How well do you know your LSE history trivia? Here are 38 facts you probably didn’t know about LSE, originally released during LSE’s 120th anniversary celebrations in 2015:

1. King George VI’s 1939 Christmas broadcast contained a poem by an LSE teacher

Minne Louise Haskins

Find out more about Minnie Louise Haskins, author of The Gate of the Year which is a preamble to the poem God Knows.

2. LSE Library used to put on Mummers plays at Christmas

LSE Library Mummers Christmas 1980

This photo from the LSE Library Flickr gallery shows a Mummers play in the LSE Library at Christmas in 1980, featuring St George, Father Christmas, a dragon and a doctor.

3. Beatrice Webb’s handwritten diaries are in LSE’s archives

Beatrice Webb's diary

LSE Library’s Eleanor Payne explains why she’s picked Beatrice Webb’s diary as her favourite piece from the exhibition ‘Foundations: LSE and the Science of Society’  which was on display in the Library during Michaelmas term 2015.

4. JFK enrolled on LSE’s General Course in 1935

JFK LSE application form

Ill-health meant he never became a student at LSE. Read the story of JFK, LSE’s almost alumnus.

5. LSE’s current war memorial was constructed in 1953

War Memorial

LSE’s First World War memorial has 70 names and Second World War memorial has 88 names. Each name has a story.

6. Sir Arthur Bowley was LSE’s first statistician

Arthur Bowley

2015 marked the centenary of Arthur Bowley’s first appointment as Professor of Statistics.

7. LSE’s first students went on to careers in broadcasting, teaching, banking and charity work 

Early LSE students and their careers

 Find out who did what in LSE’s early students and their careers.

8. LSE’s first Director was William Hewins

WAS Hewins

In March 1895 Sidney Webb invited a young Oxford academic to become LSE’s first Director. Find out what happened next in LSE’s first Director.

9. LSE’s first home was in an area called Adelphi

Adelphi days - LSE's first home

The first students came to LSE rooms in this area, between the Strand and the Thames, 1895-1902. Read all about it Adelphi days – LSE’s first home.

10. LSE’s first prospectus listed nine subjects

LSE's first prospectus

Exactly what did early LSE teach its students? Released in July 1895, LSE’s first prospectus explains the aims of the new school and lists nine subjects.

11. The will of a Derby lawyer led to LSE’s foundation

Henry Hunt Hutchinson

The terms of Henry Hunt Hutchinson’s will in 1894 made Sidney Webb the executor and president of a group of trustees with a casting vote on how a bequest would be spent. How and why? Find out in Funding the vision – Henry Hunt Hutchinson and his will.

12. The first record of an LSE Director’s address to students is in 1921

William Beveridge and the tennis club c1926

Was William Beveridge’s advice to new students as relevant in 2015 as in the 1920s and 1930s?


13. A drawing of LSE’s founding meeting was featured in The Sketch in 1895 

Drawing by Bertha Newcombe of the Borough Farm breakfast of 4 August 1894, as reproduced in The Sketch magazine, 17 July 1895 Wallas/15/2

LSE Library’s new exhibition, open 19 September-19 December 2015, looks at LSE’s foundation, people and vision. Go behind the scenes at Foundations: LSE and the Science of Society.

14. Lord Claus Moser appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1988

Lord Claus Moser

This former student and LSE professor loved music. He appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1988 and his luxury choice was a concert grand Steinway piano. Lord Moser passed away on 4 September 2015 and is remembered by LSE and in particular the Department of Statistics.

15. Equus is one of many art installations on campus

The Face of Equus by Carl Goodwin, 2015

Explore the artistic side of LSE in the 120th anniversary special edition of LSE Perspectives, released in 2015. This photo of Equus was taken by Carl Goodwin.


16. Until 1978, the LSE Library was in the Old Building

The Old Library, Old Building, 1978

This picture shows the LSE Library in the Passmore Edwards Room in the Old Building – now the Student Service Centre. Through the window is what’s now the Atrium Gallery. In 1978 the Library moved to the new Lionel Robbins Building.


17. The Shaw Library opened in Cambridge in 1940

A student in the Shaw Library, 1964

Funded by LSE benefactor Charlotte Shaw, the Shaw Library opened in Cambridge in 1940 – because LSE was evacuated to Peterhouse during the Second World War. Read more in Charlotte Shaw’s legacy – the Shaw Library.

18. The Anchorage used to be a vicarage

The Anchorage 1965

In the early twentieth century the Anchorage was home to the Rector of St Clement Danes, William Pennington-Bickford, and his wife Louie – who began distributing oranges and lemons to the local school children in 1920. Read more in Vicars and Directors – The Anchorage

19. The East Building was built on the site of a grammar school

Holborn Estate Grammar School 1930

LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly share the secrets of Houghton Street, touring the East Building just before its closure and demolition in 2015 in The Changing Face of Houghton Street.

20. Sidney Webb was born in July 1859

Sidney Webb, 1893, National Portrait Gallery

One of LSE’s four Fabian founders, Sidney was born on 13 July 1859. Find out more about Sidney before LSE in Sidney Webb – the early years

21. St Clement’s used to be a printing press

St Clement's Press exterior, c1959

Home to Financial Times and Votes for Women, the St Clement’s Press opened on Clare Market in 1898. After years of negotiation the expanding LSE finally purchased the building in 1959. Find out more in Printing presses and science labs – the story of St Clement’s.

22. Clare Market building was named after the Earl of Clare’s 16th century market

Clare Market building 2015

Sue Donnelly looks at the history of LSE’s Clare Market building, from car park to paternoster lift to Normaland Wall, in a new LSE History blog post Going High Rise at Clare Market.

23. In the 1960s, the LSE Refectory produced indisputably good rock cakes 

Mrs Gladding and Mrs Ellis, Refectory, 1970

LSE Refectory Manager Mrs Ellis (right) was famed for her rock cakes and student Tom Emmerson was lucky enough to get her to share the recipe with him. Tom is now Professor Emeritus at Iowa State University. Read about his LSE memory, see some archive Refectory pictures and most importantly get that recipe now.

24. Both the Queen and the Queen Mother officially opened LSE buildings

HM the Queen Mother opening the LSE Library in 1979 and HM the Queen opening the New Academic Building in 2008

When the Queen arrived at LSE to open the New Academic Building in November 2008 she was following in the footsteps of HM the Queen Mother who had formally opened the Library in the 1970s.


25. King George V laid the foundation stone of the Old Building

Ceremonial dais under which the Old Building foundation stone was laid, Houghton Street, May 1920

Have you spotted the foundation stone? On 28 May 1920 a ceremonial dais was raised on Houghton Streets, where George V laid the foundation stone of the Old Building. Read more.

26. Lionel Robbins arrived at LSE in 1920

Lionel Robbins, 1970s

Lionel Robbins arrived at LSE in 1920 to study economics, and returned to teach.

Find out more about Lionel Robbins’ life outside of LSE – in the War Cabinet and in the world of the Arts – in this LSE Digital Library exhibition.

27. William Robson, founder of the Greater London Group at LSE, used to be an aviator

The Greater London Group including William Robson, 1968

A chance meeting with George Bernard Shaw changed the life of aviator William Robson. He came to study at LSE, then later as a professor founded the Greater London Group which had a direct impact on London government in the 1960s.


28. LSE’s Bob McKenzie co-presented BBC general election coverage

Bob McKenzie lecturing, 1964

LSE Professor of Sociology Robert (Bob) McKenzie appeared on BBC election night coverage 1955-79. He popularised the use of the swingometer to show the national swing in votes and estimate seats for parties.


29. The Shaw Library is named after Charlotte Shaw (not George Bernard Shaw)

Charlotte and George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice and Sidney Webb, 1932

LSE’s Shaw Library is named after its founder Charlotte Shaw (pictured, left) and not her famous husband, playwright and LSE founder George Bernard. Charlotte was LSE’s first major donor – and even provided the early School with its premises in Adelphi Terrace. Read more.


30. Six campus locations are named after St Clement

The Anchorage anchor

Five campus locations remember St Clement: Clement’s Inn, Clement’s Inn Passage, Clement’s Lane, St Clement’s and Clement House. The sixth is the Anchorage, currently being demolished. It is the most unlikely campus spot to get its name from St Clement, who was the fourth Pope, in approximately 80-99 AD. St Clement was banished by the emperor Trajan and then put to death by being thrown into the sea while strapped to an anchor. There is a cast iron anchor on the front wall of the Anchorage.


31. LSE’s motto “rerum cognoscere causas” was chosen by Professor Edwin Cannan

Edwin Cannan c1920

Professor Edwin Cannan died 80 years ago, on 8 April 1935. Find out more about this leading economist and keen cyclist.


32. 20 Kingsway used to be a tea shop for suffragettes

20 Kingsway, 2015 and an advert for the Tea Cup Inn from Votes for Women from Woman and her Sphere

Now home to LSE’s Teaching and Learning Centre, 20 Kingsway used to house the Tea Cup Inn – a tea shop for suffragettes. Read more


33. The UK’s first Professor of Economic History was LSE’s Lilian Knowles, in 1921

Lilian Knowles, Gertrude Tuckwell and Beatrice Webb

Lilian Knowles was LSE’s first woman professor, in the Department of Economic History in 1921 – which was the first such professorship in the country. Read more


34. LSE had a British Rail locomotive named after it in the 1980s

The LSE British Rail Electric Locomotive, 1985

The ‘London School of Economics’ sign which hangs behind the bar of the George IV pub on campus is in fact the nameplate from a British Rail electric locomotive – which was named after the School and unveiled at Euston station in 1985. Since February 2008 the nameplate has hung in the George IV pub on LSE’s campus, after it was acquired by the School in an auction in 2007.


35. LSE has some famous fictional alumni

Eliza Doolittle c1913

In the epilogue to Pygmalion, Eliza Dootlittle attends classes at LSE to help her become a successful florist! Read more


36. Malcolm X spoke at LSE a week before his assassination

Malcolm X, The Beaver, 1965

On 11 February 1965 LSE’s Old Theatre was packed to listen to Malcolm X; on 21 February he was murdered while preparing to address a meeting of the Organisation for Afro-American Unity in New York. Read more


37. The UK Gay Liberation Front first met at LSE

Demonstration with Gay Liberation Front banner, c1972

In 1970 LSE student Bob Mellor founded one of the UK’s most influential civil rights groups – the Gay Liberation Front. Their first meeting was held in LSE’s St Clements building. Read more


38. The beaver has a name!

The beaver mascot 1925

The LSE beaver mascot has a name – he’s called Felix. Why? LSE’s motto comes from Virgil’s Georgics. The full quote is “Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas”.

Have you got any LSE history trivia to share? Use the comments below. Comments will be moderated on 4 January 2016.