Beaufoy Institute Open Days: Diamond Way Buddhist centre invites Lambeth for tours and tea

The Beaufoy Institute has been empty for over a decade, and many Lambeth residents who walk down Black Prince Road often look at the grand facade of number 39 and would very much like to see the inside. That was never possible – until this April. Having taken ownership in January 2013, the charity Diamond Way Buddhism UK, which is renovating the building as a Buddhist centre, opened the doors for the first Open Days on the weekend of 27-28 April.

The Open Days showed the past, present and future of the Beaufoy Institute. Photographs of children attending lessons in the Beaufoy when it was a technical school were exhibited on the wall in the main hall. We were even lucky enough to have a visitor who happened to be a former student of the Beaufoy Institute. He was able to tell us many stories of what life was like for the students in the old days.

Photographs of the children studying in the old Beaufoy InstituteStands about Diamond Way at the Beaufoy InstituteOpen Days at the Diamond Way Buddhist CentreOur visitors to the Open Days were a cross-section of Lambeth residents

We also exhibited architectural drawings of Diamond Way’s plans to renovate the building into a Buddhist centre. And in one room, there was a video touring different Diamond Way Buddhist centres around the world, showing how volunteers have renovated beautiful and historical buildings, transforming them into vibrant meditation centres while carefully conserving the beauty and listed features.
And of course, being British, there was tea and cake.

After the Kennington Fayre, the Diamond Way centre is now known for delicious cakesLambeth residents talk with our architectVisitors in the meditation room in what will be the new Buddhist centrePlans for the Beaufoy as Diamond Way Buddhist centre

As there are so many interesting architectural features to the Beaufoy, we gave regular guided tours around the building. The history of the Beaufoy family’s philanthropy, how they built Ragged Schools in Lambeth, and the original features of the Institute such as the Cockrill-Doulton tiles, made for fascinating tours.
Some visitors were themselves very knowledgeable about local history, and told us about the Black Prince, after whom Black Prince Road is made, and the Duchy of Cornwall’s ownership of the area and how it had changed over the years.

Over the two days, more than a hundred Lambeth residents dropped in to visit us, having seen our sign on the pavement, or heard about it through friends. Everyone was impressed with the progress made so far in cleaning up the building, and with the plans that we have for it. One recurring theme was how happy people are that “someone is now taking care of the building”. Many people signed up for more information on the various art, renovation, and history projects run or planned by the Friends of the Beaufoy group. Several people also expressed an interest in learning Buddhist meditation.
Everyone wished us well with our work, and lots of visitors left touching comments in the comment book.

Lovely to see the Beaufoy in use.

Thankyou and good luck! Welcome to Kennington!

Really fabulous space. Good to see the old building being loved.

Very encouraging. Looking forward to the final opening.

Thanks for today’s viewing and tour. As a past student of the school it is good to see the new exciting project the building is to be used for.

What an amazing place! Thank you for opening the doors this weekend, a wonderful insight into this beautiful Lambeth landmark! Your neighbour (Orsett Street)

The tour of the Beaufoy Institute, looking out onto Black Prince RoadThe tour of the Beaufoy InstituteComments for the Beaufoy Open DaysWe received pages of supportive comments in the Visitors' Book

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