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Our history

Queen Mary has its roots in four historic colleges: Queen Mary College, Westfield College, St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College and the London Hospital Medical College.

The Mile End campus is historically the home of Queen Mary College, which began life in 1887 as the People's Palace, a philanthropic centre to provide east Londoners with educational, cultural and social activities. Queen Mary College was admitted to the University of London in 1915. Westfield College was founded in 1882 in Hampstead as a pioneering college for the higher education of women. In 1989 Queen Mary merged with Westfield College to form Queen Mary and Westfield College.

In 1995, Queen Mary and Westfield merged again, this time with two distinguished medical colleges, St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, established in 1843, and the London Hospital Medical College, England's first medical school, founded in 1785. This merger created Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and brought clinical medical and dental teaching to Queen Mary for the first time.

In 2013, the legal name of Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London was officially changed to Queen Mary University of London to reflect common usage. This year also saw Queen Mary decide to award its own degrees, with the 2014 graduates being the first to receive them.

The College’s Archives hold a wealth of fascinating institutional archives and rare prints, dating from the 17th Century to the present day. The collections provide an insight into some of the scholarly activities of QMUL staff and students in the past, documenting the rich history of QMUL.

Did you know?

  • We have the second oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in England, a Spanish Portuguese Jewish cemetery dating from 1726, in the centre of our campus.
  • The skeleton of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, is housed in the School of Medicine and Dentistry's Pathology Museum.
  • The Medical College of the Royal London Hospital (now part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry) was England’s first medical school when it opened in 1785.
  • From 1964 until 1982 Queen Mary College maintained its own nuclear reactor, initially sited beneath Mile End Road.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell, the first fully qualified female doctor in the UK, trained at Barts Hospital Medical College in 1850.
  • Sir John Vane, who founded the William Harvey Research Institute, is credited with discovering how aspirin and similar drugs produced their effects.
  • Sir Walter Besant's 1882 novel All Sorts and Condition of Men – An Impossible Story, imagined a 'Palace of Delights' in east London with concert halls, reading rooms, picture galleries, art school and education for local people – this was the inspiration for The People's Palace and the start of Queen Mary today.
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