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VERDANT VAUXHALL

Some surprising sights in Vauxhall, London

Bonnington Square Gardens entrance detail

Bonnington Square Gardens entrance detail

Vauxhall is a district of south-west London on the right bank of the River Thames. It is said that a Russian word вокзал (pronounced 'voksal', and meaning meaning 'railway station' ) is derived from the place name Vauxhall. For two centuries, from the mid-17th to the mid-19th, Londoners enjoyed themselves in the pleasure gardens at Vauxhall. Today, a monument stands to commemorate its existence(see image below).

Monument recalling Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

Monument recalling Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

I am very grateful to my good friend Sue D for introducing us to to fairly unknown modern pleasure gardens in Vauxhall: The Bonnington Square Gardens and the Harleyford Road Community Garden. Bot of these are close to the site of the original Vauxhall Pleasure Garden, with which the diarist Samuel Pepys was familiar.

BONNINGTON SQUARE GARDENS

Bonnington Square was built in the 1870s to house railway workers. During the 1980s when it had become disused and deserted, its buildings were occupied illegally by squatters. They successfully negotiated with the rlevant local authorities to prevent the square from being demolished, and to use it again as a residential district.

Bonnington Square Gardens

Bonnington Square Gardens

There was a bombsite left over from WW2 in the heart of Bonnington Square. By the end of the 1980s, there was a risk that developers would build on this vacant plot. Dan Pearson, a resident in the square, writing in the Guardian newspaper dated 8th of June 2008, informs us:
"Fast as lightning, Evan English, one of my neighbours, proposed that the site should be turned into a community garden. With a core group of residents behind him, he struck lucky with a local councillor who had one of the last GLC grants to give out to such a project. So, with just over £20,000 in our pockets and a team of council-appointed landscape architects, we put in the bones of the new garden."

Bonnington Square Gardens heroes of gardening

Bonnington Square Gardens heroes of gardening

In a short time, a wonderful garden began growing where redevelopment had been threatened. This lush garden is an oasis of greenery overlooked by distant high-rise buildings.

Bonnington Square Gardens view

Bonnington Square Gardens view

At one end of the gardens, you can see Vine Lodge An official report recorded the following information about this distinctive building:

"Bonnington Square and Vauxhall Grove are built on land which was part of the Hawbey Estate,
which included much of the Manor of Kennington. From the mid 19th Century building leases were
granted for various parcels of the estate, although the 1871 map of the area shows Vauxhall Grove was
then a lane called 'The Grove', lined with cottages, and leading to gardens, the boundary of which
matches the present boundary of this smaller square. Bonnington Square was a nursery garden at the
end of Langley Lane, with a house called 'The Vinery'. This detached house, now called ‘Vine Lodge',
remains today at the entrance to Bonnington square
."

[from: www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/CA32VauxhallExtensionReport1984.pdf]

Bonnington Square Gardens: Vine Lodge

Bonnington Square Gardens: Vine Lodge

At the far end of the rectangular garden from Vine Lodge, there is a relic of the industrial activity that used to exist in this district. It is a huge metal wheel with cups around its circumference. Dating from the 1860s, thsi wheel was rescued from a nearby marblecutting works, which was being demolished whilst the gardens were being constructed.

Bonnington Square Gardens Industral archaeology

Bonnington Square Gardens Industral archaeology

Bonnington Square Gardens with the wheel on the left side of the image

Bonnington Square Gardens with the wheel on the left side of the image

A notice by the entrance to the gardens provides a useful history of the place. Near to the entrance,

Bonnington Square Gardens: a history

Bonnington Square Gardens: a history

There are a couple of eateries: the ITALO - a café-cum-delicatessen & the BONNINGTON CAFE, which is not a cafë but a purely vegetarian restaurant. The latter has been a feature of the square since the squatters moved in long ago.

Bonnington Square Gardens entrance gate

Bonnington Square Gardens entrance gate

At one end of the square an archway in the corner leads through the houses at that end of the square to:

Harleyford Road Community Gardens

Harleyford Road Community Gardens

HARLEYFORD ROAD COMMUNITY GARDEN

This delightful garden area is bang next to the busy Harleyford Road that connects Vauxhall Station to the Oval Cricket Ground. This garden pre-dates the Bonnington Square Garden. It was begun in the 1980s, and is gardened by local rsident volunteers.

Harleyford Road Community Gardens: Harleyford Road entrance

Harleyford Road Community Gardens: Harleyford Road entrance

A narrow path with occasional inlaid mosaic tiling wends throuh the gardens.

Harleyford Road Community Gardens bench and path decorations

Harleyford Road Community Gardens bench and path decorations

Walk slowly through this lovely place so as not to miss little details that have been added to this creation.

Harleyford Road Community Gardens crocuses and terracotta tiles

Harleyford Road Community Gardens crocuses and terracotta tiles


I hope that this short blog will encourage more of you to leave the 'beaten track' to discover London's hidden gems.

Harleyford Road Community Gardens: a  mosaic

Harleyford Road Community Gardens: a mosaic

Harleyford Road Community Gardens: exit to Bonnington Square

Harleyford Road Community Gardens: exit to Bonnington Square


Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:17 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london vauxhall Comments (1)

EMIRATES AIR LINE

Views from high above London

Since time immemorial, a good view of London could be obtained by climbing up to the top of what is now known as Parliament Hill. Of course, many centuries ago there would have been little or nothing of what is now called London to be seen. As the city developed, various constructions have gone up, whose summits provide good vistas of London from above.

The Monument by night, London

The Monument by night, London

In 1671, the Monument to the Fire of London was constructed. For a small fee (now it is not so small!), the visitor could ascend the spiral staircase, and, on reaching the top, gain a great view of the city beneath. Now, it is still fun to ascend the Monument, but the views have bee wrecked by the tall buildings constructed all around it. At around that time, Christopher Wren's St Pauls Cathedral was built. Those with stamina to ascendt to the top of its dome would have been able to enjoy a great view. I have done this once, but cannot recall the view, only the awful climb!

Post Office Tower London

Post Office Tower London

In 1965, when I was just entering secondary school, the construction of the Post Office Tower was completed. For a few years after that, it was possible to take a lift to the viewing platform just beneath the rotating restaurant. If you were feeling particularly well-off, you could enjoy a meal in the dizzying roatating restaurant. Terrorism related to troubles in Northern Ireland were partly responsible for closing the Tower to the public.

London Eye viewed through a sculpture on the South Bank

London Eye viewed through a sculpture on the South Bank

Passenger pods on the London Eye

Passenger pods on the London Eye

Coinciding with the arrival of the Millennium in 2000, was the opening of the giant Ferris Wheel called the 'London Eye'. The views from this are, without doubt, fantastic, and worth paying for at least once.

The Shard

The Shard

In about 2012, the so- called Shard building near Tower Bridge opened. I have heard that the view from its summit is amazing, as it should be being so high above the ground.

View of Emirates Airway (from RoyalVictoria Dock), London

View of Emirates Airway (from RoyalVictoria Dock), London

Coinciding with the Olympic Games in London, the Emirates Air Line was opened. This cable car service, which connects North Greenwich (near the O2 - Millennium Dome) with Royal Victoria Dock across the Thames. provides the Emirates Airline Company with excellent publicity as well as providing a much needed additional crossing of the river. In addition, it is a wonderful tourist attraction, which unlike The Shard, is easily affordable.

Emirates  London cable cars

Emirates London cable cars

A cluster of Emirates Airways cable cars

A cluster of Emirates Airways cable cars


I have travelled on the cable car three times, always in bad weather. Nevertheless, the views from its small cabins are fabulous. Looking down, one gets great views of the Dockland developments and an unusual view from above the Millennium Dome. Looking out in less of a downward direction, there ar magnificent vistas of the myriads of other cabbins travelling in both directions.

Emirates  London Cable cars and gasometer

Emirates London Cable cars and gasometer

EM AIRW 6 View from  Emirates  London Cable Car

EM AIRW 6 View from Emirates London Cable Car

Traversing the river by means of this cable car system takes less than 10 minutes when it is not peak hour, but speeds up during rush hour.

Looking down from  Emirates  London Cable Car

Looking down from Emirates London Cable Car

I suppose that those with a fear of heights should avoid this attraction, but judging by what fellow passengers, who claim to be scared of heights, say this is quite manageable. It is an exciting, worthwhile way to see London from the top!

Emirates  London Cable Car: Royal Victoria Docks Terminal

Emirates London Cable Car: Royal Victoria Docks Terminal

North Greenwich terminal of the Emirates Airway

North Greenwich terminal of the Emirates Airway

Emirates Airways: See London differently!

Emirates Airways: See London differently!

The Emirates Airways gives a great view over the eastern part of London. The London Eye is better for overviewing the West , North, and South. Together, these two attractions provide a great way of seeing London without needing wings!

Birds eye view of Kensington Gardens (London)

Birds eye view of Kensington Gardens (London)

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 09:34 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london views car cable panoramas emirates Comments (2)

VICTORIAN SPLENDOUR

The National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Place, London , SW1A 2HE

Staircase, National Liberal Club

Staircase, National Liberal Club

If you are lucky enough to be invited to attend a function at the National Liberal Club in Whitehall Place, do attend! It is worth visiting this club if only to see its late Victorian, over-exuberant, somewhat decadent, pseudo- renaissance internal decor. The internal decoration makes great use of ceramic tiling. The Club is a superb example of Victorian over-exuberance.

Entrance lobby National Liberal Club

Entrance lobby National Liberal Club

I heve visited the place twice: once for a wedding, and once to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the Independence of Kosovo. On both occasions, I was overwhelmed by the Club's over-the-top architecture.

Ambassador of Kosovo looks on as an important British diplomat gives a speech

Ambassador of Kosovo looks on as an important British diplomat gives a speech

The Club was founded in in 1882 by William Ewart Gladstone. Amongst its past members, there were notable people such as Muhammed Ali Jinnah, David Lloyd George, Ramsay Macdonald, Dadabhai Naoroji, George Bernard Shaw, and the author of "Dracula" Bram Stoker. There are many portraits of well-known people hanging on the walls.

Duleep Singh: painting in National Liberal Club, lit by candles.

Duleep Singh: painting in National Liberal Club, lit by candles.


The present club house, which was designed by the architect Alfred Waterhouse (who also designed the natural History Museum), was opened in 1887.

For me the highlight of the place is its elegant curved Grand Staircase.

Large functions are often held in the vast Gladstone Library, whose walls are now lined with fake bookspines.

Gladstone library in National Liberal Club

Gladstone library in National Liberal Club

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 09:03 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london club londres Comments (0)

HERALDRY: College of Arms

130 Queen Victoria Street London EC4V 4BT United Kingdom

The College of Arms was founded in 1484. It has nothing to do with weapons. It is the official body that regulates the use of coats of arms and other heraldic emblems.

College of Arms viewed from Victoria Street

College of Arms viewed from Victoria Street

The College is housed in a building that replaced its earlier home that was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. The present building was built only a few years after the Fire. Originally, it was a four sided building enclosing a courtyard, but in later years the front part of it was demolished in order that Victoria Street could be made.

College of Arms courtyard

College of Arms courtyard

Only the entrance hall, which used to be a court-room for cases relating to coats of arms, may be visited. We were welcomed by a friendly lady who explained many things to us.

Former judges' 'throne' in College of Arms

Former judges' 'throne' in College of Arms

The entrance hall has the original judge's 'throne' as well as some portraits of previous Heads of the College including Sir John Vanbrugh and Queen Elzabeth the First's courtier, Sir Robert Dudley.

Ceiling in College of Arms

Ceiling in College of Arms

Of particular interest are three heraldic models, which used to be on display in St George's Chapel in Windsor. They relate to former, now deceased, Knights of the Garter. While the Knights are alive, their heraldic emblems are on display in the Chapel at Windsor. When they die, their emblems are removed from Windsor, and replaced with those of living Knights of the Garter. One of the emblems we saw at the College is an elephant. This was the emblem of Lord Kitchener (1850-1916).

Lord Kitchener's 'emblem' in College of Arms

Lord Kitchener's 'emblem' in College of Arms

Although visitors, arriving without a prior appointment, get to see one room only, it is well worth visiting.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:12 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london england Comments (0)

THROUGH A LONDON EYE

Here are a few pictures, which I have taken in London over the years. All of them have been previously published on my photo website ... http://www.ipernity.com/home/adam

Five kiosks - ringing in the rain! Near Bow Street Court

Five kiosks - ringing in the rain! Near Bow Street Court

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Evening jogger on Primrose Hill

Evening jogger on Primrose Hill

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Kensington Palace cloudscape

Kensington Palace cloudscape

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Helping hand, York House, Twickenham

Helping hand, York House, Twickenham

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British Museum

British Museum

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Classy act

Classy act

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Old and New, near the Monument

Old and New, near the Monument

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Two Horse-Power in Regent Street

Two Horse-Power in Regent Street

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Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:15 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london londres Comments (0)

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