Day 64 – Lisson Grove – Edgware Road – Church Street – Marylebone Road

This second excursion beyond the bounds of our original mission covers an area that  stretches westward from Regent’s Park to the Edgware Road and southward from St John’s Wood Road to the Marylebone Road. It’s intersected north to south by Lisson Grove and east to west by the Regent’s Canal and includes the massive Lisson Green estate. At the very end it overlaps slightly with our very first post from back in July 2015 when things were shorter but not necessarily sweeter (or so I like to think).

Day 64 route

Starting out from Baker Street tube station once again we head north on Park Road. On the right we pass Kent Terrace, built in the late 1820’s as part of John Nash’s Regent’s Park Crown Estate. One of the last terraces to be built, it’s the only major one that faces away from the park. Outside no.10 is a Blue Plaque commemorating the painter and illustrator E.H Shephard (1879 – 1976) best known for illustrating Wind in the Willows and the Winnie the Pooh books.

We continue across the canal as far as Lodge Road which takes us west past the site of replacing some unloved sixties’ apartment blocks with scarcely less attractive 21st century equivalents (despite the golden finish which is obviously expected to appeal to certain demographic tastes). North Bank on our left leads to the St John’s Wood electricity substation which is shown off to good effect by the winter sunshine.

Oak Tree Road takes us up on to St John’s Wood Road and continuing west we pass the London home of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue and incur the suspicion of the security guard by stopping to take the photograph below. As you can see, only the portico remains from the original 1925 building following a late 1980’s redevelopment. Just over 8% of British Jews subscribe to the anti-Zionist denomination of Liberal Judaism as practiced by the LJS which was officially founded in 1911. This contrasts with over 65% who fall within the Orthodox and Strictly Orthodox denominations.

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Round the corner on Lisson Grove you have the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady, built in 1836 to a design by architect J.J Scoles.

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A bit further south we reach the canal again and follow this west a short way before looping north and back via Pollitt Drive, Henderson Drive and Cunningham Place. The last of these is adorned with a Blue Plaque in recognition of Emily Davies (1830 – 1921) suffragist and founder of Girton College, Cambridge which was Britain’s first college for women. Initially she served as mistress of the college and then as Secretary until 1904. However, the college only began to grant full Cambridge University degrees to women in 1940.

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Then from Aberdeen Place we nip through Victoria Passage which crosses the canal to get to Fisherton Street. Turning right we find our way back to Aberdeen Place via Lyons Place. There’s another Blue Plaque at no.32, this one in honour of Guy Gibson (1918 – 1944) the commanding officer of 617 Squadron, which he led in the “Dambusters” raid of 1943. He was awarded the Victoria Cross following the raid, which resulted in the breaching of two large dams in the Ruhr area of Germany, and became the most highly decorated British serviceman at that time. He went on to complete over 170 war operations before dying in action at the age of 26. In the 1955 film he was portrayed by Richard Todd.

Northwick Terrace takes us back up to St John’s Wood Road and a left turn gets us in short order to the Edgware Road a.k.a the A5. As we head southward almost immediately on our left looms the mock Tudor façade of 1930’s mansion block, Clifton Court.

Making a loop of Aberdeen Place, Lyons Place and Orchardson Street we circle back round to the Edgware Road arriving at a new development also named Lyons Place. This is built on the site of a 1930’s petrol station and the original intention was to incorporate a new station underneath part of the building. This may still be the plan but so far all that has been realised are these three massive Pop Art style sculptural representations at the front of the proposed forecourt.

Next we head back east along Orchardson Street until a right on Capland Street and a left into Frampton Street takes us back to Lisson Grove. Here we cross straight over and continue east alongside the Regent’s Canal.

Not sure if we’ve said anything about the Canal previously but, in case not, the bare bones are that it links the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal in the west to the Limehouse Basin and the River Thames to the east London and is 8.6 miles (13.8 km) long. Anyway this particular stretch runs parallel to the north side of the Lisson Green estate which we access via Casey Close just before the canal disappears beneath the mainline out of Marylebone.

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So we wind our through the estate taking in Swain Street, Tresham Crescent, Paveley Street, Lilestone Street, Mallory Street and Bernhardt Crescent before landing back on Lisson Grove. As noted in the last past, the second iteration of Lord’s Cricket Ground was sited where the estate now stands. (I did ask this gent if he minded before I took this photo btw).

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Heading back north up Lisson Grove we work our way west again courtesy of more of Frampton Street and Fisherton Street then Luton Street and Penfold Street. The latter is home to the rather splendid Art Deco-ish Wallis Building. This is one of a number of buildings which from the 1920’s onward accommodated the Palmer Tyre Company which amongst other things manufactured tyres for the Air Ministry for use on the WW2 air fleet of spitfires, hurricanes and wellingtons. Round the corner on Hatton Street another part of the original complex is now rebranded as Hatton Street Studios. It’s all residential and office space now of course.

More of the Edgware Road next. This area is well-known for the high number of residents of Arabic and North African extraction as testified by the proliferation of shops catering for that community and is sometimes referred to as Little Beirut. It’s not really a surprise then that the former Portman Arms on the corner with Boscobel Street has now morphed into the Dar Marrakesh shisha bar (yes I know Marrakesh is in Morocco not Lebanon).

Venables Street runs parallel to the Edgware Road and takes us down to Church Street which is a thoroughfare of surprising contrasts. The western end is occupied by a street market specialising in the cheapest of cheap commodities with the shops either side catering for similar tastes. Then about halfway along, just beyond Ye olde public conveniences – which I’m not sure are used by anyone other than the pigeons these days, the north side of the street changes tone entirely to become a row of high-end antique dealerships. Many of these dealers started out as stallholders at Alfie’s Antiques Market (of which more later). In recent years, supported by Westminster Council’s Church Street regeneration programme, there has been an annual antiques fair in the street with up to 80 traders participating.

Just beyond those conveniences, on Salisbury Street, are the RedBus Recording Studios. Opened in 1978 these studios have hosted recording sessions by the likes of Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Culture Club, which is something of a giveaway in terms of pinpointing its heyday.

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Salisbury Street leads into Samford Street which in turn merges into Gateforth Street which completes the circuit back to Church Street, taking us past the Cockpit Theatre on the way. The Cockpit was founded at the end of the 1960’s by the Inner London Education Authority as a community theatre. It was the first new purpose-built theatre-in-the-round created in the capital since the Great Fire. The theatre places an emphasis on working with both emerging companies and new writers as well as hosting training events. From experience I can highly recommend the “Jazz in the Round” concerts which take place on the last Monday of every month.

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We emerge back out on Church Street opposite the aforementioned Alfies Antiques Market  which occupies the 30,000 sq. ft. Egyptian Deco building that started life nearly a century ago as Jordans Department Store. Jordans went bust in the early seventies, a time when this area was semi-derelict with shops boarded up and vandalism rife. Despite this, local resident Bennie Gray decided to buy the site with the aim of turning it into an unpretentious antique market with low overheads. He named it Alfies after his jazz-drummer father. Within a matter of weeks they had recruited nearly a hundred antique dealers to the project. To begin with, trading was limited to the ground floor and one day a week, but within a few months the market occupied all four floors of the building and was open five days a week. 40 years on the market is still going strong (and increasingly catering to the ethnic demographic of the neighbourhood). If you can negotiate the warren-like interior the roof top café is a bit of a find (so to speak).

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Notwithstanding the view from the rooftop the discovery of the café was especially fortuitous since, as I hinted earlier, it was to prove difficult to locate a pub of the day on this latest route. Case in point, the Duke of York on Church Street is in the process of being converted into a south Asian restaurant.

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After eventually finding our way out of Alfies we take Plympton Street south to Broadley Street and then loop back round on to Church Street via another section of Lisson Grove, passing this remnant of the Victorian era on the way.

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On the south side of Church Street is a Green Plaque commemorating Henry Sylvester Williams (1867 – 1911). Williams was a Trinidadian lawyer and writer, most noted for his involvement in the Pan-African Movement. He moved to Britain in 1897, forming the African Association which aimed to “promote and protect the interests of all subjects claiming African descent…. by circulating accurate information affecting their rights and privileges as subjects of the British Empire, by direct appeals to the Imperial and local Governments.” In furtherance of the interests of the movement he sought election to Parliament and although unsuccessful in this objective did win a seat on Marylebone Borough Council in 1906.

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From this point on we’ve got a clear run down the bottom of the Edgware Road courtesy of Ashbridge Street, Mulready Street, Whitehaven Street, Penfold Place, Corlett Street and Bell Street in addition to repeat visits to Broadley and Penfold streets. There are two separate tube stations named Edgware Road, one serving the Bakerloo Line and the other the Circle, District and Hammersmith and City Lines. The former (shown below) is the one which actually has an entrance on Edgware Road. Over the years there have been several proposals to rename one or the other of them to avoid confusion but nothing has stuck.  This Edgware Road station was opened in 1907 and is one of many with the familiar ox-blood red glazed terracotta façade designed by architect Leslie Green.

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On Bell Street I was much cheered (oops slipped into Samuel Pepys mode there) to come across the Vintage Wireless Company Shop even if I didn’t dare venture in for fear of finding something that I couldn’t do without but would have to. One day soon I’ll make a special return trip.

Further east along Bell Street is part one of the now bifurcated Lisson Gallery; part two being round the corner on Lisson Street. They seem to be concentrating very much on large scale sculptural works these days, which are not really my thing. Lisson Street comes to an end on the Marylebone Road (A40) which I follow east very briefly before turning north again up Daventry Street where there is yet another repurposed pub, the Phoenix, which is now an “award-winning” backpacker hostel. The Pheonix is sandwiched between Highworth Street and Harrow Street, both of which are about twenty yards long.

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Returning west along Bell Street we then zigzag between that and  Ashmill Street by waty of Ranston Street, Daventry Street again, Shroton Street, Cosway Street and Stalbridge Street. The first of these is a rare survivor from the days of cobbled streets and contains a row of cottages built in 1895 at the instigation of Octavia Hill (see Day 56), co-founder of the National Trust and social reformer on behalf of the “deserving poor”.   Octavia bought up as many of the leases on what was then called Charles Street as possible, demolished them and asked her friend Elijah Hoole, an architect, to build the new cottages. Immediately the cottages became popular and, when the reputation of the street had improved, she asked for the name to be changed.

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The cottages in question are at the far end

Something of a theme of this post is defunct boozers and there’s another one on Shroton Street. That notice of forfeiture in the window is dated just days prior to this visit.

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Christ Church on Cosway Street dates back to 1825 and was designed by Thomas Hardwick (who was also responsible for St John’s Wood Chapel – see previous post). The church ceased to be a place of worship in 1973 and is now occupied by Greenhouse Sports which since 2002 has been providing sports programmes for teenagers from the local estates.

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Cosway Street takes us back out onto Marylebone Road almost opposite Westminster Magistrate’s Court which opened in 2011 as a replacement for City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The Chief Magistrate of England and Wales, who is the Senior District Judge of England and Wales, sits at the court, and all extradition and terrorism-related cases pass through it.

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Back on the north side at the junction with Lisson Grove sits the Grade II listed Manor House a six storey block of flats built in 1907 in an “eclectic arts & crafts style” (according to Historic England”).

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From here we leg it back up Lisson Grove all the way to Rossmore Road which links eastward back to Park Road. On the corner here, 116 Lisson Grove, is a final Blue Plaque for today. Double honours this time with shouts for painter Benjamin Haydon (1786 – 1846) and sculptor Charles Rossi (1762 – 1839) neither of whom I was familiar with. Of the former it is reported that “his commercial success was damaged by his often tactless dealings with patrons, and by the enormous scale on which he preferred to work”. He was imprisoned several times for debt and died by his own hand. In 1977 he was portrayed by Leonard Rossiter in a West End play written by satirist John Wells. The house on Lisson Grove was owned by Rossi who rented part of it to Haydon. Rossi was court sculptor for both George IV and William IV and was also responsible for the terracotta caryatids adorning St Pancras New Church (see Day 7).

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From Rossmore Road we head south on Harewood Avenue towards Marylebone Station passing Hayes Place and Harewood Row on the way. In between those two side roads stands the Sisters of Mercy St Edwards Convent. (If you’re expecting some 1980’s Goth band related wisecrack at this point I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you). The first Sisters of Mercy convent in England (the order originated in Dublin) was founded in Bermondsey in 1839; this one on Harewood Avenue dates from 1851 having transferred from Bloomsbury where it was established 7 years earlier. The Sisters’ mission (doh!) is “to create an awareness of issues of injustice and be a voice for the voiceless”.

A final visit to the Marylebone Road takes us from Harewood Avenue to Great Central Street and past the Landmark Hotel. The hotel was built in 1899 for Sir Edward Watkin  the so-called ‘Last King of the Railways’ as the Great Central Hotel in order to serve passengers using Marylebone Station to travel on the new Great Central Railway. The commissioned architect was Col. Robert Edis whose previous work included the ballroom for Edward, Prince of Wales at Sandringham. When the hotel opened rooms cost three-and-sixpence a night (17.5p in new money I believe). In 1988 the hotel was purchased by Kentaro Abe(aka Japanese pop star Sen Masao). It was renamed the Landmark London Hotel in 1995 when acquired by the Lancaster London Hotel Company. Since 2008 it’s been part of the estate of the Leading Hotels of the World group.

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From Great Central Street we head north on Boston Place and then turn straight round to return on Balcombe Street. Balcombe Street is notorious for the eponymous siege which took place in December 1975 when four armed IRA gunmen took the residents of Flat 22b, middle-aged married couple John and Sheila Matthews, hostage in their front room. The men demanded a plane to fly both them and their hostages to Ireland. Scotland Yard refused, creating a six-day standoff between the men and the police. I thought I would risk repeating myself as I recently caught a BBC World Service Witness History podcast on the siege. You can listen to it here (it’s only 9 minutes long)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csyx2z

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Which only remains for Melcombe Place to take us over the finishing line for today – Marylebone Station (gateway to the Chilterns natch !). One of London’s less exalted mainline stations, Marylebone was opened in 1899 as the London terminus of the Great Central Main Line (as previously noted). Services originally ran as far north as Sheffield and Manchester but were gradually scaled back after nationalisation in 1948 and the line north of Aylesbury closed under the Beeching Act of 1966 leaving that and (the mighty metropolis of) High Wycombe as the furthest destinations. When Chiltern Railways acquired the franchise following privatisation in 1996 they extended services into Birmingham and in 2011 took over the Oxford route from First Great Western. In spite of that Marylebone is undoubtedly still best known as a square on the Monopoly board accept to Beatles fans who will recognize it as a location for several scenes in A Hard Day’s Night.

 

 

 

 

Day 63 – Regent’s Park – St John’s Wood High Street – Lord’s Cricket Ground

So after a longer recess than parliament’s we’ve steeled ourselves to resume our exploration of the World’s Greatest City armed with an expanded mission to venture beyond the heartland out into the wilds of Zone 2. The first of these new excursions returns to  where we originally began back in the summer of 2015, Regent’s Park. This time though we’re not heading south towards Baker Street but turning north up into the leafy avenues of St John’s Wood and meandering west for a rendezvous with the home of cricket.

Day 63 route

We head up into Regent’s Park from Baker Street Tube station and follow the shore of the boating lake. I don’t envy the poor sod with the job of cleaning up these pedalos before they come back into use again.

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A good few minutes are wasted on a detour trying to get a shot of this Great Crested Grebe…

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…before we’re able to leave the park via Hanover Gate and continue clockwise round the Outer Circle. We immediately pass on our left the Central London Mosque, built to a design of Sir Frederick Gibberd and completed in 1977. Its main hall has space for over 5,000 (male) worshippers, with women accommodated on an overlooking balcony.  The mosque is joined to the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) which was officially opened by King George VI in 1944 having been constructed on land was donated by the King to the Muslim community of Britain in return for a donation of land in Cairo from King Farouk of Egypt and Sudan on which to build an Anglican cathedral.

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Right next door to the mosque is Hanover Lodge built in about 1827, and designed by the John Nash, the only villa in the Park he had a hand in personally. Nash originally intended to build 45 villas in the Park in the 1820’s but only eight were completed. From 1832 to 1845, it was the home of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, and from 1911 to 1925, of David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, both of whom are commemorated with blue plaques on the exterior. In 1948, it became part of Bedford College, and then in the 1990s it was briefly rented by the French government to house their ambassador.
In 1994, the businessman and Conservative peer Lord Bagri purchased a 150-year lease on Hanover Lodge from the Crown Estate for £5.9 million and over the next 12 years spent millions of pounds renovating it, hiring the architect Quinlan Terry to supervise, including an underground swimming pool that can be converted into a ballroom. Renovations were finally completed in 2009, “after 10 years and 100 applications for planning and listed building consents” costing an estimated £25 million.
Then just three years later, in 2012, Bagri sold it to Andrey Goncharenko, the Russian billionaire, for £120 million. The oligarch has since submitted scores of planning applications of his own including one aimed at extending the basement as the swimming pool is “too small”. The mega-rich – don’t you just love ’em.

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Between 1988 and 2004 the aforementioned Quinlan Terry designed six detached villas, each in a different neo-classical style pastiching Nash’s, which line the Outer Circle to the north of Hanover Lodge. Terry said in a 2002 interview that the Crown Estate had told him to “step into Nash’s shoes and carry on walking”.

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On the other side of the Outer Circle from the villas, inside the Park itself is Winfield House. This Neo-Georgian mansion was commissioned in 1936 by the American heiress Barbara Hutton and its  12 acres of grounds constitute the second-largest private garden in London after that of Buckingham Palace. Since 1955 it has been the official residence of the United States Ambassador, hence the presence of armed police guards and the fact that the house and gardens are completely hidden behind trees and fencing. (Which is why this picture had to be sourced from elsewhere). I like the fact that the US Ambassador has a “soccer” pitch right in front of the house.

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At about 11 o’clock on the Outer Circle we leave the Park via Macclesfield Bridge, crossing the Regent’s Canal and then Prince Albert Road en route to Avenue Road. A left into Allitsen Road and another into Townshend Road takes us back towards the Park. There are some very imposing apartment blocks overlooking the Park from Prince Albert Road. One of these is Viceroy Court which when built in 1934-36 by the architectural firm of Marshall & Tweedy consisted of 84 luxury flats. The largest flat had 6 bedrooms, 3 reception rooms , a lounge hall, 3 bathrooms and offices which, at the time, could be rented for £625 a year. During WW2 it was one of the blocks of flats requisitioned by the RAF and lived in by aircrew training at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

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A loop of Mackennal Street, Shannon Place and Eamont Street brings us back to Prince Albert Road and the even grander North Gate, a massive Edwardian mansion block built circa 1907 and designed by architect Edward Prioleau Warren. By the turn of the 20th century it had became popular for wealthy families to live in mansion blocks, largely due to the invention of the hydraulic lift. An Art Deco extension was added in the 1930s and during WW2 American troops, guarding the US ambassador in Winfield House, were housed here. Famous past residents include band leader Joe Loss, Mantovani, Bud Flanagan, Mr Pearl of Pearl & Dean fame and Prince Nazeem the boxer. According to a 2014 survey tenants in NW8 pay the highest rents in the capital.

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We follow Prince Albert Road south down to St John’s Wood High Street and swing into the latter. A short way up we take a right into Greenberry Street and circumnavigate North Gate via this, Newcourt Street and Culworth Street. Next left, heading back up Prince Albert Road, is Charlbert Street the home of RAK Studios. The studios and the record label of the same name were founded by impresario Mickie Most (1938 – 2003), the former in 1976, seven years after the latter. RAK records is most strongly associated with a string of (generally) successful but (not always) critically acclaimed Seventies pop acts including Mud, Suzi Quatro, Hot Chocolate, Smokie and Racey. Amongst the hits, on other labels, recorded at the studios (which are very much still active) are possibly the two most famous tracks to stall at no.2 in the UK singles chart – “Vienna” by Ultravox and “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues. Mickie Most himself is commemorated by a blue plaque on the exterior of the building. Born in Aldershot as Michael Hayes, he moved to Johannesburg at the age of 19 and reinvented himself as the eponymous frontman of Mickie Most and the Playboys who had 11 consecutive No.1’s on the South African charts. On returning to the UK in 1962 he forged a career as a record producer for the likes of the Animals, Hermans Hermits and Donovan before starting his own label. In the Seventies he appeared as a judge on ITV’s ‘New Faces’ talent show and produced the cult TV music show, Revolver, which over just eight episodes showcased the Punk and New Wave scene and is largely remembered for Peter Cook’s involvement as manager of the fictional ballroom setting.

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At the top of Charlbert Street we turn left along St John’s Wood Terrace and walk down as far as the northern end of St John’s Wood High Street. To the east of the High Street we wend our way round Charles Street, Allitsen Road (for a second time), Bridgeman Street and Barrow Hill Road before returning to check out the shops. St John’s Wood High Street is pretty much as you would expect with a notable absence of turf accountants and fast food outlets. There are some very well-appointed charity shops though, including Oxfam where I managed to pick up a jukebox-ready 1969 Blood, Sweat and Tears 45″ for 49p. As you can see, the Christmas lights are suitably understated.

At the top of the High Street we turn left onto Circus Road then pretty much straight away turn north up Kingsmill Terrace. Acacia Road takes us west to St John’s Wood tube station and from there we head south on Wellington Road as far as Circus Road again and then from there continue south on Cochrane Street to Wellington Place from where we enter St John’s Wood Church Grounds. The grounds are a former graveyard turned public park and contain the only Local Nature Reserve in the borough of the City of Westminster. St. John’s Wood was part of the Great Forest of Middlesex in the medieval period and from 1323 the land was owned by the Knights of the Order of St. John, after whom the area is named. The area began to be developed in the 19th century, and St John’s Wood Church and burial ground were consecrated in 1814. The latter however closed as soon as 1855, and was converted to a public garden in 1886. There are thought to be around 50,000 graves, including those of the artist John Sell Cotman (1782 – 1842) and the prophetess Joanna Southcott (1750 – 1814). Cotman was a leading member of the Norwich School of Painters and specialised in marine and landscapes. In his later years he was appointed as Master of Landscape Drawing at Kings College School where Dante Gabriel Rossetti was on of his pupils. Having become a member of the Wesleyan Church in her forties and been persuaded that she possessed supernatural gifts, Joanna Southcott wrote and dictated prophecies in rhyme, and then announced herself as the Woman of the Apocalypse spoken of in a prophetic passage of the Revelation. At the age of 64 she declared that she was pregnant and would be delivered of the new Messiah but instead died just a short while afterwards.

The church itself was designed in the neo-classical style by Thomas Hardwick and is Grade II listed. The blessing of the marriage of Paul and Linda McCartney was held here in 1969.

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The church sits on the Lord’s roundabout, between the cricket ground and Regent’s Park. The statue of St George and the Dragon in the middle of the roundabout was created by sculptor Charles Leonard Hartwell (1873 – 1951) and is a second casting, the original being in Newcastle.

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We cross back over Wellington Road and take St John’s Wood Road west along the southern perimeter of Lord’s. Serendipitously we reach the Grace Gate ten minutes before the last tour of the day is due to start and the lady in the ticket office kindly allows me to part with £20 even though the tour is technically full. So I hurry on through to the museum and join the assembled party of Indian, Sri Lankan, Australian, South African, American (?) and Scottish (??) cricket lovers.

The self-designated “Home of Cricket” is of course owned by the Marylebone Cricket Club (the “MCC”) which was founded by the eponymous businessman Thomas Lord in 1787. The current site which is the third iteration of the MCC’s home ground in this vicinity was established in 1814. The second move was occasioned by Parliament’s decision to change the planned route of the Regent’s Canal so that it would cut the then cricket ground in two. Lord’s is also the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club and until I was at quite an advanced age I thought that was what the “M” in “MCC” stood for (ignoring the fact of the requirement for an additional “C”). The MCCC have their HQ in what is effectively an out-building (they know their place). The guide informs us that unless you are an ex-test player or have a couple of million quid to donate to the redevelopment programme the waiting time to become a member of the MCC is currently 29 years.

The tour starts in the museum with a run-down of the items in the trophy cabinet which naturally include the original “Ashes urn” (the one which the Australians almost invariably have possession of is a replica).

We then proceed to the Members’ pavilion; on the way in I note that the MCC are the only people in the English-speaking world who refer to mobile phones as “portable telephones” which tells you a lot more about them than even their archaic dress code.

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The staircase we head up to get to the famous “Long Room” is lined with painted portraits of England captains past and present. The quality of these varies quite considerably; if I was Michael Atherton I’d be fairly happy, but if I was Michael Vaughan then not quite so much. The Long Room isn’t as big as I had expected and apart from the one of WG Grace the paintings in here aren’t much to write home about either. In fact the best painting in the whole place is tucked out of the way in the Members’ only function room opposite the Long Room (see below).

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Next up are visits to the Home and Away Dressing Rooms though that appellation is a bit misleading since both are devoid of any actual changing facilities. Basically they’re just places for the players to relax and have Tea while contemplating the respective honours boards which commemorate those England and Overseas players who have either scored a century or taken five wickets in an innings or ten wickets in the match during a test at Lord’s. The only players to feature on both sides of the England honours board are Gubby Allen, Ray Illingworth, Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes while Australia’s Keith Miller, the West Indies’ Sir Garfield Sobers, and India’s Vinoo Mankad match that achievement on the “away” board. Surprisingly Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne and Brian Lara are all conspicuous by their absence. The only person to appear on the boards in both dressing rooms is the West Indian batsman, Gordon Greenidge, by virtue of having scored a century for an MCC invitational side (predominantly comprised of England players) in the 1987 bicentennial test against the Rest of the World. I suspect that quite a sizeable proportion of the MCC membership have yet to get over this.

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After leaving the Members’ pavilion we make our way round to the Mound Stand, climbing up the stairs to appreciate the view from the debenture holders bar. Adjacent to the Mound Stand is the Tavern Stand on top of which is perched the famous weather vane of Father Time removing a bail. The Pavilion is over to the left and the Grandstand directly opposite. To the right the Compton and Edrich stands which used to flank the futuristic looking Media Centre have been reduced to rubble in preparation for the next phase of the redevelopment of the ground. Due for completion in 2021 this will only increase the capacity of the ground from 30,000 to 32,000 (though most of that increase will be made up of hospitality suites). The Media Centre, designed by the Future Systems architectural practice, was considered pretty controversial when it was built in 1999 but it went on to win that year’s RIBA Stirling Prize and is now viewed as an iconic structure by just about everyone. A couple of final facts, courtesy of our genial Yorkshire tour guide, before we leave. The only player ever to hit the ball over the top of the Pavilion was the ill-fated Albert Trott (1873 – 1914) (who played for both England and Australia) in 1899. The Lord’s Slope actually runs from north to south, not between the Pavilion and Nursery ends as I had always assumed. The total drop is around 2.5m (or 8ft 4″ in old money).

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The tour lasted just over ninety minutes and was pretty enjoyable in the end (despite my reservations at the outset). We exit via the Grace Gate again and turn right down to Grove End Road and then north up to Elm Tree Road which initially runs east parallel to the cricket ground before veering north up to the western section of Circus Road. From here we return southward down Cavendish Avenue which terminates on the junction of Cavendish Close and Wellington Place. The pillar box here is in the form designed by John Penfold during the Victorian era, 1866-79 to be precise, of which only around 150 originals remain in the UK. Sadly, as far as I can ascertain, this isn’t one of those so must be one of the 1989 replicas that were made.

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From Wellington Place we make our way back to Wellington Road and haul ourselves up this to our final port of call for today, St John’s Wood tube station. The station building was designed by Stanley Heaps and is Grade II listed. Its platform design, courtesy of Harold Stabler, remains the same as when the station opened in 1939. St John’s Wood is the answer to the common trivia question “Which London Underground station does not contain any of the letters in the word “mackerel”? and the station also featured in the video for Soft Cell’s “Bedsitter” (a much less common trivia question). On which trivial notes we’ll sign off.

 

Day 3 – Marylebone – East of Baker Street

 Today’s Route

 Day 3 Route


York Terrace East

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Sir Charles Wyndham (1837 – 1919) – actor-manager.

Born Charles Culverwell in Liverpool. Shortly after the start of his stage career he went to America where he ended up volunteering as a military surgeon on the Union side (he had qualified as a doctor in England). After resigning his contract with the army he returned to the stage in the US with some success. On one occasion he appeared in New York with John Wilkes-Booth. Returning to England his career flourished and in 1899 he opened the Wyndhams Theatre, which still bears his name, in London.

The Doric Villa is something of a fancy gaff as you can see here.


Marylebone Road

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The Royal Academy of Music – was founded in 1822 and is Britain’s oldest degree-granting music school. In 1911 moved to this location (which includes the 450-seat Duke’s Hall) and was built at a cost of £51,000 on the site of an orphanage.

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St Marylebone Parish Church – built to the designs of Thomas Hardwick in 1813-17.  The Marylebone area takes its name from the church. A bomb fell in the churchyard close by during WWII, blowing out all the windows, piercing the ceiling over the reredos in two places with pieces of iron railing from the school playground and necessitating the church’s closure for repairs until 1949, when fragments of the original coloured glass were incorporated into the new windows (as you can see above). Personally I prefer the aesthetic effect of this to many intact stained-glass windows.

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Charles Dickens was a local resident (1812–1870), in Devonshire Terrace. His son was baptised in the church (a ceremony fictionalised in “Dombey and Son”). I think I can work out 4 or 5 of these but have no idea about the one with the bird.

Madame Tussaud’s, on the other side of the street, is a charming palace of entertainment much beloved of tourists to the city which creates a vibrant and sophisticated ambience.


Luxborough Street

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Luxborough Tower – built at the tail end of the sixties contemporaneously with its neighbour, the Polytechnic (now University) of Westminster, on the site of the Marylebone workhouse. The LCC architects responsible cited Le Corbusier as an influence.


Marylebone High Street

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This is the site of the third incarnation of Marylebone Parish Church which was demolished in 1949 and is now a public garden. As you can see  quite an impressive roll call of people were buried here and in addition the church that stood here witnessed the baptism of Lord Byron and welcomed Lord Nelson as a worshipper.

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Oxfam bookshop in Marylebone High Street has a very extensive inventory – including this full set of Transvision Vamp picture cover singles – yours for a fiver.


Paddington Street

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Paddington Street Gardens – were built in the 18th century as additional burial grounds for the church though all that remains of its original purpose is the mausoleum you can see here which was built by the Hon. Richard Fitzpatrick in memory of his wife Susanna. The gardens also possess some very handy, free and well-maintained public conveniences (something of a rarity these days.)

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The Hellenic Centre – began life in the 1900s as a Swedish gymnastics college and served as a Swedish War Hospital for the British wounded during WW1. In 1992 the Hellenic Community trust acquired the building and  the Hellenic Centre opened as a cultural centre in 1994.

The Swedish Gymnastics college was founded by Martina Sofia Helena Bergman-Österberg (1849 – 1915), a Swedish PE instructor and women’s suffrage advocate. After studying in Stockholm she moved to London, where she founded the first physical education instructor’s college in England, to which she admitted women only. Bergman-Österberg pioneered teaching physical education as a full subject within the English school curriculum, with Swedish-style gymnastics at its core. She also advocated the use of gymslips by women playing sports, and played a pivotal role in the early development of netball.


Ashland Street

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Has to be one of the narrowest thoroughfares in the capital. Good luck getting your sodding Range Rover down there.


Moxon Street

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Marylebone Village (as it likes to style itself !!) is pretty swanky these days. Moxon Street is also home to the renowned upmarket butcher’s – the Ginger Pig. I remember back in the seventies you’d have been lucky to find a Wimpy round here.


Weymouth Mews

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Pub of the day – The Dover Castle.

A bit tucked out of the way so I had the place to myself to start with. Part of the estimable Sam Smith’s chain so very reasonably priced. Pint of best and a pulled pork roll for less than nine quid.


Mansfield Street

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John Loughborough Pearson, 1817 – 1897, and later, Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, 1869 – 1944, architects.

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Lutyens is the much more celebrated (and interesting of the pair)  Designer of the Cenotaph and consulting architect for Hampstead Garden Suburb, he also spent many years designing a large chunk of New Delhi to serve as the seat of British government. Had a close but difficult marriage, losing his wife to Krishnamurti and his Theosophical teachings, for a time at least.

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Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753 – 1816) – British statesman and scientist. He was the father of the great traveller and Arabist Lady Hester Stanhope and brother-in-law of William Pitt the Younger. He was the chairman of the “Revolution Society,” founded in honour of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In 1790 the members of the society expressed their sympathy with the aims of the French Revolution and in 1795 he introduced into the Lords a motion deprecating any interference with the internal affairs of France. This put him in a “minority of one”—a sobriquet which stuck to him throughout life. Prior to acceding the peerage he was member of parliament for my home town of High Wycombe – it is doubtful that any of the subsequent representatives of this constituency have ever expressed any sympathy with any kind of revolution.


Weymouth Street

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Wimpole Street

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Renowned for The Barretts of Wimpole Street, a play written by Rudolf Besier in 1930, based on the romance between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, and her father’s unwillingness to allow them to marry. She was six years older than him and semi-invalided, though the much better known poet of the two at the time. But marry they did, in 1846 in (where else) St Marylebone Parish Church. The play was filmed in 1934 and 1957, directed both times by Sidney Franklin.


De Walden Street

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In this and the parallel Wheatley Street all the front doors are painted different colours (purely for the sake of affectation I can only presume.


Chiltern Street

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Home of that nouveau-riche mecca, the Chiltern Firehouse. Not sure if the celebrity clientele has moved on yet but the menu doesn’t inspire me to fork out the eye-watering prices required.

The Marylebone Fire Station was built in 1889, by the London County Council’s Architect’s Department (them again), “in the Vulliamy manner”. “Red brick with stone dressings; tiled roof, Tudor-Gothic style”. The Fire Station was decommissioned in June 2005 and the hotel/restaurant opened eight years later.


Montagu Street

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The year of the White Album and also John and Yoko’s solo effort – “Unfinished Music No.1 – Two Virgins” (to slightly less critical acclaim). This was actually Ringo Starr’s flat and it was here that John and Yoko were arrested for drug possession on 18 October.


Gloucester Place

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Wilkie Collins (1824 – 1889) – Author of “The Moonstone” and “The Woman in White” (not to be confused with the much inferior Woman in Black) and possessor of a beard to make hipsters weep . If you’ve never read it I can also recommend the exceptionally ripe melodrama that is “Armadale”.


Manchester Square

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The Wallace Collection – was established in 1897 from the private collection mainly created by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800–1870), who left it and the house to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace (1818–1890), whose widow bequeathed the entire collection to the nation. The museum opened to the public in 1900 in Hertford House, Manchester Square, and remains there, housed in its entirety, to this day. A condition of the bequest was that no object ever leave the collection, even for loan exhibitions. Admission is free.

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Crap selfie of the day

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Rembrandt self portrait

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Hals’ “Laughing Cavalier”

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Velasquez’s “Small child dressed as Dalek”

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Possibly my favourite picture in the collection, Domenico Zampieri’s “The Persian Sibyl” (Part of his “Persian Fawlty Towers” series

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A couple of wonky Canalettos depicting pre-massive cruise-liner Venice.

One general observation – it appears from certain of the work on display that either “wardrobe malfunctions” were a lot more prevalent in those days and tit-grabbing not quite the social kiss-of-death it is today or else your 16th century male painter was a bit of a perv.

Day 2 – Regent’s Park East – Fitzrovia

 

Today’s Route

Day 2 Map copy

Hampstead Road – Robert Street – Stanhope Street – Granby Terrace – Park Village East – Albany Street – Redhill Street – Augustus Street – Harrington Street – Varndell Street – Cumberland Market – Chester Terrace – Outer Circle – Chester Road – Longford Street – Drummond Street – Triton Square – Regent’s Plaza – Euston Road – Warren Street – Whitfield Street – Maple Street – Fitzroy Street – Fitzroy Square – Conway Street – Cleveland Street – New Cavendish Street – Great Portland Street – Hallam Street – Weymouth Street – Portland Place – Devonshire Street – Harley Street


Hampstead Road

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This pub closed its doors some time in the early 1980s and was taken over by the Camden People’s Theatre in 1994. In 2008 apparently the Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. lettering and the pub’s name were boarded over with signs advertising the upper floors’ use as a martial arts college, chinese medicine college and a language college but these have thankfully now been removed.

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The National Temperance Hospital moved to this site on Hampstead Road in 1885 . A children’s ward was opened in 1892 by the Duchess of Westminster. In 1893, 12 beds were set aside for cholera patients.  The Ear, Nose and Throat and Skin Departments were opened in 1913/14.The hospital was further  extended in 1931 after Chicago magnate Samuel Insull donated $160,000 to build a new extension, the “Insull Memorial wing”. The hospital was incorporated into the National Health Service in 1948 and merged with University College Hospital in 1968. Between 1986 & 1990 the hospital was used to treat torture victims by an organisation called Freedom from Torture (which originated from Amnesty International’s Medical Group).It was closed as a hospital in 1990 and the building was used for various courses and admin purposes by Middlesex Hospital and the Camden and Islington NHS Trust established various clinics  on the site until 2006 when the Middlesex Hospital also closed down.

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The owner of Addison Lee is a major donor to the Tories so let’s hope the Uber effect does some damage there.

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A bit outside of the designated area but I had to include the Egyptian-inspired Art Deco marvel that was the Carreras Cigarette Factory (now sadly re-named as the prosaic Greater London House). The building was erected in 1926-28 by the Carreras Tobacco Company owned by the Russian-Jewish inventor and philanthropist Bernhard Baron on the communal garden area of Mornington Crescent, to a design by architects M.E and O.H Collins and A.G Porri. In 1960-62 the building was converted into offices. As part of the refurbishment it was stripped of all its Egyptian decoration, which was now out of fashion. However, in 1996 the building was purchased by Resolution GLH who commissioned architects Finch Forman to restore it to its former glory. The restorers consulted the original designs and aimed to recreate 80-90% of the original Art Deco features, including installing replicas of the famous cat statues (you will see above). The restoration work won a Civic Trust Award.

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Mornington Crescent

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Also beyond the zone but I couldn’t pass up the chance to pay homage to the wonderful I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue


Granby Terrace

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Albany Street

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The somewhat spectral looking William Wymark “W. W.” Jacobs was an English author of short stories and novels. Although much of his work was humorous, he is most famous for his short horror story “The Monkey’s Paw”. Based on the premise of a severed monkey paw that can grant three wishes to whoever possesses it this story has been filmed several times, most recently in 2013.

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St George’s Cathedral is an Antiochian Orthodox church. Built to the designs of James Pennethorne, it was consecrated as an Anglican place of worship called Christ Church in 1837. It became an Orthodox cathedral in 1989.


Little Edward Street

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 Chester Terrace

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Possessor of what must be the most grandiose street sign in London, Chester Terrace is a neo-classical terrace designed by John Nash and built in 1825. The terrace has the longest unbroken facade in Regents Park (about 280 metres) and takes its name from one of the titles of George IV before he became king, Earl of Chester. John Profumo. of 1960’s infamy,  lived at  3 Chester Terrace, from 1948 until 1965. Perhaps understandably, there is no blue plaque to commemorate this. Profumo’s mistress, Christine Keeler, apparently later lived in Chester Close North nearby. If you were interested in acquiring a property on this street Savill’s have one on the market for £9,250,000 (a snip I’d say).


Regent’s Park – Avenue Gardens

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Regent’s Place – Regent Park Estate

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As a prime example of the cheek-by-jowl existence of social groups at opposite ends of the economic spectrum in London the sprawling Regent Park estate (bottom left in distance) is just a few hundred yards from Chester Terrace and a similar distance from Regent’s Place  a five-year old business and retail development that is axiomatic of the way London is evolving in the 21st century

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Marylebone Road

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One Marylebone, is the former Holy Trinity Church (Anglican), was built in 1826-28 to the designs of Sir John Soane.  In 1818 parliament passed an act setting aside one million pounds to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon. This is one of the so-called “Waterloo churches” that were built with the money.

By the 1930s, it had fallen into disuse and in 1936 was used by the newly founded Penguin Books company to store books. A children’s slide was used to deliver books from the street into the large crypt. In 1937 they moved out and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), an Anglican missionary organization, moved in. It was their headquarters until 2006. From 2008 onward the building, following refurbishment, has been used as an upmarket event space.  In 2009 an art exhibition held in the crypt created something of a storm in featuring works involving skulls, crucified monkeys, stag heads, five-billion- year-old meteorites, a black Christ in an electric chair, a whirlwind in a glass box, a Japanese girl riding a polycarbonate walrus, stuffed baby sparrows in a coffin and the levitation of St John the Baptist.


Warren Street

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Pub of the Day – The Smugglers Tavern

Pint of Doom Bar and a Falafel burger. Aaarghsome !

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Cleveland Street

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Samuel Morse – (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872)  American painter and inventor best remembered today for his invention of single-wire telegraph system and co-invention of Morse Code (along with Alfred Vail who I guess we have to mark down as one of those people who’ve ended up on the wrong side of history).

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The BT Tower (visits by appointment only). Celebrates its 50th anniversary this year (it was opened by Harold Wilson on 8 October 1965). You’re too late now for the ballot to win “reservations” for the commemorative re-opening of the restaurant from 25 July but there is a separate ballot in September for the chance to win free 30 min “flights” to view London from the 34th floor.


Maple Street

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Crap selfie of the day


Fitzroy Street

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Francisco de Miranda,  (born March 28, 1750, Caracas, Venezuala—died July 14, 1816, Cádiz, Spain), Venezuelan revolutionary who helped to pave the way for independence in Latin America.

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Robert Gascoyne Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (1830 – 1903)

Prime Minister for three separate terms during the reign of Victoria between 1885 and 1902 and so was the last British Prime Minister of the 19th century and the first of the 20th century. He was the last Prime Minister to head his full administration from the House of Lords.

As an aside, the phrase “Bob’s your Uncle” is thought to have derived from Robert Cecil’s appointment of his nephew, Arthur Balfour, as Chief Secretary for Ireland.


Fitzroy Square

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Conway Street

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Sidney Bechet (1897 – 1959). A contemporary of Louis Armstrong, Bechet perhaps the first notable jazz saxophonist. Although he received acclaim later in his career he was involved in various dubious incidents in his twenties and in fact his brief sojourn in London was largely spent in jail before being deported back to New York.


Great Portland Street

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New Cavendish Street

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Whatever !


Ogle Street

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Saint Charles Borromeo Church

Charles Borromeo (1538–1584) was a cardinal who was archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584. He was a leading figure during the counter-reformation and was responsible for significant reforms in the Catholic Church.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, popularly known as the “Little Flower of Jesus” is one of the most popular saints in the history of the church.


Portland Place

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On your left -Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, Bt., OM, FRS, PC (1827 – 1912),  pioneer of antiseptic surgery.

On your right – Field-Marshal Sir George Stuart White, V.C., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.S.I., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., G.C.V.O. (1835 – 1912), hero of the Siege of Ladysmith during the Second Boer War.

7- 4 to the Field Marshal on the honours score then.

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Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

66 Portland Place was designed by George Grey Wornum. His was the winner of the competition to design the new headquarters for the RIBA, which attracted submissions from 284 entrants. King George V and Queen Mary officially opened the building on 8 November 1934.


Devonshire Street

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The Mason’s Arms – perhaps the greenest pub in London.


Hallam Street

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Edward R. Murrow (1908 – 1965). Ed Murrow first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during WWII, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States. Subsequently as a pioneer of television news broadcasting, Murrow produced a series of reports that helped lead to the downfall of Senator Joe McCarthy (of witchhunt fame). Good Night, and Good Luck, the 2005 Oscar-nominated film directed, co-starring and co-written by George Clooney focused on the clash between Murrow and McCarthy on See It Now, Murrow’s flagship TV series.


Harley Street

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The mecca for those seeking top-end private medical treatment. I suspect I was the only person visiting this particular street who came by public transport. Saw Paul Whitehouse on his mobile outside one address – I suppose he may have come on the tube.



Day 1 – Regent’s Park – Marylebone – Baker Street

 Today’s Route

Day 1 Map


Inner Circle

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Disillusioned with the failure of the Simply Red reunion Mick Hucknall embarks on a new career

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The Garden of St John’s Lodge – A Little Gem

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Queen Mary’s Gardens

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A drone-free oasis

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Can’t remember ever having been round this part of the park before – the gardens really are quite impressive and the wildfowl exceptionally numerous, especially the geese and you don’t want to get too close to those guys

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The herons can be pretty unnerving with their sentry-like stillness. If “The Birds” ever became a reality I wouldn’t want to find myself anywhere near here.

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                                                                       crap selfie of the day

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                                                                        Oi ! Over here mate !


Outer Circle

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Elizabeth Bowen Writer 1899 – 1973

“Novelist and short-story writer who employed a finely wrought prose style in fictions frequently detailing uneasy and unfulfilling relationships among the upper-middle class”.  As famous for her 32-year affair with a Canadian diplomat seven years her junior as documented in Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie: Letters and Diaries 1941–1973 (edited by Victoria Glendinning),


Park Road

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The Rudolf Steiner House

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner – Austrian mystic, philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. Born: February 27, 1861, Donji Kraljevec, Croatia  Died: March 30, 1925, Dornach, Switzerland. Anthroposophy, a philosophy which he founded postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world that is accessible by direct experience through inner development.
 

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The London Business School – what goes on behind the blue door ?

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José Francisco de San Martin – 1778 – 1850

was an Argentine General, governor and patriot who led his nation during the wars of Independence from Spain.


Gloucester Place

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The Gloucester Arms

Closed in August 2005, it is now a branch of the Francis Holland School though much of the exterior pub decor still remains.


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Proverbs 6:23

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

– King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition


Glentworth Street

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Cyprian (Latin: Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus) (c. 200 – September 14, 258) was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. After converting to Christianity, he became a bishop soon after in 249. He was executed by beheading during the reign of the Roman Emperor Valerian.


Balcombe Street

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Flat 22b – infamous site of the 1975 Balcombe Street siege in which four members of the provisional IRA (responsible amongst other things for the murder of Ross McWhirter) took a middle-aged couple hostage for six days before giving themselves up to the Met.

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Pub of the day – excellent crab sandwich


Siddons Lane

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Bentley was founded in 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley, or “W.O.” as he was known


Dorset Square

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Dodie Smith – 1896 – 1990

Writer of “A Hundred and One Dalmations” and “I Capture The Castle” and joint author of the script for the 1944 film “The Uninvited”.

  The Uninvited


York Street

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St Mary’s Church

Not keen on people sleeping in the doorway


Montagu Place

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Who’d have expected the Swiss of all people to have their embassy in a 1970’s office block (though the side façade is significantly more prepossessing). The Swedish consulate across the road is even less impressive.


Crawford Street

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On Crawford Street, once well-known for its antique dealers, is the long-established (200 years as of 2014) pharmacy of Meacher Higgins & Thomas


Baker Street

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The queue outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Not sure what these people are expecting to see. Are they under the impression that it will be memorabilia of real person.

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219 Baker Street (Ability Parkview) features the retained central tower and a section of the Baker Street facade of Abbey House, which served as the headquarters for the Abbey Road Building Society (then known as Abbey National and now Abbey) from 1932 until 2002. The prominent clock tower on the Baker Street frontage is topped by a 13 metre (43 feet) tall flagpole. The site of Ability Parkview covers the address of 221B Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes. However, the address only came into existence when Baker Street was extended to the north in 1930, long after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books were written. The retained 1920s east façade and open clock tower are art deco/art moderne in style and were designed by J. J. Joass.