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Hayley Reed

December 30th, 2015

LSE history trivia – did you know?


Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Hayley Reed

December 30th, 2015

LSE history trivia – did you know?


Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

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

Minnie Louise Haskins
Minnie 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

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 on display at LSE Library's Foundations: LSE and the Science of Society’ exhibition, 2015. Credit: Hayley Reed
Beatrice Webb’s diary on display at LSE Library’s “Foundations: LSE and the Science of Society” exhibition, 2015. 

Eleanor Payne explains why she 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's LSE application form. Credit: LSE Library
JFK’s LSE application form. LSE

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

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

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

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

8. LSE’s first Director was William 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

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. Credit: LSE Library
LSE’s first prospectus. LSE

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

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

Read William Beveridge’s advice to new students in the 1920s and 1930s and check out the Flickr image gallery.

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
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

This drawing featured in LSE Library’s autumn 2015 exhibition which looked 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

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

Face of Equus by Carl Goodwin, 2015. Credit: Carl Goodwin/LSE Arts
Face of Equus, 2015. Carl Goodwin/LSE Arts

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

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

This picture shows the last days of the LSE Library in the Old Building – now the Student Service Centre. In 1978 the Library moved to the new Lionel Robbins Building.

LSE archivist Angela Raspin preparing for the Library's move to the Lionel Robbins Building, 1978. IMAGELIBRARY/550. LSE
LSE archivist Angela Raspin preparing for the Library’s move to the Lionel Robbins Building, 1978. IMAGELIBRARY/550. LSE

17. The Shaw Library opened in Cambridge in 1940

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

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

LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly shares 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

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

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

Sue Donnelly looks at the history of LSE’s Clare Market building, now demolished, from car park to paternoster lift to Normaland Wall, in Going High Rise at Clare Market.

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

LSE Refectory Manager Mrs Ellis 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.

Refectory Staff, c1970. Left: Mrs Ethel Gladding, Mrs Ellis (refectory manager). Picture from Mrs Gladding. IMAGELIBRARY/337. LSE
Refectory Staff, c1970. Left: Mrs Ethel Gladding, Mrs Ellis (refectory manager). Picture from Mrs Gladding. IMAGELIBRARY/337. LSE

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

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

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.

26. Lionel Robbins arrived at LSE in 1920

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

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

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 Shaw, 1904 portrait by G. Bernard Shaw
Charlotte Shaw by G Bernard Shaw, 1904. LSE

LSE’s Shaw Library is named after its founder Charlotte Shaw 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.

30. Six campus locations are named after St Clement

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, now 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 was a cast iron anchor on the front wall of the Anchorage.

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

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

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

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

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

Lilian Knowles. Credit: LSE Library
Lilian Knowles. LSE

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.

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

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

In the epilogue to Pygmalion, Eliza Dootlittle attends classes at LSE to help her become a successful florist! Read more about our famous fictional alumni.

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

The Beaver, 18 February 1965. Article on Malcolm X speaking at LSE.
The Beaver, 18 February 1965. Article on Malcolm X speaking at LSE. LSE

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.

37. The UK Gay Liberation Front first met at LSE

In 1970 LSE student Bob Mellors 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.

38. The beaver has a name!

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.

This post was published during LSE’s 120th anniversary celebrations

LSE 120th anniversary

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About the author

Hayley Reed

Hayley Reed is the editor of the LSE History Blog.

Posted In: Hidden LSE

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