Category Archives: London

Pickering Place: Step inside London’s smallest square

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Pickering Place is the smallest square in London

Walking down St James’s Street to the Tudor landmark St James’s Palace, it’s likely you may not have even noticed Pickering Place. Located next to the 17th century wine shop Berry Bros. & Rudd is an unassuming courtyard leading east. Pickering Place is thought to be the smallest public square in London. Entering the square, it’s like stepping back in time. The small space includes Georgian terraces, original gas lamps and wrought iron railings. The only obvious bit of modernity is the alfresco tables and seating spilling out from the Boulestin French restaurant (No.5 St James’s Street) on the north side.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The passage leads off St James Street to Pickering Place

Prior to the establishment of Pickering Place in the Georgian era, there was a court roughly on the same site, called Stroud’s Court. This Court, featuring four small tenements, was built in the back garden of No.3 St James’s Street in around 1690. In 1698, Widow Bourne established a grocery shop and coffee mill at No.3 St James’s Street. The family business appeared to be going so well by the 1730s, her son-in-law William Pickering did a deal with the landlords and agreed to demolish the existing buildings of Stroud Court and rebuild. Pickering obtained a new lease and by 1734 it was renamed Pickering Court and contained the five current dwellings, with his family living at No.5. Pickering’s son William Jnr continued to run the grocers with a relative John Clarke in the 1750s, with the latter’s grandson George Berry joining the business in the early 19th century. The shop has focused on selling wine for over 200 years and continues to trade under the name Berry Bros & Rudd, as you see today. While the Pickering name was lost from the business frontage, the name continued with the square being renamed Pickering Place in 1810.

Meanwhile, on the floor above Berry Bros at No.4 St James’s Street was the Embassy for the Republic of Texas. The Southern state was briefly an independent country from 1836-1845 before it joined the United States. Today, a plaque in the passage entrance commemorates the embassy: “Texas Legation in this building was the legation for the ministers from the Republic of Texas to the Court of St. James 1842 – 1845.” When Texas joined the USA, it abandoned its London embassy and left an unpaid rent bill of £160 to its landlords at Berry Bros. However, over 100 years later, a group of Texans travelled to London to repay the debt of their forefathers in 1986.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Pickering Place was once known for gambling, dualling and brothels

Wine shops and embassies aside, Pickering Place is also said to be the last place in London where a duel was fought. In the 18th and 19th century, the area hosted some rather dodgy goings on, including gambling, bear-baiting and brothels… we can all assume that those activities could frequently create a duelling situation! Regency dandy and friend to King George IV, Beau Brummell (1778-1840) – who is commemorated with a sculpture outside the Piccadilly Arcade – is among those reported to have fought here. Brummell appears as a character in Georgette Heyer’s 1935 novel Regency Buck, which describes No.5 Pickering Place as a ‘gambling hell’ in Regency London.

Today No.1-5 Pickering Place are all Grade II listed buildings, while the courtyard is used by Boulestin restaurant. Meanwhile, Berry Bros continues to sell hundreds of different wines, as well as hosting special events, wine school and tastings.

  • Pickering Place, off St James Street, St James, SW1A. Nearest station: Green Park.

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Guide to what’s on in London this Halloween 2017

© Sašo Tušar via Unsplash

© Sašo Tušar via Unsplash

It’s the spookiest time of the year. It’s not only the Americans that go crazy for the annual scarefest with a host of daytime and nighttime events on for both children and adult on in London. With Halloween falling on a Tuesday this year, we can expect to see ghoulish events kicking off a bit earlier. As half-term holidays are the week before, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun for kids in the lead up to the 31 October. Meanwhile, for party animals, there’s plenty of late-night revelry, or for a calmer alternative, there’s special meals and film screenings.

Daytime jitters

  • 1 October – 6 November : The Death Express @ The London Dungeon

Step aboard the Death Express, an old railway transporting the dead. Explore the history of London’s most gruesome residents and crimes. Tickets from £21 (timed entry). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon websiteFor Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.

  • 17 – 31 OctoberThe Quarter of Curiosity Shop

Newburgh Quarter will be hosting a fortnight of Halloween fun, including a Halloween florist selling posies and bouquets in spooky shades. Also including series of free workshops, including Halloween Headdress making, potion cocktail making, pumpkin planters and a Halloween make-up masterclasses. The Quarter of Curiosity Shop, 2 Newburgh Street, Soho, W1F 7RD. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.

  • 21 – 31 OctoberBoo At The Zoo

A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo including Halloween-themed activities, pumpkin carving, crafts and animal demonstrations. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.

  • 21 – 28 OctoberSpookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam

Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.

  • 23 – 27 October : Half-Term Horrors @ Eltham Palace

Creepy family fun at the Medieval and Art Deco Eltham Palace. Including costume competitions and pumpkin carving. Book a time slot at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets: Adults £14.40, Children £8.60. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit English Heritage website. For Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace, click here.

  • 24 OctoberFamily Day: Hallowe’en @ Benjamin Franklin House

A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.

  • 25 – 29 October : Four Legged Phantoms @ Sutton House

Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor, including a ghost hunt and spooky stories. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are free with normal entry. Tickets: Adults £6, Children £3. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.

  • 26 October : Crafty Pumpkin Fun @ Chiswick House

Children can enjoy pumpkin carving in the kitchen garden of Chiswick House. For 4-11 year olds. 10am-4pm. Tickets: £7 per child with accompanying adult (booking in advance recommended). Chiswick House, Chiswick, W4. Nearest station: Chiswick or Chiswick Park. For booking, visit the Chiswick House website.

  • 28 October : Trick Or Treat Run

A Halloween-themed charity run of either 2km, 5km or 10km around a closed park course. For adults and children, fancy dress encouraged. Prizes for the best costumes. Runs at 1.30pm and 5.30pm. Entrance fees start from £12 (adults) and £6 (children) depending on mileage. Richmond Park, Richmond, TW10 5HS. Nearest station: North Sheen, Richmond or Hampton Wick. For more information and to register, visit the Human Race websiteRead the rest of this entry

Competition time! Win a pair of tickets to the Chocolate Show 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Chocoholics are in for a treat at The Chocolate Show this October

October marks the return of The Chocolate Show to London – a three-day extravaganza celebrating the mighty cocoa bean and all it creates. The festival at Kensington Olympia will feature plenty of opportunities for eating, buying and learning about one of our favourite sweet treats.

The Chocolate Show will feature workshops, stalls, celebrity chef demonstrations, tastings, sculptures, pop-up chocolate restaurant and a chocolate bar. Some of the UK and the world’s finest chocolatiers and pastry makers are taking part, including John Whaite, Nadiya Hussain, Donald Wressell, Paul A. Young, Cherish Finden and Erik Houlihan-Jong.

This year, Memoirs Of A Metro Girl has teamed up with The Chocolate Show for a competition to win a pair of tickets to the 2017 festival. Firstly, check out Metro Girl’s Twitter for the competition tweet. To enter, retweet the competition tweet and follow both @memoirsofametro and @chocolateshow. The competition closes at 11.59pm on Tuesday 10 October 2017 – (This competition is now closed – editor’s note 11 Oct). The winner should be available to use the tickets between 13 – 15 October in London. Only the winners will be contacted.

  • The Chocolate Show is on from 13 – 15 October 2017. Tickets: Adults £12.50, Children £8, Students/OAPs £10. Olympia National Hall, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. To find out more, visit the Chocolate Show website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.

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Mix your own concotion at the Schweppes Alchemy Bar this London Cocktail Week

© Schweppes

Explore mixology at the Schweppes Alchemy Bar pop-up

With London Cocktail Week having kicked off, what better way than to celebrate than making your own concotions. Drink supremos Schweppes are hosting a secret bar experience in central London. Located in the quiet enclaves of St Martin’s Courtyard, guests will have the chance to learn the art of cocktail making with some of the best mixologists in the business.

For nine days, the pop-up bar will invite cocktail fans to explore the work of original alchemist, Jacob Schweppes and over 200 years of bubble-making. Guests can take part in the Schweppes Laboratory Experience, where they will be able to create their own sparkling drink. London’s experimental mixologists Smith & Sinclair will be sharing some of their secrets with the chance to see colour-changing gin and tonics to inhalable gin clouds. After mixing up a storm, participants will then head into the Schweppes secret study to relax with a new drink from the brand.

The pop-up is taking place during London Cocktail Week, which sees hundreds of the capital’s bars and restaurants taking part, offering masterclasses, workshops, tastings and £6 cocktails.

  • Schweppes Alchemy Bar is open at 21 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AB. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. Open from 2-11 October 2017. Over 18s only. Tickets: £10 (includes three gin and tonic cocktails, plus immersive cocktail-making class. For booking, visit Eventbrite.

For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.

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The old pillars of the former Blackfriars railway bridge

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The remains of the old Blackfriars Railway Bridge stands next to the current Blackfriars station

If you walk along the Thames Path, or perhaps cross the River Thames via foot or train on the two Blackfriars Bridges, you may have noticed these pieces of unusual river furniture. Running from north to south are pairs of red pillars, which used to support the original railway bridge before it was dismantled in the 1980s. Rather confusingly for Londoners, there were two Blackfriars railway bridges and various name changes between the current Blackfriars station and another station south of the Thames which no longer exists.

Blackfriars Railway Bridge By James Dredge, via Wikimedia Commons

The Old Blackfriars Railway Bridge in 1897
By James Dredge, via Wikimedia Commons

The red pillars we see today are what remains of Old Blackfriars Railway Bridge, which was built in 1864 by engineer Joseph Cubitt (1811-1872) for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR). The bridge brought trains across the Thames between the original Blackfriars Bridge station (south of the Thames) and Ludgate Hill station (closed in 1929). The original bridge was four tracks wide and supported ornate abutments featuring the LC&DR’s insignia. The original Blackfriars Bridge station was located near the junction of Southwark Street and Blackfriars Road.

It wasn’t long before Old Blackfriars Railway Bridge was joined by its sister bridge, the St Paul’s Railway Bridge, which led into the newer St Paul’s train station on the north bank of the Thames, aka the current Blackfriars station. St Paul’s station and the new bridge opened in 1886, the latter designed by civil engineers Sir John Wolfe Barry (1836-1918) and Henry Marc Brunel (1842-1903). Wolfe Barry was the engineer of Tower Bridge and the son of architect Charles Barry, who famously redesigned the Houses of Parliament. Meanwhile, Brunel was the son of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, famous for the Thames Tunnel and Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, amongst many other landmarks.

Old Blackfriars rail bridge © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The red pillars used to stand in rows of three, but only pairs are visible

Old Blackfriars rail bridge © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The southern abutment and LC&DR insignia have been restored

When the new St Paul’s station opened, LC&DR decided to close Blackfriars Bridge to passengers, but kept the station open as a goods’ yard. It continued in that guise until 3 February 1964, before it was demolished four years later. The only sign of the station today is the cobbled entrance driveway behind an office block.

Meanwhile, St Paul’s station was thriving and continued to serve trains heading through the City. In 1937, the station was renamed Blackfriars to avoid confusion with the tube station St Paul’s, which had been named Post Office since its opening in 1900 due to its proximity to the HQ of the General Post Office. The same year, Post Office tube station was renamed St Paul’s, as it remains today as a stop on the Central Line.

In 1985, it was decided the old Blackfriars Railway Bridge was too weak to support modern trains and it was dismantled. However, the red pillars and the southern abutment remained in situ. Originally the pillars were in rows of three, but the eastern columns were absorbed into the rebuilding of Blackfriars station on the younger bridge in 2011, so only pairs are visible to the public now. During the works, the LC&DR’s insignia was restored as a lasting reminder of a bridge and train company of yesteryear.

  • The original Blackfriars Railway Bridge abutments can be viewed from the Thames Path (south side) and the embankment running alongside Blackfriars Underpass (north side). Nearest station: Blackfriars.

For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in October 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The leaves are falling, the temperatures are dropping… autumn is here

Autumn is closing in and the days are getting cooler so many of the capital’s events and festivals are retreating indoors. However, October is jam-packed with festivals and tons of family-friendly events for the half-term holidays. This month, there’s plenty of treats for foodies and booze fans, with the London Restaurant Festival and London Cocktail Week amongst the fab events on around town. Not forgetting Halloween near the end of month, with spooky events going on.

For a guide to London’s Halloween activities and parties, click here.

  • 1 October : Cheese Street N1

Huge cheese festival comes to North London, featuring tastings, cheese pairings, workshops, street food, butter making, cheese angels, live music and more. 10am-3pm. Free entry. Chapel Market, Islington, N1 9PZ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Farmers Market website.

  • 1 October : Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

London’s famous Pearly Kings and Queens celebrate their Harvest Festival with Morris dancing, maypole dancing, marching bands, drummers and lots of colourful characters. Free admission. St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N 4JJ. Nearest station: Charing Cross. For more information, visit the St Martin-in-the-Fields website.

  • 1 – 31 October : London Restaurant Festival

Restaurants all over the capital are taking place in this festival, offering special menus, discounts and events celebrating the capital’s culinary culture. Highlights include Champagne Gourmet Odysseys, American Express menus, restaurant hopping tours, Desert Island Dishes, Eat Film and more. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website.

  • Now until 1 October : Lambeth Heritage Festival

A month long festival celebrating the heritage and people of Lambeth – stretching from the South Bank all the way to Streatham and Norwood. Featuring talks, film, music, theatre, exhibitions, walks and workshops. At venues across the borough including Migration Museum, Brixton Windmill, Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Archives, the Cinema Museum, London Fire Brigade Museum, the Chocolate Museum, Brockwell Lido and more. For more information, visit the Lambeth.gov.uk website.

  • Now until 1 October : Raindance Film Festival

UK’s largest independent film festival returns to the capital. Featuring over 100 movies and 150 short films screened in the Piccadilly Circus area. Festival pass from £49-£149. For more information and tickets, visit the Raindance website.

  • Now until 1 October : New Scientist Live

A festival of ideas and discovery from New Scientist magazine. Featuring four immersive zones: Brain & Body, Technology, Earth and Cosmos. Tickets: £26 (advance). ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent. For more information, visit the New Scientist Live website.

  • Now until 1 October : The World Of Anna Sui

Exhibition featuring over 100 looks from the American fashion designer’s archives dating back to 1991. Open Tues-Sat: 11am-6pm (or 8pm on Thurs), Sun 11am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £9.90, Concessions £7.70. Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3XF. Nearest station: London Bridge. For booking, visit the Fashion and Textile Museum’s website.

  • 1 October and 5- 8 October : London Oktoberfest

Celebrate the German beer fest in Docklands, featuring a host of beer, food and entertainment. Opening hours vary. General admission starts from free to £10 (depending on day). Millwall Park, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, Canary Wharf, E14 3AY. Nearest station: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Cocktails galore at London Cocktail Week

  • 2 – 8 October : London Cocktail Week

Bars, restaurants and other surprising venues are celebrating London Cocktail Week with a variety of offers and events around the capital. To get the most out of it, buy a £10 digital pass so you can enjoy cocktails at over 250 venues for as little as £6. For more information, visit the London Cocktail Week website.

  • 3 – 21 October : The People’s Revolt @ The Tower Of London

Enjoy an immersive, interactive experience from theatre company differencEngine in the grounds of the Tower. Over 18s only. Shows @ 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm, 7,25pm and 7.50pm. Tickets: £23-£25.50. Tower Of London, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB. Nearest station: Tower Hill, Tower Gateway (DLR) or Fenchurch Street. For more information and booking, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.

  • 3 – 31 October : Hammer House of Horror Live

Legendary Hammer Film bring their first immersive theatre show to Hoxton Hall. Over 18s only. Tickets: £48.50 (Tues, Wed, Sun), £52.50 (Thur, Fri, Sat). Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, Hoxton, N1 6SH. Nearest station: Hoxton or Old Street. For tickets, visit Hoxton Hall’s website.

  • 4 – 15 October : BFI London Film Festival

Film buffs rejoice for the biggest event in the British film calendar – next to the Baftas of course – but this is the one we can all experience. Eleven days of screenings, premieres, exhibitions, masterclasses and Q&As will be taking place across the capital, at 15 venues including Odeon Leicester Square, Hackney Picturehouse, Ritzy Cinema and Curzon Mayfair and Cine Lumiere. For more information, visit the BFI website.

  • 5 – 8 October : Frieze Art Fair

Contemporary art event in Regent’s Park, featuring over 150 galleries from around the world. Opening hours vary. Tickets start from £27.95. Regents Park (Art Fair near the Outer Circle in SE corner of the park). Nearest stations: Regent’s Park, Great Portland Street, Baker Street or Camden Town. For more information and tickets, visit the Frieze London website.

  • 5 – 8 October : The Other Art Fair

The bi-annual fair is a great place to buy art from 130 emerging and undiscovered artists. There will also be guest artists, immersive theatre, live music, bar and restaurant. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £5. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For tickets, visit The Other Art Fair websiteRead the rest of this entry

A night of Forties fun and frolics at Cahoots Underground Knees Up

© fb.com/larryjdotphotography

Secret London bar Cahoots is hosting a 1940s style knees-up in an underground bunker
© fb.com/larryjdotphotography

This October, the team behind Cahoots are taking their underground revelry to a whole new level. The secret Soho basement bar is bringing their special brand of 1940s fun and frolics to an underground party at The Vaults in Waterloo.

© Cahoots

Head underground for post-war frolics in Cahoots

In the Victorian arches below Waterloo station will be an evening of vintage post-war fabulousness, with live music, 1940s costumes, food and plenty of cocktails. Upon arrival, guests will be checked in at a 1940s ticket office with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne. To line their stomachs, there will be war-time rations of classic British grub, such as fish-finger sandwiches and sausage rolls. Among the all-inclusive drinks on offer will be Grey Goose, Jack Daniel’s and Bombay Sapphire black-market cocktails.

The Vaults will be transformed into a WWII bunker with plenty of fun and games going on in the coves and tunnels. The main Blitz Room will feature live bands, swing dancers and retro DJs alongside a flow of Cahoots cocktails. For a more intimate experience, people can cosy up and enjoy a Cockney singalong in the 1940s coffee shop, Grey Goose Espresso Martini Bar. If you’re really looking to let loose, head to the Swing House, with Cahoots DJ The Roustabouts keeping the party swinging. And finally, if you’re needing a breather, the hidden Gentleman’s Jack Room will provide some respite and a quiet cocktail or two.

  • Cahoots Underground Knees Up takes place on Friday 6th October 2017 from 7pm – 1am. At The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. Tickets: Early bird £85, Regular from £95 (includes all cocktails and food). Forties dress seriously encouraged. For more information and tickets, visit the Cahoots website.

For the latest guide to what else is on in London, click here.

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‘No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain’: New exhibition at the Migration Museum

Migration Museum © Juan Miguel Ponce

Humanae by Angélica Dass at the No Turning Back exhibition at the Migration Museum.
© Juan Miguel Ponce

Migration is a huge topic of conversation right now as the Brexit process continues to rumble on amidst much confusion. Whatever happens, it is likely to have a big impact on the cultural make-up of Britain going into the future. Earlier this year, the Migration Museum opened with an aim to explore the way the movement of people has shaped our country.

Launching this September is the Museum’s latest exhibition No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain. As we gear up for Brexit, the exhibition looks back at seven turning points in Britain’s history which have changed its people and communities.

The exhibition features the expulsion of England’s entire Jewish population in 1290 to the first East India Company voyage to India in 1607. Meanwhile, the 20th century saw the Rock Against Racism movement of the late 1970s and the 2011 census showing a large amount of Brits identifying as ‘mixed-race’. The periods are explored through personal stories, commentary, photography and art. The exhibition aims to depict the variety of reasons people decided to come and leave the UK and the difficulties experienced during their journeys.

Barbara Roche, chair of the Migration Museum Project, said: ‘No Turning Back encapsulates what the Migration Museum for Britain that we are creating is all about – providing a cultural space for exploration of how immigration and emigration across the ages has shaped who we are today as individuals, and as a nation. Britain’s migration history is as complex as it is long, with generation after generation facing challenges, sometimes acceptance and sometimes hostility. Against the current backdrop of fierce national debate, the need for exploration of this important theme that connects us all could scarcely be greater.’

  • No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain is on from 20 September 2017 – 25 February 2018. Migration Museum @ The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG. Nearest station: Vauxhall, Westminster or Lambeth North. Open Wed-Sun 11am-5pm (late opening on last Thursday of the month until 9pm. Free admission. For more information, visit the Migration Museum website.

For the latest what’s on in London guide, click here.

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The façade of the Cock and Hoop Tavern: A crime against architecture

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The old façade of the Cock A Hoop tavern in Spitalfields

When developers buy old buildings, there is often fear of what will become of them. Depending on what protections have been put in place by local councils, some can be changed beyond all recognition or even demolished. However, some buildings can be mostly destroyed with only the façade remaining. Sometimes this can be done with great sensitivity and the modern building can complement the older. However, there are some pretty horrendous examples of ‘façadism’, one of which I’m going to look at in this post.

Gun St facade © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The windows of the façade don’t line up with the modern windows of Lilian Knowles House

Spitalfields is one of my favourite areas of London – I love the architecture, the history and the atmosphere. Admittedly there has been a lot of development in the past 10 years especially, both good and bad. However, when wandering around the back streets of the area, I often sigh when passing by this shocking example of façadism.

On the corner of Gun Street and Artillery Lane stands what remains of the Cock A Hoop tavern. Today, only the 19th century façade remains, with the modern Lilian Knowles House student housing behind. What is so bizarre, is the windows of Lilian Knowles House don’t even line up with the façade’s windows so residents would have limited lighting and views of brick walls… a very strange design decision.

When I attempted to research the history of the building, there wasn’t much around. The Cock A Hoop tavern was established in 1810 and was first run by publican Joseph Hammond. I’m presuming (although please comment if I’m wrong!), that name referred to an earlier building on the site and the current façade we see today is the second building. The pub belonged to Meux’s Brewery, owned by brewer Henry Meux (1770-1841) and subsequently his son, MP Sir Henry Meux (1817-1883). Although the brewery no longer exists, its name became infamous due to the London Beer Flood of 1814. At the time, the company was named Meux And Company and its brewery was based on Tottenham Court Road – around the current site of the Dominion Theatre. Surrounding the brewery was the incredibly impoverished slums of St Giles. On 17 October, one of huge vats ruptured, spilling 323,000 imperial gallons of beer onto the surrounding streets. The beer flooded basement homes and destroyed several buildings, resulting in the deaths of eight people, half of which were children. Meux and Co were taken to court, but amazingly managed to escape prosecution, with the judge and jury claiming the spill was an ‘Act of God’. The brewery was later demolished in 1922, with the Dominion Theatre going up on the site in 1928-29.  Read the rest of this entry

Flappers, cocktails and roulette at the Prohibition Party 10th birthday

© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

Shake a tail feather at the Prohibition Party’s 10th anniversary special
© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

The rise in Speakeasy and hidden bars in the capital shows just how much of an appetite we Londoners have for secret revelry. So why not take things once step further and immerse yourself in the 1920s spirit at The Prohibition Party. The long-running event is celebrating its 10th birthday with its most fabulous party yet. Expect flappers, cads and cocktails galore in a night of dancing, drinking and gambling.

Guests are invited to sneak into secret and intimate rooms with a password to keep the feds away. There will be live bands, gramophone DJs, silent cinema, dance troupes and gambling tables. To keep up the pretense of Prohibition, the cocktail menus will be hidden in books while drinks are served in teacups. Aside from the main venue, there will be hidden bars and a secret party room for you to seek out.

Revellers will be encouraged to dress in their finest vintage wares, with lots of tassels, pearls, Mary Janes, tuxes and spats for an evening of 1920s opulence. Early arrivals (7pm-8pm) can have the chance to learn the Charleston at a dance class with the gang from Swing Patrol.

The event is organised by Bourne & Hollingsworth, known for their fabulous parties, bars and restaurant. Along with their landmark The Prohibition Party – they are also behind The Blitz Party, Dark Circus, Cocktails In The City, SS Atlantica and The Chap Olympiad.

  • The Prohibition Party takes place on Saturday 30 September from 8pm-2am. Tickets from £30. The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For tickets, visit the Prohibition Party website.

For a guide to what else is on in September, click here.

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