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Serpentine Pavilion 2021: Counterspace’s tribute to London’s community spaces

Leadenhall Market celebrates 700 years with a series of free events

Enjoy live music, art exhibitions and guided history tours at the City of London’s iconic market hall.

Leadenhall Market will celebrate 700 years of history with a series of events
© Leadenhall Market

With so many of London’s original market halls no longer serving their original purpose, it’s a notable feat to still be trading centuries later. This summer, Leadenhall Market will market 700 years of selling with a series of events.

The City of London market was established in 1321 on the heart of what was Roman London, meaning people have been trading on the spot for nearly two millennia. The site is still owned by the City of London Corporation, who were gifted it by former Lord Mayor Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington back in 1411. When the current Sir Horace Jones-designed building was erected in the Victorian era, Leadenhall was known for being a meat, poultry and game market. Today, it is now a destination for diners and drinkers, as well as boutique shopping.

This July and August, there will be a series of free events exploring the market’s vast history. From live music to exhibitions, to organised tours and self-guided walks, there will be plenty of activities on offer.

  • Leadenhall Market guided tour (Wednesdays 6.30pm-7.45pm, 7 July – 4 August)

Discover the secrets of the Victorian arcades of Leadenhall Market on a guided walking tour. They are free to join, but limited spaces require booking.

  • Lunchtime Lives (Thursday and Friday lunchtimes, 15 July – 6 August)

Enjoy live music from across the decades, from Victorian music hall to ’50s jazz and street bands.

  • Legends of Leadenhall self-guided tour

Discover the characters of Leadenhall’s past and its fascinating tales with an interactive audio guided tour. Find the QR code on posters within the market to download the app and play at your leisure.

  • Electric City exhibition (open daily until midnight, now until 31 July)

The team behind God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow have curated an exhibition of stunning neon art, from film sets of the past 40 years. Free to visit. An information hub is open 11.30am-7pm Wed-Sat.

  • UAL Graduate Showcase (Open daily until late August)

Check out the designs of final year students from the University of the Arts London. One of the market’s shop windows will be displaying costumes for theatre productions, animal models, set design maquettes and creative boards.

  • Leadenhall Market are celebrating 700 years during July and August 2021. At Leadenhall Market (access from Gracechurch Street, Lime Street and Whittington Avenue), City of London, EC3V 1LT. Nearest stations: Monument or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the Leadenhall Market website.

Find out what else is on in London in July 2021 here.

Read more on the history of Leadenhall Market.

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Guide to what’s on in London in July 2021

There’s a host of events on, including Taste of London, RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, Cocktails in the City and London Wonderground.

Taste of London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Taste of London returns to Regent’s Park

Lockdown appears to be largely relaxing this month so London’s seasonal events are starting to return. A host of festivals, exhibitions and more are bringing life back to the capital. With the school holidays kicking off later this month, expect lots of attractions for families. Many events will be offering limited numbers compared to previous years to provide social distancing, so are likely to sell out fast.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 1 July : Meet Me in Marylebone Shopping and Dining Day

One-day shopping event in Marylebone Village, featuring local shops and restaurants offering activations, promotions, offers, freebies and special menus. Event takes place all day. Marylebone Village is a short walk from Marble Arch and Oxford Street. Nearest stations: Baker Street, Regent’s Park and Great Portland Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.

  • 1 July – 31 August 2021 : Louis Roederer pop-up @ The Savoy

Champagne house Louis Roederer is hosting a chic pop-up at London’s iconic Savoy this summer. Along with a boutique selling Louis Roederer champagnes, including rare vintages, there will also be a Suite Dining Experience, offering a three-course private dinner accompanied by Champagne in a riverview suite. Find out more on The Savoy website.

  • 5 – 11 July 2021 : London Cocktail Week Warm-Up Festival

A one-off reopening celebration to support our favourite bars returning to their glory after a difficult time, ahead of the official LCW in October. Thirty bars across the capital will be offering special £7 signature cocktails to those with a participating wristband. Tickets £15. At participating bars only. For more information, visit the LCW website.

  • 6 – 11 July 2021 : RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2021

The world’s largest garden show returns to the grounds of the historical Hampton Court. Attractions include show gardens, floral marquee, plant village, shopping, Festival of Roses, and celebrity talks, demonstrations and workshops. Open Tues-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: £28.75-£43.75 (cheaper for RHS members). Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court. For tickets, visit the RHS website.

  • 7 – 11 and 14 – 18 July 2021 : Taste of London

Following a hiatus due to the pandemic, Taste of London is back with a bang, taking place over two consecutive weekends so Londoners can get reacquainted with London’s restaurant scene after a challenging time for the industry. Expect pop-ups, tasting menus, workshops, demos, talks and plenty of opportunities to eat and drink to your heart’s content. Tickets start from £23 (choose a timeslot). Regent’s Park, NW1 4NR. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Great Portland Street. For more information and tickets, visit the Taste Of London website.

  • 7 July – late August 2021 : The Summer of 1321 @ Leadenhall Market

The City of London market celebrates 700 years of history with a series of free events. From live music to art exhibitions to guided and self-guided history tours. Leadenhall Market (access from Gracechurch Street, Lime Street and Whittington Avenue), City of London, EC3V 1LT. Nearest stations: Monument or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the Leadenhall Market website.

  • 13 July 2021 : The Comedy Store @ Skylight Rooftop

Rooftop destination Skylight are teaming up with The Comedy Store for a night of alfresco laughs. Acts include Jarred Christmas (MC), Dane Baptiste and Jo Caulfield, among others. Doors: 5.30pm, First act: 7.30pm. Tickets: £15. Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For more information or tickets, visit Design My Night.

  • 13 – 31 July 2021 : Sommergäste: Jean Dubuffet exhibition

A new summer series of single work spotlight exhibitions launches at the BASTIAN gallery. For three weeks in July, it will showcase French artist Jean Dubuffet’s Site avec 5 personnages (Site with 5 characters). Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. Free entry. BASTIAN, 8 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 3DW. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street. For more information, visit the BASTIAN website.

  • 14 – 17 July 2021 : Vauxhall Pride

Celebrate Pride with four days of entertainment at Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden. Including bingo, live music, drag and cabaret performances and a closing party. Times and ticket prices vary. Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden, 6A South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, SW8 1SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Be In Vauxhall website.

  • 15 July – 22 August 2021 : Dodge @ Somerset House

The iconic courtyard of Somerset House is transformed into an open-air fun palace, featuring dodgems, art installations and drinking and dining options, as well as late-night DJ events. Times vary. Dodgem tickets: £5pp. Somerset House, Strand, Aldwych, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Somerset House website.

  • 15 July – 25 September 2021 : London Wonderground

Summer culture extravaganza has moved from the South Bank to Earls Court. Expect the best in comedy, circus, music and family entertainment in the big top and upside cow Udderbelly. As well as performances, there will also be outdoor bars, street food, musical bandstand performances, vintage fairground rides, family activities and a ‘beach’. Tickets: free entry to site, but shows are ticketed. London Wonderground, Empress Place, Earls Court, SW6 1TT. Nearest station: West Brompton. For more information and tickets, visit the London Wonderground website. 🐻

  • 17 July 2021 : Crouch End Festival Chorus

Enjoy some big band jazz and works for an unaccompanied choir at the concert hall of Ally Pally. Doors 6pm, Curtains: 7.30pm. Tickets: £10-£20. Alexandra Palace Theatre, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest stations: Alexandra Palace or Wood Green. For more information, visit the Alexandra Palace website.

  • 17 July 2021 : Nocturnal Creatures

A late-night art festival, featuring new installations, films, live performances, music and food experiences. 6pm-11pm. Free. Aldgate Square, Aldgate High Street, Aldgate, EC3N 1AF. Nearest station: Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the Whitechapel Art Gallery website.

  • 17 July – 30 August 2021 : Summer Showtime on The Coaling Jetty

Enjoy open-air theatre and cinema against the backdrop of the River Thames and the iconic Battersea Power Station. The theatre will features many family-friendly productions. Times vary. Cinema tickets: Two seats £35, Four seats £60. Theatre tickets vary. The Coaling Jetty, Battersea Power Station Pier, SW8 4NR. Nearest stations: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Battersea Power Station website. 🐻

  • 18 July 2021 : Independent Label Market

As part of Soho Music Month, a one-day vinyl market comes to Carnaby Street. Expect to see a host of independent labels for sale across many stalls. 12pm-6pm. Free entry. Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.

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Shop back in time as the Classic Car Boot Sale returns to King’s Cross

The vintage shopping extravaganza comes to Granary Square, Coal Drops Yard and Lewis Cubitt Square on 7 – 8 August 2021.

The Classic Car Boot Sale returns to King’s Cross

Fans of vintage and upcycled shopping are in for a treat this August as the Classic Car Boot Sale returns to King’s Cross. The mini festival will be taking over Granary Square, Coal Drops Yard and Lewis Cubitt Square on 7 – 8 August 2021. As well as over 100 stalls selling homewares, art, fashion and accessories, there will also be classic vehicles, DJs, a vintage Routemaster bar and food stalls.

A variety of goods will be on sale, from repurposed to pre-loved, retro pieces, including: prints, artwork, accessories, ceramics, vinyl records, fashion, jewellery, homewares, and textiles. Among the stallholders will be Vinyl Underground Herbie Mensah, Woowoo Boutique and Hang Up Vintage.

Petrolheads will have plenty of opportunities to gaze at some stunning old motors from Afro Classics Register and Dream Cars, as well as some classic bikes, scooters and vans.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty to keep you fed and water during your retro retail therapy, with many street food vendors and drinks on sale from the vintage Routemaster bus. Nearby, 60s Tiki specialist Martin Green and WAG club DJ Chris Sullivan will be spinning their best soul, funk, reggae and disco vinyl.

The event has been curated by design studio HemingwayDesign, famous for The Vintage Festival. Visitors are invited to embrace the past and dress up in their favourite vintage ware should they wish to look the part.

  • Classic Car Boot Sale takes place on 7 – 8 August 2021. Open 10am-6pm. Tickets: £5, free entry for under 12s. Granary Square, Lewis Cubitt Square and Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Classic Car Boot Sale website.
  • NB: The event has been rescheduled to 7-8 August from its original date of 17-18 July.

Find out what’s on in London in July 2021 here.

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Open-air cinema, EURO 2020 football, live music and art as Summer of Play launches at Wembley Park

A host of free events will be taking place this summer in Wembley Park.

Head to Wembley Park for a season of events

Enjoy 13 weeks of seasonal fun and entertainment as Wembley Park launches its Summer of Play season this week. After over a year of COVID-19 restrictions, Londoners are ready to have fun again and sample some of the many cultural offerings from our fair city. Covering a huge site, Wembley Park is a perfect venue to offer an array of open-air entertainment, from film and football to live music.

As a world-famous home of football, Wembley Stadium will be hosting eight matches of the UEFA EURO 2020 games, including three of England’s initial group D games, along with the semi-final and final in July. And for those without a ticket to the match, there will be a chance to take part in a weekend of football activities, playing the game with new rules designed by videogame designers.

However, there’s much more to Wembley besides the ‘Beautiful Game’. The popular open-air cinema screenings are back, along with live music performances, public art trails, and sporting and exercise opportunities – all free.

Among the events taking place are:

  • 4 June – 27 August : Wembley Park Live

Pop-up live music performances will be taking place at the new Bandstand. Expect an array of talent, from the local Brent musicians to soloists and duos from the Busk in London roster and musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

– Performances every Fri (3pm-5pm, 5pm-7pm); Sat (12pm-2pm, 2pm-4pm, 4pm-6pm) and Sun (12pm-2pm, 2pm-4pm, 4pm-6pm). At The Bandstand, Olympic Way and Wembley Park Boulevard.

A weekend of special football activities during the UEFA EUROS. Football fan will be invited to play the beautiful game with new rules created by leading videogame designers. Spectators can witness the innovative new ways to play, such as 25 minute 5 aside games.

– 11am-5pm. At Olympic Way, Wembley Park.

  • June – September : Wembley Park Public Art Trail

Three more commissions are being added to Wembley Park’s burgeoning outdoor public art collection. The new pieces include Meadows of Change (HagenHinderdael in partnership with Quintain and Artistic Statements) and Against The Odds (Micah Purnell)

– At various locations. For more information, visit the digital art map.

  • 25 July : International Busking Day

Back at Wembley Park for a third year, International Busking Day will be celebrated with pop-up music and street performances from both local and international talent.

– Performances between 2pm-8pm. At various locations across Wembley Park.

  • 1 June – 1 September : Inside Out exhibition

French artist JR is bringing his ‘Inside Out’ project to London to coincide with the UEFA EUROs. Wembley Park will feature portraits of 16 Brent residents.

– Various locations.

  • 29 July – 5 September : Summer on Screen

A free outdoor cinema will pop-up over five weeks, with a mix of Hollywood, British and Bollywood classics and newer favourites. Guests can sit on a deckchair or bean bag, accompanied by refreshments and snacks, and check out the action on the big screen. First come, first served.

– Events Pad, Wembley Park Boulevard.

  • Summer of Play takes place from 4 June – 5 September 2021. At location in and around Wembley Park, HA9. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

Find out what’s on in London in July 2021 here.

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Appetise your wanderlust at the Travel Photographer of the Year awards 2020 exhibition

Winning images are going on show in London’s Coal Drops Yard from 12 May 2021.

Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) 2020 © Paul Samsome/www.tpoty.com

The Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) 2020 exhibition is going on display at Coal Drops Yard
(© Paul Samsome/www.tpoty.com)

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, cases of wanderlust are certainly strong amongst many of us as we continue to live and work in smaller environments. If you’re one of those gagging to put your passport to use again, why not treat yourself to some inspirational travel imagery in the meanwhile? On show in London this spring will be the winning images from the international Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) Awards 2020.

A free exhibition in Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross will display 160 photographs from 12 May – 10 June 2021. The exhibition will be open 24 hours a day and easy to enjoy in the safety of the open-air. The collection will showcase a huge range of subjects, from landscapes to people, from architecture to the natural world, taken by both professional and amateur photographers. The COVID-19 pandemic hugely impacted the 2020 awards, with any entries taken by stranded travellers spending longer at their destination than planned, or by those closer to home as their travel was restricted.

After checking out the stunning imagery, visitors can vote for their favourite photographs online, with the additional chance to be entered into a prize draw, with a one-day private photography lesson from TPOTY founder Chris Coe among the prizes. Meanwhile, the TPOTY team will be hosting a series of Fujifilm-supported tutored photography walks around Coal Drops Yard and the King’s Cross/Regents Canal area during the latter period of the exhibition, when the pandemic restrictions allow.

  • The Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) 2020 exhibition is on display from 12 May – 10 June 2021. Free. Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the TPOTY website.

Find out what’s on in London in June 2021 here.

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White Hart Dock | Boat sculptures pay tribute to a lost riverside hub

Today, wooden boat structures give a clue to the hidden dock, which has existed in some form for centuries.

White Hart Dock in Vauxhall, London

The art installation and benches at White Hart Dock in Vauxhall

The River Thames has always been the life blood of London, but before the rise of motor vehicles, it was a dominant way to travel. The river was a hub of industry and transport, with factories, wharf, docks and stairs lining its quaysides. As our demands on the river changed in the latter half of the 20th century, the volume of wharfs and docks has dramatically shrunk.

White Hart Dock slipway

The slipway is hidden behind brick walls and leads to tunnels (left) leading towards the Thames

One remaining dock that has managed to survive is White Hart Dock in Vauxhall. With a road separating the dock from the Thames, it would be easy to miss it if you walked past. However, today there are modern boat sculptures giving a clue to what lurks behind. Situated at the junction of the Albert Embankment and Black Prince Road, there has been a dock or slipway at the site since the 14th or 15th century. On a 1767 map, White Hart Stairs are marked just a short distance south from the famous Horse Ferry embarkation, an ancient river crossing. At the time, Black Prince Road was named Lambeth Butts and led from White Hart Stairs to Kennington Palace (which existed from 12th to 16th century). By the early 19th century, the riverside end of Lambeth Butts had become Broad Street, with White Hart Stairs a popular drop off for water transport.

In 1868, the Albert Embankment was constructed by London’s Metropolitan Board of Works, creating a riverside road and walkway and allowing for the construction of piers for the many large-scale industrial premises, along with improving flood defences for the regularly flooded Lambeth. Prior to construction, White Hart Dock was a draw dock, but was rebuilt facing south. With the main road in between the dock and the Thames, boats would have to pass at an angle at low tide to access it (see a 1872 photo of the newly-built Albert Embankment with the tunnel leading to the dock). Around the same time, many other inland docks were built for Lambeth and Vauxhall factories, including the Royal Doulton potteries. It is believed the White Hart Dock served the Lambeth and Salamanca soap works, although was deemed for public use.

To those disembarking at White Hart Dock in the mid 1800s, one of the first things they would see was the enticing Crowley’s Alton Ale Wharf. The pub chain was run by the Alton Brewery, founded by a Quaker family from Alton, Hampshire. The Crowleys were early pioneers of the traditional pub lunch, offering a glass of ale and a sandwich for 4 pence. Charles Dickens had commented on the popularity of Crowley’s Ale Houses throughout England. Their signature offering grew so famous, the Crowleys had to take out an advert warning Londoners that the Ale Wharf at Vauxhall was their only genuine London branch, accusing rivals of opening “ale and sandwich” venues. (Check out a 1869 photo of the Crowley’s Alton Ale Wharf overlooking White Hart Dock).

Timbers in the shape of bows crown the dock

The dock’s decline began in the 20th century as industry started to move away from the river. During World War II, the dock was used as an Emergency Water Supply, with the letters EWS still visible today on a sign from the period. In 1960, the local council Lambeth sought parliamentary powers to close White Hart Dock as it hadn’t been used by commercial vehicles for many years. However, the closure was never realised, but the dock continued to lay unused.

After decades of neglect and uselessness, in 2004 Berkeley Homes purchased the land adjacent to the dock for development of a luxury apartment block. It was agreed, the surrounding environment should be enhanced, including White Hart Dock. A public art panel was established and the public invited to give feedback on six shortlisted proposals for the space. Sheffield artists Handspring Design won the commission with their ornamental boat-themed sculptures in 2009. Made of sustainably sourced, FSC English oak, the dock is now crowned by bow-like arches, with boat shaped benches facing the river. The dock itself is enclosed by high brick walls, with flood gates at one end. Peering over the walls you can see the slipway and under road tunnels leading to the river.

  • White Hart Dock, junction of Albert Embankment and Black Prince Road, Vauxhall, SE1 7SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. To find out more about the artwork, visit the White Hart Dock website.

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Old Royal Naval College to reopen with workshops, history tours and foodie treats

Enjoy the grounds and retail offerings as the Greenwich landmark partially re-opens after lockdown, along with illustration workshops and guided tours.

greenwich Old Royal Naval College

Greenwich is reopening to the public following lockdown

It’s been a long, dull winter in lockdown so no doubt Londoners are crying out for their favourite spaces in the capital to reopen. Fortunately, one of the capital’s riverside gems, the Old Royal Naval College will be opening their gates again from 12 April 2021. Although indoor access will have to wait, there will be outdoor events and online experiences at the Greenwich destination, as well as reopening of the gift shops and café.

Ahead of the opening of illustrator Nick Ellwood’s physical exhibition ‘Mischief and Misadventure’ in May (or when guidelines allow), he will be hosting online drawing workshops for children and adults from April. Participants will be guided through assignments to hone their children’s book illustration skills, following by masterclass workshops in May for those who want to elevate their drawing to the next level.

Meanwhile, the iconic Old Royal Naval College will open its grounds to the public, who will be able to explore the history and the sights with guided and self-guided tours. The knowledgeable volunteers will be showing off the gorgeous features of the grounds and details of Sir Christopher Wren’s amazing architecture on small, socially-distanced guided tours (four dailt). Alternatively, families can download one of the free, self-guided tours from the Smartify app and enjoy a treasure trail around the outdoor space, while educating their children about the area’s history on the ‘Building Detectives’ tour. Or history buffs can learn more about the buildings with the Architecture tour.

While most of the indoor spaces of the ORNC are off-limits for a little while longer, the gift shops in the Visitor Centre and King William Undercroft will be open, while the Old Brewery will be serving outdoors from 12 April. Every weekend, the King William Lawn will host pop-up stalls serving hot and cold foods, drinks, afternoon teas and picnics for visitors to enjoy outside. Deckchairs and picnic blankets will be available for rent so you can have an alfresco feast while enjoying the views.

  • Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest station: Greenwich or Cutty Sark. For more information, visit the ORNC website.
  • Nick Ellwood workshops are taking place on 1, 8 and 15 April and 13, 20 and 27 May 2021. Tickets: £50. For tickets to the workshop and other events, visit the ORNC online booking tool. Ellwood’s ‘Mischief and Misadventure’ exhibition with run from 17 May – 6 September 2021 at the Old Royal Naval College.

Find out what’s on in London in May 2021 here.

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Victoria House in Whitefriars | An unusual blend of 19th century architecture

The story of a former Fleet Street printing house.

Victoria House on the junction of Tudor Street and Temple Avenue in the Whitefriars district of the City

Many of the surrounding streets of Fleet Street have the industries of law and the press to thank for their many architectural designs. Although the newspapers and publishing houses have moved on, their legacy in the area lives on through their former offices. One of these buildings, the former Argus Printing Company, now survives as a great example of Victorian commercial architecture and is now luxury apartments. Located on the corner of Temple Avenue and Tudor Street in the district of Whitefriars, is a building now known as Victoria House.

The name Whitefriars comes from the former friary, which stood in the area from the 13th to 16th century. Following the dissolution of the friary, the area swiftly went from religious to run-down. At the time, it was located outside the jurisdiction of the City of London so became a magnet for the badly-behaved. The area was known as ‘Alsatia’ and was renowned for its criminal population. However, the Great Fire of London of 1666 provided an opportunity for officials to clean up the area as it was rebuilt.

By the 17th century, Whitefriars became a hub for trade with its many warehouses and wharves. Horwood’s Map of 1799 shows Grand Junction Wharf, Weft & Coves Wharf and White Friars Dock around the site of current Victoria House. Although today, Tudor Street is just over 300 metres long, on Horwood’s Map the name only leant itself to a short stretch of the eastern end. Meanwhile, the western end leading into Inner Temple was called Temple Street until it was renamed as an extension of Tudor Street in the 19th century when the area was altered by construction of the nearby Victoria Embankment in the 1860s. It was during the 19th century that the area of Fleet Street and the surrounding streets – including those in Whitefriars – became a hub for London’s booming newspaper industry. The Victorian era saw the establishment of buildings for both the editorial and production of newspapers and magazines.

Grotesque keystones add some character to the façade

One of the Victorian buildings established for this burgeoning industry was Victoria House, home to the Argus Printing Company. Journalist and politician Harry Marks (1855-1916) established the Argus Printing Company (APC) in 1887 to print his Financial News daily newspaper, which had been founded three years earlier. At its launch, the original Argus printing plant on Bouverie Street wasn’t very large, featuring one machine and rotary press which could produce 12,000 eight-page papers hourly. By 1887, the success of the Financial News meant the APC could buy a larger machine by Hippolyte Auguste Marinoni (1823-1904), which doubled the hourly output. Within a few years, the Bouverie premises were too cramped for the volume of production required so a new site closer to the Thames was acquired in 1891. Read the rest of this entry

Oscar Wilde’s London: Discover the playwright’s haunts

Find out where the playwright lived, socialised and, sadly, suffered during his time in London.

Oscar Wilde in 1894Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was one of the world’s most famous playwrights and poets. Born and brought up in Ireland and dying young in France, he also spent a long period of his life in London. Having studied at Oxford, the young graduate moved to London around 1878, where he would remain for 17 years. During his adult life in London, he tasted success with plays such as ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’, ‘A Woman of No Importance’, and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. However, this was cut short by revelations about his sexuality, which tragically led to his downfall in a society which was not so inclusive as it is today. His last six months in the capital were sadly spent behind bars. Upon his release from prison in Reading, he sailed to France and never returned to London, or the UK, ever again. He died of meningitis in Paris at the tender age of 46 following three years in exile.

Guide to Oscar Wilde’s London sites

  • 44 Tite Street, Chelsea

After graduating from Oxford, Wilde moved in with his university friend and society painter Frank Miles (1852-1891). Wealthy Miles had commissioned architect Edward William Godwin to build him a house, complete with artist’s studio, in 1880. Wilde is listed on the 1881 census as a ‘boarder’ at what was then 1 Tite Street.

– 44 Tite Street, Chelsea, SW3. Nearest station: Sloane Square.

  • St James’s Church, Paddington

Wilde married Constance Lloyd in the Anglican church in May 1884. The Grade II* listed building was designed by Victorian architect George Edmund Street (1824-1881) and completed just two years before the Wildes’ wedding. A plaque to commemorate the Wildes’ ceremony was erected at the east end of the church in 2016.

– Sussex Gardens, Paddington, W2 3UD. Nearest station: Lancaster Gate or Paddington.

  • 34 Tite Street, Chelsea

Wilde and his wife Constance lived together at 16 Tite Street (now 34) from 1884-1895. It was their family home to raise their two sons Cyril (1885-1915) and Vyvyan (1886-1967). Despite Wilde’s sexuality and his affairs, the boys had a good relationship with their father until his arrest. It was at this house that Wilde had a run-in with his lover’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry in June 1894 after he caught the men together at a restaurant. Queensberry threatened to “thrash” Wilde if he caught him with Bosie again. Following the writer’s conviction, Constance changed their sons last name to Holland and got her husband to relinquish his rights to the boys. Today, there is a blue plaque commemorating Wilde’s residence at the house.

– 34 Tite Street, Chelsea, SW3. Nearest station: Sloane Square.

  • St James Theatre (demolished)

Several of Wilde’s plays made their debut at the now-demolished St James’s Theatre in St James. Built in the late Georgian era, the theatre was managed by actor Sir George Alexander (1858-1918) when Wilde was writing plays. The two creatives started a professional partnership, with Lady Windermere’s Fan being presented at the theatre in 1892. In February 1895, the opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest was under threat of disruption by Queensberry, who planned to throw rotten vegetables on stage. However, Wilde received a tip off and had the theatre heavily guarded by police. Queensberry raged in the street outside for three hours, before finally going home. Despite the play’s initial success with critics and audiences, it was short-lived as Wilde was arrested the following April. As public outrage erupted at the Wilde scandal, Alexander tried to keep the run going by removing the playwright’s name from the bill, but to no avail. The production ended prematurely after just 83 performances. St James’s Theatre was eventually demolished in 1957 after 122 years.

– 23-24 King Street, St James, SW1Y 6QY. Nearest stations: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus.

  • James J Fox, St. James

Wilde was an enthusiastic smoker, having acquired the habit while studying at Oxford. While cigars and pipes were popular at the time, he preferred cigarettes, once declaring: “A cigarette is the type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite and it leaves one unsatisfied.” The poet frequently bought his cigarettes from James J Fox, London’s oldest cigar merchant. Today, the shop has a smoking museum downstairs which includes Wilde’s ledger and a High Court letter showing an outstanding balance for the writer’s purchases made between September 1892 and June 1893.

– 19 St James’s Street, St. James’s, SW1A 1ES. Nearest station: Green Park.

  • Truefitt & Hill

Wilde was generally clean-shaven and often visited this top Mayfair barber. Opening in 1805 and securing a royal warrant, it’s the oldest barbershop in the world.

– 71 St James’s St, St. James’s, SW1A 1PH. Nearest station: Green Park.

  • Albemarle Club

The exclusive Albemarle Club in Mayfair was unusual during Wilde’s time because it was a members’ club open to both sexes. Oscar and his wife Constance were both regulars. This club provided a key role in Wilde’s eventual downfall. Scottish nobleman John Sholto Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry (1844-1900), arrived at the club on 18 February 1895 demanding to see Wilde, who he (correctly) suspected of having a love affair with his son Lord Alfred Douglas (1870-1945). The porter blocked his entry, so Queensberry left a calling card with the message, “For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite” (sic). Wilde didn’t receive the card until he turned up at the club two weeks later and was so offended by it, he decided to sue Queensberry for criminal libel. It was the libel trial which led to evidence being produced about Wilde’s sexuality, leading to his subsequent arrest and conviction for gross indecency.

– 13 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4HJ. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus.

  • Kettner’s

Originally one of the first French restaurants in Soho, Kettner’s opened in 1867 and hosted Wilde, among many other prominent names, at its lounge and champagne bar. Today, Kettner’s is a private members’ club run by Soho House and comprises seven Georgian townhouses.

– 29 Romily Street, Soho, W1D 5HP. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road. Read the rest of this entry