Wye College

So, this is a site that has evaded me since 2019. But, in October 2021, I finally cracked it! The site is a large former medieval monastic college, later a science campus. It was closed down and left abandoned just over a decade ago. Recently it was snapped up by London based property developer TelerealTrillium who have the aim of turning it into houses… surprise surprise. They have had the buildings gutted ready for the redevelopment so there is virtually nothing left to see now.

The College of St Martin and St Gregory was established in 1447 by Cardinal John Kempe, Archbishop of Canterbury and later Lord Chancellor of England, to train monks and laymen for monastic life. The buildings have survived almost unchanged from the 15th century, owing to a condition of sale to a Mr Walter Bucler in 1545 that stipulated that a free school for the poor children of Wye should continue within the buildings. The original college buildings – the Old Latin School, the cloister quadrangle and the Wheel Room – have remained in use as places of education almost continuously since their foundation. The 15th century structures were well maintained over the centuries, and various rebuilding schemes have allowed the site to be adapted for modern use, as well as to maintain their structural integrity.

The modern college buildings were built in various stages between 1893-5, 1901, 1903-6 and 1912-14, although the latest part of construction work was not completed until 1928. Various architects were employed, including P. B. Chambers, T. E. Colcutt (architect of the Queen’s Tower and now demolished Imperial Institute in London) and S. Hamp. The 15th century Wheel Room was restored and extended early this century and was converted into a common room. The Latin School was partly refaced in red brick, the first floor of the cloister quadrangle was rebuilt in brick, and its timber pentice replaced in c.1740. The Old Latin School and the cloister quadrangle are both Grade I Listed, while the Wheel Room is a Grade II* Listed building, and the surrounding modern college extensions are all Grade II Listed.

The 1900s saw an agricultural college founded, which then occupied the site. This specified in all sorts of things, including entomology. The Agricultural College was merged with Imperial College London in 2000 and became known as ‘Imperial College at Wye’. However, this didn’t last especially long. Imperial College closed down the Wye campus in 2009 and attempted to have it developed into housing. This did not come to fruition and the site has been left abandoned.

The Explore:

So, with fresh determination this time, I set off towards the college. Many times I have tried and failed this site, never having managed to get in. But this time was different – I found a way in after two years of trying! And boy, was I not disappointed whatsoever. The site is partly medieval and some of those features still remain in the building – some absolutely gorgeous wooden panelling throughout the structure, Gothic windows and arches, stone fireplaces… list goes on. However, much of it dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, albeit in keeping with the original Gothic style. The new additions are quite obvious as they are made of brick and strangely rounded pieces of rubble. The original sections are evident as the stonework is much worse condition. The explore was good fun, however I did have to dodge numerous motion sensors and PIR-activated CCTV cameras. But other than that, it was brilliant. Enjoy the photographs!


Medieval Section: