Tired of London, Tired of Life - One thing a day to do in London

A website about things to do in London

30 June 2011

Visit the Buxton Memorial Fountain

Often forgotten in an area full of memorials, The Buxton Memorial Fountain stands in Victoria Gardens, just South of the Houses of Parliament. It was constructed in 1834 to celebrate the emancipation of slaves in the British Colonies.


Designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon, the fountain was commissioned by Charles Buxton MP, son of anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Fowell Buxton, and originally stood in Parliament Square.

When, in 1949, the Government put forward a scheme to redesign Parliament Square, the fountain had to be moved, and following a campaign by the Anti-Slavery Society, it was moved to the Gardens in 1957.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buxton_Memorial_Fountain

29 June 2011

Drink at the Dacre Arms

A former Courage pub, now owned by Enterprise Inns, the Dacre Arms is a great little pub in South East London, very worthy of the praise it seems to get in various places on the internet.


Your author believes the Dacre Arms is run by landlord Terry Freak, and its snug interior makes it feel like a proper local pub, with friendly locals (particularly of the small canine variety), lots of wood and locally relevant pictures, and a nice garden out the back.

It's hard to say quite what makes the Dacre Arms such a nice pub, but it is, and that's that. For more, see http://www.fancyapint.com/Pub/london/the-dacre-arms/1338

28 June 2011

Window-shop at the Pullman Gallery

Established by Simon Khachadourian, and opened in 1998, the Pullman Gallery in St James' specialises in late 19th and early 20th Century objects, at prices that are well beyond the sorts of prices that ordinary people like us can afford.


Nevertheless, there are some interesting art deco objects on display, and so your author would suggest this is the sort of shop where window-shopping is appropriate. They can't stop us looking in the windows, can they?

The Pullman Gallery prides itself on having a good selection of Art Deco cocktail shakers, but also stocks all manner of fairly pointless frivolities like bar and smoking accessories, small-scale sculpture, automobile bronzes, scale racing car models, vintage posters and car mascots.

For more information, see http://www.pullmangallery.com

27 June 2011

See Peter Burke's 'Assembly'

Regular readers will have noticed that your author has a passing interest in public art, and whilst passing Woolwich Arsenal yesterday, he was reminded of a piece by Peter Burke which seemed worthy of sharing.


Without descending into pointless artspeak, it seems that there are a number of figures, and Burke made them out of cast iron, as he wanted to achieve an industrial look. However, they are incomplete, as each figure is made out of only three out of a possible four bits, making it possible to see inside.

There are sixteen figures, and they were created with the support of the Cass Foundation. For more, click here.

26 June 2011

Admire the Albert Gate Stags

Guarding the Albert Gate to Hyde Park are two bronze stags which we are told once graced the Piccadilly entrance to the Deputy Ranger's Lodge in Green Park.


Apparently designed by Peter Turnerelli, and based on prints by Bartolozzi, the stags stand on tall plinths, which are attached to the garden walls of the adjoining buildings.

For more information, see http://www.victorianlondon.org/buildings/albertgate.htm

25 June 2011

Attend the SouthWestFest

News reaches your author that a festival kicked off yesterday in a place called 'South Westminster'. Though it seems pedantic to suggest any more accurate terms to describe where it is being held, the first clue is that it is being organised out of the Pimlico Resource Centre.


Today, there's a Festival Gala Day - held partly in Pimlico's St George's Square and partly in the Pimlico Academy - as well as a Carnival procession around the streets of Pimlico, and last night saw the staging of a Pimlico Proms.

The Festival lasts for two weeks, ending with the St Saviour Pimlico Summer Fair, on Saturday 9th July, and a production of Shakespeare's 'A Winter's Tale' back in St George’s Square, at the heart of Pimlico.

It all begs a question about where this festival is actually being held. Your author knows of another place in Westminster beginning with a 'P', but is having trouble placing 'South Westminster' in the A to Z.

Still, for more on the festival, see http://www.southwestfest.org.uk/

24 June 2011

Seek out Van Gogh's house

Like all the best people, Vincent Van Gogh spent a few years living in London. He came following a transfer to the London branch of art dealers Goupil & Co in 1873, and lived at 87 Hackford Road in Stockwell.


Caroline Dakers tells us that he was eventually driven from Hackford Road when acute homesickness was exacerbated by his unrequited love for his landlady's daughter, Ursula, causing him to leave and seek work in Paris.

Van Gogh did return briefly in 1876, living in Twickenham and working at a local school. To read some of his letters from London, click here.

^Picture © sleekit used under Creative Commons^

23 June 2011

Visit the Museum of 51

It's good this Festival of Britain 60th Anniversary. There's loads of new bits at the Southbank Centre including - in the bowels of the Royal Festival Hall - a new museum, teaching us all about the Festival of Britain itself.


The Museum of 51 displays various artefacts from the original festival, and has a brilliant collection of bits and pieces from around the country which show how much the Festival was a national event, with countless Councils and local organisations still represented in the displays sixty years later.

There is also a small cinema showing films from the original Festival and even models to show how the site was made up. It really is worth a visit, and it is free.

For more information, see here.

22 June 2011

Watch Wimbledon in Cardinal Place

It's rare that your author simply reproduces a press release he has been sent, but he was in dire need of an early night last night, so let us examine the new screen which has been erected for the summer in Cardinal Place, Victoria.


The owners of Cardinal Place, Land Securities, are celebrating summer with free live screenings of Wimbledon until Sunday 3rd July, followed by films until Thursday 7th July, complete with deckchairs and strawberries.

So if the weather turns out good, and you can't make it to SW19, this could be an alternative. For more, see http://www.greatbritishsummer11.com

21 June 2011

Buy maps from the Warwick Leadlay Gallery

Established in 1974, the Warwick Leadlay Gallery sells historical maps, images and artefacts from two twin shops in Greenwich Market's Nelson Arcade.


The rich mixture of historical maps and local images from various ages makes it an interesting place to browse, and the knowledgeable staff are always on hand to help you out if you're looking for something special.

The Warwick Leadlay Gallery is open daily and also offers an expert framing service. For more information, see http://www.warwickleadlay.com/

20 June 2011

Learn about the Supreme Court

In the basement of the Supreme Court on Parliament Square, is an exhibition open to the public, with information about the work of The Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.


The Court is housed in the Middlesex Guildhall building, a Grade II* listed building which was converted for the Court at a cost of £59 million, and opened for business in October 2009. You can also watch court hearings upstairs, but more on that another time.

For more information, see http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/visiting/exhibition-whats-on.html

19 June 2011

Meet the artists at the Art Car Boot Fair

The confusingly named Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair is being held today, not in Vauxhall but predictably in the yard just off Brick Lane in the East End.


It doesn't really sound like your author's sort of thing, with organisers at pains to express what a great 'concept' it is, and how plots only available by 'invitation and referral only' from existing ‘booters’, but there is art from the likes of Damien Hirst, the Chapman Brothers, Marcus Harvey, Harland Miller, Bob and Roberta Smith and Ryan Mosley so it will certainly appeal to some.

Rumour has it that Tracy Emin's ‘Emin Industries’ will also be having a boot at the event. It all kicks off from noon. For more information, visit http://www.artcarbootfair.com/.

^Picture © mapeye used under Creative Commons^

18 June 2011

Drink at the Crown and Greyhound, Dulwich

When the two pubs which once dominated Dulwich Village - The Crown, used by the labourers, and The Greyhound, used by the gentlemen - were demolished, the grand Crown and Greyhound was built in their place as the beautiful heart of Victorian Dulwich Village.


It remains today, owned by the Dulwich Estate and characterised by high ceilings, deep relief plasterwork and original fittings, with partitioned areas dividing up its interior.

Once home to a branch of the British Poetry Association, set up by local poet, Lionel Monteith founded in 1949, for a while it was a centre for poetry, with meetings held at the Crown & Greyhound attracting guest poets such as Stephen Spender, Laurie Lee, Dannie Abse, Marie Stopes and Michael Croft.

Today, it is a great place to visit, and watch the Dulwich locals go about their business. For more information, see http://www.thecrownandgreyhound.co.uk/

^Picture © Sheep R Us used under Creative Commons^

17 June 2011

Buy drugs at D.R. Harris

D.R. Harris is one of London's oldest pharmacies, and has been serving St James’s Street for over 220 years.


Founded in 1790, the shop holds two Royal Warrants, serving both the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

It is rare, in that it still manufactures many of its own products by hand, stocking its own aftershaves, Colognes, shaving foams and accessories, and even offering to re-bristle brushes.

D.R. Harris is open Monday to Saturday. For more information, see http://www.drharris.co.uk/

16 June 2011

Explore the Urban Physic Garden

Your author visited the new Urban Physic Garden in Southwark earlier this week, following an invitation from Helen Babbs, author of the new book My Garden, The City And Me, who appeared with him on Londonist Out Loud. For readers who haven't already seen it elsewhere, the Garden is a great project, growing plants with medicinal properties in a pop-up garden on Union Street in Southwark.


The plants are arranged in various 'wards' by their medicinal uses, with plants which are of use in gastrology, respiratory, orthopedic, cardiological, dermatological and other areas of medicine, and helping visitors to learn about the importance of such plants in the medical world.

Alongside the flower beds, the garden is offering workshops, herb walks, a cafe and restaurant, ping pong, seesaws, a theatre (called 'the Operating Theatre'), free lunchtime talks and a plant orphanage. There are also various other projects, all of which sound brilliant.

The garden is open until 15th August 2011. For more information, see http://www.physicgarden.org.uk/

15 June 2011

Watch Mayor's Question Time

This morning from 10am, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, faces London Assembly Members for one of the Mayor's regular question time sessions. The meetings take place at City Hall, and is free and open for members of the public are invited to attend.


This morning's session will see Boris facing questions on the London Survey, the Crossrail Station at Kensal Green, night flights at Heathrow Airport, the cost of the Cable Car, Redbridge Roundabout, night time deliveries during the Olympics, and the new Routemaster.

Boris usually shows up a couple of minutes late to the meeting at at City Hall, on the The Queen’s Walk, SE1, but if you want to attend, you should try to be early. For more, and a full agenda of questions, see http://www.london.gov.uk/media/press_releases_london_assembly/mayors-question-time-city-hall

14 June 2011

Go shopping in the Piccadilly Arcade

Designed by Scottish architect, George Tharle Jell, and opened in 1910, the neo regency Piccadily Arcade links Piccadilly and Jermyn Street in Central London.


It is home to sixteen interesting specialist stores, including classic tailors Benson & Clegg, military medal experts The Armory of St James's, and Russian Art importer Iconastas.

Most of the shops open Monday to Saturday, but are closed on Sundays. For more, see http://www.piccadilly-arcade.com/.

13 June 2011

Find the site of the Texas Legation

Whilst London does have a much more prominent building pretending to be a Texan overseas mission, a tiny sign on Pickering Place marks the place of a real Texas Legation.


The sign marks the site of the base from which representatives of an independent Republic of Texas liaised with the British Government from 1842 until the state joined the United States on 28th December 1845.

The plaque was installed by the Anglo-Texan Society. For more information, see http://terry-uniqueplaces.blogspot.com/2010/02/embassy-of-texas-in-london.html

12 June 2011

Explore the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition

Billed as the largest open contemporary art exhibition in the world, The Royal Academy's annual Summer Exhibition is always an interesting insight into the world of new art, and is now in full swing at Burlington House, on Piccadilly.


The exhibition has been running since 1769, when it began in a warehouse on Pall Mall, and the modern exhibition draws together a huge range of new works by various artists, curated by an rotating committee of Royal Academicians, with different people curating rooms.

It really is a great insight into what's going on in art, and when your author visited on Thursday, he was impressed by the sheer range of works covering every wall. Although, his inner London-knowledge-seeker was a bit too mesmerised by the models of future crossrail stations in the architecture room to be healthy.

This year's exhibition runs until 15th August. For more information, see http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/summerexhibition

11 June 2011

Explore Eel Pie Island

Though your author has visited Eel Pie Island before, on most days the only accessible area is the bridge, and a small path that picks its way through the attractive mishmash of little houses and studios. That is why it is so exciting that visitors are being given one of their rare annual opportunities to properly explore the island this weekend and next.


Alongside the various homes, the private island at Twickenham is home to 26 artists studios, arranged in and around the island's working boatyard. These are real working artists' studios, rather than galleries, and you will, we are told, be given an opportunity to talk to the artists and purchase or commission new works of art.

The studios are open today and tomorrow, and also next weekend, 18th and 19th June from 11.00am-6.00pm. For more information, visit http://www.eelpieislandartists.co.uk/, or for more information on loads to do this weekend, see this excellent post on Diamond Geezer

10 June 2011

Visit the Tryon Gallery

Your author spent yesterday afternoon browsing a handful of West London's private art galleries, and was particularly impressed by the exhibition by Johnny Morant currently being shown at the Tron Gallery.


Though Morant is the same age as your author, he possesses infinitely more talent. A London-based artist, celebrated for his interesting representations of light and space using oil paints. His paintings are rather London-centric - including scenes from the South Bank Book Market, the Market Coffee House, and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, amongst others - and perhaps that was why they appealed, but they certainly possessed an intrinsic beauty.

The Tryon Gallery has been trading since 1959, and can be found in 7 Bury Street, SW1. It usually shows six to eight feature exhibitions a year, and Mr Morant's continues until 17th June. For more, visit www.tryon.co.uk

9 June 2011

Celebrate Dickens Day

Charles Dickens died 9th June 1870, at an age of just 58, and to commemorate this, the Dickens Fellowship has organised a celebration of Dickens in the City, with various events taking place.


This morning, guided Dickens Walks leave the Royal Exchange in the City of London, pausing at St Michael’s Cornhill for a themed Dickens reading, and this is followed by lunchtime music and drama at Leadenhall Market, led by Gerald Dickens, Charles' great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens.

There are also events all day at the Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, an afternoon guided walk and a ceremony and wreath-laying at Westminster Abbey in the evening.

For more information, see http://www.dickensfellowship.org/Events/dickens-city-0

^Picture © Mskadu used under Creative Commons^

8 June 2011

See hand-drawn London

As many readers will probably already be aware, to top off their amazing Hand Drawn London series, the website Londonist, on which your author occasionally dabbles, has an exhibition of maps at the Museum of London until 11th September.


This sort of exhibition is your author's favourite type, as it allows real Londoners to explain their insight into the city. The truth is none of us really know our area better than any other, and it can be amazing what is exposed when people sit down with a piece of paper and draw out all they know.

The exhibition shows eleven hand-drawn maps of London, and runs until September. For more information, see click here, or to see Londonist's amazing array of online maps, click here.

^Picture © Matt from London used under Creative Commons^

7 June 2011

Admire Boudica's chariot

Boudica was the ancient queen of the Iceni, famous for leading an uprising against the Romans which saw London sacked and burnt to the ground.


A huge bronze statue of her driving a chariot, designed by Thomas Thorneycroft, now stands on Westminster bridge amongst the throngs of tourists and burger vans which Westminster City Council inexplicably permits at the centre of a world heritage site.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica

^Picture © Zyllan used under Creative Commons^

6 June 2011

See Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam!

An icon of the pop art movement, painted by Lichtenstein in 1963, using acrylic and oil on canvas, 'Whaam!' was based on an image from a comic book called All-American Men of War.


It currently hangs in the Tate Modern in Southwark, and can be found on the fifth floor in room one of the States of Flux area, where it shares its space with Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.

For more infomation, see http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?workid=8782&tabview=display

^Picture © ahisgett used under Creative Commons^

5 June 2011

Buy books at Skoob

Skoob Books, in the Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury, is a brilliant second hand bookshop which boasts 55,000 different books over 2000 square subterranean feet underneath Waitrose.


Alongside this, the shop also has a million books lurking in a warehouse in Oxfordshire, from which they draw their stock, so it is obvious that this is a committed shop.

Skoob books has been a leader in London's second hand book market for more than thirty years, and in 2010 won a prize from one of the many magazines about London, who declared it London's best bookshop.

For more information, see http://www.skoob.com/

4 June 2011

Cross Kew's Sackler Crossing

The Sackler Crossing, in Kew Gardens, is the only crossing on the main lake, installed in 2006 following a donation from Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler whose donation funded the bridge.


Designed by the architect John Pawson, it has a mesmerising curved appearance, and its sides are made of bronze posts which, whilst preventing wayward children from falling into the lake, blocks much less of the view than you might expect.

Your author visited Kew last week, thankfully as a guest of the Gardens, and is aware it is rather expensive to do so. However, there are many interesting features to see, and it would be easy to spend a day there.

For more on the bridge, see http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/garden-attractions-A-Z/sackler-crossing.htm

3 June 2011

Relax in the sun at Gordon Square Garden

Your author spent a day recently amongst the buildings of the University of London around Bloomsbury, and one of the most atmospheric spots was Gordon Square Garden, surrounded by tall trees with a sunny open area in the middle, occupied by a range of relaxed people.


During the first part of the 20th Century, the garden was a focal point for the Bloomsbury Group, with the Stephen siblings (including Virginia Stephen, later Woolf) living at number 46 from 1904 to 1907 and held regular open Thursday 'at homes' for literary figures and intellectuals.

The square now largely houses university buildings, and was restored in 2006 with the help of the University and a grant from the National Lottery.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Square

2 June 2011

Drink at the Lord John Russell

Your author is off to the country this weekend*, to celebrate an amount of time since he was younger. During those years in the country, a disproportionate amount of time was spent in a pub called the Lord John Russell, but like everything London has its own, on Marchmont Street in Bloomsbury.


The pub is named after Lord John Russell, 19th century Prime Minister, advocate of the 1832 Reform Act, and famous grandfather of Bertrand Russell. The excellent pub guide fancyapint tells us that the premises began their life as a whisky merchant, where buyers came to sample the wares, at a long bar divided into cubicles. Today, it's just a good pub, with a range of ales, space to sit outside and a good atmosphere, even if the gents toilets do leave a little to be desired.

For more, see http://www.fancyapint.com/pubs/pub931.php

* note to burglars - flatmate will be present and is a trained killer

1 June 2011

Buy wine at Berry Bros and Rudd

Established in 1698 by the Widow Bourne at 3 St James's Street, Berry Bros and Rudd have been trading wine from the same location opposite St James's Palace for more than three centuries.


Still owned and run by the Berry and Rudd families whose name it bears, past customers include Lord Byron, William Pitt, George III and the Aga Khan, and today the store sells wine to both the Queen and the Prince of Wales, and wines and spirits are available for sale from £5 up to £5,000.

The shop is open daily, except Sundays and Bank Holidays, and you can read more about the history of the company, and the wines available, at http://www.bbr.com/

^Picture © Ewan-M used under Creative Commons^