The present-day University has a long and interesting history; it was originally two separate Colleges which were situated in London - St.John's College in Battersea and St.Mark's College in Chelsea.

An aerial view of the University College campus and chapel

St.John's was established as a teacher training college in 1840 by James Kay (later Kay-Shuttleworth) and Edward Tufnell. The first students were teenage orphans, and they received three years of training followed by two years of teacher placement. In 1843, it was taken over by the Church's National Society.

St.Mark's was established a year later in 1841 by the National Society, and its first principal was Derwent Coleridge (son of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge). Students were between 14 and 17 years old, and were placed on three months of probation before being apprenticed to the National Society until they were 21.

The two Colleges became rival institutions, both educationally and in the fields of sport and military drilling, so it was quite a shock when the decision was make in 1923 to amalgamate them to form one single College which was based on the Chelsea site. In 1967, women were admitted to the College for the first time.

In 1973, due to a proposed major road building project, the University was moved to its current location, a purpose-built site on the outskirts of Plymouth. It has expanded its course remit to include both traditional subject such as theology, and modern ones such as public relations and media studies. Over 5000 students now study at Marjon (as it is commonly known), and it is the biggest provider of in-service training for teachers in England.

The University archives document and reflect this complex history, and they include student registers, committee minutes, textbooks and exam papers, plans and photographs, student remininescences and memorabilia, as well as newer forms of media. Held in the Library, the archives assistant is available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays (am). The archives are open to the University community; the collection is also open to the general public but visits must be arranged in advance.

One of our initiatives

“Your Paintings” – a website which aims to show the entire UK national  collection of oil, acrylic and tempera works of art, and to make it accessible to the public. Its been created as a partnership between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation and the participating public institutions.

There are now over 145,000 paintings online, with brief descriptions and location details. Collections with more than 18 paintings have a separate catalogue hardback publication.

Marjon's collection  comprises a mix of styles and eras, covering the past Principals of the college from Derwent Coleridge to John Rea – he was the last to be depicted in a painting, after that the college adopted a photographic representation instead.

The website can be accessed via: and searching the Galleries and Collections using the search criteria: 'St Mark and St John'.

For enquiries and advice, please contact:

Archive Assistant
The Library
University St Mark & St John
Derriford Road

Tel: 01752 636700