The History of Ashridge Business School - Details

Ashridge as a management college

Ashridge House was purchased by Mr Urban Broughton in 1928 who established the Bonar Law Memorial Trust to commemorate the Conservative Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law (who served from 1922-1923 and died shortly after leaving office). In addition to honouring Bonar Law, the trust was established to preserve the building and to ensure that Ashridge be used “for the purposes of an Educational Centre or College for educating persons in Economics, in Political and Social Science, in Political History, with special reference to the development of the British Constitution and the growth and expansion of the British Empire, and in such other subjects as the Governing Body may from time to time deem desirable”.

Ashridge House was modernised at this time, as it was still lit by oil lamps, had no central heating and had only one bathroom at either end of the whole building. The ashes of both Broughton and his wife, Lady Fairhaven, were placed beneath the chapel altar on their deaths.

In 1929, Broughton’s son, Lord Fairhaven, donated the deeds for Ashridge to the Bonar Law Memorial Trust and the Bonar Law Memorial College’s first principal was Major-General Sir Reginald Hoskins.

Ashridge ceased to function as a college during the second World War when it became an emergency wing of Charing Cross Road Hospital. It also played host to a ladies’ finishing school until 1958 and the Public Records Office until 1978.

Ashridge (Bonar Law Memorial) Trust was incorporated as an educational charity by an Act of Parliament in 1954 and political affiliation ended.

Ashridge Management College | Ashridge Business School

Ashridge Management College was established in 1959 to fulfil a need identified by a group of leading companies that included Guinness, Shell and Unilever.

The most recent amendment to the act of parliament was in 1983, which allowed Ashridge to provide education around the globe and set Ashridge’s main objectives as:


  • providing education in management and related subjects
  • undertaking and disseminating research in management education
  • preserving Ashridge House for the benefit of the nation.

The past twenty years have seen Ashridge grow in to new fields of education and research. Ashridge Consulting Limited was set up in 1986 to offer a unique approach to organisation consulting, based at Ashridge but providing consulting for organisations around the world.

Ashridge’s clients are based on four continents and Ashridge has offices in various overseas locations.
Ashridge is consistently ranked highly for its executive education too by the Financial Times and the Economist.

The Ashridge Strategic Management Centre was launched in 1987 by Andrew Campbell and Michael Goold, focusing on issues critical to the competitive advantage and business performance of large multinational companies. The ASMC carries out research projects, publishes books, reports and articles and runs short programmes and seminars for senior management. The Centre works together with a group of member companies who guide the research agenda and enjoy a number of member benefits.

Ashridge has since launched other specialist centres focusing on different areas of research, education and change. The Ashridge Centre for Business and Sustainability was launched in 1996 to undertake strategic consultancy and research projects for organisations in public, private and voluntary sectors. It also runs short programmes in Corporate Responsibility and community investment.

The Ashridge Leadership Centre was launched in 2001 to focus on developing European Leadership models. It conducts research that adds value to the discipline and enhances the leadership capability of its organisational partners in the private and public sectors.

In 2006, Ashridge launched the Ashridge Centre for Coaching, dedicated to providing excellence in the field of coaching; and the Ashridge Public Leadership Centre, aimed at providing leadership development and executive education in the public and voluntary sector.

The Ashridge full-time MBA programme was launched in 1988 and achieved AMBA accreditation the following year. It is now complemented by the Executive MBA (a two-year part-time programme). Ashridge’s MBA programmes are also accredited by AACSB and EQUIS and are consistently ranked in the top 10 MBA programmes in Europe and has been ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the number one programme in the world for salary growth for three years running.

Other qualifications programmes at Ashridge are the:

The Virtual Learning Resource Centre was launched in 1999 as a pioneering concept in e-learning. The VLRC now provides online e-learning access to up to half a million people in around 150 organisations from both the public and private sectors.

In addition to the executive education, research, consulting and coaching, Ashridge is an award winning conference venue.
Find more information on the awards Ashridge has won for its dining and hospitality here.

In 2009, Ashridge celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a range of events that aimed at looking forward to the future of learning.

View Corporate History Timeline.