Mastering in 39 Steps

The College London community gathered for a reception at the Foundling Museum, Bloomsbury 7th February. A capacity audience in the rococo Court Room heard Professor Sir Mark Welland, the 39th Master of the College, set out his vision and it was an opportunity to welcome the Welland family and others from the College. 

Captain Thomas Coram established the Foundling Hospital in the 39th year of the eighteenth century. A children’s charity nearby carries his name forward today. Under the direction of Dr Edward Wickham College excellence in music resounded. Composer George Frideric Handel, a patron to the Foundling and remembered in the local streetscape, would surely have approved.

The Charles Dickens Museum sits a few steps away in Doughty Street and the Cats gathering took place on his birthday. A guided walk earlier in the evening uncovered intrigue and drama on the doorstep. Richard Hannay, the hero of John Buchan’s ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’, traced these same streets in ‘Mr Standfast’, set in 1917. Traitors and spies, a Regency Prime Minister’s assassin, all were uncovered together with a Cold War dead letter box alongside an artfully hidden sculpture.  

From food, fizz, forte and friends, we departed fortified to greet the year’s 39th dawn.

Lester Hillman (1970)