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More in this section Social life


The early social life of the students at Royal Holloway seems to rely heavily on drinking tea or cocoa.


RHC PH/271/41 Tea on the terrace at Royal Holloway College c.1900

“I must have drunk more cocoa during my three years at RHC than in all the rest of my life. Cocoa parties at 9.30pm were the thing and were lively enough. Lights went out in all corridors punctually at 10.30pm so that if one ignored the warning bell five minutes earlier and had to return home, say from East III to West II, one faced an eerie journey through the museum and library.”
RHC RF/132/3 Marguerite Buser, English student 1908-1911



A10 Tea party at the bungalow, c.1910

Up until the Second World War, students met their ‘families’ for tea each day at 4pm.  


 RHC AR/161/8 College Hours 1941

‘Families’ were groups of students who acted as a support network for one another when they came to the College. They tended to socialise together and not mix very much with other ‘families’. Many students welcomed this system as it gave them an instant friendship group and helped to create a feeling of community in the College but others, particularly towards the middle of the 20th century, felt the system was too restrictive and that friendship groups should be less exclusive.

Tea (In winter, by this time the elusive fire was lit – some students never mastered the art!)

Bread, butter and milk [were] put out for collection, and hopefully one’s faithful family had added crumpets, toast, jam and cakes – Lyons ‘Kup Cakes’ were very popular. Inter-family and staff tea parties took place occasionally – and birthdays were royally celebrated.” 

RHC RF/132/5 Patricia Garner, student 1931-1935


Uncatalogued, 'Heather Chris and Sue in my room' c.1957


Continue to Student Societies...

Archivist: Annabel Valentine 

College Archives and Special Collections
Founder's Library
Royal Holloway, University of London
Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX


Tel: +44 (0)1784 443814 (internal x3814)
Email: archives@royalholloway.ac.uk


Opening hours:


9.30-1 and 2-4.30

Visits to see original documents are by prior appointment only.


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