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Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old Jun 5th, 2015, 02:13 PM
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Looks very nice. My Royal Oaks membership packet arrived today. Plan to give the card as much of a workout as possible...
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Old Jun 5th, 2015, 02:29 PM
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I'm sure you'll make good use of the Royal Oak card, and the membership is tax deductible!
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Old Jun 7th, 2015, 01:51 PM
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Today we made the best of the fabulous sun and headed to Hampstead Heath with the sibling and some friends for a picnic. It's a charming spot and half of London was out there enjoying the wonderful weather. We picnicked near Kenwood House which is somewhere I've been meaning to visit since the renovations where completed a few years ago.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v...nwood/history/

The house is memorable for the Adams interiors which are a wonder of neo-classicism (painted in white, pale pink and blue) and the fantastic art collection which includes some great English portraits as well as works by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Vermeer and Turner. The house is free to enter and open daily. It's a great place to combine with a walk on the Heath which is what we did after the picnic. The view from Parliament Hill is spectacular, you will really have all of London at your feet.

If you've seen the movie Belle, this is the house where it is set.

Afterwards we headed home on the overground to Hoxton and stopped at Mien Tay a Vietnamese place on the Kingsland Rd which I'd recommend.

http://mientay.co.uk/shoreditch/
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Old Jun 7th, 2015, 02:51 PM
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Also recommend Viet Grill on the same road, Welltraveledbrit - they do a fab fish curry and excellent sharing cocktails.

I like the look of Nightjar but think I might need to save up first...
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Old Jun 8th, 2015, 02:38 AM
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RM67 thanks for the Viet Grill recommendation, much appreciated as not everything on the Kingsland Rd is a reliable option!.

Yes, Nightjar is rather "spendy" at 12-14 quid for a cocktail but if you go on a Monday there is no charge for the music and they have a small menu of seven pound options which is what I opted for.
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Old Jun 8th, 2015, 05:11 AM
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RM67 - You mentioned Broadgate Circle a while ago and I walked through the after-work throngs last week, it turns out my my husband is is using a Regus for work quite nearby. Incidentally there's a great view down onto Broadgate Circle and Finsbury Circus from the Heron building which is an interesting architectural contrast.

I still have St Dunstan in the East on my list, I thought it might make a good combination with the Bevis Marks synagogue and a visit to The Monument.
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Old Jun 8th, 2015, 06:19 AM
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I love St Dunstan in the East - very tranquil. If you are lucky you will get it all to yourself. If not, be prepared for fashions shoots - it seems to be a popular spot for that. You will also get a great view of the walkie talkie building from the streets in that area. Broadgate has unfortunately been spoiled by the redevelopment imho - I liked it better in the hanging gardens days...
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Old Jun 8th, 2015, 02:42 PM
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Well, more to catch up on from last week when I finally made it out to the Horseman Museum which was on my original list. It may be a clique but this place is a hidden gem and I've mentioned it to several friends who live north of the river and they've never heard of it.

The good news for me is that Forst Hill is on the overground and I could go there directly from Hoxton station, great. It's an amazing collection place with several different foci; there's an incredible ethnographic collection including items from Asia, Africa, the South Pacific and Eastern Europe; a natural history collection; an extensive collection of musical instruments and even an aquarium.

The place is clearly well used by locals and entry is free though there is a small charge for the aquarium. The museum was founded by a wealthy tea merchant Frederick John Horniman who donated his extensive collection for the betterment of the local community. Th museum was opened during his lifetime and he also donated the land that forms the beautiful grounds which have incredible views over London.

The museum really is very interesting some of it has been updates while other parts have been left in there original configuration. The Natural History exhibition is original and it's fascinating to see the taxidermy in large glass cases, there are ducks, birds, an enormous walrus and even a dodo, I had no idea they were so large.

In other parts of the museum the collection and display have been very well updated. The original collection was very much a cabinet or curiosities with all sorts of examples of material culture taken from all over the world. Originally it was used to support outdated notions about cultural hierarchies but they've reconfigured the collection and reinterpreted it. However, what great about the way that it's displayed is that in the Centenary Gallery they have retained a cross cultural discussion and have displayed the material in a very "cabinet of curiosities" style. So the whole thing has a nod to the original collection while reframing it in a contemporary way.

The African collection is also very nice with a number of Benin bronzes amongst the wooden sculptural objects.

The musical gallery is highly interactive with tables where you can sit in front of a screen, select instruments and hear them being played. It's all very well done and quite fascinating, who had any idea they played the bagpipes in Sicily?!!

The whole place is very kid friendly and they have a number of opportunities to handle objects from the collection.

There is a very nice cafe where you can take a break and the adjoining gardens are delightful, there is even a small farm/petting zoo so there's something for kids of all ages.

The building itself was also of interest as it's done in a Arts and Crafts style with some art Nouveau flourishes and a beautiful mosaic frieze on the front facade. Our architecture book tells me it's the same architect that designed t the Bishopsgate Institute and the Whitechapel Gallery.

I'll definitely be blogging about the Horniman but it may take me a while. I highly recommend the museum to those who have seen the main museums in the center of town and it may be of particular interest for anyone with children or an interest in the ethnographic collections..
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Old Jun 8th, 2015, 04:27 PM
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I hate auto correct almost as much as I love it! Of course I was talking about the HORNIMAN MUSEUM, not the Horseman! I corrected the mistake several times but I see it slipped through in the first sentence, great!
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Old Jun 8th, 2015, 06:08 PM
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Hi again WTB,

Just catching up again with your great adventure. Very interesting about the Huguenots of Spitalfields.

I really enjoyed the DR. JOHNSON HOUSE off the Strand. So tranquil. When I return to London, I hope to take that tour which follows in the steps of the master.

Interesting about the China Exchange lecture :"Tonight it was Stephen Fry talking about language which was quite interesting." Tomorrow I am leaving for Dublin. Unfortunately I was too late to sign up for Stephen Fry's lecture at the James Joyce Center next week. To tell the truth, I did not recognize his name but he is obviously huge in the UK. The lecture series sounds like my "cup of tea."

Loved your blog and pics of Fenton House in Hempstead. OMG, I just have to go back!

Again, WTB, thanks for sharing. You have given us so many ideas for future jaunts in London.
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 02:09 AM
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Latedaytraveler - thanks for following along, I'm glad it's still useful stuff.
Stephen Fry is indeed popular in the UK, he's priming himself to be a "national treasure" though he seems a little young for the role. I hope you enjoy your Dublin sojourn, I'll be over there at the end of the month.
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 04:14 AM
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I've just posted a piece on the blog about the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. Lots more details than I have here plus photos.

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...lthamstow.html
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 05:10 AM
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Love the photos! And thanks for the report on Walthamstow. This is definitely on my list for September, sounds like with getting there and back, and lunch, it could take most of a day.

(Would have "liked" and left a comment, but I don't do FB or Google.)
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 05:16 AM
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Stephen Fry; a couple of years back the Australian parliament put forward a bill to ban this guy from being on 24 hours on TV. A bit of a stunt but there was a time when you could not avoid him.

I see him as the Alan Bennett de nos jours, but of course Alan Bennett is still alive.
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 06:12 AM
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actually I think that Mr Fry has already made it to national treasure along with Joanna Lumley and Dawn French, all of whom would be interesting to listen to, IMO.

Have a great time in Dublin, lateday.
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 07:16 AM
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WTB,

Very interesting blog/photos about WILLIAM MORRIS and his work in Walthamstow. I never knew much about him before but I love his designs. Just read a quick bio of him of Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Morris

BILOBURGLER and ANNHIG, thank for you input on STEPHEN FRY. He will be featured lecturer for the James Joyce Center on Bloomsday, June 16. Sold out crowd but who knows?

Hoping to return to London next year...
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 12:38 PM
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Just found this thread - as an Anglo-American who moved to Shoreditch after years in the Home Counties I found much that was familiar in your discovery of East London. Here's something else you may enjoy: this Saturday six Spitalfields houses are opening their gardens for charity. (am linking the Spitalfields life blog rather than the NGS site as it is a fantastic resource for information about this part of town. ) http://spitalfieldslife.com/2015/05/...-open-gardens/
It's a once-a-year chance - the gardens range from courtyards to a proper garden with espaliered fruit trees to an architect's high concept space complete with 'moat'. And because the gardens are all entered through the houses, one gets a sneaky peak of Georgian gems updated for 21st century life.
June 13-14 is also the annual London Open Squares Weekend. http://www.opensquares.org/ It's best to head West for the most exclusive 'key holder only gardens.' One favourite is Park Crescent which features a'nursemaids' tunnel' running under Marylebone Road. So much going on!
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Old Jun 9th, 2015, 01:49 PM
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Boveney -
Too funny, I was just looking at Spitalfields Life and noticed the "gentle author" had just been to several of the places I'd visited recently including Three Mills in Bow and the Fan Museum in Greenwich! I walked right through Spitalfields and the old Master weaver's houses this evening coming back from an excellent meal at Copita del Mercado. It's a tapas place but not the uninteresting stuff you normally get, this is very high quality Spanish food and we were impressed. It's right between Petticoat Lane and the White Chapel Gallery on Wentworth Street. Worth a look and they have a good deal in the early evening.
http://www.copitadelmercado.com

Thanks for the Spitalfields Open Garden link and the tip to head west for the regular Open Gardens weekend, that was my plan but it's good to hear it is a logical strategy. We will look out for Park Crescent.

I'm also hoping to try the Rochelle Canteen which is on Arnold Circus before we leave, have you tried it? Any and all recommendations appreciated!

As you say there is so much to see and do.

Bilboburgler and Annhig - Interesting discussion re Stephen Fry who I like well enough but as the theatre person I have to say I'm afraid Alan Bennet is the one who suffers in the comparison!
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Old Jun 10th, 2015, 12:59 AM
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Yes, I do recommend Rochelle's - the young chef is a family friend. Try to reserve a table in the garden if it's a nice day. Lots of foody places in the area: Clove Club (though I've only been for the bar snacks) in the old Shoreditch Town Hall (motto: More light! More power! ), Angela Hartnett's Merchants Tavern, 8 Hoxton Square, Eyre Brothers (another Spanish restaurant which, as you've just been to the new Nuno Mendes Portuguese place might seem Iberian overkill but this is a very good, 'grown up' restaurant.) And at the opposite end of the scale: 100 Hoxton Street, a cheap(ish), cheerful neighbourhood place with good cocktails and 'sharing' food of the kind I'd never cook at home.
Your mention of Rochelle's reminds me that you might be interested in the Arnold Circus segment of 'The Secret History of Our Streets', which is available for a couple more weeks on BBC i-player. In 2011 when the documentary was made, council housing still made up 50% of Circus residences.
Which leads me to another viewing recommendation - 'Catastrophe' available on All 4 (Channel 4's 'i-player'). This is a joint Anglo-American production about a trans-Atlantic romance. Very rude, very funny and filmed all around your current neighbourhood. It was shown here in January and will be/is being screened on amazon in the US. Introduced me to an American comedian I'd never heard of - Rob Delaney. For all I know, he's the Stephen Fry of America...
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Old Jun 10th, 2015, 02:38 PM
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Thanks SO much for all the thoughtful recommendations. I'm sure others will appreciate them too. Its funny your recommended 'The Secret History of Our Streets' as I was on a walk through camberwell and Denmark Hill and the guide mentioned they had done a program on Camberwell Grove. I'm interested in social housing and had heard that Arnold Circus was one of the earlier examples. We are staying at Keeling House which was originally council housing and is a Grade II listed building as it was built by Lasdun who also built the National.

I'll also look up 'Catastrophe'. I have to say the TV show I've been thinking of is 'Desperate Romantics' which was a 2009 BBC show on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
----

Ok, back to the Trip Report!

Today I had a lovely day which started out around Holland Park at the home of Edward Linley Sambourne, 18 STAFFORD TERRACE. I'd booked in advance for the 11:15am tour and for once I turned up on time, incredible London must be changing me! This is an extraordinarily lovely small house museum and I recommend it highly for anyone interested in decorative interiors, history or Victoriana.

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/subsites/muse...dterrace1.aspx

To string several cliques together the house is both a hidden gem and a time capsule. It really is out of the ordinary. So much of what we see in historic interiors are "recreations" (Spencer House) or at best a heavy "restorations", what is wonderful about 18 Stafford Terrace is that it has barely changed in more than a century.

The story of the house is fascinating. This is high Victoriana at its best, the home of a Punch cartoonish the house passed among the family members and for a range of different reasons very few modifications were made. Eventually it passed to the granddaughter Anne Messel who went on to found the Victorian Society (along with John Betjeman and others) and eventually sold the house to the GLC to be opened to the public. Incidentally, she was the mother of Antony Armstrong Jones , later Lord Snowden who married the Queen's sister Princess Margaret.

So, when you see the interiors it really feels like a family home and it's filled with photos, cartoons, pictures etc. Like so many Victorian interiors it's packed but what is interesting is that you're seeing the home of a successful commercial artist but not someone who was extremely wealthy, there was no country estate or lavish foreign expeditions. Hence this is very different from Lord Leighton's House nearby.

So, highly recommended for period charm. Plus the guide was extremely knowledgable and did an excellent job of conveying a sense of the family and their times. When I was done I took a walk down Addison Rd to see some of the architecturally interesting homes nearby and then up Melbury, following a walking tour in the first of the Time Out London Walks books. The first house I went to see was a massive building site and that seems to be the case with half the houses in any nice neighborhood in London.

The walking tour was entitled "The Triumph of the Bourgeoisie" and followed the development and expansion of Kensington in the Nineteenth century. It was a wonderful fit with the earlier tour of Stafford Terrace. However, the sheer wealth of the area currently (I didn't count how many Bentleys I saw) seems almost surreal, as if we now need another word that goes beyond Bourgeoisie! Is there something beyond controlling the means of production?!!

I stopped in at the Leighton House which is always fabulous and in some ways reminds me of the Jaquemart Andre in Paris. If you haven't been here you should go. It's the home and studio of the Victorian painter Frederick Leighton RA. The house has a plain facade facing the street but it's much more decorative on the side facing the garden. However, the true beauty is inside, the Arab Hall is surely one of the most beautiful rooms in London. A Victorian, orientalist envisaging of the East, brought home for the connoisseur. Leighton had everyone from a Methodist missionary, to the explorer Richard Burton bringing decorative elements including islamic tile back to London for him. Again highly recommended for anyone interested in History, architecture, art, or Victoriana.

After all this you would think I'd had enough but I was just getting going! I went back to my walk and it took me through Holland Park, why hadn't I been here before? I had been near the park but never in it. It's GORGEOUS, I had no idea, it has lots of variety, wild paths, manicured formal gardens, even a Japanese garden.

I walked up to Notting Hill Gate and back down Kensington Church Street where my aunt used to take me to Geales for fish and chips in the 1980's. OK, after my trip down memory lane I stopped for tea and then took a bus to Kings College on the Strand for a very enjoyable lecture on THE IRISH IN LONDON. There was a reception after it but we skipped it.

Afterwards we had a simple meal at THE BLACKFRIARS PUB (predictable near Blackfriars Station) which I highly recommend for the interior, this is surely one of the most interesting Art Nouveau interiors in London? Saved from the wrecking ball in the 1960's, it's very popular with the after work crowd who are still in evidence a 8pm.

Afterwards we walked up to St Paul's to see the Wren's Temple Bar (city gate) which has been relocated to Paternost Sq. The whole story of how it was removed from the Strand, taken to the country to be used as a gatehouse, forgotten, rediscovered and then returned to London is an amazing tale and that's where my day ended.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Bar,_London
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