King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
In the Beginning ...

The grant of land

==insert description of image=View of Somerset House, From the River... 1806A breakthrough came in December 1828 when Sir Robert Peel approached the Bishop of London with the offer of the grant of Crown land adjacent to Somerset House in the Strand.

This was now occupied by a timber yard and a series of ramshackle sheds but had a long and complex history occupied by ecclesiastical buildings and the Protector Somerset's original palace.

The Provisional Committee approved the idea and the grant was issued in June 1829 for 'that piece or parcel of ground situate…in the Parish of St Mary le Strand…on the East side of Somerset House'.

The most important conditions associated with the transfer were that the river front buildings be 'in strict conformity' with the existing Somerset House frontage, and that they be completed in five years and the remaining College buildings within ten years.

King's was envisaged as a practical day school for the sons of the London middle classes studying subjects such as medicine, chemistry, geology and modern languages.

Consequently, Smirke specifically excluded residential accommodation from his plans. The site was convenient for its close proximity to other seats of learning such as the College of Physicians.

However, concerns were voiced that the neighbouring theatres in the Strand and the slums surrounding Holborn would endanger the health and morals of the naive young students.

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