Another trip with work for to London for a couple of days this week. After my final meeting on Wednesday, late afternoon, I had three hours to kill before I could catch the train back home (I refuse to pay out just over £300 for a two hour journey which would allow me to take an earlier train – even if it’s not my own money!) but there’s always something to do in London. So as Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set have been on my horizon for the last few weeks – since I visited the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery I’ve been following up with some reading – and as it was a nice, warm, sunny afternoon, I decided to have a stroll around the streets of Bloomsbury.
Walking through the streets of her neighbourhood and other parts of the city was something Virginia Woolf herself was fond of. She even wrote a short piece, Street Haunting, about one such walk one evening from her home in Bloomsbury to the Strand to buy a pencil. And walking through the streets of London is very much central to her novel, Mrs Dalloway.
I didn’t attempt to follow VW’s route but took a fairly random course trough the old Georgian Streets and Squares, diverting to look at some favourite buildings
I ended up by the British Museum. It was heaving with tourists – it was August and the height of the tourist season, after all. As there was less than an hour before it closed, and I couldn’t have faced the crush inside, a visit wasn’t on the cards. Instead I turned into Bury Place and wandered into the London Review Bookshop.
I spent a little time browsing their shelves and then found myself a seat in their rather excellent cafe (as recommended by Barbara of Milady’s Boudoir) where I had a pot of tea and a cake (to bring up my blood sugar level ready for the walk back to Euston afterwards)
Feeling reinvigorated, I treated myself to a book for the journey back home and then set off back into the streets of Bloomsbury. I took a bit of a circuitous route, towards Queen’s Square, passing the house where Bertrand Russell used to live
I passed this building with it’s interesting Bauhaus style lettering
past some more traditional Georgian period houses
and into Queen’s Square itself
After tha I decided I’d go and have a look at Gordon Square where Virginia and Leonard Woolf and various members of the Bloomsbury Se, including Vanessa and Clive Bell, John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey all lived for a while.
A very pleasant garden in the centre, accessible to the public these days, it would have been private and reserved for residents when the square was first built, But there were plenty of people enjoying the warm sunshine.
The “Bloomsbury’s” lived in the terrace of houses on the east side of the square
Virginia, Leonard, Vanessa and Clive all lived at No. 50
While Lytton Strachey lived next door at No. 51
Today, like much of the surrounding area, the houses are owned by the University of London.
The few hours had passed quickly so it was time to head past yet more typical Georgian houses back to Euston, only a few minutes walk away, to catch my train home.