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The Ragged School Blog Deptford

Saturday, April 01, 2006

19 Princelet Street

Following my theme of tracing the descent of local history into rank obscurity, and what I call disposable heritage, I would like to contrast the plights of two buildings. They both represent architecture as the essential fabric which documents society and culture. One is gone, one is fighting to stay alive. The one that has disappeared is a kindred to The Ragged School of which this blog is a plaque in cyberspace. I found it, as I always do, by accident whilst browsing around. The Sydenham Society website has a page on Boys' Industrial Home, Perry Rise also known as Shaftesbury House which was demolished in 2000. As the building is now gone, I found this web page a touching echo of mine as the author asks why and how, letting us honour what would have otherwise been cast into the void. Anyone wishing to trace the fate of The Ragged School / Princess Louise Institute Hales Street only need look here to see how easy it SHOULD be to track down vital documents (re: why was permission granted to demolish a known historic building).

So to contrast, please check out 19 Princelet Street off Brick Lane, which is still extant, a house and heritage campaign with every plotline you could wish for, not least that it is an "unrestored Huguenot master silk weaver's home, whose shabby frontage conceals a rare surviving synagogue built over its garden." I have visited this magical space and its best feature is to educate people that such vital historical documents are seriously at risk and no one will automatically come to help. Only we, the community, and more recently the internet community can help make visible the plight of Britains disappearing (and sometimes simply invisbile) heritage before it is simply too late.


At 11:30 am, Blogger The Fatalist said...

I visited this place a couple of years ago, it was open on some strange midweek date, I spotted in the Metro, something to do with International Refugee Week.
It was well worth seeing, despite being so run down. Truly part of our great London heritage, of which there is so much like this, which we don't really know about.


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