Category Archives: London

Seven Dials’ final Artist’s Artist Project highlights the importance of mental health

Lee Kay Barry’s Count to Four is the third and final piece in the Seven Dials’ The Artist’s Artists Project

The third and final installation for the Artist’s Artist Project has been unveiled in Seven Dials. ‘Count to Four’ by Lee Kay Barry is a thought-provoking piece to support World Mental Day 2019. The London-based artist hopes his work will help raise awareness of the importance of talking about mental health.

The Artist’s Artist Project launched in January 2019 and sees each participating artist nominating another artist for the successive installation. It was kick-started by Iona Rowland and her Agatha Christie piece, who then went on to choose Rene Gonzalez‘s ‘At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages’, which was displayed over the summer. Each piece will be auctioned for charity following display.

This latest artwork features four people in a living room with one of the group depicted in the colour blue and clearly looking overwhelmed. The colour blue is often linked to mental health, with people complaining of “feeling blue” or “suffering from the blues”.

  • ‘Count to Four’ by Lee Kay Barry is on show now until the end of 2019 at the junction of Shorts Gardens and Neal Street, WC2. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

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

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What’s on in London this Halloween and Day of the Dead 2019

Find out what museum events, fairs, club nights, film screenings and other Halloween activities are on this October and November.

Pumpkins Halloween © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019Get ready for the scariest season of the year! As well as Halloween, there has been a rise in popularity of Day of the Dead festivities from Mexico.

This year, Halloween comes after the half-term holidays, so plenty of London attractions are kick-starting their spooky events early. If you’re a parent, there’s plenty of Halloween events on during the daytime and early evening.

Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best daytime and nighttime – for both children or adults – Halloween and Day of the Dead activities on in the capital this October and early November.

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

Daytime jitters

  • 27 September – 10 November : Dark Arts @ Warner Bros Studio Tour

Dark Arts returns to the Harry Potter experience for the Halloween season. The Great Hall is full of 100 floating pumpkins, while the table features a Halloween feast on red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Watch a live duel between the Death Eaters. Tickets: Adults £45, Children £37. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. Nearest station: Watford (then a shuttle bus to studios). For more information, visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.

  • 1 – 31 October : The Home of Halloween @ London Dungeon

One of London’s most ghoulish destinations offers a Halloween experience. Meet some of London’s most notorious characters such as Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd, The Plague Doctor and The Torturer, watch an exclusive Halloween show and enjoy the rides. Tickets: Adults £30, Children £24. London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website.

  • 19 – 27 October : Halloween @ London Zoo

A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo, featuring Grim Keeper tours, creepy crafts, spooky animals and more. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £27.00, Child £17.55 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.

  • 19 – 27 October : Spooky Cats @ the London Museum of Water & Steam

Listen to a cat story every weekday at 11am, make your own cat craft, explore our Splash Cat trail, find the Museum’s hidden cats. Children in cat costumes enter for free. 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.

  • 19 – 27 October : Halloween @ Battersea Power Station

A host of Halloween family activities are taking place over the half-term holidays, including Halloween scavenger hunt, eerie ear-making workship, pumpkin carving, Wicked Witches and Wizard Worshop. Dates and times vary for each activity. Free. Battersea Power Station, 188 Kirtling Street, Nine Elms, SW8 5BN. Nearest station: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Battersea Power Station website.

  • 19 October – 3 November : Ascarium @ London Aquarium

A Halloween experience at Sea Life London with the Sea Witch asking visitors to help unlock her treasure chest. Tickets start from £21 (online), £26 (on the day). Sea Life London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Sea Life website.

  • 19 – 23 October : Pumpkin Carving @ Morden Hall Park

Carve your own pumpkin at the National Trust grounds and property of Morden Hall Park. Children must be supervised by an adult. 11am-4pm. Small pumpkin £4, medium pumpkin £5. Stableyard, Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD. Nearest station: Morden or Phipps Bridge (Tramlink). For more information and opening times, visit the National Trust website.

  • 22 October : Family Day: Halloween @ Benjamin Franklin House

A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games and crafts for 5-11 year olds. 4pm-5.30pm. 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.

  • 23 – 31 October : Spooky Storytime @ London Eye

Families will love the Halloween experience on the London Eye. Enjoy fast-track entry and step into a capsule for a 30-minute rotation while listening to spooky stories and leave with a Hotel Chocolat goodie bag. Tickets: £35 (adult and child combi). London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For tickets, visit the London Eye website.

  • 24 October – 1 November : Spooktacular Kids Tour

Let your children see the sights of a capital with a 45 minute bus tour of the capital with live guided commentary for chidren. Departs at 4pm. Tickets: Adults £15, Children (5-15) £8. For more information and departure points, visit the Original Tour website.

  • 26 – 27 October : Horniman Halloween Fair

A Halloween fair for the whole family, featuring creepy crawlies, Halloween trail, spooky storytelling, arts and crafts stalls, and food stalls. 10.30am-4.30pm. Free. Horniman Museum & Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman Museum website.

  • 26 October – 3 November : Halloween @ Ham House

Scare yourself silly on a family ghost tour of the 17th century house, which is said to have 15 different ghosts. Ages 7+. Tours from 6pm. Tickets: Adults £15, Children £15. Ham House & Gardens, Ham Street, Ham, TW10 7RS. Nearest station: Richmond Station. For more information, visit the National Trust website.

  • 28 October – 3 November : Halloween @ Backyard Cinema

Travel through the Winter Night Garden to watch one of your favourite Halloween films at Backyard Cinema’s new permanent home in Wandsworth. Films include Beetlejuice, Scream, Shaun of the Dead, Hocus Pocus, Casper, The Witches and more. Matinees and evening screenings. Full bar and street food stalls available. Tickets: Adults £18.99, Children £9.50. Capital Studios, 13 Wandsworth Plain, Wandsworth, SW18 1ET. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.


Things that go bump in the night

  • 26 September – 10 November : Journey to the Underworld

An immersive, theatrical dining experience on a luxury train carriage on a journey to the Underworld. Featuring a four-course meal and interactions with characters. Time slots vary. Tickets: £57-£60. Pedley Street Station, Arch 63, Pedley Street, Bethnal Green, E1 5BW. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. For more information and tickets, visit the Funincular Productions website.

Switch up your Halloween routine and mark Day of the Dead

  • 8 October – 2 November : London Horror Festival

Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel; or Pleasance, Carpenters Mews, North Road, Islington, N7 9EF. Nearest station: Caledonian Road. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.

  • 18 October : Halloween Late @ London Dungeon

After-hours fun for adults-only, featuring a darker experience and drinks. Over 18s only. Arrival from 7pm-9pm. Tickets: £29. London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.

  • 19 October : Festival of the Dead

Mexican-style festival comes to Limehouse. Expect full pageantry, giant skull processions, acrobats, dancers, decorative art, amazing costumes, confetti, CO2, light shows, live music and DJs. 9pm-2am. Tickets: £29.59. Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, Limehouse, E1 0HX. Nearest station: Limehouse. For more information, visit the Troxy website. Read the rest of this entry

Holborn Viaduct: The history of London’s first flyover with a royal seal of approval

Holborn Viaduct © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Holborn Viaduct links Holborn to the City of London

One of the upper entrances to the step buildings

Linking the City of London and Holborn is a rather ornate road bridge. While other bridges in the capital attract a lot more attention due to their location and viewpoints, the Holborn Viaduct isn’t such a familiar sight to many Londoners. The bridge dates back to the Victorian era when London’s road and sewage system were given a massive overhaul. Built between 1867-69, it spans the valley of the River Fleet, which now exists underground and flows out into the River Thames by Blackfriars Bridge, a short distance south. It connects the steep hill of Holborn (the actual road) and Newgate Street, crossing Farringdon Street below, which follows the trail of the Fleet. It was designed by architect and engineer William Haywood (1821–1894) to improve access to nearby Smithfield Market and the City in general. Haywood had worked closely with Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1818-1891) on improving London’s sewer works in the 1860s, including the creation of pumping stations, like Crossness. Before construction began, city authorities agreed to demolish a series of old streets and buildings by the Fleet Valley, with the owners being financially compensated for the loss of their homes. The plans also meant destruction of St Andrew Holborn’s north churchyard, leading to an estimated 11,000-12,000 remains being reinterred elsewhere.

Holborn Viaduct is 1,400ft long, 80ft wide and made of cast iron. It covers three spans and is supported on granite piers. When it was completed, it became the first flyover in central London. Along the bridge are bronze statues, winged lions and replica Victorian-style globe lamps. The female statues represent Agriculture, Commerce, the Fine Arts and Science. Henry Bursill (1833-1871) sculpted Commerce and Agriculture on the south side, while Science and Fine Art on the north side are by the sculpture firm Farmer & Brindley.

Holborn Viaduct © Illustrated London News. Image from Wikimedia Commons

The royal procession under the Holborn Viaduct in 1869 from the Illustrated London News

Holborn Viaduct © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The Holborn Viaduct was designed to span the valley of the River Fleet, which is now covered over by Farringdon Road

Holborn Viaduct © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The Viaduct was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869

Two step buildings were erected either end of the viaduct, with steps on both north and south sides allowing pedestrians to move between the upper and lower street levels. The upper storeys now contain offices and have ornate details, including more Bursill sculptures and wrought iron balconies. Each of the four buildings feature a statue of famous Medieval Londoners on the façade: merchant Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-1579); engineer Sir Hugh Myddelton (1560-1631); and London mayors Sir William Walworth (d.1385) and Henry Fitz Ailwin (1135-1212). Gresham founded the Royal Exchange in the City, while Sir Hugh headed the construction of the New River to bring clean water into London. Meanwhile, Alwin was the first ever Mayor of London and Sir William is particularly notorious for killing Wat Tyler during the Peasants’ Revolt. Read the rest of this entry

Olafur Eliasson – In Real Life review: An interactive, sensory journey through colours and tricks

Your Uncertain Shadow by Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern

One of the most popular art exhibitions in London this year has been Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern. His ‘In Real Life’ exhibition invites visitors to interact with and change their environments. I previously saw his giant sun for his Weather Project installation in the Tate’s Turbine Hall 16 years ago and really loved it. I had seen clips of what to expected on Instagram so went along to pay a visit to In Real Life last month.

His series of installations allow you to become more aware of your senses and the space around you. Some were playful and entertaining, while others were confusing or even headache-inducing. Many used reflections, shadows and light to change your perception of your reality. One of the first pieces you come across is ‘Moss Wall’ – a huge wall of Icelandic reindeer moss which invites you to reach out and touch.

We moved on to ‘Beauty’ – an indoor rain room with light trickery creating flickers of rainbow colours with the water appearing to ‘dance’ in front of you. A similar sensation came from ‘Your Spiral View’ – a moving installation which allows people to walk through a giant kaleidoscope with mirrors bouncing the light off as it rotates.

Your Blind Passenger

One of the most popular pieces was ‘Your Uncertain Shadow’, a colourful projection of shadows allowing you to see multiple versions of yourself. I thought it was a clever and fun piece, although at times the room was so busy the colourful shadows weren’t as fluid as you would hope. Read the rest of this entry

London Cocktail Week 2019: The best pop-ups and mixology offerings

This year’s extended London Cocktail Week sees more of the capital’s best bars offer £6 cocktails.

Celebrate London Cocktail Week with a creative concoction © The Sun Tavern

Celebrate London Cocktail Week with a creative concoction
© The Sun Tavern

October is one of London’s busiest months as its jam-packed with special events and festivals. However, my favourite has to be London Cocktail Week. This year, the mixology extravaganza is celebrating its 10th anniversary so has been extended from the usual seven days to a whopping 10 – lucky us!

To those uninitiated, London Cocktail Week is run by DrinkUp London, who have rounded up some of the capital’s best bars, pubs and restaurants to take part. Across the city, there will be workshops, masterclasses, pairing menus and tastings. This year, the Cocktail Village will be in Brick Lane again, where a host of pop-up bars from your favourite booze brands and drinking destinations will be setting up shop.

To participate, get a £10 pass (on the DrinkUpLdn app) so you can enjoy special, bespoke LCW cocktails for just £6 each from hundreds of participating bars across the capital. You can also find details of workshops, tastings and special events to further explore.

  • 1 – 5 October : The Botanist Gin and Hunter Gather Cook

The Botanist Gin’s brand ambassador Abigail Clephane is teaming up with Nick Weston to create special pairing menus. A series of Wild Dinners will take guests on a culinary journey of wild and seasonal dishes paired with foraged gin cocktails. Expect deer, pigeon breast and phesants, with drinks such as Fig Leaf, Nettle Gimlet or Truffle Martini. The evenings will include a five-course meal.

Carousel, 71 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 8AB. Nearest station: Bond Street, Marble Arch or Baker Street. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in October 2019

Autumn is here! half-term, Halloween etc, plenty of drinking festivals and art fairs

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Autumn is in full swing

Autumn is in full swing. October is jam-packed with events, including plenty of art fairs, and drinking events, including London Cocktail Week. As well as half-term holidays for the children, there is also Halloween at the end of the month with plenty of activities and parties for both adults and children on around the capital.

For a guide to London’s Halloween and Day of the Dead events this month, click here

  • 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 gourmet odysseys, tasting menus, restaurant-hopping walking tours, film club and more. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website.

  • 1 October – 15 January 2020 : Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders

Darling & Edge return to The Vaults with an immersive, adult pantomime, dining experience. Doors open 6.30pm, Show starts 7.30pm. Tickets from £30. The Vaults (entrance via Leake Street tunnel), Launcelot Street, Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. For tickets, visit The Vaults website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Darling & Edge’s 2017 production Beauty And The Feast.

  • 2 – 6 October : Moniker Art Fair

Contemporary art fair celebrating urban art and culture. Open Thu 3pm-10pm, Fri 1pm-9pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets: £13.52–£27.54. The Chelsea Sorting Office, 90-100 Sydney Street, SW3 6NJ. Nearest station: Sloane Square or South Kensington. For more information and tickets, visit the Moniker Art Fair website.

  • 2 – 13 October : BFI London Film Festival 2019

The biggest event in the capital’s film calendar brings a host of big names for premieres, screenings, Q&As and more. Venues include BFI Southbank, Vue West End, Cineworld Leicester Square, Curzon Soho, Picturehouse Central, Prince Charles Cinema and more. For more information, visit the BFI website.

  • 3 – 6 October : Frieze Art Fair

Contemporary art event in Regent’s Park, featuring over 160 galleries from around the world. Opening hours vary. Tickets start from £38.70. 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.

  • 3 – 6 October : Roy’s Art Fair

This fair aims to make art more affordable and accessible. Meet and buy direct from the artists, take part in workshops and check out installations. Open Thu 5pm-9.30pm, Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Register on the website for free tickets. Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street, Liverpool Street or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the Roy’s Art Fair website.

  • 3 – 6 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: £9-£25. Victoria House, Southampton Row, Holborn, WC1A 2QP. Nearest station: Holborn. For tickets, visit The Other Art Fair website.

  • 3 – 6 and 10 – 13 October : Oktoberfest London @ Canary Wharf

Celebrate the German beer fest in Docklands, featuring a host of beer, food and entertainment. Opening hours vary. General admission starts from free to £60 (depending on day and package). Millwall Park, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, E14 3AY. Nearest station: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.

  • 3 – 13 October : Wimbledon Bookfest

Festival featuring readings, children’s events, storytelling, comedy, courses, screenings, walks and interviews from a wide range of authors, including Sir Trevor McDonald, Joanne Harris, Sir Alastair Cook, Harry Hill, James O’Brien, Tracy Chevalier, Mariella Frostup, Patricia Cornwall, Emily Maitlis, Alexander McCall Smith, Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Max Hastings, Johnny Ball, Konnie Huq, Charles Moore, Robert Elms and many more. Tickets prices vary. A majority of events take place in tents on Wimbledon Common, but also other venues nearby. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information and tickets, visit the BookFest website.

  • 4 – 6 October : The Cake And Bake Show

Event celebrating all things baking and decorating, featuring celebrity experts, stalls selling baking equipment, cake competitions and more. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £14. ExCel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House. For tickets, visit the Cake And Bake Show website.

  • 4 – 13 October : London Cocktail Week

This year’s LCW is extended to 10 days to marks its 10th anniversary. Enjoy £6 cocktails in over 300 bars, visit pop-ups, cocktail parties and workshops, or visit the Cocktail Hub on Brick Lane. Visit the website to buy a LCW festival pass for £10 to enjoy the £6 cocktails. For more information, visit the DrinkUpLondon website. Check out Metro Girl’s guide to London Cocktail Week.

Brockwell Park Clock Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Herne Hill Music Festival returns

  • 4 – 13 October : Herne Hill Music Festival

Music festival in Herne Hill, south London at various venues across SE24 and neighbouring areas including The Half Moon, Off The Cuff, St Faith’s Church, Brockwell Hall and St Saviour’s Hall. Tickets range from free to £20. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more information, visit the Herne Hill Music Festival website.

  • Now until 6 October : Serpentine Pavilion

Visit the temporary structure in the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. This year’s Pavilion is designed by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami. Free to visit, but also contains a pop-up café inside. Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA. Nearest stations: Lancaster Gate, Knightsbridge or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Serpentine Gallery website. Check out Metro Girl’s gallery of this year’s pavilion.

  • Now until 6 October : Frieze Sculpture 2019

Open-air sculpture exhibition in the English Gardens. Featuring pieces are 23 international artists, including Tracey Emin, Vik Muniz, Zak Ove, Leiko Ikemura and more. Open during park hours. Free. Regent’s Park (English Gardens in south-east corner of the park), Marylebone, NW1 4LL. Nearest stations: Regent’s Park, Great Portland Street or Baker Street. For more information, visit the Frieze website. See Metro Girl’s photos of this year’s exhibition.

  • 8 – 27 October : Dance Umbrella

A festival bringing new dance to the capital and a wider audience who may not usually access the art form. Various events at locations across the capital, including Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Southbank Centre, The Yard Theatre, Fairfield Halls, The Place, Shoreditch Town Hall, and Barbican. Tickets prices vary. For more information and tickets, visit the Dance Umbrella website. Read the rest of this entry

Emerge Festival 2019: What to see at the inaugural night-time, arts spectacular

Jungle will perform a DJ set at the Natural History Museum during the Emerge Festival

Coming to London this weekend is a brand new festival which brings contemporary and classic culture together. A host of museums and heritage spaces around the capital will be hosting an innovative new ‘Lates’ spectacular – the Emerge Festival.

The inaugural 2019 festival will see London experience a hybrid of arts and nightlife during the Friday 27 – Saturday 28 September weekend. Some of the UK’s rising new talent will be performing at some iconic venues. Artists include Jungle (DJ set), Ady Suleiman, Bryony Gordon, Lost Lectures, The Vagina Museum and young people’s laureate Theresa Lola.

The Emerge Festival will feature a wide range of events, including live music, DJ sets, talks, workshops, performances, poetry, live art installations, theatre and immersive experiences. There will even be a pop-up gin bar on the roof of the Wellington Arch.

Highlights of the new festival include rising soul stars Ady Suleiman and Poppy Ajudha at The Horniman Museum; author and journalist Bryony Gordon celebrating body positivism and mental health awareness at Dulwich Picture Gallery; UK rapper Flohio curating an evening of entertainment at the stunning 17th century Banqueting House; and a special Lost Lectures collaboration with the Natural History Museum. Also at the NHM will be the collective Jungle, who will be DJing underneath Hope the Whale and Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon installation in the striking Hintze Hall.

To immerse yourself in the Emerge Festival experience, all you need is one ticket to give you access to dozens of events at over 40 venues. Participating spaces include the Design Museum, The Old Operating Theatre, The Jewish Museum, Tower Bridge, The Monument, The London Canal Museum, and many more.

  • Emerge Festival runs from 27-28 September 2019. Tickets: For 18–30s, NHS workers and benefits recipients – Day £15, Weekend £30. For over 30s – Day £25, Weekend £40. Concs available. For tickets, visit the Emerge Festival website or search Emerge on the DICE app.

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

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Photo Friday: The Ship of Tolerance for Totally Thames

William Shakespeare’s London: Guide to The Bard’s former homes and haunts

Find out where William Shakespeare used to spend his time during his two decades in London.

Shakespeare Jimmy C mural © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

William Shakespeare mural by Jimmy C on Bankside

Although he was born, died and spent a lot of his life in Stratford-upon-Avon, actor, playwright and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616) found fame – and fortune – on the London stage. Over 400 years after The Bard’s death, his life and works continue to fascinate and entertain people around the world. Although many of Shakespeare’s former homes and haunts in Warwickshire are in good condition, it’s rather more difficult to find his London hotspots. Fires, plagues, war and redevelopment over the centuries have changed the fabric of the City of London and Bankside and left little of Shakespearean sights. However, fans of the great literary legend can make a pilgrimage to some Shakespearean landmarks, with some buildings still in existence or plaques marking his presence.

What was William Shakespeare’s life like in London?

Born in 1564, Shakespeare moved to the capital in his twenties. It’s been difficult to pinpoint exactly when he headed for the big city, as historians have referred to 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare’s “lost years” due to lack of records. However, it’s certain that he was a married man and a father-of-three by the time he sought fame and fortune in the capital. He was definitely working in London by 1592 when he was mentioned by a rival dramatist Robert Greene.

Shakespeare lived in London for around two decades, but split his time between the city and Stratford-upon-Avon, where his wife Anne (1556-1623) remained bringing up their children. Soon after arriving in London, he began his career as an actor and playwright, with records showing his plays were being performed by 1592. He started acting with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later becoming the King’s Men, and became part owner of several theatres, including The Globe. He turned his attention from plays to poetry when theatres were closed during the plague outbreak of 1593. He remained in London for another 20 years or so, eventually retiring to Stratford in 1613, three years before he died.

Guide to William Shakespeare’s London landmarks

  • The Crosse Keys

Today, the Crosse Keys is a Wetherspoons pub in a former Victorian bank. However, the pub takes its name from the former Crosse Keys Inn, which stood near the site in the late 16th century. Shakespeare’s troupe, the Chamberlain’s Men, performed for audiences of up to 500 people in the cobbled courtyard of the Inn on a regular basis in the early 1590s. The original Crosse Keys was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, with its replacement burning down in 1734.

– The Crosse Keys, 9 Gracechurch Street, City of London, EC3V 0DR. Nearest station: Bank.

  • St Helen’s Parish

By 1596, Shakespeare was living in the parish of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, while his family back in Stratford had moved into the recently bought New Place. The exact address is not known, but it is believed he was living near Leadenhall Street and St Mary Avenue. The Bard is listed as failing to pay 5 shillings on £5 worth of taxable goods in November 1597. Living locally, it was likely he worshipped at St Helen’s Bishopgate church and is commemorated inside with a stained glass window of his image.

– St Helen’s Bishopsgate, Great St Helen’s, EC3A 6AT. Nearest station: Liverpool Street.

New Inn Broadway © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Romeo and Juliet mural on the site of The Theatre

  • The Theatre

After the Plague led to plays being banned from the City of London, theatre troupes like Shakespeare and co started to move to just outside the jurisdiction of the City. The Theatre was built in 1576 on the site of the former Holywell Priory by actor and theatre impresario James Burbage – a colleague of Shakespeare at the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. By 1594, the group started performing The Bard’s plays exclusively and it soon became the leading acting company in London. Romeo & Juliet was believed to have been performed at The Theatre for the first time, with the tragedy estimated to have been written around 1591-95. However, The Theatre was dismantled in 1598, with some of its materials being used to build The Globe, after the company fell out with the land’s owner Giles Allen. Archaeologists discovered remains of the theatre in 2008. A building to house offices and a permanent exhibition about The Theatre is currently being constructed on site. Today, a mural of Romeo & Juliet commemorates Shakespeare’s spell in Shoreditch.

– New Inn Broadway, Shoreditch, EC2A 3PZ. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Old Street.

Read the rest of this entry

Frieze Sculpture 2019: Step into Regent’s Park outdoor gallery of contemporary art