What is the Bloomsbury Project?
The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life
Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher and creator of the website, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions
Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described
This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents
Where is Bloomsbury?
“The district now known under the general name of Bloomsbury lies on the north side of Holborn, stretching away as far as the Euston Road, and is bounded to the east and west respectively by Gray’s Inn Road and Tottenham Court Road. It was originally called Lomsbury, or Lomesbury, and the manor and village are said to have occupied the site of Bloomsbury Square and the surrounding streets...No doubt the district at present under notice cannot be regarded as fashionable; it is too near to St Giles’s to have much in common with the courtly region of St James’s” (Edward Walford, Old and New London, vol. 4, 1878)
“The district, so rapidly changing in character and appearance, known under the general name of Bloomsbury, is bounded on the south side by Holborn, on the east and west respectively by Gray’s Inn Road and Tottenham Court Road, and stretches north to the Euston Road” (Godfrey Heathcote Hamilton, Queen Square: Its Neighbourhood and its Institutions, 1926)
“A great change has come over the Bloomsbury district in the last quarter of a century. It has definitely changed, in and near many of the squares, from a residential to a professional quarter. Many societies and other organizations have secured leases in the district, and it has also become a very favourite neighbourhood for surveyors, solicitors, dentists, and other professional men. Recently, too, there have been signs that it might revive as a purely residential area, and Bedford-square, in particular, finds favour in that way.
“Few districts have ever more plainly disclosed that they were in a transition state than Bloomsbury, especially in the area immediately north of the British Museum extension. Hoardings, temporary buildings, shored-up sides of old houses, rough excavations, and new vaulting have all indicated that a scheme of a comprehensive and far-reaching importance was contemplated. It seemed to assert that those who might have proceeded with the piecemeal development of the area regarded the treatment of it as a whole or in large blocks as one worth waiting for. The University scheme was the one generally associated with what may be called the expectant air of the district.
“There is a great deal to be said for the Bloomsbury site on the score of convenience. It is near all the northern railway termini, and within a few minutes’ walk of two ‘tube’ stations, on the Hampstead and Highgate and the Piccadilly line. It is central, and so placed as to be capable of affording suitable and adequate accommodation for the work of the University. The chief objection urged to the site is that it is bisected by the avenue, but that would not seem to be an insuperable objection. Diversion of roads can be effected” (from the official description of the 11½ acre site north of the British Museum which the University of London was proposing to purchase from the Duke of Bedford, The Times, 20 May 1920)
What’s on the website?
For an overview of the Project’s coverage and what is included on our website, see An Introduction to the Project, by Rosemary Ashton (opens in new window)
Browse the website by subject
The website is organised into three main sections: