Deep inside the labyrinth of staircases and corridors that make up St Bride Foundation lies the William Blades Library, a room built to the exact specifications of Blades’s study at his home in Sutton.
After Blades died, his widow looked to sell his collection of books off one by one. St Bride had other ideas: they offered Blades’ widow £1,000 for the collection. While this sounds like nothing for a room of books in today’s money that £1,000 would be around £75,000!
The trade press were not happy about this as they didn’t like the fact that, once sold, students would have use of the books. Some of the collection was 450 to 500 years old by this time, so you can see why the trade press wasn’t keen on the books being handled. The Governors asked John Passmore Edwards for funding to buy the books, who gave the Foundation a £500 cheque to help pay for the collection.
St Bride sent their architect to Blades home in Sutton, where he measured up the room’s proportions; he then found a suitable space in the building and built a room to the same specifications. All of William Blades’s books and furniture are now in the library, kept in the same way that he had once kept them himself