‹ Back to Blog

Blog Category: london-history (102 posts)


danielemiddleton | 17th October 2017 |
He was the first of the signatories of Charles I’s Death Warrant to be executed. ​Tied to a sledge he was pulled from Newgate Prison to Charing Cross. On ascending the scaffold, he refused to repent. He was hanged with a short drop, once his body had stopped thrashing about he was cut down, and as he regained consciousness his shirt was pulled away. The executioner then cut of his genitals, which were shown to him, then thrown into a bucket. He was held down while a red-hot metal was forced into his stomach. While his innards were being burned in front of him, Harrison swung a punch and caught the executioner off-guard. The embarrassed executioner lost his temper and killed Harrison. Harrison’s head was severed, his heart cut out, and his body cut into four pieces....

danielemiddleton | 27th September 2017 |
Tower Bridge is full of hidden secrets, one of them is this lovely Chimney.  At first glance it just looks like one of the blue lamp posts along the Bridge, but this is a chimney connected to a room below that was once used by the Royal Fusiliers protecting the Tower of London.  To keep them warm they used the fireplace inside the guards room during their stay while protecting the Tower.  London Clean Air Act came into force on 1956 after the Great Smog of 1952...and with that many Chimneys lost their use as only smokeless fuel was aloud in urban areas.  ...

danielemiddleton | 25th January 2013 |
Built in 1869, this Tavern was named after the Holborn Viaduct. The tavern, with its beautiful and ornade interior, is a typical Victorian "gin palace".The Tavern is widely reputed to be haunted. There have been reports of strange occurrences in the main bar, in which glasses mysteriously getbroken, and drinks either completely disappear or are suddenly moved. Also, it is said that the ghost of a murdered prostitude haunts the ladies toilet, watch out for the lights in the toilet fading suddenly and then going on and off at speed. More ghostly activity is said ti be found in the cellars of the Tavern.Before the tavern was built, part of the Giltspur Street Compter stood on this site. This was a prison, controlled by sheriffs, which was used mainly for holding debtos (in that time, people were sent to prison for being in debt) - THANK GOD NOT ANYMORE - and other offenders, but also for vagrants and people arrested at night (as watch houses were not allowed to keep prisoners). Some of the original cells from the Giltspur Street Compter can still be found in the basement of the tavern today. The cells are now used for storage, but at one time, they would hold up to sixteen prisioners at a time.The unfortunate prisioners would beg for food and water through the ventilation grills in the pavement outside. It is in the cellar, where these old prison cells survive, that there have been several reports of a poltergeist (a noisy and aften mischievous spirit). If you would like to see the old cells and are not too afraid of encountering "Fred" (as the poltergeist is known) a member of staff will usully offer to take you down into the ancient cellar and give you a small tour. But please, do not ask if they are busy....

danielemiddleton | 07th September 2012 |
People ask me if I do have a magnet field to CRAZY people with stupidy questions. My answer is: HELLS YEAH!!!!! Doesn't matter where I work, the Crazy people always comes straight to me.One day while doing Volunteer work at the British Museum a visitor asked:Visitor: Can you help me some directions please?Me: Off course, How can I help you?Visitor: Do you know how to get to that building that looks like a dildo?Me (in total disbelieve): Do you mean to Gerkin?Visitor: If is the one that looks like a dildo yes.... WHERE THIS PEOPLE COMES FROM???? And WHY THE ALWAYS FIND ME???? I will post a story a day about those encounters. Believe me....I have LOTS!!!...

danielemiddleton | 02nd September 2012 |
Inside the Queens Gallery at the Leonardo do Vinci exhibition, visitor comes to me and ask:Visitor: Who is Leonardo da Vinci?Me: He was an Italian artist, an inventor and I even dare to say a cientist.Visitor: Where does he lives now? Where can I meet him?Me: Unfortunetly he passed away in 1519.Visitor: So I can't meet him?Me: No. He is dead.Visitor: And I can't meet him?Me: NO!!!!...

danielemiddleton | 14th July 2012 |
On the entrances into Victoria station shows two tiled maps of train lines from Victoria Station. These date from the days that the station was part of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (1846 - 1922). This map shows the London Suburban Lines, the other is a map of the system and includes the boats to the continent.The LB & SCR side of Victoria Station opened on 1 October 1860....

danielemiddleton | 26th April 2012 |
Nothing like the old victorian bits that time to time we are able to see lost between the centuries!!!...

danielemiddleton | 17th April 2012 |
The Gates were erected in 1872.  The side gates have the letters ICRV, which stand for the Inns of Court Rifle Volunteers.  The Inns originally raised a body of troops in 1584 to defend the country against a threatened invasion from Spain. They had various names and in 1859, shortly after the Crimean War, they became the 23rd Middlesex (Inns of Court) Rifle Volunteer Corps.  Lt Col Brewster was the first commandant of the ICRV and his name is on the central panel.  In their current form, their headquarters is to the northeast of the Lincoln's Inn site at 10 Stone Buildings. ...

danielemiddleton | 30th March 2012 |
I have walked pass this gate so so so many times that I shouldn't say this: I NEVER NOTICE IT before! What worries me even more is the fact that I looked everywhere and couldn't find nothing about it.All I have is that the Gate is located at Lincolns Inn, bears the letters I.C.R.V, the word Brewster and the date 1863 and off course, as you can see, the Gate also have two amazing Water pumps now transformed into lovely flower beds.Do you know anything about this Gate?? Please, feel free to send me an email and tell me all!!!!...

danielemiddleton | 25th March 2012 |
I simply love old signs, at the back of the Welsh Congregational Chapel at Great Guildford Street you will find this one. For some weird reason it brings me a smile and really makes me think:- Why would anyone use a sign like this? The answer is: BECAUSE IS GREAT!!!! I honestly think we should have it all over London and I would love a badge to use at work everyday. Maybe with some luck it could help me with the people that definately doesn't know inconvinient they are!...

danielemiddleton | 13th March 2012 |
It was a real shock to see it's disappeared. I pass by Little Ben everyday and one morning I had a bit of a shock when I noticed it was gone. Little Ben was manufactured, according to Pevsner, by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, and was erected in 1892; removed from the site in 1964, and restored and re-erected in 1981 by Westminster City Council with sponsorship from Elf Aquitaine Ltd "offered as a gesture of Franco-British friendship".There is a rhyming couplet Apology for Summer Time signed J.W.R. affixed to the body of the clock:My hands you may retard or may advancemy heart beats true for England as for France.Little Ben is on holiday and I hope he cames back soon!:: WESSEX ARCHAEOLOGY :::: SEE THE VIDEO OF LITTLE BEN's REMOVAL :: ...

danielemiddleton | 12th March 2012 |
Around London you can find remains of an old City lost in alleys, mews, streets and pubs, a City that never stops bringing you surprises.Another great find are the few signs which read: 'Ancient Lights'. What does this means???? "Ancient lights" is a colloquialism for the "right to light". The law of Ancient Lights means that any building in England which has been in place for 20 years can put up a notice which reads 'ancient lights' to ensure that the light coming into the building isn't affected by a new building being built too close. It dates from the 13th century, but was updated by the 1832 Prescription Act, and can apply to trees as well as walls, although it doesn't apply to the loss of a view. It works: court cases have been won against those who have blocked out the light to a neighbouring house....

danielemiddleton | 09th March 2012 |
On last 29 of February the Queen and the Duke of Endiburgh unveiled The Jubilee Greenway Walk marks Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This 37 mile walking and cycling route is exactly 60 kilometres long - one kilometre for each year of Her Majesty's reign. It will link many of London’s impressive Olympic Games venues.You’ll pass by the O2 Arena, which will host the gymnastics, trampoline, basketball and wheelchair basketball events or make a short detour to Greenwich Park where the equestrian and modern pentathlon events will take place. Stroll or pedal your way alongside the river to Whitehall to see Horse Guards Parade being transformed into courts for beach handball. Dip your toe – or more if it’s warm enough – into the Serpentine at Hyde Park where the 10km open water swim will take place and imagine the speed and excitement of the road cycling which reaches its conclusion in Regent’s Park.If you want to know more about the Jubilee commemorations please got to the web site: Diamond Jubilee...

danielemiddleton | 05th March 2012 |
The Museum of the Order of St John tells a unique and fascinating story — the story of the Order of St John. The Order was founded after the first Crusade captured Jerusalem in 1099. The Order consisted of a group of Knights, men from noble European families who took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and care of the sick.In the 1140s the Priory in Clerkenwell was set up as the English headquarters of the Order. When King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church and established a new Anglican Church, the Order in England was dissolved and all its lands and wealth were seized by the Crown. The Order was briefly restored by Henry’s Catholic daughter, Queen Mary, who granted it a Royal Charter. However, on the accession of her Protestant sister, Queen Elizabeth I, the Order in England was dissolved for good.In the eighteenth century the Gate was briefly used as a coffee house, run by Richard Hogarth, father of the artist William Hogarth. Dr. Samuel Johnson was given his first job in London at St John’s Gate, writing reports for The Gentlemen’s Magazine. At the end of the eighteenth century the Gate was used as a pub, The Old Jerusalem Tavern, where artists and writers, including Charles Dickens, used to meet.The modern Order of St John in England was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in 1888.The Museum has just been restored and has a fabulous, well organised display but the highlight of the church is the old crypt which has a rather macabre monument of  William Weston, who was the last Prior before Henry VIII dissolved the Order in England. Apparently he died of a broken heart!!!You can have all this for completely FREE!! Please enjoy!...

danielemiddleton | 04th March 2012 |
Cross Bones is a very unusual post-medieval disused burial ground. It is believed to have been established originally as an unconsecrated graveyard for "single women," a euphemism for prostitutes, known locally as "Winchester Geese," because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work within the Liberty of the Clink.The age of the graveyard is unknown. John Stow (1525–1605) wrote of it in A Survey of London in 1598 calling it the "Single Woman's churchyard. " By 1769, it had become a pauper's cemetery servicing the poor of St. Saviour's parish. Up to 15,000 people are believed to have been buried there.In 1990's the Museum of London did some excavation on the site in connection with the London Underground and they found a highly overcrowded graveyard with bodies piled on top pf one another. They uncovered 148 graves dating between 1800s and it was said that 11% were under one year old and 1/3 of the bodies were peinatal (between 22 weeks gestation and 7 days birth).The people of London wants to transform the Red Gates into a memorial and to create a Garden of Remembrance on the site. If you want to be part of the petition, sign here!  ...

danielemiddleton | 21st February 2012 |
 Marylebone Lane is nowadays a side street which leads from Oxford Street to Marylebone High Street, and a popular short cut for traffic wishing to filter through to Wigmore Street, which in turn runs parallel with Oxford Street.Inset in this modern piece of wall at the corner of Wigmore Street and Marylebone Lane, is this ancient plaque that goes unnoticed by the vast majority of passers by. This very spot was once the main source of the water supply to the City of London. The River Tyburn, with conduit head chiefly alongside of present day Oxford Street, where it would then flow down beneath Brooke Street. This plaque reminds us where the water was once piped to the City of London, close by the Lord Mayor's old Banqueting House, which once stood in fields now occupied by nearby Stratford Place. Alongside this field was a small lane leading to Marylebone - the present day 'Marylebone Lane' - where on this corner stood the chief conduit, now marked by this commemorative stone inlaid into the wall and dated 1776 with its City of London claim....

danielemiddleton | 20th February 2012 |
Sir John Betjeman, (28 August 1906 – 19 May 1984) was an English poet, writer and broadcaster who described himself in Who's Who as a "poet and hack".He was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture. Starting his career as a journalist, he ended it as one of the most popular British Poets Laureate to date and a much-loved figure on British television.He led the campaign to save Holy Trinity, Sloane Street in London when it was threatened with demolition in the early 1970s.  He fought a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to save the Propylaeum, known commonly as the Euston Arch, London. He is considered instrumental in helping to save the famous façade of St Pancras railway station, London and was commemorated when it re-opened as an international and domestic terminus in November 2007.He called the plan to demolish St Pancras a "criminal folly". About the station itself he wrote "What [the Londoner] sees in his mind's eye is that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill and outlined against a foggy sunset, and 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." On the re-opening St Pancras in 2007, a statue of Betjeman by Martin Jennings was erected in the station at platform level. ...

danielemiddleton | 16th February 2012 |
One of the strangest tales of landowership in London concerns the famous St. George's Hospital in London's Hyde Park Corner. The shell of the building remains to this day - the facade was preserved for a new hotel when hospital finally closed in 1980 having been run continuously as a hospital since 1783.When it closed, the government of the day looked forward to selling the land for development. They simply assumed that they owned the land as the hospital was by then part of the National Health Service and all hospital sites were government enormously valuable - they received a polite letter from the Duke of Westminster, whose family, the Grosvenors, own much of the land in Belgravia and Mayfair. The letter pointed out that the land on which the hospital was built was owned by the Grosvenors and not by the government. The government thought they were safe when they realised they had a ninehundred-year lease on the ground, but again they were thwarted by the original deeds for more than two centuries.The government certainly did own a very long lease on the land on which the hospital was built; that much was agreed, but when government officials were invited to take a careful look at the terms of the lease they discovered that it remained valid only if the land continued to be used for a hospital. Since a hospital was no longer required, the land reverted to the Grosvernors and the government was left with nothing....

danielemiddleton | 06th February 2012 |
Who doesn't LOVE to know more about the eccentric people of the City of London?When we talk about extraordinary and eccentricities we may indeed apply to this ingenious and whimsical man. Martin Van Butchell (1735–1814) was the morning-star of the eccentric world; a man of uncommon merit, science, wonderful and curious singularities, unique manners and mad appearance.He was the son of a well known tapestry-master to his majesty George II and because of that he had the opportunity to know many distinguished people and also the luck to live in a large house "Crown House", with extensive gardens in the parish of Lambeth.The study of the human teeth accidentally took up his attention through the breaking of one of his own, and he engaged himself as pupil to the famous Dr. J. Hunter.The eccentricities of Martin now began to excite public notice; upon his wife's death, on January 14, 1775, he decided to have her embalmed and turn her into an attraction to draw more customers. He contacted his teacher of surgery and anatomy Dr. William Hunter and Dr. William Cruikshank who agreed to do the job.Doctors injected the body with preservatives and color additives that gave a glow to the corpse's cheeks, replaced her eyes with glass eyes and dressed her in her wedding gown.The reason of keeping his wife unburied was occasioned by a clause in the marriage settlement, disposing of certain property, while she remained above ground: we can't decide how far this may be true, but she has never been buried.He call his children by whistling and by no other way. He dined by himself and gave orders to his children and wife to dine alone too.His beard has not been shaved or cut for fifteen years, his clothes was once black, but after many years of use it was almost white and lets not forget his white pony that used to be painted with purple dots. He also was seen walking around London with a large Otaheitan tooth or a bone in his hand fastened in a string to his wrist.Upon the front o...

danielemiddleton | 05th February 2012 |
Yes it's a one way street sign, but not a common one!!Look more closely... Something should put a smile on your face, like it did on mine... Yes, the  little guy that looks like he's stealing the white rectangle inside this street sign! It's so cute!!!I had no idea who did this, but apparently after a search I found out that there are several ones in Paris, Florence, Rome and off course in my beloved London and I find it quite amusing.Clet Abraham is a French 45 years old and the artist responsible for these little guys, also if you want to know more about him have a look at this interview or this one it is very interesting, and as they said:"As Long as There are Streets, There Will be Street Art" ...

danielemiddleton | 03rd February 2012 |
I found this place while walking around Southwark few years back. As I love old churchs and while passing by St. Thomas Church I decided to go in and have a look, for my surprise inside of the Church I found at the top of a very old wooden spiral staircase with uneven steps the Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret. The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret is a museum of surgical history and one of the oldest surviving operating theatres. It is located in the garret (habitable attic) of St Thomas's Church, Southwark, on the original site of the old St Thomas' Hospital.St Thomas Church was build at end of the 17th century and it says that the garret was used only by the Apothecary of the Hospital untill 1821 to cure herbs and medicine for the use of the old St. Thomas Hospital.In 1822 the herb garret was converted into a purpose-built operating theatre. The Operating theater was a non-sterile, tiered theater or amphitheater in which students and other spectators could watch surgeons perform surgery.The patients were mainly poor people who were expected to contribute to their care if they could afford it. Rich patients were treated and operated on at home rather than in hospital. The patients at the Old Operating Theatre were all women.Until 1847, surgeons had no recourse to anaesthetics and depended on swift technique (surgeons could perform an amputation in a minute or less), the mental preparation of the patient, and alcohol or opiates to dull the patient’s senses. Thereafter, ether or chloroform started to be used. The Operating Theatre had closed down before antiseptic surgery was invented.In 1859, Florence Nightingale became involved with St Thomas's, setting up on this site her famous nursing school. It was on her advice that the Hospital agreed to move to a new site when the Charing Cross Railway Company offered to buy the hospital’s land. In 1862, the hospital began the move to its present site at Lambeth and the operati...

danielemiddleton | 02nd February 2012 |
There are many elements that make this place an interesting and unique shop.  Let's start from the outside. Despite its appearance the Wyvern Bindery is not a bicycle shop. It is in fact a traditional hand-binders. At a glance, when its closed it has a graffiti drawing of a dragon, I thought it was an abandoned premise and someone had done some graffiti art on it.When I saw it was actually an operating business, I immediately had a nosey.  They have books, leather, cloth, paper, sleeves, boxes, brass rings, a workshop, and the binders all in there.  It is an active space, people are never just sitting around answering phones.  It smells of antique mixed with leather, and it's just charming.Given enough time and money (but don't ask how much - of either) the 'Wyvern' will bind, make, build, block, deboss, take apart, re-bind, repair or restore pretty much anything. I can't wait to have the opportunity to use their services, after all, using them would be a special occasion because we don't see amazing places like Wyvern around anymore.The "Gentle Author" of Spitafields Life wrote a lovely interview with Mark Winstanley last year (read here) and is worth to have a look. Also a visit to Wyvern Bindery is advice!!! ...

danielemiddleton | 01st February 2012 |
The name Bunhill is thought to have been derived from "Bone Hill" as the area has been a burial site for over thousand years. By the time it closed for burials in 1854 around 123.000 people had been buried here. There are over 2.500 memorials providing a history of memorial design.Between all the burials you can find the great artist and poet Willian Blake, the author Daniel Defoe and many of the Cromwell family.Bunhill Fields are an oasis of calm and greenery gardens and looking at the tombs around me I wonder the story off many that rest here.For example, the story of Willian Bousefield (on photo) that seems to not be bother and decided to put both wifes to rest together.Also I would love to know were the whole of one of the tombs (on photo) can take us? Places like Bunhill are full of stories and mysteries and that is what turns these place into a magical world....

danielemiddleton | 29th January 2012 |
The EU funded European Public Art Centre - EPAC is a collaborative engagement between organisations across Europe focusing on intersections between art, science and society. It consists of eight outdoor exhibition spaces established in participating countries that include Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Spain, Poland, UK and Iceland to establish the first ever Europe-wide contemporary art venue. Now in its second phase of the EPAC programme, artworks rotate between participating countries. In London,  Antonio Caramelo presents his artwork DREAMING OF A BUTTERFLY. By interactively utilising surrounding sound, the work produces an illusion of living butterflies inside the box.Believe me when I say: They look pretty real, a friend of mine couldn't believe they were just a "very good" work of art.Check it out @ Spitalfields - London E1 6SW...

danielemiddleton | 27th January 2012 |
When I found out about the Hardy's Tree I thought: What an amazing way for the nature to express itself!! But when you go to see the Hardy's Tree you also think about Thomas Hardy and see the poetry on the image. Maybe he was trying to make the "sittuation" a little less horrid.Before writting full time, Thomas Hardy studied architecture and during 1860s the Midland Railway was being built and the original St Pancras Churchyard was on the way of progress. The task to remove the bodies and tombs from the land was passed to Thomas and he spent many hours in Old St. Pancras Churchyard. The headstones around the Ash tree would have being placed there around this time and since them the tree has grown into what we see nowdays. ...

danielemiddleton | 24th January 2012 |
ART is great, the away people express themselfs always makes me think : What were they thinking when they did this?You find so many things around London: Banksy, Foxes and Space Invaders are my favourites. Everytime I find one it makes me happy :-). Now to be honest I simplily love all of them. I love the creativity !!!...

danielemiddleton | 19th January 2012 |
During the time of Henry VIII a law was passed that all churchs and other official clocks in the city must be painted in blue and gold and, officially at least, that law has never been rescinded, which is why city clocks are still mostly painted in the King's colours.London has numerous highly eccentric clocks - the clock at St. Dusntan's in the West with the giants beating the hours on a bell with their clubs, for example; or Fortnum and Mason's clock outside their famous shop. But perhaps the most bixarre and least known is the Law Court's clocks at Strand.What makes this clock so unusual is that it was built by an iliterate Irishman who only made clocks as a hobby, yet it is supremely accurate - in fact when complete it was said to be the most accurate clock in London. The difficulty arose when a second clock was needed and the court authorities wanted something of similar quality. Only then was it discovered that the original hadd been made by a man who - because he could not write - had kept no record of how he did it, which is why the Law Court's clock is unique and always will be....

danielemiddleton | 18th January 2012 |
The Elfin Oak of Kensington Gardens has been added to the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest following a recommendation from English Heritage. It has been listed in Grade II.Announcing the listing of the Oak, Heritage Minister Tony Banks said:"The Elfin Oak is a wonderful curiosity, loved by Londoners and visitors alike. It also has considerable historic interest. Sculpted by children's book illustrator Ivor Innes between 1928 and 1930, the Oak belongs firmly to the late Victorian interest in Little People which culminated in J M Barrie's Peter Pan. The Oak complements the statue of Peter Pan by Sir George Frampton which Barrie erected in 1912. Together, the two sculptures make Kensington Gardens very much the world capital of fairies, gnomes and elves."The oak stump came originally from Richmond Park and was thought to be some 800 years old when it was moved to Kensington Gardens in 1928. Over the next two years it was worked on by artist-illustrator Ivor Innes, who covered it with brightly-painted animals, elves and fairies, mostly carved from the oak, others probably fashioned from plaster.The tree depicts the world of the Little People, of Wookey the witch, with her three jars of health, wealth and happiness; of Huckleberry the gnome, carrying a bag of berries up the Gnomes' Stairway to the banquet within Bark Hall, of Grumples and Groodles the Elves being woken up by Brownie, Dinkie, Rumplelocks and Hereandthere stealing eggs from the crows' nest.Situated next to the children's playground by Black Lion Gate, the Elfin Oak was installed in 1930 as part of George Lansbury's inter-war scheme of improvements to public amenities in London. ...

danielemiddleton | 17th January 2012 |
In 1865, William Booth founded an Evangelical Christian movement in the East End of London. Originally known as the Christian Revival Association, it was renamed in 1870 to become the East London Christian Mission, subsequently shortened to the Christian Mission. The group was reorganised and renamed in 1878 to become the Salvation Army — affectionately known as the "Sally Ann".There is no way you can missed this sign on the corner of Whitecross Street and Old Street.On the advertisement you can read: "The Salvation Army Hostel for Working Men" . Its bottom section is trickier to decipher, but seems to say 'cheap bed and board'.One more for the collection :-) !!!...

danielemiddleton | 13th January 2012 |
Art can always surprise you and you can find the most amazing things once you open your mind to the world, but these boxes you can find around EC1.You can find art works from contemporary stencils of two local children painting with a big dog to a celebration of cycling, and anyone can apply to paint a BOX - you don't need to be a famous artist.URBAN SMART is doing it all around, from EC1 to Australia you can contribute with some inspirational work of art and transform a boring old green box into anything you fancy.If you are walking around EC1 this weekend look for them and HAVE FUN!!! After all EC1 has not only the boxes but much more to offer!!!HERE IS THE ARTISTS AND LOCATIONSFound at: Whitecross St, Old St and surroundings....

danielemiddleton | 10th January 2012 |
Nothing like walking around London and noticing something you never notice before. It really gives you an air of discovery or even adventure. After all, it is so difficult to see something "NEW" when you look so much. But then I notice that it wasn't really London, but me.I am always walking around and even though I look up and down sometimes one or other object scape my x-ray vision. Not lately though.While at Bedford Row looking for coal holes I notice this lovely iron structures in front of a house. At first it looked like an ornament to put a nice flower pot. But then I thought: It can't be "just" for a flower pot".During the weekend I went to Dean's Yard at Westminster School and another one crossed my path. Same concept but a little more design, also no "flower pot" at all. Then I also notice this lovely iron piece that it looks like a cone and it gives you the idea that it don't belong there.And while walking around Queen Anne St, Welbeck St and Cavendish Place yesterday. I finally  found out that my "flower pot" theory was quite stupid! It seems like the lights from Victorian times are gone, but these houses are keeping the past that once illuminated their porches in a very "posh" way!!PS: If you know anything else about the lovely iron works that you see here, please let me know. I would love to know more.  ...

danielemiddleton | 08th January 2012 |
Using some inspiration in the research of the origin of all the Ghost Signs I took photos of, I also came to find out a very interesting fact about this one near my house.The first thing you should know about it is that it is the FIRST I found.Do you know when you cross paths with something and suddenly it is all you see? Well, after finding this lovely green Ghost Sign many others also found me, but I never went back to this one till now. You know is not like finding a Hovis or Bovril. But turns out is even better. We all know where those come from, but the mystery of the unknown is what makes it more interesting!!! Searching around I found out that "Dutch the local house agents, 3, Broadway and at Brondesbury" is completing 112 years this year!!!The business was established in 1900 in Kilburn by two brothers unsurprisingly named 'Dutch'. They sold land and property throughout North West London to the late Victorian and Edwardian builders and developers who built many of the terraces and blocks of flats in the area. Nowadays they are known as Dutch and Dutch. just in case if you are looking for a nice place in North West London! Fun right??????? PS: Ghost Sign found at Willesden Green - High Road, NW10....

danielemiddleton | 07th January 2012 |
I never get tired of the Ghost Signs. The main reason is the adventure of discovering a new one and searching for its history and background. So many things you can discover about a simple sign.After looking over and over at the sign, I finally figured it out:LEVERETT & FRYE - Boundary Warehouse, Bottling Stores and Packing Warehouse.In one photo archive that I came across while searching for the name in London it turns out that at Powis Mews (place where I found the Ghost Sign) it used to have "a store bottle merchant". Could it be???? Also while searching for the name itself, it shows as a grocer shop at Commercial Rd. The Square. Bournemouth. Dorset. 1872 - 1913. (See photo)Leverett and Frye occupied these premises from 1872 until 1913. The terrace was formed by joining two existing buildings, that housed shops that had been trading since around 1850, including Ferrey and Son drapers and Mathew Cox grocers. Leverett and Frye closed in 1913 and a new building, home to Bobby's department store, opened in 1915, with the former Lawrence the Chemist building having been incorporated into the left hand end of the new premises. The dairy to the right remained standing and was finally demolished when Bobby's was extended in 1927. Bobby's became Debenhams in 1972.Leverett and Frye had a chain of twelve shops, mainly in the London area, including another branch in Christchurch Rd Boscombe, directly opposite Boscombe Crescent, in the premises now occupied by Argos.Searching a little more I found at The Brisbane Courier the following: "In February 1893 I read in a small book about the remarkable success which had followed the use of Mother Seigel's Syrup in cases of rheumatism and got a bottle from Leverett & Frye."I simply LOVE this mystery!!!...

danielemiddleton | 06th January 2012 |
The word 'vane' comes from the Anglo-Saxon word 'fane' meaning 'flag'. And you can see many weather vanes featuring the "flag". The Bayeux Tapestry of 1070s depicts a scene, with a man installing a weather vane with a cock on Westminster Abbey, while the dead King Edward is carried inside.The weather vane is a lovely architectural ornament to show you the direction of the wind, although not so functional one thing we can tell, it is very decorative. Often featuring the traditional cockerel design with letters indicating the points of the compass, you can find it at the highest point of a building.In the 9th century the Pope issued an edict that all churches must show the symbol of a cock on its dome or steeple, as a symbol of Jesus' prophecy of Peter's betrayal , that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed on the morning following the Last Supper. Many churches started using this symbol on its weathervanes.Top row: Chamberlayne Road, Chevening Road, Walm Lane. Middle row: Old Gloucester Road, Willesden Green Library, Gladstone ParkBottom row: Hanover Square, Tower of London, Temple Place.   ...

danielemiddleton | 05th January 2012 |
We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. (Thomas Fuller - 1732) BOSWELL ST. - At the south of the Queen Square is a cast-iron water pump dated 1840 and crowned by a later lamp with ladder bars; situated in a circular set of cobbles the base with coats of arms of St Andrew and St George and date MDCCCXL.It has a small attached wast e water trough and is surrounded by 3 Portland stone and 1 cast-iron Gothic style bollards. It is one of those good features we see in London and wonder how busy it used to be in its time. Who use it? Did the Victorians Hospitals around were one of the customers? BEDFORD ROW - This beautiful old water pump, complete with a lamp, stands in the middle of the road in Bedford Row, near to Jockey Fields and Grays Inn. Local dwellers and Lawyers would draw their water in the early 1800. Charles Dickens lived and worked closed by, so it makes me think: Would Charles Dickens have almost certainly used this pump at sometime? Everything is possible I say, and we can never really now. ...

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
If you are having a walk down Holland Park Avenue looking for all good things that London can give to you, please make sure you stop by this lovely shop.This West London Butcher established in 1850 (as you see at the original lamp outside) and has a reputation for amazing fresh meat and pies. The meat there is organic and free range, and a great deal of it is sourced from prestige estates, including Prince Charles's Highgrove.The Lidgate Butcher is at the same family hands for 5 generations and it runs for over 150 years, but while I was passing by it wasn't the meat or the daily fresh made pies that impressed me, but the original features that the shop kept: the iron work, the lamp, the amazing mozaic and lets not forget the tradition....

danielemiddleton | 31st December 2011 |
London is an amazing place to find all sorts of art. When I say art it means anything really. From amazing statues to good graffiti.This time I've notice that is time for an urban fox hunt with a difference.It’s not exactly high art, but these vulpine stencils are making quite an impact in North-West London. Sightings of the fox stencil range from Portobello Road to Camden Town and everywhere inbetween....

danielemiddleton | 29th December 2011 |
MATHEWSON.&.TIDEY'S:PATENT KILBURN - I always wonder what happen to the people that used to do the work on the coal holes. What are there family doing now? Cos i imagine they are not around anymore. Who were MATHEWSON.&.TIDEY'S ???? ...

danielemiddleton | 29th December 2011 |
Incline your head, passer-by, and peruse what you see. With some danger from passing perambulators. Not to mention incontinent sparrows and pigeons. here is a long thin coiling around. It isn't a centipede, but an unrhymed poem - Free verse at that! What is it there for - Only to prove what a cultured place. This town of ours is - isn't it? (John Heath Stubbs) While looking for a coffee shop at Notting Hill, few months back, at Stanley Gardens I found this lovely coal hole just at the pavement of what seems to have been a antique shop. There lonely was this poem waiting to be admired. But only today I found out that a very artist group came across an idea and succeeded to complete. PAVEMENT POETRY is worthy to have a look and also they provide you with the map of the others poems, or should I say coal holes? ...

danielemiddleton | 29th December 2011 |
While walking around Kilburn you always can come across to some lovely coal holes. This one "T.PICKETT IRONMONGER KILBURN". ...

danielemiddleton | 24th December 2011 |
Walking around Westminster between Parliament Sq and St. James Park I came across to "Queen's Anne Gate", built during the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain (1702 - 1714). This little "street" has not changed much, the most amazing porches I've seen with handmade carved wood. You also can see old Victorian, iron bells, excellent plaster work, a perfect statue of Queen Anne and of course a street sign that shows you the "old and new".Photos of London by Henry Dixon in the 1870s and 80s shows the square (first photo at my gallery) and apart from the hoardings and the parked cars, the square looks virtually identical to its appearance over 130 years ago....

danielemiddleton | 16th December 2011 |
Every now and then I have come across old granite horse troughs that have long outlived their original purpose but which usually have an interesting inscription behind them. Most of them are now glorified flower-beds but originally they served the philanthropic purpose of providing clean drinking water both for the local residents and for the assorted animals of London. The story of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association is an interesting one and I was surprised to read that they are still in existence - albeit in a much reduced form. I expect I'll be adding to this one over the years but here are a few that I've come across recently...

danielemiddleton | 15th December 2011 |
My favorite so far is the one with four pairs of scissors and buttons found at Brick Lane at the local textile trade. It does look old but it is only 16 years old and it was made by the artist, Keith Bowler, who lived in Spitalfields for many years, designed them and had them cast locally.  ...

danielemiddleton | 14th December 2011 |
The 'Spotted Dog' existed by 1762, and was described as "a well accustomed Public House" in 1792.  In the 19th century it was famous for its pleasure gardens and in the 1920s it boasted a dance hall. Although there were some "verie welthie" persons in Willesden in Elizabeth I's reign these were almost certainly only local farmers. The area was entirely rural and the population would have consisted of agricultural labourers.If you ask a taxi Drive to take you to Willesden Green High Road they don't really know. But if you ask them to take you to "The Spotted Dog" they will know. This pub was famous with everyone around London, but during the 1980's it started going down the road. Even my mother in law, that is not really keen in pubs, told me she used to go every Sunday for the Roast. I moved to London 6 years ago and 4 years ago I moved just opposite this jewel of Willesden Green, the building is amazing but the public not so great. They closed it down and the place started been occupied by all sorts of people (hippies, artists, crazy) until finally the partial demolition and now is being transformed into 44 flats. It was a sad day for the history of Willesden Green, but the transformation of the pub will bring to the place a new era a new view. That's all I hope.  ...

danielemiddleton | 13th December 2011 |
200 years ago this area was completely rural, with woods and farmland. The Finch family, one of the two important local families, bought up several pieces of land to make the Dollis Hill Estate. This included two farms, with the main farmhouse north of Dollis Hill Lane and the smaller one opposite it on the south. The farms around Willesden were well known for their hay, grown for the horses of London, and there were dairy farms producing milk. In 1825 the family had enough money to replace the smaller farmhouse with a new house, named Dollis Hill House.In 1881 Lord Tweedmouth's daughter and her husband, Lord and Lady Aberdeen, moved in and they used it as a summer residence for 16 years. The Aberdeens were old friends of William Gladstone, who was Prime Minister for much of this time, and he frequently stayed with them for weekends, and sometimes for longer periods. Dollis Hill was particularly quiet and restful for a place so close to London, and Mr Gladstone, who was in his seventies by then, used to say that he felt better there than at any other place.  In 1897 Lord Aberdeen was appointed Governor-General of Canada and the Aberdeens moved out. In 1899 Willesden Urban District Council decided that they needed to acquire another public open space before all the land was built over. The south of Dollis Hill Lane were bought from Robert Finch, who continued to farm the land to the north of the lane. William Gladstone had died the year before, so they decided to name the park in his honour, the park was opened by Lord Aberdeen on 25th May 1901. Hugh Gilzean-Reid occupied the house after the Aberdeens moved out. He was a wealthy newspaper proprietor, and made some extensions. He continued to live in the house after it had been bought by the council, and he invited Mark Twain, the American author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, to stay in the summer of 1900. Twain wrote that he had "never seen any place that was so satisfactorily si...

danielemiddleton | 12th December 2011 |
I was just thinking the other day that I haven't seen any 'new' bootscrapers for a while; just the same designs repeated over and over. I walk about mentally saying, 'got that one, got that one' (how sad!).But I had to go for an interview at South Kensington and I had some time before it so I went for a walk and I came accross to Thurloe Square, a traditional garden square in South Kensington.There are private communal gardens in the centre of the square for use by the local residents. But what really makes Thurloe Square special is all the old features that you still can see around the houses and you can spott lots of lovely bits of ironwork along the street as well.Top: Victorian gate with iron bells.Middle: CoalholesBottom: Boot Scrappers...

danielemiddleton | 08th December 2011 |
Here is some of the many photos of Victorian Coalholes that I found around London. My favourite so far is the one with four pairs of scissors and buttons found at Brick Lane at the local textile trade. It does look old but it is only 16 years old and it was made by the artist, Keith Bowler, who lived in Spitalfields for many years, designed them and had them cast locally.As I said before the "coalholes" are a hatch in the pavement above an underground coal bunker. But to me, they are a proof that we walk in the past of this amazing city sometimes not realizing how great it is....

danielemiddleton | 07th December 2011 |
Approximately 10m up in the air on the side of a building in central London the street piece depicts a girl plummeting to earth with a shopping trolley.Could this be my first Banksy???...

danielemiddleton | 04th December 2011 |
Horse Guards Parade was formerly the site of the Palace of Whitehall's, where tournaments (including jousting) were held in the time of Henry VIII.But nowdays things are different and I will tell you why.Was a sunny day in London and I decided to go "hunting for bootscrappers" in the area of Whitehall/House Guards. Walking around this amazing place I came across to one very old bootscrapper, but unfortunetly it was behind of one of the House Guards "Guard" and one of those that never moves and never talks and just stand still and have to be super patient because of the amount of tourist that loves taking photos with them, that loves making funny faces to them and trying to make them laugh.Well, even though it was a sunny day, for some reason all the pathetic tourists weren't around and standing there was the Standing Still Guard and me. So I did what was the right thing to do....I walked towards the Guard with my Cannon ready to go. For some reason it felt like he knew what I was up to. I walked towards him, passed through him and went straight to the old bootscrapper.And that was when it happen. While I was taking photo of the rusty, old, antique bootscrapper the Standing Still Guard turned towards me and talks:- Hey, what you doing?I answered: - Taking photo of the bootscrapper.- You know that this isn't the reason of why people comes to Whitehall and The House Guards? Do you know you were suppose to be taking photos of me?I laughed: - Well, maybe it is the reason of why tourists come over, but it isnt the reason of I came over.- If you want to you can take a photo with me.With my eyebrown raised I answered: - Darling, if in 200 years after the change of many kings and queens you still stand here and still being used for the same reason then it will be a good reason for me to come over and take a photo of you. For now, the bootscrapper is more important....

danielemiddleton | 03rd December 2011 |
Don't you just love when London put the lights up and decoration all around?Which place in London you love the most during Xmas time? My favourite place is Covent Garden, no place like the Market full of magic and amazing decoration. Also, Selfridges windows are so creative and you can't let the bussy street take the amazing view from you.Put your best pair of shoes, your xmas hats and scarfs and enjoy the walking around while wainting for the snow!!!!...

danielemiddleton | 30th November 2011 |
Born in Lambeth, London, the son of a Welsh millwright, Nash trained with the architect Sir Robert Taylor. He established his own practice in 1777, but his career was initially unsuccessful and short-lived. After inheriting £1000 in 1778 from his uncle Thomas, he invested the money in building his first known independent works, 66-71 Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury (See photos).But the property failed to let and he was declared bankrupt in 1783 and left London. John Nash is responsible for many buildings around London and I am sure that you must have one favorite. He is responsible for the Buckingham Palace, Royal Mews, St James Park, Regent Street and many others. Nash's career effectively ended with the death of George IV in 1830. Nash's career effectively ended with the death of George IV in 1830....

danielemiddleton | 23rd November 2011 |
This is the High Road at Willesden Green. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon Willesdune, meaning The Hill of the Spring, and a settlement bearing this name dates back to 939 AD. The Domesday Book of 1086 records it as Wellesdone. The town's motto is Laborare est orare. ("to labour is to pray").I got this "old photo" at the Queens Park day and it shows the Willesden Green - High Road back in 1905. If you look closely at this amazing photo you will see at the left side a sign saying: Brovril Sold Here (near to a clock) and while passing by I notice that at the year 2011 the sign still there, isn't it just fascinating? ...

danielemiddleton | 18th October 2011 |
Located at 3 St. James Street since 1698, Berry Brothers. & Rudd is Britain's oldest wine merchant. The shop has the quality of a (very expensive) museum. Its underground cellars, previously part of Henry VIII's royal residence and later a hideout for the exiled Napoleon III (the famous Napoleon's nephew) have been converted into meeting rooms.However, a secret tunnel, now blocked by wine bottles, leads to St. James Palace. It was used by philandering royals to pay clandestine visits to the ladies of the night who hung out at the shop in the 18th century. Or perhaps they just wanted a nightcap....

danielemiddleton | 17th October 2011 |
Pay close attention when looking for this tiny courtyard tucked away behind swank St. James Street. If the gate is closed, the only indication you are at Pickering Place is the number 3 on it. The narrow, arched alleyway leading to the courtyard retains its 18th century timber wainstcoting.A relatively unspoil Georgian cul-de-sac still lit by original gaslights, Pickering Place is named after William Pickering, the founder of a coffee business in the premises now occupied by the famous wine merchants Berry Bros and Rudd.In the 18th century, Pickering Place was notorious for its gambling dens. Its seclusion also made it a favourite spot for duels, although the limeted space suggests that fooling around with a kind of weapon - let alone pistols - would have been instantly fatal. It is claimed tht the last duel in England was fought here, although an episode with pistols between two Frenchmen at Windsor in 1852 is more likely contender.Graham Greene, who lived in a flat in Pickering Place, housed his fictional character Colonel Daintry from The Human Factor in two-roomed flat looking out over the paved courtyard with its sundial. In real life, Pickering Place was the base of the diplomatic office of the independent Republic of Texas, before it joined the United States in 1845. ...

danielemiddleton | 15th October 2011 |