London's Newest Library Has A Copper Lined Room That Blocks Messages And Emails

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 34 months ago

Last Updated 13 August 2021

London's Newest Library Has A Copper Lined Room That Blocks Messages And Emails
The Faraday Room is a posh Faraday cage, blocking texts and emails, and allowing you to get on with reading actual books.

A copper-lined room that blocks electromagnetic signals — and therefore stops you from sending and receiving emails and messages — can be found in London's newest library.

Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library — which opened in May near Elephant and Castle — is home to the Faraday Room, a study space named after locally-born scientist and inventor Michael Faraday. One of Faraday's inventions was the Faraday cage — of which this study room is a particularly swish (and innovative) example.

Inside the Faraday Room you'll find material related to the scientists's life and work, as well as other science related objects, taken from Southwark’s Cuming Museum collections.

That's not the only surprise you'll find in the library. As well as 20,000 new books, it contains a permanent collection of 300 curious artefacts. These include The Hunter God — a carving from between 150 to 250 AD, discovered during excavations of a well in the grounds of Southwark Cathedral in 1977,  and thought to have elements of deities such as Maponus, Apollo and Mithras.

The Hunter God. This is the first time the sculpture has been on show for over 20 years.

There's also a 'World Wall', where you'll find 'Cree Dolls' made in 18th century Europe and sent to Canada to be dressed in traditional Cree costume, before being sent back to Europe for sale as gifts.

Like many objects here, the Cree Dolls were part of the Cuming Museum collection, established by avid collectors Richard Cuming and his son Henry Syer Cuming, in the late 18th and 19th century.

The Cree Dolls. The costumes are authentic and in 2016 members of the Eastern Woodlands and Cree tribes actually visited Southwark and agreed they were trading goods and dressed in traditional styles still made today by Cree craftspeople and artists.

The museum building — which is a few yards down the road from the new library — suffered a devastating fire in 2013 and never reopened. This is the first chance in eight years to see many of the fascinating objects that survived the blaze.

The World Wall

Permanent collection aside, Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library is currently hosting a Myth Making exhibition. Using writing, paintings, sculpture and objects from the Cuming collection, artistic studio Wignall & Moore worked with the local community to look at what is true and what is myth in museums, literature and art — creating some new myths for Southwark along the way.

300 artefacts and artworks are on display, as well as 20,000 books.

Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library is open Monday-Saturday. Anyone can view the collections, but you'll need a library card to book study spaces and to borrow books.