King's College London
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Imperial designs: technology and empire in the 19th century

The Maughan Library

Photograph showing exterior of the Maughan Library.The Maughan LibraryThough there have been buildings on the site of the Maughan Library since at least 1232, the foundation stone of the building was laid in 1851, with the central wing being opened in 1856.

The former Public Record Office was designed in the Gothic Revival style, whose basic tenet is that that form follows function - that is, the building had firstly to accommodate effectively and safely the documents and records of the nation.

Fire-proofing was fundamental to the design and evidence of this can be witnessed in the cast-iron construction of the many small storage rooms, or ‘cells’, of which two have been preserved, in rooms G38 and LG72.

The building was designed by Sir James Pennethorne (1801-71) and built in a number of stages of development, these stages being visibly marked by the varying shades of stone which have been used at different times.

Stone for the building was quarried from the British sites of Anston, Portland and Mansfield.

When King’s took over the lease to the building in 1998, the interior was extensively converted to make much of the building an area of open access for students, while many original features of the design have been incorporated into the new interior. For example, the corridors of the building are adorned with original cell doors.

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