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Bloomsbury is an area of central Londonmarker in the south of the London Borough of Camdenmarker, 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, Guide to London Squares accessed 8 March 2007 literary connections (exemplified by the Bloomsbury Group), and numerous hospitals and academic institutions.

While Bloomsbury was not the first area of London to have acquired a formal square, Southampton Square (now named Bloomsbury Squaremarker), which was laid out by Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton in 1660, was the first square to actually be named thus.The London Encyclopaedia, Edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert. Macmillan London Ltd 1983

Bloomsbury is home to the British Museummarker, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and the British Medical Association. It is also home to the University of London's Senate House Library, its central departments (including the School of Advanced Study), and several of its colleges (University College Londonmarker, Birkbeckmarker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, School of Pharmacy, School of Oriental and African Studiesmarker and the Royal Veterinary Collegemarker).

Notable hospitals include Great Ormond Street Hospitalmarker, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgerymarker, University College Hospitalmarker and the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital.

Bloomsbury was formerly home to the British Librarymarker, housed within the British Museum; the Library moved in 1997 to larger premises nearby, next to St Pancras railway stationmarker in Somers Townmarker.


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". But it is not until 1201 that the name Bloomsbury is first noted, when William de Blemond, a Norman landowner, acquired the land. Camden Council Local History accessed 8 March 2007 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, 'Bloomsbury', Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 480-89 Date accessed: 8 March 2007 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 Charterhousemarker, who kept the area mostly rural.

In the 16th century, with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, King 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 Squaremarker. 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 Squaremarker as its centrepiece.


Bloomsbury has no official boundaries, but can be roughly defined as the square bounded by Tottenham Court Roadmarker to the west, Euston Roadmarker to the north, Gray's Inn Roadmarker to the east, and either High Holbornmarker or the thoroughfare formed by New Oxford Streetmarker, Bloomsbury Way and Theobalds Road to the south. Bloomsbury merges gradually with Holbornmarker in the south, and with St Pancrasmarker in the north-east and Clerkenwellmarker in the south-east.

A map of the Bloomsbury district - click to expand

The area is bisected north to south by the main Southampton Row-Woburn Place thoroughfare, which contains several large tourist hotels and links Tavistock Square and Russell Square - the central points of Bloomsbury. The road runs from Euston and Somers Townmarker in the north to Holborn in the south.

The area east of Southmpton Row/Woburn Place includes the Brunswickmarker shopping centre and cinema, Brunswick Centre - Restoration accessed 8 March 2007 and Coram's Fields recreation area. The area to the north of Coram's Fields consists mainly of blocks of flats, built both as private and social housing, and is generally considered part of St Pancrasmarker View London accessed 8 March 2007 or King's Crossmarker Corams Fields accessed 8 March 2007 rather than north-eastern Bloomsbury. The area to the south is generally less residential, containing several hospitals, including Great Ormond Streetmarker, and gradually becomes more commercial in character as it approaches the boundary with Holborn at Theobalds Road.

The area west of Southampton Row/Woburn Place is notable for its concentration of academic establishments, museums, and formal squares. It is this side that contains the British Museum and the central departments and colleges of the University of London, including Birkbeck Collegemarker, UCL, the School of Oriental and African Studiesmarker, and the University of London's School of Advanced Study. The main north-south road in west Bloomsbury is Gower Streetmarker which is a one-way road running south from Euston Road towards Shaftesbury Avenuemarker in Covent Gardenmarker, becoming Bloomsbury Street when it passes to the west of the British Museum.

Location in context

Parks and squares

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

Arts, university, museums and medicine

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, and to the lesser known Bloomsbury Gang of Whigs formed in 1765 by John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford. The publisher Faber & Faber is in Queen Square, though at the time when T. S. Eliot was editor the offices were in Tavistock Square. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in John Millais' parents' house on Gower Street in 1848.

Educational institutions

Bloomsbury is home to Senate Housemarker and the main library of the University of London, The Bloomsbury Colleges (Birkbeck, University of Londonmarker, Institute of Educationmarker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, School of Pharmacy, School of Oriental and African Studiesmarker and the Royal Veterinary Collegemarker) and University College Londonmarker (with the Slade School of Fine Artmarker), the College of Law, London Contemporary Dance Schoolmarker, 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 Architecturemarker in Bedford Square, and several London campuses of American colleges including the University of California London Centre, University of Delawaremarker London Centre, Huron University, Florida State Universitymarker, and the Syracuse Universitymarker London Facility.


Queen Square

Great Ormond Street Hospitalmarker for children, is located just off Queen Squaremarker, which itself is home to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgerymarker (formerly the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases) and the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital. Bloomsbury is also the location of University College Hospitalmarker, which re-opened in 2005 in new buildings on Euston Road, built under the government’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The Eastman Dental Hospital is located on Gray’s Inn Road close to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospitalmarker administered by the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust.


The British Museummarker, which first opened to the public in 1759 in Montagu House, is at the heart of Bloomsbury. At the centre of the museum around the former British Librarymarker Reading Room (where Karl Marx was a reader), the space formerly 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 buildingjust outside the northern edge of Bloomsbury, on Euston Roadmarker.

Also in Bloomsbury is the Foundling Museummarker close to Brunswick Squaremarker, 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.

There is also the Dickens Museummarker in Doughty Street, and the Petrie Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College Londonmarker in Gower Street. The Museum Mile, London is a route covering many of the museums in Bloomsbury.


Church of Christ the King
Bloomsbury contains three notable churches. St. George's Churchmarker, located on Bloomsbury Way in the south of the area, was built by Nicholas Hawksmoor between 1716 and 1731. It has a deep Roman porch with six huge Corinthian columns, and is notable for its steeple based on the Tomb of Mausolusmarker at Halicarnassus and for the statue of King George I on the top.

The second is the Early English Neo-Gothic Church of Christ the Kingmarker on Gordon Squaremarker. It was designed for the Irvingites Church of Christ the King accessed 8 March 2007 by Raphael Brandon in 1853. Since June 10, 1954 it has been a Grade I listed building.

The third is St Pancras New Churchmarker on the northern boundary, near Euston stationmarker. This church was completed in 1822, and is notable for the caryatids on north and south which are based on the "porch of the maidens" from the Temple of the Erechtheummarker.

The church of St George the Martyrmarker in Queen Square was built 1703-1706, St George's Bloomsbury accessed 8 March 2007 and was where Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath married on Bloomsday in 1956.Walking Literary London, Roger Tagholm, New Holland Publishers, 2001.


The area surrounding Bloomsbury is served by several London Underground stations, although only two of these (Russell Squaremarker and Euston Squaremarker) have entrances in Bloomsbury itself. The other stations, located on the fringes of Bloomsbury, are Eustonmarker, Goodge Streetmarker, Warren Streetmarker, Tottenham Court Roadmarker, Holbornmarker, Chancery Lanemarker and King's Cross St. Pancrasmarker.

The mainline rail stations Eustonmarker, King's Crossmarker and St. Pancrasmarker are all located just north of Bloomsbury. Since Wednesday, , 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 stationmarker.

It is well served by buses, with over 12 different routes running south down Gower Street, and both north and south through Russell Square. 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 is in Russell Square Cabman's Shelters accessed 8 March 2007 where drivers can stop for a meal and a drink.

Notable residents


Image:British Museum from NE 2.JPG|The British MuseumImage:Gandhi Tavistock wide.jpg|Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Tavistock Square GardensImage:Gordon Square.jpg|Gordon SquareImage:UCL Portico Building.jpg|The UCL Main BuildingImage:Bloomsbury Square 2.jpg|Bloomsbury Square from the southImage:Bloomsbury Square 1.jpg|Bloomsbury Square from the northImage:StGeorgeBloomsbury tower.JPG|Tower of St. George Bloomsbury with lion, unicorn and George I on the steepleImage:Bedford_gardens.jpg|Bedford Square, Central Gardens.

See also

External links


  1. TfL Central London Bus Routes accessed 8 March 2007

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