A LONG AND PROUD HERITAGE
In late 1918, Britain was recovering from four years of the First World War. As society rebuilt itself, there were calls for improved building standards and living conditions, including for city slums to be replaced with better quality housing. Prime Minister David Lloyd George famously called for ‘homes fit for heroes’. It was out of this context that in 1918, Sir William Wells – a respected leader in the profession – proposed the establishment of a College of Estate Management. In 1919, CEM was established.
35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
The College of Estate Management’s first permanent home was at 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which CEM inhabited from its purchase in 1921 until the Second World War.
Upon purchasing the property, CEM needed to remodel the interior in order to make the building suitable for its new educational purpose. This included removing an exquisite wrought iron staircase and balustrade, made in 1754 or earlier, in an intricate style akin to famous French Huguenot ironworker Jean Tijou. In order to preserve the staircase, The College of Estate Management gifted it to the nation. On February 25th 1921, the piece was donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it has been on display ever since.
To this day, you can view this artefact in room 54 of the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington.
World War II
With a history of educating service personnel, when war broke out in 1939, The College of Estate Management delivered correspondence courses to over 13,000 servicemen at home and abroad.
The college also worked with the British Red Cross to deliver courses to British servicemen being kept as Prisoners of War (POWs) across Europe. Educational institutions across Britain sent study materials and organised for POWs to sit examinations while in captivity. At POW camps in Germany, the Netherlands and, briefly, Italy, POWs were able to start, or continue with, their studies. This scheme provided prisoners with an intellectual stimulus and, at some camps, groups of POWs worked together to teach each other – and nicknamed them ‘barbed wire universities’.