One day left in February!  Too much more to see!!!  It takes a really long time to see a place unless you’ve done a ton of research ahead of time so know exactly what you want to see and see it the first time.  We have toured serendipitously which then necessitates more visits after doing some research.  Like Shoreditch for instance.  I’ve been twice but definitely need to return for more visits.  This story is about my second visit and Randal’s first.  One of the pieces below mentions Rotten Row.  My 6th grade teacher, Miss Doran made us look up Rotten Row as well as other English places and phrases.  I had no interest at that time in my life.  Horses yes, places around the world, no.  Miss Doran was ancient then so I can’t possibly share this with her.  Too bad.  She was also the teacher who made the public library give me an adult card so I could check out the “real” version of A Christmas Carol.



     “The old London tradition is that Shoreditch derived its name from Jane Shore, the beautiful mistress of Edward IV., who, worn out with poverty and hunger, died miserably in a ditch in this unsavoury suburb. This legend, however, is entirely erroneous, as we have shown in a previous chapter. It does not seem to have been popular even so late as 1587. Dr. Percy hit upon quite as erroneous a derivation when he traced the name of the parish to shore (sewer), a common drain. Shoreditch, or, more correctly, Soerdich, really took its name from the old family of the Soerdiches, Lords of the Manor in the time of Edward III.”

I’ve been up and down Shoreditch High Street twice now and will go back again.  It’s an area made for poking around in with funky shops, local eateries, and just that quiet “happening” vibe that places have where the locals still hang out. 5 minute BBC video is a good introduction to Shoreditch.


Shoreditch circled: Spitalfields underlined: Whitechapel in the oblong.  London’s east end.

We are the red dot in the west basin of SKD Marina just near Tower Bridge

Randal and I walked through much of the orange and back down through the pink of this map yesterday which was about 5 miles at least.

     We set off to the art supply stores on Shoreditch High Street.  I needed some different drawing tools and it was just a nice day for a walk.  I knew the area from my visit to the Geffrye Museum  Randal had never been.  This time, because Randal was with me we braved the “less direct route” there and back.  An adventure of discovery!


In 1601 most Shoreditch people lived on or near Holywell Street – the modern Shoreditch High Street, which led north to the medieval church of St Leonard at the north west end. Here the High Street met the Old Street and to the north ran Kingsland Road, both having their origins in Roman times. There were grand houses, like the 15th century Copt Hall, on the east side of Kingsland Road, but the clay soil in the field between Kingsland Road and Hackney Road were being used to make bricks in 1602 and a mere twelve years later, Shoreditch saw its first brick terrace – Ratcliffe or Rotten Row – built nearby.

Ralph Agas’ map of London of about 1570 gives a glimpse of Elizabethan Shoreditch. Cottages and two storey timber framed buildings line Holywell Street, with gardens and fields beyond, with the spire of St Leonard’s Church rising at the top of the street. To the east, Hog Lane (later Worship Street) runs past fields and market gardens to Finsbury.

St Leonards Church had lost its medieval images of the saints and the Virgin Mary at the Reformation and the chantry chapel founded by the Elrington family in 1482 no longer echoed to the sounds of prayers for the founders salvation, but the morning sun still shone through the Elrington coat-of-arms in glass and the figure of St George in the church’s east window. The growing population had also seen new wooden galleries added to seat more parishioners, merchants, rich and poor – and acting folk.

Shoreditch’s other great church had all but vanished by 1601. Holywell Priory, founded between 1133 and 1150, stood north of the present Holywell Lane. It was dissolved in October 1539, and the church survived just long enough to be sketched by Wyngaerd in the following year, but then the buildings were swiftly cleared away.

But the precinct survived and in 1576 part of the former priory, including the Great Barn which was leased to ambitious head of the Earl of Leicester’s acting company, Richard Burbage, who was then living in a house on Holywell Street. On a site near the junction of the present Curtain Road and New Inn Yard, and conveniently outside the control of the City of London (who had just banned all play acting), Burbage built the Theatre. This wooden octagonal building was to see 22 years service and it was only in 1597, when the landlord refused to renew the lease, that Burbage’s son Cuthbert was forced to decamp. But he took the materials from the Theatre with him, and the wood was re-used to build the Globe on Bankside.

The Theatre had a local rival. The Curtain – the name probably comes from the old priory walls – was built in 1578 on a site near the modern Hewett Street. It was smaller than the Theatre and may have been less successful, for in 1585 Richard Burbage took on the running of it in addition to the Theatre.

A variety of companies played at the Theatre from 1590, among whom were the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, who included Richard Burbage, William Kemp and a player with some talent for writing as well as acting in plays – William Shakespeare. In the 1590s, Shakespeare lived in a house in nearby Bishopsgate and some of his plays were first performed in Shoreditch, including Romeo and Juliet. Richard Burbage was buried in St Leonard’s Church, the last home to many a thespian, including Henry VIII’s jester Will Somers (d.1569), and it was to become the actors’ church.  definitely makes me want to return to look more closely!


A building with a fake façade of a building….  Modern High Street.


St Leonard of Shoreditch

One of the churches in the poem “Oranges and Lemons” is St Leonard’s in Shoreditch.  But more about that another time when I’ve finished visiting all of the churches mentioned in the rhyme.





Lunch at Translate..

“We call chips ‘chips’ and we say hello and goodbye, like humans, who like to offer nice service.”

This from the blog on Translate’s website and it was totally true.  The staff was welcoming to us senior folks; the food was really good and reasonably priced and they said “good-bye” when we left.  I’d definitely go back and feel they’d probably remember us.  Randal was fascinated by the red light bulbs.


Translate has been under its current ownership now for 6 months and we felt it was time that we reflected on the mad journey we’ve been on. For those of you who don’t know, we operate in conjunction with our landlords, The Dictionary Hostel and function dually as both hostel bar and also public hangout.

We are proud therefore of the amazing diversity of customers we meet, and therefore the friends we collect along the way. Very quickly one realises that "Tronno" is actually a Canadian’s way of saying Toronto and that "Straya" is an Aussie’s pronunciation of their mother land.”


He hooked me with “drawing in my heroine.”  Though perhaps he meant heroin?  I only thought of that now as I type this….hmmmm.  His art was featured in Translate.  I like the stool.


Renovated housing? Just off the High Street.




Street scenes High Street Shoreditch


Brick Lane

Rather than return the way we came we went exploring and ended up walking down the vibrantly alive Brick Lane in Spitalfields/Whitechapel.   I took this photo to help me find the bookshop when we  return.  We were really more than tired when we got this far on our way home so stopped for nothing other than traffic at the intersections.   We also walked right past Brick Lane Beigel Shop.   On Brick Lane they spell bagel,  beigle.   When my nephew Andrew is here we’ll stop for lunch during our tour Brick Lane.


Boat sweet home…with sunlight reflected from the buildings surrounding the west basin. 

Below follows and interesting discussion of the “Shoreditchification” of the poorer/seedier parts of London.  We might call it gentrification or Yuppifying; but it’s not quite that.   Socialismo explains it better than I ever could……

Socialismo  • a month ago  in his response to the Proud article.

“It’s dead simple:

Somewhere is cheap because it’s run down, has few jobs and a bit of crime.

Someone moves there because it’s cheap for its location.

Other people who want to live somewhere cheap and central do the same.

Area gets progressively more homogeneous, more expensive and more "fashionable".

People who live there and are priced out move on to somewhere else that’s cheap because it’s run down and the cycle repeats.

They are likely to be similar people because they have same (lack of) requirements:

1) They don’t care too much about a bit of anti-social behaviour or a drug problem,

2) They don’t care about local schools,

3) They care about bus routes and commute times around the city.

4) They care about cycle times.

5) They care about getting to work/to uni.

6) They don’t care about A&Es or GPs etc., so long as there’s a walk in centre somewhere nearby.

7) They don’t care about noise.

8) Above all, they care about rents.

Basically, they’re just trying to live in London as cheaply as they can.”

By  Alex Proud   8:31AM GMT 13 Jan 2014

It’s not particularly clever or novel to hate Shoreditch.

     In fact, I’m sure if you spoke to half the people on the streets of Shoreditch, they’d tell you that they hate Shoreditch and are only there as some sort of ironic exercise in nostalgia slumming.

     But bear with me here. What I hate more than Shoreditch itself is the idea of Shoreditch and the way that so many of London’s neighbourhoods have been Shoreditched, are being Shoreditched or will be Shoreditched.

     Of course, I do hate Shoreditch in the straightforward, obvious way too. I hate the stupid beards and skinny jeans. I hate the “dirty burgers” and the knowing appropriation of 1980s icons that were never any good to begin with. I hate the fact that every venue looks the same. And I wish every single hipsterpreneur who dreams of opening a pop-up restaurant (backed by Pop’s money) would just pop off.

     But, as I say, Shoreditch is just a metonym for all those unlucky pieces of real estate that have had the hipster formula applied to them. The real problem is hipsters themselves. That global tribe of urban 20- and 30-somethings who, in their quest to be different, have wound up virtually identical. Go into any hipster venue and you’ll see. From the microbrewery ales and ironically-drunk mass-market lagers to upcycled furniture and jumble-sale ’70s suburban art, they’re all cool by numbers. The people dress the same, they eat the same and the conversations sound the same.

     Shoreditch is a formula, a brand. It’s as much a part of mainstream consumer culture as iPhones and Sky TV and as global as Starbucks. So, let’s look at how an area gets Shoreditched.

     You find a previously unnoticed urban neighbourhood, ideally one that’s a bit down on its luck. Pioneer hipsters move in and coolhunters ensure it starts trending on Twitter. A year later, the mainstream media notices and, for the next 12 months, the neighbourhood is byword for urban cool. Soon property prices soar pushing the original residents out, the bankers (always a trailing indicator) begin to move in and a Foxtons opens. Finally, the New York Times runs a piece in which it “discovers” the area and the cycle is complete. The last hipsters move on and find a new neighbourhood to play with.

     This is where poor Shoreditch finds itself now. Its alternative crown was lost years ago to Dalston which, in turn, had it snatched by Peckham. If you head to Shoreditch on a Saturday evening these days it really is as “bridge and tunnel” as its detractors (and one-time champions) claim. A roiling, boiling mass of fight-ready designer-labelled out-of-towners smashed on sugary cocktails and bad cocaine, a cold-climate Ayia Napa. Notting Hill doesn’t know how lucky it is to have merely become a ghetto for bankers.

     READ: In defence of the Shoreditchification effect, by a self-confessed hipster  ..included below.

     Of course, you could argue that being Shoreditched is nothing new, that it’s just a hip form of gentrification. In the early noughties, the American urbanist Richard Florida coined the phrase “the Creative Class” to describe the young, trendy and creative who regenerated previously run-down inner city areas. But what Florida missed was the relentless churn and accelerated neophilia of Shoreditch-style gentrification. The gap between Notting Hill and Shoreditch was a decade. The gap between Shoreditch and Dalston, a couple of years. Peckham was declared pretty much over before the first Korean taco van had a chance to park.

     Now, the bearded seers of gentrification are turning their gaze to Crystal Palace and Streatham, Walthamstow and Tottenham. Doubtless these suburban nowheres will have their six months in the sun before they’re chewed up and forgotten, with only a few boarded-up “dirty food” restaurants and doubled house prices to remind residents that, sometime in the mid 2010s, they were written about (then sneered at) by Vice journalists. A few weeks back, I heard someone joking about Croydon being the next hipster destination and found myself a) thinking that it really could happen and b) wondering if pop-up KFCs could become “a thing”.

     So, what is the solution? The solution is to treat places like proper neighbourhoods rather than Apple products with a two-year upgrade cycle. Here I hold up Camden as an example. OK, I know I have a vested interest, but Camden was cool in 1994 (and even 1984) and it’s still cool in 2014. It has, dare I say it, sustainable coolness. True, at no point in time will be it be as achingly “now” as a speakeasy in a repurposed public loo in Camberwell selling dirty cocktails in jam jars, but that’s the point. Sustainable cool knows which bandwagons to ignore.

     So, what is the special sauce that makes sustainable coolness? The answer is in one neighbourhood that has managed to go from nothing to something that’s still cool 15 years later. This is the London Bridge area – and, like Camden, it has a unique attraction: Borough Market. And herein lies a lesson. The people that set up the retail market in the 90s did so when the area was a dump, the ancient wholesale market was in decline and Jamie Oliver was a sous chef. Although Borough Market in its current incarnation seems to have appeared, fully formed, sometime around 2003, it took ten years of dedicated hard work, most of it with no obvious reward, to get it to that point.

     True, it’s is a lot harder than getting 10,000 Twitter followers for your pop-up cold-war-themed speakeasy. But people will still be coming to SE1 and NW1 in 2024. Whereas the hipsters will be down in Croydon (AKA Shoreditch 6.0), Instagramming pictures of McDonald’s cartons and wondering if that lairy-looking group of blokes are the most ironic dressers ever or a group of local chavs about to beat them up very unironically.

     Follow Alex Proud on Twitter   Gallerist and club owner Alex Proud is the founder of Proud Galleries and Proud Camden and appears on Channel 4’s Four Rooms

168 Comments includes our visit to Camden.  From brief visits to both places, it seemed to me that Camden was filled with tourists and Shoreditch with locals.  But it could have been the time and the day.  We visited both areas during the week but will return to Shoreditch on a Saturday for the Broadway Market.  In Camden we ate in a huge ‘chain place” and in Shoreditch we ate “local.”  Makes a difference.

In defence of the ‘Shoreditchification’ of London

It’s easy to rail against hipsters for making neighbourhoods cool, but what else are lowly paid creative types supposed to do, asks Aleks Eror

By Aleks Eror  5:45PM GMT 14 Jan 2014

     Yesterday, Camden cabaret magnate, Alex Proud, took to the these pages to slate the ‘Shoreditchification’ of London’s decaying urban neighbourhoods. The process he described is the same one seen in areas of East Berlin and New York: crack houses get turned into gluten-free vegan microbreweries and knife crime is replaced with sneering at people who shop in Urban Outfitters. In other words: the hipsters take over.

     I am part of Mr. Proud’s problem. He directs his frustration at the beards and pop-up restaurants that are flooding into London via the Shoreditch sluice gates. Well, that’s me. I’m proud to be part of the millennial creative class that’s apparently colonising the city. ‘Shoreditchification’ is becoming a dirty word, so allow me to defend its merits.

     It is easy to satirise hipsters by painting us as a militia of irony-drunk re-decorators, contracted by Foxtons to seduce hedge fund managers and their property portfolios. A scourge of flannel-clad apocalyptic horsemen, riding upon the backs of fixed-gear bikes, we leave a trail of loft conversions and organic street food in our wake. While this is generally the case, it incorrectly suggests we make areas desirable for fun before cycling off to victimise another postcode for jokes. Not true. Young creatives flock to crime-ridden neighbourhoods because we can’t afford to live elsewhere. It’s not a nefarious or sinister decision, just simple financial necessity.

     The problem comes when our brand of ‘cool’ gets colonised. In Shoreditch, Dalston, and Hackney, an influx of bankers has raised our rent beyond our means, while weekend commuters from Essex, dressed like a Supreme collaboration with TOWIE, kill our vibes by re-enacting Brits Abroad in Hoxton Square.

     There are two victims in this process. The first are the indigenous communities to the area, who get squeezed out by social gentrification. The second? Us lowly-paid creative types, who can no longer afford to live in the area we’ve made our home.

     Sure, I get it, people hate hipsters. But what’s the alternative? I’m curious to hear how many of the naysayers spent weekends in Hackney 12 years ago, when it was reportedly more dangerous than Soweto. And if you’re that bothered by designer fried chicken shops, Edmonton’s still as authentic as ever. Just don’t forget your stab vest.

     In his article, Mr. Proud held up Camden and Borough Market as examples of enduring cool, breaking my computer’s sneer button as a result.

     As a Southwark native, Borough Market is a place I associate with Bridget Jones, hordes of Spanish tourists, and the Ginger Pig (purveyors of pork so expensive I’d need multiple payday loans to become a customer). Camden on the other hand was last culturally relevant in the mid-2000s, when people still read the NME and promoters remembered Razorlight.

     So without the east London axis of irony, what do we have left? The West End is a buffer zone protecting Londoners from tasteless tourists, while clubs in Chelsea are about as accessible and cool as David Cameron’s Cabinet.

     I would love for people to heed Alex Proud’s advice and stay away from anywhere me or my friends would consider going out, but unfortunately, this is the curse of cool, our ethically sourced crucifix. And more than anything, cool is about exclusivity: everybody wants it, but it’s a scant resource.

     We hipsters have turned ourselves into self-gentrifying urban Bedouins, eternally popping-off then popping-up where ever is cheapest, and we take a lot of flak for it. But just thinking of the alternatives is enough to make my beard go grey.

Follow Aleks on Twitter


Caspar Boehme  • a month ago 

We get kicked out this weekend of our warehouse in Shoreditch after almost a decade investing love and sweat into the local community – to clear the stage for "luxury" apartments. Its not bearded idiots how are kicking us out its the systematics of real estate. They just accomplished the "Avantgarde Tower" in front of our windows, a "take everything give nothing development" the only thing it gives back to the surrounding is a big shadow – thanks. And as long as there no serious political shift in terms of building laws, your creative neighbour will be replaced by

a guy working for the devil in no time. I think Camden sucks as well as Shoreditch because both neighbourhoods got turned into supermarket-museums of their once vital sub-culture. In Shoreditch for example agencies have to strategically place "street-art: to keep up the "Shoreditch-vibe"…..

A good example of where things are going a different track is Whitechapel, here Bangladeshi landlords refuse to sell to developers to protect their community.

Commrny #  76

From our lunch spot’s blog… 

     A word on Shoreditch


     This blog post is a response to an article written in the Telegraph on 13th January by Alexander Proud, the owner of Proud Camden and Proud Cabaret in the city. His point was that London needs to avoid ‘Shoreditchification’ aka not allowing run-down areas to be systematically taken over by those who go by the title of ‘Hipsters’.

     I work in Shoreditch.

I have to admit there are a lot of plonkers walking around looking like plonkers.

     That’s London for you.

But I think Mr Proud is fundamentally flawed in his anti-Shoreditch diatribe for 3 main reasons:

     1. London is based on regeneration. Crowds wash in and they wash out again. The streets are lined with people of different colours, backgrounds and vibes. You turn a corner and you could be in another city. That’s the beauty of our

capital and that’s why people come here – to get lost in it all.

What benefit would the city derive, if its run-down areas (and their residents) were condemned to a life of deprivation and social neglect (see Tottenham


Go let Peckham have some nice coffee shops and bars in old stations or whatever they’re doing. Let Walthamstow village emerge as the best thing since East 17 feat. Gabrielle. (and if you ever….) Maybe they might open an art gallery.

     2. Has Mr Proud been out in Camden recently? I work in the East-End but live in the North-West of the city. I drive/walk/stumble through Camden on a daily basis and I have a certain warm feeling for the place. It is reassuring, its edges are frayed and it is generally unthreatening. Basically it’s what you want in an old pal. But the epitome of cool and vibrancy it is not. It is currently tired, samey and lacks quality. It needs a serious shake up and some good old fashioned PR. It is tourist trampled and requires patience.

      Needless to say it is not helped by having a high density of average late-night

venues. Any new premises that have popped up over the years (take ‘Joe’s’)

have decent enough music but you’re looking at spending a night in a hot-box

full of punters desperate to attend a night spot where the bartender doesn’t

look like a Motorhead roady.  The pubs are throw-back and need to regain that ‘thing’.

     Live music is in the blood of Camden and there are some iconic places – but now that the Amy Winehouse ship has tragically sailed, it’s attachment to cool is sinking fast. Whilst there is an acknowledgement that new licenses are hard to come by in Camden, it is dragged down by the same operators owning 3/4/5 venues in a small area. Where’s the variety? The newer bars that have opened in Camden are not great, nor improving, and are behind the level that is set in other parts of the city. I want Camden to match my love for it with the overall quality on offer. It is awash with chain restaurants and even the food stalls in the Lock conform to what Jonny Average’s expectation is of that given cuisine. Sweet n Sour chicken that’s been sat there all day anyone?

     3. Shoreditch has its fair share of beards and bad shirts. Some beards are better trimmed than others. But not every bar in Shoreditch feels like it needs to serve its drinks out of a pickle jar/tennis ball and have a secret door that leads to an even more secret room. Some bars have a secret door that leads only to the stock room. And they like to serve their drinks in big, clean glasses. They also think that a good bar should be founded on the basic principles of tasty drinks, amazing music and even a chat with the person serving you. Now where could you find a place like that….?

     Not everyone here is a hipster with anchors adorning our inner arm, clutching Vice Magazine as we cycle down Redchurch St on our single-speed penny farthing. Shoreditch nightlife accepts itself as the eastern side of central London, like Camden skirts its north face. Shoreditch is

only going to become more mainstream, for normal people, who like to drink in Notting Hill and Soho and the City and Brixton and Kensal Rise and wherever the hell they want to drink, eat and enjoy spending their money. Let’s embrace the change. Worth noting also that Hoxton, a neighbourhood that we are super close to, is anything but a hipster sanctuary – it is essentially a large council estate with its own sense of community, problems, parties and pound-shops. Thank god for that too.

     I urge Mr Proud to come on down for the night. (His new-gin-so-cool-it’s-unheard-of Negroni served in a reclaimed plant pot made by rehabilitated ex-cons is on me). We call chips ‘chips’ and we say hello and goodbye, like humans, who like to offer nice service. I promise him I will shave in advance of his attendance and also that he might leave with a different opinion of Shoreditch than the one he came in with…  tells some of the history of Shoreditch workhouses as it was until recently a poorer section of London. 

St Mary-le-Bow and the Blitz


       Nothing with these emails is ever simple.  Not long after we arrived in London I started writing about our walking tour of the “square mile of historic London” and got sidetracked after Part !.  Same with The Blitz and Southwark Cathedral.  As for the St Giles Rookery, I have not even made it to Part 1.  Too many side stories with all of the Dickens connections.  When I finally returned to The Blitz story, and began researching its connection to St Mary-le-Bow Church, I came across the old nursery rhyme known as Oranges and Lemons.  That just sent me off in a million different directions investigating all of the churches mentioned in the rhyme and their historic references.  Too much, too much, TOO MUCH!!!  I am going to try to visit all of the churches in the poem; they all have a story to tell.  And would be great subjects for sketching.

Anyway, here’s a bit about St Mary-le-Bow; part of the poem and, because of its bells, part of the Blitz story.  And some interesting bits of history just down the lane.


    London Bells Nursery Rhyme

"Gay go up and gay go down

To Ring the Bells of London Town

"Oranges and Lemons" say the Bells of St. Clements

"Bullseyes and Targets" say the Bells of St. Margaret’s

"Brickbats and Tiles" say the Bells of St. Giles

"Halfpence and Farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin’s

"Pancakes and Fritters" say the Bells of St. Peter’s

"Two Sticks and an Apple" say the Bells of Whitechapel

"Maids in white aprons" say the Bells at St. Katherine’s

"Pokers and Tongs" say the Bells of St. John’s

"Kettles and Pans" say the Bells of St. Anne’s

"Old Father Baldpate" say the slow Bells of Aldgate

"You owe me Ten Shillings" say the Bells of St. Helen’s

"When will you Pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey

"When I grow Rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch

"Pray when will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney

"I do not know" say the Great Bell of Bow

Gay go up and gay go down

To Ring the Bells of London Town

The Sound of Bow Bells

“St Mary-le-Bow was thrown into great prominence because it possessed the principal curfew bell, rung at 9pm each day from at least 1363 and because it was the Archbishop’s principal ‘peculiar’ (i.e. although in the middle of London it was in fact in the diocese of Canterbury and remained so until 1850) – and hence the Court of Arches. The sound of Bow bell is that which distinguishes an area in which ‘Cockneys’ are said to be born. Although the famous pre-fire tower was at the south end of the site and not on Cheapside as suggested in some illustrations, St Mary-le-Bow was with St Paul’s the backdrop for jousting and processions (every monarch or consort until James II processed along Cheapside to their coronations).”


If you were born within the sound of the “bow bells” you are a “true Londoner.” 

     Tower Bridge crosses the Thames just above the H in the word  SOUTHWARK  and we are just next to Tower Bridge. 

   “Shrinking influence: A diagram shows, in green, the area where the sound of the Bow Bells reached in 1851, and in blue, the much smaller area that it reaches now.  Sound of Bow Bells that define ‘true’ Londoners ‘are being drowned out by capital’s noise pollution’  Street noise now ‘twice as loud in London’ as 150 years ago”

“In the 14th century the term Cockney was used by rural people to native Londoners who relied on their wits rather than their strength. By the 16th century it suggested a lack of masculinity.

    In time the term became synonymous with working class Londoners and it lost its negative connotations, but is occasionally still used disparagingly by those in the North to describe all Londoners.

    The reference to the Bow Bells appeared around 1600 in Fynes Moryson’s ‘An Itinerary’ that said: ‘Londoners, and all within the sound of Bow Bells, are in reproach called Cockneys.’

    Lexicographer John Minsheu was the first to define it in this sense. In his Ductor in Linguas (1617) he wrote: ‘A Cockney or Cockny, applied only to one born within the sound of Bow bell, that is in the City of London.’

Now it seems as if the definition of “being born within the sound of the bow bells” means whether your grandparents were born within the sound of the bow bells; not just you.   I see a wide variety of people who all look different from each other, but to me sound exactly the same, “born within the sound of bow bells.”

We live about 1.5 miles from St Mary le Bow Church but we definitely can’t hear the bells.  We can’t even hear the bells from All Hallows just next door. 

St. Mary-le-Bow is the church of “the bow bells.”  

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Cheapside view and the courtyard with the statue of Virginia’s John Smith

     “The Church of St Mary le Bow was one of the first re-buildings erected by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Its massive steeple, a square tower surmounted by four stories which reaches 235 feet into the sky, is a well-known landmark in the City, topped as it is by a weather vane in the shape of a sinuous golden dragon.”

     “This was the district where boot makers worked in goatskin leather. The leather was known as Cordovan and the workers as cordwainers. A statue of Captain John Smith (1580 – 1631) a cordwainer who rose to become Governor of Virginia and Admiral of New England, was therefore appropriately placed here outside the church .”

  “He returned to England in October 1609 following an accidental gunpowder burn and became Virginia’s most effective propagandist and historian. He died in 1631 and was buried in St. Sepulchre’s Church in Snow Hill. The statue, by William Couper, was erected in1909.”

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Bow Lane and the statue of the Cordwainer.

“Bow Lane runs North South through the Ward.It was formerly called Cordwainer Street and Hosiar Lane. In the middle of the 16th Century it was renamed Bow Lane after the St Mary-le-Bow Church at the northern end of the lane. St Mary Aldermary dominates the southern end of the lane.  In between are several fine restaurants, pubs, wine bars, shops and other retail services, together with some businesses. The Lane was pedestrianised about ten years ago and has recently been resurfaced as part of the wide ranging street scheme enhancement programme. “

The Cordwainer Statue was a joint initiative by the City of London Corporation and the Ward of Cordwainer Club to mark the 100th anniversary of the Ward Club.  It was funded [by]the Corporation, the Ward Club and some individual members of the Club and businesses.  The bronze statue, the work of Alma Boyes, was unveiled in 2002 in a temporary location in Bow Churchyard. It was subsequently relocated to its permanent home in the newly paved area of Watling Street alongside St Mary Aldermary Church.

What is a Cordwainer…..?

“In the Middle Ages, the tradesmen of London began to form themselves into fraternities. Workers in metal, cloth, leather and other trades formed ‘guilds’ to present a united front for their craft.

     Those who worked with the finest leather were called Cordwainers because their material came from Cordoba in Spain. They developed a soft, durable goatskin leather known as Cordwain – the very finest leather available – importation of which contributed to the growing prosperity of London. Over a period of time, those who processed the leather formed their own guilds. The shoemakers, however, retained the name of ‘Cordwainer’.  is the guild’s website and tells a really interesting history.  It certainly totally sidetracked me from St Mary le Bow’s story!

As Watling Street was mentioned as the home of the cordwainer sculpture….. we didn’t eat here because I thought their sign too snobby and ironic: the pub was built to house working men rebuilding St Paul’s Cathedral.  But as one review said the food was good and there was a mix of suits and tradespeople, we might have to go one day.



My guess is the workmen rebuilding St Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire came In wearing site clothing and builders boots.

“A fascinating past

Said to be built from old ships’ timbers by Sir Christopher Wren, Ye Olde Watling has a remarkable heritage dating to 1668. It stands on Watling Street, a Roman road leading out of the City via Ludgate. One claim to fame is that our upstairs rooms were used as a drawing office during the building of St Paul’s Cathedral. We also think our pub catered for Wren’s workmen after the Great Fire. “

     “On the 20th of December 1961 the restored bells of St Mary-le-Bow rang out to mark the start of re-building: one of the bell-ringers that day was HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The reconstruction effort cost £400,000 and the new church was re-consecrated by Bishop Stopford of London on the 11th of June 1964 in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. “

Interior of Mary-le-Bow rebuilt after the blitz.


“A number of chandeliers provide internal lighting but perhaps the most imposing internal feature is the vast gilt rood figure of the Crucifixion which is suspended above the nave. The rood was made by Otto Irsara of Oberamagau and was a gift from the German people to St Mary’s in 1964…… The organ was moved and rebuilt by Rushworth and Dreaper from the north-east corner to its present position over the western doorway in 1964. This inadequate instrument was replaced in 2010 by Kenneth Tickell & Company. “

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“The north east chapel, perhaps intended by King to be a Lady Chapel now houses a bronze relief of St Michael and the Dragon by Ragnild Butenshon, placed in memory of Norwegians who died in the resistance to the Nazi occupation from 1940-45. The sculpture was given by the people of Norway (and unveiled by King Olav V in 1966) for whom the sound of Bow Bells, broadcast throughout Europe was a symbol of hope during the occupation.”

The BBC used a 1926 recording of St Mary le Bow’s bells for their radio broadcasts after the church was bombed.

“Founded in or around 1080 as the London headquarters of the archbishops of Canterbury, the medieval church of St Mary-le-Bow survived three devastating collapses before being completely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, it was destroyed once more in 1941 but was again rebuilt and re-consecrated in 1964.”

“Hanging Rood designed by John Hayward, carved by Otto Irsara of Oberammergau , a prisoner of war, and painted by Siegfried  Pietzsch. “  This is according to  Churches, Cathedrals and Chapels  By John Wittich which came up on Google books but I can’t find elsewhere.  The St Mary le Bow site confirms that Irsara did create the rood.

The rood was made by Otto Irsara of Oberamagau and was a gift from the German people to St Mary’s in 1964.

“In 1392 Dick Whittington heard Bow bells call him back to London to become Lord Mayor; to be born within the sound of Bow bells was the sign of a true Londoner or Cockney; and Bow bell’s authority ends the medieval nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons – ‘I do not know says the Great Bell of Bow’. During the Second World War the BBC’s World Service broadcast a recording of Bow bells, made in 1926, as a symbol of hope to the free people of Europe. This recording is still used by the BBC as an interval signal. Today Bow bells ring out proclaiming the presence of a church which has been at the centre of London life since Llanfranc refounded St Mary le Bow in 1088.”  tells about the bells of St Mary le Bow

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Bomb damage to St Mary le Bow and to the entire area just east of St Paul’s Cathedral

“Bomb Damage from St. Paul’s Cathedral looking East. This photo was taken from the Golden Gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral in the aftermath of the Blitz. The view to the east includes Queen Victoria Street, Cannon Street railway station, Friday Street and Bread Street. The two churches featured were both heavily damaged in the attacks. Only the tower remained of St Augustine’s Church on Watling Street. The bells of St Mary-le-Bow on Cheapside had crashed to the ground. Police Constables Arthur Cross and Fred Tibbs photographed the scene that surrounded St Paul’s. Almost alone, the cathedral remained intact.”


The Bow-Bell Peal on Christmas Eve  

This article is reproduced from the Illustrated London News, Dec 21, 1850 from the copy in the ASCY archives.


We had a lovely lunch in the church crypt!  My goat cheese souffle was wonderful.

Set in the floor in the center of the main dining area was this stone memorial.


That date is 1958!

“….the crypt of St Mary le Bow whose history stretches back almost to the Norman Conquest.

Built in around 1080 by William the Conqueror’s Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, the crypt’s architectural design incorporated arches.  These were apparently the first such in London and gave rise to the Church’s name – “le Bow”.  The street level was also lower than it is today so the upper part of the crypt was above ground level. Its walls still display evidence of the windows built to let in the light.

     For the majority of its life the crypt was let out as storage space to local people. It was only after the Great Fire in 1666 – which it survived – that it began to be used for burials. Incorporated into Wren’s church of the 1670s, it once again survived both the devastation brought by the bombing of World War II and the rebuilding of the church at the end of hostilities.”

The crypt which sat (and still sits today) beneath the 11th-century church was the first arched crypt found in any church in London. The ‘le-Bow’ in the church’s name derives from those arches, and the Latin name Sancta Maria-de-Arcubus bears further witness to the importance of the arched crypt.

The c.1080 building was apparently one of the earliest stone churches in London, and the second tower of that church (completed in 1512) was crowned by five lanterns, four at the corners of the tower and the fifth held aloft on flying buttresses. In the 11th century St Mary-le-Bow was known as St Mary Newchurch to distinguish it from its near neighbour St Mary Aldermary (Older Mary) which is located at the end of Bow Lane, about two hundred yards to the south of St Mary-le-Bow. The City of London in those days was London; a densely populated square mile in which tens of thousands of people lived in close proximity and in a large number of tiny wards and parishes, each having its own parish church. The emerging suburb of Westminster was a long walk from London, through fields and pastureland, with villages like Holborn as stopping points along the way.”

And then, because you never know where research will lead…. And I must go look for a bottle…..

“Bruce Jack’s desire to ‘do things a bit differently’ has proven to be a big success, the latest introduction into the UK is Mary le Bow.

Mary le Bow is a farm-designate red blend consisting of Cabernet, Shiraz, Petit Verdot or Merlot and sometimes (in exceptional years) Cabernet Franc – all in varying proportions, depending on the vintage characteristics of the year.

This wine comes from the spectacular, top-quality wine farm called Wildepaardekloof ("wild horse valley"), tucked into the mountains high above the rural hamlet of Ashton in the Robertson wine ward. The aspect is South West and East facing. The soils are mostly devigorating, mineral-rich, ancient, decomposed granite.

Bruce has been involved with the farm since the re-planting program was undertaken by the Fraters in the 1990’s. The wine has been made since 2003. The Mary Le Bow Brand is owned by a Trust, the beneficiaries of which are the Frater and Jack children.  The late James Frater and Bruce were close friends.

The origin of the name – Mary le Bow is named after St Mary le Bow in Cheapside, London.  Famous of course for the big Bow Bell. If you are born within earshot of the Bow Bell you are a true Londoner – a Cockney.

Many sources put Mary le Bow as the oldest place of Christian worship in England. Much of this part of inner London was a fairly unstable marshland but, unusually, this church is built on granite, and the various levels of crypt are cut down into this granite. Many of the Crusades officially left from St Mary le Bow, and of course the remains of the knights who fought and died in the Holy Land were interned in the crypts. Angela Frater’s (James’s mother) distant ancestors were some of the last people to be buried there, hence the connection. “

St Mary Le Bow

Ideastore Library and Whitechapel Gallery visit yesterday


     “In mitn derinnen “ was the expression I remember my mother saying when, right in the middle of something, I did something else.   That’s what I’m doing now as in ‘the middle of all the stories I’m in the middle of writing, now I’m going to write this new one instead.  My visit Friday to the Ideastore Library Whitechapel and the Whitechapel Gallery.



After the fire alarm……

Photos inside libraries are really discouraged; reading privacy and all that.   I took this one while we waited for the fire department to make sure there really wasn’t a fire.  Of course, when the alarm rang,  I was on the top floor  (5 stories up but here called the 4th as they call the bottom floor “ground” ) so had to walk down knowing I’d have to walk back up when we were allowed back in.  When the alarm first sounded everyone just sort of ignored it thinking someone must have gone out a fire door and set it off.  But it kept going so more folks started collecting their things.  I was just getting mine when a staff member came and asked us all, “don’t you hear the alarm?!”   So we walked down the 5 flights of stairs at a speed far too slowly had there really been a fire.  The cause of the alarm?  It pains me to say this, but some really “naughty” (library staff’s word)  woman was smoking in a Lady’s Loo and set off the smoke alarm.  Thankfully the sun was out and it only took about 20 minutes before we were allowed back inside…to walk up the 5 flights as there was a long queue for the elevator.  Art books are on the top floor as well as the small café.


Street vendors line parts of Whitechapel Rd.

Across from the library and for several blocks along Whitechapel are the fruit, veggie and fish sellers.  I bought some Brussels Sprouts because they wouldn’t crush in my backpack on the way home.  So much cheaper than the upscale Waitrose across from St Katharine Docks.  And more fun!

While waiting for the “all clear” I took the photos of the building next door which I sort of had read about from a previous walk along this route ( that I haven’t written up yet….yada yada yada.)


Albion Brewery Building

HISTORY: The main Albion Brewery (this building next to the library) was further west on Whitechapel Road and began trading in 1808. The surviving buildings on the main site date from the 1860s and c1902-5 and are Grade II-listed. It was the Edwardian period that gave the brewery its most striking buildings, in particular the remodelled fermenting house which has a pedimented gable set between carved volutes, clock and a carved relief of St George and the Dragon, in what the Buildings of England volume for East London describes as a ‘show-off Baroque style’. The architects were William Bradford and Sons, a firm which specialised in highly-decorative brewery architecture, and who may have also designed the building at 27a Mile End Road. Certainly the stylistic tag applies equally well here.

The first resident was Brewery Engineer William George Bartle, but the building also functioned as a distribution centre for barrels of beer. A motor trolley shed with a steel truss roof and ridge lighting was also built in 1905, accessed through the large central carriage arch to the house. At that time there was stabling and cart sheds dating to the 1880s to the rear of the new buildings. Shire horses were still the principal means of distributing barrels, but in 1904 the brewery had purchased its first ‘motor carriage’ and the new motor trolley shed was no doubt built in anticipation of growing use of motorised transport in place of dray horses.

In 1941 a bomb killed twenty-five horses, seriously damaged the stables and sheds, and removed the roof of the main building at 27a Mile End Road. The roof was presumably patched up until 1984, when the building was refurbished and a mansard and gable added to the upper storey. The motor trolley shed, old stabling and cart sheds were considered too badly damaged for repair, however, and demolished. Their sites were redeveloped with residential blocks by Proctor Matthews in 1999-2000.

SOURCES: Tower Hamlets Local History Library, Drainage Application Plan dated 21 July 1905 H Janes, Albion Brewery 1808-1958 (c1958) 80-81 Goad Insurance Plans

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The former brewery engineer’s house is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * of special architectural interest as a flamboyant and richly-detailed building in the Edwardian Baroque style with mannerist touches; * high-quality stonework used generously and to good effect; * the building is sensitive to its context, with its upper storeys set back to respect the scale of the neighbouring C17 Trinity Almshouses and the cartouches on the arches referencing the style of these highly-significant buildings; * historic association with the main Albion Brewery buildings on Whitechapel Road, which are Grade II-listed.   ad for a £279.995 1 bedroom flat in this building.  The photos made it look quite nice and just next door to the library, Sainsburys supermarket around the corner, fruit and vegies right outside and the Whitechapel Tube station steps away.  And 1/3 the price of flats overlooking the Thames!


The Blind Beggar pub next door to the Albion Brewery


Blind Beggar Signboard tells the history on their website, but not as completely as my Folklore of British Pub Names book.  The version below is the most similar and comes from a site explaining the coat of arms of Bethnall Greene, the area of London where the pub is located.  (Bethnall Green is also part of Tower Hamlets as is St Katharine Docks Marina.)

“The borough had no [coat of] arms, but the design of the Common Seal adopted by the Council bears reference to the apocryphal legend of The beggar’s daughter of Bednall Greene, a lengthy poem which appeared in Percy’s Reliques of ancient English poetry in 1765, and was probably written in Elizabethan times.

      The story tells how Henry, son and heir of Simon de Montfort, believed to have fallen at Evesham in 1265, was found and nursed by a baron’s daughter, who he afterwards married. Henry, blinded in the battle, dressed as a beggar to escape King Henry’s spies.  Later his daughter, "pretty Bessee", had four suitors at once – a knight, a gentleman of fortune, a London merchant, and the son of the innkeeper at Romford, and all (except the knight) cooled in their affections when told they must ask the consent of her father, the poor blind beggar of Bethnal Green. The knight, however, went and asked the beggar’s leave to marry his daughter and, unknowingly, gained a considerable dowry, Henry giving Bessie £3,000, and £100 to buy her wedding gown.  At the wedding feast it was explained to the guests who Henry really was.

     The story, although almost certainly legend, enjoyed a wide vogue and must have had a basis in fact. Three plays on the subject are in existence, and printed versions have appeared in numerous editions. As far back as 1690 the theme was used as a decoration for the Beadle’s staff.”

     “The pub is also the birthplace of the Salvation Army, as it was outside the public house which previously stood on the site that William Booth, founder of the organisation, gave his first open air sermon in 1865.

     The pub itself was built in 1894 on a site previously occupied by another inn. The pub is named after Henry de Montfort, a son of Simon de Montfort, the famous leader who called the first directly elected parliament in medieval Europe. Henry was apparently wounded and lost his sight in the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and used to beg at the crossroads, becoming referred to as the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green.

And then there’s the modern day murder story connected to the Blind Beggar.   Tells the story of a modern day murder ala Hatfields and McCoys style. 


The statue of William Booth on Mile End Road just down from the Blind Beggar Pub was taken on a previous walk.  I always thought of the Salvation Army as having begun in America. 


My books from the library and also one from the Spitafields Trust Charity Shop.

   I hadn’t checked out my books before the fire alarm but the kind library guard put them aside for me so I could retrieve them from the front desk. 

Lady Audley’s  Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon first published in serial form in 1861 I like older novels.

The Wapping Group of Artists: Sixty Years of Painting by the Thames  for obvious reasons.

A Short Book About Drawing by Andrew Marr which I will hate to ever finish!  He talks about why drawing and painting makes him happy even when the particular piece he’s working on turns out “rubbish” as they say here where we’d say “crap.”  And how drawing is both great fun and hard work

“When most people are drawing or painting, under the quiet surface, there is a mental drama going on.” That captures exactly how I feel at my life drawing sessions. 

The Spitalfields Crypt Trust has a charity shop where I can find at least one or two books interesting to me.  The Inheritance by Caro Fraser who has both an art degree and law degree so isn’t so fluffy as her book covers might make you think.  The books are cheap and the money goes to a good cause.  And sometimes I need a TV substitute and this kind of book is just that.

The interesting/obvious thing is that British libraries have more British authors/subjects not always available in US libraries so there are new authors/subjects to discover.  Our Roanoke County Public Library does own Lady Audley’s Secret  and Adrew Marr’s biography of Queen Elizabeth II, but not his art book or the book of Wapping Artists.  Wapping is the area just east of us along the Thames.  None of Caro Fraser’s books were in the Roanoke Valley Libraries either.  Makes perfect sense when you think about it.  Our regional authors probably don’t show up in British libraries either. 


Whitechapel Gallery and the former Passmore Edwards Library (replaced by the Ideastore Library)

    Whitechapel Art Gallery now expanded into the former Passmore Edwards Library.  Listed Building. Gallery by Charles Harrison Townsend (1851-1928). Designed 1897, built 1898-9. Architectural faience cladding (glazed terracotta blocks), with some foliage-carving. Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX  free admission except for the special exhibitions.

   For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger.

     With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, dining room and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see.

     The Gallery is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.”

I enjoyed learning about the Acme Studios created from the derelict buildings in the area…

But most of the Gallery’s art is art I’m not familiar with so less appealing to me than works at other museums.  But the building is interesting!


The gold leaves on the building’s façade were created by Rachael Whiteread

“Inspired by the tenacious presence of urban plants like buddlea, which the artist calls ‘Hackney weed’, Whiteread has covered the leaves and branches in gold leaf, making them part of London’s rooftop repertoire of gilded angels, heraldic animals and crests.” tells how these leaves were created.  There is a video interview as well.


Weathervane on the Passmore Edwards building

Rodney Graham’s copper and steel working Weathervane(2008) is permanently installed on the Gallery roof. It depicts the artist as the sixteenth century scholar, Erasmus, seated backwards on a horse while reading The Praise of Folly.

About the Passmore Edwards Library

“Opened in 1892, an initiative of Sameul and Henrietta Barnett, and funded by John Passmore Edwards, it was the first free public library in Whitechapel.  Open on Sunday afternoons to serve the local Jewish community, it became a place for study, homework and vibrant political discussion.  Many early readers became famous, including writers Isaac Rosenberg, Bernard Kops and Arnold Wesker, mathematician Selig Frodetsky and child psychologist Jacob Fronowski.  It housed a substantial Yiddish book collection, later replaced by books in Bengali and Somali.  It closed in 2005, reopening nearby as an Idea Store.  Many people mourned its closing and its significance was perfectly captured by Bernard Kops in his poem Whitechapel Library Aldgate East.” * see below

From Jewish London by Rachael Kolsky and Roslyn Rawson

Passmore Edwards in the East End

February 6, 2013  by Dean Evans

  “ At the time of cuts to libraries and other vital social resources, Dean Evans author of Funding The Ladder – The Passmore Edwards Legacy takes a timely look at the forgotten benefactor who shaped the culture of the East End through his enlightened philanthropy.

     ……Canon Samuel Barnett and his wife Henrietta  moved to St Jude’s Parish, Whitechapel, in the eighteen seventies when it was an over-crowded area of appalling poverty and poor housing, mostly endured by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The Barnetts set about to improve the conditions of their parishioners with missionary zeal, believing that “the social problem is at root an educational one” and that Free Libraries were the best means of education.  When the Whitechapel Library was formally opened in October 1892, there were already more than two and a half thousand people making use of the reading room on a daily basis and one thousand on Sundays. It had taken Barnett fourteen years to see his dream materialise of the first rate-supported library in the East End. For Passmore Edwards it was the beginning of a relationship with the East End that was to last until the end of his days and result in more than a dozen public buildings, libraries, hospitals, technical institutes, art galleries, boys clubs and a home for foreign sailors, all freely given to help those less fortunate…”  tells the story of the British Andrew Carnegie with interesting reader comments about the various Passmore Edwards libraries in their lives.


In the Whitechapel Gallery book shop I bought a copy of Virginia Woolf’s  A Room of One’s Own which I read years ago but want to read again.  It’s just the right small size to carry around and read bits of when I’m waiting for Randal in a hardware store or chandlery.   When we visit free venues I try to buy at least something to contribute back.  They are resting against my computer screen advertising the exhibitions now at the Gallery.

Bernard Kops was born in the East End of London. Since The Hamlet of Stepney Green (1959), he has written over 40 plays, nine novels, and seven volumes of poetry including Grandchildren and Other Poems (Hearing Eye, 2000).

This poem on Whitechapel Library is reprinted here by kind permission of the poet and publisher. Bernard Kops will read from his work at the Nelson Street Synagogue on 4 September at 6pm.

*Whitechapel Library, Aldgate East

How often I went in for warmth and a doze

The newspaper room whilst my world outside froze

And I took out my sardine sandwich feast.

Whitechapel Library, Aldgate East.

And the tramps and the madman and the chattering crone.

The smell of their farts could turn you to stone

But anywhere, anywhere was better than home.

The joy to escape from family and war.

But how can you have dreams?

you’ll end up on the floor.

Be like your brothers, what else is life for?

You’re lost and you’re drifting, settle down, get a job.

Meet a nice Jewish girl, work hard, earn a few bob.

Get married, have kids; a nice home on the never

and save up for the future and days of rough weather.

Come back down to earth, there is nothing more.

I listened and nodded, like I knew the score.

And early next morning l crept out the door.

Outside it was pouring

I was leaving forever.

I was finally, irrevocably done with this scene,

The trap of my world in Stepney Green.

With nowhere to go and nothing to dream

A loner in love with words, but so lost

and wandering the streets, not counting the cost.

I emerged out of childhood with nowhere to hide

when a door called my name

and pulled me inside.

And being so hungry I fell on the feast.

Whitechapel Library, Aldgate East.

And my brain explodes when I suddenly find,

an orchard within for the heart and the mind.

The past was a mirage I’d left far behind

And I am a locust and I’m at a feast.

Whitechapel Library, Aldgate East.

And Rosenberg also came to get out of the cold

To write poems of fire, but he never grew old.

And here I met Chekhov, Tolstoy, Meyerhold.

I read all their worlds, their dark visions of gold.

The reference library, where my thoughts were to rage.

I ate book after book, page after page.

I scoffed poetry for breakfast and novels for tea.

And plays for my supper. No more poverty.

Welcome young poet, in here you are free

to follow your star to where you should be.

That door of the library was the door into me

And Lorca and Shelley said “Come to the feast.”

Whitechapel Library, Aldgate East.

Written by Writer ⋅  September 17, 2005

I’d often noticed the name Passmore Edwards Library on the building but only now do I know anything about it.

library visit correct version

February 18, 2014

SKD Marina Tower Hamlets

London, England


   As I said in the last email, I’ve a million stories started….but then I find I’m missing just the exact photo I need to show you so have to put it all aside until I can go back to wherever and take the exact perfect photo.  Like today, for instance.  We went to St  Botolph so I could finish the story about the church bell poem which I got started on reading about St Mary le Bow from our Blitz tour.   The poem is The Great Bells of Bow or Oranges and Lemons depending on whom you ask.  St Botoloph is mentioned in the poem and as it has a connection with Boston and St Botolph is also a patron saint for travelers….well I had to go see it.  But the website wasn’t as informative as the brochure I picked up on our way out, so now I have to go back for maybe more photos. 

   Just near St Botolph is the Artizan Street Library, part of the London City Library System.  I was really desperate for something to read so luckily managed to find lots.  I’m working my way top to bottom. (see photo)  Guernsey had a sad history during WW2 which the book deals with.  Early in the book Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elia is mentioned.   I vaguely associated him with Shakespeare and he, with his sister Mary, wrote versions of the plays for children.  What I didn’t know is this: “In 1796 Lamb’s sister, Mary, in a fit of madness (which was to prove recurrent) killed their mother.  Lamb reacted with courage and loyalty, taking on himself the burden of looking after Mary.”    I also learned there is a Charles Lamb pub at 16 Elia St.  in Islington.  If I ever find myself in Islington, I might have to go there.  I might have to read the Essays one day.  See what happens!  It’s hard to read about anything here without being sidetracked  to a dozen other things just as interesting.  So by early evening my brain is tired, but alas, we have no TV to just veg out in front of.  Luckily I have my books.

    Tomorrow, if the weather cooperates, there is a walking tour in the Bloomsbury area about almshouses and housing for the poor.  I’ve read a bit about the almshouses so this walk sounds quite interesting.  We have the Friends of St Katharine Docks coffee in the morning but the walk begins at 1 pm so we should be fine. 

     I hope all of you who are dealing with the horrendous snowy weather are staying warm and safe.  I don’t miss it one bit! 



The caption on the postcard drawing of the organ reads: James Worgan , organist 1732-53 shows off the newly installed organ.  Drawing by Martin J. Cottam.   “The magnificent organ in the west gallery is by Renatus Harris, and was given to the church in 1702.  It is the oldest playable church organ in the country and was restored by Goetz and Gwynn in 2006.”    They do lunch time concerts as do most of the churches. 

The drawing of the church is by Middleton.  That postcard also mentions something called City Churches Walk 1995  :  A walk around the 38 churches in the square mile of the City of London.   I have been in a bunch of them and they are all different and interesting with long histories. 

Southwark Cathedral Part 1


    Though thanks to the weather back in the States, other than those who love sports requiring snow,  there doesn’t seem to be much to cheer about.  Good grief!  In London we seem to be having more rain lately.  And wind!  Thanks to our spot in the corner and our 34 tons, we don’t rock around as much as the lighter sailboats on the finger piers.  They’ve had to put out extra lines.  The water level in the marina is controllable so we have no flooding concerns.  On what seems to be an hourly basis,  the weather has been very changeable.  Today Randal and I went for a walk during which we were rained on, blown along,  and then blinded by the sun.  But it was never cold.  So here we truly can’t complain. 

      When I began the write up below I was going to call it; Just Do It.  But then I started to do my usual bit of research and realized I needed to change the title to Southwark Cathedral Part 1. 

And though it starts out with “Last Friday,” it was actually not yesterday, but a week ago.  Time just goes! 


     Last Friday I made myself go out.  Most days I’m quite eager to go exploring but there are days when I just get tired of choosing where I should go.   We’d been on the boat all day Thursday, except for a 5 minute trip to the marina clothes dryers and a 10 minute walk in the drizzle to Waitrose for some vegetables.    By Friday, being me, I needed to get off the boat and go for a walk.  But where to go that wasn’t a major expedition or something I’d done dozens of times already?  Mid-afternoon Singkey would be arriving from Birmingham so I only had a few or 3 hours.    On my “to visit” list is the  church of “St Botolph without  Aldgate”  because of its bells and connection to Boston, but Fridays it’s closed.  I decided to make a first visit Southwark Cathedral just across London Bridge.   Thanks to Vivien the Church Day Chaplain and then the kind lady who let me share her table in the church café,  I had a really lovely time!

About Southwark Cathedral

“As well as being the Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Southwark,  Southwark Cathedral is also a parish church with legal and pastoral responsibilities for the people who live in the parish….”

     “We believe there has been a church on this site since AD 606. There may well have been a church here even earlier. Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London, and archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that.

     Significantly, Southwark stands at the oldest crossing point of the tidal Thames at what was the only entrance to the City of London across the river for many centuries. It is not only a place of worship but also of hospitality to every kind of person: princes and paupers, prelates and prostitutes, poets, playwrights, prisoners and patients have all found refuge here.

“Tired of renting their church for worship, a group of merchants from the congregation, known as ‘the Bargainers’, bought the church from King James I in 1611 for £800. By this time the large unwieldy parish church served a very colourful area, not only of merchants and minor courtiers, but also actors, foreign craftsmen, and the ladies from the Bankside brothels.

     The church ministered to its parish throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and various repairs and alterations were made to the building. The state of the building became a real cause for concern in the 1820s. Already in need of further repairs, the whole situation of the building was affected by the proposals for a new London Bridge to be constructed much closer to the church. The Bridge Committee suggested that St Saviour’s be demolished and a smaller church be built on another site.   After much argument the decision was made to restore the building, and it was largely due to the architect George Gwilt that major parts of today’s Cathedral are still standing.

     By the mid 19th century, living and working condition in south London were intolerable. They were depicted by novelist Charles Dickens in distressing detail and by Charles Booth’s social researches with grim accuracy. It was proposed that a new diocese should be created and in anticipation for this a new nave was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1895.

     St Saviour’s church became Southwark Cathedral in 1905. The diocese which it serves stretches from the Thames to Gatwick Airport, from Thamesmead in the east almost to Thames Ditton in the west. It has a population of two and a half million people, served by over 300 parishes.

Floor plan of Southwark Cathedral

clip_image002  is an excellent tour of the entire Cathedral and its grounds.  Click on parts of the map to read about that area and see images.    Click on the words South Churchyard on the lower left and read about the Cathedral’s connection to the United  States.

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East end and South Entrance… 

There is no entrance fee; but there is a 2£ charge to take photos.  Fair enough.  The interior reminded me of a mini Westminster Abbey or mini St Paul’s. 


Vivien  the Day Chaplain was kind enough to give me a mini-tour. 


Shakespeare Memorial and Window

Place of interest # 1 on the floor plan map. 

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Font and center  with hanging iron chandelier between North and South Transept

The Cathedral is large but not too large or overwhelming. 


Plaque for Wenceslas Hollar  caught my eye so I had to do some research.

   “He was a master etcher, and his work is still much appreciated by connoisseurs. He illustrated a number of books and produced the celebrated Views of London after the Great Fire of 1666. Some 3,000 plates are credited to him. He died in extreme poverty.” is the long story from the Czech perspective


“He is remembered here as his view was drawn from the top of the Cathedral tower. A native of Bohemia, Hollar lived in exile under the patronage of the Earl of Arundel.  Hollar’s engraving gives a vivid picture of 17th century London. He is buried in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster. “

Engraving below of the Tower  from Project Guttenberg; description from the British Museum


1647 Engraving of the Tower of London

  “The drawing was made in pen and brown ink with watercolour over black lead. The view across the river Thames focuses on the square White Tower in the centre. In front of it, opening to the river through a low arch, is Traitors’ Gate. Prisoners entered the Tower through this from the river. Surrounding the Tower are the walls and buildings which made it an important prison and fortress.

In the foreground is a three-masted ship flying the English flag of St George’s Cross, which was customary for merchant ships. A few small boats row up the river to remind us how much the river was used for the transport of people and goods.

This drawing was made for a series of four etchings of views of London. These prints were presumably made to be sold on the English market.”

“In a career of some 50 years he produced almost 3,000 etchings on many subjects, normally with the uncomplicated naturalism which makes them such valuable documents of seventeenth-century life.”  from the British perspective





The plaques and memorials that line the walls of the Cathedral make for fascinating reading.


I thought this a humorous tongue twister until I real the last line.

This plaque for Isabella Gilmore caught my eye.  I found her story quite interesting and very illustrative of the time she lived.

clip_image019 tells her story, often in her own words.

     “The career of Isabella Gilmore, William Morris’ third sister. provides a fascinating

parallel to that of her famous brother. Isabella left a life of middle-class comfort and

respectability to minister to the poor of South London as a Deaconess in the Church

of England. She founded an institution which provided training for women to pursue

vocations as deaconesses among the underprivileged and was instrumental in

advancing the role of women in the Church. …….

     After her husband’s death, Isabella returned to her mother’s home and then made

the decision to train as a nurse. This was strongly opposed by her family, but she

persisted and began training at Guy’s Hospital in London. ……

     In the late 1880s, Anthony Wilson Thorold, the Bishop of Rochester, was involved

in a far-reaching reorganization of his diocese. Rochester was one of the most diverse

and unwieldy secs in Britain. It included large rural areas in Kent and virtually all of

London south of the Thames. Among the projects which Thorold wanted to initiate

for the diocese was an order of deaconesses to work among London’s poor.

Deaconesses had been revived in the Church of England in the 1860s but had been

tried in only a tentative manner in other dioceses. Deaconesses differed from Anglican

nuns in that they were ordained by a Bishop and worked directly under his supervision

as did members of the clergy rather than owing allegiance to a religious order. Thorold

believed that deaconesses could be a useful tool in the Rochcster diocese. He began

a search for a suitable leader for the organization, and Isabella was recommended to

him by her supervisors at Guy’s Hospital. 

          The night before she took up her duties, she visited friends and realized that they

«might never again see me again in my smart clothes." (R<JP) Isabella had committed

herself to serving the poor.   The Morris family (with the exception of William and her eldest sister,

EmmaOld ham) were outraged at her decision:

    ‘I had many troubling times to go through with my relations, many hard unkind

things were said but it had been so before when I went to Guy’s & except for my

mother being angry with me, I did nor trouble very much, that did trouble me nor

only then but for many years & it was a great comfort that before she died she had

entirely forgiven me. ‘(RGP)

     The first major hurdle Isabella and Bishop Thorold had to overcome was the difficulty of finding

a parish willing to accept the deaconesses in it. She later recalled,  «I don’t think the clergy wanted it & fought

the institution being put into their parish."(RGP)    South London was at that time known for the

Low Church attitudes of its clergy. Therefore, there was a built-in suspicion of the deaconesses, who were  (wrongly)

thought to be associated with the Anglo-Catholic branch of the church. A

friend of Isabella’s asked her "[w]hat made the bishop put you in Clapham it was like shaking a red rag at a bull." (RGP)…….

     The area in which they ministered was one of the poorest in London. The families the

deaconesses  encountered eked out a miserable existence: it was an agony to find how terrible their condition was,

they were heathen, went to no place of worship & in the low parts the education act was a dead letter,

the sanitary laws were nil, the overcrowding ghastly & the dirt and poverty beyond

all words. (RGP)

     The deaconesses discovered that in their destitution, these people did not understand

the most basic sanitation, they were "covered with vermin – indeed we always expect

co find rhem and rheir clothes alive." (RGP)   The deaconesses found that they brought

fleas and lice back to the Institution. The children they encountered were often abused

and neglected, and alcoholism was rampant among the adults. Isabella deeply empathized with those she cared for.

"Often I think to myself what should I have been if [ had been brought up in such a hell as this?" (RGP)

     The deaconesses provided a substantial aid effort. They ran a soup kitchen which

served hot food to the poor, distributed donated clothing and blankets, taught basic sanitary methods,

nursed the sick and gave religious instruction to the children.  They also organized referrals to hospitals and other

charitable organizations. In coordinating all of these activities, Isabella displayed remarkable administrative abilities.

She was able to efficiently deal with the major logistical problems posed by

providing all of these services.  The deaconesses worked 14- to 18-hour days, at the end of which they had to walk

from Bartersea to Clapham. Often they would be so exhausted that they would have

to support each other on the long walk back. (RC)  They also were in danger from the violence endemic

to the slums they worked in. "Saturday afternoon & night Sunday & Monday were awful days

street fights & rows were going in every direction.’" Isabella recalled "once I was struck by a drunken woman & I

used to get abused when the poor things were half drunk." (RGP) The deaconesses were

frequently subjected to harassment, particularly by Irish Catholics. However, after a

time, they found that they’ would be defended by people in the neighborhood.

William Morris was deeply moved by Isabella’s devotion to the poor. He told her I

preach Socialism. You practice it. "’  is the complete story  The Sisters, home to the Deaconesses


The Bishop’s Seat…  Once known as St Saviour’s  Church; now Southwark Cathedral

     “Now, as a Cathedral, Southwark is once again (as in monastic days) a centre for a pattern of daily worship within the English cathedral music tradition. In addition to holding five services a day all year round, the Cathedral provides services for diverse diocesan groups varying in size and style of worship. A cathedral derives its name from ‘cathedra’ a Greek word for the seat from which a bishop teaches and Southwark comes into its own as the bishop’s church when he ordains new priests and deacons, installs honorary canons and celebrates the Easter liturgy.”

My friend Coleen


     Many parts of southern England are a real mess, but our small bit of it remains unharmed; I guess mainly  due to the Thames Barrier.  Our friend Sandi’s home in Somerset is safe and hopefully our friend Jane in Richmond is also staying dry.  I’ve heard that this is being one of the wettest winters in years; but compared to Marmaris I don’t find it so bad.  I remember more rain in Turkey.  Selective memory maybe. 

    This email introduces you  to my friend Coleen.   I met Coleen my first session at the Toynbee Art Club and we have been friends ever since.  Half the fun of going on Sunday afternoons is the walk back and forth during which Coleen and I talk non-stop about our week or things we read or just stuff.  Coleen has lived and worked in London her whole life so has loads of London bits to share. 

    Today we went off on a non-Toynbee  adventure.  Coleen cares for her grandchildren several days each week so her time is quite limited.  But we had such a grand time that I know we’ll squeeze in at least one more  date  before Randal and I sail away. 

      Coleen chose today’s adventure taking us for lunch and a sketching session at The George!  For a place I’d never been until late January, I’ve now been there 3 times.  When we made our “date” Coleen planned for us to sketch the lovely balconies that line the outside of The George.  I’d once mentioned that I wanted to draw outdoor spaces rather than people and The George would have been a wonderful subject.  Alas, the weather didn’t cooperate.  It was raining when we met and too chilly when the sun later deigned to put in an appearance.  But no matter, we had a wonderful long chat and lunch and more chat and then we actually made ourselves sketch indoors.  It was great practice and we had the entire upstairs room to ourselves.  



My friend Coleen

We arrived before lunch was being served so just sat by the fire and dried our wet coats and hats.


Coleen behind the bar!

We were the only ones in the Gallery room so when the bar man left I talked Coleen into posing.  Coleen was game for it so I really didn’t have to twist her arm.


I finally have a large pad but didn’t manage to use it wisely.    I might finish some shading as I do have this photo to refer to. The rolled up menus are too short too.  And the angle of the photo isn’t the same as my drawing.  Other than that……



Rearranging the furniture to so we could have a photo standing under the portrait of Louis the #?


My big rubber barn boots. 

I’m sort of scrunching down; Coleen is tiny!


Lucy and Ethel,  Laverne and Shirley,  Rosemary and Thyme,  Glinda and Elphaba; but thankfully not Thelma and Louise.

I have been lucky enough to have almost a dozen  women friends who, when I’m with them conjure up images of those zany women buddies. 


Our very kind bar man who let us sit as long as we liked and laugh and sketch and then took our photo for us. 

Fleet Street, The Strand, Charing Cross and Van Gogh


   Randal and I have been on a walking kick.  Monday we walked about 5 miles back and forth to Queen Mary University and the Tower Hamlets Archives.  Yesterday we walked about 5 miles back and forth to Charing Cross and the National Gallery.  Today I’m actually happy to stay on the boat and finish this email as well as do laundry.  And it’s raining so resting is a good idea.  But not too much resting; we’re starting to run out of time.  Our contract with SKD ends March 31. 

   I have about a billion emails begun, but then I realize I don’t know everything I want to know….and share….so I have to return to those places so the emails are on hold.  For this one I just said, “the heck with it; it goes as it is and what I know now.”  As always, I learn a great deal researching the photos I’ve taken so will probably at some point return to many of the places written about in this email.  If I find some amazing stories, I’ll share them later.

As an aside, when we were in Tibet and Nepal, the World Cup was taking place and our traveling pals were cheering for The Netherlands so we followed along.  Funny enough this year’s Superbowl went by almost un-noticed.   Monday afternoon one of our fellow cruisers sent around this email.

“Hey all, I am very impressed/flabergasted. I believe we may be the only group of 10+ Americans (plus friends) who got together this Monday morning without one word of mention of Superbowl (Seattle won in a blowout.) Dick 


Walk to Charing Cross


Starting off on a bright sunny day past the Walkie Talkie building on Eascheap

Great Tower ˃˃Eastcheap˃˃Cannon St˃˃Fleet Street˃˃The Strand as we walked to Charing Cross Rd.


Wall painting across from St Paul’s   and the window of a candy shop


Wedding Cake Church : sun has gone and clouds have come.

Our friends Ed and Sue had told me several times about this “wedding cake church” so today when we walked by these St Bride signs I remembered what they’d said and peeked in.  Randal had kept walking so I only took these few photos but will return one day for the tour they offer.

     Read the history of St Bride’s Church and you learn the history of London.  From Roman times to the Plague, The Great Fire and Christopher Wren, the origins of Fleet Street journalism, the horrors of the Blitz, labor issues in the 1980s and commemorations of the deaths of journalists covering the world today.

“THE CHURCH of St Bride’s is justly world famous. To enter its doors is to step into 2,000 years of history, which had begun with the Romans some six centuries before the name of St Bride, daughter of an Irish prince, even emerged from legend to become associated forever with the site.

     The story of St Bride’s is inextricably woven into the history of the City of London. By the time the Great Fire of 1666 left the church in ruins, a succession of churches had existed on the site for about a millennium, and the area had already assumed its unique role in the emergence of English printing. It took nine years for St Bride’s to re-appear from the ashes under the inspired direction of Christopher Wren, but for the next two-and-a-half centuries it was in the shadow of the church’s unmistakeable wedding-cake spire that the rise of the British newspaper industry into the immensely-powerful Fourth Estate took place.

     Then, in 1940, St Bride’s fell victim once again to flames as German incendiary bombs reduced Wren’s architectural jewel to a roofless shell. This time 17 years elapsed before rebuilding was completed, although a series of important excavations in 1953 amid the skeletal ruins, led by the medieval archaeologist Professor W. F. Grimes, came up with extraordinary results, uncovering the foundations of all six previous churches on the site.”   is the link to the complete story. 

“Much has been written about the steeple,

the most romantic tale of which is surely

that of William Rich, apprenticed to a baker

near Ludgate Circus. He fell in love with his

master’s daughter and, when he set up his own

business at the end of his apprenticeship,

won her father’s approval for her hand in marriage.  clip_image007

Rich wished to create a spectacular cake

for the wedding feast, but was unsure how,

until one day he looked up at the steeple of the

church in which the marriage was to be held, and

inspiration hit him: a cake in layers, tiered, and

diminishing as it rose. Thus began the tradition  

of the tiered wedding cake.”—1730.html#top


Sign of “Ye Three Squirrels” caught my eye so then I had to some research.  Interestingly it had a connection to Twinings Tea just down Fleet Street.

    “Goslings Bank was established in 1650 at the ‘Sign of Ye Three Squirrels’, now 19 Fleet Street.  It amalgamated with Barclays Bank Ltd in 1896, but is still known as Gosling’s Branch. …..

     The Twinings of successive generations had banked with Hoare’s Bank, 37 Fleet Street from 1725 to 1766 and Goslings Bank, 19 Fleet Street from 1766 to 1826.”  ………

     In 1818, Richard Twining II and his brothers George and John Aldred of the fourth generation succeeded their father and uncle in the management, and in 1825 added banking to their tea business. The first entry in the Bank books was on 12th November 1825.

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Fleet Street becomes The Strand just near the border between the City of London and the City of Westminster.

     “With trading and banking ceasing to go hand in hand, Twinings Bank, which had been in existence for 67 years, was amalgamated with Lloyds Bank in 1892, and was known as Lloyds Bank, Twinings Branch, 215 The Strand, until 1895, when it moved to 222 The Strand and is now merged with Lloyds Bank, Law Courts Branch. For many years the cheques of this branch showed ‘formerly Praeds and Twinings’.   Praeds Bank was founded in 1803 at 169 Fleet Street; it was taken over by Lloyds Bank in 1891.”

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A quick peek into Twinings London   :

As the great Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone declared:

"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you."

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter’s tea party scene is an amusing parody of refined teatime niceties – where everyone talks, but nobody quite listens to what anyone else is saying.

    "Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

     "I’ve had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone: "so I can’t take more."

     "You mean you can’t take less," said the Hatter: "it’s very easy to take more than nothing."



One building that supposedly survived the Great Fire

Thai Square  located in what is reportedly the only Strand building to survive the Great Fire of London

  “This historical gem is the latest branch of Thai Square situated on the Strand, opposite the famous law courts.  Formally trading as the famous Wig and Pen Club, this building is reputed to be the only one on the Strand to have survived the great Fire of London.   Built in 1625, number 230 was the home of the Gatekeeper of Temple Bar who unwittingly began the catering tradition at this site by offering “pennorth of meat and bread” to the crowds who used to gather at the Temple Gate.”


Iconic images of London : red phone booths and red double-deck buses




Susan Hill, Virginia Woolf, and Florence Nightingale are my favorites on the King’s College wall of graduates. 

  “King’s luminaries past and present are now brightening up one of London’s main thoroughfares. The front windows of King’s Strand Campus show some of our most famous alumni, together with descriptions of the contributions they have made to science, politics and the arts.

The 50 head-and-shoulders images, which are up to two metres tall, are part of a ‘hall of fame’ stretching 90 metres between Somerset House and Surrey Street. They all represent people who have been associated with the College during its 180-year history.

They range from the first Duke of Wellington (who fought a duel while Prime Minister in defence of his role in founding King’s), and Florence Nightingale (who founded the College’s School of Nursing), through to current PhD student and three-times Olympic rowing medallist Katherine Grainger, and medical student Lynsey Gawn who has skied to the South Pole.

Other King’s characters on the Strand include five of the College’s nine Nobel Prize winners (among them Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir James Black), together with librettist WS Gilbert; Lord Lister, the founder of antiseptic surgery; Romantic poet John Keats; Bloc Party musician Kele Okereke; satirist Rory Bremner; Sir Ivison Macadam who established the National Union of Students, and Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement.”

Why Susan Hill ?  captures exactly how I felt reading Hill’s Howard’s End is on the Landing a captivating tour of English literature that I will keep as a course to follow for my own reading.  Great for book clubs!  She also wrote The Woman in Black which, turned into a play has been playing here for years and is on my list to hopefully see before we leave.  There is a recent movie too.

Years ago I’d read Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and being here near Bloomsbury has rekindled my interest.   More recently when we’d planned to go up the Red Sea and visit Egypt (Pre-Somalia Pirates mess) I read about Florence Nightingale’s visit there during which she managed through her letters to convince her parents of her desire to have a life that wasn’t marriage and children.

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clip_image021 clip_image022   24 Cambridge Circus, WC2H 8AA.

Cambridge Circus at the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road.

84 Charing Cross Road is no longer there. A Belgian restaurant (Leon’de Bruxelles) stands there instead.

The lunch special was soup or breaded whitebait  and mussels or fish and potato pancakes.  Both Randal and I ate the fish and pancakes but he had the whitebait and I had the soup.  It came with “French bread” and a soft drink for 7.95 £ which is most reasonable for London.  


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Where the “City of London” meets the City of Westminster : small photos taken on a previous walk with Sue and Ed.  And I think where Old Temple Bar stood.

Old Temple Bar

      Temple Bar is the only surviving gateway to the City of London, where it once stood at the junction where the Strand meets Fleet Street for more than 200 years.   A bar is first mentioned here in 1293, at which time it was probably no more than a chain (or bar) between wooden posts.  Due to its vicinity to the Temple, an area where the guilds of lawyers organised into what would become the Inns of Court in an area that is now considered “Legal London”, it was commonly referred to as Temple Bar.

     Since its conception in 1351, Temple Bar is mentioned throughout history, whether it be stories of victorious kings returning through its arches, its opening to receive the marriage of Mary Tudor to Phillip of Spain, or the passing by of the funeral cortege of Henry VII’s Queen, Elizabeth of York. Perhaps one of the most significant of state events, was the great triumphal procession of Elizabeth I in celebration of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The Lord Mayor waited at Temple Bar to present to the Sovereign the keys of the City, which Elizabeth I enhanced by presenting the Lord Mayor with a pearl encrusted sword, one of five City swords. This tradition has been preserved for more than 400 years, and the ceremony now is carried out on major state occasions where the Queen halts at Temple Bar to request permission to enter the City of London and is offered the Lord Mayor’s Sword of State as a sign of loyalty

     The site of Temple Bar was marked with the monument which still stands, a tall pillar with statues of Victoria and Albert, topped with a dragon.”


Somewhere I’d read about St Dunstan-in-the-West so when we passed by I stopped in.

St. Dunstan-in-the-West has a long and illustrious history.  Visitors are often struck by how St. Dunstan’s differs in appearance and style to other Anglican churches. The church looks traditionally Neo-Gothic on the outside, yet is octagonal inside.   The church narrowly escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666. The quick thinking of the Dean of Westminster saved the church: he roused forty scholars from Westminster School in the middle of the night, who extinguished the flames with buckets of water.

     The Clock and Giants

St Dunstan-in-the-West was a well-known landmark in previous centuries because of its magnificent clock. This dates from 1671, and was the first public clock in London to have a minute hand. The figures of the two giants strike the hours and quarters, and turn their heads. There are numerous literary references to the clock, including in Tom Brown’s Schooldays, the Vicar of Wakefield and a poem by William Cowper (1782):

When labour and when dullness, club in hand,

Like the two figures at St. Dunstan’s stand,

Beating alternately in measured time

The clockwork tintinnabulum of rhyme,

Exact and regular the sounds will be,

But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.


We buy our WiFi from 3 and are their best customers visiting them probably once each week.   It is truly our biggest expense in London, other than maybe food.


The National Gallery on a sunny day months ago when I took this photo.

We stopped there to see Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings.  All free!   We had to wait in-line but not for too long.  Great art is amazing to see.  No photos allowed but you can see the paintings on the website. 

The Sunflowers offers visitors the unique opportunity to witness the reunion of two of Vincent van Gogh’s iconic ‘Sunflower’ paintings – shown together in London for the first time in 65 years.

Visitors will be given the chance to compare and contrast these much-loved masterpieces side by side, while also exploring new research about the artist’s working practices.

The paintings, one owned by the National Gallery, the other by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) are two of the five versions of ‘Sunflowers’ that are now spread around the world (the others currently residing in Tokyo, Munich and Philadelphia).

The series dates from 1888, when Van Gogh left Paris to paint in the brilliant sunshine of the South of France, inviting Paul Gauguin to join him. Waiting for Gauguin to arrive, Van Gogh painted a series of pictures of sunflowers to decorate his friend’s bedroom. They were meant as a sign of friendship and welcome, but also of Vincent’s allegiance to Gauguin as his artistic leader. The pair worked together throughout autumn 1888 – but it ended very badly at the close of the year when Van Gogh seemed to have a nervous breakdown, famously cut off part of his ear and entered an asylum.

The display will also include the results of recent scientific research into the two paintings carried out by both institutions. These investigations have revealed new insights into how Van Gogh painted his ‘Sunflowers’ and what materials he used – giving us a deeper understanding of the making and meaning of these works of art, and of their relationship to each other.