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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 |
The Holland House was built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope, a courtier of King James I, and was known as Cope Castle.It presided over a 500 acres estate that stretched from Holland Park Avenue to the current site of Earl's Court tube station, and contained exotic trees imported by John Tradescant the Younger.Following its completion, Cope entertained the king and queen at it numerous times; in 1608, John Chamberlain, the noted author of letters, complained that he was "not allowed to touch even a cherry because the queen was expected".Following the death of King James I's son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales in November 1612, he spent the night at Cope Castle, being joined the following day by his son Prince Charles and granddaughter Princess Elizabeth, and Frederick V, Elector Palatine.Cope's son-in-law, Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland eventually inherited the house. He was later beheaded for his Royalist activities during the Civil War and the house was then used as an army headquarters, being regularly visited by Oliver Cromwell. After the war, it was owned by various members of the family and renamed Holland House. In 1719, Joseph Addison, the English essayist, poet and politician, died in the building.Holland House passed to the Edwardes family in 1721. Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland died at Holland House in 1774 and thereafter it was inherited by his descendants until the title became extinct with the death of Henry Edward Fox, 4th Baron Holland in 1859; however, his widow continued to live there for many years, gradually selling off outlying parts of the park for development.In 1874, the estate passed to a distant Fox cousin, Henry Fox-Strangways, 5th Earl of Ilchester. Through his son Charles James Fox it became the social centre of the Whig Party in the 19th Century.Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and King George VI attended the last great ball held at the house a few weeks before the outbreak of World War II. In September 1940, the buildi...

danielemiddleton | 10th October 2011 |
In 1827 the Licensed Victuallers' Asylum was founded, on six acres of freehold land lying just off the Old Kent Road. It consists of a group of onestoreyed houses, chapel, chaplain's residence, board and court rooms, library, &c., set round two green lawns. The Duke of Sussex was its first patron in 1827, and he was succeeded by the Prince Consort, on whose death the Prince of Wales assumed the office. The idea of establishing an institution wherein the distressed members of the licensed victuallers' trade, and their wives or widows, might be enabled to spend the latter part of their days in peace and quietness, was conceived by the late Mr. Joseph Proud Hodgson, in the year 1826, when he called a meeting of several influential gentlemen in the trade, and ventilated his views; and, after serious consideration, it was determined that a society should be formed under the title of the Licensed Victuallers' Asylum.Subscriptions were solicited, and the hearty response that was accorded to the scheme by those most deeply interested in its success enabled the committee to purchase the land above mentioned, upon which it was resolved to erect an asylum, to consist of one hundred and one separate houses, containing three rooms each, besides the requisite conveniences. In May, 1828, the foundation-stone was laid, with full Masonic honours, by the Duke of Sussex, in the presence of a distinguished company, many of whom in after years exhibited a sincere attachment to the institution. At this time it was determined by the promoters of the institution to erect the central portion of the building, to consist of forty-three houses, which were perfected, and speedily became the abode of as many deserving individuals.The applicants for admission being numerous, it was deemed advisable to perfect the asylum as early as circumstances would permit, and consequently, in the year 1831, the south wing was erected, and in 1833 the north wing, thus completing the original design of t...

danielemiddleton | 05th October 2011 |
Tucked away on Marlborough Gate, beside St. James' Palace, is this dreamy (but not necessarily in a pleasant way) Art Nouveau memorial to Queen Alexandra, long-suferring wife of King Edward VII.Commissioned in 1926, the memorial was sculpted by Alfred Gilbert, who created the famous statue of Eros on Picadilly Circus.The memorial is set into the garden wall of Marlborough House, once Queen Alexandra's London home. Cast in bronze and finished in blackened enamel, the statue has a ghostly, neo-Gothic apperance. The Queen is seated behind allegorical figures representing faith, hope and charity....

danielemiddleton | 26th September 2011 |
GEORGE VILLIERS, DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM's - on the wall of York Place, next to Mc Donalds on the Strand, is a grimy little plaque commemorating the strange street's original name, Of Alley.The second Duke of Buckingham sold york House to developers in 1672, but made it a condition of the sale that his name and the title should be commemorated by George Street, Villiers Street,Duke Street, Of Alley and Buckingham Street (thus spelling out George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham).The streets are still there, though Of Alley was renamed York Place and George Street is now York Buildings.PS: London brings you all the little amazing secrets from the past if you look into it....

danielemiddleton | 21st September 2011 |
Last Vestige of a riverside mansion....The enclosure of the Thames within the Embankment in the second half of the 19th century is generally hel to be a miracle of Victorian engineering, giving London a state-of-the-art water system as well as creating more land for building. (See the photo of before).However, it dramatically changed the city's relantionship to the river, and nowhere is this more visible than this watergate in Embankment  Gardens, tucked away beside Charing Cross Station. At first sight, the baroque archway looks like a folly, a gate to nowhere marooned in a small park. In fact, it was once the river entrance to York House, one of the a line of mansions that originally stood along the route from the City of London t the royal at Westminster. The River now lies 150 metres from to bottom step of the watergate, giving an idea of how far into the city the tidal Thames previously extended. If you stand on the opposite embankment at high tide, especially near Blackfriars Bridge on the South Bank, the height of the water is closeness to the lip of the wall both underline the river's power.The watergate itself was created by Inigo Jones in 1620, as an extension to the palace built by the first Duke of Buckingham in 1620. The design looks florid in comparision to its surroundings, and still bears the Buckingham family coat of arms. Alongside Banqueting House and the Temple Arch next to St. Pauls, its one of the few surviving reminders in London of the Italianate tastes of King Charles I. The second Duke of Buckingham was the King's favourite and one of London's wealthiest landworners. Like the King, the Duke was an art lover. The 1635 inventory of his collection shows 22 paintings and 59 pieces of Roman sculputure in the Great Chamber alone. Gentileschi and Rubens both lodge at the house during their visits to London....

danielemiddleton | 16th September 2011 |
The British Empire may be defunct, but Gentlemen's Club still reign supreme in this upper crust corner of London. Both the Athenaeum Vlub and the Institute of Directors preside over Waterloo Place, their lavish interiors off limits to the hoi polloi. Outside each is a pair of kerb stones, bearing a rusty plaque: "This horseblock was erected by desire of the Duke of Wellington 1830". Possibly recycled from materials from Carlton House or the Duke of York Steps, they allowed the Duke to mount and dismount from his horse with ease while visiting the Athenaeum. Whether the shorter members of the club were also permitted to take advantage of the Duke's steps is unknown....

danielemiddleton | 30th August 2011 |
On the pavements outside well-off Victorian houses you often find theses round metal shapes - they are covering holes, trought which Victorian households had their coal delivered.Victorian families in this area burnt coal in fires to heat their houses and ovens (it was before central heating!). Rather than dragging dirty coal sacks through people's homes, the coalmen used to drop it from their horse-drawn carts through this hatch straight into the cellar.Scullery maids would the move the coal from the cellar to the fires and clean the house of all the dust created by burning coal (a very hard job!)The hatch is typically about 12 to 14 inches (30 to 35 cm) in diameter and consists of a cast iron ring set into the pavement, with a circular cover, often made of cast iron alone but sometimes containing concrete or glass panes or small ventilation holes. There are three main reasons for the circular shape of the coal hole plate: a circular disc can not accidentally fall through its own hole (unlike a square or rectangular one); its weight means that it can be rolled rather than carried or lifted; and the absence of corners allows for a reduced risk of damage to it. Hatches have an internal latch that prevents the cover being lifted from the outside. On some streets there are a variety of types of cover reflecting the fact that the coal holes were installed at different times by different builders after the houses were built....

danielemiddleton | 27th August 2011 |
The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court is at the heart of Somerset House - a dignified courtyard with a mischievous streak.The array of jets dance in an orchestrated sequence, with added coloured lighting at night - a refreshing surprise on a warm summer day.The fountains are normally switched on for spring and summer months, except when events take place in the courtyard which require them to be off; during Xmas time the space is taken by an amazing Ice Ring.To be honest nothing really matters, if you are near Somerset House during the Summer do this: Take your shoes off and run around the fountains...you will never be the same. Run like when you were a kid and nothing matter, run like crazy, run and get wet and laugh loud....

danielemiddleton | 09th August 2011 |
Between Buckingham Palace Road and Lower Grosvenor Place is this cute place called "Victoria Square".Victoria Square was built in 1839 and named after the new queen. Victoria was only 18 when she became queen and there is a statue in the square (mde in 2007) of her at the start of her reign, wearing typical fashions from the time.Despite recent renovations, Victoria Square includes some Victorias features: Coal holes, tiled doorsteps, boot scraper and cast-iron railings. Originally railings were painted in different colours, but many were painted black following the death of Prince Albert, Victoria's husband in 1861. The houses are typical Victorians layout - the servant's quarters would have been in the attic and the kitchen in the basement, with the families' rooms in between....

danielemiddleton | 24th July 2011 |
I love finding old quirky bits of London, and came across this recently: a milestone, just outside the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, opposite the entrance to Hyde Park.Milestones have a very long and important history, from the days of the Romans until the 19th century, when they were the direction signs of their day. They were also used for keeping coaches on schedule in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and were used as the basis for postal charges until a standard postal rate was introduced in 1840.From 1888, local authorities took over the responsibility for major roads from the turnpike trusts, and with it responsibility for the upkeep of milestones. This example, a triangular design (presumably in cast iron) by the City of Westminster from 1911, is relatively late, and is a rare survivor in London. It points from Hyde Park Corner to Hounslow - clearly an important place in 1911!...

danielemiddleton | 15th July 2011 |
What are Ghostsigns? Ghostsigns are the typically faded remains of advertising that was once painted by hand onto the brickwork of buildings.  They can be found in cities, towns and villages across the country advertising many different products and services, some familiar, some less so.The ones on this photos I found in the areas around Kilburn High and Willesden Green....

danielemiddleton | 15th July 2011 |
Victorian taxis were horse-drawn carriages. Taxi drivers were not allowed to leave their carriage unattended, so when they needed a meal or protection from the weather, they used to head for the pub - often paying a child to look after their horse while they were inside. Members of the Temperance Movement, a Victorian group against excessive alcohool, built these shelters as an alternative to the pub. As they were on busy roads they couldn't take up too much space (they weren't allowed to be bigger than a horse and cart) yet they squeezed in a kitchen and a room for 13 people to sit down. Many are still used for the same purpose today. ...

danielemiddleton | 05th July 2011 |
The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association was an association set up in London by Samuel Gurney an MP and philanthropist and Edward Thomas Wakefield, a barrister in 1859 to provide free drinking water. Originally called the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association it changed its name to include cattle troughs in 1867, to also support animal welfare.The Society was inaugurated in 1859 with the requirement "That no fountain be erected or promoted by the Association which shall not be so constructed as to ensure by filters, or other suitable means, the perfect purity and coldness of the water."Gradually the association became more widely accepted, benefitting from its association with Evangelical Christianity and the Temperance movement. Beer was the main alternative to water, and generally safer. The temperance societies had no real alternative as tea and coffee were too expensive, so drinking fountains were very attractive. Many were sited opposite public houses. The evangelical movement was encouraged to build fountains in churchyards to encourage the poor to see churches as supporting them. Many fountains have inscriptions such as "Jesus said whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again but whosoever drinketh of the water I shall give him shall never thirst". By 1877, the association was widely accepted and Queen Victoria donated money for a fountain in Esher.The surviving cattle troughs are mainly large granite ones, in many cases planted with flowers. Earlier designs were of cast iron or zinc lined timber, but both were too easily damaged.The association survives as the Drinking Fountain Association and received a National Lottery grant to build more fountains in 2000, and to restore existing ones. It now builds drinking fountains in schools, restores existing fountains and provides wells and other water projects in developing countries. Much of the archival material is at the Museum of London....

danielemiddleton | 29th June 2011 |
Devonshire House was built on the site of Berkeley House, which John, Lord Berkeley, erected at a cost of over £30,000 on his return from his tenure of the viceroyalty of Ireland; it was constructed from 1665 to 1673. The house was later occupied by Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, a mistress of Charles II. The house, a classical mansion built by Hugh May, had been purchased by William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1697 and subsequently renamed Devonshire House.Devonshire House in Piccadilly was the London residence of the Dukes of Devonshire in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was built for William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire in the Palladian style, to designs by William Kent. Completed circa 1740, empty after World War I, it was demolished in 1924.In 1897, the house was the location of a large fancy dress ball celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The guests, including Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and The Princess of Wales, were dressed as historical portraits come to life. The many portrait photographs taken at the ball serve to illustrate countless books documenting the social history of the late Victorian era.Before the early 20th century, many of Britain's peers maintained large London houses which carried their name, As a ducal house (only in mainland Europe were such houses referred to as palaces) Devonshire House was one of the largest and grandest, ranking alongside Burlington House, Montague House, Lansdowne House, Londonderry House Northumberland House and Norfolk House. All of these, like most of the great London free-standing houses are now long demolished, apart from Burlington and Lansdowne (which have both been substantially altered).Today, the site is occupied by offices, known as Devonshire House; if the original Devonshire House stood, it would be a Listed building, considered of national importance.Some of the paintings and furniture are now at the Devonshire's principal seat, Chatsworth House. Sur...

danielemiddleton | 26th May 2011 |
First built in 1793 for Catholic seamen at the nearby Royal Hospital, the church was later rebuilt in 1851 by Willian Wilkinson Wardell, with interior designs by Augustus Pugin.The congregation was largely Irish-born, but also included sailors from Portugal, the Cape Verde islands, and as far away as Brazil and India.Greenwich is a place that has a long and almost insuperable history with maritime affairs, ships and the sea. This church, on the hill, overlooks the wide expanses of the River Thames and the Royal Naval College below. For generations the congregation of this small and ancient church has been made up of citizens of Greenwich who have had a connection to the boats that pass by on the river. Today, although much of the seafaring has ended, the people who worship there still remember their church's history. ...

danielemiddleton | 26th May 2011 |
Queen Caroline was the Princess Di of her day - married to her unfaithful husband King George IV. When he decided to leave her the decision made him very unpopular throughout the kingdom. Caroline was already a Brunswick Princess before marrying George; it is said the marriage was arranged to pay large gambling debts.Caroline first arrived in England in 1795 and George was shocked to see that she was no oil painting. She gave birth to a daughter Princess Charlotte of Wales in 1796, they lived separated lives and she was never crowned Queen, by which time George was back to his old ways of having mistresses. Caroline moved from the Royal palace to Montague House on Blackheath (Greenwich) in 1797, doing the same as her husband by having orgies and suchlike, but Princess Caroline was lively, fun-loving and a keen gardener.One of the Prince Regent's complaints was that she rarely washed, and that she changed her undergarments 'only infrequently', that personal hygiene was an alien concept, and that she ate raw onions! Caroline died in 1821 and Napoleon died the same year. When a courtier rushed to tell George 'Sire, your greatest enemy is dead!', he replied 'No, by God! Is she?'.In the August of 1804 she decided to leave England for good and live in exile abroad - which is what George had been waiting for. So as to have no reminder of his wife's pleasurable parties he ordered the demolition of Montague House saying he w anted it razed to the ground. Obeying his wish the house was demolished, though the bits beneath the ground were overlooked. It was not until 1909 that the sunken bath was discovered. It can still be seen inside Greenwich Park along the Eastern Wall near the Charlton way entrance.  ...

danielemiddleton | 09th May 2011 |
The City of London inside of the square mile has many pumps and wells which have blended in nicely with our modern day buildings. Although they are no longer in use they still have a certain amount of charm and quaintness. Many of these old pumps long ago were a necessity, and large amounts of people I am sure, would have queued along with cattle, to refresh themselves.This water pump standing on Cornhill, was used to water the horses in Victorian times, and was a replacement for the first mechanically pumped public water supply in London. Constructed here in 1582 on the site of an even earlier hand-pump, the mechanism a force pump driven by a water wheel under the northernmost arch of London Bridge, transferred water from the Thames through lead pipes to four outlets.A cast iron grade II listed water pump with granite trough, outside The Royal Exchange. Each side has a fire insurance emblem. Phoenix, County, Sun and Royal Exchange.The inscription on this side states: On This Spot a Well Was First Made and a House of Correction Built Thereon by Henry Wallis Mayor of London in the Year 1282.On the other side it states: The Well Was Discovered Much Enlarged and This Pump Erected in the Year 1799 by the Contributions of The Bank of England and The East India Company The Neighbouring Fire Offices Together With the Bankers and Traders of the Ward of CornhillStanding at Cornhill this Water Pump not only represents the past history but also of how many times in our rushing lifes we never have time to just stop and look at simple things in life that can tell us so much of the past. London is this amazing City and would be great to have more people looking around as well....

danielemiddleton | 06th May 2011 |
++ To my Friend Martina Mihalciakova Melkonian ++The original church was built around 1100 in the gothic style, but was severely damaged in the Great Fire of London. Rather than being completely rebuilt, the damaged church was patched up and a steeple, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, added. This was unusual in that Wren designed it in the gothic style to match the old church. There is a story that during a storm someone once hurried to tell Wren that all of his steeples had been damaged. 'Not St. Dunstan's,' he replied confidently. However, by the early 19th century the church was in a very poor state and was rebuilt by David Laing, with assistance by William Tite. Wren's steeple was retained in the new building.The church was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941. Wren's tower and steeple survived the bombs intact. Of the rest of the church only the north and south walls remained. In the re-organisation of the Anglican Church in London following the War it was decided not to rebuild St Dunstan's, and in 1967 the City of London Corporation decided to turn the ruins of the church into a public garden, which opened in 1971. A lawn and trees were planted in the ruins, with a low fountain in the middle of the nave. The tower now houses the All Hallows House Foundation.The parish is now combined with the Benefice of All Hallows by the Tower and occasional open-air services are held in the church, such as on Palm Sunday prior to a procession to All Hallows by the Tower along St Dunstan's Hill and Great Tower Street. The ruin was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950. ...

danielemiddleton | 29th April 2011 |
This famous Pub, which was built in the 1520s, in the reign of King Henry VIII, proclaims itself to be the oldest riverside inn and has successfully served patrons during the reigns of 22 different Monarchs.This historic Pub still retains its original 400 years old flagstone floor and boasts a very rare pewter bar top. The Pub has a small garden terrace which overlooks the Thames and a comfortable Riverside lounge, from where there are good views of the River and also of the famous gallows.The Prospect of Whitby was originally named "The Devil's Tavern". As the original name suggests, the Pub had strong associations with sea rovers, sailors, pirates, thieves, smugglers and all types of "low life", who were associated with the River.The bodies of drowned men were often found along this stretch of the River. Several of theses men had, in fact, been customers of the many nearby Riverside pubs and inns. The poor men, after drinking too much ale, would be bundled into a small boat and taken out to the centre of the River and thrown overboard to drown. After victims had drowned, their bodies were retrieved and sold to medical schools and student doctors to be used for study.During the late 1600s, one frequent visitor at The Prospect of Whitby was the infamous "hanging judge" Jeffreys, who lived close by in Butchers Row. The Judge became notorious for his brutality and had a liking for executions - he sentenced to hang at least 300 men (and transported at least another 800) after the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. After condemning the men deathm it is said that the Judge would come here, sit on the rear balcony, and enjoy his lunch, while watching the men, whom he had condemned, hang at Execution Dock. The Judge must have been good at his job, because as a reward, King James II gave him a peerage. When James II was overthrown in 1688, Judge Jeffreys lost his privileged royal protection and became a wanted man.From all the famous visitors at the Pub we have, Charles Dickens, S...

danielemiddleton | 23rd April 2011 |
The Tower of All Hallows Staining, dated c1320, is believed to be part of the second church on this side.The second church survived the Great Fire of 1666, althought the adjacent Clothworkers' Hall was razed to the ground. In 1671 the church collapsed owing, it is thought, to weaking of the foundations caused by the large number of burials in the adjoining churchyard.Rebuilt in 1674, it was finally pulled down in 1870 on the amalgamation of the Parish of All Hallows with the Parish of St Olave, Hart Street.Between 1948 and 1954 the Tower formed the chanel of a pre-fabricated church, known as St. Olave, Mark Lane, substituing for St.Olave, Hart Street which had been gutted during the Second World War....

danielemiddleton | 22nd April 2011 |
So much a part of our streets that we tend to take them for granted, the bright red free-standing pillar box is still a unique feature of Britain. Introduced in 1853 – in green but painted crimson from 1874 – the ruling monarch’s cypher is the best guide to their age. London’s first was at the corner of Fleet Street and Farringdon Street.Traditionally UK post boxes carry the Latin initials of the reigning monarch at the time of their installation: in this case VR for Victoria Regina or in the case of a male regent, e.g., GR for George Rex.Edward VII: 1901-1910 - About 6 per cent of UK boxes have the ER VII cypher, which also introduced the crown. The main change is the posting slot in the door to stop mail getting caught up in the top. The aperture was now rainproof, and this same design has continued through the reigns of George V and George VI to the present day.George V: 1910-1936 - The mystery of George V is why there is no ‘V” in his cypher. In 1924 oval enamel signs were added to some boxes pointing to the nearest post office. Much subject to vandalism and now valuable collectors items, there are few such signs left in the wildEdward VIII: 1936 - The abdication of  Edward VIII left few pillar boxes in his name as, although 161 were made, most were vandalised or had the cypher ground off. There are perhaps 15 left  in London.While walking aroung today I found one GR, ERVII (King Edward VII), GRVI (King George VI), ERII (Queen Elizabeth II),VR (Queen Victoria). I know that is crazy but is very excited to found in the streets of London part of its history in such a great shape....

danielemiddleton | 21st April 2011 |
Staple Inn is a building on the south side of High Holborn in London, England. Located near Chancery Lane tube station, it is used as the London office of the Institute of Actuaries and is the last surviving Inn of Chancery and is a listed building.It was originally attached to Gray's Inn, which is one of the four Inns of Court. The Inns of Chancery fell into decay in the 19th century. All of them were dissolved, and most were demolished. Staple Inn is the only one that survives largely intact.Staple Inn dates from 1585. The building was once the wool staple, where wool was weighed and taxed. It survived the Great Fire of London, was extensively damaged by a Nazi German Luftwaffe aerial bomb on the 24th August 1944, but was subsequently restored. It has a distinctive timber-framed façade, cruck roof and an internal courtyard.The Hall was rebuilt in its original form in 1955, incorporating timber and other materials saved from the old building.The historic interiors include a great hall. Much of the building is used by the Institute of Actuaries. The ground floor street frontage is let to shops and restaurants who are required to use quieter signage than they do on less sensitive buildings.I passed so many times in front of the entrance of this building and I never had the courage to go inside, this time I did and it was totally worth because you just can't believe that at a such busy environment you suddenly have a place like this, calm, silence and so beautiful....

danielemiddleton | 18th April 2011 |
The word "Mews" comes from Saxon times when falconry was an essencial part of a noble upbringing. The change of the plumage was referred as Mewing and during this period the birds were caged and these cages and the accomodation for the falconers was know as "Mews".From 1377 onwards the King's falconry birds were kept in the King's Mews at Charing Cross (site of today's National Gallery - Trafalgar Square). But in 1537 when a fire destroyed King Henry's VII stables (located in the area now known as Bloomsbury) the King decided to take his horses and carriages to his Mews at Charing Cross and moved all his birds somewhere else. Was then when the royal stables became Royal Mews.Those were the times where the King were a iconic person and the whole weath people want to be like. And if the King have his horses and carriages at a Mews we should also change the name of our stables as well. For that day on all the stables where know as Mews.Mews lost their equestrian function in the early 20th century when motor cars were introduced. At the same time, after World War I and especially after World War II, the number of people who could afford to live in the type of houses which had a mews attached fell sharply. Some mews were demolished or put to commercial use, but the majority were converted into homes. These "mews houses", nearly always located in the wealthiest districts, are themselves now fashionable residences....

danielemiddleton | 12th April 2011 |
Brick Lane must be one of the most famous streets of London. Situated at East End London, Brick Lane is known for its great hip public and art at every corner.Winding through fields, the street was formerly called Whitechapel Lane but derives its current name from former brick and tile manufacture, using the local brick earth deposits, that began in the 15th century. By the 17th century, the street was being built up from the south. Successive waves of immigration began with Huguenot refugees spreading from Spitalfields, where the master weavers were based, in the 17th century. They were followed by Irish, Ashkenazi Jews and, in the last century, Bangladeshis. The area became a centre for weaving, tailoring and the clothing industry, due to the abundance of semi- and unskilled immigrant labour.Brewing came to Brick Lane before 1680, with water drawn from deep wells. One brewer was Joseph Truman, who is first recorded in 1683, but his family, particularly Benjamin Truman, went on to establish the sizeable Black Eagle Brewery on Brick Lane.The Brick Lane Market, developed in the 17th century for fruit and vegetables, sold outside the city. The Sunday market, like the ones on Petticoat Lane and nearby Columbia Road, dates from a dispensation given to the Jewish community. It is centred around the junction with Cheshire Street and Sclater Street and sells bric-a-brac as well as fruit, vegetables and many other items. Nearer to the junction with Hanbury Street are two indoor markets; Upmarket and Backmarket. The Brick Lane Farmers' Market opened every Sunday in nearby Bacon Street on the 6th June 2010.Emma Elizabeth Smith was viciously assaulted and robbed in Osborn Street, the part of Brick Lane that meets Whitechapel High Street, in the early hours of 3 April 1888. It was one of the first of the eleven Whitechapel Murders, some of which were attributed to the serial killer, Jack the Ripper.In 1742, La Neuve Eglise, a Huguenot chapel, was built on the corn...

danielemiddleton | 11th April 2011 |
Invader (born 1969) is a French urban artist who pastes up characters from and inspired by the Space Invaders game, made up of small coloured square tiles that form a mosaic. He does this in cities across the world, then documents this as an "Invasion", with books and maps of where to find each invader.Invader started this project in 1998 with the invasion of Paris - the city where he lives and the most invaded city to date - and then spread the invasion to 31 other cities in France, and for my luck he also invaded London, Cologne, Geneva, Newcastle, Rome , Berlin, Lausanne, Barcelona, Bonn, Ljubljana, Vienna, Amsterdam, Bilbao, Manchester, Darlington are among the 22 other European cities which have been invaded. In the world, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, Bangkok, Tokyo, Katmandu, Varanasi, Melbourne, Perth and even Mombasa are now invaded with his colourful characters in mosaic tiles.The mosaics depict characters from Space Invaders and other video games from the late 1970s. The images in these games were made with fairly low-resolution graphics, and are therefore suitable for reproduction as mosaics, with tiles representing the pixels. The tiles are difficult to damage and weather-resistant.Invader installed his first mosaic in the mid 1990s in Paris. According to the artist, it was a scout, or sentinel, because it remained the only one for several years. The programme of installations began in earnest in 1998.The locations for the mosaics are not random, but are chosen according to diverse criteria, which may be aesthetic, strategic or conceptual. Invader favours locations that are frequented by many people, but also likes some more hidden locations. In Montpellier, the locations of mosaics were chosen so that, when placed on a map, they form an image of a giant space invader character.The mosaics are half built in advance. When Invader arrives in a city he obtains a map and spends at least a week to install them. They are catalogued, pictur...

danielemiddleton | 29th March 2011 |
Ghost Signs are defined as "remains of advertising that was once painted by hand onto the brickwork of buildings".My love for the Ghost Signs has grown in the past years. I use to see them and not really care about it, but lately everytime I see one I  have to stop, take some photos and just start imagining how it was long time ago.If you see one "ghost sign" around the city is just like opening a door, with time you will start noticing them more often. If you find one lost and abandoned take a photo....believe me at some point you will have more then you imagine.And also try to figure out the whole advertisiment, some of them (like the one in from of a shop that I took) really gives you nice clues.London is a city that will always give you something to do. Just embrace it!!!...

danielemiddleton | 26th March 2011 |
In 1539, Edward Seymour obtained a grant of land at "Chester Place, outside Temple Bar, London" from Henry VIII of England. When the sickly boy-king Edward VI of England came to the throne in 1547, Seymour became Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector.About 1549 he pulled down an old Inn of Chancery and other houses that stood on the site and began to build himself a truly imposing residence, but after a lot of money and in the struggle for power he was overthrown and in 1552 paid with his head on Tower Hill. "Somerset Place" then came into the possession of the Crown and was used by Princess Elizabeth for some years before she was crowned Elizabeth I of England in 1558.In the 17th century the house was used as a residence by the Queens of James I, Charles I, and Charles II. During the reign of James I (also James VI King of Scots), the building became the London residence of his wife Anne of Denmark and was renamed "Denmark House". She commissioned a number of expensive additions and improvements, some to designs by Inigo Jones. In particular, during the period between 1630 and 1635 he built a Chapel where Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I, could exercise her Roman Catholic religion. This was in the care of the Capuchin Order and was on a site to the south-west of the Great Court. A small cemetery was attached and some of the tombstones are still to be seen built into one of the walls of a passage under the present quadrangle. (Check some of the photos)Many names passed by this site, for example, Oliver Cromwell's body lay in state after his death in 1658.Two years later, with the Restoration, Henrietta Maria returned and began a considerable programme of rebuilding in 1661, the main feature of which was a magnificent new river front, again to the design of the late Inigo Jones, who had died at Somerset House in 1652. However she returned to France in 1665 before it was finished. It was then used as an occasional residence by Catherine of Braganza, Queen...

danielemiddleton | 17th February 2011 |
Blue plaques are much part of London as the pigeons. The scheme was founded in 1867 by the Royal Society of Arts but now is passed to the English Heritage who has erected over 300 plaques so far. The sign installed in a public place commemorates a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker.In order to be eligible for an English Heritage blue plaque, a figure must have been dead for twenty years or have passed the centenary of their birth. Nominated figures must be considered eminent by a majority of members of their own profession; have made an outstanding contribution to human welfare or happiness; have resided in a locality for a significant period, in time or importance, within their life and work; be recognisable to the well-informed passer-by, or deserve national recognition.If you grew up in London you certain have seen one of them on your way to work, or school, or in a summer afternoon while walking around the city.Look up above the pavement level and the litter, above the decoratively stacked shop fronts and living room windows of the London streets, and where your see the familiar blue ceramic plaque pause for a glimpse into the life of the famous person who once "live here", behind theses walls and windows.If like me you have a special one send to my email and tell me a little about it. Or if you want one specialy for you enter BLUE PLAQUE and you can make your own!!!Blue plaques add so much to the personality of London that one wonders why there are no more of them....

danielemiddleton | 10th February 2011 |
London loves Dr. Johnson - it's hard not to be seduced by a man who said: "You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sie, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." Like most people living in London, Dr Johnson wasn't a native; he was from Midlands city of Lichfield and arrived in London in 1737 aged 28, after a disastrous career as a schoolteacher. He sraped a living for the next  thirty years writting biographies, poetry, essays, pamphlets and parliamentary reports and after nine years of work, Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755, it had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship." The Dictionary brought Johnson popularity and success. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson's was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary.The house itself is remarkable as one of the few remnants of Georgian London left in the City. Built in 1700, Dr. Johnson lived there from 1748 until 1759, after it fell into disarray and was used variously as a hotel, a print shop, and a storehouse, until it was eventually acquired in 1911 by MP Cecil Harmsworth, who restored and opened it to the public.The house/museum is amazing inside and you have the feeling of living at that time with all the Georgian clothes you can try it on and sometimes you kind of imagine while looking trought out the window that at any time Dr.Johnson coming back from one of his trips to the pub near by "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese"....

danielemiddleton | 09th February 2011 |
A 'tablet' ('The Panyer Boy') set in a wall in Panyer Alley, City of LondonSmokers huddled outside Cafe Nero and commuters dashing in and out of St Paul's tube station are oblivious to the naked boy perched on a bread basket who waches over them.Dating back to 1688 it claims to mark the highest point in the City although it seems to have been moved around during the past 300 plus years! The relief depicts a naked baker's boy sitting on a pannier and commemorates the Panyer Boy Inn which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.According to The Times (newspaper) of 31 October 1964, the tablet had just been restored to public view after being moved from its location close to the entrance of St Paul's Underground railway Station in 1940 for safe-keeping during the War."When ye have sought the citty round yet this is still the highest ground."...

danielemiddleton | 08th February 2011 |
Back in the 13th Century, the Carmelite order of the White Friars - so called because they wore white cloaks over their drab brown habits on especial occasions - owned a swathe of land that contained cloisters, a church, and cemetery and stretched all the way from Fleet Street to the Thames. All that remains is this crumbling crypt from the late 14th century, now trapped behind glass and hemmed in by the dark granite fortress of a multinational law firm.Whitefriars Monastery was one of the few buildings that survived the 1381 Pessants Revolt unscathed. However, Henry VIII pulled the plug on the priory in the mid 16th century and appropriated most of the monk's property for his doctor, Willian Butte.The Great Hall was converted into the Whitefriars Playhouse, a theatre for child actors, and the crypt was used a coal cellar. The area soon degenerated into a seedy slum, nicknamed "Alsatia" after Alsace, the territory disputed by France and Germany. Outlaws on the run sought refuge in the monastic crypt, exploiting the legal immunity once enjoyed by the friars.The crypt lay buried for centuries until it was unearthed in 1895, but it was not restored until 1920s. There is not signs to alert visitors to the crypt's existence. so once in Fleet St turn into Bouverie St and into Magpie Alley.At Magpie Alley you first will see a black and white mural where the tiles are photographs, illustrations and captions to tell the potted history of Fleet Street's publichers, but at the end of Magpie Alley go down two flights of stairs and you will see the basement whit a fake lantern that burns in the doorway day and night....

danielemiddleton | 07th February 2011 |
Salute by gunfire is an ancient ceremony.The tradition of saluting can be traced to the Middle Ages practice of placing oneself in an unarmed position and, therefore, in the power of those being honored. This may be noted in the dropping of the point of the sword, presenting arms, firing cannon and small arms, lowering sails, manning the yards, removing the headdress or laying on oars.The gun salute might have originated in the 17th century with the maritime practice of demanding that a defeated enemy expend its ammunition and render itself helpless until reloaded — a time-consuming operation in that era.The system of odd numbered rounds is said to have been originated by Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Navy in the Restoration, as a way of economizing on the use of powder, the rule until that time having been that all guns had to be fired. Odd numbers were chosen, as even numbers indicated a death.21-Gun salutes mark special royal occasion throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, referred to as a "Royal Salute" (in the British Empire it was reserved, mainly among colonial princely states, for the most prestigious category of native rulers of so-called salute states), unless rendered to the president or flag of a republic; nonetheless salutes rendered to all heads of state regardless of title are casually referred to as "royal" salutes.The number of rounds fired in a salute depend on the place and occasion. The basic salute is 21 rounds. In Hyde Park and Green Park an extra 20 rounds are added because they are Royal Parks.Gun salutes occur on:Accession Day (6 February)The Sovereign's (real, individual) birthday (21 April)Coronation Day (the anniversary of The Queen's Coronation, 2 June)The birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh (10 June)The Queen's official birthday which designated annually as one of the first three Saturdays in JuneThe birthday of Prince Charles (14 November)Gun salutes also occur when Parliament is prorogued by the Sovere...

danielemiddleton | 07th February 2011 |
As well as an executian site for heretics and dissidents, Smithfield Meat Market was once a slaughterhouse. The axious herds awaiting the butcher's blade were at least granted a drink of water at the catle trough on West Smithfield.The trough bears the logo of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, "the only agency for providing free suppliers of water for man and beast in the streets of London", according to early advertisements. The association was established in 1859 by Samuel Gurney, an M.P. alarmed by the insalubrions quality of London's drinking water after Dr. John Snow had identified it as the source of a cholera outbreak.Down the road from Smithfield, on the corner of Giltspur Street and Holborn Viauct, is London's first drinking fountain. It's an inconspicuos red granite memorial to Gurney's philanthropy, set into the railings of St. Sepulcre Church.The church was keen to be seen as a patron of the patron of the poor - and to provide an anditote to beer. Huge crowds gathered for the fountain's inaguration on 21 April, 1859. Mrs Wilson, daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was the first to taste the water from a silver cup.The filtered water came from the New River. The inscription urges thirsty passers-by to "REPLACE THE CUP". Today, in less trusting times, the two original (somewhat mildewed) metal mugs are fastened to the railings with chains. By 1870, the Drinking Fountain Association had installed 140 fountains in London. Many of them have also survived....

danielemiddleton | 04th February 2011 |
The BBC's perennially popular hero, Doctor Who, journeys through space and time in his TARDIS, a time machine that looks like a blue telephone box. The tardis has now entered British parlance as a synonym for something that appears deceptively small, but contains hidden dephts.A few of theses mysterious blue box have survived on the streets of London, like this ones on the photos from places such as: Postman's Park, Guildhall Yard, outside St Botolph Church in Alddgate, Liverpool Street Station, Aldersgate Street, Victoria Embankment (opposite Middle Temple Lane), the corner of Queen Victoria and Friday Street and on Walbrook (opposite Bucklersbury). Also look out for other survivors on Piccadilly Circus and outside the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square. Irronically, the latter is not locked and is still in working order, despite the heavy 24-hour police presence.Before the advent of the walkie-talkie and the mobile phone, British "bobbies" on the beat relied on theses police boxes to report crimes, request back-up, or even to lock up a suspect until a patrol car arrived. If the blue light on the roof was flashing, passing officers would pop in to call the nearest station then hotfoot it to the crime scene.The phones also served as emergency hotlines for the public. The first wooden police boxes appeared in Britain in 1888. They cost a trifling £13 to build and were equipped with a desk, log book, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and eletric heater. No doubt they also contained a kettle in case coppers wanted a cuppa.In 1929, Gilbert Mackenzie Trench devised a sturdier concrete design. With sirens replacing the flashing lights, they doubled as air raid warning signals during World War II. By 1953, there were 685 police boxes in London; but technology soon rendered them obsolete and in 1969 the Home Secretary ordered their removal. ...

danielemiddleton | 03rd February 2011 |
Tyburn was a village in the county of Middlesex close to the current location of Marble Arch in present-day London. It took its name from the Tyburn or Teo Bourne 'boundary stream',[1] a tributary of the River Thames which is now completely covered over between its source and its outfall into the Thames.The name was almost universally used in literature to refer to the notorious and uniquely designed gallows (A gallows is a frame, typically wooden, used for execution by hanging, or by means to torture before execution, as was used when being hanged, drawn and quartered. The gallows took its form from the Roman Furca when Constantine abolished crucifixion), used for centuries as the primary location of the execution of London criminals.Tyburn was recorded in the Domesday Book and stood approximately at the west end of what is now Oxford Street at the junction of two Roman roads. The predecessors of Oxford Street and Park Lane were roads leading to the village, then called Tyburn Road and Tyburn Lane respectively.Executions took place at Tyburn until the 18th century (with the prisoners processed from Newgate Prison in the City, via St Giles in the Fields and Oxford Street), after which they were carried out at Newgate itself and at Horsemonger Lane Gaol in Southwark.The first recorded execution took place at a site next to the stream in 1196. William Fitz Osbern, the populist leader of the poor of London was cornered in the church of St Mary le Bow. He was dragged naked behind a horse to Tyburn, where he was hanged. In 1537, Henry VIII used Tyburn to execute the ringleaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, including Nicholas Tempest, one of the northern leaders of the Pilgrimage and the King's own Bowbearer of the Forest of Bowland.[3]In 1571, the "Tyburn Tree" was erected near the modern Marble Arch. The "Tree" or "Triple Tree" was a novel form of gallows, comprising a horizontal wooden triangle supported by three legs (an arrangement known as a "three legged mare" o...

danielemiddleton | 31st January 2011 |
The 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak was a severe outbreak of cholera that occurred near Broad Street (now renamed Broadwick Street) in Soho district of London, England in 1854. This outbreak is best known for John Snow's study of the outbreak and his discovery that cholera is spread by contaminated water.In the mid-19th century, the Soho district of London had a serious problem with filth due to the large influx of people and a lack of proper sanitary services. Many cellars (basements) had cesspools of nightsoil underneath their floorboards. Since the cesspools were overrunning, the London government decided to dump the waste into the River Thames. This action contaminated the water supply, leading to the cholera outbreak.On 31 August 1854, after several other outbreaks had already occurred elsewhere in the city, a major outbreak of cholera struck Soho. John Snow, the physician who linked the outbreak to contaminated water, later called it "the most terrible outbreak of cholera which ever occurred in the United Kingdom."Over the next three days 127 people on or near Broad Street died. In the next week, three quarters of the residents had fled the area. By 10 September, 500 people had died and the mortality rate was 12.8 percent in some parts of the city. By the end of the outbreak 616 people had died.By talking to local residents (with the help of Reverend Henry Whitehead), he identified the source of the outbreak as the public water pump on Broad Street (now Broadwick Street).[1] Although Snow's chemical and microscope examination of a sample of the Broad Street pump water was not able to conclusively prove its danger, his studies of the pattern of the disease were convincing enough to persuade the local council to disable the well pump by removing its handle. Although this action has been popularly reported as ending the outbreak, the epidemic may have already been in rapid decline, as explained by Snow himself:There is no doubt that the mortality...

danielemiddleton | 29th January 2011 |
Known for many years as the "Lord Wellington" it is still frequently referred to as the "Welly Bar" by many of the academics and local residents. Renamed in October 1982 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Jeremy Bentham who is recognized as the spiritual founder of the University College London. The myth that he was the founder is sustained in a bizarre manner by the College.Jeremy Bentham was born in 1748 at Spitalfields, London and was reportedly as a child prodigy, as a toddler he read a multi-volume of the history of England and at the age of three he began to study Latin.He attended Westimenster School and, in 1760 at age 12, was sent by his father to The Queen's College Oxford where he took his Bachelor's degree in 1763 and his Master's degree in 1766. As requested in his will, Bentham's body was dissected as part of a public anatomy lecture. Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the "Auto-icon" and it is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college.His "Auto-Icon" as he called it, is in fact his skeleton, dressed in his own clothes and topped with wax model of his head.His actual head is mummified and kept in the College vaults. It is brought out for meetings of the College council and he is recorded as being present but not voting. Above the bar can be seen a copy of the wax head, made by students at the College. In renaming the pub after him we are reminded of his greatest ideal. "The greatest happiness of the greatest numbers."...

danielemiddleton | 28th January 2011 |
This Watch House was built in 1761, to keep guard over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre's graveyard, which was then much larger and extended across the road. A night watchman was employed here to stop recently buried corpses from being stolen by 'ressurection men' (body snatchers).In the late 18th Century, the field of medical science was growing. In the past, the corpses of executed murderers had been used for teaching and medical dissection.Now, however, as there were more surgeons and students than before, there were, not enough of these corpses available. As a result, gangs of 'ressurrection man' started to dig up bodies, which had just been burried, and sell them to hospitals. As well as being gruesome, body snatching was not easy - the most usual technique was to dig down six feet, late at night, making a single hole in the lid of the coffin and pulling the body out with a rope. The body snatchers often knew where to find the grave they wanted to plunder, because they had actually attended the funeral of the deceased.Bodies stolen at this graveyard would usually be taken to an inn on the opposite side of the road, where the landloard would tie the name of a doctor or student, who had paid for the body, on the body's toe. Then the doctor, from a nearby hospital, such as St Bartholomew's Hospital, would visit the pub, and pay the landloard for the body. The students who bought the bodies used them to practice surgical techniques. It will come as no surprise then, to find that the Physiology Department of St Batholomew's Hospital is directly opposite the graveyard. The ressurrection men could make a good profit and body snatching became a problem. The practice only stopped when some of the body snatchers (such as Bishop and Williams) turned to murder....

danielemiddleton | 26th January 2011 |
This Pub has stood at the corner of Bishops Court for over 300 years. When Newgate Prison stood opposite and public executions took place outsite it, the upper rooms of the Pub, overlooking the street and the gallows below, were rented out to wealthy people, who wanted to watch the public executions.While the lower classes were crammed into the street below, the rich were able to get a good view of the proceedings, while enjoying a "hanging breakfast" for a cost of 10 pounds or more.When the crowd of spectators below stampeded on one occasion, the Pub acted as a temporary hospital for many of the injured. The landlord is said to have collected several cartloads of discarded items of clothing from the street after the tragedy.The Pub also supplied condemned prisoners with their very last pint of ale. The ale was taken across the road to the prisoners, in their condemned cells, on the morning of their executions.The Pub has changed name, now "Firefly Lounge Bar" it doesn't look nothing like a real one....

danielemiddleton | 25th January 2011 |
Also known as the Church of St Sepulchre-Without-Newgate, this Church is famous for many reasons.Knights leaving for the Crusades in the 12th Century would set out from the Church, which was originally founded in 1137. Rebuilt in 1450, the Church was damaged in the Fire of London, but still retains its gothic tower, porch and external walls. There is a well-known Musician's Chapel, and Captain John Smith, one of the founders of Virginia, (who was saved by the Native American Indian Princess, Pocahontas) was buried here in 1631. The bells of this Church, are "the Bells of Old Bailey" in the famous nursery rhyme, "Oranges and Lemons".But the Church also has more gruesome associations. In the time of Newgate Prison, one of the Church bells (the tenor one) would toll when prisoners were being taken to Tyburn for executions; the procession to the gallows would stop outside the Church so that prisoners, traveling in an open cart, could be given nosegays and a blessing.Later, when executions took place outside the Prison, the Church bell would slowly toll when an execution was about to take place. On the night before the execution of a notorious criminal, hundreds of people would sleep on the church steps; many would later watch the hanging from outside the Church. At times, when the crowd of spectators stampeded, the dead or injured would be brought inside.There was once an underground tunnel, which let from the Church to the condemned cell at Newgate Prison. Although this is now bricked up, its entrance in the Church can still be seen. From 1605, on the night before an execution, a priest, taking a hand-bell with him, would visit the condemned prisoners. The priest would ring the bell 12 times and chant:      " All you that in the condemned hole do lie,      Prepare you for tomorrow you shall die;      Watch all and pray: the hour is drawing near      That you before the Almigh...

danielemiddleton | 24th January 2011 |
On the top of the Central Criminal Court (commonly known as the "Old Bailey") stands a statue of Justice, who carries the balance of justice in one hand and the sword of retribution in the other. The area outside the "Old Bailey" is one of London's most haunted. Over the years, there have been many reports of ghostly apparitions, and strange, unexplained noises that have been heard, especially at night.The reason for all this supernatural activity is that the infamous Newgate Prison once stood on this side. Although the Prison, which stood here from the12th Century until1902, underwent changes and reforms during its lifetime, it always maintained its reputation for being a place of horror, misery and death. The Prison features in the works of Dickens and Defoe, amongst others. Newgate Prison was associated with Hell.Conditions inside the Prison were notoriously bad in many ways, leading to the death of many inmates. There was violence, both from other prisoners and from keepers, and also torture - prisoners who would not enter a plea or refused to confess were often "pressed" (sometimes to death) by having heavy weights placed on their bodies until they submitted. Prisoners also often had to suffer hunger and in 1537, 10 Catholic monks from Charterhouse were left chained up to starve to death - and endure cramped, dark and unsanitary conditions.The filth, contaminated drinking water and lack of ventilation all contributed to the spread of diseases, including the often-deadly "goal fever". which was a form of typhoid. The stench of the Prison was so revolting and strong, at one time, that it could be smelt throughout the neighborhood. The walls of the Prison were washed down with vinegar, as were prisoners who were due to go to court, in order to try to combat the awful smell and prevent infection.The last public hanging outside Newgate took place in 1868; after this time, executions continued to take place inside the Prison walls, until 1902, when Newgate Prison was...

danielemiddleton | 23rd January 2011 |
This pub belonged to the Eerie Pub Company chain of horror-themed pubs, but now the Punch Taverns changed the name for Ye Old London.A bell, a book and a candle are the tree items, which are needed for an exorcism to drive out evil spirits from possessed person or place.The Pub claims it sits upon ancient Roman foundations and that, over the years, this site has housed a sanatorium, a church crypt, a workhouse and a debtor's prison.The Pub's gruesome links with suffering and brutality, combined with its spooky designed interior and "graveyard garden", make it an ideal place to stop for a drink....

danielemiddleton | 22nd January 2011 |
The first church on this site was built for Franciscan Friars (Grey Friars) in the 13th Century.After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, the church was renamed Christ Church.Destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, the Church was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. Unfortunately, it was then left in ruins by bombing in World War II. Today, only the steeple remains. There is a rose garden among the ruins.All seems tranquil and peaceful - but beware, as many restless ghosts are said to frequent this churchyard.The most infamous ghosts to have been seen haunting this area, are said to be those of two beautiful murderesses, who are buried here at Greyfriars.The first of these was Queen Isabella (know as the "She Wolf of France"), who had her husband, King Edward II, murdered: " A kind of horn or funnel...'was'...thrust into his fundament, through which a red hot spit was run up his bowels".Isabella's son, King Edward III, imprisoned her and kept her in solitary confinement until her death in 1384.She is buried with the heart of her husband (according to her own instructions) placed on her breast. Her ghost has been seen in the churchyard, holding the beating heart.The other ghost is said to be of Lady Alice Hungerford, who was executed in 1523, for murdering her husband. Reports, from Victorian times, tell how the two ghosts came face to face in the graveyard. Apparently jealous of each other, the ghosts then had a fierce fisht, which terrified witnesses.Another ghost to haunt Greyfriars, is said to be that Elizabeth Barton. The 'Nun (or Holy Maid) of Kent', as she was know, was a domestic servant who, as a teenager, began to fall in trances during which she would have prophetic visions.Althought she become famous for her holiness, she was executed in 1534, after she protested against King Henry VIII's proposed divorce of his wife, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn....

danielemiddleton | 21st January 2011 |
St. Pauls is such an amazing place and off course as many other places around the City we also find some horror stories to tell.This area was once used as a place of execution for religious martyrs.In 1605, some of the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot were hung, drawn and quartered here. Their heads were the put on spikes. After the Fire of London(1666) it became one of the main centres of London's book trade. Most of Shakespeare's work to be published in his lifetime, were issued from here....

danielemiddleton | 21st January 2011 |
London's macabre past is always something that takes my attention. I read few books about the crazy stories of ghosts and plagues that surrounds the City and just for fun....let learn a little about.At the far side of the courtyard, there is an ancient brick wall. Behind this wall is part of a narrow passageway, which once belonged to the infamous Newgate Prison and was called Dead Man's Walk. It was along this grim, covered passageway that hundreds of condemned prisoners walked to their trials and executions. Their bodies were later buried in limestone beneath the flagstones in the passageway.This is where the dreaded 'Black Dog of Newgate' has been seen over the centuries. The Dog is thought to date back to the time of King Henry III (1216-72), when there was a famine in London and people were starving. The inmates of Newgate Prison were even more desperate for food, with many resulting to cannibalism to stay alive.During this time, a young man, imprisoned after being convicted for sorcery, was murdered and eaten by the inmates. After his murder, the terrifying apparition, with its ravenous and hungry jaws, appeared to the murders, hunting them down and driving them crazy.The Dog returned to haunt the Prison on the eve of execution.Beware as you watch, for the large black shape of the Dog can still be seen on dark nights, walking along the wall, clambering down into the courtyard menacingly, before melting away into the darkness. A nauseous stench fills the air as he passes and there is an eerie sound of the heavy, dragging footsteps, reminiscent of condemned prisoners walking to their deaths.Keep watching closely, for you may also catch a glimpse of the ghost of Jack Sheppard, the legendary 18th Century robber and highwayman - his ghost has been seen jumping down from the wall, as if he was making one of his amazing escapes from prison, for which he became famous.Another of the many ghosts haunt Dead Man's Walk is that of the evil Amelia Dyer. The 'Reading Baby F...

danielemiddleton | 20th January 2011 |
I believe that many girls have seen this Park in that film: Closer. But this isn't why I like this place so much. The reason I LOVE this place is because it was made by my favourite victorian artist George Frederick WattsIn 1887 Watts wrote to The Times proposing a project to mark Queen Victoria's Jubilee of that year. He believed that stories of heroism could uplift and stimulate and should therefore be commemorated. As his idea was not taken up he created the memorial himself in the form of a 50ft long open gallery situated in the public gardens on the site of the former churchyard of St. Botolph, Aldersgate.On the southern boundary lay the General Post Office and many postmen spent their breaks there, hence the inevitable name by which it became known.Along the walls of the gallery Watts placed tablets, each describing acts of bravery that resulted in the loss of the hero or heroine's life.
The tablets consist of a number of ceramic tiles with an inscription and appropriate decorative motifs.Following the original 13 tablets that Watts erected, Mary added a further 34 after his death. The stories that the tablets tell are touching, often involving children and usually concerning fire, drowning or train accidents.In Watts's letter to The Times proposing the idea, he drew upon the plight of poor Alice Ayres, her inscription finally read ‘daughter of a bricklayer's labourer, who by intrepid conduct saved three children from a burning house in Union Street, Borough, at the cost of her own young life. April 24 1885.’...

danielemiddleton | 19th January 2011 |
London is my place in the World. There is always a place to see, a corner to find, a hiding statue or even a Roman Bath in the middle of the City.Walking down my way to the Temple Station I crossed the road, went down the Surrey Steps and at number 5, Strand Lane there it was:THE ROMAN BATH!The first time the bath was even mentioned it was at a book in 1784 by John Pinkerton, describing a 'fine antique bath' in the cellar of a house in 'Norfolk Street in the Strand. Charles Knight wrote in London (1842) of the "Old Roman Spring Bath", at Strand Lane – suggesting that it shared a source with the nearby Holy Well, just north of the site of the church of St Clement Danes. He noted (of the water) "it is clearly natural, and not artificial, and sparkles as clear as crystal".In David Copperfield (1849–50), Dickens speaks of the old Roman Bath "at the bottom of one of the streets out of the Strand", in which Copperfield had many cold plunges.What really fascinates me is that today in the 21th century while walking in the streets of London you can just find something like this.For some reason this really makes me happy because is at this moments that my passion for History grows. ...

danielemiddleton | 19th January 2011 |
The Monument stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London. It was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City.The view from the top is great and you can see how beautiful is the City, although if you want to go all way to the top make sure you are feeling stronge enought for all the 311 steps....
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