Coward College, Byng Place

Page 91

Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1949.

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The building in Byng Place, south of the Catholic Apostolic Church, which is now converted into three houses, was built in 1832 by Thomas Cubitt as Coward College. The plans and contract for this building are preserved in the Library of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

It is a stucco-fronted building of four storeys, above a basement, the principal (east) face having nine windows on each floor, the centre, with three windows, projecting forward with four pilasters, the height of the first and second floors, over which is an entablature surrounding the whole building. A second smaller cornice runs below the parapet over the third floor, the centre having simple pilaster strips to the top storey and a pediment above. At first-floor level a balustraded balcony (fn. n1) runs the whole length of the east elevation and the ground floor has horizontal channelled joints (Plate 38). The south elevation is three windows in width, the centre of which has a pedimental head on the first floor, and a porch below.

According to the Dictionary of National Biography, William Coward was a London merchant, famous for his liberality to dissent, who died in 1738. He had large possessions in Jamaica and lived at Walthamstow. He left considerable property in trust "for the education and training of young men … between 15 and 22, in order to qualify them for the Ministry of the Gospel among the protestant dissenters." His trustees used the money in maintaining a College in Wellclose Square and the more celebrated Academy which Dr. Philip Doddridge started at Market Harborough (1729) but almost immediately removed to Northampton. Dr. Doddridge died in 1751 and the Coward Trustees took over its management in the following year. It was then housed at Daventry and after further removals, at first back to Northampton and then to Wymondley, it found a home in Byng Place in 1833. Here it took the name of Coward College and remained as a residential College for Theological Students until May, 1850. It was then combined with Homerton College and Highbury College to form New College, which was first built on a site at Swiss Cottage. In 1924 New College was united with Hackney College by Act of Parliament, both having become Schools of the University of London in 1900, when the Faculty of Theology was founded. In 1934 plans were made to unite the two colleges physically on the same site and new buildings were erected behind the Hackney College premises at Hampstead, and were opened in 1938. The combined colleges were renamed New College, London, in 1936. (fn. 88)

While Coward College was in Byng Place (1833–1850) it had two Principals, the Rev. Thomas Morell, who had already presided over the College at Wymondley from 1821 and who continued in London until 1840, and Dr. Thomas William Jenkyn, from 1840 to 1850. New College possesses a portrait in oils of William Coward.


  • n1. balcony was removed in 1947.
  • 88. From information supplied by the Rev. J. B. Binns, Secretary and Librarian of New College, London, and also the articles on Dr. Doddridge and William Coward in Dictionary of National Biography. The date of the Agreement with Coward's Trustees under which New College was formed was 10th September, 1849.