Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
A War Horse
Is there anyone in London who hasn't seen War Horse yet? If there is, fix that as soon as you can because it is quite exceptional, the magic of the stage taken to heights you would not believe. This one hangs in the foyer of the National Theatre. Yes they are puppets, yes, you will forget that inside five minutes when watching,
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, the first would cut you about the second stitch you back together. As I pointed out, the museum has changed character since its refit. Now, you can take photos but the artifacts from the 12th century - those brought back from the Crusades - seem to have vanished, and most in the museum seem to date from the 16th Century. The best bits are those only available to see on the free tours, when you can see some astonishing pieces from the knights time in Malta. It is still worth a visit, but I recommend you join one of the tours, they really give you a sense of the history.
Monday, October 22, 2012
The Good Samaritan
This award "Presented by the South Metropolitan Gas Company to promote a spirit of emulation in first aid ambulance work by an annual competition" (won by the Slot MEter department in 1914) is inside the Museum of the Order of St John. Five years ago you couldn't take photographs inside. Now, they've done it up, taken some of the oldest exhibits out of view, and opened up for joe public. I'm going to take the opportunity to show you some of what has been opened up.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
If you want to see what a Knight looked like, the Crypt of the Priory Church of St John Clerkenwell is one place to go. Here, the 16th century figure of Don Juan Ruyz de Vergara can be seen. Frankly I find this angle most interesting: you can see that strange dog like creature - a lion carved by someone who had never seen one - and what seems to be a page boy lying down with him. Make of that what you will.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
St John's Gate
St John's Gate that you see here is largely what was rebuilt byt he Victorians, but some of the original building remains from 1500. Built as a priory for the Knights Hospitaller it has a fascinating and varied history, including being used by Wm Hogarth's dad as a tea house..... where everyone had to speak in Latin. Apparently, it didn't last long, I can't think why.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Wat's the matter?
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The walk moves around the corner, to this elegant building, once a house of detention and where, in 1867, the leader of the Irish Republicans, Richard Burke, was being held. Reading something like a Keystone Cops scene, his compatriots plot to free him by blowing a hole in the wall at the time the prisoners were normally exercised. The first time they try this, the bomb fails to explode. By the next day, the plot had become known to the intelligence service and the prisoners moved. The plotters, knowing nothing about this, try again. This time the bomb blows up catastrophically - blowing an 80 foot hole in the wall, but also knocking down houses and killing twelve including children, injuring many more. It became known as the Clerkenwell Outrage, and had a very negative effect for the Republican cause.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
New Model Building
Here we are, with our guide for the day, outside Challoner House which is on the location of a house that Cromwell lived in. Given the general hazy grasp of history, I wonder how many people realise that for eleven years England was a Republic? The end of it was when nobody in Parliament could agree, so they invited back Charles II to resume the monarchy. At this point, it was a very bad career move to have been involved in the execution of King Charles I - Cromwell, although he had died of natural causes, was dug up and subjected to a posthumous execution. They meant business.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
A Revolutionary Photo
After joining in a guided walk on Sunday, with the theme "Heroes and Villains" I have a few interesting places to share with you. The first is here, in Clerkenwell Square, and is the house where Lenin printed Iskra - The Spark - a revolutionary magazine that was smuggled back into Russia before the revolution. You can read about Lenin in London here if you like.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Sunday, October 14, 2012
St Dunstan and All Saint's, Stepney
Tucked away in the back streets of Stepney is this beautiful church, with a site history dating back a thousand years. Not one of those things the casual visitor to London will ever see - or native Londoners, come to that.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
If you looked at this organ in St Lawrence Jewry, you might think that it was an antique, a product of an age when such craftsmanship was commonplace; you'd be wrong. It was made in 2001 by this bunch, in Germany. Good to know that such things are still made.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Well, you would if you were playing with your instrument in the nuddy, wouldn't you? This frieze on what must have at one time been a performance space on Wigmore Street junction with Cavendish Square has always fascinated me with the quality of the detail on the faces - you can see these would have been real people. I wonder who?
Thursday, October 11, 2012
This year, after nearly sixty of semi-obscurity, the airmen who fell as part of Bomber Command in WWII were commemorated by a substantial memorial in Green Park, at Hyde Park corner. I'm never sure what to think about the strategy of bombing itself, but whatever the merits of that the men that flew are some of the greatest heroes. If you don't know the background it is worth reading about.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
The Way It Used To Be Done
The City Police have a long history of sporting excellence in their early years, and in their museum an impressive number of medals, including Olympic Games. This certificate, alongside the medal, was what you received back in 1920, the 7th Olympiad. This Gold was for the Tug-of-War, which was dropped in subsequent games, meaning that the City of London Police are still the Olympic champions.
Monday, October 08, 2012
A Clever Street Thief
Mary Ann Travers, 26, a clever street thief, 5' 2 1/2", Brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. Imprisoned for 3 months, discharged in July 1870.
From the streets of London, 130 years ago. These police records and photographs of faces straight out of Dickensian London, with their brief description, was one of the most fascinating exhibits in the City Police Museum. I've put the photos I took of some of the others into a Rogues Gallery
Sunday, October 07, 2012
I promised interesting stuff from the City Police Museum, didn't I? Well, as you can see these two objects are a mustard tin and a milk can (you may not have know that last one). And, they have been converted into bombs.By suffragettes. 100 years ago, women didn't have the vote. It was around 1912, after Asquith failed to progress with a bill to give a limited number of women the vote, that militant and violent means began to be used. Of course not all men had the vote either, but that's another story.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
The Thin Blue Line
This week, I was lucky enough to visit the City of London Police Museum, something not normally open to the public without booking. The museum is crowded into a single, stuffed-full room in Wood Street Police Station. As you might imagine contains stuff intimately connected with London since their formation in 1839, from their uniforms - which they had to wear at all times, even off duty and included a strengthened top hat they could stand on to look over walls - onwards and upwards.
I think some of the stories are fascinating, so I will share them over the next days.
Friday, October 05, 2012
You Are Missing
As some people noted yesterday, Kings Cross - and specifically platform 9 3/4 - is where the Hogwarts Express departs. The best photo opportunity is, of course, with you pushing the "trolley" through the wall. Makes for some fun, anyway, and rather nice to see the station management have a sense of whimsy. There is a nearby bookshop that is capitalising on the merchandising, but (possibly surprisingly) that's all.
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
As an example of how to revitalise an area, you can't do better than look at Exhibition Road. It used to be an unpleasant no-mans-land that people only walked down when they had no option. By blurring the barriers between traffic and pavement, it slows traffic down and gives priority back to people.