Following upon the creation of a non-residential hall for men in 1953, the University decided to found a similar institution for women students. At about this time, H.R.H. Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent visited the University and consented to allow her name to be used for the new hall. Princess Marina was an aunt of Queen Elizabeth II and she maintained an interest in the hall until her death. Her daughter H.R.H. Princess Alexandra met the hall members in 1961, when she opened the Union Building, and her son, the present Duke of Kent, visited the University, met the commettee members and the warden in 1963. In 1971 hall membership changed from compulsory to voluntary.
Until 1981 the Hall had a spacious common room in the Main Building, then it moved to the newly constructed Swire Building on the University Campus. The first warden was Mrs. Mary Rose, whose husband suggested the Hall motto "GRATIA NATURAM ADJUVAT" ("Art lends grace to nature").