Friday, 14 September 2012

Blewcoat School - Brewers Green/Caxton St SW1

One of the (many) things I love about London is when you stumble across a "survivor" building - a relic of times past.  Of course I love it when whole streets or neighbourhoods are preserved but there is something about a lone building, centuries old, looking pretty much as it always has but surrounded by the modern world.  The tower of St Alban in Wood St in the City is a good example and the former Blewcoat School in St James is another.  The other half and I were having a lovely wander from the Tate Modern to the West End and cutting north off Victoria Street, up Buckingham Gate, we came upon this gem.  Built in 1709 by William Green, a brewer, the school was established to teach pupils "to read, write, cast accounts and the catechism" - basically the key skills to get by in early 18th century London (maybe they could have added "avoid syphilis, the plague and cheap gin").  It operated as a school right up until the Second World War and was then used as an army store and also by the Girl Guides.  The National Trust owns the building and it is now their London Information Centre & Shop.  A little early to be Georgian, the architecture is, I believe (and I cannot claim to be an expert on British architecture), English Baroque - the local version of the baroque styles being built on the continent in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.  I think it's quite lovely and I particularly like the blue coated youngster above the door.  The building is completely surrounded and over-shadowed by some of the modern monstrosities of Victoria St and St James but this sturdy little survivor of a building stands proud - as it should, after seeing off the trials and tribulations of over three centuries.


  1. This may be a dumb question but is it called "Blewcoat" because the statue is wearing a blue coat? :)

  2. I'm not sure - although I had exactly the same thought!