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Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment, The

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'We sell beautiful and useful books. We run courses in ukulele, philosophy, Latin, foraging, carpentry and more. We programme talks and lectures on most Thursday evenings. We sell Monmouth coffee, fine teas and cake. Opening hours are ten till six Tuesday to Saturday, and eleven till five on Sundays. We are closed on Mondays.'
81 Westbourne Park Road, Westminster, W2 5QH, London,
Historic County
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URL was last checked
15 February 2015
'The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment is a bookshop, café and centre of learning in West London. Founded by Tom Hodgkinson and Victoria Hull, the intention is to bring back old school teaching subjects and styles. We want to combine the atmosphere of cultivated leisure that distinguished Plato’s Academy with the lively conviviality of the 18th century coffeehouse, and add a good dose of the 1950s grammar school.

'It’s intriguing to note that in Ancient Greece, the word for “leisure”, scholee, was also the word for “school”. Education was a privilege of the free élite, hence the term, “liberal education”. Education distinguished the free man from the slave. State education today, though, is really a matter of fitting us out for servility rather than liberty. The Idler’s idea of education is different: we want to liberate by giving people skills both academic and practical. We want to teach English grammar, Latin, calligraphy, gardening and embroidery, so we can concentrate more of our time on beauty and truth rather than simply toiling for wages. We want to rediscover the pleasures both of creativity and the intellect, and help people to become self-reliant, capable and competent. That way lies liberty. Hence our motto, libertas per cultum, meaning “freedom through education”. And that word cultum means “education” not in the sense of instilling propaganda, but in the sense of “cultivation” or “culture”.

'To this end we are stocking the shop with a fantastic treasure trove of useful and beautiful books, both old and new. Here you will be able to find the good old textbooks, and shelf-fuls of Plato, Nancy Mitford, Virgil, William Cobbett, Aristotle and Aldous Huxley. We’ll be selling pencils, exercise books and protractor sets, as well as packs of playing cards and other old-fashioned games. There will be art on the walls and we shall serve delicious coffee and cakes. We hope to see you there.'
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