For people who know me better are aware of the fact that I am obsessed with libraries and universities with their beautiful architecture. So much wisdom is found at these places and students gathering to gain knowledge. While in London, I went to the National Art Library in Chelsea, following a visit to the Royal Holloway University in Egham.
In 1884, the National Art Library moved from South Kensington to its current premises within the Victoria and Albert Museum – a suite of three handsome rooms overlooking the John Madejski Garden. They hold the UK’s most comprehensive public reference collection of literature on the fine and decorative arts. The library’s subject coverage includes those central to the work of the Victoria & Albert Museum and its collections, including: prints, drawings and paintings; furniture and woodwork; textiles, dress and fashion; ceramics and glass; metalwork; sculpture; and art and design of the Far East, India and South East Asia.
But… you can not eat in there 😉
I love old universities! The Royal Holloway University was among the first places in Britain where women could access higher education, which means the university is such an important part of Britains history. So much wisdom can be found in the books from the libraries and a lot of impactful persons teached and were taught at this place.
Today’s Royal Holloway is formed from two colleges, founded by two social pioneers, Elizabeth Jesser Reid and Thomas Holloway.
Elizabeth Jesser Reid was a pioneering social reformer and devoted her life to supporting many benevolent schemes set up by women, as well as anti-slavery campaigns in America. Founding a higher education college for women had been a childhood dream, and in 1849 she put up the money to found Bedford College. It was the first women’s higher education college in Britain. The first students included the first black woman to undertake a round Britain lecture tour about the slavery question. It is always astonishing to me how the positive action of one human being can spread so much positivity around everyone she or he touches and for the next generations. Elizabeth Reid fulfilled her dream and made a huge positive impact on the world.
The Royal Holloway College was unveiled by Queen Victoria in 1886 – she even wrote that day in her diary ‘Royal Holloway had fine specimens of modern art’.
In my opinion, the university looks like a scenery from a fairytale. Since the setting of the university is so amazingly beautiful it is no wonder that the building was a location for different TV productions, like the series Downtown Abbey and the movie Avengers.
A famous alumni was Elizabeth Blackwell. She faced extreme sexual prejudice in her attempts to qualify and practice as a doctor. In 1857 she attended Bedford College and became the first woman doctor to be entered on the General Medical Council register. Later she founded the National Health Society with her friend Florence Nightingale, and the London School of Medicine for Women. So empowering and inspiring!