Category : MUSEUMS/GALLERIES

National Dining Rooms, Trafalgar Square

National Gallery cafe, tea
Ceylon Orange Pekoe
National Dining Rooms
National Gallery
The National Gallery started modestly in 1824 when 38 paintings – the collection of banker John Julius Angerstein – were bought for the nation for £57,000.

Originally housed at Mr Angerstein’s home at 100 Pall Mall, it was considered an embarrassment when compared with other national collections. Particularly the Louvre in Paris.

Not wanting the French to get one over on us, Trafalgar Square was chosen as the site of a new building which opened in 1838*.

The National Gallery now has over 2300 paintings. It is without doubt one of the finest galleries on the planet, containing some of the highlights of western art (more…)

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ICA Café, The Mall

Cafe ICA, Mall
English Breakfast Tea
ICA Cafe
Earl Grey was Prime Minister of the British Isles from 1830-34. Famous for having a type of tea named after him, he lived at number 13 Carlton House Terrace.

Next door, at number 12, the Institute of Contemporary Arts has a lovely café, that serves a good cup of tea all these years later.

The ICA was formed in the 1940’s by Surrealist Roland Penrose and anarchist Herbert Read as a meeting place for artists and intellectuals. It has been in the Mall since the sixties.
Today, there is an art house cinema, gallery space, and art bookshop. They stock an impressive range of art theory books with zippy titles (more…)

Posted in CENTRAL, MUSEUMS/GALLERIES, Trafalgar Square | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tom’s Kitchen, Somerset House

Toms Somerset House
English Breakfast
Tea Tom’s Kitchen
One my recent visit to Samuel Johnson’s House, I bought a booklet of essays entitled ‘Tea and coffee in the age of Dr Johnson’; a fascinating insight into the coffee houses of 18th century London.
I learned that one of the early coffee shops was called Tom’s. Established by Thomas Twining in 1706 nearby the shop on Strand that sells tea to this day. Tom’s had a library and was ‘…a place renowned for its polite and scholarly interests’*. Further up Fleet Street was Nando’s coffee shop (perhaps shortened from Fernando’s).

I am reminded of this 300 odd years later, and (more…)

Posted in CENTRAL, Covent Garden, MUSEUMS/GALLERIES, Strand | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tea at Three, Dr Johnson’s House

Dr Johnson's House, Gough Square
Tea in the Parlour
Dr Johnson’s House

Number 17 Gough Square is the charming 18th century townhouse where Samuel Johnson compiled his ‘Dictionary of the English Language’.
It is well worth a visit to this small museum.

The rooms are laid out as they would have been in Dr Johnson’s time.
Great care has been taken to restore the wood-panelling to the original muted paint colours.

The house is peaceful and atmospheric, the library is my favorite room with its soft yellow paintwork and light flooding in from high windows. You can also leaf over a facsimile of the famous dictionary. (more…)

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Foundling Museum Cafe, Brunswick Square

Twining's English Breakfast, Foundling Museum Cafe, Brunswick Square
Twining’s English Breakfast
Foundling Museum Cafe

The Foundling Museum tells the intriguing story of a sailor (Thomas Coram), a painter (William Hogarth), a musician (Handel) and their role in the foundation of Britain’s first home for abandoned children.

Eighteenth century London was a squalid and miserable place for much of the population. 75% of children died before the age of 5 years – 90% of those in the workhouse.
The Foundling Hospital was established in 1739 after a long campaign by philanthropist Coram.

George Frideric Handel conducted concerts to raise funds. Hogarth (more…)

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Restaurant at Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly

Restaurant Royal Academy, London
Japanese Cherry Tea
Restaurant Royal Academy

The Royal Academy Summer Show along with Wimbledon and the Test Match at Lord’s is a regular mid-summer London fixture. Anyone can submit artwork and in 2012, the 244th year, over 11,000 artists applied to be hung next to David Hockney, Anselm Kiefer and Gary Hume.

Visiting the show can be overwhelming, with many different styles of artwork hung all the way up high walls. A colourful, kaleidoscopic patchwork quilt.

Cornelia Parker’s ‘Now and Then’ caught my eye. Featuring one silver teapot suspended above another (squashed) teapot. (more…)

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British Museum Court Restaurant

Tea British Museum Restaurant
Chamomile Tea
British Museum

The Court Restaurant has a stunning setting at the top of the stone staircase that rises above the Great Court of the British Museum.

This extraordinary space surrounds the former British Library Reading Room, enclosed by Foster & Partners spectacular glass roof – constructed from 3,312 panes of glass, each one different.

The restaurant is almost at the roof, and is bathed in a suffuse light that changes with the weather.

(more…)

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