When starting at the LSE as a postgraduate, it won’t be long before you hear the words “Cumberland Lodge” floating around campus. This will closely be followed by rumours about “meeting the Queen of England” there, and “playing Quidditch on the lawns of Windsor”. Alas, not all of these are completely true. However, Cumberland Lodge is a magical place designed for students to help make the world a better place.
Founded in 1947 by King George, Cumberland Lodge is an educational charity aimed at the betterment of society. Since its inception, many famous delegates have attended, such as Karl Popper and T. S. Eliot, and this fusion of intellectualism and ethics has inspired and guided research in the social sciences for many years since. The LSE enjoys a long-standing relationship with Cumberland Lodge, which is why many master’s programmes are able to take their students to stay for two nights in the opening weeks of Michaelmas term. As a Social Psychology student, my opportunity came in week 4 and I can say that the experience more than exceeded my very high and slightly fanciful expectations.
Escaping the frenetic life of the city, visiting Cumberland Lodge is like plunging into a medieval age, where Windsor Castle stands as a fortress on the horizon, dutifully protecting us from imminent hordes of Norman invaders, and any attempt to return to modern civilization requires a 45 minute walk through tree-lined fields just to find a single bar of phone reception. The lodge itself is beautiful, having been constructed in the late 17th century, and has many opulent furnishings to match. My roommate Dustin and I were astonished to find that we had a free-standing bath in our bathroom. A FREE-STANDING BATH! Such luxury!
The weekend itself comprised of a series of lectures given by professors in our department. The informal setting, the encouragement of open discussion and the constant supply of tea, coffee and biscuits meant that the hours sailed past. On both evenings we finished long after 10 at night, which left us just enough time to make use of the bar and games room (wherein we often stayed until the early hours playing pool and snooker, on occasion with the lecturers themselves).
The greatest benefit of attending Cumberland Lodge however, was not so much the knowledge that was passed on, but the people that it was shared with in the process. I met many students from other MSc programmes in Social Psychology, including two other student bloggers at LSE. Vaishnavi was in my group during the debate on consumer psychology that was staged by Dr Ben Voyer, and Marina was my buddy for the visit to the Windsor Chapel on Remembrance Sunday, an event that was memorable for me and likewise for Marina who had to endure my awful singing of hymns for two hours.
An added bonus of the visit was the free time afforded to us to explore the grounds of Cumberland Lodge. My friends, Dustin, Elyse, Shynne and I had different ideas however, and we hatched a plan to take a taxi to Windsor to explore the castle itself. It soon emerged however that precisely everyone else had hatched the exact same plan. Thwarted in our ingenuity, pandemonium soon descended at lunchtime when taxi drivers from all over Windsor turned up simultaneously and had to fight with each other to reconnect with their clients. We escaped early thankfully, in a taxi that we think was booked for us, and it wasn’t long before we were walking through the grand halls of Windsor Castle that were decorated with every rifle known to 17th century people.
At the end of the weekend, the general sentiment was that Cumberland Lodge had been a pivotal moment in our lives as students at the LSE. We were all sad to have to leave as we had enjoyed such a great time, especially since essays were waiting for us on our return to London.
My advice to new students is that if an email inviting you to attend arrives in your inbox, then take the opportunity. You won’t regret it.