6 January 2020

The College’s Head of English, Dr Jon Thorpe, explains what students got up to during their trip to the capital.

The Department of English paid a Christmas visit to London, once again, enjoying a range of cultural experiences that bring to life aspects of the students’ English Literature course.

Beginning in the British Library, students were able look over priceless literary texts by Shakespeare, Austen or Blake, as well as historical landmarks such as the Magna Carta and the Gutenberg Bible. 

The worlds of the writers on the course were located in broader contexts through a guided tour of the incomparable collection of paintings in the National Gallery of Art, sweeping through Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque painting, ending with the transition to abstraction and expressionism in the 20th century.

The first day ended with a powerful performance of the seminal mid-20th century domestic tragedy, Death of a Salesman.  Performed in the Piccadilly theatre, the students were absorbed by the intensity of a play exploring a dysfunctional family, falling apart under the pressures of an aggressively capitalist society.

The students were ‘locked up’ for the night in a converted remand prison, a former place of work for author Charles Dickens.  English teacher and London guide, Louise Vickers, observed how reassuring it is for parents and guardians to know that all students were incarcerated for the evening - and still let out for good behaviour in the morning. 

On the final day, the group headed east to Greenwich and floated in to the centre of London by boat, past the economic centre of Britain at Canary Wharf, the historic powerbase of Britain at the Tower of London on the North Bank of the Thames, and landing on the disreputable South Bank for a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.  We saw a play in rehearsal and were then guided around the local area to the former sites of the bear and dog pits, as well as the brothels that Shakespeare would have been familiar with.

A brief trip to Lord Leighton’s high Victorian pad ended a delightful couple of days of education on the hoof, during which the students were a total credit to themselves and to the College.

Posted by The BSFC Blogger on 6 January 2020

Category: The Expert's Voice