The origins of the constituent elements of Imperial can be traced back to the College of St Gregory and St Martin at Wye, which was originally founded by John Kempe, the Archbishop of York, in 1447 as a seminary, with an agricultural college being established at Wye in 1894 after the removal of the seminary.The medical schools of Charing Cross Hospital, Westminster Hospital and St Mary's Hospital were opened in 1823, 1834 and 1854 respectively.
The Royal College of Chemistry was founded in 1845 by subscription as a necessary national resource for industrial and technical development. Royal patronage came from Prince Albert, who was President of the Council. The Government School of Mines and of Science as Applied to the Arts was founded by Sir Henry de la Beche in 1851.
In 1881 the Normal School of Science was established which quickly changed its name to the Royal College of Science. The title Normal had been intended by T.H. Huxley to indicate the high status of the School as in the Ecole Normale in Paris.
The Central Institution, later to become the City and Guilds College, was established by the City Livery Companies under the City and Guilds of London Institute. Unable to find a site in the City, they first set up the Finsbury Technical College. This was intended as a feeder school for the main College. The City and Guilds Waterhouse building opened in 1884 and full time teaching began in 1885.
The Imperial Institute was created in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee with the intention of it being a scientific research institution exploring and developing the raw materials of the Empire countries. It was administered by a Governing body with the then Prince of Wales as President.The Imperial Institute building was constructed in South Kensington between 1888 and 1893.