Friday, October 27, 2006

Brunswick Square in Camden - London

image of Brunswick Square Gardens, next to the Brunswick Centre in Camden

This photo from Brunswick Square in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Information about Brunswick Square in London is quite sparse. The square is located next to the Brunswick Centre, in the Borough of Camden. On the west side is Coram Fields, linked to the Coram Family. To the south is International House (a residential student hall belonging to the University of London) and close by is the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. I have often cycled past this – it is on the best route from Euston to Gray’s Inn Road by bike – so it seemed fitting to take a photo of it.

The area has a long association with children’s charities. In 1739 Thomas Coram established a Foundling Hospital nearby to look after abandoned children. Near to Brunswick square is the Foundling Museum, which, refurbished in 2004, contains an important body of art from the hospital. Hogarth personally contributed paintings to decorate the walls of the new building. Many other contemporary British artists followed suit thus creating the first British art gallery. As a result, the Foundling Hospital\is now seen as the catalyst for the Royal Academy.

The Coram Family continue in the same vein today, being one of England’s oldest charities to look after the welfare of children. The Coram Family also gave their name to Coram Fields which lie just to the east of Brunswick Square The site used to be occupied by the Foundling Hospital, which moved out of London in the 1920’s. Huge opposition from local communities prevented the space from being redeveloped and instead it was converted into an open space containing a children’s play area with sand pits, a pet’s corner and café. Adults are only permitted if accompanied by a child.

I can’t exactly leave this area without further mention of the Brunswick Centre. A recently re-painted council block, built like an inverted ziggurat with a shopping mall. The Brunswick Centre has an infamous reputation for being dreary, run down and, unfortunately, Grade II listed meaning that very little in the area can physically be changed. And that in spite of the intense dislike of most of the residents of the 560 flats that occupy the building. It seems yet another case where planners have slightly ‘lost the plot’ condemning both London and the local residents to a pretty dismal architectural future. Maybe the recent face-lift will help both the block and the area. The Brunswick Centre does at least contain the Renoir Cinema, an independent cinema showing an interesting collection of films.

The nearest tube stations are Russell Square and Euston.

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The full panoramic image of Brunswick Square can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

For more articles on London see the London Index or select one of the labels at the bottom.

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