Royal Holloway University is situated on the outskirts of London and was founded by the philanthropist Thomas Holloway. A self-made millionaire, he wanted to give back to the community and so decided to build Royal Holloway – one of the first colleges for women. The university was officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1886.

As you enter the university, you can’t help but feel like you’ve just stumbled onto the set of a Harry Potter film. The main building, Founders, was largely inspired by the Chateau of Chambord in the Loire Valley region of France and you can even live there if you are a student of the university. It features an enormous Harry Potter-esque dining hall, a picture gallery housing a collection of over 70 pieces of Victorian artwork and even a chapel where you can get married.

This is the closest you can get to a boarding school where sex, alcohol, all-night parties and take-away pizzas are allowed.

Founders is a grade I listed building and, quite amusingly, is the most flammable building in Britain. Back when the building was first built, they stuffed the walls with hay to keep it insulated. Somehow, rats managed to get into the walls and so it was decided that the best way to get rid of them would be to line the walls. With kerosine. By pouring it on top of the hay insulation…

Whenever friends from abroad come to visit me, they’ll often choose to stay in cheap hotels in London near the centre of the city. However, I’ll always insist that they take the 30 minute train journey to Egham so that I can show them around the stunning grounds of Royal Holloway.

royal holloway founders building

royal holloway founders building

royal holloway founders building

royal holloway founders building

royal holloway snow

royal holloway snow

royal holloway snow

 

You can get to Royal Holloway via Egham train station. The university is at the top of Egham Hill and is free to visit. It is also possible to arrange a private tour of the campus.

 

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