The acclaimed Athens nightspot is coming to London for a two-day pop-up this March.
One of the world’s best bars is coming to London this March for an exclusive two-day pop-up. Athens’ drinking den, The Clumsies, is currently No.6 in the World’s 50 Best Bars. From 3- 4 March 2020, Londoners will have the opportunity to try The Clumsies acclaimed cocktails at the St James Bar at the Sofitel St James. The Clumsies co-owner Nikos Bakoulis and bartender Christoe Stratigos will be bringing their mixology skills to the five-star hotel.
The Clumsies has been a consistent feature in lists of the world’s most renowned bars in recent years. It’s charted in the top 10 of the World’s 50 Best Bars for the past five years and has landed in 6th place in both 2017 and last year. The bar’s owners Nikos Bakoulis and Vassilis Kyritsis have made it their mission to mix innovation and Greece’s distinctive flavours in their cocktails for their Athens regulars and international customers.
The pop-up at the St James Bar will feature five unique cocktails from The Clumsies team:
– Tea Ceremony (Blended Malt Whiskey, Shitake, Ginger, Honey, Mango Kombucha)
– Synthesis (London Dry Gin, White Beetroot Vermouth, Cocoa)
– Shaker Boys (Aged Rum, Milk Water, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Jasmine Kvass)
– Clear Soup (Blanco Tequila, Coconut & Pineapple Sherry, Lime & Celery Ash, Hops)
– Highball Gimlet (Vodka , Apple Geranium, Fennel Seeds, London Essence Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic).
- The Clumsies pop-up is open from 3 – 4 March 2020. The Clumsies menu available 5pm–12am. At the St James Bar, Sofitel St James, 6 Waterloo Place, St James, SW1Y 4AN. Nearest station: Green Park or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the Sofitel St James website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in February, click here.
Discover the history of one of London’s most famous prisons, where Charles Dickens’ father John was jailed.
Up until the late 19th century, there were dozens of prisons in central London. While a few, such as The Clink or the Tower of London – are still standing (albeit without prisoners), most have been long demolished. One of these lost London prisons may have been closed for over 170 years, but its name has been immortalised thanks to Charles Dickens (1812-1870).
The Marshalsea prison stood in Southwark for nearly 500 years. The Marshalsea originally opened at what is now 161 Borough High Street in 1373. The name is adapted from the old English word “marshalcy” which means “the office, rank, position of a Marshal”. In its early years, it housed men accused of crimes at sea, as well as other ‘land’ crimes. Among the famous prisoners of Marshalsea included the playwright Ben Jonson (1572-1637), who was imprisoned in 1597 for his “lewd” play The Isle of Dogs, which caused much offence and was suppressed by order of Queen Elizabeth I. Prior to prison reform in the 19th century, prisons were run for private profit. Prisoners had to pay for rent, food and clothes and furnish their own cells. A community sprung up within Marshalsea, with shops and restaurants being run by prisoners.
By the late 16th century, the prison was already in bad condition, but it wasn’t until 1799 the government decided it was time to rebuild. The new Marshalsea was rebuilt 130 yards at the current site of 211 Borough High street, costing £8,000. When it opened in 1811, it was split into two sections – one for debtors and another for mariners under court marshal. By the 18th and 19th century, debt was responsible for nearly half of England’s prison population. Usually, those in debt only spent a few months in the prison. Conditions were cramped and unpleasant, with sometimes up to four people sharing a cell measuring 10ft 10in by 8ft high.
This spring, be entertained and amazed by the stories of three inspirational adventurers. As part of Mr Fogg’s Explorer Series, travellers will be sharing their epic tales of adventure from across the globe. Each evening features a talk, followed by Q&A for guests to ask questions, as well as opportunities to try Mr Fogg’s Tanqueray No.Ten gin cocktails, inspired by the world.
- Monday 24 February 2020 : Ollie Phillips
First up is former England Rugby 7’s captain and Guinness World Record holder Ollie Phillips, who will share his inspirational story of resilience and overcoming the odds. After sustaining a serious calf injury, Ollie’s professional rugby career was halted, so he decided to take part in the Clipper Round the World yacht race, coming 2nd with his GB teammates despite no sailing experience. He has gone on to complete a 100-mile trek across the Arctic, hiked Kilimanharo, cycled across America, driven a rickshaw across India and gained several Guinness World Records along the way.
– For tickets and more information on an Evening with Ollie Phillips, click here.
- Monday 23 March 2020 : Lucy Shepherd
Mountaineer, arctic and jungle explorer Lucy Shepherd has travelled to some of the world’s most remote spots. Having led solo and team expeditions, Lucy was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society at just 23 years old. She has solo skied across the Norwegian-Russian border, mountaineered across the High Sierra Range and climbed Tajikistan’s terrifying peaks. She’s currently planning an expedition to cross Guyana’s mountain range – which has never been achieved before. During her adventures, Lucy also films her discoveries as she aims to highlight the climate crisis and how it impacts the places she visits.
– For tickets and more information on an Evening with Lucy Shepherd, click here.
- Monday 20 April 2020 : Stephen Fabes
Adventurer Stephen Fabes recalls his amazing six-year expedition across six countries and 75 countries by bike. Having trained as a doctor before his journey began, he was able to use his medical training along the way, visiting remote clinics and helping to raise money to fight tropical diseases.
– For tickets and more information on an Evening with Stephen Fabes, click here.
During each talk, mixologists can whip up some travel-inspired gin concoctions, including ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ (Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Fermented Banana Shrub, Coffee Liqueur and Lime), ‘Eastern Horizons’ (Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Belsazar Rosé Wine Aperitif, Sake and Pollen) and ‘Pole to Pole’ (Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Passion Fruit Juice, Toasted Rice Mirin, Vanilla and Fresh Lemon).
- Mr Fogg’s Residence, 15 Bruton Lane, Mayfair, W1J 6JD. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street. All events have a 6pm arrival for a 7pm start time. Free entry. For more information, visit Mr Fogg’s website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in February, click here.
Be entertained by musicians and dancers as you walk through a tunnel of sound and light.
Returning to Wembley Park this Easter is the travelling immersive art installation Colourscape. From 8 – 13 April 2020, visitors can walk through a labyrinth of colour and light while enjoying live performances by musicians and dancers.
Colourscape was originally created by artist Peter Jones in the early ’70s and has previously popped up at the Vienna Festival of Youth, Cologne for the World Cup and Turku for European Capital of Culture. The installation is comprised of a series of interlinked, kaleidoscopic chambers. As visitors stroll through the maze of light, they will be met by musicians playing instruments from Tibet, China and Mongolia. Guests will be given coloured capes to wear so they blend into the interactive tunnel of colour.
Returning to Wembley for the second year running, this year’s Colourscape will be supporting learning disability charity Brent Mencap.
- Colourscape takes place from 8 – 13 April 2020. At Wembley Park Boulevard (next to London Designer Outlet), Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. Open 11am-4.30pm (sessions last 30 mins). Tickets (must be pre-booked): Adults £5, Children £3. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Wheelchair accessible. No dogs allowed. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in February, click here.
The history of the colourful pillbox memorial on a Stockwell traffic island.
Around the country, many a traffic island is home to a war memorial. However, one particular south London island has a rather more colourful tribute to the war dead in an unusual format. In fact, this memorial started life as an important space to shelter Londoners from the Nazi bombs during World War II.
At the junction of Clapham Road and South Lambeth Road, just moments from Stockwell tube station, is the Stockwell War Memorial. The memorial is in two parts – the oldest of the two is dedicated to the fallen of World War I, while the more recent one was built during the World War II.
In the early part of the Second World War, some civilians and government officials were concerned the available shelters weren’t quite robust enough to withstand the bombing. Time was of the essence so a plan to build deep-level shelters underneath existing tube stations was deemed the speediest and most cost-effective option. Originally 10 shelters were planned, but in the end only eight were constructed. Building began in 1941, and by 1942 they were complete. The shelters were mostly located by Northern line stations, including Stockwell, Clapham North, Clapham Common, Camden Town, Belsize Park, Goodge Street and Clapham South, with another near the Central line station Chancery Lane.
The Stockwell deep-level shelter is located below Stockwell station and features two parallel tunnels, measuring 16ft in diameter and split horizontally with upper and lower levels. The shelters were accessed by two, pillbox-shaped entrance shafts – one being the war memorial on Stockwell’s traffic island, and the other on Studley Road. The tunnels would have fit hundreds of beds to accommodate Londoners overnight, while there were further spaces for toilets, medical assistance and ventilation. The Stockwell shelter was completed in September 1942, but was initially used by the government until it opened to the public in 1944. With the war finishing a year later, it fortunately didn’t get much use. After V-day, the Stockwell shelter was briefly used to house military personnel.
For decades, the shelter remained an ugly eyesore on the South Lambeth Road. However, Brian Barnes and Myra Harris turned it into a war memorial in 1999. Brainstorming with schoolchildren at nearby Stockwell Park School, the images were inspired by local history. Among the famous faces pictured include actor Sir Roger Moore – who grew up in Stockwell – and artist Vincent Van Gogh, who briefly lived in nearby Hackford Road during 1873-74. It also depicts the MV Empire Windrush ship, which brought Caribbean emigrants to Britain, with many settling in Brixton and the surrounding areas. Some new arrivals ending up sleeping in a makeshift hostel in the Clapham South deep-level shelter until they found more long-term accommodation.
The mural was expanded in June 2001 with the addition of war hero and special agent Violette Szabo (1921-1945), who spent her teen years living in Stockwell. The top of the mural features a quote from Robert Laurence Binyon’s (1869-1943) poem ‘For the Fallen’, originally published in September 1914.
- The Stockwell War Memorial can be found on the roundabout at the junction of South Lambeth Road and Clapham Road, Stockwell, SW8 1UG. Nearest station: Stockwell.
To see photos inside the Clapham South deep-level war shelter and more history, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
Is this bollard really a captured French cannon from the Battle of Trafalgar?
While most of London’s street furniture has a purpose, you’d be surprised how many items have a special story or history behind them. Some items of street furniture – especially from the Victorian era – are often very attractive, such as the ‘Dolphin’ street lamps on the Thames embankments, or water fountains. However, when it comes to bollards, more often than not, they are pretty unremarkable. Bollards vary in design, from plain Georgian ones to modern electronic ones which can be lowered automatically on command.
Since at least the 17th century, bollards originated primarily as posts on a ship or dock for mooring boats. As mariners and shipyard workers would have easy access to old cannons, they would use them as bollards half-buried in the ground. The shaft would be blocked with either dirt or a large cannonball.
Today, most of the cannon bollards around London have been replaced with more modern offerings, although a few still remain. While today, a pier exists on Bankside for the Thames Clippers river boat service, in previous centuries, the Thames would have been heaving with boats and there would be a constant demand for mooring bollards. One of these original bollards on Bankside has sparked much debate about where it originated from.
Located a few metres from Southwark Bridge on Bankside, is a weathered black bollard, which has been linked to the Battle of Trafalgar. The story goes that after Nelson’s fleet defeated the French in 1805, the victors stripped the French boats. Although the Brits were able to reuse a lot of the French ships’ contents, the cannons were apparently too large to be retrofitted on British Ships. It was claimed the British decided to reuse the French cannons as street bollards in London as a way to flaunt their victory. Read the rest of this entry
The history behind this Victorian office, now home to exhibition and events spaces.
Standing on the eastern edge of the City of Westminster is a striking neo-Gothic building. Overlooking the River Thames and the Victoria Embankment is Two Temple Place. Although today the building is an events space and exhibition venue, it started life as an office for the world’s richest man.
William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919) was an American attorney, publisher, philanthropist and politician. After an initial career in law and politics, Astor inherited his father John Jacob Astor III’s fortune in 1890, making him exceptionally wealthy. The same year, he financed the building of the original Waldorf Hotel in New York City, which opened in 1893 and stood for 36 years before being demolished to make way for the Empire State Building.
Astor cut short his life in the Big Apple following a family feud and relocated to Britain in 1891. In addition to falling out with his aunt Caroline Astor, he also believed England would be safer for his children against the threat of kidnap. He bought a plot of land in legal district of Temple and commissioned Gothic Revival architect John Loughborough Pearson (1817-1897) to build him a London office. Although intended as an office, Astor also wanted residential space. As Two Temple Place was being built, Astor bought the Buckingham estate Cliveden for his family to live in. He later expanded his property portfolio with Hever Castle in Kent in 1903, as well as bank-rolling the building of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in London’s Aldwych.
Originally named the Astor Estate Office, Two Temple Place was a two-storey building, with a Gothic-Elizabethan-style exterior made of Portland stone. Among the rooms included were the great hall, library and strong room with two fortified safes to protect Astor’s riches. English sculptor Nathaniel Hitch (1845–1938) created ornate features, including gargoyles, on the exterior, while a golden likeness of Christopher Columbus’ ship La Santa Maria – which he used to sail to America – was erected as a weathervane. British sculptor William Silver Frith (1850–1924) made the ornamental lamppost sculptures of cherubs holding early telephones at the portico front entrance. The communicative angels celebrate the fact that Two Temple Place was one of the first houses in the capital to have a working telephone.
With such a fortune at Astor’s disposal, there was no expense spared on the entirety of the building project. The rooms were all decked out in wood-panelling, giving it an ‘olde world’ feel. English metal worker J Starkie Gardner (1844-1930) created ornate metalwork for the interior and exterior of the building. Meanwhile, the Astor family’s interior decorator John Dibblee Crace (1838-1919) took inspiration from the French Renaissance for the furnishings. Astor was a huge fan of symbolism and wanted the building to link the old world with the new world. Around 54 characters from history and fiction are depicted in carvings in the entrance hall or on the gilded frieze in the Great Hall, including Marie Antoinette, Pocahontas, Anne Boleyn, Niccolò Machiavelli, Marc Anthony, Cleopatra, Macbeth, Othello, and characters from The Three Musketeers – Astor’s favourite book. One of the building’s main attractions is the grand, oak staircase. Standing on the inlaid marble floor, you look up to see wood carvings, a square gallery and a square-domed, stained glass ceiling supported by ebony Corinthian columns. Read the rest of this entry
The history behind the Old Finsbury Town Hall.
Around the capital, there are many town halls no longer being used for the purpose for which they were originally intended. For example, Bethnal Green Town Hall is now a five-star hotel, Battersea Town Hall has been reborn as the Battersea Arts Centre, while Deptford Town Hall is now part of Goldsmiths University campus. A string of town halls were built in the late 19th century and early 20th century as civic responsibility increased and the population boomed. When the London Metropolitan boroughs were established in 1900, the boundaries of London were considerably smaller than they are today (with most current London boroughs in zones 4-6 excluded).
One Victorian town hall still standing, but no longer in use as a local government building, is Old Finsbury Town Hall in Clerkenwell. Located on Rosebery Avenue, it is built on the site of Clerkenwell Vestry Hall. The Vestry Hall was originally the Spa Fields watch house, which was built in 1813-1814. Designed by the New River Company’s surveyor W.C. Mylne, the watch house was a two-storey building on the junction of Garnault Place and Rosoman Street. The building included two prison cells, a commissioners’ boardroom and a yard for holding stray cattle. It then became a local police station following the founding of the Metropolitan Police in 1829, later becoming a meeting hall in 1856.
By the late 19th century, the Vestry Hall was much maligned and too small to host local meetings. Finsbury was being redeveloped with slum housing being demolished and the building of a new road named Rosebery Avenue. English architect Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930) – famous for designing the Victoria & Albert Museum and Admiralty Arch – was appointed to judge a competition for designs for replace the Clerkenwell Vestry in 1892-3. A design by rising architect Charles Evans-Vaughan (1857-1900) beat out a dozen or so others, with Charles Dearing of Islington winning the £14,724 13s contract to build it. Evans-Vaughan is also responsible for designing the Bridge House Farm Estate in Brockley, south-east London and the Welsh church in Falmouth Road, Southwark. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1887, but sadly died in his 40s of typhoid fever just three years later.
The existing Old Finsbury Town Hall you see today was built in two stages. The first part of the building was erected between 1894-1895 and was named Clerkenwell Vestry Hall, adjoining the early 19th century Vestry Hall. It was inaugurated in summer 1895 by Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929). The Earl was Prime Minister at the time of opening and the inspiration for Rosebery Avenue, which was named in tribute to him for being the first chairman of the London County Council (LCC). The new Vestry Hall entrance was on the new Rosebery Avenue and featured the stunning iron and stained glass, art nouveau canopy. The new building was designed in the fashionable ‘contemporary free style’ of the time, with a mix of Flemish Renaissance, Baroque and art nouveau influences. The façade features Red Ibstock brick and Ancaster stone dressing, Portland stone, tiled gabled roofs and a clock and weathervane.
Find out what’s on in London in February, including music, beer and literary festivals, immersive experiences, or meet your idol at a fan convention.
Winter is in full swing and with people’s bank balances starting to recover from the Christmas splurge, there’s more events on in London. There’s plenty of romantic events on in February for Valentine’s Day, while the half-term break (17-21 February) means parents will have to have to find things to entertain their children for a week.
Look out for 🐻 for family-friendly activities.
- 31 January – 1 February : London Remixed Festival
A two-day celebration of emerging talents from the worlds of Latin Grooves, Afro beats, Tropical Bass, Vintage-Remix, Desert Remix Balkan Beats, Urban Roots, Acoustic Soundclash and Brass Band Remix and more. Over 18s only. Open Fri 8pm-1am, Sat 8pm-4am. Tickets: £11.19–£16.49. Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street or Old Street. For tickets, visit the London Remixed Festival website.
- 1 – 2 February : Plant Powered Expo
New show celebrating the best of plant-based living. Featuring cookery classes, presentations, Vegan kitchen demos, health, fitness and over 230 stalls. Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £15. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Expo website.
- 2 February : Festival of Confidence
A one-day festival on building confidence in women, including workshops, talks and activities. 10am-5.30pm. Tickets: £19.76–£38.93. Lyric Hammersmith, King Street, Hammersmith, W6 0QL. Nearest station: Hammersmith. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.
- 2 February : Super Bowl Viewing Party @ Skylight
Fans of American football should head to rooftop destination Skylight for a screening of the big game. The game will be screened on the heated indoor level, with DJs, ping pong, air hockey tables, street food, and bookable cosy booths and igloos. 5pm-11pm. Tickets: £3-£8. Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell (DLR/TFL Rail) or Wapping. For more information, visit DesignMyNight.
- Now until 2 February : Destinations – the Holiday & Travel Show
Travel show, featuring tourist boards, travel agencies, cultural entertainment, world food and drink, travel celebrities, talks, presentations, workshops, panel sessions and more. Open 10am-5.30pm. Tickets: £11 in advance. Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Destinations – Holiday & Travel Show website.
- Now until 2 February : London International Mime Festival
Festival at various events across London including performances of physical theatre, dance, circus, puppetry and live art. Workshops also available. Tickets range from £10-£45. Venues include the Shoreditch Town Hall, Soho Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, Barbican, Wilton’s Music Hall, The Puppet Barge, Southbank Centre and more. For more information, visit the Mime London website.
- 6 – 8 February : Classical Vauxhall
An inaugural series of classical music concerts in Vauxhall. From 8pm. Tickets: £20. At St Peter’s Church (6 Feb), Brunswick House (7 Feb) and Garden Museum (8 Feb). Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the BeInVauxhall website.
- 7 February – 21 May : Meet Vincent Van Gogh
An immersive, multi-sensory exhibition bringing the world of legendary artist Vincent Van Gogh to life. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-10pm. Tickets: Standard box office Mon-Fri £19, Sat-Sun £21. Advance online – Mon-Fri £18, Sat-Sun £20. Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience, 99 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest station: Waterloo or Waterloo East. For tickets, visit the Meet Vincent website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post, for more information.
- 8 February – 8 March : Orchid Festival
An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks, with this year being inspired by Indonesia. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: Adults £18.15, Children (4-15yr) £4.50. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- 12 – 16 February : Ealing Music and Film Festival
Five day festival in Ealing featuring musical performances, film screenings (two on Valentine’s Day) and walks. Events take place at various venues, including Weston Hall, St Barnabas, William Barry Theatre and Lawrence Hall. Tickets range from free to £25. Nearest stations: Ealing Broadway or South Ealing. For booking, visit the Ealing Music & Film website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post, for more information.
- 12 – 23 February : Imagine Children’s Festival
Two week children’s festival at the Southbank Centre, including art, theatre, books, music, performances and workshops. Including Michael Rosen, Dermot O’Leary, Cressida Cowell, Konnie Huq and more. 10.30am-4pm daily. Many activities and events are free, but some go up to £16. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking visit the Southbank Centre website. 🐻 Read the rest of this entry
Coming to London this winter and spring is a special, immersive art experience. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam’s hit attraction Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience will run in the capital for nearly four months. Launching on the South Bank on 7 February 2020, the interactive and multi-sensory experience will allow art lovers to step into the legendary Dutch painter’s world. It recreates van Gogh’s life through his own words thanks to the Van Gogh Museum’s research and the artist’s personal correspondence.
The experience will open on the South Bank in the borough of Lambeth – the same borough where van Gogh resided for about a year in 1873-74 in Hackford Road, Brixton. It aims to bring van Gogh’s original works to audiences around the world who cannot see them in the Van Gogh Museum. Visitors will be treated to a fully-automated, audio-guide experience, where they can enjoy stunning projections and interactive installations. People can stand on Vincent’s doorstep or sit on his bed in the state-of-the-art set work. Follow his life story from his childhood in the Netherlands to his Paris studios; from the inspiring Arles countryside to the St. Rémy asylum, and finally, the sombre wheat field where he shot himself in July 1890, before dying of his injuries two days later.
The popular experience comes to the UK following 2019 tour stops in South Korea and Spain, where it attracted 400,000 visitors. Along with London, the Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience will also stop in Lisbon, Portugal this year.
- Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience runs from 7 February – 21 May 2020. At 99 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Waterloo East or Embankment. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-10pm. Tickets: Standard box office Mon-Fri £19, Sat-Sun £21. Advance online – Mon-Fri £18, Sat-Sun £20. Concessions available for students, children and the elderly. For tickets and more information, visit MeetVincent.com.
For a guide to what’s on in London in February, click here.