Wye College – now only a memory – was an agricultural college based in Wye, near Ashford, Kent.
It was established in buildings formerly used by the College of St Gregory and St Martin at Wye, an ecclesiastical college founded in 1447.
The agricultural Wye was founded in 1894 as the South Eastern Agricultural College – it became a school of the University of London in 1898. You might think that Wye is too far from London to be part of London University. But as the university’s establishments included a marine biological station in Millport (on the Isle of Cumbrae near Glasgow) Ashford in Kent does seem wildly metropolitan.
Wye’s independence within the university continued until the late twentieth century, when it merged with (for which read, was taken over by) Imperial College, becoming Imperial College at Wye. And, perhaps inevitably, the economics of it all meant that Imperial decided to close the campus, and by 2009 it was finished.
In April 2021 an appeal against a refusal of planning permission was allowed, granting permission for “conversion of former college buildings with associated restoration and alterations to buildings, demolition of later structures and rebuilding to provide 38 dwellings and community space – together with provision of two new dwellings, parking courts with car barns, cycle storage and refuse stores on land to the north of the retained buildings and associated landscaping”.
Will the buildings give a clue to their educational origins? Time will tell.
In the meantime, let us remember that Wye contributed to the development of new varieties of hop, essential for the brewing of beer. The Wye Challenger, Wye Northdown, Wye Target and Wye Yeoman varieties all have their origins in the work of the College.
So, let’s raise a glass to Wye College – gone but not forgotten.