Day 23 (part 2 ) – Mayfair – Curzon Street – Park Lane – Shepherd’s Market

So here’s the second instalment of this particular walk. As a reminder we finished last time on South Street; in the top left hand corner of the marked out area below. From here we’re going to crisscross between Park Lane and Piccadilly and spiral in to finish in Shepherd’s Market.

Day 23 Route

First up a circuit of Aldford Street, Balfour Mews, Rex Place and Park Street which brings us back onto South Street and past the Egyptian Embassy.

P1050467

Also on South Street, at no.25. is this elaborate art deco doorway. The mansion it adorns was built in 1932-33 for Sir Bernard Eckstein to designs by E.B Musman.  The iron and glass porch by W. Turner Lord Company arrived a bit later, in 1936. The somewhat risqué relief bearing the house number is reputedly (and perhaps appositely) the work of Scottish sculptor Sir William Reid Dick (1879 – 1961). At no.10 there is a blue plaque honouring the fact that Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) lived and died in a house that previously occupied the site and at no.15 (on the corner with Rex Place) is one which commemorates a woman perhaps diametrically opposite Florence on the spectrum of female achievement, Catherine Walters aka “Skittles” (1839 – 1920), proclaimed as the last great courtesan of Victorian London. The nickname is thought to derive from her time working at a bowling alley in nearby Chesterfield Street.

P1050468

P1050469

Turn right down South Audley Street where at no.72 is another blue plaque (this post is awash with them) commemorating the fact that Charles X (1757 – 1836), the last Bourbon king of France, lived in exile there during the reign of Napoleon. Charles was a younger brother of the executed Louis XVI and of Louis XIII who was crowned king following the 1814 restoration (briefly interrupted by Naploeon’s 100 day comeback). Charles himself acceded to the throne in 1824 but was overthrown by the July Revolution of 1830.

P1050465

Next, Deanery Street takes us down to the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane. The hotel opened in 1931 and swiftly established itself as one of the most prestigious in London. Over the years it has had myriad associations with the world’s rich and famous. General Eisenhower set up his HQ here in 1944 as the D-Day landing plans were being formulated. Prince Philip held his stag night here on the eve of his wedding to Princess Elizabeth (as she was then). Elizabeth Taylor and Alfred Hitchcock were among the regular guests in the fifties and sixties, the former sometimes with Richard Burton, sometimes not. Roman Abramovich and Ken Bates are reported to have sealed the deal for the sale of Chelsea F.C at a meeting here in 2003. Since the mid-Eighties the hotel has effectively been owned by the Sultanate of Brunei and its celebrity appeal has faded somewhat since the introduction of Sharia law in Brunei in 2014. (Biographical detail – some years ago I attended a corporate awards ceremony here and won a case of champagne for bagging most chips at the pop-up Casino tables).

P1050470

Middle Eastern connections abound in this part of town so it’s no surprise on returning to South Audley Street via Tilney Street and Stanhope Gate to come across the Qatari Embassy.

P1050471

Continuing south we reach the western end of Curzon Street and head east, stopping off at Chesterfield Gardens before turning left onto the aforementioned Chesterfield Street. Not sign of that bowling alley but at no.4 we have a rare double blue plaque scenario. Once the home of Regency dandy George “Beau” Brummell (1778 – 1840), a man who allegedly took five hours to get dressed every day, this was also a residence of Anthony Eden (1897 – 1977) the Prime Minister from 1955-57 and forever associated with the ignominy of the Suez Crisis.

P1050472

And at no.6, not contemporaneously with either of those two, lived William Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965). This was between 1911 and 1919 at the height of his fame and when Of Human Bondage was writtenDuring this period he also married Sylvie Wellcome, former spouse of Henry Wellcome (of Wellcome Trust fame and who we covered in Day 7). Maugham was cited as co-respondent in the divorce suit having fallen into a relationship with Sylvie despite being at least ambivalent in his sexual proclivities. Needless to say the marriage was not a happy one.

Not quite finished with Chesterfield Street as we have the High Commission of the Bahamas at no.10 (breaking up the Middle Eastern hegemony).

P1050474

At the top turn right on Charles Street passing no.20 which was the birthplace of Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847 – 1929) who managed 14 months as Prime Minister following Gladstone’s final stint. This and many of the adjacent properties are Grade II listed.

P1050475

Another resident of Charles Street, albeit briefly, was the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) (1765 – 1837) the third son of George III and Queen Charlotte. The Sailor King tag is a result of his career in the Royal Navy which he began at age 13 and ended with him becoming Admiral of the fleet in 1811. As he never expected to accede to the throne he merrily went ahead and sired ten children with his mistress, the actress Dorothy Jordan. But then, also in 1811, he married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen and following the deaths of his two elder brothers, the eldest being George IV the Prince Regent, neither of whom had living heirs he was crowned in 1830. His reign was a mere ten years and on his death he was succeeded by his niece Victoria (daughter of one of his younger brothers).  The ten illegitimate children, surnamed Fitzclarence, all appear to have done fairly well for themselves though their mother ended up dying in poverty in France in 1816.

P1050476

Final thing to note on Charles Street is this bust of the Emperor Nero, who is perhaps not the most obvious figure to choose to memorialise above your front door.

P1050477

Next we turn briefly south on Queen Street before veering left into Clarges Mews which leads in turn to Clarges Street which takes us all the way back down to Piccadilly. From here the next street heading north is Half Moon Street which you may vaguely recall as the title of a 1986 erotic thriller starring Sigourney Weaver and Michael Caine.

Half_moon_street

Opposite the top end, on Curzon Street again, is the Third Church of Christ Scientist which was built between 1910 and 1913 but pretty much all of it apart from the façade you see below was demolished in 1980.

P1050479

Just along from this G.F. Trumper’s gentleman’s barber and perfumer which has occupied no.9 Curzon Street since the late 19th century.

P1050480

Next door at no. 10 is where Nancy Mitford (1904 – 1973) worked (i.e. wrote) during the war years. Nancy, best known for Love In A Cold Climate, was the eldest and most talented of the six infamous Mitford sisters. She was also less politically controversial than at least three of her siblings though she did briefly flirt with Mosley’s Blackshirt movement before becoming a vociferous opponent of fascism.

Head down the alleyway opposite to arrive at Shepherd’s Market for the first time leaving again swiftly via White Horse Street where Mayfair Cobblers makes a decent fist of trying to look like its been around longer than a couple of decades.

P1050482

Then we’re back on Piccadilly and turning west pass by no. 100 which was developed into private apartments in 1984. It’s a grand address to have but the listed façade is looking pretty dingy these days.

P1050484

Right next door is the Embassy of Japan, currently hosting a Manga exhibition which I popped in to take a look at. This required the presentation of ID and a security scanner check.

So we’re now on to Brick Street pausing briefly at Yarmouth Place before reaching Down Street which is home to another of London’s phantom tube stations. The station was opened in 1907 but when the Piccadilly Line was extended in the late 1920’s its proximity to both Green Park and Hyde Park Corner made it effectively redundant and it closed in 1932. During WWII it was used as a bunker by Churchill and his war cabinet prior to the creation of the Cabinet War Rooms. Back at the tail end of the eighties I went on a tour of the station and its hidden depths and I’m sure I recall them getting a train to stop at the disused platform to allow our orange-suited party to board. TFL are currently touting for ideas for a new permanent use for the space.

P1050485

Back on Piccadilly we pass by both the Cavalry & Guards Club and the Royal Air Force Club. You can see their respective flags in the picture below along with the sign for some restaurant or other.

P1050487

So next we’re going north up Old Park Lane then cut through Hamilton Mews to Hamilton Place and continue north on to Pitt’s Head Mews. As we swoop round this one take a quick look at Derby Street before making a dog-leg left into Market Mews. At the end of this we double back along Shepherd Street and emerge into Stanhope Row via an archway in what is now a boutique hotel. The green plaque above the archway reads :  On this site, until destroyed by bombing during the winter of 1940, stood an archway and Mayfair’s oldest house. ‘The Cottage 1618 A.D.’ from where a shepherd tended his flock whilst Tyburn
idled nearby.

P1050489

Now we’re heading west on Hertford Street where yet another blue plaque is affixed to no.20 in honour of Sir George Cayley (1773 – 1857). I was going to let this one pass but the combination of “pioneer of aviation” and “died 1857” piqued my interest. As early as 1799 he set forth the concept of the modern aeroplane as a fixed-wing flying machine. He also designed the first glider to carry a human being aloft and he discovered and identified the four aerodynamic forces of flight, which act on any flying vehicle: weight, lift, drag and thrust.

P1050488

Moving swiftly on we loop round further sections of Old Park Lane, Brick Street and Down Street (passing the Playboy Club of London en route) before heading back into Shepherd’s Market via the eastern stretches of Hertford Street and Shepherd Street. Incidentally, Shepherd’s Market doesn’t take its name from that shepherd referenced earlier but from Edward Shepherd, an architect and builder, who established a produce market here in 1735 on part of the site of the old May Fair.

P1050493

Where Hertford Street joins Shepherd Street is today’s pub of the day, the Shepherd Tavern, chosen not for the excellence of its victuals but because of the penultimate blue plaque on this route which commemorates the fact that the actress Wendy Richard (1943 – 2009) lived above the pub as a child.

P1050490

After a couple of drinks circumnavigate Shepherds Market, calling at Carrington Street and Trebeck Street, before returning onto Curzon Street opposite the back of the Saudi Arabian Embassy which occupies Crewe House on Charles Street (designed by the aforementioned Edward Shepherd).

P1050492

On the other side of the street and along a bit is the Curzon Cinema which has been operating on this site since 1934.

P1050491

And that’s nearly it. Just time for one final blue plaque on the way back to the tube which is at no.94 Piccadilly(aka Cambridge House), the one-time residence of Henry John Temple (1784 – 1865) better known as Lord Palmerston. Palmerston lived here during his two stints as Prime Minister – 1855-58 and 1859 until his death in 1865. He had previously served as Foreign Secretary under three separate PMs and it is in connection with matters of British foreign policy that he is best remembered. Despite often being an advocate (and possibly the originator) of gunboat diplomacy this was generally in the cause of so-called liberal interventionism. The most notable exception to this being the forcing of China to open up to free trade, in particular the importation of opium.

P1050494

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Day 23 (part 1) – Mayfair – Royal Academy – Piccadilly

Back in Mayfair today and looking at the south west corner of that district which is a triangle with the Royal Academy, the Dorchester hotel and Hyde Parker Corner as its vertices. And as there’s such a wealth of material in this compact area I’m going to split this into two posts again.

N.B Mayfair, unsurprisingly, gets its name from the annual May fair that was held here from the late 17th century (when this was still largely open ground) until the mid 18th century when it was suppressed due to the increasingly lewd and riotous behaviour that became associated with it.

Day 23 Route

Start out from Piccadilly tube station and head west down Piccadilly towards the Royal Academy. On the way is Albany House more commonly known as just “the Albany”. Set back from the street behind a courtyard this probably goes unnoticed by most passers-by (I certainly hadn’t paid it much attention until now). The house was built for Viscount Melbourne in the 1770’s but in 1802 was converted by the architect Henry Holland into 69 bachelor apartments known as “sets”. These sets have had numerous well-known occupants in their time, Lord Byron and William Gladstone amongst them. Officially, women were not even allowed on the premises until the 1880’s. In these more enlightened times, residents no longer need to be bachelors (though children under the age of 14 are not permitted to live there). They still guard their privacy highly though – read more of that here. Nothing on the exterior of the building indicates that this is private residences – that was only made clear to me, in no uncertain terms, by some uniformed flunkey when I approached the entrance.

P1050431

Just before we get to the RA pass by the home of the Geological Society and around the courtyard in front of the RA itself, going anti-clockwise, can be found the Royal Astronomical Society, the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In case you were wondering, the Society of Antiquaries is all about “The encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries”. And it’s been doing that since 1707.

The Royal Academy itself was established in 1768 by a founding group of 36 artists and architects. These included Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 -1792) who was its first president and whose statue stands in front of Burlington House where  the RA moved in 1867, having secured an annual rent of £1 for 999 years. The RA is probably best known for its Summer Exhibition which is the largest open submission exhibition in the world and has been running every year since 1769. Any artist can enter and 12,000 submissions are accepted each year (though you’ve missed the deadline for 2016).

P1050435

Of course the RA also puts on other exhibitions and the current blockbuster, as you can see above, is Painting the Modern Garden. In its final week this has, inevitably, sucked in every pensioner within a 50-mile radius of London so although I got in free as a guest I gave that one a miss. Had a quick scoot round In the Age of Giorgione but that was pretty rammed with golden-oldies as well; some of whom you can see crowding the lift in the selection below. Amongst these are also today’s selfie-of-the-day and several shots of the fantastic giant ferns that inhabit the Keeper’s House garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After leaving the RA next stop is the Burlington Arcade; built to the order of Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and opened in 1819 “for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public and to give employment to industrious females”. It also had the collateral effect of preventing the hoi-polloi from throwing their rubbish into the garden of Burlington House. (The Dukes of Devonshire inherited Burlington House in the 1750s and sold it to the British Government for £140,000 in 1854). Random pop culture trivium of the day – The Arcade was used as a location in the first episode of the Danish TV drama Borgen.

Emerge at the other end of the arcade on Burlington Gardens and turn left to reach Old Bond Street. Here’s a quick reminder of what that’s all about :

P1050452

Next door to Tiffany’s we find this appropriately large-scale advert for the Moncler fashion-house (and no it’s not the bloke from Poldark). Still can’t work out what the chap in the suit’s got over shoulder.

P1050453

At no.44 in a charming shade of lilac is Glyn’s House which dates from 1906 and follows the fashion of that time for reviving the English baroque style of the early 18th century reign of Queen Anne. The naked ladies are perhaps more typically Edwardian though.

P1050454

Return to Piccadilly then head north again up Albemarle Street. No. 50 was the home (from 1812 to 2002) of the publishers John Murray founded by the first of seven consecutive eponymous owners in 1768. The firm was responsible for putting the likes of Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Darwin into print. The imprint still exists but as part of the Hodder & Stoughton business within the Hachette empire to which it was sold by John Murray VII.

Cut through Stafford Street to Dover Street where Victoria Beckham’s London flagship store occupies no. 36.

P1050456

Hay Hill links to Berkeley Street where we head south again. On the corner with Stratton Street, site of the Mayfair Hotel, are these rather unstrategically placed old school taxi rank signs and a blue plaque commemorating the bandleader Bert Ambrose (1896 – 1971). A Jewish émigré from Poland, Ambrose enjoyed his greatest success in the thirties and forties and is credited with the discovery of Vera Lynn.

P1050458

From Stratton Street turn left down Mayfair Place to return to Berkeley Street. At no.1 Mayfair Place sits Devonshire House which was designed by Thomas Hastings and built in 1926. This was named after the building which it replaced on the site, the home of the Dukes of Devonshire (possession of which meant that weren’t that fussed about keeping Burlington House). The original Devonshire House was sold by the 9th Duke, who was the first to be subject to payment of death duties. It went for £750,000 (not an insubstantial sum in 1920). The purchasers were wealthy industrialists, Shurmer Sibthorpe and Lawrence Harrison, who demolished the mansion to build a hotel and block of flats. When accused of an act of vandalism Sibthorpe, echoing the buildings 18th century critics replied: “Archaeologists have gathered round me and say I am a vandal, but personally I think the place is an eyesore”. The current Devonshire House is now an office block. 

P1050459

Head back to Piccadilly along Berkeley Street then west all the way past Green Park tube station to Bolton Street where we turn northward again until we hit Curzon Street. Where this merges into Fitzmaurice Place lies the Landsdowne Club. This private members’ club was created in 1935 and was unusual in admitting both men and women from the outset. Before its opening, White Allom, the firm who were responsible for the fitting out of the great Cunard liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, were commissioned to refurbish the interior of the building in an Art Deco style many of the features of which endured into the present. The building was originally built in 1761 to a design of Robert Adam as a residence for the 18th century Prime Minister, the Marquess of Bute. Just a couple of years later he sold it to another Prime Minister (in waiting), William Petty 1st Marquess of Landsdowne (1737 -1805) who unlike his predecessor is deemed deserving of a blue plaque. As is Gordon Selfridge (1858 – 1947) who leased the house in the 1920’s and made it famous for the dancing parties he hosted starring his protégés, Hungarian cabaret artistes the Dolly Sisters.

P1050461

Moving on we track back down Landsdowne Row then round the southern end of Berkeley Square before continuing west first on Charles Street then Hays Mews. At the end of the latter turning right onto Waverton Street brings us into South Street. At no.38 is the former home and workplace of J. Arthur Rank (1888 – 1972) founder of the Rank Organisation which dominated British Cinema in the 1940s and 50s both on the production and the distribution side of things. The company was responsible for releasing most of the canon of Powell and Pressburger but subsequently became more determinedly commercial in producing Norman Wisdom comedy vehicles and the Doctor… series. (Like Ruby Murray, J. Arthur also has the (even more) dubious honour of being co-opted into the lexicon of Cockney rhyming slang.)

To end this post on a somewhat more edifying note; the corner of South Street and South Audley Street hosts the premises of T. Goode & Sons purveyors of fine porcelain and china tableware since 1827 and possessors of two royal warrants. South Street also features some impressive cut-brick reliefs on several of its buildings.

To be continued…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 22 (part 2) – Gray’s Inn – High Holborn – Red Lion Square

So with an hour so in hand there was just time for a second leg of today’s journey which took care of the streets within the more or less rectangular area bounded by Southampton Row to the west, Theobalds Road to the north, Gray’s Inn Road to the east and High Holborn to the south. A large proportion of this territory is occupied by the land and buildings owned by the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court (all in London) which are the professional associations that all barristers in England & Wales must belong to one of. By contrast, in the western section of the quadrant lies Red Lion Square which has associations altogether less aligned with the establishment.

Day 22 Route 2

So I hop off the bus on Theobalds Road and turn left down Drake Street which is part of both the A40 and the Holborn one-way system. It’s also where you’ll find the second abandoned site of Central St Martin’s School of Art (the one that won’t be hosting a pop-up theatrical performance in May starring James Norton 0f War & Peace and Happy Valley fame – that’s the site on Charing Cross Road that featured a couple of posts back).

P1050428

Swiftly take another left to skirt the northern side of Red Lion Square including a trip up  and down Old North Street. In the north eastern corner of the square sits the Conway Hall which is owned by Conway Hall Ethical Society and was first opened in 1929. The name was chosen in honour of Moncure Daniel Conway (1832 – 1907), anti-slavery advocate, out-spoken supporter of free thought and biographer of Thomas Paine. Nowadays it hosts a wide variety of lectures, classes, performances, community and social events and is renowned as a hub for free speech and independent thought. Its Library holds the Ethical Society’s collection, which is the largest and most comprehensive Humanist Research resource of its kind in the United Kingdom.

P1050408

Head east away from the square via Lambs Conduit Passage then briefly south on Red Lion Street before resuming eastward along Princeton Street. No.1a (aka Tudor House) is now the London home of Novelty Automation which is a collection of, frankly, bonkers alternative amusement arcade machines. Didn’t have time to go in but having experienced the delights of the sister operation on Southwold pier would recommend a visit if you’re ever in the vicinity.

P1050409

Next up is a circuit of Bedford Row which has to be one of the widest residential streets in the capital. If you were wondering who can afford properties like these then the clue is in the opening paragraph.

P1050410

Continuing east we get to Jockey’s Fields, one side of which is taken up by the western wall of Gray’s Inn. The equestrian origins of the name of this former mews of Bedford Row have unfortunately been lost in the mists of time. As you will note, the entrance to Gray’s Inn, at the southern end of the wall, is suitably forbidding.

P1050411

Just inside the gate to the left is a private road on the right side of which are the series of chambers known as Raymond Buildings. And behind you, on the wall itself, is a sign which continues the forbidding theme. The Servants of the Inn are a bit like the Deatheaters from Harry Potter I believe.

The Inn’s substantial gardens are known as The Walks and are only accessible to the general public between 12.00 and 2.30 on weekdays.

Apparently none of the Inns has a verifiable date of foundation. For many centuries it was the view that the starting point of the Inns of Court was a writ of Edward I made on the advice of his Council in 1292. The formal records of Gray’s Inn only date back to 1569 however. During the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I herself was the Inn’s patron lady there were many more members than those who went on to be admitted to the bar including Lord Burleigh, the Queen’s First Minister, Lord Howard of Effingham, the Admiral who defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, and Sir Francis Walsingham, the Chief Secretary who founded the Queen’s secret service.

Passing the southern entrance to the gardens we head through the arch leading into Gray’s Inn Square.

P1050419

On your right as you enter the square is the Chapel at Gray’s Inn which predates the Inn itself in that its earliest in carnation is purported to have been around from 1315. The current building is largely a post-WW2 bombing reconstruction however.

P1050420

Behind the chapel is the South Square which houses the Library of over 75,000 books and journals. In the centre of the square is a statue of Francis Bacon (1561 – 1621 ) which was erected in 1912. Bacon was admitted to the Inn in 1576 and called to the bar in 1582. He was elected Treasurer of the Inn in 1608 and held the position until 1617, when he was appointed Lord Privy Seal.

Exit the square by its south-west corner and emerge out onto High Holborn. Turning right we pass the Cittie of Yorke  which, although it looks (especially inside) like something from medieval times, actually dates from the 1920’s. Nonetheless this Samuel Smiths’ pub is distinctive enough to have earned a Grade II listing.

P1050426

Duck back up the alley that is Fulwood Place, the north end of which (opposite the entrance to the Walks) is guarded by these stone griffins. The badge of Gray’s Inn  (as opposed to a true coat of arms) is a gold griffin on a black background encircled with the motto Integra Lex Aequi Custos Rectique Magistra Non Habet Affectus Sed Causas Gubernat, or “Impartial justice, guardian of equity, mistress of the law, without fear or favour rules men’s causes aright”.

P1050418

Make our way back to Red lion square now traversing en route Warwick Court, Brownlow Street, Hand Court, Sandland Street, Red Lion Street and Princeton Street (again). Despite its small size, Red Lion Square has something of a colourful history. Legend has it that beneath this site lie the bodies (but not the heads) of Oliver Cromwell, his son-in-law Henry Ireton and the judge John Bradshaw, the chief architects of the regicide of Charles I. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, parliament had the bodies of the three men disinterred and posthumously tried and executed at Tyburn. Their heads were then cut off and displayed on the roof of Westminster Hall while the bodies were initially buried near the gallows. Rumour has it though that the bodies were exchanged while being kept at the Red Lion Inn the night before the hanging and the real remains buried behind the inn where the square is now situated.

The square itself was laid out around 25 years later by a property speculator by the name of Nicholas Barbon. This didn’t go down that well with the lawyers of Gray’s Inn however. Ironically though their legal attempt to prevent the development of the land failed and they ended up taking the law into their own hands. Around 100 of them attacked the workmen on the site, armed with bricks and other building materials. In the ensuing pitched battle the workmen came out on top and the building work carried on.

In the 1850’s Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founder of the Pre-Raphaelites lived here as did his friends William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

Back in the present day; there is a bust of our old friend Bertrand Russell on the eastern side of the square (which the local pigeons have shown scant respect to) and on the west side a statue of the politician and anti-war activist Fenner Brockway (1888 – 1988). Living to the ripe old age of 99 meant that he got to be one of the few people to unveil their own statue.

After circling the square it just remains to visit Dane Street, Eagle Street, Catton Street and Fisher Street before calling time on today’s excursions.

 

 

 

 

Day 22 (Part 1) – Finsbury – City Road – Old Street

Back out in the relative wilds today so managed to fit in two separate sections. Before we get into the first of those however here’s an update on the total area covered so far (including today’s double-header).

Route so far April 2016

First up today was the triangular area bounded by Goswell Road, City Road and Old Street, which is basically the Finsbury district of the Borough of Islington. It’s an area with a high concentration of social housing though the most northerly section is now succumbing to luxuryflatitis. Won’t be coming across any blue plaques today – anecdotally the most famous residents of this part of town appear to have been Arthur Mullard and the mother of the Kray twins.

Day 22 Route 1

So we kick off from the Angel tube station and head down City Road. After a hundred yards or so turn right into Wakley Street and then from Goswell Road return to City Road via Hall Street. From here you get one of the clearest impressions of the contrast between the shiny new private developments and the old public housing estates. To the rear on the right is Kestrel House – one of several blocks named after birds of prey.

P1050375

P1050376

Turn right again down Pickard Street then do a circuit of Moreland Street. Here there is one of several graffiti’ed memoria to trainee plasterer Darren Neville who suffered a cardiac arrest while in police custody in 2015. I suspect that the other piece of graffiti which reads “We must learn to live beside each other as brothers or we will perish together as fools” is unrelated.

P1050377

Take a detour down Mason’s Place, which has a charm of sorts, to return again to City Road.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cross the road to get to City Road Basin which forms part of the Regent’s Canal and is the site of a huge luxury housing development scheduled to come on stream (so to speak) in the summer of 2016.

Next we make a brief foray north of City Road. First up is Wharf Road which is home to the adjacent art galleries, Parasol Unit and Victoria Miro both of which are between shows at the moment but are always worth checking out when open.

P1050384

From here we head east along Micawber Street then duck in and out of City Road via Thorseby Street, Windsor Terrace, Wellesley Terrace and finally Shepherdess Walk (which less poetically is also known as the B144). At the end of this latter, just next door to Shoreditch Police Station, is the Eagle public house; almost certainly the only pub to be mentioned in a nursery rhyme as in :

Up and down the City Road / In and out The Eagle / That’s the way the money goes / Pop ! Goes the Weasel

which was a verse added in 1856 for a variety performance at the Theatre Royal.

P1050404

Cross over to the Finsbury side again and taking a route via Dingley Place, Dingley Road, Macclesfield Street, President Street and Central Street arrive at Kings Square. This is the site of St Clement’s Church, completed in 1824 and now Grade II listed. Unlike most churches closer to the centre this isn’t accessible to the casual visitor.

 

P1050390

From here Lever Street returns to Goswell Road. This actually has a curry house called Ruby Murray – after the Northern Irish singer of the 1950’s who is now far better known as an example of nouveau cockney rhyming slang than for her recorded output which included seven UK top ten hits in 1955.

P1050391

Criss-cross between Goswell Road and Central Street using Seward Street, Pear Tree Street, Bastwick Street, Ludlow Street and Gee Street. The last of these borders the Stafford Cripps Estate built in the early 1950’s and named after Sir Richard Stafford Cripps (1889 – 1952), the Labour politician who was ambassador to the Soviet Union during WW2 and subsequently served in Clement Attlee’s immediate post-war government. The estate was also used as the location for a “bomb explosion” in a December 2015 episode of Luther.

P1050392

On to Old Street now which has been an important route out of the city since as far back as the 12th century. Even then it was known as Ealdestrate which morphed into Eldestrete before evolving into Oldestrete in the 1373 records.

Moving east we turn north again on Central Street and then take Mitchell Street to get to Helmet Row, at the southern end of which lies St Luke’s Church. Originally built in 1773 and partly designed by our old friend, Nicholas Hawksmoor, this Grade I listed building is now home to the London Symphony Orchestra’s community and music education  programmes.

The tomb shown in the picture above is dedicated to Thomas Hanbey, a Liveryman of the Ironmongers’ Company and a freeman of the Company of Cutlers (in Yorkshire). This was paid for by his wife Mary and replaced the original tomb sited there in commemoration of the Caslon family. Since she was a Caslon herself by birth there’s obviously a story behind this but her will remains stubbornly silent as to her precise motive.

Doubling back up Helmet Row we pass St Luke’s Garden (see bottom right above) to get to Norman Street. On the corner here stands the Ironmonger Row Baths, built in 1931 as a public wash house and later upgraded to a Turkish Bath. After a major (£17m) refurbishment the baths reopened in 2012 as a state-of-the-art leisure centre and spa but including a restoration of the original Turkish Baths.

P1050396

Next we head north on Ironmonger Row itself as far as Lever Street again. Then cut through Hull Street to get to Dingley Road where there is still an opportunity to see this advertisement for Black Cat Cigarettes before the adjacent development obscures it. The brand was introduced in 1904 by Carreras Ltd whose Camden factory we encountered back in the Day 2 post.

P1050399

Via Dingley Place back to Lever Street and on the corner with Mora Street another pub has fallen victim to residential redevelopment.

P1050400

There’s also evidence here of the impact of Storm Katie which passed through a few days ago. And yet another one of those damn pigeon photos.

Now we’re back yet again on City Road emerging by Moorfields Eye Hospital. Originally founded in 1805 as the London Dispensary for curing diseases of the Eye and Ear, the hospital moved to this site in 1899. It is the oldest and largest centre for ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research in Europe.

P1050405

P1050406

That’s really the end of the sightseeing for today so it just remains to fill in the missing spaces which entails the sequential perambulation of Bath Street, Cayton Street, Baldwin Street, Peerless Street, Galway Street, Radnor Street and Bath Street again before briefly revisiting Old Street.

P1050407

And then finishing off with St Lukes Close, Mitchell Street, Bartholomew Square and Lizard Street to close the loop.

After tha I leg it back to Goswell Road for lunch at today’s pub of the day, The Old Ivy House. Another Shepherd Neame establishment where I enjoy a substantial Greek salad and a large glass of Pinot for a tenner.

Then it’s just a question of waiting for the bus to take me down to Holborn….

P1050388