Today, there is only a few ‘villages’ left in London. Back in the Georgian era and beyond, London as a city was significantly smaller and surrounded by many country villages. As London expanded during the Industrial Revolution, many of these districts got swallowed up by the growing capital. However, there are a few areas, such as Dulwich, Wimbledon and Highgate, left today which have retained their village charm.
One such place is Dulwich Village in south London, which dates back to at least the 10th century. I’ve lived nearby most of my life and am really fond of the village. Of course, the property prices are ridiculous and unattainable for most of us, but it’s a lovely place to visit, eat and drink in. The Dulwich Society have retained a tight control over planning so the likes of Tesco superstores and flashy developers haven’t ruined the village’s Georgian feel. Located just five miles from the centre of London, it’s surprisingly close to the capital and easy to get to with regular trains from London Bridge and London Victoria.
If you’ve ever fancied exploring Dulwich Village, why not try out my self-guided history walking tour with Routey.net. The company is a free online platform offering walking tours created by members of the travel community. My walking tour covers less than 2 miles and includes 18 stops. It can take a minimum of 90 minutes to up to 5 hours if you choose to stop at the Crown & Greyhound pub for lunch or dinner and visit an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
- Visit Routey.net for Metro Girl’s Dulwich Village history walking tour. Starting point: North Dulwich station (15 mins from London Bridge). End point: West Dulwich station (13 mins to London Victoria).
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the opening of Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest public art gallery in the UK. To mark the occasion, the Gallery hosted a competition to rising architects to design a temporary summer pavilion for the grounds. If_Do won the competition with their airy wood and mesh creation, which will remain outside the Gallery all summer. Throughout June and July, the gallery are hosting late night openings every Friday, featuring special themed events both in and outside the gallery.
Earlier this month, I visited the Gallery for their late night opening, entitled ‘Baroque Mash Up’. The DPG is renowned for its collection of French, Spanish and Italian Baroque paintings, so the night took inspiration from this particular genre of art. Entering the gallery grounds, our eyes were immediately drawn to the main attraction – the Pavilion. Within the structure was a pop-up bar from the Camberwell Arms serving cocktails, wine and snacks, so our first priority was to order a drink and soak up the atmosphere. There was plenty of seating both around the Pavilion and the manicured lawns so a lovely space to relax on a warm summer evening. The gallery’s café is also open late serving food if you’re in the mood for something more substantial. While sipping our cocktails, we were entertained by musicians Benjamin Tassie and Liam Byrne playing their original, experimental music, which really complemented the history of the gallery and the social setting. Also in the Pavilion were guests taking part in a cross-stitch workshop, using patterns from some of the Gallery’s works.
During Pavilion Lates, there is free access to the Gallery, which normally costs to enter. We joined one of the hourly tours of the gallery, billed as an ‘alternative tour’. Our guide showed us some popular paintings in the gallery and gave us a list of facts about the subject or the painter – but added an untrue ‘fact’ which we had to guess. As well as injecting a bit of fun into a typically straight-laced activity, it also showcased some surprising facts about artists and the art world I had never heard before. Following the tour, you were free to explore the collection or take part in the collage making workshop.
Overall, it was a lovely, interesting evening – particularly when the weather is good so you can really make the most of the Pavilion and its setting. I’ll definitely be returning to another Pavilion Lates this summer.
- Pavilion Lates take place every Friday in June and July (except 7 July) 2017 from 6-10pm. In the grounds of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich Village, SE21 7AD. Nearest station: West Dulwich or North Dulwich. Tickets: Free, but you must register for a ticket on the Dulwich Picture Gallery website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.
I don’t like to do anything Christmassy until at least 1st December, and even then it feels too early. However the past few years I have made an exception to this rule when it comes to starting my Christmas shopping. As everyone knows, it can be a pretty stressful – and expensive – experience, so I like the spread the cost and dilute the stress by starting in November. I have a large bunch of girlfriends I’ve been buying presents for since the late ’90s and every year I find it a challenge to find them something new I haven’t bought them before and that they will actually like!
So this is where Christmas markets and fairs come in. Not only do you get the chance to buy unique, handmade gifts that you won’t find in your local WHSmith or Boots, they also tend to be more relaxing, fun environments with festive food and drink and entertainment on hand. I’m planning to visit some of these fairs in the bid to get my friends and loved ones something a little different to place under the tree this year.
This is the 2012 guide – for the 2014 guide, click here.
- 16 November – 23 December : Christmas Market at Southbank
The German-style market returns to the Southbank as vendors sell food, drink and gifts along the Thames. Wooden huts pop-up alongside the Thames in front of the Southbank Centre. Choirs will also perform twice a day. Free entry. While you’re there, you could pop along and have a skate under the London Eye. Nearest tube: Waterloo or Embankment.
- 23 November – 6 January 2013 : Traditional German Christmas Market at Winter Wonderland
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. Free entry. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.
- 29 November : Christmas Shopping Night at Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard
Over 120 stores in the Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard area of Covent Garden will be offering 20 per cent off during their special one-off Christmas shopping event. From 5pm until 9pm, Seven Dials will be closed off to traffic, with stores hosting live music, DJs and makeovers with complimentary gifts, drinks and nibbles on offer. You must register for the 20 per cent off voucher either online or on the night at 29 Shorts Gardens. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.
- 1 December : Fair Christmas Fayre at The Rink, Oxford Street
Who would ever imagine a Christmas fair in the middle of Oxford Street? A one day market selling ethical, fair trade gifts. From 11am until 6pm. Free entry. The Rink, 275 Oxford Street, London W1B 2LH. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Fair Christmas Fayre website.
- 1 – 2 December : Christmas Fair at Chelsea Psychic Garden
Two day festival at London’s oldest Botanical garden. Stallholders will be selling garden paraphernalia, unique jewellery, cashmere clothing, Ceramics, handmade chocolates, chutneys, cheese and smoked salmon and leather goods, amongst others, in heated marquees. Guides will be available to show guests the gardens. Breakfast, lunch and mulled wine will also be on sale. Entry £5, friends of CPG free, Under 16s free. Chelsea Psychic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HS. Nearest tube: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Chelsea Psychic Garden website.
- 4 – 22 December : Christmas Pop-Up at The Artisan
Local artists will be selling ceramics, jewellery, glass, textiles, art and photography at this temporary pop-up Christmas shop at The Artisan in Willesden. Artisan, 80 Harlesden Road, London NW10 2BE. Nearest tube: Willesden Green. For more information, visit Artisan’s website.
- 6 December – Christmas Bazaar at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Local craftspeople and artists will be selling their wares at this Thursday evening event. There will also be carol singing and snacks, mince pies and wine on sale. Open 6-9pm. Free entry. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD. Nearest train station: West Dulwich or North Dulwich. For more information, visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery website.
- 7 – 9 December : Jewel East Christmas Market at Old Spitalfields
Three-day festival showcasing the finest jewellery designers from across the country, as well as jewellery-making workshops and demonstrations. Open Fri 7th 10am-4pm, Sat 8th 11am-5pm, Sun 9th 9am-5pm. Old Spitalfields Market, Brushfield Street, London E1 6EW. Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit Spitalfields’ website.
- 7 – 9 December : Taste of Christmas
Sister event to the hugely popular Taste Of London event which celebrates food. Three day festival at ExCel in Docklands offers tastings, demonstrations, masterclasses and food theatre with Jamie Oliver, Jean-Christophe Novelli, the Baker Brothers and Michael Roux Jnr among those giving their tips. Prices start from £18.50 (advance) or £23.50 (on door). Nearest tube: Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the Taste of Christmas website.
- 8 December : Christmas Fair at Surrey Docks Farm
A host of farm crafts, produce and meat for sale, as well as a chance for children to enjoy donkey rides. Surrey Docks Farm, South Wharf, Rotherhithe Street, London SE16 5ET. Nearest tube: Surrey Quays, Rotherhithe or Canada Water. For more information, visit the Surrey Docks Farm website.
- 8 – 9 December : Christmas Craft Fair and Santa’s Grotto at Sutton House
This National Trust, Grade II-listed Tudor property will open its doors for two days to host pop-up shops, workshops, carol singing and a chance to visit Santa himself. Open 11am-7.30pm. Entry: £1. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, London E9 6JQ. Nearest tube: Homerton (Overland). For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 13 – 16 December : More London Christmas Market at The Scoop
The Scoop – located next to City Hall on the Southbank with views of Tower Bridge – hosts a free four day market featuring food, drink and craft stalls. Entry is free. Open 11am-6pm. Nearest tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit More London’s website.
- 15 – 16 December : The Secret Emporium Christmas Market
The Secret Emporium’s market showcases creations from 44 independent British designers and features entertainment from Ewan Bleach & the Snakewalkers, The Turbans, The John Langan Band, Whiskey Moon Face, Hicks & Higgins, Jessica Burn, Harky and Ben DeVere. Open from 10.30am until 8pm. Free entry. Factory 7, Hearn Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3LS. Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street (Overground). For more information, visit the Secret Emporium website.
Andy Warhol is usually associated with New York City – having spent nearly two-thirds of his life in the Big Apple after being raised in Pittsburgh. His art work is scattered through some of the world’s biggest art galleries and homes of the rich and famous. So to find some of the iconic artist’s works in a leafy London suburb is quite a surprise.
For three months, an exhibition of Andy Warhol Portfolios is on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery in Dulwich Village, South London. Located just 11 minutes train journey from central London, the Gallery is the main attraction which draws outsiders to the historic village, which still has its original 18th and 19th century houses and shops.
Dulwich Picture Gallery is England’s first purpose-built gallery and was designed by Regency architect Sir John Soane. It contains mostly European old masters from the 17th and 18th century as well as an ever-changing exhibition rooms.
Andy Warhol: The Portfolios is on show from now until 16 September 2012. The exhibition includes some of Warhol’s most iconic prints – including the Campbell Soup cans and one of the Marilyn Monroe silkscreens in salmon – and lesser known creations from the latter years of his life. While many of his celebrity-orientated images focus on just the face and the identical print in different colours, Warhol’s 1978 prints of boxer Muhammad Ali feature different angles of his face and his powerful fists.
While many associate Warhol with his prints of celebrities, the exhibition features some of his still lifes. I particularly liked the shaded colours of his Grapes (1979), which saw Warhol using diamond dust in his prints for the first time. His Vesuvius (1985) prints were striking – the different coloured prints depicting very different depictions to Southern Italy’s famous volcano.
One of my favourite bits of the collection was Myths (1981) in the fourth and final room of the exhibition. Between Myths and Endangered Species, they were two of the most popular series produced by the artist. He used a combination of stock images, his own photographs and also got actress Margaret Hamilton to reprise her costume as the Wicked Witch of The West in Wizard Of Oz.
Aside from Warhol’s exhibition, there is also the permanent collection, a great cafe and gift shop and an outdoor exhibition of Philip Haas’ Four Seasons sculpture. Or perhaps meander into Dulwich Village or Park across the road.
Haas’ amazing Four Seasons collection depicts Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter in 15ft high sculptures in the garden, which is free entry unlike the Warhol exhibition. The American artist was inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Renaissance paintings of the four seasons. While Winter looked understandably miserable – who likes the cold – the Spring was full of hope and joy for warm weather.
- Andy Warhol : The Portfolios runs from 20 June until 16 September 2012 at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich, London SE21 7AD. Nearest rail: West Dulwich (from Victoria) or North Dulwich (from London Bridge).
Due to copyright issues, I am unable to post images of the Warhol exhibition, but the YouTube video below will give you a sneak peek at what to expect.