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Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old Apr 16th, 2015, 01:33 AM
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Neither Clacton nor Pizza Express were on my original list, perhaps I should reconsider?!!

TWO TEMPLE PLACE
Yesterday I went along to a place that has been on my list for a while, Two Temple Place. This is an interesting neo-gothic house house built for William Astor at the end of the Nineteenth Century. No expense was spared on the interior and it is very much worth seeing with an incredible carved wooden staircase and some lovely stained glass. Incidentally, the interior has been used for the soap opera to end all soap operas, Dpwnton Abbey, which should tell you how over the top it is!

The situation on the Embankment is also rather nice, and there's a nice approach from the Strand - which takes you down a small street and then some steps. It all feels rather hidden in plain sight as so many things do in London. Even better there is no admission charge!

The reason this place isn't better known is that it is run by a charitable trust and has only been open to the public for the last couple of years. Additionally, it's only open when they are putting on an exhibition which generally run for a couple of months, late January through April.

Their exhibits tend to promote objects from regional British collections and the current one, which ends April 19th (sorry for everyone coming later this Spring) is Cotton in Gold. It's an exhibit of the collections made by wealthy mill owners in Lancashire. The exhibit is well worth seeing, I was fascinated to see the mill workers' heavy clogs which had metal on the soles which looked just like a horses' shoe. They even had them in tiny sizes for the working children.

Well worth bookmarking for those who are interested. Here's the website.

http://www.twotempleplace.org
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 02:26 AM
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bookmarking
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 07:01 AM
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Sorry for hijacking your thread, wtb, but anywhere you can find Lee Mead is a place worth visiting - just my opinion, of course.

Love the description of Two Temple Place.
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 11:44 AM
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i have walked past 2 Temple Place time without number but never when it was open - but then probably I wouldn't have bothered on my way to or from the Temple Tube station. The pictures of the inside make it look very lavish - thanks for bringing it to our attention, WTB.
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 03:17 PM
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wtb (and anyone else who can make it): It looks like the the GTG will be at the Golden Fleece

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ril-28may1.cfm

http://www.metropolitanpubcompany.co...golden-fleece/

I'll be booking a table in the next few days

I had never heard of 2 Temple Place. I'll miss it this time since they close the day I'm flying to the UK, but will definitely be on the lookout for other exhibitions.
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 04:14 PM
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Two Temple Pl is just next door to where my daughter will start grad studies in September. I'll have to let her know about the museum, because I'd never heard of it either.
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Old Apr 17th, 2015, 02:36 PM
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So glad to hear Two Temple Place is something new for others too.

Janis there are lots of interesting exhibits on right now; An Impressionism exhibit at the National, one on Greek Beauty and Sculpture at the British Museum, Sonia Delauney at the Tate Modern and Singer Sergeant at the National Portrait Gallery. Looking forward to meeting at the GTG and my husband will come along too.

I'm off to Cambridge tomorrow to visit the sibling and the numerous dogs, I was in Hampstead and very much enjoyed my stroll which included a visit to the charming National Trust property-

FENTON HOUSE. What a find, the house and garden are so lovely and such a manageable scale, this really feels like a family home. Owned by a series of wealthy merchants this is a real find. There's a lovely collection of Restoration needlework as well as some impressive china, but for me it was the lovely interiors completed by John Fowler which were the draw. They are timeless even forty years on. All so English with some incredible chintzes which shows it can be done, it just has to be done well. This is a great destination if you want a country feel without leaving London.

From the roof you get a gorgeous view down over London (city, shard etc) and they have a collection of period instruments including a harpsichord owned by the Queen. While I was there a student was practicing on a spinnet and it was a great treat to hear her. Apparently you're most likely to hear students practicing on a Wednesday andI was lucky to catch some music on a Friday.

The garden has lovely espaliered fruit trees in the kitchen garden and a formal garden of great symmetry and beauty.

It's an easy walk from the Hampstead Underground and it makes a nice dayout in combination with the Modernist National Trust property Two Willow Rd (I'll go on another day), Burgh House which has a nice cafe and a small (free) museum outlining the history of Hampstead (loved my lunch and the museum was moderately interesting) and Keat's House at the bottom of the Hill. There are of course other things one could see too, including walking on the Heath.

THE KEAT'S HOUSE was better than the Keats Museum in Rome, in that it has a greater connection to his life and work. There are also some items from Fanny Brawn, pictures, engagement ring etc.. But somehow these literary museums often fail in translating the work, the passion or the inspiration. It feels somehow more mausoleum than anything else though it gives a good sense for the changing demographic of the town!

I used the overground to travel back to Hoxton which was easy and more comfortable than the underground, it also saved me walking all the way back up the hill! Overall, Hampstead is leafy, expensive and charming. It's interesting to see the development from country estates, to spa town to artist's enclave, to today. I don't think they have too many starving poets living there anymore, though who knows they may be the people doing the gardening at those five million pound houses I passed!
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Old Apr 17th, 2015, 02:56 PM
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I visited Keat's House in Hampstead and the Rome location during the same trip, right after seeing 'Bright Star'. So they seemed to me part of a whole, rather than disconnected locations, each part of the same story. It was ideal in that regard.
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Old Apr 20th, 2015, 02:45 PM
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MmePerdu,
I can see that the museums might feel different when seen "of a piece". Did you make it to the Protestant (really all non catholic) Cemetery in Rome? It's a strangely fascinating place and you can see where Keats and Shelley are buried as well as others like Gramsci. Keats grave is inscribed with the words Young English Poet and, as he requested, "Here Lies one Whose name was Writ in Water". I highly recommend the cemetery to anyone who hasn't visited, it's always good to make it out to Testaccio where the food markets is fun to visit too.

OK, back to London!

In a bid to see more of the less well know museums today I headed to RANGER"S HOUSE in Greenwich which houses the WERNHER COLLECTION. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny and almost warm, though in tis regard I seem to have become Californian. I'm out there in a big scarf while lots of people strip off the minute there see the sun, regardless of whether it's warm or not. The paper keeps telling me about the hot weather but I only remember one day! Apparently this is one of the warmest Aprils on record (and I'm not complaining) but it isn't exactly balmy!

But enough complaining, today was lovely and perfect for a day out in Greenwich. I took the Thames Clipper from Tower per, this is the service you can use you Oyster card on, and it worked well. It was lovely to be out on the water and it's great for viewing the architectural developments and repurposing along the Thames. When I got out at Greenwich I opted for a guided walking tour which went from the Information Center. I have to say these walking tours are a good deal at £8. The tour took in many of the famous buildings, their occupants and their histories ending at the Observatory. Obviously, there are lots of naval connections here and I'm looking forward to returning to see the Maritime History Museum. It was a good introduction but I'll have to come back to see everything as I was heading on.

Incidentally, I was interested to learn that the building known as the Queen's House was the first Palladian building built in England and designed by Indigo Jones.

From the Observatory, I walked across the park to the RANGER'S HOOUSE. This is an English Heritage property and unfortunately it's only open a few days a week and you have to take a guided tour - which you are advised to book in advance. Unfortunately there is no historical association between the collection and the house, though they have restored one room to reflect the manner in which the Wernher's lived.

This is a collection built on the colonial trade in diamonds and gold and Werhner was closely associated with both Beit and Rhodes, Wernher's collection is very strong in a number of areas including Renaissance bronzes, devotional objects from the Middle Ages including relaquies and an amazing collection of Renaissance jewelry. There is some furniture, tapestries and and paintings as well as some beautiful Italian and Turkish ceramics. If you are interested in these items or periods, it's well worth seeing but as an individual's personal collection I think it suffers by not being displayed in the home or site built for it. Perhaps this is just a romantic notion but it works so well at so many small house museums. The history of this collection which includes items being stolen, sold or given to the gift in lieu of death duties also included the loss of the family home Luton Hoo.

It was a very pleasant afternoon for me and I walked back across Blackheath to the station where it was easy to catch a train into town. One of the things I'm enjoying about the Art Fund card is that it's drawing my attention to places I might have missed.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v...er-collection/
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Old Apr 20th, 2015, 03:09 PM
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Checking back in after not reading this for a while and still lots of interesting titbits. Gotta love the Barbican. I would have sent you to Broadgate Circle as well, as I doubt that was there when you last visited, but its better in winter with the ice rink, and they have done something appalling by way of redevelopment in the past year or so sadly. Fit in St Dunstan in the East if you have the time - secret oasis away from the melee. Great views of the walkie talkie building en-route too.

Stokebailey - I am still waiting for our drink
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Old Apr 21st, 2015, 12:59 AM
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RM67 - Thanks for the tips, I don't know Broadgate Circus at all and haven't been to Dustan in the East. I seem to walk past the walkie talkie constantly!
The talk at the Bishopsgate Institute on redevelopment in London was fascinating, it seems the developers are really working the systems with their financial viability assessments. By the sounds of things the London skyline will look quite different in another ten years. It seems that Norton Folgate (an district close to Spitalfiends) is the next area on the chopping block. Of course the question is less what will the skyline look like in twenty years than who will be able to afford to live here? Clearly lots of the buyers are speculative foreign owners (not just the super rich but the newly emerging middle classes) being sold on London as a safe harbour for foreign investment. Sounds and feels like a bubble but perhaps the global market is large enough to sustain this "growth"?

Latedaytraveler - I missed your question on Dublin. I must admit I'm almost entirely preoccupied with family when I'm in Ireland, so I'm not too good on recommendations. I do like the Kilkenny Design store around the corner from the National Gallery and I always make time for a meal at Caviston's - the wonderful seafood restaurant in Glasthule. You'll be very close to it if you go the the forty foot and the Joyce Museum in the Martello tour out in Sandycove. Funnily enough my mother has a view of one of the Martello Towers as you go up her staircase!

Its always worth checking out the theatre in Dublin, the Gate and the Abbey are the big players in Dublin or if you are in Galway The Druid, though this summer they are running a series at the Lincoln Festival in NYC. I look forward to hearing what you enjoyed.
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Old Apr 21st, 2015, 01:46 AM
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The whole investment in property thing is begining to hit the politican's awareness bubble. "How come we build houses but no one gets to live in them" sort of thing. Should be interesting in the next 5 years with a Labour government and a possible Labour Mayor...
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Old Apr 21st, 2015, 05:35 AM
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I'm out there in a big scarf while lots of people strip off the minute there see the sun, regardless of whether it's warm or not. The paper keeps telling me about the hot weather but I only remember one day! Apparently this is one of the warmest Aprils on record (and I'm not complaining) but it isn't exactly balmy!>>

it's lovely here in Cornwall, wtb, save for a bit of a breeze which I am doing my best to avoid by choosing the most sheltered parts of the garden to work in.

Interesting you mention Palladio - when I was at the language school in Venice in February, the teacher who took us on a walking tour took us to the very end of the Zattere where you have a view of both of Palladio's churches; he pointed out that it was seeing them which encouraged the english "milords" on their Grand Tours to go home and build in the same manner. I did not know however that the Queen's house was the first one.
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Old Apr 21st, 2015, 07:13 AM
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Yorkshire is a massive 17C today with a clear blue sky. Down to vest and jeans (well it is yorkshire). Evenings cold and we have some of the best flowering tree displays I've seen for years.
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Old Apr 21st, 2015, 05:36 PM
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Hi WTB,

Still following along and enjoying your extended stay in London. Very interesting about the LATE TUESDAY SOCIETY. Same with TWO TEMPLE PLACE. Last summer I took a London Walks Pub Crawl which started at Temple Tube - a lovely evening. Our guide gave his intro while we stood in a garden looking up at that beautiful structure.

It was built (extremely expensive) by one of those American Astors whose son married the irrepressible Lady Nancy Astor, Churchill's nemesis. She was one of the famous beauties, the Langhorne sisters of Virginia, who married so well. (bio by James Fox).

I also enjoyed your description of FENTON HOUSE and the KEATS HOUSE in HAMPSTEAD. What a classy place, eh? A beautiful area to spend the day.

Thanks for your suggestions for my jaunt to DUBLIN. I already have tickets for the Abbey and Gate theaters and several activities at the JAMES JOYCE CENTER for BLOOMSDAY. "Funnily enough my mother has a view of one of the Martello Towers as you go up her staircase!" Excellent, I am going on a bus tour which includes the major sites in ULYSSES including Sandy Cove.
Again, it's so much fun following your adventures in London. Wish I could be at that Fodors GTG.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2015, 09:09 AM
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SKY GARDEN
I hadn't heard of the SkyGarden until someone mentioned it recently on Fodors but I had heard about the Walkie Talkie building it's housed in. This is the building that reflected the sun right onto someone's Jaguar and burnt the paint. A classic fail for the car, the architect and the developers. The Brits love a failure and it was immediately dubbed the Walkie Scorchie. Now, sometime later it has undergone an expensive modification and is no longer a danger to the local cars and shops.

So what about this garden then? Well as part of the permission for the development, the owners promised a public garden on top of the building. So, here is where you can get your tickets....
https://skygardentickets.com/skygardenpublic_ui/events/

The mention of tickets lets you know this isn't like a stroll around Hyde Park. The experience isn't about the garden, it's about the view. You have to bring your tickets, photo id and pass through airport style security before you even make it to the lift. Then you head up 35 floors which is surprisingly quick and you come out in what looks exactly like an airport lounge. Sadly the hostesses at the cafe(who are right there when you emerge from the lift) are standing on a green shag rug, I think it's meant to be a playful reference to grass, but it just looks rather sad, like a scary overgrown bathmat!

Don't get too excited, the "garden" isn't nearly as nice as the greenery in the Singapore airport, in facts it's quite pathetic. The whole place has the feeling of the public space in a shopping mall. But don't worry it's not about all that, it's about what you can see when you look out.

OHH the view is glorious and wonderfully you can walk right around the building to get a 360 degree view of London. From here you can see its of the new buildings and it's a great place if you're an architecture buff. There is an open viewing deck on one side (where they carefully monitor people as they go in and out) with an incredible view over the Thames, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. From this height you can rally appreciate the curves in the Thames. You can see it all, Canary Wharf, the Shard, St Pauls, the Barbican, the London Eye and Westminster in the distance, well my husband could see that but I couldn't because I'd left my binocs at home!

So, not impressed with the interior or the garden but the view is just spectacular and it's free which is always fab.

Latedaytraveler, sorry to miss you at the GTG but just give me a shout if you come through SF sometime, there's a contact section on my blog.

www.somuchmoretosee.com
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Old Apr 22nd, 2015, 09:17 AM
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Will do.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2015, 08:57 AM
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Well we've been in London for three weeks and I'm exhausted. I've been running round like crazy and I need to sow things down! The problem is there's too much to see and do and my curiosity and desire to learn just won't go away, I really have to stop feeding it!

This week we had friends in town and we headed out to the...

DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY
I've been meaning to go here forever and I was particularly interested as Sir John Soane built the original building and it was one of the first custom built gallery spaces in the UK. The skylights provide wonderful light for the main galleries. Though I must admit with all the additions it was disappointing not to be able to get a good view of the original sweep of the building. WE were here because my fired really wanted to see the Ravilious exhibit which spoke to her much more than it did to me. I like his style but the works felt rather too nostalgic to me and a quick look around at the audience suggested this was the way it was being 'read". However, it's an interesting historical piece and good for anyone who is interested in the 1930 and the early war years.

I was however, very please to see the permanent collection which is very impressive, with several Rembrandts, Rubens, Gainsborough, Claude Lorraine, Poussin and lots of others including quite a number of lovely Dutch works. This is a small very manageable collection and after enjoying the art we went outside where we sat on wooden chairs on the lawns and ate cake, this is the England I'm nostalgic for!

It was an easy jaunt out to Dulwich on the train from Victoria, you can use your Oyster card for these short train trips which makes it easy. it's a short walk out to the museum and on the way there we took the main road (all very well signposted) but on the way back we walked through I lovely park which was extremely attractive.

This will give you an idea about Ravilious' work for anyone who is interested...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/a...political.html

SIR JOHN SOANE PRIVATE APARTMENTS
One of the ways I've been finding out about events is by prowling around on Eventbrite the tickets people. Anyway yesterday I came across a link to tickets for the private apartments. I had no idea these were available, the best I could find was mention of the apartments being restored from several years ago. So, if anyone is interested here's the link, apparently the apartments open May 19th. The half hour tours are free but you need to get a tickets.

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/soanes...ts-16629618637
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Old Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:30 AM
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Lots of good info, Thanks!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2015, 10:08 AM
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Rats - yet another place you've seen that I haven't. [the Dulwich Gallery that is].

in fact, that could apply to the vast majority of the places you've visited.

Am I alone in ignoring the treasures of my own country in favour of those elsewhere?
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