Wandering through the City after seeing the Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London, I thought I saw an emerald on the pavement. It was just a bit of broken glass, but such is the effect of the treasures on show.
I recommend the exhibition to anyone interested in London – layers of history are peeled away to a magical place just beneath our feet. Magnifying glasses are provided, and I particularly enjoyed studying the amazing detail in the accompanying paintings.
I later came to St Paul’s Cathedral and decided to stop for tea.
The crypt has a self-service cafe, where (more…)
Tea makes a wonderful gift, and Kusmi Teas exotic and colourful packaging means you don’t even need wrapping paper.
With its fashionable Gallic style and visual flair, I had assumed that Kusmi was originally a Parisian company.
But as I discovered on their website, Kusmi was started 140 years ago by a P.M. Kousmichoff, the son of a Russian peasant. There is a London connection as his son came here in 1907 to hone his tea blending skills.
After a long history involving escaping from the Reds and surviving being run by arty-types, Kusmi now have a branch on Marylebone High Street. (more…)
St Pancras station was famously saved from developers in the 1960s due to a campaign by John Betjeman and the Victorian Society.
Betjeman vividly described St Pancras as:
“…that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill…outlined against a foggy sunset…the great arc of Barlow’s train shed gaping to devour incoming engines, and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel seen from gloomy Judd Street.”
The East India Company’s extraordinary and influential history stretches back to 1600 when it was established by a Royal Charter from Elisabeth I.
Over the years it had its own army, and flag – said to be the inspiration for the U.S. Stars and Stripes.
The Company’s dealings led directly to British rule in India and its system of organisation was precursor to the British civil service. (more…)
Liberty was established in 1874 by Arthur Lasenby Liberty, selling ornaments and objet d’art from the East. By the end of the 19th century it was hugely fashionable and influential, collaborating with the foremost designers of the day, particularly of the Art and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles. In Italy Art Nouveau is known as ‘Stile Liberty’.
The store was frequented by artists and aesthetes – Oscar Wilde declared:
“Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.”
Over the years Liberty has worked with contemporary designers and artists including William Morris, Gabriel Dante (more…)
The extraordinary redevelopment of the area around Kings Cross Station continues apace. Since the Eurostar terminal arrived at St Pancras in 2007, the area has seen the opening of King’s Place – a canal side arts centre and home of the Guardian newspaper; the restoration and reopening of Sir Gilbert Scott’s much-loved Midland Hotel and an impressive new roof at Kings Cross Station.
Recently Granary Square, an expansive cobbled space north of Regents Canal, has opened, making apparent the scale of the final project (it even has a new postcode, NC1).
Formerly a canal basin where barges unloaded their goods, (more…)
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…)
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…)
I do like a railway station so sitting on the platform a mere feet away from the Eurostar train, drinking tea, is really quite exciting.
St Pancras is beautiful, and the upper level is the prime place to sit in the soft light of the wonderful arched roof.
Searcy’s have done a great job of fitting out the Champagne Bar at St Pancras. The quilted red leather banquettes give the impression that you are sitting in an old-fashioned train carriage; you fully expect the whistle to blow and be whisked away to the Continent. The elegant air puts you in mind of a former age, when travelling was a more glamourous and sedate affair.