For The Love Of Books


Abode2 visits the library located opposite Virginia Woolf’s former house that has just hit the market for the first time in 130 years.

Two unique properties located on Bloomsbury’s famous Gordon Square WC1H, where prominent members of the Bloomsbury set once lived during the first half of the 20th century, have been brought to market by the Education & Charities team of global property consultancy Knight Frank.

Gordon Square is best known as the epicentre of the Bloomsbury Group – a set of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists – who Dorothy Parker once famously said ‘lived in squares and loved in triangles’. Notable former residents of the square include Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Lytton Strachey and John Maynard Keynes, to name a few.

The Trustees of the Dr Williams’s Trust have instructed Knight Frank to sell two assets situated on Gordon Square, which lies within London’s Bloomsbury Conservation Area. Lot 1, Dr Williams’s Library, is located at 14-15 Gordon Square, while Lot 2, known as The Henry Morley Building, sits to the rear.

Dr Williams’s Library is a rare Grade II listed property built in a Tudor style; it boasts an impressive façade that encompasses octagonal turrets with stone octagonal finials, rising the height of the building at the angles and flanking the entrance. It extends to over 27,616 sq ft across its five upper storeys along with a basement and raised ground floor.

Overlooking Gordon Square, the building contains high ceilings, grand architecture, stained glass windows and a range of spacious rooms which can be used for both residential and office space, lectures, meetings, storage and study and enjoys a magnificent sylvan outlook across the plane trees of the Square. The property will be provided with vacant possession, and has the potential for alternative uses, or redevelopment into residential, educational, hotel leisure or office uses, subject to planning and other consents.

The library is renowned for containing an impressive collection on theology, philosophy, religion, history and literature, which is in the process of being rehoused. It was established by the will of Dr Daniel Williams, the leading London nonconformist minister of his day, who died in January 1716. He left instructions for his Trustees to house his collection as a public library and to make it available to nonconformist ministers, tutors and students in the city of London. The building was designed by the pioneer in architectural education Thomas Leverton and was constructed between 1848-49 as University Hall to mark the passing of the Dissenters’ Chapels Act of 1844.

The Henry Morley building, which sits to the rear of the library, extends over approx. GIA 5,369 sq ft. The building is arranged over three floors and provides educational space for University College London (UCL). The building is held as a freehold asset, however it is let on a long lease and provides investment income.

Located in the heart of central London, the area is renowned for its literary heritage and academic institutions. A variety of amenities in the local area include the British Museum, the restaurants and cafes of Fitzrovia and the extensive offerings of King’s Cross. Convenient for numerous underground stations with varying lines, it is also only a 10-minute walk from Kings Cross St Pancras and Euston stations, which offer connections across the city, UK and beyond.

Emma Cleugh, Head of the Education & Charities team at Knight Frank, said: “What an exceptional property. We’re so excited to bring this truly remarkable piece of history to the market. The buildings together provide owner occupiers, investors or developers with the rarest of opportunities. Consent is already in place to reconfigure the accommodation into offices, which means a party looking for their next project can come in and can put their own stamp on things straight away.

“Being in Bloomsbury, London’s intellectual and literary epicentre – mans that this opportunity is likely to pique the interest of multiple university and educational requirements that are in the market at present”.

A spokesperson for the charity added: “While it is a wrench to leave such a wonderful building in the heart of London, the Dr William’s Trust is looking forward to a bright future and being able to promote more actively access to – and care of – its nationally significant collections.”

Knight Frank is guiding offers in excess of £15.5 million for both properties.

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