UCL logo




Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

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, 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

Johannes Ronge (1813–1887) and Bertha Ronge (née Meyer, formerly Traun) (1818–1863)

a summary of their Bloomsbury connections

The Ronges had fled Germany because of their commitment to the kindergarten movement, but also because Johannes had become involved in the liberal democratic movement of 1848 and had to leave Germany after its failure

He was, in fact, already a marked man by 1844, when, at that time a Roman Catholic priest, he had protested against the exhibition of the so-called holy coat of Trier (Treves) by the Bishop of Trier in order to raise money for his cathedral (the coat was said to have been the one belonging to Christ for which the Roman soldiers drew lots)

Ronge was excommunicated, but became celebrated as the ‘modern Luther’ and set up his own German Catholic sect

He met Bertha, then married to Christian Traun, and joined her as a follower of Froebel; harassed by the authorities in Germany, they came to England in March 1851 (Caledonian Mercury, 13 March 1851)

Bertha had divorced her husband and brought with her the three youngest of her six children by Traun; she married Ronge in August 1851, and bore him a daughter two months after the marriage

The Ronges were responsible for introducing the kindergarten system to Britain from their base at 32 Tavistock Place from 1853

Because of Ronge’s fame, he was welcomed by several freedom-loving groups in England, including the Unitarians, among whom he lectured, though his brand of religious humanism made the connection an uneasy and short-lived one, as did also his initially unorthodox relation to Bertha (John Fretwell, ‘Johannes Ronge and the English Protestants’, Unitarian Review, January 1888)

For more information about the Ronges as immigrants and their context, see Rosemary Ashton, Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England (1986)

For more general biographical information about the Ronges, see the entry for Bertha Ronge in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


Bloomsbury Project - University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT - Telephone: +44 (0)20 7679 3134 - Copyright © 1999-2005 UCL

Search by Google