Ecole Jeannine Manuel
- Original design
- Robert Palmer, 1770
Currently home to École Jeannine Manuel, the three contiguous Grade l listed Georgian terraced houses at 43-45 Bedford Square constitute a site of both historical and architectural significance. Robert Palmer, a one-time collaborator with James Adams, was probably responsible for the design of the handsome terrace fronts for the square, which were praised as “proof of the improvement of our taste” by the 1783 edition of the Critical Review of the Public Buildings of London and Westminster. After Palmer’s death in 1776, the builders William Scott and Robert Grews took over management of the project.
Built along with the rest of the square in the decades following the Building Act (1774), the houses have a façade of London stock brick and observe Palladian proportions with regards to window placement and size. Each of the plots in Bedford Square were leased to builder-speculators to construct, and the internal specifications were decided by the first lessee. As such, each house in the square has its own unique character, and the three buildings comprising École Jeannine Manuel are a perfect example of this; the subtle differences in room and window sizes and shapes, and internal decorative features, can be seen when moving through the buildings.
In 2015, École Jeannine Manuel took over the lease of 43-45 Bedford Square, which had previously been used as a tax tribunal. French architects Drôles de Trames collaborated with British EWA (Ellis Williams Architects) to transform the buildings into a light, bright, contemporary space suitable for the needs of a school, while respecting the remaining impressive period features. As such, a tour of the building provides a unique insight into how these Grade l listed Georgian houses have been adapted for alternative use without losing their historic charm.
Sir Nicholas Conyngham Tindal (1776-1846), a prominent lawyer and supporting counsel for Caroline of Brunswick in her adultery trial in 1820, lived at 43 Bedford Square in the first decades of the 19C.
One of the most notable former residents of 44 Bedford Square was Lady Ottoline Morrell, prominent Bloomsbury Group hostess, who lived in the house between 1906 and 1915. Every Thursday the large first floor drawing room was opened up for her famous salons, attended by the likes of Henry James, W.B. Yeats, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and other members of the Bloomsbury Group. An unconventional beauty, at over six feet tall, and with red-gold hair, she dressed in an eccentric style that made her irresistible to contemporary artists in search of an unusual model. She was a frequent subject of Bloomsbury Group paintings, and several portraits of her exist in the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Gallery collections.
The Morrells sold 44 Bedford Square to Labour Prime Minister Herbert Asquith in 1915; the house remained in his possession until his death in 1928. Actress Helena Bonham Carter is his great-granddaughter.
École Jeannine Manuel is an international French-English bilingual school. Teaching children from the ages of 3 to 18, and blending the best of the British and French curriculums, it offers a unique educational experience in London for its students.
Jeannine Manuel founded the original École Active Bilingue in Paris in 1954 with the mission to develop international understanding through bilingual education. Her premise was that “learning a foreign language is, by itself, important; it is also a means to better understand others, to be able to think like them—it provides access to the world.”
École Jeannine Manuel is a frontrunner in terms of pedagogical innovation. Whether inspired by current research in the cognitive sciences, by best practices from around the world, or home grown, the school’s teaching methods are constantly evolving.
Since its foundation sixty years ago, École Jeannine Manuel has become one of the largest independent schools in France, with 3,250 students in Paris and Lille representing close to eighty nationalities. The Lycée in Paris has been the best ranked high school in France for the past six years.
Since opening its doors in Bedford Square in 2015, École Jeannine Manuel UK has welcomed students from over forty nationalities and from a wide range of backgrounds, bringing together children from all over the world to learn in a bilingual environment in one of the most vibrant, multi cultural cities in the world.
The school occupies all three buildings at 43-45 Bedford Square, including the mews, making inventive use of the space available to provide a stimulating learning environment in an inspiring historical setting.