Lonsdale College was founded in 1965 and is the second oldest Lancaster University college. Originally located on the North Spine of the main campus, for 40 years, Lonsdale was home to the Law Department and the Modern Languages Department as well as thousands of students. But with the new millennium came radical new ideas.

Lonsdale College under construction in 1964.

In 2004 the college moved, along with Cartmel College to some of the newly built buildings to the south of the main campus in Alexandra Park as part of the University’s expanding initiative. The original buildings were transferred to the other founding college, Bowland, and became known as Bowland North. Alexandra Park, the new southern campus suburb, was born and named after Princess Alexandria the University’s first Chancellor.


Lonsdale takes its name from the Lune Valley (’Lune’s Dale’), which lies to the north-east of Lancaster. The Romans, Saxons, Normans and Danes all made an impression in the area. Apart from Lancaster itself, the main market town of the area is the ancient settlement of Kirkby Lonsdale (Norse: ‘Kirke-bu’ = ‘church farm’, ‘dal’ = ‘valley’; hence ‘Church farm in the Lune Valley’). The name ‘Kirkby Lonsdale’ was included in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The most notable feature of the town is the Church of St. Mary’s, built in Norman times between 1093 and 1130.