Saturday, May 29, 2010

Walking Among the Scholars: Bloomsbury/St. Pancras

I actually did this walks several weeks ago before the program even began, but I was too lazy to put it up on time. First up on the walks was the University College of London. Yes, the University College of London. I can’t tell you why it hasn’t decided to be either a college or a university, but it definitely is bugging me. I headed into the South Cloister to find the “auto-icon” of economist Jeremy Bentham. You may not believe me, but his skeleton is actually sitting, fully clothed inside of a box at the university. Apparently his mummified head kept falling off, so it’s in the college vaults. I guess that’s one way to be buried. My picture came out super blurry, and I felt a little weird taking a picture of the mummy man anyway, so here’s a shot from the internet:

I made my way to Travistock Square, where Charles Dickens lived for a while. The park there has a statue of Gandhi and a plaque to pacifists.

Next up was the British Library, which is a dream come true for any bibliophile. I looked around a little on the day of the walk, but I came back last week with Natalie, Chelsea, and Kathryn and found all kinds of treasures. This place has the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, the papers that the Beatles first wrote their lyrics on, and the earliest known copy of Beowulf. It’s incredible.

Right around the corner from the library stands St. Pancras and Kings Cross Station. I’ve come through St. Pancras for the Eurostar a few times now, so I’ve had a chance to check out its crazy Gothic Revival architecture. You would never guess it’s a train station by looking at it. King’s Cross is the more famous of the two stations, though, thanks to Harry Potter. I finally made it to platform 9 ¾ on Wednesday, so pictures will be coming soon.

The walk led me to the Coram Foundling Museum next. Thomas Coram was a sea captain who created a home for deserted children in the 18th century. He gained the support of George Frederick Handel, whose original scores and keyboard are now stored at the museum.

I still had a little time left, so I found Dickens’ house (after passing it about 4 times), and went through. The home doesn’t have as much original furniture as I might have liked, but it definitely taught me a lot about the author’s life. It also had a lot of portraits of the Dickens family and many early printings of Charles’s works. Definitely worth the visit.

1 comment:

  1. dear Shaina,
    you should update your blog, so I can know what's going on in your life!
    love, Natalie


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