Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) originated out of the merger of two pioneering colleges that offered higher education to women. Royal Holloway College and Bedford College, founded by Victorian philanthropist Thomas Holloway and social reformer Elizabeth Jesser Reid, became part of the University of London in 1900 and were the first institutions in the UK to award degrees to women. The university, which is home to more than 9,000 students, is situated in 135 acres of parkland in Egham, Surrey, less than 20 miles from central London.
Its campus is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and is based on the design of the Château Chambord, one of the largest and most distinctive châteaux in the Loire Valley.
The distinctive Founder's Building on campus – built around two quadrangles and comprising a gilded chapel and picture gallery with works by world-class artists – has featured as a backdrop in several film and TV productions including Downton Abbey, Inspector Morse and Midsomer Murders. The university boasts a recent multi-million pound estate investment programme and a new drama complex, the Caryl Churchill Theatre. It also has a central London base at Bedford Square in Bloomsbury. RHUL cites the development of treatments and therapies for rare diseases, the rapid decline of bees and protecting the UK's national infrastructure from cyber-attack as among its research priorities. It also lays claim to world-class experts in the arts, humanities and sciences, with many Royal Holloway academics acting as advisors to policy-makers and governments on a wide range of issues. The university’s alumni include novelist George Eliot, suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, actor Lenny Henry, and singer-songwriter KT Tunstall.
Among the expert academics teaching at RHUL is Sir Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate, who was appointed Professor of Creative Writing in 1999.