An Open Air Cathedral : Brompton Cemetery

Before we realised quite how cold it was outside, last Sunday morning, we had decided to walk to Brompton Cemetery. Our route took us down Fulham Road, a part of London where I loved to window-shop when I lived and worked in London in the 1970s.

Cemetery sign

Brompton Cemetery lies parallel with the District Line Tube and right next door to Stamford Bridge Football Ground, where Chelsea FC play. There was no game last Sunday and we had discovered yet another peaceful haven for nature and contemplation.

Chelsea FC stand

Chelsea FC Football Stand

There aren’t many famous people buried there. Emmeline Pankhurst would probably be the best known. But we delighted in the atmosphere and inspecting graves and tombstones as we moved quite quickly through the cemetery. It was freezing cold.

Brompton Cemetery is the first and only cemetery to be in the care of the Royal Parks. It has what appears to be a thriving group of Friends who organise tours and events. It is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries that opened in the countryside around London between 1833 and 1841.

chapel

The Open Air Cathedral Design

Designed by architect Samuel Baud ‘his inspirational concept was to create an immense open-air cathedral with a central ‘nave’ running to a ‘high altar’ symbolised by the domed Anglican Chapel. The prominent features in the cemetery are the Colonnades flanking the Central Avenue and the Great Circle, beneath which are the catacombs entered through impressive cast-iron doors’.

Colonnades

The Colonnades

Here are some of the graves and monuments that caught our attention :

Typical Victorian headstones

Typical Victorian Symbolic Headstones

Brandon Thomas

Brandon Thomas who wrote the play ‘Charley’s Aunt’

Blanche Roosevelt

Blanche Roosevelt, opera singer

Hoofstetter

 Hoofstetter Mausoleum

Robert Coombes Champion sculler

This monument erected by public subscription by the warm friends and admirers of Robert Coombes champion sculler on the Thames and on the Tyne

R Warneford

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Warneford

Reginald Warneford

Val Prinsep

Pre-Raphaelite Painter Val Prinsep and his wife Florence

Prinsep

F R Leyland

Here Lies Frederick Richards Leyland sometime of Woolton Hall Liverpool : Designed by Edward Burne-Jones

Samuel Sotheby

Tree-Like Monument of Samuel Sotheby – Founder of the Auction House

Brigade of Guards

The Brigade of Guards and Commonwealth War Graves

Chelsea Pensioners

The Chelsea Pensioners Monument

CP Service

Where the Pensioners saw Active Service

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst – Number One Suffragette

Having walked from the South Lodge to the North Lodge on Old Brompton Road we were very cold and made for a nearby cafe [which just happened to be The Old Troubadour] for warming drinks before the walk back to the hotel, collecting our bags and travelling by crowded tube to Kings Cross where I joined many London Marathon Runners travelling home.

The National Commemoration of the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign 25 April 2015

cenotaph before

What a difference a day made! On Saturday morning 25 April (ANZAC Day) it was pouring with rain as we made our way to Whitehall where we were attending The National Commemoration of the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign and ANZAC Day.

order of service

There we are at the bottom of the page!

You may remember that I did some research to find out more about the life and death of my great uncle, Marshall Howman, who was killed at Gallipoli on 21st August 2015. The Gallipoli Association very kindly supplied me with relevant information and I decided to sign up and support them. Through the Association we received an invitation to join the proceedings, in a specially reserved area for Gallipoli Descendants.

We arrived early and  after passing through tight security secured for ourselves (me, my sister and our Australian friend, Ann) a pretty good position within the Descendants Viewing Area. We stood immediately behind the limited seating and right by the Cenotaph itself with a view of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office door and red carpet and had a diagonal view of the Royals. That was about 9am. Gradually the rain stopped altogether and we managed to dry out.

There was plenty going on and it was interesting to see one of these events from behind the scenes. Eventually Guards with busbies stood in front of us; but I could still just about see most of what was going on.

not a bad view

Not a Bad View

Dan Snow

Dan Snow (BBC) ready and waiting

Tree sculpture

If you look closely in the middle of the photo you can see the tree sculpture Gallipoli 1915 by Nadir Imamoglu. It’s a small-scale reproduction of one which forms part of the ‘Gallipoli 1915′ memorial at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire. The leafless branches symbolise the hands of soldiers on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula, raised to distinguish them from their dead comrades. [From the Souvenir Brochure]

Bands arrive

The Military Bands Arrive

Just before 11 the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William and other VIPs – British, Australian, New Zealand, Turkish and representatives of many other other nations involved in the Gallipoli Campaign (and the sun!) came out. As Big Ben struck the hour we began a Two Minute Silence. This was followed by The Last Post, A Reading : For The Fallen by Lawrence Binyon :

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

My view 2

And the Laying of Wreaths. A short service of readings, a hymn and national anthems then followed.

my view

After the Service there was a march past made up of representatives of UK and foreign forces and various associations including, of course, our own Gallipoli Association. When, as descendants, we were invited to join the Commemoration we were given the option to either attend the service or join the march past.

march past

The March Past

chelsea pensioners march past

Everyone Applauded the Chelsea Pensioners

Turkish air force band

The Turkish Air Force Band March Past

At home I recorded the BBC coverage of the morning and on Monday enjoyed watching in comfort the very moving and memorable event that I had witnessed at first hand on the Saturday.

Cameras behind us

Cameras at the ready!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05sz6cp/world-war-one-remembered-gallipoli-episode-1

wellington barracks

At The Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk

After the Cenotaph Service members of the Gallipoli Association were invited to a Buffet Lunch at the Wellington Barracks. I was happy to meet other members and officers of the Association.

Cenotaph after

“We will remember them”

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea Physic Garden : Where Plants Really Matter

On Friday my sister arrived to join me for the weekend and we checked into our hotel just behind Harrods. This was a relatively new area for us. We had decided to avoid the Central London and City areas as the London Marathon on the Sunday meant big crowds and closed roads and limited access everywhere.

So, being in the Belgravia area seemed a good opportunity to visit lesser known places in the Chelsea area. For many years I’ve wanted to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden but haven’t been in the right place at the right time. Friday being beautifully warm and sunny we decided to step out down Sloane Street and Royal Hospital Road where, next door to the Royal Hospital (think, Chelsea Pensioners), we found the high walls surrounding another oasis of peace and calm.

CPG Rock gdn

The rock garden of basalt rocks is a listed monument

Tucked away beside the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden is a celebration of the beauty and importance of plants. This walled Garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for its apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants and it became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. Today, as an independent charity the Garden relies on the support of visitors and Friends to help protect and nurture the Garden for future generations.” [From the website]

tangerine dream

The Cafe in the 17th century curator’s house

There are free tours every half hour with a volunteer guide so we decided to join one of these first, before having lunch outside the Tangerine Dream Cafe.

CPG gates

The Gates lead to the Chelsea Embankment and beyond that to the River Thames which was so important to the Garden bringing boats alongside with their cargoes of exotic plants

volunteers and gardeners at work

Gardeners and volunteers at work in the Systematic Order Beds

It was impossible for our introductory tour to include all of the gardens on the site :

Garden of Medicinal Plants
The Pharmaceutical Garden
World Woodland Garden
The Garden of World Medicine
The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants
Historical Walk
Botanical Order Beds
Island Endemic Flora

[Each garden is explained on the website.]

so after lunch we visited most of the rest – the greenhouses, the new world woodland garden and had a closer look at the two information point caravans devoted to Sir Hans Sloane and the Swedish plantsman Linnaeus.

Sloane and Linnaeus

Each cart contains information about Carl Linnaeus and Sir Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane

Sir Hans Sloane (a copy of the original)

Dr. Hans Sloane, after whom the nearby locations of Sloane Square and Sloane Street were named, purchased the Manor of Chelsea from Charles Cheyne. This purchase of about 4 acres was leased to the Society of Apothecaries for £5 a year in perpetuity. Sloane was also a founder of the British Museum.

‘Curse or Cure?’ is the title of the 2015 temporary outdoor art installation created for the Garden by ceramic artist Nici Ruggiero. It consists of a trail of 15 inscribed apothecary jars displayed on metal spikes amongst the plants and a larger display of 21 jars against the wall.

curse or cure descrip

Description of the Installation

curse or cure jar

A Jar on a Spike

curse or cure jars

The 21 Jars

Read here an article by Lisa Jardine which appeared in the Financial Times Magazine in 2013. You may need to register to read.

 

 

 

The Cloister Cafe Great St Bartholomew’s

There are three new Quiet London books. In the volume “food and drink” there are lots of ‘new’ listings. Flicking through I noticed that a cafe has now opened in the cloister of St Bartholomew The Great church, West Smithfield. Over the years I’ve stayed half a dozen times at 45A Cloth Fair one of three Landmark Trust properties in Central London.

cloister

Last week a friend of mine was staying there and invited me to join her on Thursday afternoon. I travelled down that morning for a big event on Saturday (more later). We decided to try out the cafe and it was indeed quiet. But then it was a lovely warm day and there were plenty of people in the churchyard having their offices lunches in the sunshine.

Gatehouse

Enter the beautiful Great St Bartholomew’s church by passing underneath the Elizabethan gatehouse” writes Siobhan Wall.

Inside St Barts

After slowly wandering round its hallowed interior,  find a table in this tranquil cafe to the right of the main porch.”

main porch

Main Porch

higgidy pie

There aren’t many places where you can sit and have a slice of chocolate cake [or a Higgidy pie, for that matter] among fifteenth-century cloisters, but the ancient surroundings make this one of the nicest cafes in London to have afternoon tea.”

green tea

Fresh mint tea is served in white china pots, and with the pale green light filtering through the leaded glass windows this is one of the most peaceful corners in England.”

Walking and Talking on Hampstead Heath : The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Walking Book Group

This post is not a discussion or review of the book in question: Emily does that so much better than I could.

https://emilybooks.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/the-garden-of-the-finzi-continis/

Rather, I’d like to tell you about how a Walking Book Club works.

Daunt Shop

 Inside Daunt Books South End Road

You may remember that I mentioned  Daunt Books‘ Walking Book Group in a previous post. Well, at last I have managed to coincide my visit to London with a Sunday meeting of the group. Only a couple of weeks ago did I discover that the group was back in action after Emily’s baby, Vita, was born just 4 months ago.

A group of about a dozen or so keen walker-readers gathered together at the shop on Sunday 22 February to walk on Hampstead Heath to talk about the chosen book – The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani. As I’d only discovered this about a week before and as it wasn’t available from my library ordered a copy directly from Daunts. I just managed to finish reading it on the train down from Leeds. This was good as it meant that the book was fresh in my mind. Also, the evening before I had just watched the dvd version of the 1970 film.

Finzi-Continis

At 11.30 we left the shop, crossed the road and before setting off Emily introduced herself : some of the group were regular reader-walkers, some occasional and others, like me, were there for the first time. The only man was later joined by a couple more; we were delighted to have two Italian nationals amongst us who had read the book in its original and were able to offer us other insights into Italian life and culture relevant to our discussions.

Emily Left

Book talk with Emily [left]

We set off walking and talking in pairs or small groups and every ten minutes or so Emily would bring us all together to sum up, ask questions, provide answers and suggest further topics for conversation. We would then find we started discussion with someone else. The formula works very well. At the highest point of the walk, with long views over London, Emily shared her home-baked cake with us.

Highgate

Highgate from The Heath

London from Heath

View from the Heath

Somehow after about an hour we found ourselves back where we started and Emily summed up the discussion, distributed copies of the 2015 2nd Daunt Books Festival programme (there’ll be a walking book group from the Marylebone shop on 20 March) and told the group the next date and book for the regular Sunday Heath walk : 19th April “the Living Mountain” by Nan Shepherd :

“Shepherd wrote a short nonfiction book, The Living Mountain, during the 1940s. The Living Mountain is a reflection her experiences walking in the Cairngorm Mountains. Having completed it, Shepherd chose not to publish the book until 1977.” (Source)

If you’d like to hear a Walking Book Club session in progress you can listen here to Clare Balding who joined Emily on one of her walks in February two years ago.

Christmas in Black and White and Colour

2014 tree

Compliments of the Season to Everyone.

Two weeks ago I slipped on black ice and fractured my right wrist. This is severely limiting my typing ability and posts will be very intermittent for a while.

However, I’d like to share pictures of the lovely gifts I received this Christmas. As often happens they fall into themes. Each gift has been especially and thoughtfully chosen with ME in mind. I could not have chosen better myself.

black and white

Black and White Gifts

tea tray

Tea Related Gifts (although someone thinks I’d rather be drinking wine!)

london books

London Books, DVDs and Walk Map

I enjoy London walks and exploring the Hampstead and Belsize Park areas when I’m walking my son’s dog. I have the original Quiet London book and it has now spawned three more. I’m happy to spend the next weeks planning future explorations in London.

I’ve read W G Sebald‘s ‘The Rings of Saturn’ and seen this film. I’m looking forward to watching ‘Patience (after Sebald)’ again. Much of it is filmed in East Anglia where ‘Max’ Sebald lived and was professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Sadly, when his very original writing was taking he off, he was killed in a motor accident near his home in 2001.

patience

Moi and MA

A story about a Pug called Moi set at Versailles

Alfie at Gif

Alfie at Gif-Sur-Yvette

We took my son’s pug with us when we stayed at the Windsor’s place near Versailles in 2012. In addition I had other smellies; plus a box of cards for me to write my thank you notes – if I can manage that this year!

smellies

smythson

My thanks to everyone for these special gifts!

Norman Stevens, ARA : Selected Prints : Royal Academy Artist of the Month

Back in 1984 we first ‘discovered’ Norman Stevens’ prints at the Bradford Biennale held at Cartwright Hall, Bradford from 15 April to 15 July.

Biennale Catalogue

Catalogue from the 1984 Bradford Biennale

At that show we remember admiring Stevens’ print “Construction Company” and a year or so later visited The Coriander Studio and to see “Laurel Tree, Nettlecombe Court” and others of his prints.

Construction Co Cat page

Construction Company Catalogue Page

Construction Co ours

Construction Company

Laurel Nettlecombe

Laurel Tree, Nettlecombe Court

Just by chance we discovered that The Royal Academy was showing a selection of Stevens’ prints in their ‘Artist of the Month’ slot. Fortunately, not showing for a month but from 26 February until 25 May 2014. I was able to check out the exhibition last Sunday.

Burlington House flag

Welcome to Burlington House – Home of the Royal Academy

It was interesting to see the other prints on display including his version of Monet’s Garden and I love his topiary prints and his fences and gates.

RA

The Royal Academy

Norman Stevens was born in Bradford in 1937 and was a student at Bradford College of Art and contemporary of David Hockney RA. He taught himself printmaking and this was his preferred medium. Sadly he died in 1988.

NS Poster

The Royal Academy says of this two room exhibition :

This spring we present the much admired prints of Norman Stevens ARA, an artist who originally trained as a painter alongside John Loker, David Hockney RA and David Oxtoby in the 1950s at Bradford College of Art. A master of the medium, Stevens taught himself printmaking in the early 1970s and in the process, found an art form that perfectly suited his meticulous and subtle approach. Exploring the landscape and built environment, his prints make use of colour, light and shade to powerful and often haunting effect. Human presence is always suggested but never shown, a quality that the art critic, William Packer, has likened to a ‘game of hide-and-seek with the real world’. At the heart of the exhibition are important groups of prints including Stevens’ depictions of Venetian blinds and ‘clapboard’ houses, his distinctive images of Stonehenge and his captivating views of English formal gardens. From his first black and white etchings to the large-scale prints he produced in the 1980s, discover the work of an artist who developed an international reputation for his technically brilliant and beguiling prints.” [RA website]

N Stevens guide etc

It’s possible to visit just to see this show. The charge is £3 and a rather nice Gallery Guide is included in the price. There are no books, print reproductions nor postcards of Stevens’ work available from the shop but one book did take my fancy!

Ken Howard's Switzerland

Ken Howard’s Switzerland : in the Footsteps of Turner