Here are some photos of London at night. Not because I'm a photographer of any note, or can take night-esque photos, but purely because I really love London at night ... as well as most other times of day. No doubt I'll do more at some point.
weekend roundup - 10th/11th dec
On Saturday I was joined by Gaby and Erica, and after meeting at The Monument, quickly decanted to a nearby coffee place, where I was able to bore them with historical type stuff relating to the area and London Bridge from the warmth that being inside often brings.
They wanted to have a mooch round Borough Market. I took this photo whilst they were mooching.
In the background you can see Southwark Cathedral. I have a copy of brilliant panorama of London, Bankside and the Thames by Nicholas John Visscher. He made it in 1616, which incidentally was the same year that William Shakespeare died. That same church (didn't become a cathedral until 1905) is in that picture. Also, Edmund, Shakespeare's younger brother is buried there. I love the fact that it's still presiding over things.
Also, just a bit further along, next to the Wobbly Bridge is a house that people say that Christopher Wren lived in whilst watching St Paul's being built. There is a plaque on the house which says exactly the same thing. He didn't, the house wasn't built then. However, I've just started reading a book called 'The House by the Thames' by Gillian Tindall, which is all about that house through hundreds of years of history, or more to the point she uses it as a way of discussing the area. So far, so fascinating.
Here are Saturday's Chalkers, and from the photo, you could be forgiven for thinking it was the height of summer, and not a cold December morning.
We finished up in Ye Old Cheshire Cheese for a drinkie poops. It's the new pub on the site, built in 1667. The previous one burnt down in some kind of fire apparently.
Sunday. Yes, Sunday. 'My neck of the woods'. A few people dropped out, but despite the prevailing greyness and coldness of the day, we carried on, and I have to say, was rather enjoyable.
It was a Sunday, and on Sundays, the Methodists at the Wesleyan Chapel near Old Street hold a service, so I would like to thank them for not only welcoming us in, despite not wishing to attend the aforementioned service, but actively encouraging us to go and see their toilets. They're very proud of their toilets at the Wesleyan Chapel, and so they should be. They're original Crappers. Thomas Crapper is often accredited with inventing the flushing toilet, but it would seem, that particular accolade goes to a guy called John Harrington way back in 1596. Either way, Crapper did much for the modern day toilet and its flushing system, the Wesleyan Chapel have original Crappers and we went and saw them.
I also like the instructions written for Victorians, unsure of how a Crapper might work; 'PULL AND LET GO.'
The thing with the east end, it's a real hotch-potch, so you see Crappers, like you've just seen, plague burial grounds, Shakespeare's stomping ground and giant animals ...
... just one of the many pieces of street art that are all over the area. This particular creature was done by Peter Roa, who also painted the crane, which Kalpana (previous Chalker) took a picture of on Brick Lane last week. Anyway ... we then went and had a cuppa at I made it for you, which is a great little tea shop place that's opened up on Pitfield Street (which you can see in my last blog 'Shoreditch/Hoxton then & now') and wandered around the area, which I have to say has far more secrets than people give it credit for, until we stopped at The Water Poet, a pub named after an Elizabethan waterman called John Taylor. C'est tout.
My neck of the woods - then & now
I know you can get apps that do this sort of thing, but I thought it might be fun to show a few pictures of the Shoreditch and Hoxton area, which are covered in the 'My neck of the woods' walk, as they were 'then' and as the same place looks 'now' in 2011. Quite simple really. If you know the area, it might be quite interesting. Then again, it might not.
This is Shoreditch Town Hall, originally built in 1865.
This is the north end of Hoxton Square in 1921. The square was originally developed in the 1680's. St Monica's Catholic Church on the left is still there ... as you can see.
Just up the road is Hoxton Street, which was home to the Britannia Theatre, built in 1841 and could seat 3000 people. It was frequented by Charles Dickens (amongst many others), but unfortunately WWII got the better of it. The photo below was taken in about 1936, by which time it was being used as a cinema. It's now a block of flats opposite the Macbeth pub.
Curtain Road was once home to The Theatre, which was where William Shakespeare strutted his stuff before his troupe 'The Lord Chamberlain's Men' dismantled the theatre, took it across on the Thames, re-erected on Bankside and called it The Globe. This is Curtain Road in about 1900.
Pitfield Street is named after Charles Pitfield, who bought a large moated mansion house nearby in 1648. It runs down the side of Hoxton Square and runs from Old Street pretty much up to the Regent's Canal and also joins up with New North Road. The photo below was taken in about 1905 and shows the library and what used to be the baths to the left. The baths were demolished after the war, and the library now houses the Courtyard Theatre.
Archive photos courtesy of L.B Hackney's Archive Department.
Aside from last weekends roundup, the previous blog was a slightly macabre affair, concerning human remains that had ... well ... remained for hundreds of years. So, instead here are a few things that have appeared in London, or at least on my radar.
First of all, on Wednesday I happened upon a tank parked on a side street behind Angel tube station. I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason for it to be there, and aside from undeniable strangeness of the sight, it looked quite at home next to a moped.
The sign on the wall next to where the tank was parked, made it even more amusing. Incase you can't read it on the above photo, here it is a bit closer.
I would pay money to watch Islington Council trying to clamp that one.
I've walked down Bermondsey Street loads of times, from Tooley Street, underneath the London Bridge railway line. Tonight was the first time I noticed a black door, rather like the one on Downing Street behind which David Cameron currently resides. It has even got a number 10 on it. It seems to have just appeared. It is quite possibly something to do with Shunt, who run various arts events in the arches, but who knows. I tried knocking on the rather splendid door knocker, but to no avail. If anyone knows anything about it, please feel free to let me know.
And finally, last week I came across this poster, just off Old Street towards Farringdon.
After my initial flurry of excitement, I found the statue (along with three others) only moments later and was mildly disappointed to discover it was in fact just an advertising campaign for a local company. Still, I liked the idea.
Weekend Round up - 3rd & 4th Dec
The current walks are a bit of a work in progress, trying different things, getting feedback from chalkers, trying to figure out what works and what doesn't and so on. Robb who came on the first 'London in a nutshell' walk suggested trying it backwards. Not literally walking backwards, but starting at the end. I had been wondering the same thing myself, so on Saturday morning, the 7 would be chalkers very kindly agreed to meet me near Trafalgar Square instead.
Also, I'm very much under the impression that it's quite a long walk, again feedback that I've been getting. I'm very much of the opinion that walking tours should be fun, (or at least a little bit fun), and if people are getting tired, and hungry then it ceases being so fun. So, on Saturday I suggested trying a different and shorter walk finishing at St. Paul's and see then how everyone was doing.
I personally thought it was a good length and we finished by going up to the roof of the New Change shopping centre which not only gives you stunning views across London, but of St Paul's too. I took the following photo from up there one evening the other week.
Anyway, I really enjoyed it and they were a lovely group. Christina, who came on Saturday wrote a nice review on The Travel Editor website. I might be using the following quote in future marketing campaigns ... "Jonnie is endearingly scatty in his approach, like a fully loaded iPod of history set on shuffle." I think it's a good thing, maybe, unless you don't like scatty iPod shuffley history type things.
Pretty much all of the group then went for a well earned post walk drinkie poops in Ye Olde Watling nearby.
Sunday was an intimate affair, as a couple of people didn't turn up, but Kalpana and Matt valiantly agreed to go it alone. They of course had very little choice, as they'd come down from Birmingham. We had a wander around Shoreditch, Hoxton, Columbia Road (lots of Christmas trees there at the moment) and Spitalfields and after they left, apparently went for a curry on Brick Lane. Kalpana sent me a few photos she took on our travels and has very kindly let me put them up here.
Male Chalker, with the most female name - Joan
Best translator - Joan
Best moustache - Joan
Best sideburns - Joan
So, I'm thinking of having a minor walk re-shuffle in the new year. Nothing drastic, but will hopefully make them better and more enjoyable, so do check back to see what's happening.
St Bride's - through the secret door
If anyone reading this has been on one of my walks, you'll know I'm a fan of exploring places and uncovering things, going inside buildings and the like. The day I walked into St Bride's just off Fleet Street was a good day. It's famous for its spire, and often people just gawp up at it from outside, then move on. The church, although massively re-built after a couple of German incendiary bombs plunged through the roof during the blitz is a treasure trove of history; a Roman pavement (discovered thanks to the bombs), a mini museum in the crypt, associations with the printing industry, Samuel Pepys was born next door and lots of other fascinating bits and pieces.
However, I've spotted on a couple of occasions, people coming in and out of a locked door in the crypt, not open to the public. The other afternoon, I went along to one of the guided tours the church does on select Tuesdays in the hope that aside from learning some more stuff about the church, we might be taken through the secret door.
We were. Basically, after walking through a kitchenette, boxes and general paraphernalia accumulated over the last few hundred years, a door opens into a room, which is laden with skulls and assorted bones, some half buried in the earth. Apparently estimated at nearly 7000 human remains.
Then, the next room is much more ordered. Some 200 remains have been collected, identified, boxed, labelled and stored in cardboard boxes and stacked from floor to ceiling.
A detailed register is also on hand which gives names, dates, occupation, abode and cause of death for those now residing in the cardboard boxes. It's a fascinating, if not slightly morbid glimpse of London's past and one which has been important for research; forensically, medically and historically.
After only a cursory glance at the register, I noticed one unfortunate gentleman named John Lucas, a coal merchant who died in 1790. According to the cause of death, his demise was ... 'suddenly, by getting up in a hot night and refreshing himself at his chamber window.'