Bloomsbury

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Coordinates: 51°31′34″N 0°07′04″W / 51.5262°N 0.1178°W / 51.5262; -0.1178

Bloomsbury
Bedford gardens.jpg
Bedford Square, one of Bloomsbury's garden squares
Bloomsbury is located in Greater London
Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury
 Bloomsbury shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ305825
London borough Camden
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district WC1
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Holborn and St Pancras
London Assembly Barnet and Camden
List of places
UK
England
London

Bloomsbury is an area of the London Borough of Camden, in central London, between Euston Road and Holborn, developed by the Russell family in the 17th and 18th centuries into a fashionable residential area. It is notable for its array of garden squares,[1] literary connections (exemplified by the Bloomsbury Group) and numerous cultural, educational and healthcare institutions. While Bloomsbury was not the first area of London to have acquired a formal square, Bloomsbury Square, laid out in 1660 by Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton as Southampton Square, was the first square to be named as such.[2]

Bloomsbury is home to the University of London's central bodies and departments, including the Senate House Library and School of Advanced Study, and to several of its colleges, including University College London, the Institute of Education (IOE),[3] Birkbeck, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Numerous healthcare institutions are located in Bloomsbury, including the British Medical Association, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College Hospital and the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. The British Museum and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art are also located in the area.

Bloomsbury is in the Parliamentary constituency of Holborn and St Pancras. The western half of the district comprises Bloomsbury ward which elects three councillors to Camden Borough Council.

History[edit]

Queen Square, Bloomsbury in 1787. The fields to the north reach as far as Hampstead.

The earliest record of what would become Bloomsbury is the 1086 Domesday Book, which records that the area had vineyards and "wood for 100 pigs".[2] But it is not until 1201 that the name Bloomsbury is first noted, when William de Blemond, a Norman landowner, acquired the land.[4] The name Bloomsbury is a development from Blemondisberi – the bury, or manor, of Blemond. An 1878 publication, Old and New London: Volume 4, mentions the idea that the area was named after a village called "Lomesbury" which formerly stood where Bloomsbury Square is now,[5] though this piece of folk etymology is now discredited.

At the end of the 14th century Edward III acquired Blemond's manor, and passed it on to the Carthusian monks of the London Charterhouse, who kept the area mostly rural.

In the 16th century, with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry VIII took the land back into the possession of the Crown, and granted it to Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton.

In the early 1660s, the Earl of Southampton constructed what eventually became Bloomsbury Square. The area was laid out mainly in the 18th century, largely by landowners such as Wriothesley Russell, 3rd Duke of Bedford, who built Bloomsbury Market, which opened in 1730. The major development of the squares that we see today started in about 1800 when Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford removed Bedford House and developed the land to the north with Russell Square as its centrepiece.

Governance[edit]

A map showing the boundaries of the civil parish in 1870.

William de Blemond in the 13th century, a Norman, was the first landowner. Edward III acquired Blemond's manor, and passed it on to the Carthusian monks who governed it until Henry VIII granted it to the Earl of Southampton. The Russell family became landowners in the 18th century.

The area lay within the parishes of St Giles in the Fields and St George's, Bloomsbury,[6] which were absorbed into the St Giles District as part of the Metropolis Management Act 1855.[7] It is now controlled by the London Borough of Camden, and is in the Parliamentary constituency of Holborn and St Pancras.

Geography[edit]

A map of the Bloomsbury district – click to expand

Bloomsbury has no official boundaries, but can be roughly defined as the square bounded by Tottenham Court Road to the west, Euston Road to the north, Gray's Inn Road to the east, and either High Holborn or the thoroughfare formed by New Oxford Street, Bloomsbury Way and Theobalds Road to the south.[2] Bloomsbury merges gradually with Holborn in the south, with St Pancras and King's Cross in the north-east and with Clerkenwell in the south-east.

The area is bisected north to south by the main road Southampton Row/Woburn Place, which has several large tourist hotels and links Tavistock Square and Russell Square – the central points of Bloomsbury. The road runs from Euston and Somers Town in the north to Holborn in the south.

East of Southampton Row/Woburn Place are the Grade II listed Brunswick Centre, a residential and shopping centre,[8] and Coram's Fields children's recreation area. The area to the north of Coram's Fields consists mainly of blocks of flats, built as both private and social housing, which is often considered part of St Pancras[9] or King's Cross[10] rather than north-eastern Bloomsbury. The area to the south is generally less residential, containing several hospitals, including Great Ormond Street, and gradually becomes more commercial in character as it approaches Holborn at Theobald's Road.

The area west of Southampton Row/Woburn Place is notable for its concentration of academic establishments, museums, and formal squares. Here are the British Museum and the central departments and colleges of the University of London, including Birkbeck College, University College London, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the University of London's School of Advanced Study. The main north-south road in west Bloomsbury is Gower Street which is a one-way street running south from Euston Road towards Shaftesbury Avenue in Covent Garden, becoming Bloomsbury Street when it passes to the west of the British Museum.

Parks and squares[edit]

Bloomsbury contains some of London's finest parks and buildings, and is particularly known for its formal squares. These include:

Tavistock Square

Culture[edit]

Some members of the Bloomsbury Group: Left to right: Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mrs. Aldous Huxley, Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.

Historically, Bloomsbury is associated with the arts, education, and medicine. The area gives its name to the Bloomsbury Group of artists, the most famous of whom was Virginia Woolf, who met in private homes in the area in the early 1900s,[11] and to the lesser known Bloomsbury Gang of Whigs formed in 1765 by John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford. The publisher Faber & Faber used to be located in Queen Square, though at the time T. S. Eliot was editor the offices were in Tavistock Square. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in John Millais's parents' house on Gower Street in 1848.

The Bloomsbury Festival was launched in 2006 when local resident Roma Backhouse was commissioned to mark the re-opening of the Brunswick Centre, a residential and shopping area. The free festival is a celebration of the local area, partnering with galleries, libraries and museums,[12] and achieved charitable status at the end of 2012. As of 2013, the Duchess of Bedford is a festival patron and Cathy Mager is the Festival Director.[13][14]

Educational institutions[edit]

Bloomsbury is home to Senate House and the main library of the University of London, The Bloomsbury Colleges (Birkbeck, University of London, Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, School of Pharmacy, School of Oriental and African Studies and the Royal Veterinary College) and University College London (with the Slade School of Fine Art), a branch of the University of Law, London Contemporary Dance School, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and Goodenough College. Other colleges in the area include the University of London's School of Advanced Study, the Architectural Association School of Architecture in Bedford Square, and several London campuses of American colleges including the University of California London Centre, University of Delaware London Centre, Florida State University London Study Centre, Syracuse University London Facility, NYU London, and the London campus of the Hult International Business School.

Museums[edit]

The British Museum, which first opened to the public in 1759 in Montagu House, is at the heart of Bloomsbury. At the centre of the museum the space around the former British Library Reading Room, which was filled with the concrete storage bunkers of the British Library, is today the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, an indoor square with a glass roof designed by British architect Norman Foster. It houses displays, a cinema, a shop, a cafe and a restaurant. Since 1998, the British Library has been located in a purpose-built building just outside the northern edge of Bloomsbury, on Euston Road.

Also in Bloomsbury is the Foundling Museum close to Brunswick Square, which tells the story of the Foundling Hospital opened by Thomas Coram, for unwanted children in Georgian London. The hospital, now demolished except for the Georgian colonnade, is today a playground and outdoor sports field for children, called Coram's Fields; adults are only admitted with a child. It is also home to a small number of sheep. The nearby Lamb's Conduit Street is a pleasant thoroughfare with independent shops, cafes and restaurants.

The Dickens Museum is in Doughty Street. The Petrie Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology are at University College London in Gower Street.

Hospitals[edit]

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (formerly the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital) are both located on Great Ormond Street, off Queen Square, which itself is home to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (formerly the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases). Bloomsbury is also the location of University College Hospital, which re-opened in 2005 in new buildings on Euston Road, built under the government’s private finance initiative (PFI). The Eastman Dental Hospital is located on Gray’s Inn Road close to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital administered by the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust.

Business[edit]

In February 2010, businesses were balloted on an expansion of the InHolborn Business Improvement District (BID) to include the southern part of Bloomsbury. Only businesses with a rateable value in excess of £60,000 could vote as only these would pay the BID levy. This expansion of the BID into Bloomsbury was supported by Camden Council.[15] The proposal was passed and part of Bloomsbury was brought within the InHolborn BID.[16]

Controversy was raised during this BID renewal when InHolborn proposed collecting Bloomsbury, St. Giles and Holborn under the name of "Midtown", since it was seen as ""too American".[17][18][19] Whilst businesses were informed about the BID proposals there was little consultation with residents or voluntary organisations. InHolborn produced a comprehensive business plan aimed at large businesses.[20] Bloomsbury is now part of InMidtown BID with its 2010 to 2015 business plan and a stated aim to make the area "a quality environment In which to work and live, A vibrant area to visit and A profitable place in which to do business".[21]

Churches[edit]

Church of Christ the King

Bloomsbury contains three notable churches:

The church of St George the Martyr in Queen Square was built 1703–1706,[23] and was where Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath married on Bloomsday in 1956.[24]

Transport[edit]

The area surrounding Bloomsbury has several London Underground stations, although only two of these (Russell Square and Euston Square) have entrances in Bloomsbury itself. The other stations, located on the fringes of Bloomsbury, are Euston, Goodge Street, Warren Street, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Chancery Lane and King's Cross St. Pancras.

The mainline rail stations Euston, King's Cross and St. Pancras are all just north of Bloomsbury. Since November 14, 2007 (2007-11-14), Eurostar services have relocated to St Pancras, promising shorter journey times to Paris and Brussels and better connections to the rest of the UK.

Bloomsbury is also the site of the disused British Museum tube station.

It is well served by buses, with over 12 different routes running south down Gower Street and both north and south through Russell Square.[25] Route 7 goes along Great Russell Street, past the British Museum, and on to Russell Square.

One of the 13 surviving taxi drivers' shelters in London, where drivers can stop for a meal and a drink, is in Russell Square.[26]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Guide to London Squares. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  2. ^ a b c The London Encyclopaedia, Edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert. Macmillan London Ltd 1983
  3. ^ "Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentships". IOE London. Institute of Education. 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Camden Council Local History. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  5. ^ 'Bloomsbury', Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 480–89 Date accessed: 8 March 2007
  6. ^ Sir Walter Besant and Geraldine Edith Mitton, "Holborn and Bloomsbury: The Fascination of London". Adam & Charles Black, London, 1903. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  7. ^ "London History - London, 1800-1913 - Central Criminal Court". www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  8. ^ Brunswick Centre – Restoration. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  9. ^ View London. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  10. ^ Corams Fields. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  11. ^ Fargis, Paul (1998). The New York Public Library Desk Reference – 3rd Edition. Macmillan General Reference. p. 262. ISBN 0-02-862169-7. 
  12. ^ "Preview: The Bloomsbury Festival". Londonist. Londonist. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "History". Bloomsbury Festival. Bloomsbury Festival. October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "The Team". Bloomsbury Festival. Bloomsbury Festival. October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "Council supports proposed expansion of Business Improvement District inholborn accessed 13 March 2010". Camden.gov.uk. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  16. ^ Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles business improvement district renewal ballot – announcement of result accessed 13 March 2010[dead link]
  17. ^ "Bloomsbury regroups for a bright new future accessed 13 March 2010". Thisislondon.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  18. ^ "Holborn Midtown accessed 13 March 2010". Janeslondon.com. 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  19. ^ Hill, Dave (2010-01-25). "Bid to re-brand Holborn, Bloomsbury and St Giles accessed 113 March 2010". Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  20. ^ "IH_BID2010_document_061109:IH_BID2010_document" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-06. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Our Purpose". Midtown BID. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  22. ^ Church of Christ the King. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  23. ^ St George's Bloomsbury. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  24. ^ Walking Literary London, Roger Tagholm, New Holland Publishers, 2001.
  25. ^ TfL Central London Bus Routes. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  26. ^ Cabmen's Shelters. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  27. ^ Mackail, Denis: The Story of J.M.B. Peter Davies, 1941
  28. ^ J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. Act I. Hodder & Stoughton, 1928
  29. ^ Charles Darwin. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  30. ^ ODNB: Lucy Peltz, "Lodge, Edmund (1756–1839)" Retrieved 11 March 2014
  31. ^ Alexei Sayle (8 October 2013). "Alexei Sayle: Bloomsbury by bike - video" (Video upload). The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]