Goldsmiths College was formerly the Royal Naval School, which was opened by Prince Albert in 1843. It was built by John Shaw the Younger in 1843-45 who also designed the chapel in 1853. In 1891 the Goldsmiths' Company purchased the building and founded its own Technical and Recreative Institute here. In 1904 the site and its buildings were presented to the University of London. It was badly bombed in WWII. The campus buildings are set within grounds that have one main green space, College Green, a rectangular lawn with the rear of the Richard Hoggart Building on the north-east side, and new buildings to the west and south-west, down to tennis courts.
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The Royal Naval School began as a school for the sons of 'impecunious naval officers', which had been founded in Camberwell in 1833 before moving to New Cross, where it remained until 1889 then moving again to Chislehurst. The Goldsmiths' Company had received its first charter in 1327 and became one of the wealthiest and most powerful of the city livery companies. The new Goldsmiths College provided courses for students preparing for external degrees in engineering and science at the University of London, and also ran art and music classes. A south block was added to the main building by Sir Reginald Blomfield, which is now named the Richard Hoggart Building. This overlooks College Green, which has six large plane trees and a number of horse chestnuts around the perimeter, with recent planting of commemorative trees. In the north-east corner is a modern raised garden with C19th urns and other architectural fragments. The botanical gardens of the former Biology Department in St James Street at one time contained rare trees, shrubs and perennials, but was closed in the 1960s.
corr. N Mahoney to D Lambert 1992 re botanical department; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993).