Harlaxton History

Harlaxton Manor was built in the mid-1800s as the residence of Gregory Gregory, a local nobleman with a passion for travel and architecture. Passed through family members until the first World War, it was then commandeered as a home to the Machine Gun Corps and Royal Flying Corps/RAF.

Violet Van Der Elst, an eccentric and wealthy entrepreneur, purchased Harlaxton Manor in 1937 and renovated the house, adding electricity and now-iconic features like the stone lions out front of the manor and chandelier in the Great Hall.

Harlaxton was used again by the RAF in the second World War, then purchased by the Jesuits as a training center. The Jesuits added much of the current student housing structure and the refectory to the manor, and eventually leased it to Stanford University for their initial study abroad program.

In 1970, Dr. Wallace Graves, then president of the University of Evansville, saw an ad for Harlaxton and subsequently sub-leased it for the university, with the first class attending Harlaxton in 1971. Dr. William Ridgway then purchased the manor and officially gave it to University of Evansville in 1978.

Since those first classes attended Harlaxton, numerous renovations and diverse academic achievements have taken place at our beloved manor. From the gardens to the student rooms, the place has been transformed by the generosity of our supporters. From student teaching in local schools, to short-term faculty-led programs, to the now-classic British Studies course, the people who come to Harlaxton are transformed by the learning experiences that have taken place here as well.

First Class of Harlaxton

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