Skip to main content
About us

Our history

Queen Mary has a long, proud and distinctive history built on four historic institutions stretching back to 1785 and beyond.

Our founding institutions are: St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, London Hospital Medical College, Westfield College and Queen Mary College.

All four institutions were founded to improve the lives of people with less privilege. St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and The London Hospital Medical College were established to improve the health of the local communities in the City and east London. Westfield College and Queen Mary College provided education to women and working class communities in the East End, respectively, at a time when these groups faced extreme barriers to education.

Timeline of key events and achievements in Queen Mary's history


St Bartholomew’s Hospital is founded to help the poor of West Smithfield in the suburbs of the City of London.


The London Hospital, known as the London Infirmary, is founded to help poor communities living in London’s East End. Although it isn’t officially recognised, medical education takes place.


The London Hospital Medical College is founded; it is England's first official medical school. One of the founders is Sir William Blizard, renowned for his teaching of anatomy, physiology and surgery.


St. Bartholomew’s Medical School is formally recognised with the building of a lecture theatre. Up until then, surgeon John Abernethy, one of the school’s founders, gave lectures in his home.


Sir James Paget, English surgeon and one of the founders of scientific medical pathology, enrolls as a student at St. Bartholomew’s Medical School.


St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College is established.


Elizabeth Blackwell enrols for classes at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College. She goes on to become was the first woman to get a medical degree in the US, and a champion of medical education for women.


Elizabeth Gordon Manson became Matron of St Bartholomew's Hospital. She is a pioneer for the nursing profession, who established the British Nurses’ Association and the International Council of Nurses.


Westfield College is founded as a residential college for women; it is the first such college in London, and one of only four in the UK that opens for women in the second half of the nineteenth century.


The People’s Palace Technical Schools are opened by Queen Victoria. Offering evening classes, a library, reading rooms and social activities, it provides education to people from all backgrounds and promotes diversity as “a place where people of all classes and conditions congregate”.*


The People’s Palace Technical Schools become East London Technical College, providing day and evening classes in a range of subjects, including engineering and physics. It also prepares students for entry into the Civil Service and for University of London exams.


East London Technical College become East London College and has a new aim: to promote higher education in East London.


The Dental School at the London Hospital opens.


Pao Swen Tseng is the first Chinese student to graduate from the University of London, having studied botany under one of Westfield College’s visionary academics, Dr Ellen Delf-Smith.


East London College becomes Queen Mary College, named after Mary of Teck, wife of King George V. Sir Lynden Macassey, writes in the Times that Queen Mary, “stands in striking refutation of all the early critics, who thought that university education was an unnecessary luxury for east London...Drawn as the students are from classes which have their own way to make in the world, they achieve exceptional results in their degree examinations.”


The new People’s Palace is opened by King George VI after the previous building was destroyed by fire in 1931.


The School of Law is established.


Queen Mary receives its first Computer and begins teaching Computer Science.


Professor Sir Roy Goode sets up the UK’s first Centre for Commercial Law Studies to create an environment where practising commercial lawyers and those from academia could meet and exchange ideas.


Queen Mary College’s new library is opened by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


Queen Mary College merges with Westfield College to become Queen Mary and Westfield College.


The Medical College of St. Bartholomew's and The London Hospital Medical College merge to become the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.


Queen Mary and Westfield College merge with Bart’s and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry.


Queen Mary and Westfield College changes its public name to Queen Mary University of London.


Queen Mary starts to offer a joint degree programme with Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, one of China's top engineering universities. This is the first programme of its kind to be approved by China’s Ministry of Education.


Nobel Prize Winner, Harold Pinter, gives a public reading to mark the refurbishment of the studio named for him within the Faculty of Arts.


The Centre of the Cell, the world's first science education centre located within a working research laboratory, opens at the Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science.


Queen Mary becomes one of the 24 leading UK universities who make up the prestigious Russell Group.


More about our history

Back to top