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The seeds of Morley College were sown by the Victorian social reformer Emma Cons, who in the 1880s created the Royal Victoria Coffee and Music Hall in order to provide penny lectures and ‘morally decent’ entertainment in the Waterloo area. Beginning life as Morley Memorial College for Working Men and Women, the adult education college – which is named after the benevolent textile manufacturer and MP Samuel Morley – moved to its current location in the 1920s but was largely destroyed during the Blitz. Rebuilt in 1958 to a design by CC Voysey, the building has expanded with the purchase of a former pub building across the road, a sculpture studio in a disused church nearby, and a more recent extension. Over the years, Morley has become famous for the calibre of its teaching staff. Gustav Holst was Director of Music from 1907 until 1924. Other high profile figures associated with the college include Ralph Vaughan Williams, Virginia Woolf and David Hockney. Reflecting its cultural associations are several permanent artworks in the building, including paintings by John Piper and Bridget Riley and, in the canteen, a series of murals created by Edward Bawden in the early 1960s, which depict scenes from Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’. If you’re not a student, there’s an opportunity to visit the building as part of Open House London, which takes place in September.
Morley College says
Founded in 1889, Morley College London is one of the UK’s leading centres for adult education. Morley is best known for music and the visual arts, with over 13,000 students studying with us each year and has been rated as London's top college for learner satisfaction in 2015.