A brief history of Cooper’s Hill

Cooper's Hill House in 1950 (black and white)
Victorian gothic entrance with towers and turrets

Our Surrey Retirement Village


Audley Cooper’s Hill has a long and colourful history, with links to the Priory of Ankerwyke, Henry VIII,  Edward VI, the Statue of Eros, now at the centre of London’s Piccadilly Circus, and more. Today, the Victorian Gothic building has been transformed from student accommodation into a luxury retirement village.

Over the years the site has been passed through the hands of many notable owners, such as 

  • Andrew, Lord Windsor in 1539, having been granted it by King Henry VIII
  • Thomas Smith, Secretary of State, given by Edward VI in 1550
  • The Harcourt family, in the 18th Century, where they remained until the start of the 19th Century when they built a new house on the current site, and the property became known as ‘Coopershill’
  • Sold off to Baron Albert Grant in the 19th Century
  • Cooper's Hill student history began when it was bought by Indian Engineering College in 1870, which trained engineers for the Engineering Service of the Government of India.

After 35 years, in 1905, the college moved to Oxford University and the grand estate was purchased by Baron Cheylesmore, a British Army Officer in the First World War, and his wife, for use as a family home until Baron Cheylesmore was killed in a motor accident on 29th July 1925 (Source: thebritishempire.co.uk).

The family were devastated and a ballroom which was being built for his son’s 21st Birthday Party was left unfinished. Nowadays this building is housing the Audley Club and the Spa.

  • In 1934, the site was bought by the London County Council. During the war, administrative staff were transferred over and the Statue of Eros was removed from Piccadilly Circus to spend the period protected at the site.
  • After the war, the Cooper’s Hill Emergency Training College was founded to address an urgent need for teachers, and operated at Cooper’s Hill until 1951'
  • The site of Cooper’s Hill was then acquired in 1951, by Shoreditch Training College.

The expanding Shoreditch Training College had outgrown their accommodation in Pitfield Street, Hoxton, London. The College was a teacher training institution for teachers of handicrafts with it’s origins dating back to the 1900’s, when the London County Council set up a scholarship scheme for pupil teachers in handicrafts. The college merged with Brunel University in 1980, to later specialise in design and technology courses. In 2004, the Department of Design was moved to the main Brunel University Campus at Uxbridge and the Runnymede Campus became purely residential, providing accommodation for students from Royal Holloway College, selling Cooper's Hill in 2007 for £46.6M to the Oracle Group.

In 2017 Audley Group and Royalton have been granted the permission for re-development of the campus for mixed usage, care facilities for elderly and private housing.

For more details about the history of Cooper's Hill please download "A Brief History Of Cooper's Hill" by Mr Towler, Audley Cooper's Hill homeowner.

Elton John at an event in 1978

A surprise guest

The Shoreditch Training College students were in for a very welcome surprise during their Valedictory event in May 1978.

The band who were scheduled to perform at the event in the College Chapel, had to cancel at the last minute and the now Sir Elton John performed at The Shoreditch Training College event in 1978.


Special thanks to Mr Towler, owner at Audley Cooper's Hill, for his input and photographs. You can download the original presentation by Mr Towler below.

Cooper's Hill grounds

Audley Cooper's Hill

The site has since evolved into the beautiful retirement village you see today, with striking grand buildings worth of a fairytale.

During the design and build of Audley Cooper's Hill efforts were made to preserve and celebrate the history of the Englefield Green and the surrounding area, and many owners have now been living in their exquisite properties since the village opening in 2019.

To book a tour of the village and speak to the sales team to find out more about owning your own home there, arrange a visit online or call us.