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Entries about pubs

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)

ART AND ALE: A WALK BESIDE THE THAMES

Walking along the river Thames between Hammersmith and Chiswick is a joy for lovers of history, architecture, art, and ale.

Cormorant near Hammersmith Bridge

Cormorant near Hammersmith Bridge

I was taking a photograph outside a house on the riverbank at Chiswick, when a man sitting in a van nearby called me over to tell me about the building. During our conversation, he said that the River Thames was used to carry freight, just like the M4 motorway does today. He was right. Before the early 19th century when the railways were built, the river, equipped with locks where necessary, was used to transport goods by boat or barge. After the advent of the railways, except for the tidal stretches of the river (particularly to the east of the city), the waterway almost ceased to be used for transport. This exploration follows the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge to the old village of Chiswick. On our way along this delightful stretch of the river, we will see many examples of buildings built in the 18th century and earlier and discover several lovely places to stop for a drink...

King Street, Hammersmith’s high street, was part of the Great West Road (the ‘Bath Road’, and more recently the ‘A4’). This road, which originated before the Roman conquest, connects the City of London with Bath and Bristol. As late as the mid-19th century, this road through Hammersmith was lined with orchards and market gardens. In his “View of the Agriculture of Middlesex” (publ. 1807), J Middleton wrote:
“From Kensington, through Hammersmith, Chiswick, Brentford, … the land on both sides of the road for seven miles in length … may be denominated the great fruit-garden, north of the Thames, for the supply of London…”
Gradually at the 20th century approached, these disappeared, and were replaced by residential (and other) buildings as London grew westwards.

In the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, industrial buildings existed close to Hammersmith’s river front. On a 1936 map, the following are marked: a lead mill; a large water pumping building; an industrial bakery; breweries; a folding-box maker; and a motor works. Interspersed with these, there were many wharves, boat-houses, clubs, pubs, and private residences. Today, the industry has disappeared, but the homes, pubs, clubs, and boat houses remain, making a riverside walk between Hammersmith and Chiswick a pleasure.

Bradmore House

Bradmore House

Beginning at the Broadway centre, which incorporates one of Hammersmith’s two Underground stations, a shopping mall, and a busy split-level bus station, the first sight of interest is Bradmore House. This was originally an 18th century extension of a 16th century building, Butterwick House (see: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1192636). The extension was built by Henry Ferne, Receiver General of Her Majesty’s [i.e. Queen Anne’s] Customs, to house his mistress, the leading actress Mrs Anne Oldfield (1683-1730). Butterwick House was demolished in 1836, followed later by its extension. The 18th century baroque façade, which used to face the original house’s garden, was dismantled and stored. It was reassembled and put onto a 20th century bus garage, facing west instead of its original east. The garage was demolished, and then replaced by a newer Bradmore House, completed in 1994 with the original 18th century façade still facing west.

St Pauls Centre and Church

St Pauls Centre and Church

Directly across Queen Caroline Street in a large green space, stands the large neo-gothic church of St Pauls (consecrated 1883), which was designed by JP Seddon (1827-1906) and HR Gough (1843-1904). There have been churches on this spot since the early 17th century. In the late 1990s, I attended a couple of theatrical performances staged in the then rather neglected-looking church. Our daughter’s school also used the building for its annual Christmas carol service. More recently, the church has been restored and a modern extension, the St Pauls Centre (opened 2011), added to its west end.

Under Hammersmith flyover

Under Hammersmith flyover

Immediately to the south of the church, traffic races over the Hammersmith Flyover. Designed by G Maunsell and Partners, this viaduct, which is over 2000 feet long, was completed in 1961. Built using a design that was very new at the time, this road bridge allows traffic to avoid the very busy Hammersmith roundabout beneath it. Once, it took us an hour to drive less than halfway around it.

The Hammersmith Surgery

The Hammersmith Surgery

Immediately south of the flyover, there is a contemporary building with an original design, whose bold sculptural ‘façade’ consists of overlapping curved concrete slabs. This contains the Hammersmith Surgery, a medical practice. Completed in 2001, it was designed by Guy Greenfield Architects. It stands at the beginning of the road leading to Hammersmith Bridge.

Detail of Hammersmith Bridge

Detail of Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge

The suspension bridge, completed in 1887, was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1819-91). It replaced an earlier one built in 1827, but uses its predecessor’s original pier foundations. Slightly chunky in appearance, it is covered with decorative features. It crosses Lower Mall, which runs along the Hammersmith bank of the Thames. This riverside thoroughfare and its continuation upstream, Upper Mall, is lined with buildings of historic interest.

Lower Mall: east end by bridge

Lower Mall: east end by bridge

Lower Mall rowing club

Lower Mall rowing club

Kent House Lwr Mall

Kent House Lwr Mall

The rowing club at number 6 Lower Mall with its prominent bow first floor window overlooking the river and supported on slender pillars is one of a row of several recognizably Georgian houses, all of which have been modernised. The elegant Kent House, built in about 1782 (maybe 1762), stands west of these. Over the years it has had many owners including Mr and Mrs Thomas Hunt who used it as a seminary for young people.

12 and 11 Lwr Mall

12 and 11 Lwr Mall

Blue Anchor pub Lwr Mall

Blue Anchor pub Lwr Mall

The Rutland Arms pub Lwr Mall

The Rutland Arms pub Lwr Mall

The lower, modest building neighbouring Kent House, numbered 11 and 12, was built in the 17th century, but although modernised it retains original features. The Blue Anchor pub close-by bears the date 1722, but its present home is a more recent building, if not a highly modified version of the original. The composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934), who was Director of Music at Hammersmith’s St Pauls School for Girls, composed his “Hammersmith Suite” (1931) in the pub (see: “Gustav Holst: A Research and Information Guide”, by MC Huismann, publ. 2011). The nearby Rutland Arms pub opened in the late 1840s, and was rebuilt in the 1870s. Before WW2, this building had a third floor and a pitched roof, but now it has only two beneath a flat roof.

Westcott Lodge Lwr Mall

Westcott Lodge Lwr Mall

Furnivall Park and storm outlet (maybe the former Creek)

Furnivall Park and storm outlet (maybe the former Creek)

Westcott Lodge, a modernised Georgian structure (built about 1746), has a porch supported by two pillars and two pilasters, all with Ionic capitals. Formerly St Paul’s vicarage, it stands on the eastern edge of Furnivall Gardens, a pleasant open space created in 1951. Before WW2, the area was covered with industrial buildings including the Phoenix Lead Mills, which stood east of The Creek, an inlet of the Thames that was filled-in in 1936. In earlier times, The Creek, which extended as far inland as today’s King Street, was centre of Hammersmith’s flourishing fishing industry. Writing in 1876, James Thorne described The Creek as follows:
“… a dirty little inlet of the Thames, which is crossed by a wooden foot-bridge, built originally by Bishop Sherlock in 1751 … the region of squalid tenements bordering the Creek having acquired the cognomen of Little Wapping, probably from its confined and dirty character.”
The Creek is long gone, but there is a storm outlet in the bank of the Thames close to where The Creek must have emptied into the river. This can be seen from Dove Pier at the western end of the Gardens.
The little bridge described by Thorne led west to the beginning of Upper Mall. Before looking at that, follow the path to the busy A4, across which can be seen the façade of Hammersmith Town Hall. Built 1938-39 beside the former Creek, it was designed by E Berry Webber (1896-1963), an architect best-known for his civic buildings.

Detail of Hammersmith Town Hall

Detail of Hammersmith Town Hall

Hammersmith Town Hall

Hammersmith Town Hall

The Seasons and the Dove and Sunderland Hse (topped with a balustrade)  seen from Dove Pier

The Seasons and the Dove and Sunderland Hse (topped with a balustrade) seen from Dove Pier

A narrow passage forms the eastern part of Upper Mall. Sussex House, brick-built and well-hidden behind its garden’s fencing, was built in the early 18th century (about 1726) on the site of an earlier 17th century house. Despite its name, it is unlikely that the Duke of Sussex (1773–1843), who laid the foundation stone of the first Hammersmith Bridge, lived here.

Sussex House Lwr Mall

Sussex House Lwr Mall

The east part of 15 Upper Mall

The east part of 15 Upper Mall

Across the passage from this house, there is another whose shuttered ground-floor windows resemble a shop front. This building is part of, or attached to, number 15 Upper Mall. The latter bears a plaque recording that Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson (1840-1922), the printer and bookbinder, founded his Doves Bindery and Doves Press in this building, where he also lived. Involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a friend of its great proponent William Morris, who lived and worked close by. Thomas was married to Anne, daughter of the radical Richard Cobden (1804-1865). Along with his sometime business partner, the engraver and printer Emery Walker (see below), Thomas developed a new type-face. When they fell out, Thomas dumped all the font’s casting punches and matrices for their new font into the Thames, and they were lost until some of it was recovered in was discovered below the water in 2015.

The Dove Upp Mall

The Dove Upp Mall

Dove Pier from Upp Mall

Dove Pier from Upp Mall

A quaint riverside pub, The Dove, is a few steps west. Beginning life as ‘Doves Coffee House’ in the late 18th century, it became a pub by the early 19th century. To its east, its neighbour is The Seasons, a narrower building with wide, tall windows overlooking the river. The Seasons might have been built as a ‘smoking box’ (a place to enjoy tobacco) for the Duke of Sussex (see above).

The Dove pub is joined to a larger building with a rooftop balustrade (best viewed from the river or from Dove Pier). This 18th century building is number 21, Sunderland Cottage, where William Morris housed the hand-operated Albion press used for printing an edition of Chaucer (see: “The Kelmscott Press: A History of William Morris’s Typographical Adventure”, by WS Peterson, publ. 1991). Prior to that (in 1867), the house was used by T Day, a coal merchant. The author George Borrow (1803-1881) was one of his customers in 1864 (see: http://georgeborrow.org/timeline/brompton1864.html).

River Hse: 24 Upp Mall

River Hse: 24 Upp Mall

River House, number 24, was built in the mid-17th century. When Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705) lived in Hammersmith (in 1685 after her husband King Charles II died), some of her servants lived in this house. It western neighbour, a much larger brick building, built in the 1780s, is now called Kelmscott House. Built on the site of an old warehouse, this became the home of Sir Francis Ronalds (1788-1873) in the early 19th century. Sir Francis, an inventor, laid eight miles of insulated electrical cable in the house’s extensive garden, which in his time stretched as far inland as King Street, and with that he demonstrated the use of telegraphy for the first time in history in 1816. When he reported his discovery to Lord Melville, the First Lord of The Admiralty, he was told (by Melville) that telegraphs were totally unnecessary, because the semaphore did the job of communication just as well!

Kelmscott Hse Upp Mall

Kelmscott Hse Upp Mall

In 1878, the house, known then as ‘The Retreat’, was bought by the writer and artist William Morris (1834-1896), a leading exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement and a social reformer. It was renamed Kelmscott House (the name of Morris’s dwelling in Oxfordshire). Morris and his family lived in this large house, which also served as a meeting place for his many artistic and socialist friends and acquaintances. Its interior was decorated with wallpapers designed by Morris and his company, as well as with oriental carpets. There were also textiles woven to his designs. Today, the house, which is owned by the William Morris Society, is leased to private tenants.

Coach house of Kelmscott Hse

Coach house of Kelmscott Hse

The long narrow coach house attached to the west side of Kelmscott House was used as a lecture hall in William Morris’s time. It hosted many meetings of groups sympathetic to socialism, including that which Morris joined in 1883: the ‘Democratic Federation’, later known as the ‘Social Democratic Federation’. Like some of today’s leading British socialists, Morris was also far wealthier than the people whom he hoped to help with his left-wing political sympathies.

William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Today, the coach house, which bears a plaque in memory of Sir Francis Ronalds, houses the offices of the William Morris Society and a small museum. On the ground floor, there are a few chairs set in front of a screen where a short, informative film about Morris is shown. In the basement, there is a shop and two rooms full of exhibits. Most of them relate to Morris, but there is also a bust of Sir Francis. What particularly interested me was a temporary exhibit describing Morris’s interest in oriental carpets. It was he who persuaded the Victoria and Albert Museum to purchase (in 1893 for £2000) the now priceless 16th century Persian Ardabil carpet (Morris described it being of “singular perfection … logically and consistently beautiful”; see: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/the-ardabil-carpet), and other fine woven carpets from Persia.

Printing press in William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Printing press in William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Sir Francis Ronalds at William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Sir Francis Ronalds at William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

In another room, there stands a well-preserved example of a hand-operated printing press used by Morris’s printers. Next to it, there are racks of movable type ready to be set in the press. Seeing this, reminded me of my days at Highgate School in north London, where I helped print the school calendars using very similar equipment. The staff at the museum were friendly and knowledgeable.

Rivercourt Hse Upp Mall

Rivercourt Hse Upp Mall

Further west, Rivercourt House (number 36 Upper Mall), a large brick building topped with a balustrade facing the river, was built in 1808. In its grounds stood a house where the Queen Dowager, Catherine of Braganza, lived whilst she was in Hammersmith. The ruins of this were pulled down at the time the present house was built. Naomi Mitchison (1897-1999), the novelist, socialist, and feminist, lived here with her family between 1923 and ’39. One of her children is the famous immunologist Avrion Mitchison, who worked and taught at my university, University College London. Today, the house and its newer neighbour to the west of it contain The Latymer Prep School.

Between 1931 and ’35, the artist (and print-maker) Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) lived in the house on the east corner of Upper Mall and Weltje Road. ‘Weltje’ might refer to a place with a WW1 cemetery near Ypres in Belgium. Or, more likely, it refers to the actor Lewis Weltje (see: “Records of My Life: In Two Volumes, Volume 1”, by J Taylor, publ. 1832), who lived in Hammersmith, and died in the late 18th century. In 1781, he founded a club in Mayfair, which was noted for gambling and extravagant entertainments. Weltje Road crosses part of the garden of the now demolished Seagreens House, which was owned by Weltje. West of this, Linden House is set back from the River. This grand building with a central pediment was constructed about 1733. Today, it houses the London Corinthian Sailing Club and the Sons Of The Thames Rowing Club.

Linden House Upp Mall

Linden House Upp Mall

The Old Ship Upp Mall

The Old Ship Upp Mall

Next, we pass two pubs. The Old Ship is truly old. There has been a hostelry on its site since the early 18th century. West of that, and set back from the riverfront, is the Black Lion. It is housed in a much modified late 18th century building, and has pleasant gardens where I have enjoyed drinks on warm summer’s evenings. This pub was one of many Thames-side inns, where the once popular game of skittles was played seriously as late as after WW2. The pub’s skittle alley exists no longer.

The Black Lion and St Peters Church  from Hammersmith Terrace

The Black Lion and St Peters Church from Hammersmith Terrace

Hammersmith Terrace

Hammersmith Terrace

Hammersmith Terrace is separated from the river by a row of terraced houses, which were built in the third quarter of the 18th century. They vary in design, but all have attractive front porches. Edward Johnston (1872-1944) lived at number 3 between 1905 and ’12. Born in Uruguay of Scottish parentage, he was an important modern calligrapher. In 1916, he designed the type font, which, with small modifications made recently, is still used for of the lettering on London’s Underground. In addition, he was responsible for modifying the system’s logo to look as it does today: a circle with a horizontal bar crossing it.

Alan Herbert lived at 12 Hammersmith Terrace

Alan Herbert lived at 12 Hammersmith Terrace

From 1903 to ’33, number 8 was home to the typographer and antiquary Sir Emery Walker (1851-1933). An exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a friend of William Morris. Walker’s collection of antique typefaces inspired Morris to set up his Kelmscott Press, which attempted to revive the aesthetics of the early era of European printing and illuminated manuscripts. After Morris died, Walker formed the Dove Press with Cobden Sanderson (see above). As already described, they fell out. Walker’s house now houses a museum, which I have not yet visited. Like Morris, Emery was a member, and one-time branch secretary, of the Hammersmith Branch of the Socialist League. After meetings held in the coach house at Kelmscott House, Morris used to invite the speaker and the audience to have dinner in his home. Emery was usually present at these meals (see: “William Morris”, by F MacCarthy, publ. 1994).

Sir Alan Patrick Herbert (1890-1971), writer, Member of Parliament, and law reformer, lived at number 12, whose porch is supported by Doric columns. A member of the Thames Conservancy and author of books about the river, he lived and died there. The Terrace leads west into Chiswick Mall, a small stretch of which is in the Borough of Hammersmith. Before the boundary of the borough is reached, we pass some 20th century houses. Soon after entering the Borough of Hounslow, there is a quaint house, Mall Cottage, with a neo gothic front door and windows framed by gothic arches.

Mall Cottages Chiswick Mall

Mall Cottages Chiswick Mall

Chiswick Eyot eastern end

Chiswick Eyot eastern end

Continuing along Chiswick Mall, we pass the eastern end of Chiswick Eyot. It is the easternmost island in the Thames except for the Isle of Sheppey, which is 44 miles east in the Thames estuary. In the past, this spindle-shaped islet was used for the cultivation of osiers (willows with long flexible shoots used in basket and furniture making). One of the houses facing the island is the over ornate heavily stuccoed Island House with Ionic pillars and Corinthian pilasters. It was built in the early 19th century. Nearby, is the appropriately named Osiers, whose stuccoed exterior hides an old structure built in the 1780s. Once a haunt of intellectual homosexuals, it was later the home of the pathologist Leonard Colebrook (1883-1967).

Island House, Chiswick Mall

Island House, Chiswick Mall

Osiers, Chiswick Mall

Osiers, Chiswick Mall

Osiers is the most eastern of a terrace of 18th century (and earlier) buildings. Its immediate neighbour, Morton House, which was built around 1726, has had many owners and uses, including housing a school for young children in the 1920s. Before that, the artist Francis Ernest Jackson (1872–1945) lived here between 1912 and ’19 (see: “F. Ernest Jackson and His School”, publ. by The Ashmolean Museum, 2000) prior to moving into Mall Cottage (see above).

Morton House Chiswick Mall

Morton House Chiswick Mall

Riverside Hse Chiswick Mall

Riverside Hse Chiswick Mall

Riverside House and its adjoining Cygnet House, both with pretty latticework porches, were built in the Regency period at the beginning of the 19th century. The Russian Vladimir Polunin (1880-1957), who lived in Cygnet House, not only taught at the Slade School of Art but also painted scenery for Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet. The Mall runs in front of the houses already described, but is separated from the Thames by a strip of private gardens belonging to the houses. Beyond the gardens, the Eyot provides a verdant backdrop.

A riverside garden with Chiswick Eyot behind

A riverside garden with Chiswick Eyot behind

Greenash Chiswick Mall

Greenash Chiswick Mall

The tall Greenash house makes an architectural contrast with its 18th century neighbours. It was designed by John Belcher (1841-1913), and completed in 1882 for the shipbuilder Sir John Thornycroft (1843–1928), who owned a wharf just west of the nearby St Nicholas Church. It was converted into flats in 1934 by its then owner the architect Ernest Brander Musman (1888-1972), a designer of many 20th century pubs in a wide variety of architectural styles.

Staithe Hse Chiswick Mall 19th cent

Staithe Hse Chiswick Mall 19th cent

Western end of Chiswick Eyot

Western end of Chiswick Eyot

Fullers Griffin brewery from Chiswick Mall

Fullers Griffin brewery from Chiswick Mall

Staithe House, part of a Victorian terrace which would not look out of place in Belsize Park, faces the western sharp tip of Chiswick Eyot. The house is separated from Fuller’s Griffin Brewery (building commenced 1845) by Chiswick Lane South. The brewery stands on a site where beer has been brewed since the 17th century or earlier. The Lane runs along the east side of the brewery, passing a brewery retail outlet, to a row of 18th century buildings, named Mawson Row in memory of Thomas Mawson (c. 1660-1714) of Chiswick, who took over the brewery in 1685.

Mawson Arms at end of Chiswick Lane South

Mawson Arms at end of Chiswick Lane South

Near the Mawson Arms pub at the north end of the row, there is a plaque commemorating the oft-quoted poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Pope and his parents lived here in this row between 1716 and ’19. According to James Thorne, writing in 1876, Pope wrote portions of his translation of the “Iliad”, which appeared between 1715 and ’20, on the backs of letters addressed to him in the (then named) ‘New Buildings’ in Chiswick. Pope’s father died in this row of buildings in 1717, and is buried in the nearby churchyard.

Former Red Lion Pub Chiswick Mall

Former Red Lion Pub Chiswick Mall

Back on the Mall, immediately west of the brewery buildings, there is a building named Red Lion House. It was formerly a pub, the ‘Red Lion’, built in the 18th century. This, I was told by a passer-by, went out of business because of the reduced demand for alcohol following the legislation of pub opening hours that was introduced in WW1 (i.e. The Defence of The Realm Act of 1914). In its heyday, the pub was used by bargemen and, also, osier cutters, who sharpened their knives on a whetstone that used to hang by its entrance.

Thames View Hse Chiswick Mall

Thames View Hse Chiswick Mall

Said and Lingard Houses on Chiswick Mall

Said and Lingard Houses on Chiswick Mall

Thamesview and its neighbour Lingard House are both 18th century, and were originally parts of a single building. The illustrator and engraver Robert Sargent Austin (1895-1973), who advised on the design of British banknotes in the late 1950s, lived in Lingard. Frederick William Tuke (1858 - 1935), who helped his brothers run a mental asylum in Chiswick, lived in Thamesview in the late 19th century. Next door to Lingard House is Said House, whose façade is dominated by an overly large bay window. The building’s earliest structures date back to the 18th century, but much has been done since to distort its appearance. The actor and theatre manage Sir Nigel Playfair (1874-1935) was one of its inhabitants.

Eynham House Chiswick Mall

Eynham House Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse detail Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse detail Chiswick Mall

Eynham House and its adjoining Bedford House provide pleasant visual compensation for their ugly neighbour Said House. Originally, the two houses were parts of a single house, whose construction dates to the 17th century. The façade of the house(s) with its harmonious bow windows is 18th century and surmounted by a graceful pediment. One of the owners of Bedford House was John Sich, who owned the nearby Lamb Brewery (see below). There are sculpted heads above the ground floor windows.

Woodroffe Hse Chiswick Mall

Woodroffe Hse Chiswick Mall

The first two storeys of the nearby austere brick building, Woodroffe House, were built in the early 18th century, and the third added later. The sculptor Wilfred Dudeny (1911-1996) lived there from about 1963 onwards. Chiswick Mall ends just West of this building, and the roadway continues northwards as Church Street. At the corner, stands a house (pre-18th century, but much modified), The Old Vicarage. Opposite it, a slipway runs down into the river. It has been there a long time, and is marked on a detailed map surveyed in 1867. Near it, opposite the Red Lion Pub, this same map marks a ferry that ran from the pub, around the western tip of the Eyot, to the southern bank of the Thames.

The Old Vicarage Chiswick Mall

The Old Vicarage Chiswick Mall

Slipway at western end of Chiswick Mall

Slipway at western end of Chiswick Mall

"Couplet" by Charles Hadcock Chiswick Mall

"Couplet" by Charles Hadcock Chiswick Mall

Close to the landward end of the slipway (near the vicarage), there is what looks like a pair of oversized interlocking, rusting chain links with nuts and bolts. This is a cast-iron sculpture, “Couplet”, made by Charles Hadcock (born 1965) in 1999. The work of art, which reminded me of the works that my late mother, a sculptress, might have made. It stands beside the gateway into the churchyard of St Nicholas. Nicholas, whose church is beside the Thames and near at least two breweries, is patron saint for fishermen, sailors, and coopers (barrel-makers).

St Nicholas churchyard

St Nicholas churchyard

St Nicholas churchyard William Hogarth

St Nicholas churchyard William Hogarth

The idyllic, romantic, leafy churchyard by the river is chock full of graves. Two of them caught my attention. One is that for the artist William Hogarth, who lived close-by (see below). His monument, protected by a cast-iron fence, an urn on a plinth decorated with an artist’s palette and brushes, was erected after the death of his sister in 1781 (who is also commemorated on this monument), and was restored by a William Hogarth of Aberdeen in 1856.

St Nicholas churchyard Ugo Foscolo

St Nicholas churchyard Ugo Foscolo

The other grave that I found interesting was a monument to the Italian poet and patriot Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827). He spent the last eleven years of his life in England. He died at Turnham Green, and was buried in the graveyard at St Nicholas. In 1871, the poet’s remains were removed to Italy, which had recently achieved Unification and Independence. They were interred in the church of S Croce in Florence.

St Nicholas Chiswick

St Nicholas Chiswick

St Nicholas churchyard gargoyle on tower

St Nicholas churchyard gargoyle on tower

There has been a church on the site of St Nicholas since before the 12th century. The tower of the present building was begun in the 15th century. Its south face has a small picturesque gargoyle with prominent eye-brows and bulging eyes. The rest of the church was rebuilt in the late 19th century in Victorian gothic style.

Ferry Hse Church Str Chiswick

Ferry Hse Church Str Chiswick

The large Ferry House on Church Street and some of its neighbours were built in the 18th century. Even older is the half-timbered Old Burlington, an old coaching inn, whose construction began in the 16th century. Close to this, there is a building on a corner plot with timber-cladding and a ground-floor bow window. This was once The Lamb pub.

Former Old Burligton pub and behind it the Lamb Brewery Church Str

Former Old Burligton pub and behind it the Lamb Brewery Church Str

The former Lamb pub Church Str Chiswick

The former Lamb pub Church Str Chiswick

Established by about 1732, it became the brewery pub for Sich & Co brewery. It closed in 1909. It achieved fame in 1889 because it was here that an inquest was held into the death by drowning of a Jack the Ripper suspect, Montague John Druitt (see: http://www.closedpubs.co.uk/london/w4_chiswick_lamb.html). The buildings that housed Sich’s brewery, the Lamb Brewery, can be seen behind the former pub. The brewery was leased to the brewers John Sich and William Thrale in 1790. Brewing ceased in the early 20th century. The premises were then used until 1952 by the Standard Yeast Company, and now they have been converted into offices, studios, and flats.

Chiswick has been a centre for brewing since early times, since at least the 13th century when many of the local inhabitants owed taxes for making malt (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol7/pp78-86#h3-0007). Earlier than that, by the 11th century, Chiswick was known for cheese making. Its earlier name, the Old English ‘Ceswican’, meant ‘cheese farm’ (see: “A Dictionary of London Place-Names”, by D Mills, publ. 2010). By the late 16th century, there was at least one brewery in the area. Fuller’s brewery is the last of these to survive.

Old shop 6 Church Str

Old shop 6 Church Str

Pages Yard off Church Str Chiswick

Pages Yard off Church Str Chiswick

Number 6 Church Street has a large disused shopfront with central double doors and decorative masonry brackets ate each end of the former fascia. This building was marked as a ‘Post Office’ on old (pre-WW2) maps. It is almost opposite Pages Yard, a cul-de-sac lined with 18th century brick houses with luxuriant gardens. The north end of historic Church Street opens abruptly into to modern day life in the form of the busy Great West Road dual carriageway.

The George and Devonshire pub

The George and Devonshire pub

Boston House Chiswick Sq

Boston House Chiswick Sq

Chiswick Sq

Chiswick Sq

Many people whizzing along this road or stuck in a traffic jam probably do not notice the historic George and Devonshire pub, which has been in business since the 1650s, although its present home dates from the 18th century. Its neighbour Chiswick Square is dominated by the elegant Boston House. Pevsner compares the design of this building, erected in the 1740s, to London’s Albany (in Piccadilly). Its name probably derives from Viscount Boston, Earl of Grantham (died 1754), who lived there. The buildings on the other two sides of the square, whose north side has no buildings, are late 17th century.

Flyover at Hogarth Roundabout

Flyover at Hogarth Roundabout

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

Putting Boston House behind you, one cannot avoid seeing a stream of vehicles ascending the slope of the western end of the slender flyover that carries traffic eastward above the Hogarth Roundabout. St Marys Convent, a short distance west of Chiswick Square, was designed by Charles Ford Whitcombe and constructed in 1896. It bears some architectural details typical of the Arts and Craft Movement. Over the years, it has been considerably enlarged to encompass a hospital.

Corner Paxton and Short Roads

Corner Paxton and Short Roads

Paxton Road, which leads northwest from the Convent runs alongside the grounds of Chiswick House. It is lined by 19th century ‘villas’, which in this context mean mundane terraced houses. On the corner of Paxton and Short Roads, there is a house with extensive ground floor windows separated by orange tiling and surmounted by what might once have been a shop or pub fascia boarding above. It is more likely to have been a shop than a pub because no pub is marked on old maps of Paxton Road. Now, it is residential.

Hogarth's House

Hogarth's House

Paxton Road becomes Sutherland Road at its northern end, and the latter leads to the busy Great West Road (A4), known at this point as Hogarth Lane. This is no country lane, but a six-lane highway! When the artist William Hogarth (1697-1764) moved to Chiswick in 1749, the house he bought, which still stands today, was surrounded by quiet countryside. This building constructed between 1713 and ’17 is now bordered by the busy A4 and is only a few yards from the Hogarth Roundabout. The house, which cost all of £7, was run-down when Hogarth bought it. Like so many people who by run-down properties abroad today in picturesque places like Andalucía and Tuscany, Hogarth restored and extended it. For example, he added the first floor oriel window that projects over the front door.

Hogarth House

Hogarth House

Hogarth House staicase with panelled walls

Hogarth House staicase with panelled walls

During WW2, Hogarth’s home, which had become a museum, suffered bomb damage. This was repaired, and by 1951 the museum, having been extended, was re-opened to the public. When I visited it in October 2017, the upper floor was closed because work was being done to repair damage that had occurred in the ceilings. There is not too much to be seen in the two ground floor rooms. One of them is wood-panelled and feels and looks like the living room of a friend’s house in Kensington, which was built shortly after Hogarth’s home. The exhibits include a sculpture depicting the artist and several Hogarth’s prints. This place is worth visiting not because it is a wonderful museum, but because it is fun to stand where once the great artist stood, and, also, because it is interesting to see inside a house of this vintage, which is neither a palace nor a stately home. The house has a pleasant garden with a large lawn and trees.

Hogarth roundabout pedestrian subway

Hogarth roundabout pedestrian subway

This exploration ends here. If you feel stranded and surrounded by an unending stream of traffic, it is worth knowing that an escape route exists in the guise of a pedestrian subway beneath the Hogarth Roundabout.

The riverside between Hammersmith and Chiswick was once alive with industry and barge traffic. Interspersed among this were many houses of considerable vintage, some of which were the homes and workshops of artists, calligraphers, engravers, bookbinders, and printers. The industry and working river traffic has disappeared, but much of the early architecture remains alongside a series of pubs and boathouses, making this stretch of the Thames a delight for leisure-seekers.

8 Lower Mall, Hammersmith

8 Lower Mall, Hammersmith

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 14:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged architecture beer pubs thames hammersmith river_thames ale william_morris breweries chiswick Comments (2)

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