London History Trips
BLOOMSBURY SQUARES AND GARDENS
On Wednesday 22nd April 2015 a small group of us set off from Hockley station and travelled by train and tube to Chancery Lane.
We started of at Gray's Inn which is one of the four remaining Inns of Court, founded in 1370 as a place for lawyers to live and study. The Inn is named after Reginald de Grey, Chief Justice of Chester, whose London house was where the Inn began.
No. 1 South Square is where Victorian author and journalist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) once worked as an office boy. Gray's Inn provided a setting for parts of the action in several of Dickens' novels, including Martin Chuzzlewit and David Copperfield.
At the end of the square is a statue of essayist, historian and statesman Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), who lived at the Inn from 1576 until his death in 1626. As Lord Chancellor he has been credited with bringing greater fairness and impartiality to the English legal system. However, he was himself convicted of taking bribes, for which he was fined £40,000 and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
We took a short stroll to the Foundling Museum where we had a break for coffee before viewing the Museum which is housed in a building near to the site of the Foundling Hospital and incorporates architectural features as well as original Rococo interiors from the first Foundling Hospital, built in 1741, but demolished in 1926. The current building served as the London headquarters after the child care operation was moved out to the countryside.
The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery.
The Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children’s charity Coram, was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for babies at risk of abandonment. Instrumental in helping Coram realise his vision were the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. Their creative generosity set the template for the ways in which the arts can support philanthropy.
Through a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events the Museum celebrates the ways in which artists of all disciplines have helped improve children’s lives for over 275 years.
After a fascinating tour of the Museum, we proceeded to explore the lovely squares and gardens of the surrounding area including Red Lion Square, Queen Square, Bloomsbury Square, St Georges Gardens, Russel Square, Tavistock Square, Corams Fields, Mecklenburgh Square, Gordon Square and Bedford Sqaure. It's amazing to find these areas of tranquility in the middle of our busy capital city.