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Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition


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General Editor: Hermione Hobhouse. Hermione was educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she read Modern History. By profession she is was an urban historian and architectural journalist, and latterly a senior civil servant working for the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England. She taught at the Architectural Association School in London from 1973-1978 and has lectured extensively on London town planning and urban history, Victorian architecture, and on Prince Albert, in England, the United States and South Africa. From 1976-1982 she was Secretary of the Victorian Society. She has written several books on London and managed and contributed to the Survey of London, of which she was General Editor for eleven years from 1983, retiring in 1994. She is was a member of the Council of the National Trust, a former Commissioner of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, an Honorary Vice-President of the Council of the Royal Albert Hall, an Honorary Fellow of the research department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Hermione Hobhouse, MBE, architectural historian, editor of Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition: a history of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and author of Prince Albert, his life and work, died on 17 October 2014. Mary Hermione Hobhouse, February 1934 - October 2014.

The Crystal Palace, in which the Great Exhibition of All Nations was held, has become a national icon. It housed the first of the great international exhibitions, occasions aptly described a French commentator as 'the tournaments of our times'. The honours were as hotly, if more pacifically, contested, and attracted exhibitors not only from the British Isles, but also from all over Europe, from the United States and South America, and even from India. A Royal Commission, a uniquely British device, was created to run the Exhibition, under the Presidency of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. Such was the success of the Exhibition that when its doors closed and the Crystal Palace was banished from fashionable Hyde Park to suburban Sydenham, the Commission found a new role for itself in founding a museum quarter to educate and train recruits for British industry.

The Exhibition itself is only one part of the story of the Royal Commission which, of course, continues in existence today. The history of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 is, in its own way, an epic story. Though created to meet the needs of a special occasion, its members turned a single initiative into a long-term programme for British industry and education.

The Commissioners bought and developed South Kensington, its colleges and museums, with the object of applying art and science to the needs of productive industry. Once the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum were well under way, the Commission turned its attention to providing scholarships for aspiring scientists and artists through a series of awards which continues to this day.

This book records the work of the Commissioners over 150 years in promoting industry throughout the British Isles and later throughout the Empire and Commonwealth, working for both education and industry. A series of little-known but interesting, exhibitions kept the notion of foreign competition before industrialists, and splendid buildings arose in South Kensington. These were designed to house the national collections of applied art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, acknowledged as one of the leading museums of design in the world, and the industrial exemplars of the Science Museum, whose collections inspired its great rival, Deutches Museum in Munich.

Table of Contents
Foreword by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh
Introduction
1. The Founding of the Royal Commission
2. The Great Exhibition of 1851
3. 1852-1857: The Grand Design--The South Kensington Purchase
4. 1857-1869: The Creation of a Quartier Latin
5. "The Late Lamented Prince": Reassessment after the Death of the Prince Consort
6. "For Science, There is No Adequate Provision"
7. New Institutions for Science and Art
8. 1910-1921: New Initiatives in Education
9. Serving the British Empire, 1921-1947
10. 1947-1970: Post-War Reorganization and Reassessment, Rebuilding the Commissioners' Estate 11. 1970-2000: Technology, to the Fore-Changing the Commissioners' Awards; A New View of Albertopolis Appendices
I. Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851
II. Chairmen of the Science Scholarships Committee, Chairmen of the Industry and Engineering Advisory Committee and Chairmen of the Architectural Awards Committee
III. Secretaries to the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851

472 pages hardback 95 illustrations

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