by Jez Bond

I find history fascinating. People who follow this blog have will have read more than once about the feeling of an energy in a space and how I believe that the things we do in this world fly out and attach themselves to people, buildings, air…

As such the history of a building, what took place inside its walls, is so interesting. Earlier today I was kindly given an extremely insightful pdf by Mark Foley of Burrell Foley Fischer, who have been the architects of the Almeida since its inception as a theatre space. Within the context of their latest (and beautiful) redevelopment of the theatre, the document provided much information about the building’s history. I discovered that the first ever public unwrapping of a mummy in Britain took place there – at that stage it was the Islington Literary and Scientific Institute. The unveiling of such mystery – powerful, secretive, dramatic – literally removing a shroud to reveal what lay beneath.

We know a little of the history of our site. The building itself is somewhat of a mystery. Most recently it had been the headquarters of the deaf blind charity Sense, prior to that it was a warehouse (to be confirmed) and prior to that it belonged to a brewery. But perhaps most interesting of all is that before our building was erected the land was occupied by a blacksmiths. You can read the word ‘smthy’ on map from the late eighteen hundreds. A place, you might say, where things were created, moulded, forged – where hard metals were crafted into beautiful things, practical things, ingenious things.

I like that! We should remember that.

We will.

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