University of East London Awards Honorary Degrees

At an autumn ceremony, the University of East London (UEL) granted music star Dizzee Rascal, who hails from East London, an Honorary Doctorate of Arts. The ceremony, at which UEL’s chancellor also presented a degree to social photographer David Hoffman, took place after the graduation of students who had completed degrees at UEL’s School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering. The two ceremonies were the last of a week of graduations that took place at North Greenwich’s O2 Arena.

Both Hoffman and Rascal spoke about pursing their passions. Rascal, who dropped out of college to develop his music career, said the closest he ever got to a true university experience was performing at schools and that youth is short but life is long. He also counseled students to plan for their futures and avoid distractions. Hoffman said that only when you find something you really love will you find something you can excel at, and that if you pursue your passion, eventually you will find a way to make a living at it.

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An Introduction to Great Britain’s Inns of Court

To practice law in Great Britain as a barrister, an individual must belong to one of the four existing Inns of Court, volunteer organizations charged with calling candidates to the bar after they have completed their studies. In addition to serving as sources of education and support for barristers and law students, the Inns of Court provide common areas and gardens for their use. The Inns sponsor scholarships and other forms of financial assistance. In addition, they provide a degree of professional oversight by maintaining disciplinary tribunals to handle charges brought against barristers during the course of their work.

All four of the Inns of Court are situated in London near its boundary with the City of Westminster and close to the Royal Courts of Justice. The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn is perhaps the one most known to outsiders. Since the reign of King Edward III during the medieval period, students learned law near the present site of Gray’s Inn. The name derives from that of the De Gray family, whose many connections within the legal profession led to a number of lawyers taking up residence in the family’s manor house and surrounding area. The site received heavy damage from bombing during the Second World War and was restored in the post-war period.

The precincts of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn managed to survive the war with little damage. The Inn’s buildings reflect the variety of architectural styles that developed over centuries. The medieval Hall and Gateway access Chancery Lane, New Square presents a 17th-century façade next to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and the Gothic-style Great Hall and Library hail from the Victorian era.

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple and the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple complete the group of the four Inns of Court. Both derive their names from the London headquarters of the Knights Templar.

The Treasures of Great Britain’s National Gallery

The National Gallery houses paintings of rich artistic and historical significance dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Among London’s most popular tourist attractions for scholars and the general public alike, the National Gallery remains open nearly every day of the year, with free admission. It serves as home to one of the world’s most extensive groupings of Western European art. Among its holdings are Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh and the Rokeby Venus by Diego Velázquez. The centuries represented also encompass paintings by da Vinci, Goya, van Eyck, Rembrandt, and Botticelli.

In the 1820s, the British government purchased a collection of three dozen paintings from John Julius Angerstein, a banker. These works formed the nucleus of the museum, which has since added thousands of other pieces. Sir George Beaumont, an artist and collector, bequeathed his own collection to the country in 1823, and in 1826, these works found a home next to Angerstein’s collection. The National Gallery relocated in 1838 from its home in the banker’s Pall Mall residence to its current location on Trafalgar Square. Today, its staff members aim to balance the mission of caring for the vast collection with making it available for the enjoyment and education of the entire public.

From its earliest days, those entrusted with overseeing the National Gallery worked to ensure the widest possible general access. They selected Trafalgar Square as its permanent location because it lay in easy carriage-driving distance for the well-to-do and within walking distance for the East End’s poor population.