Bloomsbury is a wonderful part of London to explore on foot, and as I was in the area I decided to check out The Foundling Museum.
In the 1700's the wealthy sea captain Thomas Coram, was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw in London so he set about founding an orphanage for illegitimate babies under 1 year old and in good health. He was supported in his endeavours by the composer Handel and the painter of social history Hogarth and so as well as the the orphanage, this site was also London's first ever public art gallery - the funds gained from the patronage of London's elite maintained the foundling hospital.
The orphanage changed location in the 20th century but the original Foundling Hospital still stands and is home to the largest display of Handel's musical scores anywhere in the world and a collection of Hogarths and Gainsborough paintings which hang in the original Court Room where destitute mothers would have to stand before well to do and well meaning Christian *Ladies* who, keen to support the arts and show how charitable they were, would decide if the baby would be taken in, be put on the reserve list, or be rejected.
You won't see dormitories full of ancient lead-painted cots, or row upon row of inky desks (they weren't taught to write - it wasn't considered necessary for the jobs they would be doing) but you will see a small cabinet displaying tiny little love tokens, left on their babies by desperate mothers - little beaded bracelets, brooches, notelets, and all kinds of mementos - Mothers who gave up their babies hoping that one day they may have a better life. The children were just educated enough to work as maid servants and apprentices, but they were fed and well taken care of and at least had a chance of a better future. It's heartbreaking... take tissues!!
The Coram Family still works today to help the socially deprived and vulnerable children of London.
I had first read about this museum on Colin's - VTname Britannia2 - page about London and decided to go there. It's hidden in a small street , quite close to the British Museum. Even though there were not too many visitors, it was not the quiet atmosphere that is usually associated with a museum.Giggling, chuckling, even loud laughing could be heard all over and I soon joined in. This is a wonderful,small museum!
I liked the fact that explanations are given next to the cartoons. Especially with political cartoons it's hard to remember after some time which person or event the cartoon refers to.
Because of the copyright picture taking is not allowed, understandable, but still a pity. I had wanted to describe some of the cartoons to my husband, but it's hard to remember just that very stroke of the pen which makes the whole thing so funny.
Entrance fee is £ 4.
The BT Tower opened in 1964, and has a height of 191 meters and was until 1990 when the Canada Tower was finished London's tallest structure. The building was the first ever purpose built telecommunications tower built of its type. The 34th floor used to be a revolving restaurant which completed its turn every 22 minutes. The restaurant was bombed by the IRA in 1971 but stayed open until 1980 when the lease expired. Now its not possible anymore to visit the tower.
I wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and in addition I wanted to pick one section to look at in depth. I didn't think that I needed to look at stuff like Egyptian Mummies that I could see at the Smithsonian at home without flying across an ocean, so it should be something unique to the British Museum. What I picked was Roman Britian.
I looked up on the website and found that there were free Eyeopener Tours, and there was going to be one on Roman Britain while we were there, so we visited the museum when we could take that tour.
This mosaic is on the south wall, and is called Mosaic from a villa (Roman Britain, 4th century AD From Hemsworth, Dorset)
"This panel is the flooring of an apse at one end of a large and imposing reception room. The scene is of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, rising from the sea, standing on a shell. She is surrounded in the outer border by fanciful dolphins and other marine creatures."
Bloomsbury was long time considered as the academic heart of London and home of poets, writers and scholars. In the area, you'll find the University of London and the British Museum. At the heart of Bloomsbury you can have a nice little walk in Russel Square, the largest of London's Georgian squares.
This is a place to wander around, the cerebal part of London... lots of squares and the less square....
In the heart of London, it is centre of the intellectual past and present, highlights
Greek Revival style built in 1820s the most expensive church of its time, this area was the development frontier of Georgian London....
and the frontier of Europe was changing with the collaspe of the Ottoman Empire and re-emergence of Greece....
Remember Lord Byron died two years after the construction of this church fighting for Greek independence...
Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake (1865-1925) is two ways unless she had a twin! She gained distinction in surgery. In 1893 she was the only woman taking the Bachelorship of Surgery, gained first class honours and qualifed for the Gold Medal, and later was the first woman to gain the Master of Surgery degree.
The statue tells more of her institutional success.....
the scuplture is a study in stern resolve a contrast to Gandhi's serene humility.... which is nearby
We often "navigated by scaffolding" (there was a lot of it around including some at Gatwick). We walked down Gower Street to this scaffolding most mornings. The bus stop was next to it, and I think it conceals the Slade College of Art or some other building of UCL. Due to my former job, I often take pictures of scaffolding by reflex.
Next door is the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art which was established in 1904 by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the leading actor manager of the day. In 1905 the Academy moved to this building at 62 Gower Street.
Their history says: "Fees of six guineas a term are doubled the following year, except for the children of actors, who only pay half. A managing Council is established on which Tree is joined, among others, by Sir Johnston Forbes Robertson, Sir Arthur Wing Pinero and Sir James Barrie. Within a few years they are augmented by other major figures, including W.S. Gilbert, Irene Vanbrugh and, perhaps most significantly, George Bernard Shaw. "
Queen Elizabeth II made a speech here in 2000.
Ordinarily this would be an off-the-beaten-path tip, but since the Bloomsbury section of the London tips doesn't have many things in it (because the British Museum is about IT for things to see), I thought I'd include it here in a relatively harmless place.
Located in the Bloomsbury area in London, the Church of Saint George is quite peculiar with its Neoclassical façade and pyramidal tower. It was built in 1730 by the architect, Nicholas Hawksmoor, a student of Sir Christopher Wren (designer of Saint Paul's Cathedral). It is said that the impressive Neoclassical front portico of the church was modelled after the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek, Lebanon, while the step tower was inspired by the Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus (located near Bodrum, Turkey). Both are symbols of the ancient pagan past, but in a Christian place of worship! The tower contains sculptures of the symbols of the British monarchy: the English lion and the Scottish unicorn.
Bloomsbury is a well defined area south of the Euston Road, east of the Tottenham Court Road, north of High Holborn and west of Judd Street and Hunter Street. It has a large number of Universities and institutions of higher learning, and it also has the British Museum and good public transportation, with both buses and tube stops nearby. The London Eye is NOT in Bloomsbury and neither is the BT tower, although tips for those things have been grouped here.
We stayed in an inexpensive hotel near the British Museum on Gower Street. We got breakfast as part of the price. It was a nice area but there weren't many really close by restaurants.
Described as the best preserved of London's 18th century squares, Bedford Square deserves a little investigation on your way to or from the British Museum. Most of the town houses are now offices but all are original construction. The door arches are made of Coade Stone, an artificial stone made in Lambeth, South London, from a formula that stayed a secret for generations.
This was the part of London where I was staying, making it the most convenient for me to visit. MUST SEE list includes:
- British Museum
- Sherlock Holmes Museum
- Madame Tussaud's
- Wallace Collection
The hotel, built in 1900, dominates the entire eastern side of Russell square. It was built in Victorian style. The building is terracotta coloured with cherubs, collonades and a classy lobby and bar.
Many tourists in London travel to the Bloomsbury area to see the Egyptian mummies at the British Museum, but few realise that only a few blocks away, lurks a homegrown - and rather less successful - mummy.
University College London (UCL) - my alma mater - is the third oldest university in England, and is closely associated with the famous 18th century author and philanthropist Jeremy Bentham. Bentham was a strong advocate of broadening access to education, and was one of the original shareholders who financed the establishment of the University of London (the first college of which was UCL) in 1826. The establishment of the University of London was hugely significant because it created a secular alternative to the religiously affiliated colleges of Oxford and Cambridge universities, thus making university education available to non-Anglican groups such as Dissenters, Catholics and Jews for the first time.
Bentham's somewhat ghoulish wish was that his body be publically dissected after his death. Afterwards, his head was mummified and displayed with an 'auto icon'- essentially his skeleton padded with straw and dressed in one of his own outfits - which was subsequently put on display in a wooden, glassfronted case that still stands in the College's South Cloisters .
However, over the years, it became clear that 18th century British scientists had a thing or two to learn from their Egyptian forebears, and the mummification resulted in a leathery-looking brown lump with bulging eyes. The decision was taken to sculpt a more aesthetically pleasing wax head, complete with some of Bentham's hair (presumably to lend some authenticity?) which now sits on the autoicon.
When I was a student, the mummified head was displayed in the glass case along with the wax-topped auto icon. I am a suggestible soul, and I will readily confess that if I was in the College towards nightfall when the Cloisters were quiet, I would avert my gaze and speed past as fast as possible without breaking into an unseemly sprint. However, having been stolen once to many by rival colleges, the mummified head is now securely locked away from public view and only the auto icon remains on display.
According to Wikipedia, on the "100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, it [the mummified head] was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where it was listed as "present but not voting". Having subsequently spent a number of years lecturing at a university elsewhere, which taught me a thing or two about the eccentric world of academia, this assertion sounds just bizarre enough for it to be true!