I found a great bargain in the Holborn Library 20p book sale this week, “London Free and Dirt Cheap” by Joe Fullman (Frommer’s.)
The copy I obtained was an edition from 2007 but I am sure you’ll be able to find an up-to-date version quite cheap (prices from £3 inc p+p on amazon!)
There’s some classic cheap London moments here and loads of stuff we didn’t know about, e.g. Best Free Hidden Gem: The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, lots of cheap eats ideas including somewhere with the great name of Porky’s Pantry (now sadly closed,) free oddities to visit like The London Stone, free music and concert ideas and free tickets to TV shows too.
Go out and get a copy and get ideas for having fun for (next to) nothing! P
When trying to renew my library books, I happened upon something quite lovely. Free guided walk leaflets! I quite fancy doing the Dickens one (in stages as it seems a bit long). Should keep me out of mischief anyway. W
If you’re ever walking along Goswell Road, look up when you go past 338-346. I can’t seem to find the history of this building but it’s got some natty plaques that seem to tell the story of the cotton trade (I’m guessing anyway). Check it out.
I’m guessing the cotton is picked somewhere and then transported through the numerous avenues to make it to these sunny shores – as told in plaque form. There’s nothing on the building that tells of its history though, so I’m none the wiser. If anyone can enlighten me, then please do. Here’s to looking up, anyway. W
If you’re a member of my extended family, then you can skip this post because you already know what I’m going to say. Also, if you’re a hardliner who only wants to hear about things you can do in a lunchtime, please disregard this missive, for at the weekend I went on a guided tour of London and I am going to tell you about it.
My brother-in-law arranged it all and we met Ken at Angel tube station, promptly at 10.30am. Ken runs this website and a number of guided tours around London that use old city maps as to navigate the walk. Our tour took us round North Clerkenwell, where we found out all about the New River Company, how hollowed out tree trunks first criss-crossed Clerkenwell’s open spaces to carry water to its inhabitants as well as some interesting tidbits regarding Lenin, Nell Gwynne and other famous city dwellers.
Lenin woz ere
More than the interesting quick facts though, was the way that Ken brought the era of Victorian city expansion to life. He used the maps to show how the city had changed and why certain features of the area are the way they are – adding in the economic and social factors that decided how a city begins to be laid out and the changes that affect it . I won’t go into the details as that may take something away from Ken, but suffice to say, if you want to get an overall picture of an area’s development, then this guided tour is well worth it. W
I was on my way to Shoe Lane Library the other day to see the great Country & Western display case when I took a wrong turning and found myself in Red Lion Court and saw this great sign high up on the wall. It reads Alere Flammam (To feed the flame) and is the sign of Abraham Valpy an 1820’s printer and is also the building which was the original HQ of the scientific publishers Taylor & Francis/Richard & John E Taylor. It’s great what you find when you take a wrong turning! P
It was thanks to meeting up with our old friend Marc Gooderham the other day that this post came about. We were both walking from London Bridge and he asked me did I know what the holes were in the walls in the chambers around the back of Chancery Lane/Lincolns Inn Fields.
I used to work in that locality and walked up and down Chancery Lane on a regular basis and never noticed any holes (I walk around with me eyes closed most of the time I reckon.) We wandered up Chancery Lane and Marc then took us into Stone Buildings to show us what he meant. After perusing the marks, a passing lawyer told us that they were shrapnel from a World War One bomb and he directed us to one of the brass plaques on the wall for more info.
“The round stone in the middle of the roadway marks the spot where, on 18th December 1917 at 8-10pm a bomb from a German aeroplane struck the ground and exploded, shattering the windows in Stone Buildings and doing other material damage.”
It’s funny as you think you know an area well and all you have to do is veer off the regular track and you find something like this. I find there’s always something that surprises you in this fair city! P
On a short trip around ‘my manor’ at work, I came across this lovely memorial garden on Gresham Street. It’s attached to the Lloyd’s building and is on the site of the former St. John Zachary church destroyed in the Great Fire of London. For those not in the know and who haven’t just looked it up on Google, St John Zachary is another name of John the Baptist. So there.
The plaque says it all..except about the cats
What caught my eye were the lovely golden cat faces that formed part of the ornate archway leading into the garden. No explanation accompanied the plaque, but digging about a bit (not in the garden) it seems that these may have been rescued from the Goldsmiths hall and placed here. They do look lovely though. W
Happy New Year, y’all. With coming back to work, I thought I’d ease myself into it with a little stroll. And having no particular place to go, P and I found ourselves in Salisbury Square, near Fleet Street. We were drawn by the incredible Premier Inn building work and the statue above. I can’t seem to find anything out about it but it looks pretty impressive. But more was to come with this obelisk opposite.
An obelisk is pointy
The thing you find with obelisks is that their raison d’etre is fairly obscure. On the black plaque that sits at the top, it reads “The friend of Liberty in Evil Times” and has no explanation as to what this would mean. From the fairly comprehensive notes on the London Details website, it would seem to refer to the wars with France, which Waithman steadfastly opposed. What fascinates me is that there are loads more of these stone trinkets dotted about the capital and I seem to pass plenty without really knowing why they’re there. But no more, I say! So here’s to finding out more about London stuff in 2014. W
Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. One of the many monuments plonked about the capital commemorating something. This one’s just off Gresham Street and caught my eye for it’s great Shakespeare namedropping.
In other news, it’s Christmas. So if you happen to be in work tomorrow or Christmas Eve, you can happily spend your lunchtimes watching the panic-stricken bouncing from Currys to La Senza to Top Shop desperately searching for something, anything to pass off as a thoughtful present. Personally, I’m off until the New Year, so Merry Christmas to you all, thanks for staying with us this far and let’s catch up in 2014 for more lunchtime merriment. W
I was walking around the back of The Strand down Carting Lane the other lunchtime on a mission to watch council gardeners skiving in Embankment Gardens (they were all sadly, hard at work!) But on the way there, I did notice this Green plaque on the side of The Savoy Theatre. Turns out it was the first public building in the world to be lit throughout by electricity. Well I never! P