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Follow the words of Virginia Woolf with ‘Around The Corner’ from Culture Mile

One of the ‘Around the Corner’ installations by St Paul’s Cathedral

If you’ve walked near St Paul’s Cathedral or the Barbican recently, you may have noticed the appearance of some gold word sculptures dotted around. These installations are part of Culture Mile’s new commission ‘Around The Corner’.

From the north side of the Millennium Bridge to Aldersgate Street by the Barbican tube station, a series of 12 installations quote a line from Virginia Woolf’s 1922 novel Jacob’s Room: “What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?” The piece has been created by architects Karsten Huneck and Bernd Truempler from KHBT.

Starting at St Peter’s Hill with the word ‘What’, you can follow the sentence along points of the walk, with each sculpture featuring information to help you find your way.

  • ‘Around the Corner’ is on in the City of London until 31 March 2020. For more information, visit the Culture Mile website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in January 2020, click here.

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Agatha Christie artwork celebrates 90th anniversary of the Seven Dials Mystery

Agatha Christie art Iona Rowland © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Iona Rowland’s art honouring Agatha Christie is on show until spring 2019

On show in Seven Dials for a limited time only is a celebration of one of the country’s most successful authors. Artist Iona Rowland has created an artwork marking the 90th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s novel The Seven Dials Mystery. The detective story was one of Christie’s early works and was published in January 1929. Among the characters included Lady Eileen (Bundle) Brent, who also appeared in the author’s 1925 tale The Secret Of Chimneys.

Rowland’s artwork features silk screen prints of a 1926 photograph of Christie. The piece, which was unveiled in January 2019, is on show until spring 2019 on Shorts Gardens – leading to the Seven Dials district of the West End. Once the art comes down, it will be auctioned for charity.

  • The Evolution of Agatha Christie is on show until spring 2019. At the junction of Shorts Gardens and Neal Street. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

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

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An immersive dining treat for book lovers and foodies as Plateau launches Supper Tales

The Great Gatsby © Warner Bros

If you’re a fan of The Great Gatsby, why not eat in style like Jay Gatsby with an immersive dining experience?
© Warner Bros

If you consider yourself a foodie and a book lover, there’s a special dining experience that could be right up your (Diagon) Alley. Docklands destination Plateau is launching a series of immersive four-course dinners inspired by some of literature’s most loved novels. Launching on World Book Day on 7 March, Supper Tales will feature menus inspired by The Great Gatsby, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter.

For the first meal on 7 March, head chef Frederick Foster has turned to F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel for inspiration. Diners will be transported to the glitz and glamour of the 1920s as they are invited to dress in suitable attire. Kickstart your evening like playboy Jay Gatsby with Champagne and canapés of smoked salmon and caviar on toast, duck liver pate and oysters on arrival. While being entertained with jazz era music and Art Deco-style interiors, feast on warm asparagus with Hollandaise sauce followed by Forster’s mouth watering herb-crusted lamb rack with artichokes and rosemary-infused sauce. Finally to finish a sweet treat of caramelised lemon tart with Champagne poached rhubarb.

Taking place once a month, Supper Tales will continue on Tuesday 16 April with a Charlie And The Chocolate Factory-inspired menu (perfect for Easter!) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on Thursday 23 May.

© PLATEAU

Enjoy a four-course feast at Plateau

  • Plateau Restaurant, Bar & Grill, 4th Floor, Canada Place, Canary Wharf, E14 5ER. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Plateau website.
  • The Great Gatsby Supper Tales will take place on Thursday 7 March 2019 at 7pm. Visit D&D London for tickets.

For Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.

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The Savoy launches The Tiger Who Came To Tea afternoon tea for families

The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy

The Tiger Who Came to Tea afternoon tea for children is launching at The Savoy

Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.

From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.

The menu is as follows:

  • Sophie’s Sandwiches

Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.

  • Tiger Scones

Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

  • Treats with the Tiger

Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).

  • Drinks

Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.

  • The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.

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

This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.

CulturedKids

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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. One night 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 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

Charles Dickens Museum: Discover the man behind the books at the author’s only surviving London home

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Charles Dickens Museum is situated in one of the author’s former homes in Bloomsbury

Charles Dickens is without a doubt one of our greatest authors. Although he was born in Portsmouth and died in Kent, he spent an awful lot of his life in London. During his decades in the capital, the writer lived in many residences, most of which no longer exist.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The desk where Dickens wrote Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Today, the only remaining home is now a museum dedicated to his life and work. The author and his wife Catherine (1815-1879) moved to 48 Doughty Street in Bloomsbury in March 1837 – just a few months before Queen Victoria came to the throne. Previously they had been living in rented rooms at Furnival’s Inn in Holborn, but the birth of their first son Charles Jnr (1837-1896) meant they required more space. He signed a three-year lease on the five-floor Georgian terrace, costing around £80 a year. Built in 1807-9, the building is now Grade I-listed.

During the Dickens family’s three years in Doughty Street, Catherine gave birth to their eldest daughters Mary (1838-1896) and Kate (1839-1929), as well as raising their son Charles Jnr. Mrs Dickens’ 17-year-old sister Mary Hogarth also lived with the couple to help them with their expanding brood. Charles became very attached to his sister-in-law and she died in his arms following a short illness in May 1837. She is believed to have inspired several of his characters, including Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist and Little Nell Trent in The Old Curiosity Shop, among others.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Drawing Room on the first floor includes some of Dickens’ actual furniture

While living at the Bloomsbury terrace, Dickens completed The Pickwick Papers (1836), wrote Oliver Twist (1838) and Nicholas Nickleby (1838–39) and started on Barnaby Rudge (1840–41). As he became more successful in his career and his family expanded, Dickens and the family left Doughty Street in December 1839 and moved to the grander 1 Devonshire Terrace in Marylebone. They lived at Devonshire Terrace until 1851 before moving on to Tavistock House, where the family remained for a further nine years. One Devonshire Terrace was demolished in the late 1950s and now an office block called Ferguson House stands on the site on Marylebone Road.

While most of Dickens’ London residences are long gone, the Doughty Street premises nearly ended up consigned to the history books as well. By the 1920s and 1930s, demolition of Georgian properties was becoming popular with the government, the majority of those being part of the ‘slum clearance’ programme. Many homes from this period had not been maintained well over the decades, providing unsanitary and unsafe living quarters for predominantly poor Londoners. Forty-eight Doughty Street was ear-marked for demolition in 1923, but was fortunately saved by the Dickens Fellowship, founded 21 years earlier. They managed to buy the property and renovate it, opening the Dickens’ House Museum in 1925. In 2012, the museum was re-opened following a £3.1million restoration project and now encompasses neighbouring No.49.

After having it on my ‘to do’ list for some time, I finally paid a visit recently and really enjoyed it. Upon entry you are given an audio tour which guides you around the five floors, including the kitchen and the attic. The museum really brings to life the man behind the books – his complicated private life, his feelings about his tough childhood and his many inspirations. The rooms have been decorated as the author may have known it, in a typical Victorian style and often with his actual furniture – many of which had been bought from Gad’s Hill Place – the Kent home where the author died in 1870. If you’re a fan of Dickens or history, I highly recommend a visit.

  • Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 2LX. Nearest station: Russell Square or Chancery Lane. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adult £9, Child 6-16 years £4. For more information, visit the museum website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The basement kitchen

For a guide to London’s Dickens landmarks, click here.

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Indulge your bookworm with talks and workshops at the Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival

Richmond Literature FestivalAs the nights draw in, the thought of curling up with a good book (or your Kindle) in the warmth is an appealing prospect indeed. So any bookworms looking for inspiration for their next read, the Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival is a good place to start.

Marking its 25th birthday, the annual festival of books and words will be popping up at locations across the borough. A host of events will be taking place between 4-27 November 2016, including workshops, talks, film screenings, performances, and Q&As from authors. Among the authors taking part include Kate Summerscale, Sebastian Barry, Diana Durke, Helena Kelly, Christopher Frayling, Sarah Moss, Simon Bradling and Andrew Lownie.

Award-winning science journalist Dr Jo Marchant will be exploring mind-body medicine, while biographer Anne Sebba will give an insight to the live and loves of Parisian women in the 1940s. Historian Lucy Worsley will be introducing her first children’s history book Eliza Rose with costumes, trivia and other Tudor fun. Other family activities includes storytelling and drawing with Axel Scheffler, a podcast workshop with spoken word artist Polarbear and family music workshops with The Streets. Meanwhile, among the entertainment will be a performance of The Merchant Of Venice and Ealing Studios film screening.

  • Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival takes place from 4 – 27 November 2016. Ticket range from free to £15 depending on event. Limited places so book in advance. Venues include The Bingham, Marble Hill House, Old Town Hall, Strawberry Hill House, Teddington Library and more. For more information, visit the Richmond Literature Festival website.

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

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Curiouser and curiouser! Visiting the Alice In Wonderland exhibition at the British Library

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Explore the many interpretations of Alice In Wonderland at the British Library

For generations, the tales of Alice In Wonderland have captivated millions of readers (and viewers of film adaptations) around the world. For me, I was first introduced to the story as a young child when I watched the 1951 Disney animated film adaptation and was enthralled by this upside down, magical world. I soon read Lewis Carroll’s original Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and the sequel Through The Looking Glass.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

John Tenniel’s original illustrations feature heavily in the exhibition

2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Carroll’s masterpiece, originally written for a girl named Alice Liddell. To commemorate such a timeless and enduring story, the British Library have curated an exhibition of Alice memorabilia, featuring various publications, adaptations and illustrations.

The exhibition takes place in the Entrance Hall at the British Library with a step-by-side mini refresher of Alice’s adventures using different illustrations from across the decades on mirrors and 3D pop-ups of boxes, drinks and houses. Of course, one of the most familiar depictions of Alice is by Sir John Tenniel, who was commissioned by Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) to illustrate his novel.

Once you’ve passed through this, you enter the main exhibition (where you must put away your camera) and follow the history of the story’s conception to more recent re-tellings and illustrations. I was particularly stunned to see Carroll’s handwritten manuscript for the story, which he presented to young Alice Liddell for Christmas. To see his handwriting, the familiar plotline and his own illustrations (which he didn’t think were that great but looked pretty impressive to me) was really special. I was also interested to see a clip of a silent movie adaptation of the story from the early 20th century, which came out nearly 100 years before the last modern film adaptation I saw starring Johnny Depp.

For anyone that has loved the Alice stories as a child or an adult, I thoroughly recommend the exhibition. It was a real trip down memory lane to see those Tenniel illustrations I knew so well as a child. In fact, I think maybe now I should re-read the novel again. Also on site for the duration of the exhibition is an Alice In Wonderland pop-up shop, featuring books, memorabilia and other Alice-inspired gifts.

  • The Alice In Wonderland exhibition is on from now until 17 April 2016. The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest station: Euston, King’s Cross or St Pancras. Opening hours vary. Free entry, but donations welcome. To find out more, visit the British Library website.

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Celebrate World Book Day as authors share their latest reads at Seven Dials

© Seven Dials

For the love of books: Liz Hoggard (left) and Samantha Shannon (right) will be among the authors taking part in Seven Dials’ World Book Day celebration

It’s World Book Day on 5 March and to celebrate the event, Seven Dials’ Book Exchange are hosting readings from three authors throughout the week. Writers Hannah Rochelle, Liz Hoggard with Sarah-Jane Lovett and Samantha Shannon will be reading excerpts from their new books with an intimate audience. The evening events, taking place on 3rd, 4th and 5th March, will see guests treated to complimentary popcorn and prosecco while listening to the authors in action. There will also be the chance for Q&As and book signings.

Kicking off the festivities on Tuesday 3rd is Hannah Rochelle, Fashion Features Editor at InStyle magazine and founder of EnBrogue.com, a blog devoted to stylish flat shoes. After huge success of her blog, which has been featured in The Times, The Guardian, Red Online and BBC Radio 4, among others, Hannah is now releasing the En Brogue book, featuring hand-drawn illustrations, photographs and facts about her favourite flats.

On Wednesday 4th, writing duo Liz Hoggard and Sarah-Jane Lovett will be sharing some insights from their Dangerous Women: The Guide to Modern Life. The life-enhancing tome offers practical, but humorous advice from a group of very knowledge women, with entries such as ‘Accepting A Compliment’,’Affairs’ to ‘Family Therapy’ and ‘Teenagers’.

Finally, on World Book Day itself on Thursday 5th, Samantha Shannon will be treating fans to an excerpt of her second novel The Mime Order, following on from her hit debut novel The Bone Season, which was set in Seven Dials. Her latest tale tells the story of Paige Mahoney’s alternate future London.

  • To confirm your place at the events, please register at www.sevendials.co.uk, with the date you wish to attend. There will also be the opportunity for a few walk in on the evening on a first come first served basis. Doors open at 6pm, and the readings will commence at 6.30pm. Seven Dials’ Book Exchange, 9 Shorts Gardens, WC2H. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square.

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

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Books About Town: Follow a literary trail around London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Mary Poppins bench by Darel Seow is located outside St Paul’s Cathedral

Just like the streets of New York City are renowned as the location to thousands of films, the lanes and roads of London are home to many a literary creation. Some of English literature’s most memorable characters have walked the streets of our iconic city, such as Mary Poppins, Oliver Twist and Sherlock Holmes.

After the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascot trails around London, Wild In Art teamed up with the National Literacy Trust this summer to create an interactive street art project which promotes literacy. Over 50 benches, shaped as open books, were created by different artists depicting different stories and characters.

The benches have been dotted around London in four areas – Bloomsbury, the City Of London, Greenwich and the South Bank from Waterloo to Tower Bridge. After the exhibition ends on 15 September, the benches will then go up for sale at a public auction at the Southbank Centre on 7 October, with proceeds going to the Literacy Trust.

Earlier this week, I followed the City Trail from the Tower Of London to St Paul’s Cathedral, taking photos when possible (when people weren’t sitting on them!). Here’s a gallery of just some of the benches.

  • Books About Town finishes on 15 September 2014. For more information and maps of the trails, check out the Books About Town website.

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For Metro Girl’s blog on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics mascot trail, click here.

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