Bloomsbury

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Studio to rent in london Bloomsbury area

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 several of its colleges, including University College London, 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.

History

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.[3] 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,[4] 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.

Parks and squares

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

Culture

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 (also Bloomsbury Set) of artists, the most famous of whom was Virginia Woolf, who met in private homes in the area in the early 1900s,[10] 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.

Educational institutions

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), the College 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

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 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 (foundlings) in Georgian London. The hospital, now demolished but 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.

Transport

The area surrounding Bloomsbury is served by 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 located just north of Bloomsbury. Since Wednesday, November 14, 2007, 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 home to 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.[21] Route 7 goes along Great Russell Street, past the British Museum, and on to Russell Square.

One of the 13 surviving taxi driver’s shelters in London is in Russell Square[22] where drivers can stop for a meal and a drink.