This gallery contains 10 photos.
The free contemporary art exhibition has returned to the streets of the City of London for a ninth edition, running until June 2020.
The red post box is an iconic piece of British heritage, having been a familiar piece of the streets for nearly 180 years. Despite the public’s fondness of the post box, it isn’t in such demand as it used to be due to the rapidly changing world. The rise of electronic communication and the introduction of rival delivery companies to Royal Mail means the post box isn’t used so widespread as in previous years. A Royal Mail post box is said stand half a mile from over 98% of the UK population. There are around 155,500 post boxes across the UK, with a substantial portion of these situated in London.
Of the thousands of post boxes in the capital, some of them are listed. In 2002, the Royal Mail entered into agreements with Historic England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively to retain and conserve all existing post boxes.
When it comes to post boxes, there are two main factors which distinguish them from each other – their design and the royal cypher. The roadside post box has existed since the reign of Queen Victoria, with every subsequent monarch’s cypher being immortalised on the front. By looking at the cypher, you can date the age of your nearest post box, although admittedly the ballpark for boxes erected during the reigns of Victoria and our current monarch Elizabeth II are rather large! Of course, the shortest reign in recent memory is that of King Edward VIII. The eldest son of King George V only reigned for 326 days, before he abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Despite his short time as head of state, there are 171 boxes with his cypher, some of which are in London.
Walking around London today, a red post box is a frequent piece of street furniture. While the majority are round or oval, there are also hexagonal, wall boxes and other unusual sizes. Most free-standing post boxes feature a cap, which protects rainwater from entering the box and wetting the mail.
Prior to postal reform in 1840, mail was an expensive form of communication. The Uniform Penny Post was introduced, meaning the sender pre-paid the postal costs, rather than the recipient. The same year, the Penny Black adhesive stamp was released. It wasn’t until 12 years later, the first roadside Post Office pillar box was erected in St Helier, Jersey as a trial. In 1853, the first roadside pillar box was established in the mainland United Kingdom in Carlisle. In 1856, Richard Redgrave (1804-1888) from the Department of Science and Art came up with an ornate pillar box design to be used in London and other cities. Today, you can see one of Redgrave’s designs – which were bronze – at the Victoria & Albert Museum. From 1857, some post boxes were built into existing walls. Read the rest of this entry
Want to do your bit to help the planet? Feel like your cooking skills could do with some improvement? There’s an opportunity to do both at some new sustainable cooking classes popping up across London… and the best part – they’re free!
Run by the Small Change, Big Difference campaign, a new series of 30 classes are offering Londoners the chance to expand their cooking skills. Along with whipping up some gastro delights, the classes will also aim to reduce the estimated 910,000 tonnes of food wasted by the capital’s residents every year. You can find inspiration on how to create quick and easy recipes using whatever is lingering in your fridge or cupboards. Expert chefs will showcase their passion for food and teach you how you can improve your health and protect the planet by choosing the right ingredients.
The first workshops have launched already with weekly ‘Waste-FREE Lunch’ every Thursdays (in July) at Mercato Metropolitano in Borough. Attendees can learn how to make a healthy, sustainable packed lunch – before eating it! – in a lunchtime session. There will also be classes on Wednesday evenings through the month at venues in Brixton, Stoke Newington, Battersea and Oxford Circus.
The remaining July workshops include:
– Sunday 21 July : Waste-FREE cookery class at Newburgh Street, Soho. (10.30am-11.15am)
– Wednesday 24 July : Cookery School at Little Portland Street, Oxford Circus (6.30pm-9pm)
– Thursday 25 July : ‘Waste-FREE lunch’ at Mercato Metropolitano, Elephant and Castle (12.45pm-1.40pm).
You book a space on one of the classes through a Eventbrite, which will require a fully-refundable £10 deposit to guarantee your spot. The classes are running from now until October 2019.
For a guide to what’s on in London in September, click here.
A month-long festival celebrating female talent has kicked off in the capital this month. Running until 26 July, the International Women in Arts Festival is taking place in Devonshire Square. Hosted by WeWork and with donations going to The Pink Ribbon Foundation, the four-week programme will offer Londoners and visitors free entertainment.
Throughout the month there will all-female bands performing a range of musical genres, including jazz, swing, classical and pop. Meanwhile, an array of professional dancers and students from top dance schools and creative companies will be showcasing their dance skills.
Highlights included dance shows choreographed by Artistic Director, former English National Ballet soloist Jenna Lee; performances by Oriental dancer and school founder Fleur Estelle; and award-winning Samba sensation Gladys Cavalcante. Also performing will be professional Javanese and Balinese dancers Andrea Rutkowski accompanied by Artistic Director Ni Made’ Pujawati, who will perform sacred Rejang Sari and traditional Legong Kuntul dances. Gymnasts from Team GB will showcase their ribbon choreography, followed by a high-energy set from an all-female acrobatic trio.
During the festival, WeWork’s Devonshire Square community with be fundraising for the Pink Ribbon Foundation, or guests can donate online. Located in the City of London, just a short walk from Liverpool Street or Spitalfields Market, Devonshire Square is a historic business, dining and entertainment quarter, dating back to the 18th century.
For a guide to what’s on in London in July, click here.
This gallery contains 10 photos.
The free contemporary art exhibition has returned to the streets of the City of London for a ninth edition, running until June 2020.
Most Londoners are aware of Blackfriars, as it lends its name to a bridge and busy train and tube station. The name stems from the Dominican Friars – who wore black mantles – who had a priory in the area. Although the Blackfriars priory was closed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, the name remained. However, the names of some of the City of London’s other monasteries and priories weren’t so durable throughout history.
In Medieval London, a number of monastic organisations owned a lot of property in and around the city. After King Henry VIII (1491-1547) ordered the dissolution of the monasteries, a large number in London were closed. Among those shutting their doors were Grey Friars in Newgate Street and Whitefriars at Fleet Street. Grey Friars managed to survive in name after the King gave its 14th century church to the City Corporation and it was renamed Christ Church Greyfriars. After it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) designed its replacement, which hosted worshippers until it was bombed during the Blitz and now its ruins survive as a public garden. (Read Metro Girl’s blog post on Greyfriars to find out more).
White Friars was a Carmelite religious house which sat between Fleet Street and the River Thames, spreading west to Temple and its eastern boundary at Whitefriars Street. The order was originally founded on Mount Carmel in what is now Israel in 1150. After fleeing the Saracens in 1239, the White Friars travelled to England and established a church on Fleet Street in 1253. Their name White Friars comes from, you guessed it, the colour of their mantles. In 1350, it was replaced by a larger church, rebuilt by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon (1303-1377). The White Friars were popular with nobility and Londoners, with many leaving money to the monastery in their wills. The friars’ extensive grounds included cloisters, a cemetery and garden, along with the church.
After nearly three centuries in the capital, the White Friars monastery was closed by Henry VIII in 1538. The king gave the White Friars chapter house to his physician, Doctor William Butts (1486-1545) as a residence. The king’s son and successor King Edward VI (1537-1553) ordered the church’s demolition and allowed noblemen’s houses to built on the site. One of the few surviving buildings, the refectory of the convent, became the Whitefriars Theatre. Established in 1608, the Jacobean theatre only lasted for around a decade and was thought to have been abandoned by the art scene by the 1620s. The diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) often frequented the establishment and noted his visits in his famous diary. At the time, the surrounding area was pretty notorious, with refugees, prostitutes and debtors known to hide there from the authorities. This bad reputation lasted well into the 19th century, with Charles Dickens writing about the area in the 1830s.
Now, all that remains of the friary is a 14th century cellar or crypt, believed to be part of the priory mansion. It was discovered in 1895, later being restored in the 1920s when the News of the World were developing their Fleet Street offices. After the NotW moved east to Wapping in the 1980s, a new building was constructed on site. During building in 1991, the ruins were lifted up on a crane and replaced in a slightly different location. Today, the basement of 65 Fleet Street features a large window so the ruins can be viewed from Magpie Alley.
For more London history posts, click here.
Are you guilty of doing things just “for the ‘gram”? If so, a visit to Wembley Park could be in order. This summer, a series of public art installations have been unveiled, providing plenty of photo opportunities for your social media.
‘Massive Choon’ is a project from Baker & Borowski, the duo behind Produce UK and Skip Gallery. The giant, interactive 2D and 3D music-themed creations include a neon guitar and amp; turntable; drumkit; microphone; boombox and headphones. Visitors to Olympic Way, Market Square and Wembley Boulevard can interact with the art by peering through them or sitting or standing on them. The installation celebrates Wembley’s musical heritage, with the nearby Stadium and Arena having hosted some of the world’s biggest artists and bands over the decades.
The installation is one of a series of events taking place in Wembley Park over the summer, including ‘Summer on Screen’ outdoor film screenings, theatre, shopping and a one day music festival – the International Busking Day on 20 July.
For a guide to what’s on in London in September, click here.
Summer is in full swing. Get ready for one of London’s busiest month as full-blown peak season kicks off when London’s families and tourists will be hitting the streets seeking entertainment. Tennis fans will be enjoying Wimbledon, with Pimm’s and strawberries on cream galore. Of course, the school holidays kick off so plenty of parents and grandparents will be seeking ways to entertain the kids.
For a guide to Wimbledon screenings in London, click here.
Watch the Royal Opera House’s production of Carmen live on the big screen. From 6.30pm. Free. At Lyric Square (Hammersmith), Trafalgar Square or General Gordon Square (Woolwich). For more information, visit the Royal Opera House website.
Flower show in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. Celebrity and expert speakers include Raymond Blanc, Martin Ogden, James Golding, Madeleine Shaw, Jose Pizarro, Mark Diacono, Chris Smith, Emily Rae, James Wong, Jasmine Helmsley and many more. Open to RHS members only Tues-Wed, Public entry Mon and Thu-Sun. Advance tickets range from £20 to £37.50 depending on full/half-day and RHS membership. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the RHS website.
Festival of lawn bowling sets up camp by the Thames for two weeks. There will also be DJs, street food and cocktails. Times 12pm-10.30pm. Tickets from £15. Festibowl Bowling Green, Potters Field Park, SE1 2AA. Nearest stations: London Bridge. For tickets, visit the Festibowl website.
An imaginative art and antiques fair for traditional and contemporary. Featuring a week of cultural, culinary and social experiences. Open Thu, Mon-Wed 11am-9pm, Fri-Sun 11am-7pm. Tickets from £38.50. Royal Hospital, Chelsea, SW3 4SL. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Masterpiece London website.
Art fair with the chance to meet and buy from emerging new talent. As well as the art displays, there will also be workshops, installations, a Sassy Cidre pop-up, tours, kids’ activities, supper clubs and more. Open Thu (private view) 5pm-10pm, Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat 11am-7pm and Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets: £9-£25. West Handyside Canopy, King’s Cross, N1C 4BZ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.
Borough Market will host 50 stalls from 11 London primary schools in partnership with the School Food Matters charity. The stalls will sell fruit and vegetables grown by the children. 11am-1.30pm. Free entry. Market Hall, Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
Mark the USA’s Independence Day with an evening of California wine tasting. California Wine Tasting Masterclass will be leading the tastings, accompanied by American-style nibbles. Tickets: £35. New Street Wine, 16 New Street, EC2M 4TR. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For booking, visit the New Street Wine website.
Celebrate US Independence Day with a whisky-fuelled bash. Expect classic American whiskies, Mint Juleps, American food, special brewery colloborations and boilermakers. Free entry or £10 ticket for a whisky tasting session, 1 Mint Julep and 1/3 pint of a special collaboration brew. The Gallery, 190 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6 3AY. Nearest station: West Hampstead. Tickets can be bought from the bar. For more information, visit The Gallery website.
The vintage travelling funfair sets up camp in Hornsey, featuring rides from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Open Fri 3pm-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm and Sun 11am-8pm. Free admission. Priory Park, Hornsey, N8 8QR. Nearest station: Hornsey. For more information, visit the Carters Steam Fair website.
Lifestyle festival for vegans, vegetarians or those who want to live a more plant-based diet. Featuring vegan and vegetarian brands, cooking demos, talks, Veggie speed dating, and advice. Open 10am-5pm. Free tickets if you register online (also includes entry to Love Natural Love You and The Allergy & Free From Show). London Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For tickets, visit the Just V Show website.
Devonshire Square’s WeWorks hosts a festival of female talent. Featuring live music, dance, acrobatics and more. Most performances start at 1pm. Free. At Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For the schedule, visit the Devonshire Square website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post.
A celebration of the unique creativity and diversity of Stockwell. Featuring live music, street food, children’s entertainment, rides, sport, dance and a Community Action Zone. 1pm-7pm. Free entry. Larkhall Park, Stockwell, SW8 2PX. Nearest station: Stockwell or Wandsworth Road. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
Two and a half week celebration of free outdoor performing arts, including theatre, dance, and street arts. At various venues across Greenwich and Docklands. For more information, visit the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival website.
Festival celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. This year marks the 50th anniversary since Stonewall. Featuring music, talks, screenings, walks and performances. The highlight is the Free parade on 6 July from Portland Place (Regent Street) 1pm to Whitehall (ending approx. 4.30pm). For more information, visit the Pride London website.
Kick starting the Ealing Summer Festival is the Greenford Carnival. Expect dance, music, food, funfair, sports, arts and crafts and more. 12pm-6.30pm. Free entry. Ravenor Park, Greenford, UB6 9LB. Nearest station: Greenford. For more information, visit the Ealing Summer Festival website.
The festival takes place in and around Hampstead, including the Big Fair on Heath Street (7 July), open art competitions, poetry, art and literacy events, pub quizzes and more. Many activities are Free. For more information, visit the Hampstead Summer Festival website.
Five-day festival in Portman Square, featuring street food, badminton, garden games, Wimbledon screenings, licensed bar, tipi retreat featuring fitness and wellness activities. 11.30am-8pm. Free entry. Portman Square, Marylebone, W1H 6LW. Nearest station: Bond Street or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website. Read the rest of this entry
Hoxton Square is one of my favourite areas in Shoreditch because it offers what appeals to me about the area (e.g. nightlife), but also avoids the traffic and pollution that venues in Old Street, Great Eastern Street, etc, have to put up with. I’ve been socialising in Hoxton Square since the late ’90s (showing my age here!) and always thought of the area as a little nightlife enclave with great bars and a nice atmosphere.
A new addition to the East End foodie and entertainment scene is Gigi’s Hoxton. The versatile venue is an all-day restaurant, bar and music venue with an alfresco terrace and a basement sister space Hoxton Underbelly hosting comedy, live music, DJs and club nights. Taking over the former Zigfrid von Underbelly, Gigi’s Hoxton is the latest venture from Giovanna Hussain, the woman behind some of East London’s favourite venues, including The Corner Shop and The Grapevine in Shoreditch, and The Rocksteady in Dalston. I went along with a friend last week to check it out.
As a previous customer of Zigfrid (although my last visit was some years ago), I couldn’t believe how different the venue looked. The bar had been moved from its original location and the vibrant murals by Kate Philipson had really brightened up the place. The finished look is a mix of industrial and vintage-esque chic, with colourful chairs, zinc tables, a green stone bar and neon lights.
Upon arrival, we headed straight for the bar and mulled over the cocktail list. Being a balmy day, my natural choice was an Aperol Spritz, while my friend couldn’t resist the Espresso Martini (on tap!). As a seasoned Aperol Spritz fan, I’m pleased to say Gigi’s got it spot on with the right mix of bitter and sweetness. I’ve found quite a few bars/pubs don’t get the balance right, so it’s always good to see a venue getting it right.
The ground floor is essentially a L shape so we headed to the narrower section at the back to grab a table and two leather chairs. Gigi’s menus have been created by Head Chef Antonio Mollo and are influenced by his Italian heritage, as well as classic British dishes. We tried a selection of canapes, derived from the main menu, and were impressed by the creativity and flavour. One particular stand-out was the bruschetta. Although I’ve eaten the dish often over the years, I must praise this one for being so fresh and rich in taste. Other highlights were the crispy polenta, mushroom and taleggio fondue and the tortilla taco with homemade guacamole. I’ve got to mention the pea soup, Grey Goose le citron vodka sour cream shot which was a pretty unique taste for me, but I quite liked it.
Aside from the drinking and food, one of Gigi’s USPs is its music scene. After initially being treated to some soulful house and classic R&B tracks from the DJ, we were entertained with some great live music from the Blue Lion Band.
Overall, I think Gigi’s Hoxton is a great addition to east London’s nightlife. The food and drinks were equally good. The venue had a great ambiance and the DJs and live music really completed the evening. I’ll be back.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
It’s that time of year again. The whole country goes tennis mad for two weeks as the Wimbledon tournament kicks off from 1-13 July. If you haven’t been lucky enough to get tickets, then you can still enjoy the action and get into the sporting spirit at one of the Wimbledon screenings on in the capital. As well as the action from SW19, there’s also a host of other sporting events over the summer, including Tour de France, The Ashes, the US Open and the Cricket World Cup. Many of the screenings are free, but seats aren’t usually reserved so it’s recommended to get there early if you want to a guarantee a good spot.
Here’s a guide on where to watch Wimbledon and other sporting events on the big screen in London this summer.
Head to Southwark’s street food hub to watch the matches on a 100in big screen in the garden. Flat Iron Square will also be screening the Ashes and the Cricket World Cup during the summer and the Rugby World Cup from September onwards. Free entry. Flat Iron Square, 68 Union Street, Bankside, SE1 1TD. Nearest station: Borough, London Bridge or Southwark. For more information, visit the Flat Iron Square website.
Broadgate as hosting a bumper summer of sports screenings, featuring the Wimbledon, Cricket World Cup, US Open, French Open Tennis, various Grand Prix, Africa Cup of Nations, Queens Club Fever-Tree Championships, Tour de France, Netball World Cup, British Open, England vs Ireland Test Match, Glorious Goodwood and The Ashes. The BBQ pop-up Club will also be serving food. 11am-11pm. Free entry. Exchange Square, Broadgate, EC2A 2BR. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Broadgate website.
Canary Wharf will be hosting open-air screenings of many sporting events over the summer, including Wimbledon, ICC Cricket World Cup, Tour de France, Women’s Ashes, British Open Golf, The Ashes, US Open Tennis, FIBA Basketball World Cup and UCI Road World Championships. Times vary. Free. Cabot Square and Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website.
Grab a deckchair or bean bag and watch the games while lounge canalside. Grab strawberries and cream or other grub from the street food market. 12pm-9pm. Free. The Lawn, Paddington Basin, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.
Soak up the sun while watching the tennis on the big screen in the courtyard. Food and drink available from the Bluebird. Times vary. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
Watch the matches on the big screen in the heart of Mayfair. Grab a deckchair and order food and drink while checking out the tennis. 11am-8pm. Free. Brown Hart Gardens (Duke Street Entrance), Mayfair, W1K 6JQ. Nearest station: Bond Street or Green Park. For more information, visit the Mayfair and Belgravia website. Read the rest of this entry
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Architects KHBT and artist Ottmar Hörlwatch have created a suspended installation near St Paul’s tube station for the London Festival of Architecture 2019.