King’s College London was founded in 1828-9 by a group of eminent politicians, churchmen and others. They wanted a Church of England alternative to what later became University College London (UCL, founded in 1826), known as ‘the godless college in Gower Street’. King’s was granted a royal charter by King George IV on 14 August 1829.
The University of London was established in 1836 with King’s and UCL its two founding colleges.
The Duke of Wellington, victor of the Battle of Waterloo and Prime Minister, chaired the public meeting which launched King’s on 21 June 1828. Early in 1829 the Earl of Winchilsea publicly challenged Wellington about his simultaneous support for the Anglican King’s College and the Roman Catholic Relief Act. The result was a duel in Battersea Fields on 21 March. Shots were fired but no-one was hurt.
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