Category Archives: Shopping

London’s Christmas markets and fairs 2019

Christmas markets and fairs in north, south, east, west and central London this November and December 2019.

Royal Arcade Christmas © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Christmas is fast approaching and no doubt, many of us are feeling the pressure of the countdown to the big day. It’s that time of year when our usual monthly spending budgets go out the window and we get ready to splash the cash. However, if you’re struggling for gift ideas and want to get your loved ones something a little different, then why not pay a visit to one of London’s Christmas markets or fairs. As well as a host of stalls, many of the festive events offer entertainment, hot food and drink and other immersive Christmassy experiences. Many of the markets and fairs are free entry, although some have a small entry fee, with money raised going to help charities.

Whether you live in north, south, east or west London, or just visiting the capital, there’s plenty of festive shopping opportunities around town.

Here’s a guide to London’s best Christmas markets and fairs this 2019.

Long-term Christmas fairs

Some markets are opening throughout the run-up to Christmas, with some still going into the new year. Most of these markets will close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and be closed all day on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

  • 8 November – 5 January 2020 : Christmas in Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.

  • 8 November – 5 January 2020 : Southbank Centre Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the river on the South Bank. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 21 November – 5 January 2020 : Winter Wonderland Market

Winter Wonderland covers a huge expanse in Hyde Park and offers a German market selling gifts, as well as food and drink. You can bring the whole family and get into the festive spirit with a fun fair, circus, live shows and an ice rink. 10am-10pm. Free entry. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 23 November – 22 December : Christmas Market on the Piazza

Festive market at Wimbledon every weekend and occasional Fridays (13, 20 December). Featuring over 50 stalls, street food and drink. 11am-6pm. Free entry. The Piazza, Wimbledon, SW19 1QB. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information, visit the Love Wimbledon website.

  • 26 November – 5 January 2020 : Christmas by the River

Annual festive market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-10pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the Tudor Markets website.

  • 27 November – 24 December : Ealing Christmas Market

A host of traditional Christmas cabins pop up in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre for an annual festive market. There will also be hot food and drink, Santa and his elves, as well as carol singers and local choirs. 11am-6pm. Free entry. Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, Ealing, W5 5JY. Nearest station: Ealing Broadway. For more information, visit the Eat Me Drink Me website.

  • 28 November – 22 December : River Walk Christmas Market

Buy Christmas food, drink and gifts at the riverside market near Battersea Power Station. Open Thu-Sun. Free entry. Riverside Walk, Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN. Nearest stations: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Battersea Power Station website.


One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 4 – 10 November : Spirit Of Christmas Fair

For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season from over 750 independent boutiques. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets from £25. Olympia Grand, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.

  • 13 November : A Merry Marylebone Christmas launch

Marylebone’s annual Christmas Lights charity switch-on, food and drink, gift stalls, tombola and live music performances. 3pm-7pm (lights switch on at 6pm). Free. North end of Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street, Marylebone, W1G. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Baker Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

  • 13 – 17 November : Country Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, crafting studio, Hampstead tea room and Champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £19 (Adults), £8.50 (Children). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 14 November : Christmas Shopping Event @ Seven Dials

Get into the festive spirit with an evening of fashion, food and more as Seven Dials is closed off to traffic. Featuring music from a live orchestra and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. 5pm-9pm. Register for a free ticket on the website for discounts and freebies. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

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Dolphins, and whales, and kelp – oh my! New Carnaby Christmas installation to be unveiled at shopping party

The Carnaby Christmas installation will highlight the plight of our oceans this year

The subject of the environment and the urgency to save the planet is rightly a big concern right now. So this festive season, Shaftesbury are collaborating with ocean conversation charity Project O to launch the Carnaby Christmas 2019 installation. Instead of traditional festive decorations, the light installation will be given an oceanic twist.

The iconic Carnaby Street will be transformed into a theatrical underwater scene, with pink coral, whales, dolphins, clams and seahorses floating above you. The message ‘One Ocean, One Planet,’ will highlight the need for conservation and the desperate need to reverse the effects of climate change. One of the main features will be a 5-metre sculpted whale which blows bubbles. Meanwhile, on the side streets of Carnaby – Foubert’s Place and Newburgh Street, 200 illuminated vampire squids will glitter away, while a mermaid will be resting on the famous giant plug on Ganton Street.

A host of sustainable materials have been used to create the installation, with every element made using recycled and reusable materials, including repurposed fishing nets, 500m of used bubble wrap and 1,500 recycled plastic bottles. The installation will be given its colourful appearance with 100% cotton fabrics and 100 litres of water-based, eco-friendly vegan paint.

The lights switch-on will coincide with the annual Carnaby Christmas Shopping party, where visitors can enjoy special events, activities, promotions and discounts throughout the district’s over 100 shops, restaurants and bars. There will also be tap-to-donate points, with all money raised going to ocean charities.

  • The Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party takes place on 7 November 2019. From 5pm-9pm (lights switch-on at 6pm). Free. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. The light installation will be on show throughout the festive period. For more information and to register for your 20% discount, visit the Carnaby London website.

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

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Gaze up (or down) the stunning Brewer staircase at Heal’s

The history of the Cecil Brewer staircase and Heal’s flagship store at Tottenham Court Road.

Heal's staircase © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The Cecil Brewer staircase at Heal’s flagship store

London is full of some pretty spectacular staircases, many hidden from view from the general public. In my opinion, one of the capital’s most lovely ones is located in Heal’s furniture store in Tottenham Court Road.

Heal's staircase © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The stunning staircase is accompanied by a Bocci chandelier

Heal’s has a long history on Tottenham Court Road, having had a store on the street for over 200 years. Heal’s was originally founded by John Harris Heal (1772-1833), a feather dresser from the west country. He opened his first store in Rathbone Place in 1810, before relocating to 203 Tottenham Court Road in 1818. The store soon won over Londoners with its feather mattresses, which were significantly more comfortable than the typical straw palliasses that many were sleeping on at the time.

When John died in 1833, his widow Fanny (1782-1859) and their son John Harris Heal Jnr (1810-1876) took over the business and renamed it Fanny Heal & Son. In 1840, they moved the premises to the current site at 192 Tottenham Court Road with a new purpose-built store. The new building was designed in a Venetian Palazzo style by architect James Morant Lockyer (1824-1865) and was completed in 1854. Now incorporating No.s 186-198, it became known as one of the largest stores in the capital.

Heal's staircase © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The Heal’s cat mascot is perched on a windowsill

By 1916, Heal’s was under management by John Jnr’s son Sir Ambrose Heal (1872-1959), who had joined the family business in 1893 after completing an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. He wanted to modernise the business for the 20th century and enlisted his cousin and best friend Cecil Brewer (1871-1918) and business partner Arnold Dunbar Smith (1886-1933) to design a new store. The original building was demolished to make way for the new store, which was was built between 1914-1917. Brewer erected his namesake spiral staircase at the back of the store in 1916, ready to take visitors upstairs to the new Mansard Gallery. The helix of lights tumbling from the ceiling were added after World War II. The concrete and wooden staircase was refurbished in 2013 and a Bocci chandelier was added, completing its picture-perfect look.

If you look closely as you ascend the staircase, you may notice a bronze sculpture of a cat. Known as the store mascot, the cat has been perched on a windowsill of the stairs since they were built. One interesting story involves 101 Dalmatians writer Dodie Smith (1896-1990), who worked at Heal’s toy department for 10 years in the 1920s and had an affair with Ambrose Heal. She confessed in her autobiography to selling the cat, with an unimpressed Ambrose later writing to the customer to cancel the sale with a note reading, “Heal’s mascot. Not for sale.”

Although Heal’s hasn’t been a family business since 1983, it’s still trading in furniture and homewares on Tottenham Court Road over two centuries later. The store was Grade-II listed in 1974 and it’s magnificent staircase is still used by customers to access different departments.

  • Heal’s, 196 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia, W1T 7LQ. Nearest stations: Goodge Street, Warren Street or Tottenham Court Road.

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Will you ‘brie’ there? An Evening Of Cheese returns to Borough Market

Evening of Cheese © Borough Market

Will you ‘Brie’ there? Roque (fort) down to Borough Market for an Evening of Cheese in December

Returning to Borough Market this December is the hugely popular celebration of cheese. With Londoners planning their festive cheeseboard, this is a great place to get inspiration for your next special dinner. This annual late-night shopping event offers Londoners than chance to meet over 20 of the market’s cheesemongers and explore a huge range of cow, goat and sheep’s milk cheese from UK and international producers.

On Wednesday 12 December 2018, ‘An Evening of Cheese’ returns to Borough Market. Expect to see cheese stalls taking over the market, with experts on hand to advise you on your festive cheese needs, including cheese recipes and drink pairings. There will also be a cheese-based cooking demo in the Market Hall’s Demo Kitchen.

Among the world cheeses taking part include:

  • Drumlin – Heritage Cheese (Ireland).
  • Oude Beemster Gouda – Borough Cheese Company (Holland).
  • Canarejal Cremoso – Brindisa Ltd (Spain).
  • Roquefort – Mons Cheesemongers (France).

On the night, market traders will compete in the ‘cracking of the parmesan wheel’, while local choirs and carol singers will bring some Christmas cheer.

  • An Evening Of Cheese takes place on 12 December 2018 from 6pm-9pm. At Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. Free entry. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
  • Borough Market is open every day during the Christmas period from 5 December until 4pm on Christmas Eve – including Sundays.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

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Christmas gift guide for the Londoner in your life

Looking for gift inspiration this Christmas? If you have a Londoner or Londonphile in your life and you’re stuck for ideas for what to get them for festive season, then look no further. Here’s a few suggestions for some London-centric presents.

 

  • The British Library membership

British Library © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018£80 (direct debit) or £87 (via credit/debit card) per year from The British Library.

If you know a Londoner who loves literature, then an annual membership to the British Library could be a perfect gift. They can enjoy unlimited free entry to BL exhibitions (plus 1 guest), access to the exclusive Members’ Room, or the Knowledge Centre Bar (plus up to 3 guests) on weeknight evenings. Members also enjoy priority booking for the BL’s programme of talks, events and performances as well 20% discount in their public restaurants, cafes and shops. The British Library has a series of specially curated exhibitions and events throughout the year. Current exhibitions include Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War (until 19 February 2019); and Cats on the Page (until 17 March 2019).

– The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras or Euston.

  • London Playset in a Bag

£19.99 from House of Marbles.

Although aimed at children, plenty of big kids will also like these miniature London landmarks and characters. Iconic sights such as Big Ben, the BT Tower, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye have been carved in wood and painted in bright colours. (9cm/3in figures come in a drawstring bag. Not suitable for children under three).

London-Playset-in-a-Bag

  • Soapsmith Soaps

£8.00 from Soapsmith.

Make a traditional gift of toiletries a little bit special with some London-themed soaps. All Soapsmith soaps are handmade in London using high quality, moisturising oils and butters. A range of soaps have taken inspiration from some of the capital’s famous districts, such as Baker Street (almond, honey and goat’s milk); Bloomsbury (primrose, peony and roses), and Hackney (Bergamot, Sandalwood, Rosemary and Geranium); among others. Founded by born and bred Londoner Samantha Jameson in 2012, all of Soapsmith’s products are manufactured in an East London workshop.

© Soapsmith Marble Arch soap

  • Half Hitch Gin

£35.00 from Half Hitch Gin website.

Back in the Victorian era, Camden was famous for its gin. Half Hitch Gin have brought ‘mother’s ruin’ back to NW1. Half Hitch Gin has been made in the former warehouse vaults of Camden Lock since it launched in 2014. Half Hitch Gin is made with tinctures of black tea, pepper, hay, English wood and bergamot. You could buy the gin lover in your life a bottle of Half Hitch, or perhaps book a visit to the gin school at their micro-distillery.

  • London Alphabet Screenprints by Lucy Loves This

£20-£50 from Lucy Loves This.

Brixton-based illustration studio Lucy Loves This has created a series of screenprints detailing some of the capital’s areas and their popular haunts. For example, Shoreditch features landmarks such as Boxpark, Truman Brewery and Arnold Circus entwinned in a giant S. The prints can be bought unframed (21 x 29.7cm) or framed (32.5 x 45cm) and are printed on 300gsm paper. Free delivery on orders over £40.

  • Prettycitylondon: Discovering London’s Beautiful Places

PrettyCityLondon book cover£25.00 from Waterstones.

London Instagram sensation Siobhan Ferguson has been photographing the capital’s most beautiful places since 2010. She now has over 351,000 followers on her PrettycityLondon Instagram account and another 358,000 on her sister account @theprettycities. Her coffee table book published this year features beautiful photos of the capital and provides a guide to some of London’s less explored parts, as well as tips on how to plan and photograph the capital to help make your ‘gram pop.

For a comprehensive guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

To find out where London’s outdoor ice rinks are this winter season, click here.

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Guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs in 2018

Shop for unique gifts and soak up some festive cheer at one of London’s many Christmas and markets and fairs this November and December 2018.

If you’re looking for something a bit different for your loved ones this Christmas, why not to head to one of London’s Christmas markets and fairs. There’s a host of long-term, charitable and weekend fairs on in the capital throughout November and December. Most are free entry, however some do charge a small entry fee with the money usually going to charity. Here’s a guide to the best Christmas markets in London for 2018.

Long-term markets

Some festive markets are popping up for the whole Christmas period, with some even running into the new year. Be aware, most of these markets will close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and be closed all day on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

  • Christmas tree © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 20189 November – 5 January 2019 : Christmas in Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.

  • 9 November – 6 January 2019 : South Bank Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the river on the South Bank. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 15 November – 31 December : Kingston Christmas Market

Christmas market pops up in wooden huts pops up in Kingston town centre. Free. Kingston Market Place, Market Place, Kingston, KT1 1JH. Nearest station: Kingston. For more information, check out the Visit Kingston website.

  • 17 November – 23 December : Solo Craft Fair @ Winterville

Craft fair featuring independent designers selling art, jewellery, ceramics, kids’ clothing and more. Fair taking place on Saturday and Sundays only. 12pm-5pm. Entry: Sat £2 after 12pm & £5 after 6pm. Sun £2 all day. Winterville, Clapham Common, SW4 9DE. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Winterville website.

  • 22 November – 6 January 2019 : Winter Wonderland Market

Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. 10am-10pm. Free entry. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 24 November – 23 December : Christmas Market on the Piazza

Festive market at Wimbledon every weekend and occasional Fridays (7 and 21 December). Featuring over 40 stalls, street food and more. 11am-6pm. Free entry. The Piazza, Wimbledon, SW19 1QB. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information, visit the Love Wimbledon website.

  • 29 November – 2 January 2019 : Christmas by the River

Annual festive market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-10pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.

One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 7 – 11 NovemberCountry Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, crafting studio, Hampstead tea room and Champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £15 (Adults), £8 (Children). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 8 November : Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party

Shopping party at over 90 shops and boutiques of the Carnaby district. Including on-street entertainment and various store activities. Enjoy a 20% discount by signing up for your free ticket on the Carnaby website. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website

  • 14 November : A Merry Marylebone Christmas launch

Marylebone’s annual Christmas Lights charity switch-on, food and drink, gift stalls, tombola and live music performances. From 3-7pm (lights switch on at 6pm). Free. North end of Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street, Marylebone, W1G. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Baker Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.

Winter Wonderland Christmas market © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Shop till you drop with a thoroughly festive atmosphere

  • 15 November : Christmas Shopping Event @ Seven Dials

Get into the festive spirit with an evening of fashion, food and more as Seven Dials is closed off to traffic. Featuring music from a live orchestra and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. 5pm-9pm. Register for a free ticket on the website for discounts and freebies. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

  • 16 – 17 November : Hyper Japan Christmas

A Christmas edition of the popular summer celebration of Japanese culture and products. Includes cuisine, shopping, mix of pop and traditional culture. Open Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-5pm. Tickets: £18.33-£31.59. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and advance tickets, visit the Hyper Japan websiteRead the rest of this entry

Celebrate rock legends Queen at the Bohemian Rhapsody pop-up shop and exhibition

Carnaby Street - Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the mostly highly anticipated films this year. Named after the iconic hit single, the movie tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen in the lead up to Live Aid in 1985. Ahead of its release, the Carnaby district of London has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to create an immersive exhibition and light installation inspired by the rock legends.

For the art installation, fans of the band will see Freddie’s lyrics for one of the greatest rock songs of all time shining brightly over the pedestrianised shopping hub. Giant neon words will bring Queen’s 1975 song to life, including the opening: ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’, along with the iconic ‘Galileo’ and ‘Figaro’. The Queen crest – designed by Mercury – will also appear on Carnaby’s famous arches.

Meanwhile, a pop-up shop and exhibition will open on 18 October so fans can get even closer to the rock gods. There will be a showcase of photographs, prints, footage and costumes from the band. Official film merchandise and Queen-inspired products will also be available to buy. Visitors can also pose for a selfie with the official Madame Tussaud’s Freddie waxwork. Meanwhile, the shops, bars and restaurants of Carnaby will also be joining in with Queen inspired products and menus.

The light display, shop and exhibition are launching to coincide with the release of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie on 24 October. It stars Rami Malek as Freddie, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Gwilym Lee as Brian May and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon.

  • Bohemian Rhapsody Pop Up Shop & Exhibition, 3 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Open from 18 October 2018 – January 2019. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

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Celebrate women artists and support womens’ charities with Mount Street Editions by Frieze London

© Helen Cammock

There’s a Hole in the Sky Part I 2016, by Helen Cammock, one of the artists taking part in Mount Street Editions by Frieze

Returning to the capital this October is Frieze London, a contemporary, international art fair. As part of this year’s event, Frieze London is collaborating with Mount Street to commission four leading female artists to produce limited edition prints. Throughout Frieze Week (4-7 October 2018), a pop-up customised vehicle on Mount Street will be selling 100 prints daily. The collaboration is inspired by the Frieze’s new Social Work section, which celebrates female artists who fought to be recognised in the male-dominated art market during the 1980s.

The artists taking part are:

Helen Cammock, winner of 2018 MaxMara Prize for Women’s Art.
France-Lise McGurn, whose wall painting was a highlight of the recent Virginia Woolf exhibition at Tate St Ives.
Renee So, knitting and ceramic artist.
Zadie Xa, whose work is on view at MoMA PS1 and is also presenting at Frieze London 2018.

Money raised from the sales will go towards two UK charities, Dress For Success and the Young Women’s Trust. Dress For Success economically empowers women by providing them with a support network, while the Young Women’s Trust assists young women aged 16-30 struggling to live on the poverty line in England and Wales.

Each unique commission will be revealed before the pop-up launch, with the location and timings of the vehicle being listed on the Frieze London’s social media channels. An edition of a different artist’s print will be revealed every day throughout the fair, priced at £50 per print.

Meanwhile, Mount Street’s fashion and lifestyle boutiques and stores will be supporting women in art during the fair.

  • Frieze London takes place at Regents’ Park from 4-7 October 2018. The Mount Street Editions by Frieze London will be sold in a moving pop-up on Mount Street, Mayfair, W1. Nearest station: Marble Arch or Bond Street. For more information, visit the Frieze London website.

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

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The story of Cecil Court: Arson, Mozart, movies and books on London’s literary lane

Cecil Court © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Cecil Court is known as Booksellers’ Row

In centuries gone by, hundreds of roads in the capital used to be pedestrian only. When the car wasn’t even a twinkle in Henry Ford’s eye and not everyone owned a horse, walking was the dominant form of transport. In the past 100 years, war and technological advances (e.g. the motor car) have caused many of these alleys and other pedestrianised lanes and roads to be destroyed or built upon. However, one such road has managed to remain throughout history and is a charming little passage in the bustling West End.

Cecil Court Storey's © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Storey’s Ltd at No.1-3 is an antique print and map shop

Cecil Court is a 300ft long street linking Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane. While today is it known as Booksellers’ Row, it has a long and varied history dating back to the 17th century. The land encompassing Cecil Court and the surrounding streets were bought by Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury (1563-1612) in 1609. He served as Secretary of State under Queen Elizabeth I and King James I and was the principal discoverer of the Gunpowder Plot. He built the family seat, Hatfield House, in Hertfordshire in 1611. The Jacobean mansion continues to be the home for the Cecil family and the current Marquess of Salisbury, who still owns a lot of the land around Cecil Court. The first Earl of Salisbury bought four acres on the west side of St Martin’s Lane, from Newport Street to the south-west corner of the lane. It didn’t take long before the Earl built houses there to lease out. Cecil Court is believed to have been laid out in the 1670s by one of his descendants.

By the 18th century, Cecil Court housed some pretty unsavoury characters with residents appearing in court for various crimes. One particular character was an Irish Catholic woman, Mrs Elizabeth Calloway, who ran a brandy shop and alleged brothel in Cecil Court. In early 1735, she had taken out a £150 fire insurance policy with the Royal Exchange Assurance. In June 1735, she bought kindling, emptied her brandy barrels and was drinking locally with friends when a fire broke out at her shop. The blaze spread quickly and damaged 16 houses in neighbouring St Martin’s Court and four in Cecil Court. Mrs Calloway was charged with arson, but was later acquitted because she appeared to have genuine reasons for insuring her property. She testified at the Old Bailey: “The cook’s shop joining to mine, the wainscot of my closet was often so very hot that I was afraid it would some time or other be set on fire and for that reason I insured my house.” Witnesses also testified that Mrs Calloway was often concerned her drunken lodgers could set the house on fire with their candles. The fire inadvertently resulted in the death of local resident Anne Hogarth, the mother of famous satirical artist William Hogarth, who lived in nearby Cranbourn Alley. Her cause of death was deemed to be ‘shock’ from the fire.

Cecil Court quickly recovered with new properties being erected on-site. In 1764, a young child prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and his family lodged with barber John Couzin at No.9 Cecil Court. Tickets for Mozart’s first London concerts were sold at Couzin’s shop. During his time there, the eight-year-old composer played twice for King George III. In 2011, a plaque was unveiled at the site to commemorate Mozart’s time in the capital.  Read the rest of this entry

Soundtrack takes over Seven Dials for a free festival of music, food and fun

© Seven Dials

Soundtrack is a new festival for Seven Dials
© Seven Dials

Coming to the West End this month is a brand new festival from the team behind Citadel. Seven Dials will be taken over by Soundtrack, a free one-day music festival. Revellers young and old will find plenty to entertain, including music, comedy, theatre and debates. All seven of the interconnecting streets will be closed to vehicle traffic for the day with a pop-up lawn surrounding the iconic dial. The free event is taking place to coincide with the Mayor of London’s ‘Sounds Like London’ campaign, which aims to celebrate the capital’s rich music heritage and talent.

Throughout the day, the open-air main stage in the centre of Seven Dials will host a variety of music acts, including London singer-songwriter Rukhsana Merrise, The Voice finalists Into The Ark, indie group Pumarosa and vintage-inspired rocker Ten Tonnes. Broadcaster and author Gemma Cairney will be hosting the action from 12pm-6pm. Meanwhile, funky choir Some Voices will be putting on flash mob performances around the area, while there will also be a free silent disco.

You can get into the festival spirit with The Gypsy Shrine on Monmouth Street, who will be offering free, eco-friendly glitter face painting all day. People can try their luck in an attempt to win festival tickets and more at the music-themed tombola, which raises money for charity partner Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust. When you’re feeling hungry, you can head to the many street food and alfresco dining options, including independent café BOKI, pop-up pizza and prosecco bar from the Escapologist and Portuguese eaterie Canela. Many of the area’s establishments and shops, such as Rosa’s Thai, Rossopomodoero, Duke & Dexter and Club Monaco will be offering 20% off all day. There will also be a pop-up superfood smoothie bar from Neals Yard Remedies and a pop-up cocktail bar from Monmouth Kitchen.

While the festival is free to attend, its recommended you register for your festival map and ticket at Seven Dials’ website. As a ticket holder, you can pick up a free Mint Julep cocktail from the Hawksmoor Seven Dials x Evan Williams pop up bar on Earlham Street.

  • Soundtrack takes place on 23 June 2018 from 12pm-6pm. At Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register, visit the Seven Dials website.

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

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