The College is an international residential centre for postgraduates—whether academic, professional or artistic—studying or training in London. As of September 2012 the community consists of just over 700 students and senior scholars from over 90 different countries, many with partners and families.
The current Director of the College is Major General Andrew Ritchie CBE, formerly Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS).
Goodenough has residential and study facilities and an extensive extra-curricular programme, which includes a conference series aimed at examining subjects of international concern. Its membership includes Visiting Fellows, who act as advisors to these conferences, and Goodenough Fellows, who have a more informal role as advisors and mentors to members.
The college is located in London and set on Mecklenburgh Square, around a private garden to which only residents have access.
The Foundation, 1930
The College was incorporated in 1930, by a group of prominent Londoners, including the Chairman of Barclays Bank and founder of Barclays DCO, Frederick Craufurd Goodenough. Goodenough and his friends wanted to provide able young men coming to London from the Dominions and Colonies, future leaders of what was then a large Empire, with a collegiate life along Oxbridge lines in London. The College was a moot hall and at the same time a place where they would form lasting friendships in tolerance and understanding.
The search for a site for the new college was centred on Bloomsbury, to which the University of London was preparing a move from South Kensington. An ideal island site for sale freehold was found between Guilford Street and Mecklenburgh Square, and the College bought it in 1930.
The London House, 1931
Plans were to design and build a new College, but this would take time which the Governors did not want to waste. In the traditional manner of Bloomsbury's philanthropic institutions, they made a start in a small way in some of the roomy old houses on the site. London House first opened its doors in October 1931, in Nos. 4–7 Caroline Place (now Mecklenburgh Place) on the west side of the site. The House was soon full, with a long waiting list, and by the start of World War II occupied all the Caroline Place houses.
The new London House for 300 single students was built between 1935 and 1963 to the designs of the architect Sir Herbert Baker, his partner Alexander T. Scott, and their successor Vernon Helbing. It was completed in three stages:
Stage 1 (1935–37). The south-east corner including the Great Hall, Charles Parsons Library, common-rooms and the Guilford Street entrance. This was the only part to be completed in Sir Herbert Baker’s lifetime.
Stage 2 (1948–53). The rest of the south wing, the west wing and the north-west corner. Alexander Scott continued in Baker’s style, with some simplification of detail.
Stage 3 (1961–63). The north wing, including the north-east corner. An economy version, for example no flintwork. At the same time, architect Vernon Helbing created the College Chapel out of former offices.
William Goodenough House
In the 1940s, at the instigation of the Chairman of the College Governors, Sir William Goodenough, the Lord Mayor of London launched a Thanksgiving Fund, to raise money in the U.K. and do something to thank the people of the Commonwealth and the United States for their generous gifts, especially of food parcels, during and after World War II. The money raised was used to build William Goodenough House for women and married students from those countries, replacing houses destroyed or badly damaged in the war on the north east of the Square. At the same time the bombed houses in adjacent Heathcote Street were rebuilt as an annexe, and the House was completed in 1957. Later wings, Julian Crossley Court (1974) and Ashley Ponsonby Court (1991) brought the capacity of the House up to 120 rooms for single students and 60 flats for married couples and families.
The two parallel institutions developed their own characters over time – the quiet surroundings of the WGH common rooms appealed to some LH residents, and various "Willie G" girls preferred the noiser atmosphere of the London House Bar. Traditions developed, such as the LH Rugby Team singing lullabies to the inhabitants of WGH after the annual Sports Dinner, and many LH-WGH romances flourished, and in some cases resulted in marriage and even children. The two houses, London House and William Goodenough House eventually became mixed in 1991.
Goodenough College is undertaking a major refurbishment of all facilities. William Goodenough House was refurbished during 2011–12 and re-opened in September 2012. It now has en-suite study bedrooms and family accommodation and specialist facilities for students with disabilities. London House will be refurbished during the 2013–14 academic year.
The Goodenough Club
Nos. 22–25 Mecklenburgh Square survived the war and were used as a nurses’ home until 1989, when they were handed back in a very dilapidated state. At first, the houses were repaired and used as inexpensive accommodation for short-stay visitors, mostly returning alumni and other academics in London to attend conferences and seminars. By 1997 however it was clear that something drastic had to be done if they were to meet the standards that would be required in the 21st century.
The houses were closed, and plans made to add No. 21 and renovate and upgrade at a cost of £3.5 million. There were delays because the Georgian houses are listed buildings in a conservation area, and the work required the approval of both English Heritage (which refused to allow a lift to be installed) and the London Borough of Camden planning department. Eventually the plans were passed, and the Goodenough Club opened its doors in April 2001. The Club is open to academic and professional visitors as well as conference delegates from around the world.
As the name of the college and of the Director's equivalent position has changed over time, the title of each appointee is given.
Up until the 1970s, London House was a single-sex men-only building. The position of London House Warden was abolished in 2008.
From the instigation of William Goodenough House in 1950, it was run by a separate Warden. Up until the 1970s, William Goodenough House was a single-sex women-only building, while London House was a men-only building. The position of William Goodenough House Warden was abolished in 2007.
1940sSir Sydney Kentridge QC, barrister
1950sThe Hon. F. W. de Klerk (LH 58), former President of South Africa
1960sDame Norma Restieaux (WGH 65), Associate Professor of Cardiology at the University of Otago
Gordon Thiessen (LH 65–67), former Governor of the Bank of Canada
The Rt Revd George Cassidy (LH 66), Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
1970sThe Rt Hon Sir David Lloyd Jones (LH 74–75), Lord Justice of Appeal in England and Wales and Chairman of the Law Commission
Dr Helen Clark (WGH 75–76), former Prime Minister of New Zealand
1980sPaul Zed (LH 80–81), member of Canadian parliament
Professor Edward Byrne (WGH 80–82), President and Principal of King's College, London
Dr Jennifer Barnes (WGH 82–83), President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
The Hon. Dr. Greg Selinger (LH 83–85), Premier of Manitoba
Karan Bilimoria, Baron Bilimoria (LH 85–87), co-founder and chairman of Cobra beer
Dr Max Price (WGH 86–87), Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town
Professor George Ellis (WGH 87–88), Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Complex Systems in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town
The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones (LH 88–89), First Minister of Wales
1990sDavid McGuinty MP (WGH 90–93), member of Canadian parliament
Stuart Shilson (LH 91–93), former Assistant Private Secretary to The Queen in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom
Stephanie Nolen (LH 93–94), journalist
Nicole Krauss (LH 97–98), author
Sergei Stanishev (LH 99–00), former Prime Minister of Bulgaria
2000sAshvin Kumar (LH 01–03), independent filmmaker
Llŷr Williams (WGH 02–06), internationally acclaimed pianist
Scott MacIntyre (LH 05–06), former American Idol contestant
Lewis Pugh (WGH 05–06), environmental campaigner