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The Bishopsgate Blog provides an added insight into all of our activities, Library, Courses, Events and Schools and Community Learning. Our regular blogs will feature speakers from our Cultural Events, photographs, documents, letters, posters and ephemera from the Library, up-to-date news and information on courses and first-hand accounts of our Schools and Community workshops.

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Courses Our regular blogs will provide up-to-date news and information on our courses
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Schools and Community First hand accounts of our archive learning workshops

Schools and Community

Our inspired Schools and Community Learning programme delivers a range of workshops and projects using the unique and fascinating collections found within our world-renowned Bishopsgate Library. Our workshops are suitable for learners of all ages and are used by wide variety of audiences from primary school pupils to pensioners.

Our regular blogs will demonstrate how our Schools and Community Learning programme encourages discovery and enquiry amongst our wide-ranging participants.


Culture and arts, heritage and history, ideas and independent thought all come together in our exciting events programmes. You can enjoy talks, walks, discussions and debates, or one of the many concerts that take place throughout the year.

Our regular blogs will give an added insight and perspective into our dynamic programme with content from speakers at our events.


Situated in a Grade II* listed building, Bishopsgate Library’s beautiful reading room is a peaceful place to study that is open to all; a calm oasis amid the bustle of Spitalfields and the City. In our dedicated Researchers’ Area, you can consult our renowned printed and archival collections on London, labour, freethought and Humanism, co-operation, or protesting and campaigning.

Our regular blogs will provide a new way for you to engage with the library collections and services, new acquisitions, activities and future developments.


Our comprehensive range of short courses offer you the opportunity to discover, discuss and be inspired in a welcoming environment. Our courses are conveniently designed to take place throughout the day, including lunchtimes, after work and at weekends. We have five course strands, Arts and Culture, Words and Ideas, Languages, Performing Arts and Body & Exercise to choose from.

Our regular blogs will provide up-to-date news and information.

Bishopsgate Blog
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Open Houses London focuses people's attention on the capital's great architecture. We asked tutor Steven Barrett to tell us the landmarks and buildings that he thinks gives London its unique character.

I've chosen the Boundary Estate in Bethnal Green because it embodies many of the themes I'll be covering on the Architecture of London course. History isn't only about famous people, it's about ordinary people too, and a history of London's architecture shouldn't focus only on famous landmarks but include some of the everyday buildings that have changed Londoners' lives. 

Image of Bandstand at Boundary Estate
The Boundary Estate is a perfect case study - the first planned housing estate in the capital; one of the very first in the world. It replaced Victorian London's worst slum, the Nichol, a labyrinth of dilapidated streets and courts which housed upwards of 6000 people and had a death rate double that of Bethnal Green as a whole. In Charles Booth's famous survey of East London published in 1889, Life and Labour of the People of London, the Nichol was coloured almost entirely black, Booth's lowest category denoting 'vicious and semi-criminal' inhabitants.

However, in only ten years the Nichol was gone, replaced by the Boundary Estate with its gardens and bay-fronted flats, bandstand, schools, dairy and parade of shops. The course covers the history of the Boundary Estate, focusing on its origins in Victorian philanthropy, emerging socialism and new forms of local government, and its impact upon later housing projects including the large-scale postwar rebuilding of London's housing stock. The Boundary Estate provided the template for planned urban living not only in London, or the UK, but in many other great cities and nations of the industrial age.

Famous buildings such as the Palace of Westminster and St. Paul's Cathedral are hugely important buildings in the history of London and truly iconic (a much over-used word) in that they can appear to sum up or represent the city by themselves: a picture of Big Ben says 'London' to everyone familiar with the capital. 

Steven Barrett will be looking at the Architecture of London in a one-day course on the 28th November. As well as studying London's great buildings themselves you can explore how their special, iconic, status is achieved through photography, painting, film and TV. 

Make sure that we on your itinerary for Open House London

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Modernism and Postmodernism in the City

by Courses on 01 / 07 / 2013

As a city, London is rich in architectural styles making it a living guide book of past and present architecture. In post-war London, modernist and postmodernist architecture made a huge impact on the city landscape and skyline. Arts and Culture tutor Steven Barrett explains how the Barbican and Liverpool Street station define the ethos of both modernism and postmodernism:

Amongst the jumble of buildings within the City of London there is a rich seam of post-war architecture. Part redevelopment, part post-Blitz rebuilding these buildings are London’s first big experiments in Modern and Postmodern architecture. The City did not take to Modernism before World War Two but the building boom of the 1950s and 60s gave a new generation of architects a chance to create bold designs that emulated European Modernism.

The Barbican is the most famous example: a vast housing and arts complex, it is loved by many and hated by many too. It is regarded as near-perfect Modernist architecture, replacing centuries of history with a confident and optimistic vision of how life should be lived now. This concrete city-within-a-city stands on the remains of medieval streets flattened during World War Two. 

Liverpool Street awaits postmodernism

The redevelopment of Liverpool Street Station in the late 1980s reflects a different ethos; one more in tune with the past. The old station was a wonderfully chaotic and confusing place: two separate stations, connected by a web of walkways and bridges. The new scheme preserved much of the old station but added a new concourse and shops. In the spirit of Postmodernism, the new building echoes the architecture that it replaced.

Steven Barrett will be running two study days in August as part of our Summer SchoolModernism in the City and Postmodernsim in the City. Both study days will take an in-depth look at the history of post-war architecture in the City followed by a guided walk. On Modernism we will walk to the Barbican via further Modernist architecture close to Bishopsgate; the Postmodernism walk will begin at Liverpool Street Station and will conclude with recent office building around Bishopsgate and the City.

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