The south side of Tower Bridge along the wharves


  Some of my favorite walking places are along the river passing the old wharves. is a link to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  It describes the difference between a dock and a wharf and amazingly refers to St. Katharine’s Dock.  “A dock is an enclosure or pool,, usually with a single aperture to allow waterborne entry and egress. Often the aperture had a watertight gate or lock to restrict access, or to regulate water levels against currents or tides. This provided a safe haven from stormy seas, turbulent waters, harbor traffic, and intrusion, and could isolate cargoes for customs purposes and provide security against theft. The most characteristic examples, constructed primarily of dressed stone, are perhaps those in the East End of London, where St. Catherine’s Dock has been converted to a tourist attraction with boutique shops; and at Liverpool, where the Merseyside Maritime Museum has preserved the Albert Dock as an historical monument.”   I think my attraction to the old brick wharves and cobbled streets comes from having grown up in New Bedford and also from all of the recent visits back to see friends.  Wharves and docks feel like home, not from our cruising, but from my childhood.  Also, the history is so fascinating!   To see Spice Wharf along the Thames and then  think back to the spices being loaded on the crowded streets of India, so much easier to understand geography and history when you can walk along the same places.  Much more interesting to me than kings and queens and generals. 

   Anyway, here is the first “docks and wharves” email.  I have several more to go starting at the Tower and continuing to Rotherhithe home of the Mayflower Pub; oldest on the Thames so they claim and a boarding place for the Mayflower captain and crew.  We’ll have to visit; maybe for Thanksgiving and find out the real story.  The path along the Thames goes further but Rotherhithe is as far as we’ve gone so far. 


Thames Dock Wharf: south side

The history of Shad Thames and Butlers Wharf


“Shad Thames Fields, warehouses and riverside living

The riverside area of Shad Thames by Tower Bridge is overloaded with history, from medieval knights and open fields through to the iconic narrow cobbled streets of warehouses and wharfs.  Much of the area was grazing land and open fields, even as late as the 19th century, until the enormous development of warehouses and docks established the area as the centre of the biggest industrial port in the world. After the decline of shipping in the Pool of London, the old warehouses became dream studio spaces for artists. Today, the warehouses have transformed once again and the converted flats are now some of the most sought after in London.

      Horses and knights  (and why it’s called Shad Thames.)

The street ‘Horselydown Lane’ is one of only a few small hints to the early history of the area, when it was literally grazing land for horses and cattle… ‘horsey down’.   After the Norman Conquest in the 11th century through to the 15th century, the area close to Shad Thames was a priory for the Knights of St John.  It slowly transformed into St John at Thames and then ‘Shad Thames’. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, this now busy riverside area remained quiet farming land described as a ‘country village’. It was only in the middle of the 17th century that a small number of houses began to appear along the river.

     Porters at Butlers Wharf London’s larder

As industry along the Thames began to grow, so did the building of housing and warehouses and it was during the early to mid-19th century that fields made way for narrow cobbled streets and tall warehouses. The new warehouses gave the area the name ‘London’s larder’ as every variety of food was transported to London from around the world. It is believed that the warehouses in Bermondsey were responsible for three-quarters of London’s imported provisions.

Dickensian London

The now familiar design of tall warehouses with narrow surrounding streets was simply brought about by the need to maximise the use of the space by the river. It also made the use of catwalks and bridges, running from the river back through numerous warehouses, much easier. However, these narrow streets with industrial buildings made for a rough area and it literally became what we would call ‘Dickensian London’ – St Saviours Dock was in fact the inspiration for Bill Sikes’ den in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

Butlers Wharf Butlers Wharf

Butlers Wharf is the largest wharf building along the Thames and has almost reached iconic status sitting by the riverside adjacent to Tower Bridge. Viewed from the opposite side of the river, it dominates the view of the Southbank along Shad Thames. The name is believed to originate from a Mr. Butler, who traded in grain and first settled in Bermondsey in the late 18th century. However, the large warehouse we know today was completed in 1873 and designed by James Tolley and Daniel Dale. It was the latest in industrial design, featuring fireproof floors, brick-vaulted basements and wrought iron roof trusses. Butlers Wharf specialised in tea from India and Ceylon, with 40,000 chests arriving in a year, as well as dealing in cocoa, coffee and sugar.

Artists’ colony

The 1960s and 70s brought drastic change to London’s riverside docks, with the development of containerisation and changes to the way wharfers were employed, the wharfs and warehouses slowly began to close. However, the empty warehouses became ideal for artists and artisans, who not only needed cheap accommodation, but large studio space with good lighting. Artists such as David Hockney and Andrew Logan soon took over the derelict spaces and were part of a thriving creative community.

Warehouse living

However, as Shad Thames and the riverside had seen much change in previous decades, so again, it moved forward and the warehouses were converted into luxury apartments. In the 1980s Butlers Wharf was sold to Terence Conran for redevelopment, along with five other warehouses, which were completely redeveloped and renamed in honour of the former trade goods – Cardamom, Clove, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Coriander.

    Today, the converted warehouses in Shad Thames and the surrounding streets are some of the most sought after in London. High ceilings and large open ‘loft style’ living add to the enticing location by the river, close to the centre of London.

* Chesterton Humberts have a number of apartments available for sale in the Shad Thames area:

Dockhead Wharf – 1 bedroom £412,500

Admirals Court – 2 bedrooms £649,950

* Black and white images are ‘courtesy of English Heritage National Monuments Record’


Butler’s Wharf from the Tower Bridge

Across the Thames from Butler’s Wharf is St. Katharine Docks


Butler’s Wharf street side


Just a few steps from the Tower Bridge begins the Shad Thames cobbled way.



Pool of London

Area called the Pool of London between London Bridge on the left to just below Tower Bridge on the right.  SKD is the loop on the north side of the river to the right of Tower Bridge.  Butlers Wharf is oblong across from SKD on the south side of the river



  The Pool of London is the stretch of the River Thames from London Bridge to just below Tower Bridge. In existence for over 1000 years with trading on this part of the river dating back to roman times it is why London grew into one of the world’s major cities.

   Starting and finishing at the Monument underground station our self-guided walk takes you across London Bridge, through ancient passage ways and paths to Tower Bridge and beyond.

   Returning via the Tower of London you will walk past beautiful riverside buildings and through historic markets to top tourist attractions and museums. Many of the original wharfs still remain, converted into shops, restaurants, cafes and bars making the Pool of London an ideal place to walk, rest and relax.  has some passages from Dickens connected to the area.



Wharf flats (apartments)



Tea Trade Wharf


Not just one row along the water but streets of wharf areas.


A Mini-Cooper   in front of some more individual housing in the area. 



Sufferance Wharves….

The legal quays

      After Elizabeth I became queen in 1558, a royal act created the ‘legal quays’. These were trading wharves between London Bridge and the Tower.  The legal quays had a monopoly on the landing or loading of dutiable goods – goods on which taxes had to be paid.

The sufferance wharves

As trade continued to expand, the legal quays eventually became too congested to cope. While the wharfingers – the people who owned the wharves – prospered, the ship owners lost money because of delays.   One concession to the ship owners was the creation of the so-called sufferance wharves on the south side of the Thames. These had the same rights as the legal quays, but only on a temporary basis – hence ‘on sufferance’.  Even with these, the river was still too congested.  Pressure from the ship owners continued until the first enclosed docks were built in the early years of the 19th century.



Vogans Mill Wharf  and St. Saviours Wharf

     “(Vogans Mill) The business commenced around 1815 near to the old Hays Wharf, Bermondsey in the Pool of London, nearly opposite the Tower.  The principal trade as far as been ascertained at that time, was importing oats for cleaning and milling for the considerable horse population of London. Most of the oats would have come from Finland and the Baltic States area.

       Around 1840 the sites alongside St. Saviours Dock were being redeveloped and the business moved to Mill Street.  Vogans Mill was built slightly earlier than the adjacent wharves.   It has been found that the pillars supporting the floors were of wood whereas, for example, in St. Saviours Wharf and New Concordia Wharf these are of cast iron.   It was just at this time that this material started to be incorporated into buildings.

     St. Saviours Dock has a history all of its own. Originally it was part of the Neckinger River that flowed into the Thames and for over 250 years has been one of the "lost rivers" of London. It was originally called Savory Dock and Savourys Dock. The river also served the needs of the considerable tannery industry in Bermondsey.


So much to see….


Unity Wharf Mill Street…home of Encyclopaedia Britannica Digital

Encyclopædia Britannica (UK) Ltd

2nd Floor, Unity Wharf,

Mill Street,

London SE1 2BH,

United Kingdom

John Butler Butlers Wharf

On the south bank of the Thames immediately east of Tower Bridge (and therefore opposite St Katharine’s Dock) lies Butlers Wharf. Once it was a complex of wharves and warehouses that was part of the Port of London docks complex. Then, along with the rest of the docks, it fell into decline. The mean, dilapidated lanes within the complex enjoyed brief fame as a Dr Who film set during the early eighties, but after the departure of the Daleks the developers moved in and began the transformation of the wharf into an imaginative mix of apartments, offices, restaurants and leisure facilities. At the time of writing most of the refurbishment is complete.

A central piazza is the main focal point of the complex. A riverside walk has also been opened up, part of the Thames Path from the Greenwich flood barrier up to the source in Cricklade, Gloucestershire. The main road though the wharf, the strangely-named Shad Thames, still features the overhead goods gantries that once linked the warehouses together.

Recently opened within the complex are the London Design museum and the adjacent Tea and Coffee museum. The Wharf complex is bounded to the east by the sinister tidal inlet of St Saviour’s Dock, beside which stands New Concordia Wharf. This building has now been converted into offices and apartments but, a century ago, Charles Dickens set Bill Sykes’s den here in "Oliver Twist".

London SE1

Butler’s Wharf

     Completed in 1873, Butler’s Wharf was once the largest warehouse complex on the Thames. Having remained derelict after closure in 1972 , this early SE1 development is perhaps best known for Terence Conran’s restaurants such as Le Pont de la Tour, where the Clintons and Blairs famously dined. The Wharf is also home to gastronomic delights such as the Butler’s Wharf Chop House, Cantina del Ponte, Bengal Clipper, Captain Tony’s Pizza & Pasta Emporium and Pizza Express. Conran’s acclaimed Design Museum also houses the Blue Print Cafe.

     You will probably recognize the area’s main thoroughfare, Shad Thames, from countless photographs and films of London’s gloomy docks in years gone by (there are some good photos of the area in the 1970s on this site). The distinctive iron bridges in Shad Thames were once used for moving goods from warehouse to warehouse and have been retained as part of the redevelopment.

     Shad Thames is a corruption of St John at Thames, a reference to the Knights Templar who once controlled the area.

Butler’s Wharf is best approached on foot along the riverside walk.

     St Saviour’s Dock, the eastern limit of SE1’s riverside, was once the mouth of the River Neckinger – one of London’s lost rivers. The dock is no longer such an obstacle for walkers following the Thames Path since the addition of a footbridge across the mouth of the dock, which can be swung open to allow boats to pass. Most of the building around the dock were once mills.

John Butler Butlers Wharf

On the south bank of the Thames immediately east of Tower Bridge (and therefore opposite St Katharine’s Dock) lies Butlers Wharf. Once it was a complex of wharves and warehouses that was part of the Port of London docks complex. Then, along with the rest of the docks, it fell into decline. The mean, dilapidated lanes within the complex enjoyed brief fame as a Dr Who film set during the early eighties, but after the departure of the Daleks the developers moved in and began the transformation of the wharf into an imaginative mix of apartments, offices, restaurants and leisure facilities. At the time of writing most of the refurbishment is complete.

A central piazza is the main focal point of the complex. A riverside walk has also been opened up, part of the Thames Path from the Greenwich flood barrier up to the source in Cricklade, Gloucestershire. The main road though the wharf, the strangely-named Shad Thames, still features the overhead goods gantries that once linked the warehouses together.

Recently opened within the complex are the London Design museum and the adjacent Tea and Coffee museum. The Wharf complex is bounded to the east by the sinister tidal inlet of St Saviour’s Dock, beside which stands New Concordia Wharf. This building has now been converted into offices and apartments but, a century ago, Charles Dickens set Bill Sykes’s den here in "Oliver Twist".

Eagle Wharf  : an example of a flat in one of the wharves

Eagle Wharf Court, London, SE1 – Leasehold / £799,000   (includes photos)

A beautifully refurbished two double bedroom warehouse conversion in the heart of Shad Thames with a terrace overlooking Tower Bridge Piazza.

Eagle Wharf has retained a variety of its original warehouse character, including exposed brickwork and cast iron window frames.

The apartment offers a spacious open-plan reception room leading to a large covered terrace with direct views out across the attractive Tower Bridge Piazza.

There is a fully fitted integrated kitchen, two double bedrooms and two bathrooms. Eagle Wharf benefits from day time concierge, one secure car parking space and lift access.

The development is located close to the river front and the large variety of bars and restaurants that the area has to offer.

London Bridge (Jubille line) and Tower Hill stations (District and Circle lines) are both close by.

The tangents of Toynbee Hall


    Today Sue Ed and I walked to the Artizan Public Library to get library cards.  My Canary Wharf card is good for Tower Hamlets libraries but not for city libraries or something like that.  Artizan is much closer so will probably be the one we’ll all use most.  I saw several books I’ll enjoy reading when we return.  So nice to have a library!

     This email is about the second venue we visited on Open London weekend.  Toynbee Hall is the original Settlement House prototype.  In elementary school I wrote a paper about Jane Addams, founder of Hull House settlement house in Chicago and first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  I also wrote a paper that included mention of Dorothea Dix and her work to create facilities for the humane treatment of the mentally ill who until then were often housed in jails. 

The Settlement Cookbook

   Lizzie Black Kander, author of The Settlement Cookbook, was born in Milwaukee, on May 28, 1858. Like many middle-class Jewish women of her time, she was deeply involved in Progressive Era reform movements that sought to aid and Americanize immigrants. Kander first became involved in local reform efforts in 1878, when she joined Milwaukee’s Ladies Relief Sewing Society. Under Kander’s leadership, the Society evolved into the Milwaukee Jewish Mission. It was as president of "the Settlement," Milwaukee’s first settlement house, a multi-purpose reform organization modeled on Jane Addams’s Hull House, that Kander made her most lasting contribution.

     Among the Settlement’s programs was a series of cooking classes for immigrants. In 1901, Kander asked the Settlement’s board for $18 to print a small booklet of recipes for her students. When the board refused, she raised money from the local business community and produced the first edition of The Settlement Cookbook, which combined her recipes with instructions on cleanliness and food storage and general housekeeping tips. The first edition of the Cookbook was published on April 30, 1901. By 2004, The Settlement Cookbook, still in print, had gone through 40 editions and sold over 1.5 million copies, making it the most successful American Jewish charity cookbook of all time.

My mother had one , probably her mother’s that now my sister has.  It’s called The Settlement Cookbook.  Maybe the same, but if not, definitely the same idea. 

So it’s not so surprising that I was interested in the history of Toynbee Hall and went off on dozens of tangents.  Toynbee involves the lives of “everyday” people not kings, queens or generals.  My write up of the Tower of London will probably take about 2 paragraphs!  But most folks know about the Tower of London; very few know Toynbee Hall.  Now you do.



Toynbee Hall

“Toynbee Hall was founded in 1884, born out of the ideals of the settlement movement. This was a reform movement whose aim was to alleviate poverty through creating new communities, in which the rich and the poor lived closely together, sharing skills and knowledge.”

“Although used earlier by French writers, the term Industrial Revolution was first popularized by the English economic historian Arnold Toynbee (1852–83) to describe England’s economic development from 1760 to 1840.”

Toynbee pushed for society to improve the lives of working people.  Toynbee Hall was named as a memorial to him. 

What it does now…

“Toynbee Hall is a community organisation that pioneers ways to reduce poverty and disadvantage in the East End of London. We give some of the country’s most deprived communities a voice, providing access to free advice and support services and working with them to tackle social injustice.

Tower Hamlets is characterised by high rates of child poverty, worklessness, mortality and overcrowding. The majority of the 9,000 people we worked with in 2011/12 live on very low incomes, have multiple needs, low aspirations or poor health. We work with them to identify the services they need to improve their lives, and provide an opportunity for them to take action on community issues.

Our work is themed across four different programme areas: Advice, Youth & Community, Financial Inclusion and Wellbeing. Our service users are diverse, and include young people, older people, new migrants, people who are financially excluded, people facing serious legal issues, as well as people from different communities.

Our services are free of charge, and every year nearly 500 residential and non-residential volunteers support us to deliver services and engage with communities across Tower Hamlets and beyond.”


  Toynbee Art Club   Established in 1886 by Architect Designer Charles Robert Ashbee. 

Chair: Irene Lafferty M.A.

    We are a friendly and lively art group meeting on Sundays from 2.30 to 5pm throughout the year for Life Drawing at Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street, London E1 6LS. Those attending the life sessions cover a range of abilities from professional artists to newcomers. These workshops are ideal for art students developing their practice. There is a strong group dynamic. We welcome beginners and people from all ages and backgrounds. Please bring your own art materials.

      Drawing sessions are held in the Arts and Crafts Lecture Hall designed by C.R Ashbee.

Allow extra time for parking as there is a vibrant local street markets on Sundays.

Session Fee: £6. Student and unwaged rate: £4 pay as you go.


Charles Robert Ashbee was born in London, the son of a prosperous city merchant. Educated at Wellington College and King’s College, Cambridge, he was articled to G. F. Bodley. While working in Bodley’s office Ashbee lived at Toynbee Hall, the pioneer University Settlement in Whitechapel where he initiated classes in art and craft which become the nucleus of the School of Handicraft (1887) and the Guild of Handicraft (1888). The Guild is now chiefly known for the metalwork and jewellery designed by Ashbee himself, and for the furniture made for the Grand Duke of Hesse in collaboration with the designer M. H. Baillie Scott in the workshops at Essex House in the Mile End Road.

In 1902 Ashbee undertook his grand experiment and removed the entire Guild to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. For a while the Guild’s affairs prospered, but from 1905 the receipts from the craftwork fell off disastrously and by 1907 the company was forced into voluntary liquidation. Ashbee continued throughout this period with his architectural practice, which brought in a number of decorotive commissions to the Guild. He designed two groups of houses in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea and a number of squat, square houses in the country, some of which feuture in A Book of Cottages and Little Houses.  site of the Museum of Crafts and Design in Chipping Campden which shows examples of his work. 


Ashbee buckle photo from the courtbarn site

There is a point to the digression…. Henrietta Barnett and her husband Samuel, founders of Toynbee Hall were great supporters of art for everyone as well as being the originators of the Settlement House Philosophy.

       Henrietta Octavia Barnett née Rowland (1851- 1936) social reformer.  Her career began as one of the voluntary workers for housing pioneer Octavia Hill in Marylebone.  She married Samuel Barnett and they jointly founded the University Settlement, Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel, London.  She extended this system of social work to America and was its President.  The Barnetts also demolished slum dwellings in Whitechapel and built model dwellings on Octavia Hill’s principles.  Henrietta Barnett was involved in supporting working women through women’s trade unions such as the Women’s Protective and Provident League and the National Union of Women Workers as well as being a suffrage supporter. Barnett also worked with Angela Burdett-Coutts on assisting poor children.  Believing that working people should have access to art, she founded the Whitechapel Art Gallery. (Seth Koven, ‘Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’, 2004)


Samuel and Henrietta Barnett

  Henrietta is holding her plans for Hampstead Garden Suburb : a community of individual homes and gardens mixing families of all incomes rather than house them in huge housing projects.

Toynbee Hall was created in 1884 by Samuel Barnett, a Church of England curate, and his wife Henrietta, in response to a growing realisation that enduring social change would not be achieved through the existing individualised and piecemeal approaches.

The radical vision was to create a place for future leaders to live and work as volunteers in London’s East End, bringing them face to face with poverty, and giving them the opportunity to develop practical solutions that they could take with them into national life.  Many of the individuals that came to Toynbee Hall as young men and women – including Clement Attlee and William Beveridge – went on to bring about radical social change and maintain a lifelong connection with Toynbee Hall. Henrietta Barnett  A girls school located in Hampstead Garden Suburb, the community designed by Henrietta Barnett

Jane Addams, founder of Hull House and a leader of the Settlement House philosophy in America, and the first woman in America to win the Nobel Prize….and the topic of a paper I wrote in elementary school!

Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman

     On her return to England in the summer of 1888, Jane Addams expressed great interest in the proceedings of the Foreign Missions Congress and in Toynbee Hall, the social settlement experiment pioneered by Rev. Samuel A. Barnett and his wife Henrietta.  At a chance meeting in Canterbury, Addams encountered Barnett’s mentor, Canon William Henry Fremantle, who provided her with a letter of introduction to Toynbee Hall.  After signing the visitors’ register, she and traveling companions Helen Harrington and Sarah F. Anderson, friends from Rockford Female Seminary days, toured the distinctive red-brick structure which had opened in 1885 on Commercial Street in London, not far from Barnett’s parish of St. Jude.  Addams’s letter to her sister, Sarah Alice Addams Haldemann, excerpted here, captures the excitement she experienced during her visit to Toynbee Hall.

3 Woburn Place  London [England]                                                                      June 14" 1888

My dear Alice

. . . We have been in London since Monday.  I wrote you I think of Amiens, Rouen and Rheims.  We had a pleasant crossing from Boulogne to Folkstone and five days of delightful rest at Canterbury. . . .

We have found a cheap boarding place & comfortable withal altho not luxurious.  I have been very much interested in the World Centennial of Foreign Missions held in Exeter Hall. 2  Miss Anderson and I have been to a good many of the meetings and one evening on the Opium trade in China and the Liquor traffic on the Congo, was one of the most exciting meetings I ever attended.  The questions were so political in character that they were defended on that ground, an old India office[r] even quoting scripture in defense of the opium traffic. I have become quite learned on foreign missions and ashamed of my former ignorance.  The most interesting thing that we have done in London was a visit to the Toynbee Hall in the East End.  It is a community of University men who live there, have their recreating[,]  <clubs> & society all among the poor people yet in the <same> style they would live in their own circle.  It is so free from "professional doing good" so unaffectedly sincere and so productive of good results in its classes and libraries &c that it seems perfectly ideal.  We are going to the People’s Palace 3 some evening.  I don’t know but that the Mission Side of London is the most interesting side it has. We have been reading Walter Besant His "Children of Gideon" and "All Sorts & Conditions of Man," the latter suggested the People Palace since worked out. 4  . . . Always dear Alice, Yrs


            Regards to my many friends[.]

ALS (University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams Memorial Collection, Haldeman-Julius Family Papers; JAPM, 2:968-73; JAP, 2:620-21).



Mallon Garden

This area on Commercial Street borders Toynbee Hall.  Originally there was a factory here which fell to disrepair and then was completely distroyed during the war. 

The economic and social crises in East London in the 1860s had an important effect on the activities of philanthropists and led to the establishment of one of the most enduring institutions in East London: the Settlement House.

Toynbee Hall, Commercial Street, was founded by Canon Samuel Barnett, vicar of St Jude’s Whitechapel in memory of Arnold Toynbee, a young Oxford Historian who pioneered social work in East London. The original building of 1884-5 by Elijah Hoole survives only in part. It is set well back from the street behind gardens; rather like an Elizabethan manor house with some agreeable, if undistinguished, additions in recent decades. Tudor-style four bay  red-brick facade with burnt end diapering to the brickwork, stone dressings, large mullioned windows with diamond leaded panes under a pair of steep kneelered gables and robust chimney stacks.

      Before war damage, the Hall was set around a narrow quadrangle of secluded collegiate character, screened by warehouses to the street and entered through an arched opening at the base of a tall gatehouse with mullion windows and oriel window to the first floor. In the upper storey, rooms for residential workers, above a drawing room, meeting hall and a dining room decorated by C.R Ashbee’s art students.   Of this only gilded plaster roundels survive, embellished with a motif of a tree formed from a stylised "T". Later additions are mixed but the resolutely modernist Toynbee Studios, of 1939 by Alister G. MacDonald, for theatre, music school and juvenile court, makes an unsentimental contrast to Hoole’s neo-Tudor hall and points at the changing emphasis from manorial residence to a 20th century community centre.


A haven for Jewish immigrants.

World’s first Jewish Scout troop was housed at Toynbee Hall : the clocktower was their “thank you.”

“Classes included English, art, and dressmaking were provided along side free legal aid, country holiday funds, and a toy library. …For over 75 years , until 2011, the Friends of Yiddish met here every Saturday afternoon.  Dufning WW2, the Jewish market traders donated food and clothes to the distribution depot at Toynbee Hall.  Jewish London by Kolsky and Rawson


Where we began our tour!


Entrance to the Lecture Hall

An elegant, wood-panelled interior, with a wooden floor, marble fireplace, latticed windows and mullioned surrounds. The Hall was the setting for Marconi’s first public radio broadcast demonstration that took place in 1896. In addition to this, the Lecture Hall has hosted speakers including Lenin, Gandhi, several Archbishops of Canterbury and at least three Prime Ministers.


The original Arts & Crafts bannister


Ashbee Hall

The Ashbee Hall is named after Charles Ashbee, a contemporary of William Morries and leading figure in the English Arts and Crafts movement, who formed the Guild of Handicraft in 1888 at Toynbee Hall.

   Latticed windows with mullioned surrounds, wooden flooring and a marble and wood fireplace all help to create a unique atmosphere in this historic room, which was originally used as the dining room for Toynbee Hall’s first residential volunteers.

     The original wooden dining table, which is still in use today, can be used as part of your event.

Lecture Hall with the original low meeting table.

We were told that the height of the table was determined by the requirement that comfortable armchairs could be used around it.


James Joseph Mallon (1874–1961), by Sir Jacob Epstein, 1954

     “In October 1919 Mallon was appointed warden of Toynbee Hall, a position he was to hold until his retirement in April 1954. There were some misgivings at first since he was not an ‘Oxford man’, but Jimmy soon became known as a born committee man, conscientious but with a welcome touch of conviviality, even of irreverence. At Toynbee Hall he was the life and soul of an established institution, the place of which in local and in national life was changing considerably during Mallon’s long and popular wardenship. Above all, he strengthened its community links and emphasized its educational activities, so that it was sometimes known in his time as ‘the poor man’s university’. He had been an early member of the executive committee of the Workers’ Educational Association, of which he later became honorary treasurer, and was prominent in its counsels. He was a strong advocate of raising the school-leaving age and of expanding further and higher education, including part-time education. He was closely associated, too, with the Workers’ Travel Association. In bodies like this he found his ideals realized. During his wardenship three significant pieces of legislation, the Public Order Act (1936), the Education Act (1936), and the Hire Purchase Act (1939), were influenced by initiatives at Toynbee Hall.”

One of the peculiarities of life at Toynbee is that it calls itself *the* university settlement in East London, but it has neither student interns nor any enduring relationship to any institution of higher learning-much less to Oxford or Cambridge whose college coats of arms ring the great hall.

Jack Profumo


John Profumo, once famous for the “Profumo Affair” became a humble worker for Toynbee Hall

John Profumo Icon of Toynbee HallJohn Profumo – Jack as he was know to his friends – came to Toynbee Hall as a volunteer in 1963 and continued until his death on 9 March 2006; by far the longest serving volunteer.

How to Find Grace After Disgrace New York’s politicians could learn from an Englishman’s example.

    “Because Profumo believed in remorse of conscience—because he actually had a conscience—he could absorb what happened and let it change him however it would. In a way what he believed in was reality. He’d done something terrible—to his country, to his friends, to strangers who had to explain the headlines about him to their children.

     He never knew political power again. He never asked for it. He did something altogether more confounding.

     He did the hardest thing for a political figure. He really went away. He went to a place that helped the poor, a rundown settlement house called Toynbee Hall in the East End of London. There he did social work—actually the scut work of social work, washing dishes and cleaning toilets. He visited prisons for the criminally insane, helped with housing for the poor and worker education.

     And it wasn’t for show, wasn’t a step on the way to political redemption. He worked at Toynbee for 40 years.

     He didn’t give interviews, never wrote a book, didn’t go on TV. Alistair Horne: "Profumo . . . spent the rest of his life admirably dedicated to valuable good works, most loyally supported by his wife. At regular intervals, some journalist writing ‘in the public interest’ would rake up the old story to plague the ruined man and cause him renewed suffering. His haunted, unsmiling face was a living epitaph to the ‘Swinging Sixties.’"

In November 2003, to mark the 40th anniversary of his work, Profumo gave an interview to an old friend. "Jack," said W.F. Deedes, "what have you learnt from this place?" After a pause for thought, Profumo said: "Humility."


C.R Ashbee’s art students.  …. Of this only gilded plaster roundels survive, embellished with a motif of a tree formed from a stylised "T".

open letter to The Century, May 1887…..

  Victorian London – Education – Education for the poor – Toynbee Hall


ONE of the most interesting features of London of to-day is the work of the “West End” among the poor of the “East End,” and chiefly in this the University settlement housed at Toynbee Hall, Commercial Road, Whitechapel, next to that center of working religion, St. Jude’s Church. The Rev. Samuel A. Barnett, rector of St. Jude’s, whose name is known to all students of charity organization, is also senior warden of Toynbee Hall, and his assistant, the Rev. T. C. Gardiner, is sub-warden. With them are fifteen or twenty men, most of them graduates of Oxford or Cambridge, some of them busy in the city, others men of leisure and wealth,— all of them giving more or less of their time to the work of making the lives of the East End poor more wholesome and beautiful than they could be without such help. The hall is named after Arnold Toynbee, one of the scholars of Balliol College, Oxford, who had interested himself deeply in social questions, and through whose efforts in great part the Cooperative Congress was invited to Oxford in 1881. He was a reader in political economy in his college and its bursar or business man, so that he had both a theoretical and practical knowledge of economics, and his interest in the subject was therefore two-sided. When Henry George’s lectures attracted so much attention in England, Toynbee thought that some features or results of them should be counteracted, and he therefore arranged to give two lectures at St. Andrew’s Hall, London, in which he discussed the betterment of the condition of the working classes from his point of view. The audience, I was told, was a curiously mixed one, containing a good many from the social stratum to which Toynbee belonged, as well as the workingmen hearers whom he particularly invited; and among the latter there was a decided undercurrent of criticism and not a little interpellation of the speaker. In the course of the lectures he had confessed that his own class was largely responsible for the discontent among the working classes, and he said frankly that the evil would not come to an end until “we” were willing to live for and if necessary to die for “you.” He was frail; the lectures had excited him greatly; and at the close of the last he fell back in his chair fainting. He was taken to the house of friends in the country, and there died. His sudden end threw a halo of pathos upon his lectures and his work, and when the University men decided to start this colony in London the buildings became a memorial to him. His family is well known in London for its devotion to philanthropic work, and several of his brothers and sisters are still active in the work to which he gave his life. Toynbee Hall had its actual origin in Oxford. In the spring of 1884, a few months after Toynbee’s death, Mr. Barnett read a paper at a small meeting in St. John’s College, in which he shadowed forth his idea of what a colony of University men might do for industrial centers such as East London. The paper, though read to a small knot of men, was published and soon won its way, and a small group of University men made an experiment in associated life at a disused public house, under Mr. Barnett’s guidance and help, when the success of the experiment justified a permanent home. The friends of Arnold Toynbee, who had been anxious to erect some memorial of his work and enthusiastic self-devotion, provided most of the funds for a lecture- hall, and the cost of the rest of the buildings was defrayed by a company formed for this purpose, which raised about £10,000 on the security of the freehold land, bearing interest at 4½ per cent. Toynbee Hall, while a memorial to Arnold Toynbee, is also a monument to Samuel A. Barnett, whose ideas it embodies. One enters from the Commercial Road through the ordinary English gateway into a sort of quadrangle, on one side of which is the residence part of Toynbee Hall, and on the other a lecture-hall wlhch is filled nearly every evening for some purpose or other with East End people. This latter building is also used as a general headquarters for organized charity in the district, including, for instance, the office of the Beaumont Trust, from which the People’s Palace, prophesied in Kingsley’s “Alton Locke,” and made almost real in Walter Besant’s “All Sorts and Conditions of Men,” is now rising into solid fact. The East London Antiquarian Society, the Adam Smith Club, the Toynbee Natural History Society, the Education Reform League, the Pupil Teachers’ Debating Society, the Toynbee Shakespeare Club, the Students’ Union, and still other organizations, hold their meetings in Toynbee Hall or in St. Jude’s school next door. The hall is as beautiful a club-house as one would wish at the West End itself, and certainly no more charming host could be found through Belgravia and Mayfair than the junior warden. Each man has his room or suite of rooms, as he would have at college, and the charming drawing-room, with comfortable and cozy furniture and beautiful adornments, forms a general gathering-place for the club-men and their guests. We had “afternoon tea” there, in strange contrast with the surroundings of poverty and squalor in the streets about, and here Mr. Gardiner told us something of the practical work of the colony and its difficulties. Four evenings of the week are devoted, in the lecture-room opposite, to courses of lectures respectively on history, physiology, astronomy, and English Literature, the fee being one shilling for each complete course. Another evening there is a concert, and always on Saturday evening a “popular” lecture. The sixth evening of the week is given to a social reception in the drawing-room of the club-house, where the men of Toynbee Hall are assisted by friends from the West End in receiving and entertaining the poor people of the neighborhood. The difficulties of mingling classes are, after all, much the same in England as at home. There is a good deal of human nature everywhere. I asked Mr. Gardiner what kind of people proved the best entertainers. He replied that those who were popular at the West End were popular at the East, and there was, indeed, great difficulty in getting the right sort of people, because they were so much in demand in their own class of "society." Some practiced “entertainers,” as they call them, could interest easily eight or ten of the poorer people, whereas others could take care of only one or two. The chief difficulty to overcome was the narrow sphere in which the poorer people did their thinking and their talking, and the whole purpose of these receptions, and of much of the other work, was to broaden the mental horizon of these people, and give them more and pleasanter things to think and talk about outside of the narrow circle of their tenement-house or neighborhood gossip. These men were hoping to accomplish much through the "national teachers," — young men and women selected from the ranks of trades-people and the like, without much culture themselves, but who could be made the means of spreading the wider life among their pupils when they came to teach. To this end they organized reading-parties, as was the fashion at the universities, for those who showed special interest in the weekly lectures, and one or two of their best outdoor men were charged with forming cricket and tennis clubs and other outdoor circles, to broaden the life of their protégés in those directions. The classes and reading-parties are organized into groups, each under the management of an Honorary (unpaid) Secretary. One group comprises one class studying the Old Testament, another studying moral philosophy, a course of Sunday afternoon lectures on the Ethics of the Ancient and Modern World, three classes in Victorian literature (one entirely of women), one in English history, two in political economy. A second group includes reading-parties on Mazzini, Ruskin, and literature, to each of which admission is by election, and classes in French, German, and Latin. Another group covers the physical sciences and includes an ambulance class. A fourth comprises singing-classes, instruction and entertainment for deaf and dumb, drawing-classes, elementary evening classes for boys, lantern illustrations in geography for boys, musical drill for boys, and several classes in short- hand. A fifth provides instruction and practice in carpentering, in wood-carving and in modeling, both for hoys and men. The work of Toynbee Hall is in the right direction, and, moreover, it is justified not only by its results but by the enjoyment which men have in the doing of it. “ I could not give up this East End work,” said one of them to me; “I could not live my life in content away from the people I have learned to know and love here.”

         .R. R. Bowker.

open letter to The Century, May 1887

         “ Toynbee Hall, the original university settlement located in East London, is both among the famous social service organizations in the world and an example of a "permanently failing organization." This paper shows that the present malaise afflicting Toynbee is but the latest manifestation of an organizational confusion and fiscal anemia that has plagued the organization throughout its history, even during the period when R.H. Tawney ran Children’s Country Holiday Fund, William Beveridge was Vice-Warden, and Beatrice Webb regularly came by for tea. Recent critics in the U.K. have used the example of Toynbee as an argument for more clearly defined and stringently applied accounting procedures for charitable organizations. This paper argues, in contrast, that the genius of Toynbee rests in its very confusion and disorganization. The organization has a subtle and powerful organizational culture that resists rationalization. It is precisely the persistence of this culture that has enabled Toynbee to be one of the most powerful sources of social innovation in the Anglo-American tradition for providing social services.”


Carl Milofsky

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Bucknell University

Lewisburg, PA 17837

(717) 514-3468


Albert Hunter

Department of Sociology

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL 60201

(708) 491-3804

This paper was prepared for presentation at a special meeting of the Voluntary Action History Society, London, January, 1993. Research for this paper was supported by the Changing Dimensions of Trusteeship Project, Program on Nonprofit Organizations, Yale University, funded by the Lilly Endowment.

Singkey goes to Birmingham Uni…


  Our time with Singkey flew!  It seems we were just collecting her from the airport, and now she’s off in Birmingham starting her life as a graduate student.  DoraMac feels kind of empty!  But she will be back during Christmas break with lots of stories to tell.  Thanks to our, much too short< visit to Birmingham we’ll be able to picture Singkey’s life there.


(Birmingham University) Professor David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor  "Winning The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year represents a huge team effort. The quality and innovation seen across Birmingham’s bold and sector-leading initiatives has been noted and applauded by this national accolade."

Early Wednesday Randal, Singkey and I traveled to Birmingham.  Singkey was about to begin her graduate studies in Education and Randal and I wanted to help her settle in.  Not only did we go to offer moral support, but it took 3 of us to lug the luggage.  Off in some dark corner of the London Underground, if you knew where to look, there might be some elevators, but the entrance to Tower Hill had lots of stairs as did other places where we had to change tubes.  But other than being mashed a bit on the early tube ride, the Brit Rail had lots of space and was very comfortable.  Arriving in Birmingham, we  grabbed a taxi from the New Street station to Jarrett Hall where Singkey shares a suite with five other students.  Each woman has her own room and bathroom/shower but they share a kitchen.  From Jarrett Hall it’s a ten minute walk to the campus.


Singkey and Randal in the Reception Office at Jarrett Hall. 


Rolling the luggage to Singkey’s building…and carrying it up to the 3rd floor.


Walking through campus to the office where Singkey would collect her student ID.

During the afternoon, after Singkey had registered, we did some shopping for room necessities and also bought some food supplies so she could cook her first dinner on campus.  Of course you walk everywhere so we got lots of exercise.


At the end of the day we left Singkey to settle in and Randal and I walked to our B&B, located about 20 minutes from Jarrett Hall. 



Then to make sure we truly got enough exercise for the day we walked over a mile to the Country Girl pub for dinner.  (And another mile back!)

We slept soundly and the following morning had a full English breakfast to start our day.  Actually I skipped the bacon, sausage and beans, but Randal ate the whole thing.  Very friendly folks run the place!


Best laid plans of mice and men…

     Thursday we’d planned to visit the main police station as foreign students had to register.  We arrived about 10:30 am and there was a long line of students.  Randal and I went off to tour the city center and returned 2 hours later to find that Singkey had only moved about 2 feet along the way.  The police office closed for lunch from 12:30 to 1:30….while the students waited in line.  To make sure Singkey got a WC break and some food, I waited in line while Singkey and Randal walked off to take care of those necessities.  The young people behind her in line were from Belarus and we had a lovely chat suggesting lots of ways to improve the system.

      Randal and I were to catch the 4 pm train back to London.  With little choice we left Singkey in line with her food and we returned to her flat to collect our packs.   We’d left our things there as we’d planned to buy more supplies, have lunch, visit some more….As  I said, best laid plans..

We were in the university area of Birmingham less than 48 hours but I found all we saw quite charming.  Lots of interesting sites to see if one had time and the campus looked quite inviting.  Real England.

“We’ve produced a 30-second film titled ‘This is Birmingham’

The film features a young woman walking through some distinctive Birmingham locations – from the Symphony Hall to the Custard Factory, Jewellery Quarter and the University of Birmingham.

Our film is designed to tempt people who may have little knowledge of the city to explore its vibrant heritage, entertainment venues, culture and beautiful public spaces.

So, dim the lights, open the popcorn and see how many places you can spot here…

During shooting, model Chelsea Killarney:

◾Walked 7km across 43 locations

◾Was filmed for 60 hours during five days

◾Had 35 costume changes, and wore 10 pairs of shoes

– See more at:

“Uploaded on Oct 27, 2010 

      Our last glimpse of the Industrial Revolution – Heartfelt mood entrenched imagery and poignant moments captured on film represent the deterioration of the flag-posts of an era much forgotten — the canals and railways so integral to powering Birmingham’s industrial revolution and the development of England & the United Kingdom. Photographed by Peter Donnelly during the 1960s – decaying vistas, time-worn monuments, or simply sublime snapshots in time – this selection of imagery and verse is history with a heart.

      Birmingham and Black Country Nostalgia Award Winning Poems and Photographs.

The photographs form part of a project Peter started in 1965, when he won The Daily Telegraph photographic competition with a unique set of images taken in and around "old" Birmingham & The Black Country, England. The judges included David Bailey, one of Britain’s best known fashion photographers, Emil Buhrur editor of the Swiss magazine Camera, Ian James editor of The Photography Year Book & George Rodger founder of Magnum Photographers Agency. Peter started to add the verse during the 1980’s-90’s. Two albums have been produced more recently after finding layouts Peter had created. He also produced a unique series of poems postcards and posters about "Old Birmingham" which featured on BBC News, Radio WM & Midlands Today. These captivating images are now available to order in a range of different formats.

Sunday “out and about.”


   Today we visited the Tower of London.  And thanks to my Towers Hamlets library card I only had to pay £1 for my ticket.  My long walk to Canary Wharf to get the card is another whole story with lots of photos for another time.  It took me through the town of Wapping which I want to visit more before I write about it.  Anyway, as the Tower of London is in Tower Hamlets and they want to promote library use (my guess) a £19 senior ticket could be had for £1 with your card. 

  Tomorrow we’ll leave early for a very busy two days in Birmingham helping Singkey get situated at the University.  We’re planning to stay one night but will perhaps stay for 2 depending.  It will be our first Brit Rail train ride.  We  have to leave here on the tube and will switch for Brit Rail in Euston Station at exactly 9:20. 

   Busy busy busy!  We’ve had a lovely visit with Singkey and look forward to her stay with us over the mid-December break. 

When we’re home in October we can watch the Red Sox in the play-offs!  Go Sox!!


Crutched Friars

Petticoat Lane Sunday Market

Sandys Row Synagogue


I couldn’t pass up the chance to find out about these guys…I thought the friars all used some kind of crutch.  True, but not the kind of crutch I was thinking.

Crutched Friars (Or Crossed Friars).

    “An order of mendicant friars who went to England in the thirteenth century from Italy, where they existed for some time, and where they were called "Fratres Cruciferi" (see below). There first appearance in England was at a synod of the Diocese of Rochester in 1244, when they presented documents from the pope and asked to be allowed to settle in the country (Matthew Paris). Each friar carried in his hand a wooden staff surmounted by a cross and also had a cross of red cloth upon his habit, from which circumstances originated the name by which they became commonly known. Their rule was that of St. Augustine and their habit originally brown or black, was later on changed to blue by Pope Pius II. They established eight or nine houses in England, the first being at either Colchester (according to Dugdale), or at Reigate (according to Reyner), founded in 1245.They settled in London in 1249, where they gave their name to the locality, near Tower Hill, still called "Crutched Friars". Other houses were at Oxford (1348), York, Great Weltham (Suffolk), Barham (a cell to Gt. Weltham), Wotten-under-Edge (Gloucestershire), Brackley (Northants) and Kildale (Yorkshire).

History of 42 Crutched Friars

Crutched Friars were officially known as The Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross, referred to as Friars of England, which is a reflection of the name they consistently gave themselves: Fratres Sanctae Crucis.

   The Brethren of the Holy Cross

There were never more than 40 members at any one time, and indeed in over 300 years of their existence the number was less than 750 men of which only 150 have been identified. Historians have treated them as one of the “dim little Orders” and to speak of them as an exiguous and undistinguished body.

   In 1246 the Order of Crutched Friars was given 6⅟2 acres of land in order to build a monastery near Lincoln. It was not until 1247 that the Order of St. Mary of Bethlehem founded a hospital in London, which became the famous asylum known as Bedlam.

   On 18th May 1269 King Henry III gave permission for the Order to build an oratory in London. This was conditional upon the Friars getting money from the Bailiffs of London whom the King had ordered to produce it “some time ago”.

   In 1270 the King gave Six Oaks “suitable for building” and the building of the monastery near the Tower of London just south of Lloyds Club, was completed.    The monastery remained until the Great Fire of London in 1666 when it was destroyed.

    Prior to that time in 1616 the Ambassador of France built his official residence there. At that time Ambassadors were at the Court of King James at the Tower of London (they later moved to St. James’ Palace). Members will notice that French Ordinary Court is a small street underneath Lloyds Club. This is called French Ordinary Court because the Huguenots were allowed by the French Ambassador to sell coffee and pastries. They were very successful insofar as a “French Ordinary” was as well known then as a bistro is today. In the 18th century the house ceased to be the Ambassador’s residence and ever since has been used as a club, small apartment block or offices. In 2009 the property was refurbished for use by Lloyds Club.

On my map Crutched Friars Street curves around and becomes Jewry Street.


“The first published mention of a Jewish quarter in London was in 1128, although their presence has been felt at least from the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Jewry Street in London’s financial center was where Jews settled both before their expulsion in 1290 and after the resettlement, 350 years later. From the late 1800s to just before WWII, thousands of Jews from Poland, Romania and Russia arrived in England, many crowding into the two square miles of Whitechapel and Stepney, close to where their ships had docked.”


Singkey looking investigating this “toilet structure.”   We first encountered these in Amsterdam.

No religious significance at all.


Sign for Middlesex Street; what was once, before the embarrassed Victorians changed the name, Petticoat Lane.

Petticoat Lane Market

     “Petticoat Lane has a long history as a neighborhood of immigrants. In early Stuart times (early 1600’s) Spanish representatives to the Court of King James maintained their residence here at London’s newest high fashion district. When the Great (Bubonic) Plague epidemic of 1665 killed at least one-third of London’s population, and the Great Fire destroyed most of London’s buildings just one year later (1666), Petticoat Lane underwent a transformation. Within thirty years The City was rebuilt by Christopher Wren and his construction army into a sanitary, modern commercial and residential center. East London, decimated by plague, but not by fire, was no longer a fashionable "country" neighborhood, but a down-in-the-mouth district for the lower classes. From Europe came refugees from religious persecution—including many Huguenots and Jews with traditions within the weaving and clothing trades—who found cheap housing and relevant employment in Whitechapel, and especially in Petticoat Lane.

      Within 100 years, Petticoat Lane had once again become a fashionable clothing market for residents of The City, many of whom shopped on the only day of the week they had free: Sunday.  In the 19th century, Victorian morés regarded the popular Sunday market on a street named after a lady’s undergarment with more than raised eyebrows.  In 1830 Petticoat Lane was renamed Middlesex Street and attempts were made to end the market’s long tradition of Sunday operation.  During this time the neighborhood was dirty, dark, and dangerous, with plenty of vice and street crime. Whitechapel, which was home to Karl Marx (1849-83) and the bell foundry that produced both the Liberty Bell and Big Ben, remains best known for the mysterious 1888 slasher of prostitutes known everywhere as Jack the Ripper, known to have prowled the alleys of Petticoat Lane Market.   But the market’s popularity never waned, and in 1936 Parliament acted to officially protect the market as a London institution.

     Petticoat Lane today; bargains and quality are found there, but be prepared to hunt for quality goods and haggle for bargains.    Evolution continues around Petticoat Lane. The City of London and, especially, the East End, which took the brunt of heavy bombing by the Nazi Blitz, have undergone a renaissance since the 1980’s. Although still home to large under classes of Asians and Cockneys, East London has been discovered by well-paid young professionals who work across The Wall in the City. Docklands neighborhoods like St. Katharine’s Marina have become gentrified, and even Petticoat Lane’s old competitor market, Brick Lane, has become a fashionable residential address connecting two former rundown neighborhoods, Whitechapel and Shoreditch.  Remarkably, however, and perhaps due to its parliamentary protection, The Lane (as East Enders still call the market) remains very much the quintessential London street market which no one departs either empty-handed or hungry.

Sites with interviews of former Petticoat Lane stall keepers..

“Petticoat Lane is London’s world famous Sunday market and sells mainly clothes for men, women and children, from street-cred club wear to over-orders of designer goods and last year’s must-haves. One of its specialities is leather wear at the Aldgate East end and there’s bric-a-brac, household goods, in fact everything you could possibly think of plus some other bits and bobs too. The market is held in and around Middlesex Street on Sundays from 9am to 3pm, with a smaller market open on Wentworth Street from Monday to Friday. Confusingly, Petticoat Lane doesn’t actually exist any more – we have the Victorians’ prudishness to thank for that, wishing to avoid any reference to undergarments they changed the name to Middlesex Street in 1846. With more than 1,000 stalls lining the streets on a Sunday bargain hunters come in their droves, it’s a great scene worth the trip even if you’re not shopping. Nearby areas of interest include Brushfield Street where Spitalfields Market is held and which offers more in the way of quality. Petticoat Lane may be London’s biggest street jumble sale but for bargain hunting, with a bit of haggling thrown in, it’s the original and the best. “


Singkey at Petticoat Lane Market

Bargain hunters could have found prizes but we were quickly done and on our way; Singkey came from China with “at the weight limit” suitcases and I’m gathering stuff around the boat for Oxfam.   We all need to subtract rather than to add.

Sandys Row Synagogue…

Having finished with the market much sooner than we’d planned we were sort of at loose ends.  So when a woman asked me if I knew where Sandys Row was as the synagogue there was having an open house, we helped her find it and took part in the tour.  The East End was the “Jewish part” of London where stories of Jewish life is threaded throughout the area.  The tour/talk  was short but interesting.  There was humor, suspense, and what seems to be a happy ending for this working class synagogue that survived the blitz and more recently the Historic Monuments committee’s, very expensive edict, to replace the roof. 

“Many of the boxes stacked among broken furniture and old electrical fittings in the dusty cellar of Sandys Row Synagogue in Spitalfields, the last still in daily use in what was once the heart of the Jewish East End, turned out to be rather disappointing.

However, one unpromising box did hide a real treasure: a superb purple velvet cloth embroidered in silk and gold wire, paid for by the women of the community to celebrate the last Diamond Jubilee, of Queen Victoria in 1897.

"This would have cost a fortune, hundreds of pounds, and it was a magnificent achievement for the women of our synagogue," said Jeremy Freedman, one of the descendants of the founding fathers of the synagogue. "This was never a wealthy community: these women were market traders in Petticoat Lane, people came to the synagogue on alternate days – one would come here and the other would mind both stalls, the next day they’d change places. How they found the money for this I cannot imagine." 

   The synagogue is so hidden away in a narrow lane that even people working a few streets away are unaware of its existence. It was built in 1766 as a Huguenot church, then a chapel, but it had become a lockup store when the founders first rented it in 1854. They then bought the freehold and ingeniously adapted the building to align it towards Jerusalem while retaining a remarkable amount of the Georgian interior.

A £400,000 restoration of the roof and interior was recently completed with major grants from English Heritage for the Grade II-listed building, after the discovery that bomb damage from the Blitz had shifted the roof timbers so that they were resting only on decaying plaster.

Sandys Row Synagogue, which is listed as Grade II historic monument, is deemed the most important site in Britain, still in use, with a direct link to the mass immigration of Jews in the 19th century. It is one of the few synagogues still active in the East End, once the epicenter of Ashkenazi Jewish life in London.


Synagogue security:  the man in the tie is part of the ever-present synagogue security.  Both Randal and I thought he reminded us of the newest James Bond Daniel Craig

As we were leaving a tour group was coming in. 




Prayer for the Royal Family, it’s history a total surprise to me.

In 1990, when Princess Margaret was attending a special service at the Maidenhead synagogue, she was astonished to hear a prayer for the good health and wise counsel of the Queen. When told that the prayer was not a one-off but recited every Sabbath in every synagogue in Britain, she remarked: "How lovely, they don’t do that for us in church; I’ll tell my sister."

The sentiments of the Jewish prayer for the Monarch and the Royal Family, can be traced as far back as the prophet Jeremiah’s advice to the exiled Jews in Babylonia over 2,500 years ago: "Seek the peace of the city in which you live … for in its peace is your peace" (Jeremiah 29:7). A formalised prayer dates back to at least the 14th century and its recitation gradually became a custom among communities across the diaspora. The prayer is an opportunity to proclaim loyalty to adopted homes, as well as a plea for rulers to treat Jewish communities kindly.

In fact, to this day, a prayer for the welfare of the Royal Family is recited every Sabbath morning at a pivotal moment in the prayer service, just after the Reading of the Torah and before Musaf, the additional service for the Sabbath. The rabbinate has also initiated special prayers for the monarch at significant life-cycle events including births, deaths, coronations, and at times of ill health or during a war. While other Jewish communities, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands, have written prayers for their respective monarchies, no other community has been as prolific as Anglo-Jewry.


The Ark with the Torah

Jews traditionally pray facing Jerusalem necessitating the original entrance to be moved and this alcove to be built in its place. 


Photo from the “women’s gallery.”

Sandys Row is “moderately Orthodox” so the men and women sit separately.  This former church had the balcony in place, one reason why it was bought by the congregation to be used as their synagogue.


Our tour leader said his parents couldn’t wait to “move up” from East London and now his kids can’t afford to move back. 


My seat in the synagogue, most had plaques such as this.

And then it was time for lunch! 


Randal ordered the meat and artichoke (I told him he wouldn’t like the artichoke, he didn’t listen, ordered it and he didn’t eat but Singkey did.)   I chose the cheese, garlic and rosemary very thin crust pizza and everyone liked that!

After all that pizza we needed a walk so set off again…. discovering an open house tour at Toynbee Hall.  It was open house weekend in London.   But more about Toynbee Hall and London Open House next email

Our friend Singkey and her teacher Jessica


    Yesterday Randal and I got on the 5:45 AM first underground train leaving Tower Hill Station to start our journey to Heathrow Airport to collect our friend Singkey who would arrive at 7:20 AM.  We arrived at 7:10 AM and saw that Singkey’s plane had landed early, 7:02 AM.  But then it took about an hour from the plane landing to actually have Singkey come to the Arrival Hall and then it was about an hour back to DoraMac.  By the time we arrived back on DoraMac Singkey was exhausted and Randal and I were pretty tired too.    So Saturday was intended as a “rest day,” though that’s not quite what happened.  Something better happened!

    Today we started out for Petticoat Lane Sunday Market, stumbled onto a tour of the Sandys Row Synagogue and then a Toynebee Hall tour as it was “Open House Weekend” in London.  I won’t explain anything about any of those places…an overly photo laden email will come eventually.  As well as one about my walk through Wapping on the way to the Canary Wharf idea Store (Library.)  Tomorrow morning we’ll join up with Sue and Ed and go to the Tea Pot for a “cream tea.”  And then some kind of hike to walk it off! 

     This email is about a very amazing and happy coincidence. 


     Our friend Singkey arrived from China early Saturday morning.  After some rest after her long travels, Saturday afternoon she, Randal and I walked across the river to Tesco to get some groceries.  On the way back to DoraMac guess what happened while we were crossing Tower Bridge?   We met one of Singkey’s teachers from Zhanjiang Normal  University, Zhanjiang, China!    She is here in England at a university in London as a guest teacher.  We had a photo session on the bridge and later that evening we all had dinner on DoraMac.  Happily for Randal and me, Jessica is quite fluent in English; Wenze not so much.  But he definitely learned to say, “I’m full.” 

   Wenze will be returning to China, but Jessica will remain until April.  We’re hoping during the Christmas term break that we can all get together again.    Singkey will be at the University in Birmingham but will return to stay over the holidays. 


Wenze and Jessica on DoraMac

Many Chinese people take on an “English” name because traditionally non-Chinese can’t seem to pronounce Chinese names.  This saves the westerner from being embarrassed as he/she stumbles over trying to pronounce a Chinese name. 


Wenze, “teacher Jessica,” “student Singkey,” and Randal


My famous salmon cakes and sautéed veggies


Here I am wearing the apron my friend Joesephine gave me as a part of a“bon voyage” gift in 2006! It looks as if it has been on a voyage these past years, but I love it and will wear it till it disintergrates. 

London snapshots


   We attended a “Friends of SKD” coffee Wednesday morning and met a lovely group of people.  It’s a weekly thing so we’ll see them again.  And we’ll join the group because it seems the thing to do as we do live at SKD.

   Today Sue and I went off to “Charity Shop” street in Pimlico and as I’d been there before it seemed quite easy to get there, no tube change at all.  I will definitely try to find a shop there to volunteer some time when we return in November. 

  Saturday our Chinese friend Singkey will arrive.  On the 25th we’ll take the train to Birmingham and help her get settled into her Graduate digs and see some of Birmingham.  We’ll take the train from London and stay over one night in Birmingham. 

  This email is some photos from our ramblings around London since we arrived. 




Thames Festival rowing race: must have been 100 teams from lots of countries.

That was the day Tower Bridge was closed because of a demonstration by Anti-immigrationists that lasted for hours and sent Randal and me back along the river to the London Bridge just to get home.


The Shard

“The Shard was conceived on the back of a napkin at a Berlin restaurant in 2000, by architect Renzo Piano. He was inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires of Venetian painter Canaletto and the sailing masts of the capital’s past. “


The Gherkin

……  Architect Robin Partington has the Gherkin, the Razor, the Armadillo in Glasgow and the Cucumber on his CV. "Nicknames can often reinforce the identity and branding of the building, but can also conflict with the corporate vision."

A curious public coined it The Gherkin as it went up, says architecture critic Jonathan Glancey, but it started a trend. "Architects don’t like nicknames because they make their buildings seem silly but developers do because they want to maximize profits."


The Pigeons

One thing that will never change about London….


My first walk alone I was glad to see this sign to know which way to go.


Lots of bikers and runner but most don’t seem to worry about the fumes : most do wear helmets!



You can probably buy an entire wardrobe that said  “I clip_image010 London.  Of course you can buy and entire wardrobe that says Red Sox!


A very fun shop window!


…and this is also London; a giant display for Victoria’s Secret filled several  windows of a huge department store.


“Almost heaven, West Virginia; “ even at Covent Garden London.  It truly is a song sung around the world.


An cute little electric car recharges curbside. 

     “16 May 2013  Source London, the capital’s electric vehicle charge point network and membership scheme, has now met the Mayor of London’s commitment to provide 1,300 publicly accessible charging points.”


So chic!


Not so chic; but colorful! Love her hat and his bag!


Color on a more fashionable scale… what fun!

She was posing for a friend, not preparing to jump.  According to our friend Ed, if you land in the Thames you immediately go for every type of antibiotic you can get.  Doesn’t seem to hurt the coots.


Also colorful; and historical

Digging up Roman gold in the City of London

A huge archaeological dig is revealing hundreds of miraculously preserved artefacts, giving an unprecedented picture of fashion, culture and eating habits.


The Lady  : “In continuous publication since 1885 and widely respected as England’s longest running weekly magazine for women.”

It is relatively inexpensive compared to others and seems to run stories about women “of a certain age,” Which is rare among popular culture periodicals.  I bought the issue in the middle during our first week here.   I liked the cover. 

“In P. G. Wodehouse’s Carry On, Jeeves, Bertie Wooster finds gainful employment for the first and only time in his life by writing a feature on “What the Well-Dressed Man Is Wearing” for Milady’s Boudoir, a magazine that is edited by Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia and bankrolled by her long-suffering husband, Uncle Tom. When the tyro hack toddles off to present his copy (“as we boys of the Press call it”) he finds the offices of Milady’s Boudoir “in one of those rummy streets in the Covent Garden neighbourhood,” reachable only by “wading through a deep top-dressing of old cabbages and tomatoes.”

The old Covent Garden vegetable market is long gone, but the offices of The Lady—the model for Milady’s Boudoir, according to Wodehouse’s official biographer—are still on that rummy street, occupying four adjoining town houses, and one suspects that Aunt Dahlia would feel quite at home there. Entering the narrow, wood-paneled foyer, likened by one former editor to an Irish funeral parlor, one is wafted through a time warp. When the publisher, Ben Budworth, says that a room was redecorated “quite recently” it turns out he means 1953, when it was spruced up for the Queen’s coronation. Afternoon tea is served in proper cups and saucers. Until a few years ago, when Budworth installed a hot-air dryer in the bathroom, each member of the staff was issued a freshly laundered hand towel daily. The 127-year-old magazine, like its office, is as genteel an institution as you’ll find anywhere in En­gland. …..”

“She (Arlene Usden) was appointed editor of The Lady in 1991. Despite modernising its design, she believed in retaining its old-fashioned values, as recounted in a profile of the magazine in Vanity Fair in 2012.

Usden’s vision for the magazine was outlined in a media pack issued to potential advertisers in 2001. In it, she said the The Lady “seldom panders to popular publishing trend. We don’t talk about sexual intercourse. You won’t find articles on how many organisms [sic] women should be having in a week.”

After Rachel Johnson’s appointment as editor following her retirement in 2009, Usden continued to write travel, opera and beauty features for the magazine. She wrote a popular Guardian piece in 2009 – ‘Don’t call us oldies – we are Boldies’ – arguing for greater prominence for the elderly in the workplace.”

Images of St. Katherine Docks Marina


   I learned the other day that we are in the Tower Hamlets part of London, looked at its website and found tons of information for self-guided walks and possible classes to take when we return in November.    And our friends Sue and Ed on Angel Louise arrived today!  They will spend the winter here too and as they wintered here last year, know lots about lots.  Tonight we are going out  for dinner to a favorite  pub or theirs also favored by Princess Margaret!  But we can wear our jeans so it’s okay. 


St. Katherine Docks Marina is a site about the area that encompasses the marina.


We are in the West Docks marked in red.  Sue and Ed are in the East Basin

A map in the bouchure: Welcome to St Katherine’s Map and Guide


View from our bow in our cozy corner…just doesn’t get much sun even on sunny days. 

But I’m sure we’re protected from any wind!  And it’s a really easy walk to the tube station.


Our own version of Big Ben so we always know the time


View from the stern; I’ve no clue what’s in that building.


Our port side view of the renovation site; but it’s quiet so no problem.  Bottom row are more restaurants.


Boats in the Central basin dressed up for the Thames Festival



My favorite in the show.


Our wonderful Roanoke friend E Fennel Phillips captained a 110 FT torpedo boat.  He had such stories to tell but was most proud of bringing food to the starving children in Rotterdam just a the war’s end. 


The Central basin; the big read steam powered boat left today just before Sue and Ed came in.


One of the bridges crossing the central basin to get to the East and West Basins and restaurant row.

Walk along the row and half way, turn right, under the arch.    Walk to the end and there’s a gate on your left; go through the gate and down the ramp, walk to the end and there we are. 


When we get really homesick for Turkey we can step off the boat and go next door to this Turkish restaurant.    Restaurant row is just off our starboard side

Fridays are “food stall day” and vendors set up around the front side of the marina.  One day we’ll have to try out the Chorizo and also the Fish and Chips seller.



Desserts too!


The Coots, baby and mama who seem to live just near our stern. 


She hardly has a chance to feed herself! 

When I hear the baby coot calling I run outside with our “now almost empty box of Honey Nut Krisyp’s” to feed both of them. 

“Coots are territorial and will swim menacingly towards any intruders on their patch. They are closely related to moorhens and, though found in the same highly vegetated lakes and ponds, the two species do not compete for food. Coots dive below the surface, to depths of up to two metres, searching insect larvae and other food. When they take off from the water, they run along the surface. They are sociable birds, often seen feeding together in flocks on ponds.”

Cecil Court Booksellers


   We woke up to bright sun!  By noon it was gone!  Now it’s raining again.  But as pal Reverend Ken pointed out… “Raining AGAIN?  You do know that they named those raincoats London Fog and not Roanoke Fog for a reason.  Just sayin.’”  I did take myself out for a walk mid-morning and found several streets blocked off for a bicycle race! lists several happening today so I’m not sure which I saw.  I’d set out to explore the are back from the Tower of London and to find the nearest Marks and Spencer though I knew it was closed today.  I did eventually find my way to its location on the corner of Fenchurch St. and Grace Church Street not so far from here.  As the weather was fast changing and I wasn’t sure Randal would notice and take in the laundry, I raced back in time to rescue it and not get myself rained on either.  I’d been overly confident and had neither a raincoat nor umbrella, tricked by the cloudless morning sky.    Now the laundry is hanging in our engine/laundry room being dried by the dehumidifier. 

  Yesterday Randal and I returned to Charing Cross to get a BIG London A-Z directory at Foyles Books. On our way we explored some of the side streets and ended up in Cecil Court.  What a great place!  I met the coolest woman there, Tracey Brett : read about her below.  She’s the second really cool woman I’ve met in two days.  Friday I met Jane Young an historian of architecture and design.   What a knowledgeable person.  Actually they both were.  And dedicated to their work.  Passionate about their work.  How many people are lucky enough to say that.  (I do know several librarians and nurses who can though some of us are retired now and happy to be so!) 

  Anyway, this email is a stroll down Cecil Court and visits to a few of the book shops along the way. It sent me on a wild ride of information making my head start to explode; so I finally stopped.  Y’all might wish I’d stopped sooner!



Cecil Court Booksellers

    “Graham Green quote……”Thank God Cecil Court remains Cecil Court….”

Cecil Court is a unique place for book lovers. Located in the very heart of London, a moment’s walk from Leicester Square Tube Station, Cecil Court is a picturesque late Victorian thoroughfare linking Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane, pedestrianised and seemingly immune from the bustle of the great city which surrounds it.

     The shop fronts have not been altered in more than a century and the traditional hanging signs announce specialists in rare and antiquarian books, maps and prints and all manner of related printed material including stamps and banknotes. Whether you are looking for weighty sixteenth-century folios, modern first editions, early maps of your area, theatre posters, children’s books and more besides, someone in Cecil Court will be able to assist…….

    ….fortunately for us an extraordinary array of people have left evidence of more tangible associations with Cecil Court. It was the first London address of W.A. Mozart and his family, arguably where he composed his first symphony; film pioneers such as James Williamson and Cecil Hepworth regarded ‘Flicker Alley’ as the heart of the early British film trade; a young Arthur Ransome  honed his writing skills while doing as little work as possible for Ernest Oldmeadow at the Unicorn Press; long-term residents of the flats above Cecil Court include T.S. Eliot and actors such as Ellen Terry and John Gielgud, and patrons of the shops below range from Aleister Crowley to Graham Greene, by way of T.E. Lawrence. Then there are the ordinary residents of Cecil Court – not necessarily famous but often remarkably interesting – including coiners, arsonists and radical atheists; finally there are the booksellers who have made Cecil Court their own, beginning with John Watkins and the brothers William and Gilbert Foyle in the earliest years of the twentieth century…..

   In 1904 William and Gilbert Foyle opened their first West End shop at number 16.  After failing their Civil Service exams the brothers offered their old text books for sale and were so encouraged by the results that they opened a small shop in Peckham where they painted ‘With all faith” above the door.”   (It was a second trip to the new Foyle store that led us to Cecil Court.)

      In the 1930s Cecil Court became a well-known meeting place for Jewish refugees, which in 1983-4 inspired R.B. Kitaj to paint Cecil Court W.C.2.  (The Refugees), a work now in the Tate Collection.  An online image is available.   Cecil Court was one of Kitaj’s favourite haunts and the painting was born out of an increasing awareness of his own Jewish heritage. Kitaj himself is depicted reclining in the foreground, and to the left (holding flowers) is the Cecil Court refugee bookseller Ernest Seligmann, for whom he was a regular customer.

   A more unfortunate incident worthy of brief mention is the Cecil Court antique shop murder. In March 1961 Elsie Batten, a 59 year old assistant in Louis Meier’s antique shop at 23 Cecil Court, was stabbed to death. Her murderer, Edwin Bush, was identified and caught within days following the circulation of Identikit pictures – the first case to be solved in the UK using the Identikit System, a significant advance in crime detection. Full details are available on the Metropolitan Police website.”


Watkins’ Spiritual 100 List for 2013 (Very commercial list; more like authors of books about changing your life.)

Published: 26 February 2010

“After more than 100 years selling books about witchcraft, astrology and black magic, London’s oldest esoteric bookshop has gone out of business. 

Watkins Books in historic Cecil Court, off Charing Cross Road, whose customers once included occultist Aleister Crowley and WB Yeats, closed on Tuesday after trading continuously since 1897.”

March 5, 2010 

Watkins Books May be Saved!

From an article in ‘The Bookseller’ by Victoria Gallagher:

     Watkins Books could live again, after an offer for the Cecil Court ‘institution’ was put in by a local businessman. The Bookseller broke the news last week that Watkins Books had closed, following the appointment of administrator Harris Lipman on 23rd February.

     American entrepreneur Etan Ilfeld told The Bookseller that he had made an offer for the London bookshop, which had been accepted by Harris Lipman. A spokesperson from the administrator spoken to by The Bookseller said it could not officially confirm the deal.

     But Ilfeld said: “I believe the spirituality of London isn’t dead and I believe a place like Watkins should be preserved.” He added that he would try and give the 11 staff their jobs back once the shop reopens. “I’ll try to make sure it is as sustainable as possible – it’s a big undertaking,” said Ilfeld. “I just want to get the doors open, every day that it is closed is just a tragedy.”

     Ilfeld owns art gallery Tenderpixel, which is also situated in the London side-street Cecil Court. He said that there were “major challenges” in the market but he would keep the shop as it is and use the Watkins name to build a strong website.


“Massive panic recently as Watkins went into administration, but glad tidings have come in the fact that the gentleman who owns the bookshop across the way is buying the place and rescuing this very important shop from liquidation.

The staff are lovely here and there is a wonderful selection of Tarot cards CDs for meditation and trance work, and a lot of occult and new age books. The second hand and value books are helpfully marked with an orange sticker, and the areas of the bookshop clearly labelled.

I hope that Watkins carries on going strong for another 200 years”  interesting blog about Watkins from one woman’s perspective


About us

Within our cramped confines, amid the tottering piles of newly arrived stock, you will find first editions of literary highlights in fine condition, many of which are signed or inscribed copies, beautiful illustrated books, impressively bound sets, as well as a multitude of scarce and fascinating works on a variety of subjects. Recent acquisitions, for example, include an immaculate sixteenth century herbal, Osip Mandelstam’s rare first book, a collection of books by and about the Surrealists, a pristine first edition of "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" etc, etc. But please don’t get the idea that the stock comprises nothing but the expensive and the stellar: we have prices to suit all pockets.


“Located in the centre of Cecil Court, the quiet pedestrian lane lined with antiquarian bookshops, tucked away in London’s bustling West End, Marchpane opened in August 1989.

     During the last two decades Marchpane has become well known as a specialist in children’s and illustrated books from the eighteenth century up to the present day. On our shelves you can find early publications from Newbery’s moral tales to signed first editions of Harry Potter.

     We stock all the best British collectable children’s books, we nearly always have copies of great classics such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, Nursery Rhymes as well as editions of Andersen, Grimm and Perrault etc.

     As we specialise in Lewis Carroll, a comprehensive selection of illustrated editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is always available, together with rare Alice ephemera and some of Carroll’s more obscure works.

     We also stock some of the rarest Home Front and Political children’s books of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

When I zoomed in on this photo I noticed a copy of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons which I’ve been told is a collector’s item; not for reading but just for having.  And I did see lots of Alice books.   The shop was closed so we couldn’t go in and browse. 


Bookseller windows and web pages are an interesting study of literature; so many interesting suggestions.


My favorite visit of the day!

“Renowned for its unique collection of Rare Book, Map and Print Shops.  The shop can be found in many guide books to London, as it was a barber’s where Amadeus Mozart had his hair cut aged 7, on his visit to London.

   The quaint balcony inside the shop is where the First World War poets sat when it was a tearoom, Edward Thomas, Walter de la Mare and Rupert Brooke.  The film 84 Charing Cross Road was filmed inside the shop as well as the Beatrix Potter film Miss Potter.   It was also home to the T.V. advert for Yellow Pages ‘J.R.Hartley Fly-Fishing’.

Started by Alan Brett in 1977, it is a family run business, continued by his daughter Tracey Alena Brett.  The stock is vast and spans from elizabethan documents all the way through to hollywood autographs.  The vast majority of the stock is original, and over 100 years old.

We have a comprehensive collection of genuine Vanity Fair Spy Cartoons dating 1869 to 1913.  This is the category that the shop is most well known for.  We also have thousands of Illustrated London News articles and most categories of prints covering every subject such as:


The shop owner Tracey Brett

This shop, started by her father, has been her passion now for many years.


A photo of her dad, Alan Brett riding a “penny-farthing” bicycle.


A photo of Tracey in some kind of car Randal couldn’t guess. 

  It was great fun talking with her.  I could have stayed much longer only I was just a visitor and not really a customer so didn’t want to take up too much of her time.  And Randal was waiting outside for me to get done and move along.  The prints were quite affordable and I would have loved to browse longer.  I’ll take myself back one day and do just that.  There were some £3 near the door and I quickly picked one as a memento of the visit.  On the back of the packing cardboard was written : by Alice Utley

Artist : M Tempest.  So, of course I had to look them up.  It’s amazing what you can learn!



Tales of Little Grey Rabbit and Sam Pig

The characters were created by Alison Uttley but illustrated by Margaret Tempest  tells how apparently Uttley truly disliked Tempest! 



If nothing else it’s a good site for seeing what’s playing.  Tickets are expensive, but not as expensive as good seats in Fenway Park!

home for a very quick visit


  It’s raining here, again!  But not like Colorado.  Hope things improve there soon. 

This is just a quick note to say we’re planning to come home to Roanoke Oct 1st but just for a really short visit.  Usually we’re home for 2 – 3 months.  But as there’s so much to see and  do here in London and only so much you can do at any one time, I wanted to return pretty quick.  And it won’t be many more years before we’re home permanently so now’s the time to see the world.  We’ll return to London November 4th.  Most of our time at home will be the annuals…doctor, dentist, eye checks…etc.  Thankfully the dreaded colonoscopy was last year.  Because time is so short we’ll be sticking close to home and not doing our annual “up north” but maybe some of you folks will come here to visit us here in London.  We do have a spare cabin. 

Randal and I are off to Charing Cross again today to buy the biggest London street guide we can find.  The small one we bought last time is great for central London but not when you want to go further afield. 

Hope there are lots of lovely fall colors to see back home.  Haven’t gone looking here yet, but surely the gardens will have some.

Our Chinese friend Singkey will come September 20th and on the 25th we’ll all take the train to Birmingham where she will be a graduate student at the University this year.  So exciting for her and for us too seeing her do so well.  She has worked very hard. 

Till soon, as my pal Martha says


A day out and about with my pal Jane Field


  I feel as if I’ve no clue what’s really going on in the rest of the world.  I’m lost in the tiny square mile of London and a few bits beyond.  Writing this email I learned about the Bow Street Runners and Samuel Pepys among other things.  Of course I do know how the Red Sox are doing, but not much more.  Writing these emails seems to take forever because there’s just so much to learn about what we see.  There’s no test on it so skip what you want.  I’m not only writing this to share, but because it interests me too.  And thank goodness for cut and paste! 

  Today was mostly rest day though we did walk across the river and around the Borough area and then later to the nearby Waitrose market.  Tomorrow, who knows.


Our Roanoke friends Jane and Peter Field came to visit us!  Peter had work/conferences in several places in the UK and lucky for us they also stopped in London. And their hotel was in Hyde Park, not so far away.   We had a lovely visit with them here on DoraMac AND I WAS HAVING SUCH A GREAT TIME I DIDN’T ONCE THINK TO TAKE OUT MY CAMERA!!!! 

Jane was free the next day so she and I planned a day out.  Jane is a whiz with the maps and tube so I just followed her.


Jane and me on DoraMac

There are two long storied here.  The first I’ll tell is about the photo.  It was taken at my retirement party.  Jane and I had worked together at the Roanoke County Public Library.  Jane was heroic and worked part time including the dreaded Sunday afternoons.  I once vowed that when she left, so was I.  Alas the Roanoke City Schools scooped her up but Jane, public library supporter that she is, still filled in when she could.  I’m in the center of the photo and Jane is to my left next to Darlene in the bright blue shirt.  We’re all wearing black Reference Hats, my parting gift to everyone. 

As for the box: the Roanoke County Library Holiday Party gift exchange gift NOBODY WANTED!! “The John Edwards Collins Street Bakery Fruitcake”    which Jane had won at a neighborhood party in 2001! She brought it to the Library party where it gained historic status as the one gift that came every year.  My last library party, 2004, I deliberately took it and promised to drop it into the South China Sea.  As you can see, I didn’t, as here it is and it has traveled the world with us… day maybe to return to the Roanoke County Public Library Holiday Party!!


One very old, hard as a rock, fruitcake : on our Turkish carpets in the saloon of Doramac.  Proof I kept more than the box!

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Off to see Rumpole.

“No electronic devices, bags, food or drink are allowed in the building.” Somehow I’d missed that in my reading about visiting the Old Bailey.  I knew it was free and you could watch court proceedings, but somehow I missed the bit about no cameras or phones.  That would make a visit to The Old Bailey something to do when you had no plans to do anything else.  But we did take this  fruitcake picture while we were outside the Courts.  We thought it appropriate as John Edwards is responsible for its being here.

John Edwards, Virginia State Senator from District 21, practices law in Roanoke and is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Virginia Law School teaching trial advocacy.

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London Travel Etiquette


I’ve either seen this woman twice or there are at least two women in London with blue hair.  Fun!!


A visit to Covent Garden Market on this gray day.


How does he do this? 

I gave him money because I wanted to take some photos.  Jane guessed how it was done without smoke or mirrors; but I’m not telling.

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So cute!


Jamie Oliver’s Union Jack at Covent Garden

Time for lunch

I have no idea how the gadget to Jane’s left work, but the top ones say Hot Seat and the bottom Toasty Feet.  Probably heaters for when it gets chilly.

We both like Jamie Oliver, but our soup came cold so we sent it back.  It returned warmer but not hot like we both like it.  The flavor was good.  It was a mug of thick carrot and something soup. And the bread with it was tasty with a wonderful crust. 

There was lots of street food, but it wasn’t a day to sit out in the damp and eat.  We were looking for a “sit down place” that didn’t cost a bunch.  When you travel lots, eating out is less of an occasion and more of a, we need to eat type of affair. 


Punch and Judy at Covent Garden

“The earliest recorded evidence we have of Punch in England is from the 17th Century Diarist Samuel Pepys. Who, while on a visit to Covent Garden, on 9th May 1662, wrote…

    “Thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw, and great resort of gallants.”

   Punch & Judy shows have stayed popular down the centuries because they have been kept topical. In wartime, Punch would fight and beat Hitler. In more recent times, Tony Blair, has even made an appearance!

   “Mr. Punch’s influence on British culture is unparalleled. In 2006, the Punch and Judy show was named one of 12 icons of Englishness by the British government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport—right up there with a cup of tea and the double-decker bus. To celebrate his 350th birthday in 2012, Mr. Punch was treated to an entire year of parties and was the focus of a six-month-long exhibition about him at the venerable Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood.

      But this most English of entertainers isn’t actually English in origin—he’s Italian

Read more:

Samuel Pepy (another one of those people a liberal arts education should have included.)

    “Pepys’s diary is not so much a record of events as a re-creation of them. Not all the passages are as picturesque as the famous set pieces in which he describes Charles II’s coronation or the Great Fire of London, but there is no entry which does not, in some degree, display the same power of summoning back to life the events it relates.

Pepys’s skill lay in his close observation and total recall of detail. It is the small touches that achieve the effect. Another is the freshness and flexibility of the language. Pepys writes quickly in shorthand and for himself alone. The words, often piled on top of each other without much respect for formal grammar, exactly reflect the impressions of the moment. Yet the most important explanation is, perhaps, that throughout the diary Pepys writes mainly as an observer of people. It is this that makes him the most human and accessible of diarists, and that gives the diary its special quality as a historical record.

Instead of writing a considered narrative, such as would be presented by the historian or biographer or autobiographer, Pepys shows us hundreds of scenes from life – civil servants in committee, MP’s in debate, concerts of music, friends on a river outing. Events are jumbled together, sermons with amorous assignations, domestic tiffs with national crises.

The diary’s contents are shaped also by another factor – its geographical setting. It is a London diary, with only occasional glimpses of the countryside. Yet as a panorama of the seventeenth-century capital it is incomparable, more comprehensive than Boswell’s account of the London a century later because Pepys moved in a wider world. As luck would have it, Pepys wrote in the decade when London suffered two of its great disasters – the Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of the following year. His descriptions of both – agonisingly vivid – achieve their effect by being something more than superlative reporting; they are written with compassion. As always with Pepys it is people, not literary effects, that matter.”


Bow Street Police Station

Anne Perry’s Thomas Pitt is one of a long line of characters connected with Bow Street.  Here is how the real Bow Street Runners were started by the author Henry Fielding and his blind brother Sir John Fielding. 


New fall colors : we passed this shop on our way to visit Harrods


A visit to Harrods

Sizes chart of women’s clothes UK and US. 

UK    US

  4      0

  6      2

  8      4

  10    6

  12    8

  14    10


Jane taking her photo :  and writing the following to me…..

“one of the good things is that you stop to take photos of the same kind of things that I take photos of– so it was great that I didn’t feel like I was holding anyone up– lately the folks I’ve been with wonder WHY I am taking a photo of THAT!??” 

  I never wondered because I was taking a photo of the same thing!


And if you’re 5’3.5” and weigh more than 100lbs how will this look? 


Could be Vegas except for the bags rather than slot machines : this is the Egyptian room


I can’t imagine what was on floor 4 considering what we saw ground level. But the store was crowded and some people were even shopping. 


Grand stairway to somewhere


The displays were lovely.


Not you Passover Manischewitz macaroons

Renowned chocolatier William Curley has partnered with Champagne Laurent-Perrier to launch the new Friday evening Dessert Bar.  Existing fans and dessert devotees will be able to take a seat in the decadent surroundings of the William Curley Belgravia Boutique, sip on Laurent-Perrier and watch the dedicated and specially trained in-house chefs at work.

The five-course seasonal dessert menu, created by William Curley, consists of a range of hand-made delicacies served with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut, celebrated for its lightness, freshness and elegance. 

Dishes include:

   Bellini granita & poached peaches

   Chocolate sorbet, cassis compote and cassis tuille

   Coconut Rice pudding with mango & passion fruit compote and ginger madelaines

   Pain perdu, caramelised pears & almond milk ice cream

   Sesame Chocolate Tart, raspberry sauce and jasmine ice cream

The Laurent-Perrier Dessert Menu will be available every Friday evening from 6pm throughout September at the William Curley Belgravia Boutique, costing £30 for the full menu.

They all sound wonderful, but not all at one time; unless they are very very tiny.  Randal makes the best pecan pie so we’ll stick with that and spend our money on Charing Cross Road.


Twinings Tea and Harrods Coffee


Lovely ceiling and chandelier


I probably won’t be having one of these ever.

Marks & Spencer is more like it.  As a matter of fact Jane and I each bought a rain/cold hat in M&S. 

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It doesn’t have a big red B, but it will do better in the rain and cold.