London has lots to see, and I don't mean the obvious tourist attractions – I mean the wonderful details that are all around us such as coal holes, old wall ads (ghost signs), doorway mosaics, boot scrapers, pub signs, street names, even letterboxes and door knobs.
Please click anywhere within any image or group of images to view them at a larger size, or see my photos on Flickr by clicking the icon in the left hand column.
Located next to The River Thames and adjacent to London Bridge, the cathedral gardens have always been one of my favourite places to meet friends rather than, say, the hustle and bustle of Borough Market or London Bridge Station.
This Saturday 7th December, there will be a Christmas market in the gardens organised and curated by The Friends of Southwark Cathedral. More here.
Hope to see you there...!
In Primrose Street, just off Bishopsgate, at the foot of the steps that lead up to Exchange Square, there is a very big reindeer made out of Christmas lights.
He is rather impressive.
But his feet are protected by squares of barriers covered with banners advertising 'Skate In The City' at Broadgate Square.
Poor reindeer – looks like Santa gave him the worst ice skates ever – they are even concrete-lined.
Is anyone else still getting lost in the Barbican? Or is it just me?
I find it hard to get in and out of the complex (ha ha!), or from one side of the lake terrace to the other side without going ever so slightly mad. Where are the signs?! In many cases you have to up and over rather than down and across, and this is just not made clear. The only thing to "help" are those 50mm colour coded lines on the pavement that you are intended to follow. It's like a human game of Super Mario.
(The general area – info re pics at the bottom)
Even inside the arts centre itself I can go missing for hours trying to find the toilets, an event space or a cinema.
There's always a lot going on at the Barbican, especially this month, so it's worth unearthing your compass and other orienteering paraphernalia to make the assault on the building – be sure to plan ahead and consult the latest OS maps or Google Satelitte.
It's a fabulous environment to see a theatre production, or a film, and there are usually interesting exhibitions on the various levels. It's also a lovely place to meet friends for a drink, or make use of the wonderful spaces that are perfect for just sitting, reading, working or relaxing.
Also, on at the Barbican at the moment – the foyers are being turned into a pop-up designer-makers market selling all sorts of gorgeous hand-made products. Wednesday–Sunday every week until 22nd December. More information here.
The bottom row of photos includes CLE,1969, a pre-1966 telephone code. This is one of two still visible on shops in Goswell Road (CLE was the old code for Clerkenwell). The third photo in that row shows a section of the Blitz-flattened (now Barbican) site in 1942 (taken from a building in Little Moorfields by Police Constables Arthur Cross and Fred Tibbs – more of their photos from this period can be found at The London Metropolitan Archives.)
The Garden Museum's Winter Fayre 'Diggin' Design' takes place this year on Sunday 1st December.
The lovely converted church of St Mary's, Lambeth, home to The Garden Museum, is situated between Lambeth Bridge and Lambeth Palace, close to some architecturally interesting, but now defunct, buildings such as the old fire Brigade HQ and The Doulton factory (shown above 2nd middle and 3rd bottom respectively). It's well worth a visit, even if you aren't a gardener yourself as the café there is just lovely, as is the knot garden.
You've guessed it... now comes the self promotion... After the success of the Garden Museum's summer event, shown in some of the images above, yours truly will be there again on Sunday touting her Amelia Parker wares. The range has expanded... there are now colourful beaded necklaces and elasticated unisex bracelets, plus leather wallets in three sizes, many of which have touch screen windows for smart phones.
Christmas cards and the new range of Clay Pipe Pete and textural pattern greeting cards will also be for sale from the stall. If you are interested but cannot make it to Diggin' Design please see the website for other dates. (promo ends!)
I was just looking for info on Southwark Cathedral for a future post and found a piece about Nic Fiddian Green's 'Christ Rests In Peace' that was installed there during lent earlier this year.
This reminded me that in July I walked up the steps on the east side of St James's Street, SW1, to take a closer look at Nic's fabulous large bronze horse head in the middle of Economist Plaza. It was beautiful, as per his other, even bigger, horse head in the middle of the Marble Arch roundabout.
I sat and admired the bronze for quite a while and took some snaps with my phone, wishing I had my proper camera with me. Nic appears to be fixated with horses, but hey, he does them so well. The Grade II listed plaza isn't square but sort of L-shaped; it has a mix of old Georgian bow-backed buildings and glass office blocks, yet they sit together well and this makes it a lovely place to just sit and look at the latest art which has been installed there.
Also worth seeing in the other corner of the plaza that day was 'Eclipse', a water-powered piece by Angela Conner which I found mesmerising.
Here are my photos:
There is an interesting exhibition on at the Charterhouse at the moment that has been put on by the City of London's Corporation charity City Bridge Trust. It's full of information about entrepreneurial people who, by donating their time and money to those less fortunate than themselves, have helped to make London what is today.
Learn about banker George Peabody, City merchant Thomas Gresham, Dame Alice Owen, banker (Good) Henry Hoare and many others including, of course, Thomas Sutton (1532-1611), who was the wealthiest commoner in England in his day and left a large chunk of his wealth to Charterhouse in his will. His gorgeous tomb, embellished with wonderful carvings and statuary can be seen in the chapel which is also open to the public during the exhibition.
Admission is free.
Open Wed–Sun every week – last day 30th November.
There are guided tours of the Charterhouse at 3pm (exc Wednesdays).
Above are some images of the Charterhouse and the general area including one of Doulton's beautifully-tiled pubs and two nearby trademen's shops – a bookbinder and another selling artist materials. The last two images, bottom right, show buildings that have, sadly, been demolished for Crossrail.
Some my earliest posts on Jane's London were about old pubs. I was, and still am, fascinated by pubs that have the old name still visible somewhere, yet now have a new name (why?!) or have converted into residential or a completely different business use.
The Gentle Author wrote recently about what he calls 'dead pubs' (see here and here) and this has provoked me to revisit my file of what I call 'ghost pubs' (see explanation at the foot of this post*).
So here are some more... I have been careful not to repeat the ones that I collected for Time Out in 2008, or those mentioned on Spitalfields Life.
This collection is restricted to pubs that were, at the time I took the photo, something other than a pub, yet the original name was still there.
(Some of these may have changed use again since the photos were taken): Top row: The Alexandra Coffee Tavern, Hornsey Road – was a locksmiths, now empty The Rising Sun, Wapping High Street / Garnet Street – wine bar – check out the clay pipe smoker The Crown, Borough High Street – London Institute of Technology and Research The Old King Lud, Ludgate Circus – bank and café Middle row: The York, Kennington Road – dental surgery The Black Horse – St Pancras Way – flats The Knights of St Johns Tavern, St John's Wood – florist The Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall – "coffee" shop Bottom row: The Blomfontein, Gt Chapel St, Soho – café restaurant The Unicorn, Hoxton High Street – pizzas The Round House, Wardour Street – club/disco Jack Straws Castle, Hampstead – fitness club All of these photos can be found here.
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*There is a difference of opinion about the use of the word 'ghost' in this way. 'Ghost signs' are seen my many as being restricted just to faded brick ads, but I believe any old name, sign, advertisement etc, that is still visible but but no longer relevant is a ghost from the past – I include old shop fascias, signs, reliefs and ads. But I do not includes those signs that have been tarted up or re-painted as in the case of a few in Covent Garden, WC2.
Earlier this year I watched a programme on TV about a fanciful idea to construct a parkland walk across the Thames between the bridges of Waterloo and Blackfriars.
Joanna Lumley takes credit for the idea and in the programme she was seen in meetings with Thomas Heatherwick (he of the Routemaster and the Olympic Cauldron). They mused over scale models and stood on the river discussing how lovely it could be. But it would cost £60million.
Last Friday 1st November, the plans were officially announced – it transpires they underestimated the cost as the figure now quoted is £150million which, to quote Lord Davies, Chairman of this scheme, is "a lot of money".
Well, it's all very lovely, and Ms Lumley says, "thrilling", but haven't we got got better things to be to be spending this sort of money on? I thought we were in a slump, scrabbling around to pay for road maintainence, health care, transport etc. And where is this obscene amount of dosh going to come from? I suspect from foreign investors, or the huge percentage of rich Malaysians, Russians and other rich businessmen who hail from the Far East and live here a few months of the year.
We have until December 20th to find out if this will come to fruition.
If it does go ahead I expect we will see a lot of similar 'iconic' structures popping up all over the world, just like what happened with the Millennium Wheel / London Eye – like this and this, each one aiming to be the biggest, highest, longest etc.
I read in The Times that work had started on the "regeneration" of Battersea Power Station and the land that surrounds it.
The phone snapshot above is from that article (dated 27th October 2013) and illustrates that, with the help of some well-respected UK architects, the Malaysian owners are spending billions to turn the area into yet another sea of boxy apartments and shopping malls full of [I suspect] designer brands for rich people. Oh and they need spaces to put on lavish events – see the clipping, right, also from the same article. Need I say more?
As you can see the old Art Deco building is going to be swamped by the modern buildings. The four reconstructed chimneys, one of which I hear will have a viewing platform or something on the top (how much will that view cost?!) will probably be the only part of the building visible from the South.
Here's a link to a post I wrote almost 3 years ago to the day about on here about my concerns for this site (and my suggested solution!).
I just recalled the film Sympathy For The Devilwhere in some scenes the old derelict site can be seen full of scrap car merchants etc. And, I may be going mad but I pretty sure the site was also used as a location in a Bob Hoskins film; either Mona LisaorLong Good Friday, both excellent films, and worth revisiting for a bit of late-70s/early-80s old London-spotting.
The School offers a relaxed environment where, led by trained chefs, people can learn new culinary skills. Classes are tailored to suit all skill levels.
There's canapés and prosecco on arrival and a lovely meal at the end, washed down with plenty of wine, so it's also a great idea for private parties, birthdays, hen nights, team-building events, etc.
On the night I was there we were split into three sub-groups to learn how to make the three courses we would be eating there later that evening – we made the pasta for Ravioli with Pumkpin, prepared and cooked the meat for the Pheasant Casserole and carefully mixed the ingredients for the Pear Soufflés.
It's made me want a pasta machine of my own. But ooh they are expensive. How much pasta do I need to make to recoup the cost?
The Underground Cookery School is in City Road very close to The Eagle, featured in the famous rhyme (see bottom left). Below are pics I have taken in the vicinity of the school. although some of these features have since changed or been removed.
People are often asking if they can join me on my clay pipe collection forays along the Thames foreshores.
The thing is, I don't tend to make plans; I either just wander down some steps if I happen to be by the river or, I have some free time I check the tide tables to see whether it's worth the trip because the tide does not come in and out at the same time every day and often my half-baked plans are scuppered.
But, having just checked the tide tables, I actually do have a plan... Please join me for "a Forage on the Foreshore" in Wapping on Saturday 9th November.
Low tide will be at 11.48am so I will be there by 10.15am, which will allow at least three hours on the foreshore followed by lunch and beers at one of the nearby pubs.
If you would like to come along, please email me at the above address so that I can send you the meet-up details and reserve a table.
I plan to end the day by walking back in to the centre of town to watch the fireworks at the end of The Lord Mayor's celebrations from Blackfriars Bridge. I hope you can join me for that too.
The next forage will be in Rotherhithe on Sunday 5th January.
Last week I went to see the Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London and was totally amazed by the craftsmanship of these wonderful pieces that had been hidden under ground for centuries.
I don't need to write much more about the Hoard's history etc here because you can find an excellent in-depth review on the London Historian's blog.
My theory is that, seeing as his stock was so large and valuable, the owner of the jewellery shop that was originally located at the site, kept kept everything of value in an underground space on a regular basis. But, how come the gold didn't melt in the Great Fire of London? Was the collection boxed and locked or just wrapped up? If boxed, where is the box? Perhaps the jeweller intended to return after the fire but he, and possibly his family too, died, and having told no one about his hiding place the jewels stayed buried.
The Cheapside Hoard is amazingly good so it's disappointing to report that the layout of the exhibition does not back it up.
On entering through vault-style turnstile gates, the initial information board talks about when the Hoard was discovered, so you move into the first main room but find it is full of things from the Elizabethan period with scant explanation to why there are there. It took me ages to realise that these items were not from the hoard but were museum pieces included to help place the Hoard in context with what was happening in that period. A big heading somewhere reading "Jewels and jewellery-making in the Elizabethan period" would have been helpful. I was not the only person there who was confused like this. I heard lots of "what's this?/Who is he/she?/Where?/Why?". There was lots of milling back and forth re-reading things.
Many of the information cards are nowhere near the artefacts they refer to; one lady and I effectively made up a new dance step as we kept moving circling each other trying to find things. Items are mentioned in the text yet not visible in the cabinets. And conversely, there are artefacts with no explanation at all. It's all very confusing. In one cabinet there are street names referred to. I had no idea where these streets were and how they related to Cheapside, and I am a Londoner... so how's a man from Sweden going to know where they are? The inclusion of a map showing the location of the shop would have been extremely useful.
So it was such a palpable relief to enter the next room and be confronted with a cabinet full of beautiful long chain necklaces that WERE from the Hoard. Phew!
At the end of the exhibition, just before a really dodgy 5-min film about why the Hoard might have buried, are two information boards that, to my mind, would have been better placed near the entrance, because I said "A-ha!" out loud.
It's always wise to get someone who hasn't worked on a job to check it before it goes live, whether it's a book, a presentation or an exhibition. It's often hard to notice the mistakes when you are in the thick of it. So, if anyone out there would like any help with their next event then please do contact me because I have a keen eye for detail and a questioning mind so I make a good test dummy.
But hey.... go go go.... it's on until 27th April 2014.
Jewellers etc in London.
At least three of the shops featured here have since closed for good.
I wonder if there's anything sparkly buried underneath them?
There are three weeks left to catch this interesting adaption of Frederico Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding – a simple tale about love, honour and revenge... and, of course there is a wedding and blood.
This wonderful production is on at The Courtyard Theatre in Pitfield Street, Hoxton until 16th November. More info and booking here.
Some of my photos of interesting bits and pieces shot on the streets that surround the theatre, which is itself shown top right in this collection.
Sam Roberts has recently posted news of two great opportunities on his Ghostsigns site.
1. Probably inspired by the Countryfile calendar 2014 (check out February's "Feeding Frenzy" shot by my friend and neighbour Mr Andy Colbourne), Sam has launched a similar competition for a Ghostsigns calendar.
This is not just limited to images taken of signs in London or the UK – Sam is hunting for the World's 12 best ghostsign photographs. So, all you people out there reading this in far off places such as Australia, Canada, Buenos Aires, please dig out your photos or start snapping now!
You can submit up to 5 images. Landscape format. Deadline midnight Thursday 7th November. Apply here.
I will definitely be submitting this one (hmmm... but which 4 others? Choices, choices!):
2. After the test run last Sunday, which finished just as the rain fell down (phew!), Sam will be leading guided walking tours around the ghostsigns of Stoke Newington where, due to the lack of modernisation (blandification/homogenisation), there is a high density of these lovely old hand-painted gems. The tours take place on the first Sunday of each month from Sunday December 1st. More info and booking details here.
Here are some of my shots of the signs along the walk, though, sad to report, that a couple of these have changed for the worse since I took these photos back in 2008.