Friday, 14 November 2008

2 Bloomsbury Square, WC1

The College of Preceptors was a Victorian institution that aimed to improve the standard and status of teaching by providing proper qualifications. It was founded in 1846 by a group including Joseph Payne (its first professor of education) and the formidable Miss Frances Buss, headmistress of the North London Collegiate School.
The rather grand building was erected in 1887, designed in a sort of Flemish Renaissance style by one F. Pinches.
The College, now known as the College of Teachers, moved out a few years ago and the building has been rather well restored as a suite of meeting rooms for the Bonnington hotel group.
Busts of famous educators stare down from the facade. Matthew Martin, chief executive of the College of Teachers, very kindly identified them as:
Top left: Johann Pestalozzi, Swiss educationalist and author

Centre: John Milton, poet and 'acrimonious and surly republican'

Top right: Friedrich Froebel, pioneer of modern education and inventor of the kindergarten

Bottom left: John Locke, empiricist philosopher and political refugee

Bottom right: Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby School


CarolineLD said...

I often walk past this building so it's lovely to know more about it, thank you!

The Non Stop Shoebox said...

I worked in this building , and inside, at the reception point, the staircase is decorated with stained glass windows portraying the founders.

The original preceptors elected against buying land to build their college, and chose a 99year lease as it was cheaper. When the lease was up, land in Bloomsbury was worth a premium and they had to relinquish their college.

The original terms of the lease insisted that the building remained a teaching establishment. Hence the auditors, Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) adopted it as their training centre.