Wesleyan Theological Institute, widely known as Richmond College. When it first opened there were 41 students in residence.

WESLEYAN THEOLOGICAL INSTITUTION, RICHMOND - Important for its size, and not for its size alone, this collegiate structure is one that would not discredit either of our universities. A competition for the building took place in the summer of 1841, -and the design chosen and adopted was that by Mr. Andrew Trimen. The entire plan is 248 feet by 65, in its greatest depth. and that portion of the front which is between the wings is 165 feet. As what may be called the chief or public rooms are on the ground-floor, that is treated as the principal one in the design: thus a different character (one by no means of an unpleasing is produced from' what is observable in collegiate structures generally, where the rooms so situated are low, and with smaller windows than those above them. Besides class-rooms. and some others, on this floor are the refectory and lecture-room, each 57 by 21 feet, and the Governor's apartments, all which are 17 feet in height. Beyond the entrance-hall (47 feet by 20), which has a groined ceiling, is seen the principal staircase, branching off right and left. This leads to the library (35 feet by 20, feet and 20 feet high), which is the only public room on that floor, all the rest of it being divided into studies or separate sitting-rooms for the pupils. The library is lighted by a single window at one end, namely, the lofty oriel over the entrance, which, contrasting with the other windows of the upper floors, gives a marked importance to that portion of the front; and it also plainly indicates that this apartment is carried up the height of two stories. The next floor consists entirely of sleeping-rooms for the students, corresponding with their sitting-rooms on that beneath it; and of each sort of rooms there are from sixty to seventy in number. Still higher up, however, there is another room quite at the top of the building, intended to be used as an observatory, and commanding a singularly fine prospect of the beautiful scenery around the college, including Windsor Castle in one direction, and Greenwich and Shooter's Hill in another. Upon the ground-floor there yet remains to be noticed the corridor, or ambulatory, extending nearly the entire length of the building, forming a walk 230 feet in extent. The wings contain several additional rooms on a mezzanine floor over the ground one, which, however, does not show itself externally, the general design of the windows corresponding with the others in the lower part of the building, with no other difference than that there is panelled space between the two floors, and that the upper apertures or heads of the windows serve to light the mezzanine rooms. The exterior is of Bath stone, of superior quality; and the whole will be executed for a sum not exceeding £11,000, — somewhat more than it was at first intended to expend; but the excess has been occasioned by the judicious liberality of the committee in adopting some variations that tend greatly to the improvement of the building. [British Almanac, or Yearbook of General Information for 1843, Volume 16 p242-244]

The Wesleyans seem to be now vying with the Catholics in new structures and show of architecture, for the very next No. (1140) is "The Wesleyan Theological Institution, now erecting at Richmond, Surrey." Who Mr A Trimson, or Trimen, for his name is spelled both ways in the catalogue, may be, we know not, but he certainly recommends himself to us not a little by this specimen of his taste. The style is the later Gothic, and the character collegiate, with some degree of novelty also in the arrangement, there being a range of spacious and more than ordinarily ornamented windows on the lower floor, with two series of chamber windows above them. [ Civil Engineer and Architects Journal July 1842 page 234]

Built of Bath stone, the building is little changed. However, in September 1940, more than 30 high‑explosive bombs fell within 400 yards of the college. It is estimated that this did £1,000 worth of damage to the building, loosening pinnacles and turrets, so that they had to be taken down and have not been replaced.

Reference    Civil Engineer and Architects Journal July 1842 page 234
Reference    Pevsner London South Page 520
Reference    Richmond & Twickenham Times   Friday, July 21 2006
Reference    Edward Wedlake Brayley FSA, The History of Surrey, Volume 3 (1844) Page 89-90]
Reference    British Almanac, or Yearbook of General Information for 1843, Volume 16 p242-244 with illustration