A Tale of Two Houses – London

Wednesday 6thMarch 2019 – London 

I grew up in London and before this quest, I had heard of International Student House (ISH) London, but I had never heard of Goodenough College. 

Both these homes away from home are part of the International Houses Worldwide Group, so I was keen to visit them as part of my London stop.   Like I-House NYC they take people from across London’s universities, rather than being affiliated to just one. 

Entrance to ISH on Park Crescent

ISH was my morning stop and I was greeted very warmly by the Armenian gentleman on reception who obviously loved his job and was definitely someone you would want welcoming residents and guests.  

Me with Cynthia and Jilly Borowiecka

I was meeting Jilly Borowiecka who has worked at ISH for many years and is well known amongst the ISH alumni I have met.  We were also joined by a current resident, Cynthia, who works part time with the alumni team.  Cynthia is one of the nearly 90 scholars this year who are funded to live at the House to enable them to study at one of the universities or institutions in London.   This scholarship program is something ISH is hugely proud of and are planning to expand it further next year. 

The Nash crescent that ISH is in

ISH is housed in a beautiful Nash crescent right on the edge of Regents Park, however the interior communal spaces have been updated recently so there are plenty of areas for eating, meeting and studying. ISH accepts both undergraduate and graduate students.  

The other side of the building

ISH was started by Mary Trevelyan, and opened in 1965, but a bit like Harry before she went into building a House she started by forming a club, the GOATs club that offered 100 international students a place to socialise and get support whilst they studied.  Alumni of ISH are still called GOATs. https://ish.org.uk/goatsmembership/

Mary was a great friend of Sherry Warwick the former Director of I-House Berkeley and he often stayed at ISH when he was travelling and also spoke there many times.

My next stop was Goodenough College, which has an number of properties on Mecklenburgh Square, which is a lovely peaceful square despite it being right in the heart of London near Kings Cross.   Goodenough was founded in the 1931 by Frederick Crawford Goodenough who was Chairman of Barclays Bank, to house male graduate students from the commonwealth countries.  Women were added in a separate building after WWII and then in the 1970s the intake was opened up to the rest of the world.  

Goodenough college

The site has beautiful buildings that are set around courtyard gardens which are beautifully maintained as it the whole building.   It has a ‘Churchill room’ with lovely wooden panels, which was used by Churchill during the war. It also has a chapel. Because of its location it attracts a good number of music students, who enjoy playing the various grand pianos that are in some of the rooms. There are also usually enough Opera singers to put on a production at the College each summer, which is a very popular event.

The main gateway, with a glimpse of the courtyard beyond. Below the Library and the main hall just two of many beautiful rooms

I was made very welcome by Hannah Du Gray and Laura O’Sullivan from their Development and Alumni team and we had a wide ranging discussion about post graduate student accommodation both in London and abroad. They call their 700 residents ‘Members’ and usually have over 90 countries represented, with strong representation from Australia, the USA and Canada. It really is a beautiful set of buildings well worth a visit if you are in London.

One thing to note is that Goodenough does a subletting scheme when students are away, as well as to support occupancy in the summer and they have a very stylish hotel on the square too – so if you need somewhere to stay in London do have a look at their website (note the short stay ones tend to come up more last minute so keep checking back) http://www.goodenough.ac.uk/visitors/visitor-accommodation

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