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OLIVER CROMWELL, SHEEP, AND SHEPHERDS BUSH

Explore an area of West London that lacks the charm of, say, Hampstead or Kensington, but which is not without its own fascination.

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In the 1870s, Shepherd Bush was a small village, built around a triangular green, Shepherds Bush Green (formerly ‘Common’), that was beginning to become engulfed by London’s relentless growth. “The place has little to interest anyone”, James Thorne wrote about Shepherds Bush (in his 1876 “Handbook to the Environs of London”). Many people erroneously share his opinion today. I hope to demonstrate that what Thorne wrote is now no longer true.

The name Shepherds Bush and variations of its spelling existed in the 17th century (see: “Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names”, by AD Mills, publ. 2004). It appears, for example, on a 1775 map, in the middle of open countryside, as ‘Sheperds Bush’. The name might either refer to a family name or to shepherding. A ‘shepherd’s bush’ is a bush from which a shepherd can shelter from the elements to watch his (or in the case of Little Bo Peep, her) flock. The place name might also refer to a place where shepherds rest their sheep on their way to Smithfield Market. Whatever the name’s origin, you are unlikely to spot a sheep anywhere in the area except in a butcher’s shop.

Shepherds Bush Green view of Westfield

Shepherds Bush Green view of Westfield

Until recently, Shepherds Bush Green was an uninviting triangular open space littered with drug-users’ syringes. Between 2012 and ’13, the Green was re-developed, and has become a pleasant island of greenness surrounded by a seemingly unending stream of traffic. Shepherds Bush Station on the Central Line first opened in 1900. In 2008, coinciding with the opening of the nearby Westfield shopping centre, an attractive, airy modern station opened to replace an older one, which had been closed. The station gives access to both the Underground and the Overground railways. Not being a lover of shopping malls, I will not describe the vast and, in my opinion, hideous Westfield.

Shebherds Bush Station and Westfield

Shebherds Bush Station and Westfield

Shepherds Bush Green ventilator

Shepherds Bush Green ventilator

At the eastern apex of the Green, there is a solitary metal pipe sticking up from the ground. Just below its pointed top, it is perforated by six rows of small circular holes. I have not discovered what function this neglected tube serves or served. Maybe, it is related to what remains of a subterranean public toilet nearby. The Edwardian ironwork around its entrances is decorative. According to detailed maps drawn early in the 20th century, there was a public toilet at two of the Green’s three apices. The one that remains is now derelict. After having been used as a subterranean snooker hall for some years, it was converted into a subterranean nightclub called Ginglik in 2002. It provided a stage for up and coming artistes as well as for established ones, such as Robin Williams and Ellie Goulding (see: https://www.residentialadvisor.net/club.aspx?id=935). The club closed in about 2008 because it was prone to flooding.

Shepherds Bush Green old WC

Shepherds Bush Green old WC

Shepherds Bush Green war memorial

Shepherds Bush Green war memorial

A few feet west of the disused ‘loos’, there is a war memorial. This is a winged Victory holding a sword in her left hand and a wreath in her right. It was sculpted by HC Fehr (1867-1940), and erected in 1922. Of Swiss heritage but born in London, one of Fehr’s ancestors was a former President of Switzerland.

Shepherds Bush Green north side

Shepherds Bush Green north side

The north side of the Green is lined with shops and restaurants, which are beneath brick buildings that date back to the early 20th century, or a few years before. They are trimmed with white stone and topped with variously shaped gables.

Shepherds Bush Green south side

Shepherds Bush Green south side

Romney Court Shepherds Bush Green

Romney Court Shepherds Bush Green

On the south side of the Green, there is a 1980’s shopping cinema, which includes a cinema complex where Bollywood films are shown regularly. Towering above the shopping centre, there are four identical blocks of flats built in 1961, designed by Sidney Kaye. Although most of the pre-WW2 buildings, some of which might have suffered bomb-damage, have been replaced by newer ones, there are still a few buildings at the western end of this side of the Green, which were built before the one or two of the World Wars. Romney Court, a tall art-deco block of flats built in the 1930s, stands between Kaye’s four towers and the remaining older buildings. There is another fine art-deco building nearby (see below).

TGCM Church Shepherds Bush Rd

TGCM Church Shepherds Bush Rd

A brick and stone, neo-gothic church stands at the north end of Shepherds Bush Road. This was formerly a Baptist chapel, built about 1893. Now, it is used by the Great Commission Ministry Church (founded in the USA c. 1970), which has owned the building since 2008. Pevsner notes that the church was built in 1907 to the designs of PW Hawkins. However, I noticed that part of the building has a stone “… laid by Mrs Robert Miller November 3rd, 1892”.

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The church’s neighbour is the spectacular art-deco Grampians building. Designed by Maurice E Webb (1880-1939), son of the architect Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930; he designed the principal façade of Buckingham Palace), and Stanley Hinge Hamp (1877-1968) of Collcutt and Hamp (see: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1390753), this block of flats was built in 1935. The ground and first floors are occupied by shops with curving glazed facades and flats above them. These curving structures project forward from the main twelve-storey tower.

St Simons Church, Minford Gdns

St Simons Church, Minford Gdns

Minford Gardens leads to St Simons, a neo-gothic church with a slender hexagonal steeple decorated with tiles and stones of various colours. It was designed by AW Blomfield (1829-99), and built by 1886. The church contains an organ (c. 1865), which was originally that of Dunblane Cathedral in Scotland (see: http://www.stsimons.co.uk/). It was acquired in 1893, when the Scottish cathedral was being re-furnished. St Simons stands on the corner of Rockley Road, which leads north to the Green.

The Shepherds Building

The Shepherds Building

Charecroft Way leads off Rockley Road. Most of its south side is occupied by The Shepherds building, with its bold lettering on a vertical structure next to an external metal staircase projecting from the front of the long brick edifice. It was built in the 1960s on disused railway land that was surrounded by terrain that had suffered bad bomb damage during WW2. In 2000, it was refurbished, and another floor was added. Apart from being an office building, this also provides a centre for budding creative entrepreneurs. A few yards north, we return to the Green.

The Empire

The Empire

The Empire

The Empire

The west side, the shortest of the Green’s three sides, is lined by several historic places of entertainment. At the southern end, there is a pub, the Sindercombe Social (see below). This is neighboured by a building with a tall circular tower, The Empire. The cylindrical tower reminds me of some castle towers in Germany. The Empire was built as a theatre in 1903. It was designed by Frank Matcham (1854-1920), who designed many theatres in London including the London Coliseum and the London Palladium. Charlie Chaplin was one of the first to perform in the Empire (in 1906). In 1953, the theatre was bought by the BBC, who renamed it the ‘BBC Television Theatre’. Since 1993, after the BBC had left it, the Empire has become a ‘venue’ for popular music ‘gigs’. Despite its many changes of ownership, the building retains its original external decorations including a bow window decorated with a row of bas-relief ‘putti’ playing musical instruments.

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

Smaller than the Empire, is its northern neighbour: a long squat building with a façade bearing two snarling lion’s heads on either side of a large, centrally located hemi-circular arch that frames a window above what was originally the front entrance. This building, which until recently was home to an ‘Australasian Bar’, was originally the Palladium cinema (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/3776). This was built in 1910, and opened as the ‘Shepherd’s Bush Cinematograph Theatre’. It was the sixth of a chain of cinemas opened by the former ‘cinema king’ Montagu Pyke (died 1935). In 1923, after having been closed for a few years due to insufficiencies of the local electricity supply, it re-opened as the ‘Palladium’, which was renamed several times before it finally ceased functioning as a cinema in 1981. Running along the southern wall of the building, there is a long notice written in deeply engraved letters. It reads: “Cinematograph Theatre Continuous Performance Seats 1/- 6d 3d”. After standing derelict for many years, it was reopened in about 2011 as a branch of a chain of ‘Australasian’ bars. This closed in 2013, and the future of the building is now uncertain.

The former Palladium and Pavilion cinemas Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium and Pavilion cinemas Shepherds Bush Green

Remains of former Pavilion Cinema now Dorsett

Remains of former Pavilion Cinema now Dorsett

The Palladium’s neighbour to the north is all that remains of a much larger cinema, the former ‘Pavilion’. It has a long brick façade that has been preserved since the rest of the cinema was demolished and replaced by the luxurious Dorsett Hotel, which opened recently. Designed by Frank Verity (1864-1937), a cinema architect, the original cinema opened in 1923 (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/3777). It won Verity a prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The architect of New Delhi and Hampstead Garden Suburb, Edwin Lutyens, was one the judging committee. The cinema was hit by a flying bomb in 1944, and reopened in 1955. Until 1962, when it became an Odeon cinema, the Pavilion had been part of the Gaumont chain. The cinema finally closed in 1983, and was used as a bingo hall until 2001. Now, its ‘innards’ have been removed, and replaced with the new hotel (see: http://flanaganlawrence.com/project/shepherds-bush-pavilion/).

Defectors Weld pub former Beaumont Arms

Defectors Weld pub former Beaumont Arms

At the southern end of Wood Lane overlooking the Green, there is a pub called The Defector’s Weld. It stands at the start of the busy Uxbridge Road. This late 19th century pub building was originally called the ‘Beaumont Arms’. There has been a pub on this site since the early 19th century, and maybe before. After being renamed ‘Edwards’ for a while, it got its present curious name. The ‘defector’ part refers to a local Cold War spy, and the ‘weld’ part refers to joining together as in welding (see: https://londonist.com/pubs/defectors-weld). I do not know of the identity of the spy, but in 1966 Shepherds Bush was swarming with policemen after the Soviet spy George Blake (who was born George Behar in Rotterdam in 1922) escaped from nearby Wormwood Scrubs prison (see: “Eccentric London: The Bradt Guide to Britain's Crazy and Curious Capital”, by B Le Vay, publ. 2007). He continues to live in Russia.

Old Drill Hall  Wood Lane

Old Drill Hall Wood Lane

The Du Boisson Dance Studio is housed in a brick building a few yards north of the Defectors Weld. Its two-coloured brick façade is decorated with bas-reliefs including the date “1898”. It was originally built to house a drill hall (see: http://www.indyrs.co.uk/2011/08/halt-for-gootness-sake-der-bushmen-are-in-sight-they-mean-bizzness/) for the Bushmen’s Training Corps and, later, 1st City of London Volunteer Artillery (who served both in the Boer War and WW1). Later, after WW1, it served as a village hall, a community centre, for Shepherds Bush. The present occupants of this building are part of the West London School of Dance, which was founded by a former Rehearsal Director of the Ballet Rambert, Anna Du Boisson.

Palms Hopwood Street

Palms Hopwood Street

2B Macfarlane Road

2B Macfarlane Road

Macfarlane Road leads west from Wood Lane. At the corner of Hopgood Street, there is a terraced house outside of which I saw a small thicket of tropical palms planted in its small front garden. At the corner where Macfarlane Road makes a right-angle and heads north instead of west, number 2B with its plain triangular pediment looks as if once it was a meeting hall of sorts. Hopgood Street leads into Uxbridge Road opposite an elegant brick building with stone trimmings around its windows and triangular roof gables.

Bush Green House

Bush Green House

Dated 1900 and rising above a row of shops and restaurants, this is Bush Green House, which bears the words “London County Council” (‘LCC’) in gold coloured letters. The Council existed between 1889 and 1965, when it was superseded by the Greater London Council. The building on Uxbridge Road looks as if it were built in the earlier years of the LCC. It does not appear on a detailed 1894 map, but on a similar one published in 1916, it is marked as a fire station.

Bush Theatre

Bush Theatre

Bush Theatre 1895 and its new extension

Bush Theatre 1895 and its new extension

Just west of the former fire station, stands the Bush Theatre, which is housed in a brick building adorned with stone trimmings including pillars with Ionic capitals, mansard windows, and a tall chimney stack bearing the date 1895. Designed by Maurice B Adams (1849-1933), and built as the ‘Passmore Edwards Public Library’, this elegant edifice has been, since late 2010, home to the Bush Theatre, which I have attended several times to see plays that are usually overloaded with political messages. Before moving into the library, the theatre used to be above the pub at the corner of Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush Green. Recently, an attractive glass and steel extension containing a seating was added to the western side of the ground floor. The philanthropist John Passmore Edwards (1823-1911), a journalist and newspaper owner, paid for many libraries to be built in London. One of his libraries, that in Whitechapel, became incorporated with its neighbour, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, in 2009.

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

The theatre is a few steps away from Shepherds Bush Market. This runs from Uxbridge Road to Goldhawk Road. It is located beneath and beside the railway track, part of the Underground that runs overhead along a series of brick arches. The market first opened for business in about 1914 (see: http://www.horatha.com/our-history/). Free of vehicles apart from occasional trains running overhead, this market is a quiet place. When I visited it, I heard very few, if any, sellers shouting about their wares.

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Many goods are on sale including: meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables; clothes and shoes; flowers: real and artificial; materials for clothes and curtains; electronic goods; music recordings; cooking and other household utensils; refreshments; baggage items; bedding; and much more. The clientele and sales people hail from all over the world, as do the products that are on sale.

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Stepping into this colourful market is like stepping out of London into a place where Asian (middle East and Indian subcontinent), African (north, east, and west), and Caribbean cultures flourish in harmony with the uncertain British climate. Although in detail this market looks exotic, its variety is what London is all about. In amongst the shops selling things, there are stalls offering services like tailoring. Some of the market stalls are in the open, but many are sheltered by a translucent canopy attached to the railway brickwork. In some places, the market invades the spaces under the railway arches.

Goldhawk Road Station

Goldhawk Road Station

Across a busy road from the southern end of the market, there is the entrance to Goldhawk Road Underground Station. It was opened in 1914. Architecturally unexceptional, part of its eastern platform is supported by a series of steel supports, whose appearance is reminiscent of the elevated parts of the Subway in New York City.

The New Shepherds Bush Market

The New Shepherds Bush Market

The New Shepherds Bush Market

The New Shepherds Bush Market

New Shepherds Bush Market

New Shepherds Bush Market

Just west of the market on the other side of the railway tracks, there is another similar, but administratively distinct, market called The New Shepherds Bush Market. Although it seems like its neighbour, it is a separate market. By walking into the depths of the newer market, I suddenly found myself in the older market. The two markets merge beneath one of the railway arches.

Former White Horse pub

Former White Horse pub

St Stephen and St Thomas Uxbridge Rd

St Stephen and St Thomas Uxbridge Rd

Continuing along the Uxbridge Road, we reach a building with a small tower on the corner of Lime Grove. Now a branch of Tesco’s supermarket chain, this was formerly a pub, the ‘White Horse’. The pub existed early in the 19th century, and closed before 2011. Between 1949 and ’93, the BBC had TV studios in Lime Grove. Built in the 1920s, the studios were first owned by the Gaumont-British cinema film production and distribution company. West of the pub is the stone clad neo-gothic church of St Stephen and St Thomas, which was built 1849-50. It was designed by Anthony Salvin (1799-1881), an expert on mediaeval buildings. He also designed the parsonage, now called ‘Glebe House, in Coverdale Road.

Glebe House Coverdale Rd

Glebe House Coverdale Rd

Miles Coverdale Primary School

Miles Coverdale Primary School

The Miles Coverdale Primary School, built in brick, stands where Coverdale Road meets Thornfield Road. Opened in 1916, the school’s name that of a man who lived from 1488 until 1569. This Coverdale was and English ecclesiastical reformer and translator of the Bible.

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

Where Thornfield Road, lined by terraced housing, crosses Godolphin Road, there is a brick church with gothic windows. A Greek flag flies from a flagpole near the church’s eastern entrance. Above this doorway, there are words written in Greek. Designed by AW Blomfield, this church, St Nicholas, was constructed in 1882 (a chancel was added in 1887). The church of St Nicholas, formerly known as ‘St Thomas’, was closed in 1960, and two years later its congregation combined with that of the nearby St Stephen, which was then renamed St Stephen and St Thomas (see above, and also: https://www.ststephensw12.org/history-of-st-stephens/). Since 1965, the abandoned church, now St Nicholas, has been used as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Nicholas.

Massacred Vespas in  Havilland Mews

Massacred Vespas in Havilland Mews

The street outside the west end of the cathedral was littered with the carcases of five abandoned Vespa motor scooters. Resembling victims of a ritual killing, they were all denuded of their seats, wheels, and front panel covers. A vehicular version of the “Sicilian Vespers” massacre, you might say. I suspect that by the time that this goes into print, they might have been removed.

Thornfield Road ends at Stowe Road that first proceeds north, and then west. Where it changes direction, it passes the entrance to a gated community called Havilland Mews. This was built on the site of the former Paragon Works. The works belonged to the Brilliant Sign Company, which was founded in 1888. They brought about a revolution in shop sign technology with their ‘Brilliant letter’ which: “…was a pressed copper sheet with a v-shaped cross section so as to imitate the classic incised wooden facia letter. These were then fixed to the rear of the painted glass by way of flanges with shellac, furthermore they were then covered with lead foil to then ‘hermetically seal’ them from the weather and condensation.” (see: http://www.brilliantsigns.co.uk/OUR-HERITAGE). In 1907, the company bought the three-acre site at Stowe Road, where they built a factory that continued production until 1976 – the year the company was ‘wound up’. In 1999, the company was revived under new management, and now has a factory in Buckinghamshire.

Coningham Road connects Stowe Road with Goldhawk Road. This road runs from Shepherds Bush Green to Turnham Green. The name of this thoroughfare derives from John Goldhawk, who owned land in Fulham in the 14th century. It has been called ‘Gould Hauk Road’ in the past. In Thomas Faulkner’s “The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Hammersmith”, published in 1839, he suggests that the road followed the course of a Roman Road built in the first century AD. This is confirmed in later accounts (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol7/pp51-54). In the 1870s, the road was called ‘New Road’, as well as ‘Roman Road’ (on an 1866 map), but it reverted to Goldhawk after the mid-1890s.

Former Swakeley Hotel

Former Swakeley Hotel

Former Wheatsheaf pub Goldhawk Rd

Former Wheatsheaf pub Goldhawk Rd

O’ Donoghues pub on the corner of Coningham and Goldhawk roads, whose ground floor is adorned with pillars and pilasters bearing Ionic capitals, was formerly the ‘Swakely Hotel’. This is a 19th century pub building, which does not appear on a detailed map drawn in 1866. In contrast, the former ‘Wheatsheaf’ pub almost opposite on the corner of the now fashionable Brackenbury Road was in existence in 1866. It is a three-storey building with decorative ironwork above its main entrance. Its name changed to the ‘Brackenbury Arms’, which closed in 2009. Now, the premises house the Zaman Lounge, an ethnic restaurant with ‘African’ and ‘Mediterranean’ food.

Brickfield House Brackenbury Rd

Brickfield House Brackenbury Rd

Neighbouring the Zaman Lounge, the first house on Brackenbury Road is a small apartment block in a building, Brickfield House, that looks as if it might have been built more than 100 years ago. In the 19th century, there were brickfields in the area. By the mid-1890s, these had been built on as part of the spread of residential housing developments. Nearby, Brackenbury Primary School, housed in a large brick building with triangular gables and a small wooden tower, was already built by 1893.

Townhouse Mews formerly Townhouse Studios

Townhouse Mews formerly Townhouse Studios

Heading east along Goldhawk Road, we pass a building on the corner of St Stephens Avenue. Its ground floor is contemporary, but the upper storeys facing Goldhawk Road look Victorian. This is deceptive because this old-looking façade is part of a very much more contemporary building. This is the Townhouse Mews, a recently constructed development of twelve up-market housing units. The housing complex is built on land that had previously been occupied by ‘Townhouse Studios’, a recording studio set up by Richard Branson in 1978 (see: http://www.bective.co.uk/downloads/sales/3870007_2245918_DOC_54.PDF). Artists who have recorded there include Phil Collins, Duran Duran, Robbie Williams, and Elton John.

Shepherd and Flock pub Goldhawk Rd

Shepherd and Flock pub Goldhawk Rd

The small Shepherd and Flock pub, on a corner plot and decorated with pillars and pilasters that serve no obvious structural function, is further east along Goldhawk Road. It was built in 1869 (see: https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/Hammersmith/ShepherdFlock.shtml). It has an attractive painted sign hanging over the pavement.

Ethiopian shop Goldhawk Rd

Ethiopian shop Goldhawk Rd

A few doors east of this pub, there is a shop adorned with words in the Ethiopian alphabet (Amharic). Called Messi Abyssinia, the shop sells fashion accessories and Ethiopian outfits. Its presence is one of many signs of the area’s multi-ethnic composition.

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

On the corner of Richford Street and Goldhawk Road, stands a branch of Kerr & Co, an estate agent. Their ground floor offices retain bas-reliefs including the date 1898 and the three feathers of the Prince of Wales. This building housed the ‘British Prince’ pub, which was already in existence by 1855 (see: https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/Hammersmith/BritishPrince.shtml). It closed in about 2013, after having been renamed ‘The Prince’, and then ‘Raving Buddha’.

Watch repair shop Goldhawk Rd

Watch repair shop Goldhawk Rd

The narrow, small watch- and clock-repairer’s shop a few feet west of Goldhawk Road Underground station, AR Roberts, looks as if it has remained unaltered for many decades. It is popular, and rated reliable.

A Cooke's  former pie shop

A Cooke's former pie shop

Just east of the railway bridge, the shop that used to house A Cooke’s ‘Traditional Pie, Mash, Liquor, and Eels’ - formerly favourite foods of Londoners – looks (December 2017) as if it about to be demolished, or totally changed. The company was started by Alfred Cooke in 1899 (see: https://www.cookespieandmash.com/about-us/). He moved to the now derelict shop on Goldhawk Road in 1934, which served customers until it closed in 2015. Alfred’s great-grandson, Mike Boughton, continues the family tradition by providing customers with the same fare via an on-line delivery service.

Pennard Mansions

Pennard Mansions

The old pie shop is in a terrace of shabby two-storey buildings that, at its eastern end, abuts a late Victorian block of flats, Pennard Mansions, built in brick with stone window surrounds. Currently the ground floor is occupied by textile shops that bear Arabic lettering on their signboards. Roger Waters of The Pink Floyd (a popular rock music group) and his wife, the potter Judy Trim (1943-2001), lived in the Mansions in the late 1960s (see: “Pink Floyd: The Early Years”, by B Miles, publ. 2011).

Former Bush Hotel pub, Shepherds Bush Green

Former Bush Hotel pub, Shepherds Bush Green

The elaborately decorated brick building with a corner turret with a bell-shaped tiled roof on the corner of Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush Green, where we started this exploration, is now called the Sindercombe Social. It is a place for drinking, dining, and dancing. The building began life as the ‘Bush Hotel’, a 19th century pub. Between 1972, when it was established, and 2010, the Bush Theatre (see above) occupied the first floor of this hostelry in what had before been the dance studio of Lionel Blair (see: telegraph.co.uk, 18th April 2002). ‘Sindercombe’, the name of the present establishment, which opened in 2014, has an interesting history.

Miles Sindercombe (died 1657) was involved in at least two plots to assassinate members of the government of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). Cromwell’s biographer Antonia Fraser writes in her “Cromwell Our Chief of Men” (publ. 1973) that Sindercombe and accomplices: “… had in the first place intended to fire at Cromwell with ‘screwed guns’, each containing twelve bullets and a slug, on his route to Hampton Court…” The place chosen was a banqueting room in Hammersmith, where it was known that the coach carrying Cromwell would have to slow down because the road outside it was narrow and in bad condition. On the day that the shooting was planned, Cromwell escaped with his life because he had chosen to travel by boat instead of by road.

Sindercombe was less fortunate. Convicted of treason, he was sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered. He escaped this fate by killing himself with poison, which had been smuggled into his cell in the Tower of London (see: “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”). Walter Besant wrote in his “London North of the Thames” (publ. 1911): “At Shepherds Bush, in 1657, one Miles Sindercomb [sic] hired a house for the purpose of assassinating Oliver Cromwell … the precise spot on which the attempt took place is impossible to identify. It was somewhere near ‘the corner of Golders Lane’, says Faulkner, but the lane has long since been obliterated.” Faulkner (writing in 1839: see above) is more specific than Besant implies: “The house which Syndercomb hired for the purpose of killing the Protector was an inn, much frequented by travellers on the great western road. It was situate [sic] at the eastern end of the Gould Hawk Road, which was at that time very narrow, and nearly impassable. This old house was pulled down about sixty years ago.” This would place the scene of the crime very close to the present-day Sindercombe Social.

When I first set-out to explore Shepherds Bush, I was afraid that I would not find much of interest there. I hope that what has been described shows that the area, which lacks the charm of, say, Hampstead or Kensington, is not without its own fascination. Although there be no more sheep to be seen, there is more than the Westfield shopping centre to attract visitors to the ‘Bush’.

PS: I looked around Shepherds Bush for just over an hour and a half whilst waiting for my wife to have her hair 'done' at a local hair salon. I thought that I would lose interest after a short time, but how wrong I was to have made that assumption!

New Shepherds Bush Market

New Shepherds Bush Market

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:20 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged markets cinemas london pubs hammersmith oliver_cromwell shepherds_bush Comments (4)

TAKE A STROLL ALONG THE STRAND

Strolling along London's Strand can be an evocative experience, as many of today’s sights reflect, either in substance or merely in their names, the rich history associated with this lively thoroughfare.

['Pepper pot' towers at corner of Adelaide Street and the Strand

'Pepper pot' towers at corner of Adelaide Street and the Strand

"Come, Fortescue, sincere, experienced friend,
Thy briefs, thy deeds, and e’en thy fees suspend;
Come, let us leave the Temple’s silent walls;
My business to my distant lodging calls;
Through the long Strand together let us stray,
With thee conversing, I forget the way
.”

John Gay (1685-1732)

The Strand runs from Trafalgar Square to Temple Bar. The street’s name derives from the Old English word meaning ‘seashore’ or ‘beach’. During Roman times, the Strand was part of a road leading to Silchester. Later, it became the main route between the City of London and the palace at Westminster. It acquired its present name in the 11th century. A map published in 1578 shows the Strand as a street bordered on each side by houses. Those on the south side had gardens running down to the bank of the River Thames. Those on the northern side backed onto open countryside: fields and gardens (e.g. Covent Garden). From the 12th century onwards, many wealthy people built palaces mainly along the south side of the Strand. During the 17th century, many of these opulent homes were demolished when their owners moved to the up and coming areas in the West End. In their place, theatres, shops, offices, banks, inns, and hotels, were built. This situation remains unchanged.

Mon Plaisir Monmouth Str

Mon Plaisir Monmouth Str

Oldest part of Mon Plaisir Monmouth Str

Oldest part of Mon Plaisir Monmouth Str

This exploration begins north of the Strand in Monmouth Street. This leads south to the Seven Dials (see below). From the 17th century onwards, it was home to wealthy merchants and lawyers, but by the end of the 18th, it had become a slum. In recent decades, its affluence has improved. The Mon Plaisir in Monmouth Street is a French eatery that was opened in during the 1940s (see: https://www.monplaisir.co.uk/about-us/history/). My parents often ate there in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Now occupying two shopfronts, it used to be confined to one of them when I first went there as a child. The décor of the original part has been faithfully preserved. I wonder whether the artist’s palette with the words ‘pipi room’ still exists.

Mercer Str near The 7 Dials

Mercer Str near The 7 Dials

Monmouth Street leads to the Seven Dials, from which seven streets radiate like spokes of a wheel (as in many parts of Paris). The street layout was created in the 1690s by a property developer Thomas Neale (1641-1699), an MP who formed the first postal service in the North American colonies in 1691. Mercer Street, one of the seven ‘spokes’ has some fine old shopfronts (numbers 23, 25, and 27). One of these (possibly number 25) might have been the ‘St Lukes Head’ pub, which is mentioned in “The Truthteller”, by W.E. Andrews (publ. 1826).

Inside Ching Court

Inside Ching Court

Two Brewers pub on south part of Monmouth Str

Two Brewers pub on south part of Monmouth Str

Continuing along Monmouth Street, we reach Ching Court. Named after an architectural ironmonger company ‘Comyn Ching’ (which was not a Chinese name), which stood here for over 200 years, this peaceful courtyard with a tree is surrounded by many 18th century buildings. It was restored in the 1980s. Almost opposite the entrance to the courtyard, is the Two Brewers pub, which moved from its original address near St Giles Church to is present one in the 1940s. Its grandiose white stone and brick façade contrasts with its much older and simpler brick built neighbours.

St Giles in the Fields parish marker and Equity at southern end of Monmouth Str

St Giles in the Fields parish marker and Equity at southern end of Monmouth Str

West Street marks the point where Monmouth Street becomes Upper St Martins Lane. The actor’s (and other professional performers’) trade union Equity occupies a building on the eastern corner of this street. This edifice bears a small plaque (overlooking West Street) with the letters “SFG” and the date “1691”. This is a boundary marker for the parish of St Giles in the Fields, whose boundaries have been subject to many alterations over the years (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol5/pt2/pp1-2).

Former County Court    St Martins Lane 1908

Former County Court St Martins Lane 1908

The Salisbury pub,  St Martins Lane

The Salisbury pub, St Martins Lane

Further south on St Martins Lane, stands the former Westminster County Court, an elegant building faced with white stone. It was designed by HN Hawks of the Office of Works and decorated with carvings by Gilbert Seale (1881-1930), who also worked on sculptures in the Old Bailey. The court was built in 1908 on the site of an earlier court building, which appears on an 1876 map. Now, the building is occupied by Browns, a ‘brasserie’ and bar, but the façade is well-preserved.

St Martins Lane End of Goodwins Ct

St Martins Lane End of Goodwins Ct

Goodwins Court

Goodwins Court

The Salisbury, a little further south, is a riotously decorated, fine example of late Victorian pub decoration. Almost opposite it across the road, there is a narrow gap between the buildings. This is the western entrance of Goodwin’s Court, a truly unsuspected delight, which was pointed out to me by my friend the author Roy Moxham. An unexceptional narrow covered passage leads to a slightly wider alley lined on its south side by several shopfronts with bow windows. All of them date back to the late 18th century. The east end of the court is on Bedfordbury, which leads south to Chandos Place.

Former Charing Cross Hospital

Former Charing Cross Hospital

The southern side of Chandos Place is occupied by a large building, which is now the Charing Cross Police Station. The oldest part of this building, which began life as the former Charing Cross Hospital and was built 1831-34, was designed by Decimus Burton (1800-81), who also designed, amongst many other buildings, the Athenaeum and the Palm House at Kew Gardens. The building was much altered by James Thompson in 1877, and then by A Saxon Snell (1831-1904) in 1903. In the late 1950s, the hospital moved to its present site in Fulham, and now (2017) faces possible closure.

Adelaide Street

Adelaide Street

Chandos Place leads southwest into Adelaide Street, whose eastern side is occupied by a building built in 1830 and planned by John Nash (1752-1835), the principal architect of Regency London. The corner of the building (facing Charing Cross Station) has two ‘pepper-pot’ shaped towers. Near these, there is a monument to Oscar Wilde sculpted in 1998 by Maggi Hambling, who once offered to paint a portrait of my father while he was a Trustee of the National Gallery.

Oscar Wilde by Maggi Hambling Adelaide Str

Oscar Wilde by Maggi Hambling Adelaide Str

TheCharing Cross

TheCharing Cross

In the forecourt of Charing Cross Station (opened 1864) on the Strand, there is a Victorian replica of an Eleanor Cross, one of several ornamental crosses (all originally constructed in the late 13th century) to mark where the corpse of Queen Eleanor rested on its trip from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey in 1290. The original location of the Charing Cross was a few yards further west (see below). The replica was made in 1883; the original was destroyed in 1647.

1977 storm plaques at Chring Cross Stn

1977 storm plaques at Chring Cross Stn

Just east of the cross at the north-western corner of Villiers Street, there are two plaques relating to the great storm of October 1987, which destroyed about 250,000 trees in south-east England, the area to which trains from Charing Cross travel. I was living in Kent when the storm hit, and remember that it was so strong that I could feel my brick house literally rocking in the buffeting winds. Walk down Villiers Street, and then turn left to enter the Victoria Embankment Gardens.

York Watergate

York Watergate

There, stands the decorative neo-classical York Watergate. Designed by Inigo Jones (1573-1652), this was constructed (with stairs leading down into the river) in 1626. It was the riverside entrance of York House (built in 1620 for George Villiers [1592-1628], the first Duke of Buckingham), one of several grand palaces along the south side of the Strand. The gate’s position, now well inland from the river, marks the position of the bank of the Thames as it was until 1870, when the Gardens were built on reclaimed land.

Buckingham Street

Buckingham Street

Near the old Watergate, there is a plaque recording that the diarist Samuel Pepys, the statesman Robert Harley, and the painters William Etty and Clarkson Stanfield, lived in a house that used to stand where the memorial is located. Follow Buckingham Street, with its surviving 18th century houses, uphill to reach John Adam Street (marked as ‘Duke Street on a 1682 map). At this point, the street, named after the architect John Adam (1721-92), is several feet lower than the Strand, demonstrating the steepness of the river bank leading down to the Watergate.

Steps up to The Strand from Buckingham Str

Steps up to The Strand from Buckingham Str

John Adams Street runs steeply uphill in a north-easterly direction. The caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) lived in a house near the present Durham House. The latter was built on the site of Durham House, which existed in various forms from about 1345 until the mid-18th century when the Adam brothers, John and Robert (1728-92), constructed the Adelphi (see below). Further up the hill, occupying a corner plot, is the elegant brick and stone neo-classical (neo-Palladian) Royal Society of Arts (‘RSA’). Built in 1772-74, this was designed by the Adams brothers as part of their Adelphi development.

Royal Society of Arts John Adam Str

Royal Society of Arts John Adam Str

John Adams Str

John Adams Str

The Adelphi housing development, designed by the Adams brothers, began to be built in 1772 on the grounds of the former Durham House. Had the Adelphi survived intact, it would have rivalled some of the finest rows of houses still standing in Paris. But, it did not. From the 1870s onwards, chunks of this masterpiece of urban architecture were demolished to make way for newer buildings such as the art-deco Adelphi building, designed by Collcutt and Hamp, and built in the late 1930s. Even though this building has some lovely features such as the bas-relief friezes around its entrance on John Adams Street, it is a poor substitute for what must have been some of the finest neo-Palladian buildings in London.

Art-deco detail on Adelphi Building John Adams Str

Art-deco detail on Adelphi Building John Adams Str

Adam House Adam Str

Adam House Adam Str

Sir Richard Arkwright lived here

Sir Richard Arkwright lived here

Adelphi Terrace

Adelphi Terrace

Luckily for us, some of the Adelphi remains, for example: Adam House in Adam Street and its neighbour, where the inventor and industrialist Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-92) lived. Other 18th century buildings still stand in Robert Street, Adelphi Terrace (the lower storey of number 11, which is a survivor of the original Adelphi, gives a good idea of what has been lost), and York Buildings.

Adelphi Theatre Strand

Adelphi Theatre Strand

Vaudeville Theatre Strand

Vaudeville Theatre Strand

Adam Street leads to the Strand opposite the aptly named Adelphi Theatre, which was founded in 1806. It was redesigned and rebuilt in its present art-deco style in 1930 by Ernest Schaufelberg (1892–1970), who also designed the Fortune Theatre near Covent Garden. A few yards east of this theatre, is another: The Vaudeville. Its white stone façade (built 1889) has neo-classical features. First opened in 1870, the theatre has undergone many internal modifications.

Former Bun Shop pub,  417 the Strand

Former Bun Shop pub, 417 the Strand

Just west of the Adelphi Theatre, there is a narrow building (number 417 Strand) with half-timbering just below its steeply angled roof. Now home to The Port House tapas bar, this was once a pub called ‘The Bun House’ (opened about 1890), and then later ‘the Tram Shed’, and then ‘Yates Brothers Wine Lodge, which closed in 1981 (see: https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/StMartins/BunShop.shtml).

Zimbabwe House

Zimbabwe House

Epstein sculptures on  Zimbabwe House

Epstein sculptures on Zimbabwe House

Walking west from the Port House, you reach Zimbabwe House. Designed by Charles Holden (1875-1960), who was the architect of many Underground stations, this building, faced with stone, on a corner plot was originally the ‘home’ of the British Medical Association. A series of weather-beaten, mutilated sculptures separate the windows on the second floor. They were carved by the American-born sculptor Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) in 1908, a year after the building was erected. The nudity displayed in the figures shocked many folk (see: http://www.artandarchitecture.org.uk/insight/brockington_epstein/brockington_epstein02.html). The mutilation of Epstein’s work resulted from the deliberate neglect by the Rhodesian High Commission of the crumbling sculptures, which had been damaged by London’s polluted air, when they took over the building in the 1930s (see: https://lookup.london/jacob-epstein-scandal-strand/).

Former Cecil Hotel

Former Cecil Hotel

Cecil Chambers Strand

Cecil Chambers Strand

Crossing to the south side of the Strand and proceeding eastwards, we reach the grand façade of number 80, behind which lurks Shell Mex House (built 1930-31), which is visible from across the Thames. The façade, a glorious Victorian neo-classical structure, is all that remains of the former Cecil Hotel, which was opened in 1889, and used to cover where Shell Mex House now stands. When it opened with over 800 rooms, it became one of the largest hotels in Europe. A plaque in its centrally placed Strand entrance records that it was in the hotel that the Royal Air Force (‘RAF’) was founded in 1918. The site occupied by the hotel and then Shell Mex House was originally where the former (aristocratic) Salisbury (aka Cecil) House stood during the 17th century, its gardens reaching the Thames. The Salisbury estate was sold in 1880 (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol18/pt2/pp120-123). The office building at number 86 is called Cecil Chambers.

Coal Hole Strand

Coal Hole Strand

The Coal Hole pub (built 1903-04, architect: TE Colcutt [1840-1924]) with is flamboyant façade, and the Savoy Taylors Guild, separate the former Cecil Hotel from the still extant Savoy Hotel. The pub, which is built into an extension of the Savoy occupies the position of the former coal cellar of the hotel.

Savoy Tailors Guild

Savoy Tailors Guild

Several months before I took my final examinations in dentistry, I bought a bespoke double-breasted suit from the Savoy Taylors Guild for my viva-voce examinations. Just before the examination date, our home was burgled. Although the burglar had rummaged through our possessions, he did not take much except a few silver spoons and my new suit. I felt gratified that it was my new suit that the thief had thought worth having, rather than my father’s far more fancy suits in his wardrobe.

Savoy Hotel driveway

Savoy Hotel driveway

It was at the Savoy Hotel that I tasted my first ever Dry Martini. I was a teenager, and had no idea what I had ordered. I thought that I was going to get a glass of dry Martini, rather than mostly gin. The hotel, founded in 1889 by Richard D’ Oyly Carte (1844-1901) with profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan operetta productions, is still one of the world’s most glamorous luxury hotels. It was designed by CJ Phipps and TE Colcutt. The short road leading up to its main entrance is unique in the UK because cars are required to drive on the right side of the road instead of the normal left. This feature enabled Hackney Cab drivers to open the passenger’s door without having to leave his seat. The hotel has had many famous guests. Among the less well-known was one of my father’s students at the London School of Economics (‘LSE’) from overseas, the son of a multi-millionaire, who told him that he lived in a suite in the Savoy because: “…it is so convenient for the LSE.”

Strand Palace Hotel

Strand Palace Hotel

The Savoy is across the road from the Strand Palace Hotel, which is (according to Nikolaus Pevsner) faced with artificial stone. Built by 1930, the hotel used to have a fabulous jazzy art-deco entrance and lobby. This was replaced by a more mundane design in the late 1960s. Incidentally, it was in this hotel that my parents spent the first night after their wedding in 1948.

Simpsons Strand

Simpsons Strand

Simpsons Strand

Simpsons Strand

Simpsons in the Strand is just east of the Savoy Hotel, and is part of Savoy Buildings. This establishment was founded in 1828 as a ‘smoking room’, but quickly became one of London’s leading restaurants, famous for its traditional English fare. In 1898, D’Oyly Carte acquired the restaurant. Its colourful entrance has tiles depicting part of a chess board with chess pieces above the revolving door. This motif alludes to the restaurant’s importance in British chess in the 19th century. Brass plates wrapped around pillars by the entrance bear the words “Simpson’s Divan Tavern”. This recalls the existence on this spot of ‘Samuel Reiss’s Grand Cigar Divan’, which opened in 1828 on the site of the former 18th century ‘Fountain Tavern’. This old inn, where the political opponents of Sir Robert Walpole (in office between 1727 and 1740) met, is commemorated by a plaque on the west side of the main entrance to Savoy Buildings.

Savoy Chapel

Savoy Chapel

Savoy Street leads down towards the river from the Strand, and runs alongside the grounds of the small gothic Savoy Chapel, a royal chapel, which is surrounded on two sides by the backs of the much taller Savoy Hotel and Buildings. It was first built between 1510 and ’15 as part of the Hospital of St John, founded by Henry VII for the homeless, which the king hoped would rival the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence (see: “Winter King”, by T Penn, publ. 2012). The hospital used to stand on the land where the Savoy Palace of the king’s ancestor John of Gaunt (1340-1399) once stood.

Savoy Chapel from Savoy Steps

Savoy Chapel from Savoy Steps

Savoy Chapel

Savoy Chapel

During the reign (1820-30) of George IV, and at his expense, the chapel was repaired and improved. This work included the construction of the bell turret designed by Robert Smirke (1780-1867). The beautiful interior has a magnificent colourful ceiling and dates from the time when improvements were made in the 1860s. The hall to the east of the chapel contains a small exhibition of the history of the place.

India Restaurant and St Mary le Strand

India Restaurant and St Mary le Strand

After crossing Lancaster Place, which is the northern approach to Waterloo Bridge, we reach the narrow number 143, home of the Hotel Strand Continental. Its unprepossessing, shabby staircase leads up to the second floor, which has been home to The India Club Restaurant since 1946, a year before India became independent.

India Club Restaurant Strand

India Club Restaurant Strand

The management have retained the restaurant’s original décor to such an extent that if one its earliest customers, say, the Indian nationalist and politician Krishna Menon (1896-1974) who studied at the nearby LSE, were to step in today, he would recognise it instantly. I love the place not so much for its food but for its dowdy evocative ambience. On the first floor, there is a small bar, which would not look out of place in one of India’s many surviving ex-colonial clubs. Until a few years ago, alcoholic drinks were only available to fully paid-up members of the India Club. However, the annual membership fee of this was only fifty pence. Worryingly, this historic establishment is (2017) under threat of demolition by developers.

St Mary le Strand and St Clement Danes

St Mary le Strand and St Clement Danes

Somerset House

Somerset House

Just before the Strand is split into two lanes by the island on which stands the Church of St Mary-le-Strand (established since before the 12th century, the present building was designed by James Gibbs [1682-1754] in the early 18th century), we reach the impressive neo-classical Somerset House. Designed by the Swedish born William Chambers (1723-96), it was built in 1776 to house government departments and learned societies. The land where it stands was formerly occupied by a palatial earlier Somerset House with a terrace overlooking the Thames, which was at times home to royalty. Gradually, the older building (refurbished by Sir Christopher Wren in 1685) fell into disrepair, and was demolished in 1775. Today, the building houses, amongst other organisations, the Courtauld Institute of Art – a centre of excellence for the study of history of art, and the Courtauld Gallery with its fine collection of Impressionist (and earlier) paintings. In summer, a terrace overlooking the Thames is used as an outdoor café, and in winter the huge courtyard becomes a public skating rink.

Rear of Bush House facing Strand

Rear of Bush House facing Strand

To the north of St Mary-le-Strand and facing it, there is a pediment containing a bas-relief of a boat with wind-filled sails superimposed on a map of part of the world. This is affixed to the rear of Bush House (see below). Somerset House’s immediate neighbour is an unexciting modern building (erected 1966-71), which serves as part of King’s College (founded in 1829) along with adjoining parts of Somerset House. Recently, archaeological evidence has demonstrated that Somerset House stands on land that was part of Saxon Lundenwic (see below).

Roof of Australia House

Roof of Australia House

The college faces Australia House, which has a green roof with several circular and rectangular mansard windows. Created by the architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie (1848-1933), this building, which has a steel framework, was opened in 1918. The quadriga high above the eastern entrance was sculpted by H Parker. The house stands on the site of an ancient well that drew water from the River Fleet (see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-10/holy-well-lies-underneath-australia-house-in-london/7061722).

Strand Station Strand entrance

Strand Station Strand entrance

A few yards east of King’s College, there is a plaque on an otherwise blank wall. It records that the influential Master Astrologer William Lilly (1602-81) lived on this site. The wall is the western side of an entrance, now blocked-up, to Strand (aka Aldwych) Underground Station, which opened in 1907 and closed in 1994. It was the terminus of a spur of the Piccadilly Line, which branched off at Holborn Station.

Strand Station Surrey Street side

Strand Station Surrey Street side

Strand Station ticket hall

Strand Station ticket hall

There is a larger terracotta-coloured tiled façade of this station on Surrey Street. When I visited the area, the heavy folding door guarding the old station entrance was slightly open. Through it, I could see into the perfectly preserved old-fashioned, ticket hall with its tiling that reaches from the floor to about six feet above it. The station is usually locked up, but occasionally the public can book to be taken on guided tours of this ‘ghost’ station.

Former Norfolk Hotel Surrey Str

Former Norfolk Hotel Surrey Str

Former Norfolk Hotel Surrey Str

Former Norfolk Hotel Surrey Str

There is another ‘ghost’ establishment downhill from the former station. Now a part of King’s College, this building, with its fussy neo-renaissance stone decorations in bas-relief and its cast-iron porticos, still retains a stone notice proclaiming its former incarnation as the ‘Norfolk Hotel’. During WW2, the hotel was patronised by French agents of the Special Operations Executive, and, earlier, the writer Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) stayed there (see: https://openhouselondon.open-city.org.uk/listings/4899 and “Conrad To A Friend: 150 Selected Letters From Joseph Conrad To Richard Curle”, ed. by R Curle, publ. 1928). Attached to the hotel, there is a sign giving directions to a Roman bath. In the 19th century, this was believed to be a bath built by the Romans, but recent research has revealed that it was built as a feeder cistern for a grotto fountain in the gardens of the Somerset House that existed before Chambers constructed the present building.

St Clement Danes

St Clement Danes

Returning to the Strand, and heading east, there is another church on an ‘island’. This is St Clement Danes, a place of worship which has been in existence since the period of the Danish occupation of Britain (11th century). The present building is the result of Christopher Wren’s rebuilding of an earlier one in the early 1680s. Nikolaus Pevsner remarks that: “… it is unique amongst Wren’s churches in that the aisles were carried around the E end as an ambulatory and that an apse was added, perhaps on the pattern of the first St Clement Danes.” Badly damaged in 1941 during WW2, and carefully restored after it, the church is now the ‘RAF church’ in London.

Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice

A little to the east of the church on the north side of the Strand, there is a masterpiece of Victorian gothic building: The Royal Courts of Justice (‘RCJ’). Built during the 1870s, and designed by the mainly ecclesiastical architect George Street (1824-81), this opened for judicial business in 1882. Entering the main hall (the Great Hall) of the building, which is open to public visitors, is like stepping into a huge gothic cathedral. It is an uplifting experience. The courts in this remarkable edifice are dedicated to hearing civil, rather than criminal, cases.

Twinings

Twinings

Almost opposite the main entrance to the courts, there is a narrow shop, whose entrance is flanked by two pillars with capitals decorated with leaves like the plant motifs on ancient Egyptian pillars. These support a triangular pediment, in which there are two seated coloured sculptures depicting Chinese men.

Twinings

Twinings

This is the entrance to Twinings shop, which sells packets of teas and coffees, although it is most famous for teas. The present shop is on the site of the company’s original store, which was established in 1706. At the far end of the long narrow shop there is (2017), a bar where knowledgeable staff inform customers about different kinds of teas, as well as prepare samples for tasting.

Temple Bar Memorial

Temple Bar Memorial

A winged dragon, mounted on a decorated stone plinth, stands in the middle of the Strand near the easternmost point of the RCJ. This, the Temple Bar Memorial (designed by Horace Jones), was erected in 1880. It marks both the eastern end of the Strand as well as the position of the former Temple Bar. This was a gateway that served as the main ceremonial entrance to the City of London on the route taken by royalty between the Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London. The name ‘Temple’ derives from its proximity to the Temple Church and the Inns of Court (Middle and Inner). The ‘Bar’ or barrier was first mentioned in 12th century documents. In about 1672, a wonderful sculpted, stone gateway with three arches, possibly designed by Christopher Wren, was built to serve as the Temple Bar.

Original Temple Bar, now in Paternoster Sq

Original Temple Bar, now in Paternoster Sq

This attractive encumbrance to the smooth flow of traffic remained in position until it was carefully dismantled in 1878 (to relieve congestion), and was reassembled to stand in Theobalds Park in Middlesex. There it remained until 2003. By 2005, it had been reassembled in its new location, Paternoster Square near St Pauls Cathedral, where it can be seen in all its glory.

Returning west along the north side of the Strand, we reach the eastern end of the Aldwych. This crescent stands about a mile west of Roman Londinium, and was the site of a 7th century Anglo-Saxon village named Lundenwic (see: “Archaeology in British Towns: From the Emperor Claudius to the Black Death”, by P Ottaway, publ. 1972). The name of the area changed to ‘Aldewich’, which was first recorded in 1211. The present street layout, lined with many buildings in the ‘Imperial Palladian’ style has existed since the start of the 20th century.

Bush House Aldwych

Bush House Aldwych

Close to Australia House, which has a side facing the Aldwych, is Bush House. Designed between 1925 and ’35 by the American architects Helmle and Corbett, this was for many years a home of the British Broadcasting Company (‘BBC’) World Service. The portico of its entrance facing Kingsway, with its half dome supported by two tall white pillars and a ring of sturdy square pilasters, is designed to impress. The BBC left the building in 2008, and now parts of it are used by King’s College.

London School of Economics and Wright's bar, Houghton Str

London School of Economics and Wright's bar, Houghton Str

Houghton Street, which leads north off the eastern wing of the Aldwych is mainly occupied by the LSE. Founded in 1895 by members of the socialist Fabian Society, this has become a world-famous centre of excellence in many fields including: economics, sociology, and law. My father was a Professor of Economics there for several decades. As university campuses go, I have always found it unappealing. Wright’s Bar next to the main entrance has been in existence ever since I can remember (the late 1950s).

India House

India House

India House: an Indian provincial emblem

India House: an Indian provincial emblem

Since marrying a lady born in India, I have had many opportunities to visit India House on the western arm of the Aldwych. Built 1928-30 and designed by Herbert Baker (1862-1946) with AT Scott, this stone building is profusely decorated with Ashoka lions and many circular, coloured emblems, which were those of the pre-Independence (and pre-Partition) colonial provinces (e.g. ‘Baluchistan’, ‘United Provinces’, ‘Burma’, ‘Madras’ and ‘North West Frontier’).

India House: British Imperial crests

India House: British Imperial crests


Looking upwards, there are two elaborate crests each topped with heraldic lions and including the mottos: “Honi soit qui mal y pense” and “Dieu et mon droit”. These are ‘souvenirs’ of the era when India was a British colony. Just as in post-Independence India there are still some statues of Queen Victoria standing– there is a fine example in Bangalore, these reminders of British imperialism remain attached to the building.

India House: Nehru

India House: Nehru

One side of India House faces India Place, which contains a bust of the Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), who became a barrister at the nearby Inner Temple. Close to a side entrance of India House, there is a monument to an off-duty policeman Jim Morrison, who was stabbed in December 1991 whilst chasing a handbag thief, who has never been caught. A ‘Friendship Tree’ was planted nearby in 1994 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.

Site of former Gaiety Theatre

Site of former Gaiety Theatre

Opposite the Indian building, is the Aldwych Theatre, which was designed by the theatre architect W Sprague (1863-1933), and opened in 1905. For two decades during the 20th century after WW2, this was the London stage of Stratford on Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Company. In my childhood, my parents took me to see many plays there. Where the western branch of the Aldwych meets the Strand, there is a plaque on a characterless new building (the ME Building, a hotel), which marks the site of the former Gaiety Theatre, a music hall that was demolished in 1956.

Lyceum Theatre

Lyceum Theatre

Returning to the north pavement of the Strand, the grand portico of the Lyceum Theatre on Wellington Street, which is supported on six fluted columns with Corinthian capitals, is difficult to miss from the Strand. The façade bears the date 1834, is the date when this incarnation of the establishment opened. It was built to replace an earlier version that was built in the 18th century. For many years from 1871, the great actor Henry Irving (1838-1905) appeared on its stage.

Lyceum Tavern Strand

Lyceum Tavern Strand

Lyceum Tavern courtyard

Lyceum Tavern courtyard

The façade of the Lyceum Tavern as a barrel mounted with a clock mounted at its second-floor level. This pub stands on the site of the original Lyceum Theatre (before it was destroyed by fire in 1830; see: http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/LyceumTheatre.htm). The pub, which was first established in the 1830s, has a small courtyard surrounded by high walls, where customers can sit and drink.

Joe Allen

Joe Allen

Joe Allen, an American restaurant (a ‘sister’ to that established in New York City in 1965) that first opened in London in 1977, has its entrance close to the Strand on Burleigh Street (having moved there from its old premises in Exeter Street). Situated on the edge of ‘Theatre Land’, it is a place where you might, if you are lucky, be dining next to some famous star of screen or stage.

Lumley Court and stairs of Vaudeville Theatre

Lumley Court and stairs of Vaudeville Theatre

Bull Inn Court and the Nell Gwynne

Bull Inn Court and the Nell Gwynne

Bull Inn Court and the Nell Gwynne

Bull Inn Court and the Nell Gwynne

Bull Inn Court

Bull Inn Court


Lumley Court is one of several narrow alleys leading north from the Strand. This one, which existed in the 16th century, leads along the east side of the Vaudeville Theatre (see above). Further west, there is Bull Inn Court, named after a pub that used to exist there. This leads past some colourful wall tiles marking the gallery entrance of the Adelphi Theatre. Just beyond the theatre entrance, stands the Nell Gwynne Tavern, a pub named after the famous mistress of King Charles II. Nell Gwynne (1650-1687) might have been born close to the pub, but this is uncertain. The present pub was built in the 17th or 18th century, and has a 19th century façade.

Heathcock Court

Heathcock Court

Just west of Bull Inn Court, Gatti House, with its pink granite pillars, stands on the Strand next to the Adelphi Theatre. A plaque records that this was the site of the Adelphi Theatre Restaurant, which was run by the Swiss-Italian Gatti family, who were restaurateurs and suppliers of electrical and other requirements needed in theatres and music halls. One of the family, Sir John, was Lord Mayor of Westminster (1911-12). West of this, is the narrow Heathcock Court lined with semi-circular pilasters, and often closed to the public. Its name, which is that of a type of bird, related to a pub that existed in the 18th century but has long since disappeared. The alley is recorded by John Stow (c.1525-1605) in his detailed survey of London published in 1598.

The Strand seen from Exchange Court

The Strand seen from Exchange Court

Exchange Court

Exchange Court

The covered tiled narrow passage at the Strand end of Exchange Court, which is Named after the ‘New Exchange’ that used to exist on the south side of the Strand (see: https://knowyourlondon.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/exchange-court-strand/), leads to a slightly wider uncovered lane. On the west side of this lane, there is a house whose entrance is flanked by a pair of pillars topped with Ionic capitals. It has a bow window and a small front yard, which is overlooked by a small clock. This building used to be the premises of the Corps of Commissionaires. Founded in 1859 by Captain Edward Walter (1823-1904; see: https://www.corpssecurity.co.uk/), this was one of the world’s first security firms, supplying doormen to banks and so on. Now, the building is residential.

South Africa Hse

South Africa Hse

South Africa Hse

South Africa Hse

Moving west along the Strand past streets leading north into the Covent Garden area and Zimbabwe House, we reach South Africa House that occupies a corner plot overlooking Trafalgar Square (its development began in the late 1820s) at the western end of the Strand. This building, festooned with sculptures of animals liable to be found roaming about in South Africa, bears heraldic crests that hark back to before the beginning of apartheid proudly sports the Afrikaans words “Suid Afrika”.

South Africa Hse

South Africa Hse

South Africa Hse

South Africa Hse

Some wood-framed windows with shutters overlook Trafalgar Square. Their style is that of the older Dutch buildings found especially in the Cape. The building was designed by Herbert Baker (see above) and completed in 1935. A golden springbok appears to be leaping from its south-western corner.

South Africa Hse

South Africa Hse

For many years during the era of apartheid, protestors against this system of racial oppression used to gather outside South Africa House. One of my father’s relatives, David Kitson (1919-2010), a Communist in South Africa, was a bomb instructor for the banned African National Congress. During the twenty-odd years he spent in a South African jail, his wife Norma (1933-2002), who died a hero in Zimbabwe, often stood protesting outside South Africa House as part of a London-based anti-apartheid group she founded.

Grand House

Grand House

Grand Buildings stands on the corner of the Strand and Northumberland Avenue (which runs through land that was once occupied by a palace that was built for the Earl of Northampton in the early 17th century, and demolished in 1874). Years ago, I recall that there was a marker on the front of this building from which all distances from London were measured, but it is no longer there (see below). Built in 1879, designed by F & H Francis (1818-96, and 1821-94, respectively), this large edifice with an almost oval facade used to be the ‘Grand Hotel’. It has been extensively modernised, but is no longer a hotel.

Charles I monument

Charles I monument

The last item in this exploration is an equestrian statue a few yards west of the Strand at the north end of Whitehall. Standing beneath the gaze of Nelson on his column, this depicts King Charles I (1600-49). Sculpted by Hubert Le Sueur (c. 1580-1658), the bronze statue was cast in 1633. After the Civil War, which cost the king his head, the statue was hidden for several years, and then re-erected in its original location in 1675. The carved stone plinth is by Joshua Marshall (c.1629-1678). The statue stands where it was originally placed, on land which was once part of the Royal mews (marked on a 1775 map as “The King’s Mews” in the position now occupied by Trafalgar Square) belonging to Westminster Palace. The position of the statue is almost the same as the original location of the Eleanor Cross, which was relocated to its present site at Charing Cross Station (see above). At the foot of King Charles’s monument, there is a plaque set into the pavement marking the place where mileage distances from London are officially measured.

There are many roads to be crossed around Trafalgar Square. Be careful only to cross when the green pedestrian signal is showing. At present (2017), the green signals around the square do not always show the usual ‘green man’. Instead, some of them show two children holding hands, and others, wishing to avoid gender preferences, show the symbols for male and female intertwined.

Strolling along the Strand can be an evocative experience, as many of today’s sights reflect, either in substance or merely in their names, the rich history associated with this lively thoroughfare. As the music hall song by Harry Castling & CW Murphy goes:

Let’s all go down the Strand
Let’s all go down the Strand
I'll be leader you can march behind
Come with me and see what we can find
Let’s all go down the Strand
That's the place for fun and noise
All among the girls and boys
So let's all go down the Strand
.”

Green pedestrian light Trafalgar Sq

Green pedestrian light Trafalgar Sq

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hotels london alleyways england pubs alleys strand theatres royalty Comments (4)

HERE AND THERE IN HACKNEY

Let's explore parts of Haggerston and Hoxton, and take a wander along a part of the Regent's Canal

large_HOXT_3j_Co.._Haggerston.jpg

The Regents Canal was once used for industry and transport, and is now used mainly for leisure pursuits. It passes through areas of London, which are somewhat bleak at first glance, but, on closer examination, can be seen to have some endearing features. This exploration takes us mainly through Hoxton and Haggerston - parts of London between Islington and Hackney, which were mainly rural until the late 18th century.

In 1745, Hoxton was beginning to develop on the edge of London to the west of the Kingsland Road (the Roman ‘Ermine Street’). Haggerston was a tiny hamlet slightly to the east of this thoroughfare and north of Hoxton. By the 1820s, both districts contained stretches of the recently constructed Regent’s Canal. This waterway, whose construction began in 1812, facilitated local industry and the building of warehouses.

Both Hoxton and Haggerston appear in the 11th century Domesday Book, and are now part of Hackney. Although both names end in ‘ton’, this suffix has different meanings in each case (see: “Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names”, by AD Mills, publ. 2001). Hoxton is derived from the Old English name ‘Hoc’ and the word for farmstead ‘tun’’, giving the name a meaning like ‘farmstead or estate of Hoc’. Haggerston, which appears in the Domesday Book as ‘Hergotestane’, is derived from the name (early Christian in origin) of a man, ‘Haergod’ and an Old English word meaning ‘boundary stone (of someone’s land)’. Thus, Haggerston means something like ‘Haergod’s boundary stone’. Until the 16th century, when Hoxton began to be occupied by Londoners expanding into the countryside, both places were rural. Throughout the 17th century, Haggerston remained an area of countryside, where some wealthy gentlemen had out-of-town residences.

De Beauvoir Sq

De Beauvoir Sq

De Beauvoir Sq

De Beauvoir Sq

We start at De Beauvoir Town, a housing estate whose development coincided with the opening of the Regents Canal. Just west of the Kingsland Road, this residential area is centred on De Beauvoir Square, a lovely open space surrounded by attractive grey brick houses with elaborately curved gables. Building was begun in 1821 by brick-maker William Rhodes (1774-1843), a grandfather of the colonialist Cecil Rhodes. Construction ceased in 1823, when a court determined that Rhodes had illegally acquired the lease for the De Beauvoir’s land. After the trial had run on for twenty years, the land reverted to the De Beauvoir family, and development recommenced. Houses were built there for the up and coming ‘middle classes’.

St Peter De Beauvoir

St Peter De Beauvoir

The Victorian gothic St Peters church stands south-east of the square on De Beauvoir Road. It was designed by WC Lochner (c. 1779-1861) who was born in what is now Libya (see: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cheyne/p20418.htm), and built by 1841. It was constructed to “enhance the character and add lustre to the new estate” (see: http://www.stpeterdebeauvoir.org.uk/history-of-st-peters/).

St James Cottages 1845  De Beauvoir Rd

St James Cottages 1845 De Beauvoir Rd

De Beauvoir Rd north of Downham Rd

De Beauvoir Rd north of Downham Rd

The part of De Beauvoir Road north of Downham Road is lined with two-storey homes built in the 19th century. The row called ‘St James Cottages’ is dated 1845.

De Beauvoir Rd south of Downham Rd

De Beauvoir Rd south of Downham Rd

South of Downham Road, there is a council estate built in the 1960s and ‘70s. It includes one high-rise tower and several lower buildings, all of which make a stark contrast to the prettier buildings north of Downham Road. The estate stretches almost as far south as the Regents Canal.

SAE Institute De Beauvoir Crescent

SAE Institute De Beauvoir Crescent

The AEI Group (an independent music business) occupies the Bankstock Building on De Beauvoir Crescent close to the Whitmore Road bridge. Overlooking the canal, this building looks like a modern conversion of an earlier industrial or stage building. In fact, it was originally built in the 1930s, and has had a lightweight modern structure built above its original roof (see: http://www.elliottwood.co.uk/project/bankstock-building-de-beauvoir-crescent-london-n1/).

Regents Canal looking west from Whitmore Rd Bridge

Regents Canal looking west from Whitmore Rd Bridge

Whitmore Rd Bridge over Regents Canal

Whitmore Rd Bridge over Regents Canal

From the Whitmore Bridge, there are good views along the Regents Canal. The bridge, single-arched and built of brick, is a typical example of Georgian canal bridge-building. A staircase leads down to the towpath. Descend this to enter another world – a peaceful contrast to the urban environment on either side of the canal. The canal is lined in places with moored canal barges (‘narrowboats’). The occasional narrowboat chugs past, often with its ‘skipper’ with one hand on the tiller, and the other holding either a mobile ‘phone or a glass of an alcoholic beverage. The old towpath, beautifully maintained, is a busy place. Cyclists and joggers compete with walkers for space on it.

Plant covered building Regents Canal

Plant covered building Regents Canal

Entry to Kingsland Basin

Entry to Kingsland Basin

Walking eastwards, we pass a greenish modern apartment block overlooking the canal. Much of its façade - its balcony rails and supporting pillars - are literally alive: a dense tangle of plants sprouts from panels of planters, looking like vertical plots of garden, attached to them. This building is a fine example of a ‘living wall’, currently fashionable in current architecture. Further east, the towpath crosses a metal bridge, which straddles an inlet of the canal: the Kingsland Basin. The basin dates from the early 1820s, when it began being used for mooring vessels next to industrial establishments. One of the earliest of these, opened in 1823, made tents (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol10/pp33-35). In the 19th century, the area close between De Beauvoir Crescent and the basin was occupied by very poor people. Today, things have changed. The Basin, in which pleasure craft are moored, is now surrounded by luxurious recently-built apartment buildings.

Kingsland Basin

Kingsland Basin

Graffiti just west of Kingsland Rd

Graffiti just west of Kingsland Rd

One of the features that I enjoyed along the canal is the abundance of often luridly coloured graffiti, much of it skilfully executed. I cannot guarantee that what I saw in September 2017 will remain unchanged, or is even there now. Such is the transient nature of this art-form. However, I am sure that there will be some for you to enjoy when you follow my path.

Kingsland Road bridge over Regents Canal

Kingsland Road bridge over Regents Canal

Passing under the brick Kingsland Road Bridge, which has an interesting contemporary iron railing on its west side and whose span is both wider and higher span than the one at Whitlock Road, it is difficult to believe that you have just been beneath one of London’s busier thoroughfares. The tow path, lined with vegetation on one side and the slow-moving, almost motionless, canal on the other, is a peaceful haven wending its way through bustling ‘inner city’ areas. The canal is a world apart from the city surrounding it. A concrete suspension bridge of recent construction carries the lines of the Overground railway across the canal.

Railway bridge south of Haggerston Station

Railway bridge south of Haggerston Station

Haggerston Rd Bridge

Haggerston Rd Bridge

Cormorant near Haggerston

Cormorant near Haggerston

After passing beneath the brick built, narrow Haggerston Bridge (built about 1816-1820), which carries Haggerston Road across the canal, I spotted a cormorant perched on a moored narrow boat. Its wings were spread out widely to dry them in the sun. The north wall of the arch of the bridge is notched in several places. These grooves were caused by the friction of the horse-drawn barge tow-ropes against the abutment.

Acton Lock

Acton Lock

East of the Haggerston Bridge, the level of the canal drops by about eight feet in the Acton’s Lock. It was named after the Hackney land-owner, Nathaniel Lee Acton (1757-1836; of Livermere Park and Bramford in Suffolk), through whose land (agricultural fields, market gardens, and nursery grounds) the canal was built (see: http://planningdocs.hackney.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00049992.pdf). Acton’s portrait was painted by the celebrated George Romney (1734-1802) in about 1787 (see: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2006/shrubland-park-suffolk-england-country-house-sale-l06501/lot.294.html)

Cat and Mutton Bridge

Cat and Mutton Bridge

A few yards east of the lock, the canal is crossed by the Cat and Mutton Bridge, which carries Pritchard Road across the canal. This bridge might have been named after the pub with the same name, which is about 250 yards north of the canal. The pub (aka ‘Cat & Shoulder of Mutton’) was in existence by 1745, long before the canal was constructed. Whatever the origin of its name, the present bridge, which is lined beneath with steel girders, is newer than the smaller brick bridges, which were built at the time of the canal’s construction.

Gasometer on Regents Canal near Pritchard Rd

Gasometer on Regents Canal near Pritchard Rd

From the bridge, there is a fine view of some gasometers east of it. The construction of the canal facilitated the transport of fuels including coal. The Imperial Gas Company, founded by 1829, owned a plot, where these gasometers now stand, and another on the west side of the bridge south of the canal. This branch of the company supplied gas to Tottenham and Edmonton as early as 1840 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_Light_and_Coke_Company#Shoreditch).

Broadway Mkt

Broadway Mkt

Broadway Market (named thus in 1937) to the north of the bridge was the site of a marketplace, which was already active in the 1830s. Close to Acton’s Lock, it was a place where barge-workers could obtain provisions. Today, this widened stretch of road is beginning to go ‘upmarket’, as property values in an area so close to the City rise.

After crossing the bridge, Pritchard Road continues straight south-west for a few yards before turning southwards at its junction with Goldsmiths Row. This was formerly part of Mutton Lane that led up to, and beyond the Cat and Mutton pub (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol5/pp505-524). The present name is derived from the existence of some alms-houses (first constructed in 1703 for poor employees of the Goldsmiths’ Company). Marked on a detailed 1872 map, they do not appear on a similar map drawn 22 years later, nor on later editions of the same scale Ordnance Survey maps.

Former Albion pub, Goldsmiths Row

Former Albion pub, Goldsmiths Row

The fake half-timbered pub, The Albion, a haunt of West Bromwich football team fans stands on a corner plot on Goldsmiths Row. Well, at least it did when I passed it in September 2017. By then, it had been closed for several months (see: https://www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/2017/06/12/the-albion-closed-shoreditch-west-bromwich/), and was awaiting renovation by its new owners, who plan to open a new establishment to be called ‘The Virgin Queen’. The pub had been in business as ‘The Albion’ for about twenty years. The sign that used to adorn the pub has been removed (by a former fan of the establishment) to reveal the words “West’s Brewery Co. Ltd.”, a Hackney brewery which dated back to 1822 (see: http://www.breweryhistory.com/journal/archive/124_5/Wests.pdf). Before being called ‘The Albion’, it was named ‘The Duke of Sussex’. The building housing it was constructed in the 1920s.

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Audrey Street leads off Goldsmiths Row towards a 19th century school building, constructed with red bricks and many gables, bearing the date “1873” and a carved stone with the words “Maidstone Street Haggerston School”. It was designed in the ‘Queen Anne’ style by CH Mileham (1837-1917) and his partner, a Mr Kennedy, for the Hackney Division of the School Board for London, and later (1894) extended by TJ Bailey (see: https://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101392464-sebright-primary-school-including-former-schoolkeepers-house-and-cookery-centre-haggerston-ward#.WgwpPGi0OM8). It was one of the first schools built by the School Board of London under the provisions of the Elementary Education Act of 1870. This Act ensured that local school boards were set-up to provide compulsory education for children aged five to twelve years. Fees were paid by parents who could afford them. Fees for children whose parents were unable to afford them were paid by the boards. Today, Maidstone Street no longer exists, and the school has been renamed Sebright Primary School.

Haggerston Park BMX track

Haggerston Park BMX track

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park is reached a few yards along Goldsmiths’ Row to the south of the school. This irregularly shaped, pleasant green open space includes a BMX cycle track, paths through wooded areas, a lovely pond, and playing fields. The northern part of the park, which reaches up to Whiston Street is built on the site of part of the gasworks that was destroyed by a V2 bomb in 1944. The rest of the park was built where once there had been an area of derelict housing. The park’s creation began in the 1950s.

Hackney City Farm

Hackney City Farm

The southernmost section of the park is occupied by Hackney City Farm (established 1984). Of all the so-called city farms that I have seen so far, this one has excited me least. To its credit, it does include a nice flower garden amongst its attractions. According to old detailed maps, the large brick building that stands within the farm, and to which an old cobbled lane leads, was once a brewery: ‘Three Crowns Brewery’, a part of West’s company (see above). The former Boston Street marked on old maps) has become a path through the farm.

St Peters Betnnal Green

St Peters Betnnal Green

St Peters Betnnal Green

St Peters Betnnal Green

If you are visiting the area on a Sunday morning and enjoy street markets, then the following detour is worth taking. Cross the Hackney Road, and enter Ion Square Gardens. This small open space is on the site of Ion Square, which was surrounded by small houses built around a private communal garden in about 1845. Following extensive bombing in WW2, the gardens were enlarged to form the present park in the 1960s. The church of St Peters Bethnal Green stands near the south-east corner of the gardens. Its grey colour is due to its facing with flint. Built 1840-41, it was designed by Lewis Vulliamy (1791-1871). Its spacious nave has a plain ceiling supported by an elaborate wooden structure reminiscent of hammer-beam roofs.

Mander organ factory old school entrance

Mander organ factory old school entrance

Mander organ factory

Mander organ factory

The church shares a courtyard with another Victorian building. It houses Mander’s organ factory. A doorway leading into the factory has a carved stone above it, which reads “infants”, suggesting that once there was a school on this site. This is confirmed by referring to old maps. Noel Mander, who died in 2005, began his company in 1936. In 1947, the company moved into the disused school, which was built in the 1840s.

St Peters church hall

St Peters church hall

The brick and stone building on Warner Place (near the church), whose external appearance has a Tudor ‘flavour’, is St Peter’s Church Hall. It was built in 1912.

Barnet Grove

Barnet Grove

Elwin Str by Jesus Green

Elwin Str by Jesus Green

Jesus Green

Jesus Green

Durant Street leads south from Ion Square Gardens, passing a series of streets with neat two storey terraced dwellings, which were built in the mid-19th century. Wimbolt Street, which is one of these, leads to the triangular Jesus Green, a grassy space with several trees. This is in the centre of an area which was developed between 1822 and ’62 on land, which had once been farmland. The land had been owned by the trustees of Jesus Hospital in Chipping Barnet since 1689 (see: https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Planning-and-building-control/Development-control/Conservation-areas/Jesus-HospitalV1.pdf). In the 1820s, it was planned to use this to rehouse some of the eleven thousand people left homeless when their homes were demolished to create St Katharine’s Dock. After several ill-fated attempts to develop the area, the present streets were laid out in the 1860s.

Columbia Market school

Columbia Market school

Quilter Street runs west along the south side of Jesus Green to reach Ravencroft Street, which soon crosses Columbia Road. The Columbia Market Nursery School has its signage both in English and Bengali. It stands on part of the site of the reputedly magnificent Victorian gothic Columbia Market complex, which was built in 1859 and callously demolished in 1958. Geoffrey Fletcher wrote of this building in his “The London Nobody Knows” (publ. 1962):
“No verbal description could convey the strangeness and unlikelihood of it all – that great place like a mediaeval cloth hall, with a gatehouse and cloisters. The building (also by HA Darbishire) … had atall tower; its interior was a mass of tall piers, vaults, and tracery, and full of carved inscriptions”

Leopold Buildings

Leopold Buildings

Banana flower Columbia Road

Banana flower Columbia Road

The school faces a row of 19th century tenements built of brick and stone with cast-iron balconies and bow windows. These are the Leopold Buildings constructed by The Improved Industrial Dwellings Company in 1872. East of the school, there are less attractive mid-20th century blocks of flats, outside one of which I spotted a flowering banana plant – a rare sight in London. The Royal Horticultural Society notes that although bananas are generally delicate plants, some species are hardy enough to survive in parts of the UK where winters are mild (see: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=311).

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

School mosaic in Columbia Road Flower Market

School mosaic in Columbia Road Flower Market

The stretch of Columbia Road east of Ravenscroft Street comes alive on Sunday mornings with a busy flower market. Lined by shops and a school, the street is crammed full of people viewing, and buying from a series of plant and flower vendors manning their temporary stalls. I found this popular market somewhat claustrophobic because of the seething mass of people attending it. Originally, this market was held on Saturdays, but it was moved to Sundays to allow Jewish traders to work without disturbing their Sabbath. The horticultural focus of the market originated in the 1960s, but the local interest in flowers can be traced back to the 17th century when the Huguenot refugees encouraged an interest in flower buying and selling to the area. The outer walls of the Columbia Primary School have been decorated with mosaics, which can just about be seen behind the stalls and crowds on Sundays.

Former Queen Elizabeth Hospital Hackney Road

Former Queen Elizabeth Hospital Hackney Road

Columbia Road runs to Hackney Road close to the Hackney City Farm. To the east of the farm, stands the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, which functioned between 1867 and 1996 (see: http://ezitis.myzen.co.uk/queenelizabethhackney.html). The building was commenced in 1870, and enlarged later. Its façade has been preserved, but the rest of the structure has been redeveloped for residential use.

St Saviours Priory Yorkton Str

St Saviours Priory Yorkton Str

Yorkton Street, a cul-de-sac, leads from Hackney Road to Haggerston Park. On its west side, there is a brick building with a stone crucifix attached to it just beneath the roof. This is the rear of St Saviour’s Priory (Church of England), which was founded by Dr John Mason Neale (1818-66) in 1855. It is an order of women dedicated to caring for the sick. The present buildings date from the 1970s, when the original late 1880’s premises were demolished.

Former Odeon cinema on  Hackney Road at Dawson Str

Former Odeon cinema on Hackney Road at Dawson Str

Dunloe Street, which crosses Yorkton, leads to Dawson Street. On the corner of the latter and Hackney Road, there stands a derelict cinema building in the art-deco style. This was an Odeon cinema, which was designed by Andrew Mather (1891-1938), who created many cinemas for the Odeon company. It opened in 1938. In 1961, it became a bingo hall, which closed its doors finally in 2015 (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/13886). The building’s fate remains undecided.

Graffiti 199 Hackney Rd

Graffiti 199 Hackney Rd

201 and 203 Hackney Road are set back a little from their neighbours. The walls on both sides of the ‘inlet’ were covered in weird graffiti when I saw them in September 2017.

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

West of these, Weymouth Street leads back to Dunloe Street. Appleby Street runs north from the latter to reach the entrance to St Mary’s Secret Garden. Originally created for, and by, people with experience of mental stress, this delightful small garden - a peaceful oasis - is open to the public. Its small area is divided into several different types of garden. This creates the impression that it is much larger than it is. Paths inlaid with occasional mosaics thread their way between beds of flowers and plants and a tiny ‘wild’ woodland area.

Rear of St Chads

Rear of St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

Continuing west along Dunloe Street, we reach a large red brick church with gothic windows, a grey tiled roof, and a short pyramidical steeple. This is St Chads, a cruciform building which was built 1867-69 to the designs of James Brooks (1825-1901). Its brick and stone interior is magnificent. It nave is supported by brick walls punctuated by sweeping gothic arches lined with stone frames. The roof of the nave has a hemi-circular, almost barrel-vaulted wooden ceiling. The interior of this Anglo-Catholic church has a great feeling of space and lightness. When it was built, the church stood amongst the picturesque mock Tudor villas of Nichols Square, all of which were demolished in the early 1960s (see: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/02/16/the-haggerston-nobody-knows/).

Hoxton Station WW1 memorial

Hoxton Station WW1 memorial

Passing under the railway arches just west of St Chads, we reach Hoxton station. Outside it, there is a WW1 memorial in white stone. It is dedicated to the memory of the North London railwaymen who fell in the Great War. Geffrye Street runs south to Cremer Street, which runs west to meet Kingsland Road. Many of the buildings in this precinct are covered with attention-grabbing graffiti in vivid colours.

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

The last point on this exploration is the Geffrye Museum. This is housed in the central section of the alms-houses that surround three sides of a large rectangular green open space. The alms-houses, which are in an immaculate state of preservation, were built in 1714, funded by money bequeathed by Sir Robert Geffrye (1613-1703). His statue stands above the doorway to the centrally positioned chapel.

Geffrye statue

Geffrye statue

Geffrye alms-houses chapel

Geffrye alms-houses chapel

Geffrye Museum courtyard

Geffrye Museum courtyard

A pathway leads through a small cemetery to the north east of the grounds, around to the back of the long central portion of the building. There, behind the alms-houses, and close to the elevated railway tracks, is a series of gardens, each one planted to illustrate a phase in the history of English gardening. There is also a herb garden.

Geffrye Museum one of the garden layouts

Geffrye Museum one of the garden layouts

Inside Geffrye Museum

Inside Geffrye Museum

Inside Geffrye Museum

Inside Geffrye Museum

The museum is designed to illustrate the history of domestic life between 1600 and the present. This is done beautifully by a series of rooms, each one decorated and furnished appropriately for the period being demonstrated. Each room is convincing, which should not be surprising because all the furniture is original as are some of the walls and ceilings, which have been removed from actual homes that were to be demolished.

Geoffrye Museum

Geoffrye Museum

Geoffrey Museum art deco

Geoffrey Museum art deco

Geoffrye Museum extension

Geoffrye Museum extension

Geoffrye Museum room overlooking garden

Geoffrye Museum room overlooking garden

At the south end of the museum, there is a modern extension with a circular section around which there are several re-creations of rooms from the 20th century. The new section also contains a café and a shop. At the rear of the central section of the alms-houses, there is a reading room with large windows that overlook the gardens.

Old ad for Blooms pianos south side Geffrye Museum

Old ad for Blooms pianos south side Geffrye Museum

High above the south-west corner of the Geffrye Museum grounds, I noticed a fading painted wall advertisement. It bears a telephone number “Bishopsgate 9087 “. This system of telephone numbers was introduced in the early 1920s and abandoned in the 1960s, which means the sign must have been made in that period. It was painted on the bricks to promote Blooms Pianos, which used to be available at 134 Kingsland Road, where this walk ends.

This exploration passes through parts of London, which were hardly developed before the early 19th century. Part of this development was due to the construction of the Regents Canal, and the rest to natural urban expansion in line with population increase. Once a poor area of London, much of what is discussed above is rapidly becoming both more fashionable and more expensive to live in. The southern part of Hoxton around Hoxton Square, which I have not described, is currently very ‘trendy’ and a vibrant area at night.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london canal graffiti regents_canal hoxton hackney haggerston Comments (5)

A ROAD OF SIGNIFICANCE

A seemingly unimportant road in north-west London played a significant role in my younger days, and offers some intriguing surprises...

HOOP_2_HOOP_LANE_sign.jpg

LIFE AND DEATH IN HOOP LANE

Hoop Lane runs in a north-easterly direction from Golders Green Road to Meadway. This by-way is of personal interest as it ran through the first few decades of my life, and the last few decades of my mother’s.

Northern Line bridge over Hoop Lane

Northern Line bridge over Hoop Lane

Hoop Lane is amongst Golders Green’s older thoroughfares. It joins Golders Green Road (formerly ‘North End Road’) with Finchley Road, and then continues towards the western edge of the Hampstead Garden Suburb. The latter did not exist prior to about 1905. Before that date, Hoop Lane continued from Finchley Road towards where it ends today, but as a ‘dead-end’ in open country. An 1870’s detailed Ordnance Survey map shows that Hoop Lane was lined by trees (as it is today) and ended at its eastern end at a T-junction. In one direction (north west) ran Temple Fortune Lane, and in the other (south east) ran Wild Hatch, which ended abruptly in farmland. These byways were devoid of buildings in the 1870s. However, an 1807 map shows that there was one building on Wild Hatch at that date. These appear on a 1900 map, labelled as ‘Wild Hatch Cottages’.

1807 map  with some old and modern landmarks overlaid

1807 map with some old and modern landmarks overlaid

Finchley Road was laid out and built in the 1820s and 1830s as a turnpike road (toll-road), bypassing the difficult hilly road that ran from Camden Town through Hampstead village (to Finchley and further north). Before the new road was built, traffic had to climb the steep road to Hampstead, and then wind its way down the North End Road, which still exists. North End Road passed through Golders Green. In the first two decades of the19th century, Golders Green was a string of well-spaced properties, a small hamlet, close to common land (the ‘green’), which was located where Golders Green Station stands today. What is now named ‘Golders Green Road’ was then known as ‘North End Road’. This road continued from Hampstead towards the settlement called ‘Brent Street’.

In those early days, before the existence of Finchley Road, to reach Finchley from Hampstead it was necessary to proceed as follows. After passing the commonage of Golders Green, the traveller would have taken a right turn into Hoop Lane, and gone along it in a north-easterly direction to its end where it met Temple Fortune Lane. Next, the traveller would have had to go northwest along this lane until he or she reached a triangular open space, which is now the position of modern Temple Fortune. This place’s name derives from the fact that it stands on land once owned by the Knights Templars. This spot was the southern end of Ducksetters Lane, which wound its way north-eastwards to Finchley. From this description of the route, it is evident that Hoop Lane was an important thoroughfare between London and the North prior to the building of Finchley Road. It was a country lane with few, if any, buildings before the late 19th century.

Oakview Lodge in approx position of 'The Oaks'

Oakview Lodge in approx position of 'The Oaks'

South west of Finchley Road, Hoop Lane was devoid of buildings as late as 1897. Near where the road met North End Road (now ‘Golders Green Road’), there was a building set in the middle of a large plot called ‘The Oaks’. The Oaks were still marked on a detailed 1912 map. This large stately home disappeared in 1920. By 1912, there were plant nursery buildings on Hoop Lane and, also, one building, now the Central Hotel, where Hoop Lane met Finchley Road on its west side. This must be the one of oldest surviving buildings on Hoop Lane.

HOOP LANE Central Hotel

HOOP LANE Central Hotel

There was another early building (now Glentrees estate agent) opposite it on the other side of Finchley Road close to where the Roman Catholic Church of Edward The Confessor stands today. This church’s construction began in March 1914, and it was completed by October 1915, despite wartime difficulties such as a zeppelin raid on Golders Green in September 1915.

HOOP LANE Glentrees and RC Church of Edward The Confessor and the distant spire of St Judes

HOOP LANE Glentrees and RC Church of Edward The Confessor and the distant spire of St Judes

My earliest memories of Hoop Lane date back to when I was three or four years old, and therefore are rather vague. At that age, I attended a kindergarten in Hoop Lane. This was in the hall attached to Golders Green’s Unitarian Church, which was designed in the ‘Byzantine revival’ style by the architect Reginald Farrow (opened in 1925). It contains interesting artworks including a mural by Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979), which I have not yet seen.

HOOP LANE Kindergarten

HOOP LANE Kindergarten

The kindergarten was under the direction of Miss Schreuer, who lived a few doors away in Hoop Lane. My only lasting memory from my time there was when my father appeared at the school with a white beard and a red outfit, dressed as Father Christmas. A few years later, my sister and my cousins attended Miss Schreuer’s. One day while my sister was attending, I was allowed to return to the school to act as an older helper. One of my fellow pupils was the late Micaela Comberti (1952-2003), who was later to become an accomplished violinist. Her German mother and Italian father were friends of my parents.

HOOP LANE Unitarian Church

HOOP LANE Unitarian Church

I am not sure what became of Miss Schreuer, but I heard rumours that the end of her life was unhappy. Today, the hall, where her school flourished, is now a Montessori kindergarten. When I lived in the area (I left finally when I was aged thirty), I often walked past the school and the Unitarian Church. The latter had a panel facing the road, upon which posters with pious messages were posted. One that I will always remember said:
“If you think you have seen the light, think again”.
Coincidentally, I now live very close to a Unitarian Church in Kensington, even closer than my parents’ home was to Miss Schreuer’s school, and it also offers pre-school facilities to local children.

At the north-western corner of the point where Hoop Lane meets Finchley Road, there stands the Central Hotel (illustrated above). This building is the one that was marked on the 1912 map, one of the oldest buildings in Hoop Lane. Undistinguished in appearance, it has been a hotel for over forty years. I have never met anyone who has stayed there.

HOOP LANE site of Express Dairy depot

HOOP LANE site of Express Dairy depot

Directly across the Finchley Road on the north-eastern corner of its intersection with Hoop Lane, there stands a corner shop. For at least forty years, it has been the premises of Glentree International, an estate agent. Before that, this corner shop was a dairy shop run by Express Dairies. Next to it, accessible from Hoop Lane, the company had a depot for re-charging and stocking its electric milk floats. These floats moved almost silently, apart from the clinking of the glass milk, cream, and yoghurt bottles, which they delivered from house to house every morning. Deliveries, such as these and those made by a mobile vegetable seller in a lorry and a Frenchman with strings of onions draped over his bicycle, made life a little easier for those living in the nearby Hampstead Garden Suburb, which has never had any shops.

Most of the rest of Hoop Lane to the east of Finchley Road is effectively a ‘necropolis’. On the northern side of the road, there is a huge Jewish cemetery. On the southern side, there is the sprawling Golders Green Crematorium. For almost thirty years, I used to walk between these two final destinations for the dead on my way to and from schools and university, in daylight and at night. The possible presence of ghosts and other supernatural phenomena associated with the after-life never bothered me in the slightest. These final resting places were part and parcel of my childhood.

Meadway Gate

Meadway Gate

Meadway Gate from Hoop Lane

Meadway Gate from Hoop Lane

Beyond the cemetery and the crematorium, Hoop Lane ends. Vehicles have to drive around a tiny triangular area containing gardens, and then can continue along Meadway into Hampstead Garden Suburb. Pedestrians can access the small gardens by means of a short staircase, and then walk through them under a wooden pergola to reach Meadway. This little garden is now called ‘Meadway Gate Open Space’. I am certain that it had no name when I lived in the area (i.e. until about 1990). Wild Hatch that is shown on early maps still exists. The northern part of it is accessible to vehicles, but the last hundred or so yards of it is a narrow, rustic footpath that leads to Hampstead Way and across from that, the Hampstead Heath Extension. Opposite Wild Hatch, and beyond the Meadway Gate Open Space, is the beginning of Temple Fortune Lane, that also appears on early maps.

WILD HATCH

WILD HATCH

WILD HATCH Garage with dovecote

WILD HATCH Garage with dovecote

WILD HATCH house with shutters

WILD HATCH house with shutters

Wild Hatch skirts the eastern boundary of the crematorium. Temple Fortune Lane, which has houses on its eastern side, skirts the eastern boundary of the Jewish cemetery. This picturesque cul-de-sac narrows at its eastern end to become a footpath, which threads it way between the garden gates of houses on one side (north) and the edge of the crematorium gardens on the other.

WILD HATCH footpath section

WILD HATCH footpath section

WILD HATCH old garden door

WILD HATCH old garden door

The path emerges on Hampstead Way. Crossing this, one enters the Hampstead Heath Extension. To the north of a gravel path, there is a clump of wild vegetation. Within this, there are mounds that were used during WW2 to position anti-aircraft guns. In my childhood, these mounds were accessible. Now, they are fenced-off and hidden by the plants growing around them.

WILD HATCH Hampstead Heath end

WILD HATCH Hampstead Heath end

Hampstead Heath Extension: anti aircraft gun platforms site

Hampstead Heath Extension: anti aircraft gun platforms site

The Jewish Cemetery in Hoop Lane appears to be divided into two sections. One, the western half, contains upright gravestones, and the other, the eastern, mainly horizontal gravestones. The vertical headstones are characteristic of the Ashkenazi tradition, and the horizontal of the Sephardic tradition. It is probably by chance that the Sephardis, who are mainly Jews from the south and east, rest in the eastern part of the cemetery.

JEWISH CEMETERY Ashkenazi graves

JEWISH CEMETERY Ashkenazi graves

JEWISH CEMETERY Sephardic stones

JEWISH CEMETERY Sephardic stones

A book, “A History in our Time - Rabbis and Teachers Buried at Hoop Lane Cemetery” (published by the Leo Baeck College in 2006), provides an interesting history of the cemetery. The cemetery opened for ‘business’ in about 1896. The juxtaposition of the graves of two types of Jew in the same cemetery is unusual. The Jewish Yearbook for the year 5658 (Jewish calendar; 1897 AD) noted of the cemetery:
“… a new cemetery at Golders’-green was also made ready for its melancholy purpose this last year. This cemetery has the curious distinction of being used by both the Orthodox Sephardim and the Reform Congregation of the West London Synagogue of British Jews.”
The reason for this juxtaposition was that the two separate Jewish communities had bought neighbouring plots of land. Many years after the purchases, some of the land was sold for house building on Temple Fortune Lane (this happened in 1973, and includes the estate on Sheridan Walk), and another part to build a synagogue, the North Western Reform Synagogue (built in 1936; entered from Alyth Gardens). I remember the housing construction around Sheridan Walk because it was opposite the home of one of my first ever school friends.

JEWISH CEMETERY buildings for funerary procedures

JEWISH CEMETERY buildings for funerary procedures

The cemetery, which I have seen by peering through its boundary fence but never visited, contains graves of many notable people including that of Dr Leo Baeck (1873-1956), who was born in Germany and became a leader in both Liberal and Progressive Judaism. During WW2, he represented all German Jews and narrowly avoided being murdered at Theresienstadt. More recently, another well-known Ashkenazi Jew, Rabbi Hugo Gryn (1930 – 1996), a cleric and a broadcaster, was buried here. Amongst those who are buried in the Sephardi section, one is of particular interest to me. This is the barrister and historian Philip Guedalla (1889-1944), who published many books on historical subjects. He was related to my late mother’s family, albeit quite distantly.

CREMATORIUM general view from Hoop Lane

CREMATORIUM general view from Hoop Lane

CREMATORIUM Garden cloisters

CREMATORIUM Garden cloisters

CREMATORIUM View of gardens

CREMATORIUM View of gardens

The Golders Green Crematorium faces the two Jewish cemeteries across Hoop Lane. This was opened in 1902 by Sir Henry Thompson, president of the Cremation Society of England. Before its existence, Londoners wanting to cremate had to use the Woking Crematorium that opened in 1885. The buildings of the crematorium are all close to the brick boundary wall that runs along Hoop Lane. Behind them spread attractive and extensive memorial gardens. According to www.historicengland.org.uk website, the main buildings were designed in the ‘Romanesque Lombardic style’. That may well be the case, but they present a fairly forbidding appearance. Many of the original buildings were designed by teams that included Alfred Yeates (1867-1944) and Ernest George (1839-1922), who formed a business partnership in 1892. George’s speciality was garden architecture. The gardens and some of the buildings at the crematorium are fine examples of his work. Although the various buildings exhibit a certain architectural homogeneity, they were built over several decades as, gradually, money became available to pay for their construction.

CREMATORIUM View of entrance to a columbarium

CREMATORIUM View of entrance to a columbarium

CREMATORIUM Columbarium apse

CREMATORIUM Columbarium apse

CREMATORIUM Anna Pavlova's ashes in the columbarium

CREMATORIUM Anna Pavlova's ashes in the columbarium

CREMATORIUM Columbarium arches

CREMATORIUM Columbarium arches

It is well worth asking to visit the inside of the Ernest George Columbarium. This building, which is usually locked, contains urns of ashes and memorials placed in beautiful stone settings and shelves. Amongst those ‘stored’ in this columbarium are Sigmund Freud and his wife, as well as Anna Pavlova, the ballet dancer. Many other famous people have been cremated at this crematorium (a good list is available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golders_Green_Crematorium). These include, to name a few, Ivor Novello, Bram Stoker, Peter Sellers, Ronnie Scott, Ernő Goldfinger, Kingsley Amis, Enid Blyton, Rudyard Kipling, and Ernest Bevin.

CREMATORIUM Sigmund Freud urn

CREMATORIUM Sigmund Freud urn

CREMATORIUM Dispersal area

CREMATORIUM Dispersal area

Not all of the ashes of the cremated are stored or scattered at the Crematorium. Many are taken away to be disposed of elsewhere, as were, for example, the ashes of Soviet politician and a proponent of the idea of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow Leonid Krasin (1870-1926), which were buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. According to S Kotkin in his “Stalin. Paradoxes of Power” (published 2014), it was Krasin, who had: “… proposed inclusion of a terrace from which the masses could be addressed…”. This was added to the design of Lenin’s Mausoleum.

Sadly, the crematorium is a place that I have had to visit too often. Friends of my parents and colleagues of my father have been cremated here. These included Professor William Baxter, who was responsible for encouraging my father to come from South Africa to study in the UK in 1938. My father’s colleague at the London School of Economics, the philosopher Professor John Watkins, was another person whose funeral I attended in one of the larger of the crematoriums multi-denominational chapels. We attended the final farewell of Dr ‘Sushi’ Patel, who studied medicine in Bombay with my mother-in-law. She was a Hindu. I remember that the whole congregation filed past her open coffin before she was cremated.

CREMATORIUM View from gardens

CREMATORIUM View from gardens

Closer to home, my heart was filled with great sadness when I attended the memorial services for two of my uncles. At one of these services, the ceremonies were conducted by a Humanist celebrant. At the other, the Jewish Kaddish was recited, this being the final wish of an uncle who in life showed little outward interest in his Jewish background. Later, when his belongings were being sorted, we discovered to our surprise that his interest in Judaism and its practices was greater than anyone had realised.

The saddest funeral that I attended at Golders Green’s Crematorium was my mother’s. She died young after suffering painfully for months in hospital. Very few of us sat in one of the smaller chapels. There was no ceremony, nothing was said. When my mother’s coffin was carried past me along the aisle, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realised that this was the very last time that I would ever be physically close to her. As soon as I was able, and that was moments after her coffin slid out of sight, I fled from the small gathering, and walked briskly down Hoop Lane towards Finchley Road. Later that day late in December 1980, I bought a boxed set of LPs containing recordings of Bach’s Cello Sonatas. To this day, I have felt unable and unwilling to open them, let alone to play them.

CREMATORIUM Ivor Novello

CREMATORIUM Ivor Novello

My mother was one of many thousands to have been cremated in Golders Green. She was a sculptress. Other artists cremated here included Boris Anrep, Walter Crane, and Percy Wyndham Lewis. Our family lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a stone’s throw from St Judes Church, whose architect was Edwin Lutyens, famous for his work in New Delhi. Many of my parents’ friends were psychoanalysts. The greatest of them all, Sigmund Freud, was rendered to ashes in this crematorium. The list of celebrities in all fields who ended up at this place is enormous. I knew nothing of this during the many journeys that I made by foot along Hoop Lane during my younger years. In those days, my mind was on the future rather than the past.

CREMATORIUM Large Chapel

CREMATORIUM Large Chapel

When I was being shown around the Columbarium by one of the Crematorium’s officials, I told him that my mother and uncles had been cremated there. To which he smiled, shook my hand, and then said:
“Well, in that case, I suppose that you will end up here one day.”

Meadway Gate: Horse trough

Meadway Gate: Horse trough

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:30 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london cemetery jewish kindergarten freud crematorium golders_green pavlova Comments (1)

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ROMANS

A short historic street in the City of London recalls one of the great roads that the Romans used when they occupied Britain.

Watling Str looking west

Watling Str looking west

The existence of Watling Street predates its naming. Before the Romans arrived in Britain, the road existed as a track between modern Canterbury and St Albans. It acquired its name after the Roman occupation from the Old English ‘Wæcelinga Stræt’, which means the road of the Waeclingas (an Anglo-Saxon ‘tribe’ that lived in the St Alban’s area after the Romans left Britain in the 5th century AD). This was after the Romans had established it as a major road, improved, and lengthened it.

It is accepted that in Roman times Watling Street ran from places in East Kent (e.g. Richborough, Reculver, Dover, and Lympne) to modern-day Southwark, and then across the Roman London Bridge, through London (‘Londinium’), and onwards via St Albans (‘Verulamium’) to Wroxeter (‘Viroconium’) in Shropshire. Its detailed route through London is uncertain. Archaeological evidence has determined that the Roman Watling Street went through the north of Southwark to the southern end of the Roman London Bridge (see: “London City of the Romans” by R Merrifield, publ. 1983). North of the Thames, the road’s course through London is less well-defined. It is highly likely that the road followed the course taken by today’s Edgware Road (the A5). There is little evidence to define the road’s route between London Bridge and Marble Arch, where the Edgware Road begins.

After the Great Fire of London (1666), a portion of the paved Roman Watling Street was discovered whilst the Church of St Mary-le-Bow was being rebuilt in the early 1670s. Aga’s 1561 map of London (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/london-map-agas/1561) shows a stretch of road named ‘Watling Streat’ running east to west just south of ‘Bowe church’. John Rocque’s 1746 map (see: https://www.locatinglondon.org/) marks the same road, but in greater detail. It ran from Queen Street (which did not exist in 1561) westwards towards St Paul’s Cathedral churchyard. This short stretch of what might be part of the course of Roman Watling Street exists today, and is well-worth exploring.

The present-day Watling Street begins at the point where Queen Street meets Queen Victoria Street, a few yards south-west of the (3rd or 4th century AD) remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras. These used to be visible from the pavement of Queen Victoria Street but now (October 2017) they are hidden below the new Bloomberg Building. Eventually, they will be accessible to the public again.

Cordwainer sculpture

Cordwainer sculpture

Heading west along Watling Street from Queen Street, there is a sculpture of a seated cordwainer (a shoemaker as opposed to a cobbler, who repairs shoes) at work. The sculpture was made in 2002 by Alma Boyes, who teaches at the University of Brighton. It stands in Cordwainer Ward, an area that was a centre of shoe-making in the mediaeval City of London. The word ‘cordwainer’ is derived from the Spanish city of Cordoba, where some of the finest leather was produced in the Middle Ages.

Across the road, there is a plaque commemorating the fact that the building to which it is attached is on the site of the headquarters of the London Salvage Corps between 1907 and 1960. This organization, whose job it was to reduce the loss and damage following fires, was founded in 1865 by the insurance ‘industry’. In 1984, the Corps was disbanded. Then, it became incorporated into the London Fire Brigade.

Watling Str

Watling Str

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

Bow Lane leads south from Watling Street to St Mary Aldermary church, a lovely gothic building with a tall tower, also adorned with gothic decoration. There has been a church on this spot since before 1080. It was rebuilt in 1511, but not completed until about 1629. The lower bit of the tower of the present church is a part of the 1511 church, but the rest was rebuilt in 1682 after The Great Fire to the designs of Christopher Wren (1632-1723).

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

In Kenneth Clarke’s book “Gothic Revival An Essay in the History of Taste” (first publ. 1928), he argued that maybe the taste for gothic never actually died in Great Britain. What we describe as ‘gothic revival’ or ‘neo-gothic’ should be regarded as part of a continuum, which began with early gothic in the mediaeval era. I feel that Wren’s St Mary Aldermary is a good example of this. Built when many people would say that the era of ‘true’ gothic was over, this church is a perfect example of all that is pleasing about early gothic. The most impressive feature of the church’s interior is its delicate fan vaulting, both above the nave and its two parallel side aisles. Unlike earlier gothic churches (e.g. Kings College Chapel in Cambridge), this is not stonework but plasterwork, and therefore has no structural function. The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner wondered whether by using this fan vaulting, Wren was trying to imitate the vaulting that had been present in the 1629 church, which was built during a time when fan vaulting was still being created in some buildings.

Ye Olde Watling

Ye Olde Watling

Wren's study at Ye Olde Watling

Wren's study at Ye Olde Watling

Cleveland Court

Cleveland Court

Returning north along Bow Lane, we reach a pub, Ye Olde Watling, on the corner of Watling Street. Built in 1668 to replace its predecessor, which was burnt down in the Great Fire, it is said that Christopher Wren occupied rooms above the pub while he was designing the new St Pauls Cathedral. A room on the first floor, now used as a dining room, is said to be the room Wren used to prepare his architectural plans and drawings. However, the pub was rebuilt in 1901, and then again in 1947 after bomb damage during the Blitz. So, how much remains of what Wren used is questionable. Having said this, the study on the first floor has an authentic feeling if you use a little imagination.

St Mary le Bow

St Mary le Bow

Bow Lane continues north, passing some narrow alleys such as Groveland Court, to reach the eastern end of Bow Churchyard. The main part of this yard opens out onto Cheapside. The church of St Mary-le-Bow was founded in about 1080 as the London headquarters of the archbishops of Canterbury (see: http://www.stmarylebow.co.uk/history/4535373215). It was the bells of this church that the young Dick Whittington, who was to be thrice Mayor of London, heard as he rested at Highgate. Legend has it that he thought that their chimes were telling him to return to London. To be a cockney Londoner, one is supposed to have been born within hearing of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow (rather than Bow Church, which is in the East End). Long ago, these bells could be heard as far away as Southwark, and much of north and east London, but now with high ambient noise levels they can only be heard in the City of London and Shoreditch (see: “Daily Telegraph”, 26th June 2012), where few people are now born.

St Mary le Bow

St Mary le Bow

The mediaeval church was destroyed in the Great Fire, and was rebuilt to the designs of Christopher Wren between 1670 and ’80. Pevsner writes that the northern positioning of the church’s tower is because Wren built it on a Roman gravel roadway running from east to west (discovered eighteen feet below ground level while preparing the site for the new church), which made a solid foundation for it.

The church’s wide nave is covered by a barrel-vaulted ceiling supported by pillars with Corinthian capitals. Since Wren’s time, the church has undergone repeated renovations and restorations.

Site of Eleanor Cross at St Mary le Bow

Site of Eleanor Cross at St Mary le Bow

A paving stone with a carved inscription outside the western doorway of church’s tower records the former existence of an Eleanor Cross nearby on Cheapside. This cross was one of a series of such monuments marking the places where the corpse of Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife of King Edward I, rested on its way to Westminster Abbey in 1290. This cross was demolished in 1643 during the English Civil War (1642-51).

Capt John Smith outside St Mary le Bow

Capt John Smith outside St Mary le Bow

There is a statue in the churchyard. It depicts the cordwainer Captain John Smith (1580-1631), who was amongst the first settlers in Jamestown, Virginia (now in the USA). He set off from the docks at Blackwall in 1606. Wearing knee breeches and boots with very wide rims, the bearded figure stands with his right hand holding a book, and his left resting on the handle of his sheathed sword. The statue, cast in the USA and erected in 1960, was presented to the Corporation of London by Jamestown Foundation of the Commonwealth of Virginia (see: https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/captain-john-smith). It is a copy of an earlier one originally sculpted in 1907 by William Couper (1853-1942), which stands in Jamestown.

23 Watling Street

23 Watling Street

23 Watling Street

23 Watling Street

Returning to Watling Street, number 23 has a façade covered with short pilasters which separate the windows from each other. Its two entrances are adorned with lions’ heads, scrolls, floral festoons and crests. Its ground-floor now houses a cricket-themed pub.

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Near the western end of Watling Street there is a stone monument shaped like a small classical building. This celebrates Admiral Arthur Phillip, who was born in Cheapside in 1738. He died in Bath in 1814. In 1788, he established a penal colony in New South Wales (Australia), which was later to become the city of Sydney. The monument originally stood in the Church of St Mildreds, where it was placed in 1932. The church was destroyed by bombing in 1941, but the bust and the bronze commemorative plaques were salvaged, and then placed on a new monument near the present place in 1968. Recent redevelopments caused it to be moved to its present site.

St Augustines's tower east of St Pauls

St Augustines's tower east of St Pauls

Between the Phillip monument and St Pauls Cathedral, there is an old church tower with an elaborate spire covered in lead. This is attached to a far newer building, a choir school designed by Paul Paget (1901-85). The tower is all that remains of St Augustine Church that was designed by Wren between 1680 and ’83. The spire was added later in 1695.

Site of Chapter House of Old St Pauls

Site of Chapter House of Old St Pauls

Watling Street ends here, but from Aga’s time up to WW2, it ended at the eastern end of St Paul’s Churchyard. Whether or not this Watling Street is part of the actual Roman Watling Street matters little, because it is close to, or actually where, it ran. Short as it is, it is full of interest, and, also, provides a nicely framed view of St Pauls Cathedral.

West end of Watling Street

West end of Watling Street

PS: Some of the traffic using the Watling Street route in Roman times and before London Bridge was built might have travelled through what is now the London area by the following approximate route (using modern place names): Elephant and Castle to a ford across the Thames between today’s Westminster and Lambeth Bridges. Interestingly, if one draws a straight line from Marble Arch to this point, it becomes a notional straight continuation of the Edgware Road.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 08:09 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london st_pauls gothic romans christopher_wren watling_street Comments (6)

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