Following in Florence Boot's footsteps

Nearly 100 years after Florence Boot Hall was unveiled as the university’s first purpose-built women’s Hall of Residence, it will reopen to students in late 2023 after a £15m refurbishment.

Florence Boot's great granddaughter, Emma Houston, recently paid a visit to the halls to see the redevelopment first hand and follow in the family footsteps. This inspired something of a trawl of the archives to uncover more of the Boot family's visual history.

Florence Boot Hall

Florence Boot Hall was unveiled as the university’s first purpose-built women’s Hall of Residence at the new University Park campus in November 1928.

The hall received its name of course from its founder, Florence Boot, Lady Trent, whose husband Jesse Boot, the first Lord Trent, had established the Boots Company and more notably for us, donated the 35 acres of land at Highfields which became the university's home.

I am really thrilled to have a strong connection with Florence Boot Hall. Florence was my great grandmother and is my heroine - our eldest daughter is named after her too. Although she died before I was born I knew all about her from my mother, who had adored her grandmother. Florence was a most remarkable lady who was way ahead of her time - a top business woman (very rare in those days), compassionate, caring, encouraging to her staff and hugely generous. She and Jesse made a formidable team where bettering the lot of the poor was concerned, and in particular their education. It goes without saying really that it is no surprise to me that Florence Boot Hall is such a lovely building. Those tall arched windows! The leafy vistas! If I was a student I would never want to leave! As always, Florence got it 100% right.
Emma Houston, great granddaughter of Florence Boot

The couple were major benefactors to the university and Florence Boot was a strong campaigner for women’s rights in higher education.

Florence Boot Hall provided accommodation for eighty women students, with separate study bedrooms, dining hall, common room and library, all furnished by Boot herself.

To further celebrate Florence's immeasurable contribution to the fabric of the university, a Heritage Wall is being created on site as part of the refurbishment.

The wall will visually detail the story of Florence's life and times, to inspire students and describe her impact. It will incorporate photographs and documents, including an original prospectus and plans.

University developments

If you're interested to learn about other developments around the university campus, visit our Estates Office pages.