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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Bloomsbury, London Borough of Camden

A network of city character terraced housing, set out in squares surrounding a myriad of formal gardens, Bloomsbury is a covetable residential area in the centre of London. Developed over centuries by successive Earls and Dukes, from a rural area into a modern-day hub for city employees, medical staff, students and home to famous institutions for medicine, culture and education.


To find Bloomsbury, come south from Euston Road heading towards Russell Square, which marks the centre of the this distinctively laid out area. Bloomsbury's bordered on its other three sides by Tottenham Court Road (west), Gray's Inn Road (east) and New Oxford Street (south).

Medieval origins

First appearing in the Domesday Book and noted as an area of vineyards and as having wood for pigs, the name Bloomsbury was not used until the 13th century, when the settlement was named after the French baron, William De Blemond, who owned the land at the time. The name Bloomsbury comes from a translation of his name. After this time, the land passed in and out of the monarchies possession until the 16th Century, when Henry VIII gave it to the 1st Earl of Southampton who had served him loyally.


The 4th Earl of Southampton, during the 17th century, built a large residence which he called Southampton House, adjacent to the house he laid out a large square garden and called it Southampton Square. Other properties were built around this square and subsequently, this layout of residences set around square gardens, provided the Bloomsbury blueprint that successive landowners would replicate numerously. The Russell family would be much involved in this development.


The 4th Duke of Bedford's widow, one of the Russell family, set about developing residential areas, mainly laying out squares of terraced housing surrounding formal gardens. This layout is clear today, Southampton Square became Bloomsbury Square, there are many others, but the best examples include Russell Square, Bedford Square and Queen Square.


The British Museum has been situated in Bloomsbury since 1759, originally housed in a large mansion called Montagu House, this was demolished in the 1840's to make way for the current larger building on the same site. The museum houses around thirteen million artefacts from cultures represented across the world.

Educational Institutions

Next to the British Museum lies Senate House, which since 1936, has been the administrative centre of the University of London. Within Bloomsbury, you can also find the Bloomsbury Colleges, these are six colleges of the University of London including The School of Pharmacy, The School of Oriental and African Studies, Birkbeck, The Institute of Education, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and The Royal Veterinary College.

Medical Institutions

Opposite the University College of London main building lies the Medical School, significant as it was the first London hospital founded as part of a university, this tradition can be seen in many other teaching hospitals within the area, most famously in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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