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About the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Russell House

Also known as Home for Lady Students


It was established in 1878 as a Hall of Residence for women students

Its accounts were kept by Mary Stuart-Wortley, later Countess of Lovelace (1848–1941), eldest daughter of the politician James Stuart-Wortley and his philanthropist wife Jane (née Lawley); she became the second wife of Lord Byron’s grandson Ralph Milbanke (later Second Earl of Lovelace) in 1880 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

An early donation of £10 is recorded as received from the Dowager Lady Wharncliffe in 1878 (Russell House Accounts Book, 1878–1882, MS258, Senate House Special Collections)

This would have been Georgiana, née Ryder, the widow of John Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, second Baron Wharncliffe, and niece of Gertrude Leveson-Gower, wife of the fourth Duke of Bedford (Burke’s Peerage)

March 1881 saw 13 beds let in the house and, apparently, some ladies sleeping out (Russell House Accounts Book, 1878–1882, MS258, Senate House Special Collections)

Its Principal at the time of the 1881 census was Elizabeth Cail

It was supposedly wound up in 1882, possibly because this was the time at which a rival institution, College Hall, was in the process of being set up, and actually looked like taking over the lease of Russell House from Lady Wentworth, although in the event this didd not happen (College Hall minutes, 8 May 1882, 22 May 1882, 3 July 1882, CH 1/1/1, Senate House Special Collections)

It was still in existence at the time of the 1891 census, when its Principal was Mary Isobel [Isabella] Cail, Elizabeth Cail’s sister, and it housed 5 boarders, 4 of them art students

It had closed by the time of the 1901 census

What was reforming about it?

It housed some of the earliest women students at pioneering institutions in the area, including the Slade School and the London School of Medicine for Women

However, the very similar institution College Hall, founded just four years later, was considerably more successful

Where in Bloomsbury

It was at Russell House, Tavistock Square, from its opening in 1879 until its closure some time between 1891 and 1901

Website of current institution

It no longer exists


Russell, Bedford, and Tavistock Houses, c. 1900

By kind permission of Dickens House


Books about it

None found


Its accounts book from 1878–1882 is held in Senate House Special Collections, ref. MS258

This was donated to the University of London by Hilda Grenfell, née Lyttelton, niece of the book-keeper, Mary Stuart-Wortley; she inherited it becauase their mothers were sisters and Mary had no children (Burke’s Peerage)

This page last modified 19 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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