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The IHR Library Conservation Fund


One of the most important and unique aspects of the IHR Library is the quantity and range of works available on open access. Over the course of the last year, the IHR Library has been able to have forty books specially repaired and conserved due to generous donations to the IHR Library Conservation Fund, in particular from the Friends of the IHR and American Friends of the IHR. These invaluable donations have helped support the work of the Library in ensuring that volumes can be specially treated, repaired and where necessary, rebound. This work enables the volumes to be quickly returned to the library’s collections and also ensures that they are preserved for years to come.

A selection of the works that have been repaired in 2015-2016 due to money received by the IHR Trust Conservation Fund are listed below.

A selection of works conserved in 2015-2016

A selection of works conserved in 2015-2016

Travels in Canada, and through the States of New York and Pennsylvania by J.G. Kohl 1861.

History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War 1603-1642, by Samuel R. Gardiner.

Proceedings of the Legislative Council of India, 1854-1855.

Tracts Relating to Northamptonshire, 1881-1900.

Illustrations of Public Buildings in London with historical and descriptive accounts of each edifice by John Britton.

A Embaixada do Dr. Francisco de Andrade Leitão á Hollanda (1642-44) by Edgar Prestage, printed in 1923.

Calendar of the Charter Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Volume 3, 1300-1326.

Report of a Missionary Journey, made by the Hon. and Rev. Charles James Stewart through Upper Canada in 1820, edited by James J. Talman.

Chronica de Mailros: e codice unico in Bibliotheca Cottoniana servato, nunc iterum in lucem edita; notulis indiceque aucta, edited by Joseph Stevenson.

The Monumental Inscriptions in the Churches and Churchyards of the Island of Barbados, British West Indies, edited by Vere Langford Oliver, 1915.

A selection of works before and after rebinding

A selection of works before and after rebinding

In addition, a number of works from the Library’s Special Collections have also been able to be conserved thanks to the funds received. These have included:

The Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons: in the sessions of Parliament, begun the twentieth of January, 1628 and ended by dissolution the tenth of March…taken and collected by Sir Thomas Crew.

The newly rebound Pietas londinensis: or, The Present Ecclesiastical State of London

The newly rebound Pietas londinensis: or, The Present Ecclesiastical State of London

Pietas londinensis: or, The Present Ecclesiastical State of London by James Paterson, A.M and printed in 1714.

A Collection of Papers: containing three documents relating to events of 1712.

Practyk der medicine, ofte oeffenende geneeskunde. Aanmerkingen over het menschelyke bloed en wateren, en geneeskundige aamerkingen, door Henricus Buyzen, 1729. (This item was kindly donated along with a donation for its conservation in January 2016)
A Short Historical Account of London-Bridge: with a proposition for a new stone-bridge at Westminster by Nicholas Hawksmoor, printed in 1736.

The importance of restoring and securing the binding of A Collection of Papers is highlighted in Dr Stuart Handley’s of the History of Parliament blog post on the volume:

Further information on the IHR Library Conservation Fund can be found at: 

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IHR Friends Summer Outing: Tower of London


On 4 July, a group of 24 Friends of the IHR and interested members of the public gathered for a guided tour of the Tower of London. Every summer the Friends organise a visit to some place of historical interest and this year proved an exceptional outing. Once assembled at the Middle Drawbridge, the party split into two groups, for simultaneous tours, and off we went.

Queen's House

Queen’s House

Starting with Dr Alden Gregory at the helm, my group went first to the Queen’s House, nestled in the southwest corner of the Tower grounds. Dr Gregory, a Buildings Curator with Historic Royal Palaces, began by dispelling the myth, perpetuated by the Beefeaters, that the house was a wedding present built for Anne Boleyn. Dendrochronology suggests the house was built around 1539-40, after her death, and we know instead that it served as the lodging for the Lieutenant of the Tower. Today, it is the private residence of the Constable of the Tower of London. After noting the restoration work to the timber framing and casement windows to revive the original, pre-Great Fire Tudor appearance, we ventured inside and into the Bell Tower. This empty stone chamber was once adjacent to the Thames, and the cell of Sir Thomas More.

We then made our way upstairs to the Great Hall. The room was originally twice as high until a mid-level floor was installed in 1607, and the excessively timbered ceiling was only rediscovered and revealed in the 1960s during repairs to a water leak. The most impressive features, however, are a large wall monument and a portrait bust of King James VI. Not just a hall for eating and entertaining, the space also served as an interrogation room for notable prisoners (though the torture took place elsewhere).

The Great Hall and wall monument in the Queen's House

The Great Hall and wall monument in the Queen’s House

Most famously, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were questioned here; the red, white, and black marble and alabaster wall memorial is fixed as a testament to the triumph of the inquisitors and condemnation of the accused. It dates to 9 October 1608, making it perhaps the oldest commemorative interior plaque of its kind. To its right, the bust of the king served to intimidate prisoners as they entered the hall and to represent the royal presence during interrogations.

Heading outside, the groups re-assembled, swapped tour guides, and Dr Jane Spooner, also a Buildings Curator, led our half of the party to the Byward Tower. Situated on the interior side of the main visitor entrance bridge, this thirteenth century fortification was a principal point for defence of the Tower. As with the Queen’s House, this area is normally closed to the public, and there was something very exclusive and satisfying about shutting the door behind us as we ascended the spiral stairs. At the top, Dr Spooner explained that in the mid-fourteenth century the space would have housed the King’s Exchange, part of the Royal Mint. The fine appointments that decorate the room—red striping on the stone walls, a large fireplace, and a tiled pavement—were befitting of this distinguished occupant.

Wall painting in the Byward Tower

Wall painting in the Byward Tower

Crossing the hall, past the wooden mechanism of the inner portcullis, we entered a slightly larger, timber-framed room, resplendent with a fourteenth century wall painting. The scene is brought to life with an array of expensive green, red, and blue pigments and gold leaf. It depicts on one side St John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary, and on the other St John the Evangelist and the archangel Michael, holding the scales weighing Christ’s soul in judgement. The figure of Christ on the cross, originally over the mantelpiece, was replaced with a Tudor rose in the sixteenth century when a new fireplace was installed. An imposing beam running the length of the room bears more green and gold painting, of birds, lions, and fleurs-de-lis. There is evidence that paintings of angels once existed on the north wall, as late as the 1950s, but almost no trace now survives.

The groups came back together a final time for some refreshments in the Great Hall of the Queen’s House. What a marvellous treat to sit where Guy Fawkes may have sat, though thankfully with some lovely tea and scones instead of an inquisitorial squad. There was just enough time left in the day to make a quick visit of the armouries or the crown jewels. The outing was a great success for all, and a particularly splendid introduction for those who had never been to the Tower, like yours truly.

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Overruling the duke in the IHR Library


Dr Stuart Handley of the History of Parliament writes about an eighteenth-century pamphlet in the IHR Library. This collection of pamphlets was bound using a donation to the conservation fund.

Collection-of-papersAmong the IHR’s holdings of historical pamphlets is one from the early eighteenth century called, simply, A Collection of Papers. As the library catalogue shows, it was published in 1712 and starts by reprinting Bishop William Fleetwood’s preface to his “Four Sermons” (first published in the same year); running on from that, however, are some papers of interest to me as a historian of parliament which relate to debates of 1712 concerning the war with France. The IHR was given this copy of the pamphlet by Dr Doreen Milne, whose doctoral thesis on The Rye House Plot is in the library.

divisionDr Clyve Jones, formerly a librarian at the IHR, has already drawn attention to one of the items, a division list for a vote in the House of Lords of 28 May 1712. The matter at issue was whether to address Queen Anne with a request that she overrule the orders sent to the duke of Ormonde in Flanders not to engage with the French army. No political historian had previously realised that the pamphlet contained such important material. Clyve published the division list in his article on ‘The vote in the House of Lords on the Duke of Ormonde’s “Restraining Orders”, 28 May 1712’, in Parliamentary History, 26 (2007), pp. 160-183.

The pamphlet could not easily be made available to readers in the library as it needed conservation. I knew about it from my previous role in the IHR library, and have recently paid for the pamphlet to be conserved. It has now been placed into a secure binding and is kept in the IHR library’s special collections store. The pamphlet can also be viewed on Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), available at the IHR through JISC Historic Texts.


The IHR is extremely grateful to Dr Handley for his generous support of the library. If you would like to give to the library’s conservation fund, there is much material on the open shelves in need of conservation. Further information about giving to the IHR library is available at

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British historians discuss the legacy of Magna Carta at conference in China


pr1This year, the British-Chinese History Conference travels to Beijing to understand the foundational and international importance of Magna Carta. From 9 to 13 September, eight leading figures of early modern and modern British history will present papers at Beijing University and engage in an educational exchange with their Chinese counterparts.

In the 1980s, the rapid economic and social change sweeping through China threw up a host of problems not unlike those faced by Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, during its own period of transformation. Since 1985, the British-Chinese History Conferences have promoted a productive dialogue between academics from both countries to address and examine these common issues. Chinese scholars, in conversation with the British, were able to better understand and appreciate the changes happening around them, and British historians were afforded an unparalleled opportunity to compare their theories to an actual ‘industrial revolution.’ Held periodically since their inception, the theme of these gatherings has slowly evolved. What began as a study of economic and social history has naturally transformed into a curiosity about political and legal history. It is no surprise, then, that when asked what should be the topic for the 2015 Conference, Professor Chengdan Qian, of Beijing University, replied without hesitation: “The history and influence of Magna Carta.”

To discuss Magna Carta is to discuss the concept of rule of law and how it transcends the arbitrary and authoritarian exercise of power by a monarchy or government. The rule of law is a necessary building block in the construction of liberal, plural, and democratic societies and Magna Carta, as the foundation of English liberty, has provided this for Britain. It is of considerable intrigue, then, that in China – a country that has developed a type of open market and is perhaps on the path to a much more open society – there is such strong interest in Magna Carta.

Professor Lawrence Goldman (IHR)

Professor Lawrence Goldman (IHR)

This year’s delegation consists of Sophie Ambler (UEA), David Carpenter (KCL), Harry Dickinson (University of Edinburgh), Rachel Foxley (University of Reading), George Garnett (St Hugh’s College, Oxford), Alex Lock (British Library), and Nicholas Vincent (UEA). Also joining the British delegation is Professor Lawrence Goldman, Director of the Institute of Historical Research, one of the research institutes of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. Professor Goldman will speak at Beijing University on the British memory of Magna Carta and commemorations of the 800th anniversary. He will then stay in China for several more days to give two lectures on the history of the British labour movement, furthering the international exchange of ideas. Sir Robert Worcester, as Chairman of the 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, will also attend the conference to deliver a paper. The historians from the UK will learn first-hand from their Chinese counterparts about the immediate influence of the rule of law whilst furthering the international legacy of Magna Carta.

Support for this conference has generously been provided by the Magna Carta Trust. The Magna Carta Trust’s 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee is charged by the Magna Carta Trust to co-ordinate activities, raise the profile of the anniversary and deliver a number of key national and international aspirations. For more information, visit

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Digital development: a commitment to OA


When I joined the IHR in early August, I did so with the challenging assignment of helping to further the Institute’s mission to embrace the opportunities of digital content delivery and enable greater access to knowledge, in line with the School’s Statement on Open Access. As a graduate of the humanities and a professional academic publisher with experience in delivering online products and a preoccupation with open access, it is a task that I am really keen to get my teeth into.

Mandated deposit into institutional repositories, developments in publishing strategies and technology, and the growth of freely accessible content across many disciplines, have been credited as heralding the return of the institutional press. Yet from the perspective of the IHR, when you look at the continued output of this Institute and of SAS, we were certainly never dormant!

IHR books and digital publicationsThe key focus for us as an institutional publisher, but also as champions for the humanities and social sciences, is how we embrace and develop a modern and sustainable approach to digital publication. The humanities retains a strong interest in the long form monograph as a scholarly necessity – but this is somewhat at odds with a growing demand for the rapidly produced, short form, and increasingly ‘born-digital’ research outputs which already hold significant sway across science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In a climate where the monograph is valued, yet the demand upon researchers is tightening, reader habits are shifting and budgets remain acutely stretched, how can publication in this format be encouraged, cost effective and remain impactful?

Led by investigators based in the Department of Information Studies at UCL with funding from the AHRC, the Academic Book of the Future project seeks to explore opinion and provide insights and possible recommendations which could help to answer this question by engaging with a broad range of stakeholders. Indeed, it is a challenge for which researchers, communities, organisations and institutions as the originators of content and curators of humanities resources are keenly placed to take the lead.

Our ambition is to continue to build upon the fantastic academic and educational resources of the IHR, Senate House and the School, to ensure the continued growth in academic research output, digital archiving, preservation, accessibility and the wider dissemination of text, literature, imagery, public and private records, special collections and even datasets. We are firmly committed to enabling the Green route to open access for all authors and originators of research material associated with the School (through SAS-Space) and exploring ethically sound, sustainable methods for delivering valuable content, publications and online platforms (such as British History Online and our other digital resources) which can operate without reliance upon the significant article processing charges which drive the Gold route.

This can only be achieved by our ongoing investment in digital infrastructure, the development of agile processes and publication strategies, and by seeking greater collaborative partnerships with the communities we are comprised of, serve and represent and who share our ideals for open and sustainable access for students, scholars, libraries, societies, institutions and the general public.

I am thrilled to be a part of the IHR and wider School in working towards this continued goal of digital development. I look forward to sharing the occasional slice of information, opinion piece, and updating you on our work towards further engagement with open access and the future of our humanities publications.

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Friends of the IHR Summer Outing: Sutton House and St Augustine’s Tower


This post was kindly written by Kelly Spring, a Committee Member of the Friends of the IHR and a PhD Candidate at the University of Manchester.


Sutton House

Sutton House © House_1.jpg?uselang=en-gb

During the long, warm days of July, our thoughts at the IHR turn to the annual Friends’ outing.  In years past, the Friends of the Institute have ventured to William Morris’s house in Walthamstow and Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath.  This year, on Monday, 6 July, we travelled to Hackney to explore Sutton House and St Augustine’s Tower.

Sir Ralph Sadleir, a courtier to Henry VIII and man whom our guide described as “the servant of the servant of the King,” built the house in 1535, and it stands as a visible reminder of Tudor architecture, albeit with some modifications and additions from later owners.  Occupants of the house have ranged from merchants to, in the 1980s, squatters, all of whom have left an indelible mark on the house, inside and out.

Great Hall

Great Hall

Outing participants were treated to a tour of the house by medieval historian and archaeologist Dr Nick Holder, of Regent’s University of London.  Nick began the tour outside the house to give everyone an overview of the history and architecture of the building.  He then led us through the four floors, including the basement.  The house boasts an impressive array of rooms, including the oak-panelled parlour and great hall.  Throughout the tour of the house, Nick provided Friends with in-depth information about each room’s original use and its architectural attributes.  He even pulled up floorboards and allowed us to peak behind panels to see sixteenth century building materials and design.

After viewing the house, Friends were invited to take lunch at Sutton House’s garden café, where we ate some excellent homemade soup followed by tea and Victoria sponge.  While the first tour group had their meal, Nick took a second group of Friends around the house, and repeated his extensive tour of the premises.  Following a quick cup of tea and slice of cake, Nick took the groups for an inside view of St Augustine’s Tower in the St John’s Church Gardens, just a short stroll from Sutton House.

St Augustine’s Tower

St Augustine’s Tower

St Augustine’s Tower was erected in the early sixteenth century as part of the building of the Hackney parish church, St Augustine’s, which replaced an earlier thirteenth century church on the same spot.  Today, the tower is all that remains of the church.  Boasting a Grade I listing, it is the oldest building in Hackney.  The clock in the tower was installed around the early 1600s and remains in working order to this day.  Normally closed, except on the last Sunday of each month, Friends were treated to a private tour of the tower’s floors, allowing visitors to view the clock works, ring the bell, and get a bird’s-eye view of London from atop the building.

Turkish café

Turkish café

While many returned home after the tour of the tower, others continued socialising over coffee and pastries at the Turkish café in the gardens adjacent to the tower.  Everyone agreed that it was a fantastic day out.

Professor Nigel Saul

Professor Nigel Saul ©

Other excellent Friend’s events are planned for this autumn, including the Annual General Meeting which will be held on Monday, 19 October.  This year, we are fortunate to have Professor Nigel Saul of Royal Holloway University of London, who will deliver the Annual Friends’ Lecture following the AGM.  He will be speaking on Magna Carta.  For further details about upcoming Friends’ events, or on how to become a Friend of the IHR, please visit the Institute’s website ( or speak to Mark Lawmon in the Development Office by phone (020 7862 8791) or by email (


All photos © James Dixon, unless otherwise noted.

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IHR Friends Film Evening – Henry V (1944)


Professor Anne Curry_V1

Professor Anne Curry

2015 seems to be a year marking many notable anniversaries: 800 years since Magna Carta; 750 years since the first elected Parliament representing all of England; 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo; 50 years since the death of Sir Winston Churchill; and the First World War centenary remembrances continue.  This year also represents another momentous anniversary—600 years since the Battle of Agincourt.  To commemorate this milestone of the Hundred Years’ War, the Friends of the IHR are hosting a film evening on 16 March, showing Laurence Olivier’s acclaimed film, Henry V.  The evening will feature a guest lecture from Professor Anne Curry, an expert on medieval history and a prolific author on the Hundred Years’ War.

Agincourt-Henry V publicity poster_WikiCommons

Henry V Film Poster ( 93_1944_UK_film_poster.jpg)

Crafted in 1944, The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France, directed by and starring Olivier, is widely regarded as the first motion picture to successfully adapt Shakespeare from the stage to the screen.  In homage to the Bard, the movie opens with a production of Henry V at the Globe Theatre, and slowly transforms into a cinematic spectacle.  The viewer is then treated to a masterful mix of action—following the King’s campaign to Agincourt—and romance—as Henry attempts to court the French princess.  The action returns to the Globe as this Academy Award-winning film draws to a close.

The Friends of the IHR have been very loyal supporters of the Institute.  The funding they provide is integral to increasing the capacity of the IHR to promote and enhance the study of history in Britain.  As part of the mission to extend the reach of the IHR’s resources, charitable donations from the Friends have funded bursaries for many PhD students who are based outside London to access the Institute and undertake excellent research.  In addition, the Friends have subsidised numerous outstanding speakers to present insightful seminars, provided vital capital for the recently completed redevelopment, and delivered cornerstone funding for the IHR Library’s new Conservation Fund.  All of these help ensure that the IHR is able to offer the highest quality scholarship and resources.

Agincourt-Battle archers_WikkiCommons_small

Battle of Agincourt ( _Azincourt.jpg)

Much more than just financial supporters, however, the Friends form a social community of academics and all with a shared interest in history.  As such, the film evenings are a highlight of the Friends’ calendar.  These events offer a chance to engage with history through a medium other than books, to hear from experts in the field, and to partake in a critical discussion of the subject and an exchange of ideas.  Perhaps just as importantly, these events provide an opportunity to have a good time with like-minded people, enjoy some food and drink, and perhaps make some friends among the Friends. For information on how to join the Friends, please follow this link.

The event is open to all, but you are encouraged to book soon, as spaces are limited and going fast.  In addition to the film and lecture, there will be wine throughout and light supper to follow.

Venue: Wolfson Conference Suite, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Talk/Screening: 5:30 pm

Light supper from: 8:00 pm

Tickets: £20 / £10 (students)

For information on how to register and to see the event poster, please click here.

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Discounted subscriptions to the Bibliography of British and Irish History for IHR Friends


Looking down from the top of the IHR stairs.

Looking down from the top of the IHR stairs.

Discounted subscriptions to the online Bibliography of British and Irish History are available to Friends of the IHR who may not have access to the Bibliography through a university or other institution. The Bibliography is a joint project of the IHR, the Royal Historical Society and Brepols Publishers, and is the most extensive guide available to what has been published on British and Irish history. It covers the history of British and Irish relations with the rest of the world, including the British empire and the Commonwealth, as well as British and Irish domestic history. It includes not only books, but also articles in journals and articles within collective volumes. It is updated three times a year and currently includes nearly 550,000 records, with a further update expected during October; subscribers can sign up for email alerts notifying them when new records are added on subjects in which they are interested.

Friends of the IHR (including American Friends) can subscribe to the Bibliography for one third of the normal cost of an individual subscription. The sign-up period for the Friends’ discounts starts on 1 October and runs until 15 December 2014 for the 2015 subscription year. New subscribers will have access to the Bibliography as soon as their subscription has been processed but all subscriptions will run until 31 December 2015, so you can enjoy nearly fifteen months’ access for the price of twelve. To apply please contact the Development Office by email or by telephoning (0)20 7862 8791. For more information about the Friends, and the other benefits of joining, please visit the Friends’ web pages. Similar discounts are available to Fellows and Members of the Royal Historical Society who will receive information in their autumn mailing, as usual.

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IHR Friends Summer Outing: Kenwood House


This post was written for us by Kelly Spring, one of our Friends committee members


Kenwood House

This year’s annual IHR Friends summer outing took us to Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath on 8 July. Closed in 2012 for renovation and conservation of its interior and exterior, the house was reopened to the public in late 2013. Many of the Friends at the outing had previously visited the house, but were eager to see the refurbishments. Others, who had not been there before, took the outing as their opportunity to visit the house.


IHR Friends

Prior to the tour, Friends met for tea on the terrace adjoining Kenwood House. We then convened in the entrance hall of the house to meet our tour leader. Our guide provided a wide range of information, covering the history of the house, giving details of its furnishings, and discussing the paintings in the rooms.

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Among the owners was William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, who bought the house in 1754. As Lord Chief Justice, Murray is noted for ruling that slavery was illegal in Britain. His half African great-niece, Dido Elizabeth Belle, was recently made cinematically famous with the 2014 release of the film ‘Belle’ which details her life at Kenwood.

Painting by  William Larkin (1613), Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset

Painting by
William Larkin (1613),
Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset

Another important resident was Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, whose collection of paintings adorns the walls of Kenwood House.

Paintings that are of particular note include: a self-portrait of Rembrandt (c. 1665), ‘The Guitar Player’ by Vermeer (c. 1672), and ‘Old London Bridge’ by de Jough (c. 1630). Our guide also highlighted the newly installed portraits on the 1st floor of the house by William Larkin which depict members of the court of James I. Although the tour was to last for one hour, it stretched to an hour and a half so that we could take in this special collection of portraits.

Following the extended tour of the house, many of the Friends stayed on to have lunch and discuss the restorations to Kenwood.

Professor Sir  David Cannadine

Professor Sir
David Cannadine

More exciting Friends events are planned in the autumn as the Institute returns to its home in the North Block of Senate House. The Annual General Meeting of the Friends will take place on 27 October and will be followed by the Annual Friends Lecture delivered by Professor Sir David Cannadine, former Director of the Institute of Historical Research.

Also planned for this upcoming academic year is a musical evening with the medieval performance group, The Cardinals and the annual film night. Check back at the IHR website for updates on these future events.

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Update on the IHR redevelopment


Miles_SmallMiles Taylor, Director of the IHR recently hosted a site tour of the IHR to view progress on the redevelopment.

The group went through the entire IHR from top to bottom, which provided a clear idea of the IHR’s new spacial footprint in Senate House’s North Block.


Conf Suite_SMallIt was very encouraging to see the architectural drawings becoming a reality.

In the basement, the conference suite is starting to take shape with the majority of the under floor wiring now complete and fittings for the AV equipment starting to make appearances on the walls.


Cables_SmallYou may also be pleased to hear that we have tried to keep as much of the original architectural accents intact so that the IHR retains most of its profile and feel.

We saw some of this in the partially completed sample room on the third floor.

The IHR remains on target to move back to the North Block in the summer of 2014.

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