Title deed of the 'perimeter properties' of The British Museum
London, England, 27 May 1895
Conveyance of surrounding property from the Duke of Bedford's estate to the Trustees of The British Museum
By the last years of the nineteenth century, The British Museum's collections had increased so much that the Museum building was no longer big enough for them. In 1895, Parliament gave the Museum Trustees a loan of £200,000 to buy from the Duke of Bedford all the houses which backed onto the Museum building in the five surrounding streets - Great Russell Street, Montague Street, Montague Place, Bedford Square and Bloomsbury Street. The Trustees planned to demolish these houses and to build new galleries and offices for the Museum in their place.
By this deed of conveyance Herbrand Arthur Russell (1858-1940), 11th Duke of Bedford, sells the houses to the Trustees of The British Museum. The plan attached to the deed shows the houses and their gardens coloured red. The gardens are shown in great detail, and it is possible to see the outlines of the lawns and flower-beds.
Most of the houses in Montague Place were knocked down a few years after the sale. Where they once stood is now the King Edward VII Building, which houses the Museum's collections of Prints and Drawings and Oriental Antiquities. There was not enough money to put up more new buildings, and so the houses in the other streets are nearly all still standing.
M. Caygill, The story of The British Museu (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)