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Three Generations of Whitelands Women

Since 1952, three generations of women from one family have studied at Whitelands. Recently they spoke with us and kindly shared their memories of life at the college.

Posted: 21 May 2013

image for news story Three Generations of Whitelands Women
Lucy, Eileen and Kate

When she walked through the gates of Whitelands last September, Psychology student Lucy Foskett was continuing a family tradition that had begun more than 60 years ago. Lucy is the third generation of her family to attend Whitelands College, following in the footsteps of her mother Kate who did a Sports Studies degree between 1986 and 1989, and her grandmother Eileen who did a Physical Education with English course between 1952 and 1954. We caught up with the three women to hear their unique take on life at Whitelands and the memories that they made.

Eileen Sharples (nee Holden) reflected very fondly on her days as a student: "Whitelands College in 1952 was based in Sutherland Grove in Putney. It was like a girls’ boarding school but with a warm family atmosphere. It was a beautiful building, with polished parquet floors, gleaming brass door handles and free cleaning every week. There was free board and tuition, but no phones, no students' union and definitely no boys." More than three decades later, Eileen’s daughter Kate Lowton (nee Sharples) came to Whitelands. "I enrolled in a Sports Studies Course. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I was lucky to have absolutely fantastic lecturers."

During her studies at Whitelands, Kate’s mother came to visit to see the campus for the first time since she left. "When I visited Kate, I was delighted at how little the College had changed since my day. Apart from the fact that Whitelands was an all-girls institution, little had been touched. Even down to the 'Star' just inside the main entrance. This was a glass light fitting in the shape of a star that had hung in the same spot for many years. It was the campus meeting point -- 'I'll meet you under the star'-- was a phrase adopted by all."

Speaking further on her time at Whitelands, Kate recalls the friends she made and the experience she had: "Having lived in Lancashire all my life, leaving to attend Whitelands in London was a big deal but I never looked back. I loved the College and I met life-long friends there. The whole College was one big family; it was unique and undoubtedly one of the best times of my life."

In the years following Kate’s departure, Whitelands moved its campus from Putney to its current location. With this move came a new chapter in the College’s history. “Last year all three of us travelled down for the applicant orientation and I have to say we were so pleased with everything that we saw. Despite having moved to Roehampton Lane, the community atmosphere is still very evident on campus. It was also great to see the rich history of the College being preserved and displayed so well; we had a bit of a laugh when we found the year group photographs on the wall. All the memories came flooding back” said Kate.

With her first year coming to an end, we asked Lucy, the youngest of the three women, about her experience at Whitelands and university life. "I have absolutely loved my first year at Roehampton. I have met some of the most amazing friends I'll ever have and I'm sure we will stay in touch throughout my lifetime. My course has been very interesting and I can't wait to carry on into my second year."

We left the final word to Lucy and asked 'If she was to have a daughter of her own in the future, would she like to see her continue on the Roehampton tradition?' "One reason why my mum wanted me to come here was because she knew I would feel much more at home in this kind of environment rather than going to a city centre based university and she was right. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the University of Roehampton to my daughter."

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