An up-close image of a buzzing ball of cactus bees over the hot sand at a Texas ranch has won American photographer Karine Aigner the honour of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The image depicts male bees as they compete for the attention of the single female bee at the centre of the ball. Aigner is the fifth woman to win the Grand Title award in the 58 year history of the competition, which is run by the Natural History Museum. Her image is being shown along with that of 16-year-old Thai Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn – who won Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for an up-close image of a whale’s baleen – as well as those of category winners in this year’s contest in a redesigned exhibition at the museum in South Kensington. Alongside the photographs, the display features short videos, quotes from jury members and photographers and insights from museum scientists on how human actions continue to shape the natural world. The exhibition can be seen until 2nd July. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year . The 59th annual competition is now open for entries. For more on how to enter, see www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy/competition.
This pub in London’s East End takes it’s name – or so the story goes – from the building which formerly stood on the site – a cottage belonging to a widow.
The tale goes that the widow’s only son went to sea – it’s thought this was during the Napoleonic Wars – and wrote home to his mother that she should expect him at Easter (and could she have a nice hot cross bun waiting for him)?
Tragically, the son never returned, but for the rest of her life, the widow – apparently refusing to accept he had died – continued to keep a hot cross bun for him on every Good Friday. It’s said that following her death, a net full of the unclaimed buns was found hanging from the ceiling of her house.
The site became known as The Bun House and when the pub was built on it in 1848 and named The Widow’s Son in honour of the widow’s tradition, it too carried the “bun house” moniker.
The pub has continued the widow’s tradition and every Good Friday, a sailor from the Royal Navy places a new bun in a net which hangs over the bar.
The now Grade II*-listed pub at 75 Devons Road in Bromley-by-Bow, while not particularly appealing from the outside, still has interior fittings dating from the 1870s.
For more, see https://www.widowsson.co.uk.
• Marking 200 years since French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832) was able to decipher hieroglyphs using the Rosetta Stone, a new exhibition opening at the British Museum explores how the stone and other inscriptions and objects helped scholars unlock one of the world’s oldest civilisations. Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt centres on the Rosetta Stone but also features more than 240 other objects, many of which are shown for the first time. Alongside the Rosetta Stone itself, highlights include: “the Enchanted Basin”, a large black granite sarcophagus from about 600 BCE which is covered with hieroglyphs and images of gods; the richly illustrated, more than 3000-year-old Book of the Dead papyrus of Queen Nedjmet which measures more than four metres long; and the mummy bandage of Aberuait, a souvenir from one of the earliest ‘mummy unwrapping events’ in the 1600s where attendees each received a piece of the linen, preferably inscribed with hieroglyphs. There’s also the personal notes of key figures in the race to decipher hieroglyphs including those of Champollion which come from the Bibliothèque nationale de France as well as those of England’s Thomas Young (1773 – 1829) from the British Library. The exhibition can be seen in the Sainsbury Exhibition Gallery until 19th February. Admission charge applies. For more, see britishmuseum.org/hieroglyphs.
• King Charles III will be crowned at Westminster Abbey on 6th May next year, Buckingham Palace has announced this week. The Queen Consort, Camilla, will be crowned alongside him in the first such coronation since 12th May, 1937, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were crowned in the abbey. The ceremony, which will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, will, according to the palace, “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry”. King Charles III is expected to sign a Proclamation formally declaring the coronation date at a meeting of the Privy Council later this year. The first documented coronation at Westminster Abbey was that of King William the Conqueror on 25th December, 1066, and there have been 37 since, the most recent being that of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June, 1953.
• A new dark comedy, The Admiral’s Revenge, has opened in The Admiral’s House in the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. The play, set in 1797, features sea shanties, puppetry and follows a crew of shipmates in the wake of the ill-fated Battle of Tenerife. Audiences have the chance to explore the Admiral’s House before the show and enjoy a complimentary rum cocktail. Runs until 12th November. For ticket prices, head to https://ornc.org/whats-on/1797-the-mariners-revenge/.
• A new exhibition exploring Charles Dickens’ interest in the paranormal has opened at the Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury. To Be Read At Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts and the Supernatural explores Dickens’ famous ghost stories, including A Christmas Carol, and reveals his influence on the genre. Highlights include a copy of The Chimes which Dickens gifted to fellow author Hans Christian Anderson, original John Leech sketches of Dickens’ ghosts of the past, present and future and original tickets and playbills relating to the author’s public performances of his ghost stories. The display will also look into Dickens’ own views on the supernatural as a fascinated sceptic and includes correspondence in which he was asking about the location of a supposedly haunted house. Runs until 5th March. Admission charge applies. For more, see https://dickensmuseum.com/blogs/all-events/to-be-read-at-dusk-dickens-ghosts-and-the-supernatural.
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• A “once-in-a-generation” exhibition of Paul Cezanne’s paintings, watercolours and drawings opened at the Tate Modern this week. The EY Exhibition: Cezanne features around 80 works including key examples of his iconic still life paintings, Provençale landscapes, portraits and bather scenes. There are also more than 20 works which have never been seen in the UK before including The Basket of Apples (c1893, from the The Art Institute of Chicago), Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-06, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Still Life with Milk Pot, Melon, and Sugar Bowl (1900-06, from a private collection). The display traces Cezanne’s (1839-1906) artistic development and also examines the relationships which were central to his life, particularly that with his wife Marie-Hortense Fiquet and their son Paul, immortalised in paintings such as Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair (c1877) and Portrait of the Artist’s Son (1881-2). Admission charge applies. Runs until 12th March. For more, see www.tate.org.uk.
• A landmark exhibition to make the centenary of the birth of 20th century artist Lucian Freud (1922-2011) has opened at The National Gallery. The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives is the most significant survey of his paintings in a decade and brings together output from across his seven decade career, everything from early works such as Girl with Roses (1940s) to Two Children (Self-Portrait) (1960s) and famous late works such as The Brigadier (2003–4). The display also shows how Freud positioned himself in the tradition of court painters such as Rubens or Velázquez through works such as HM Queen Elizabeth II (2001). Can be seen in the First Floor Galleries until 22nd January. Admission charge applies but in response to the cost of living crisis, the gallery is allowing visitors on Friday nights to pay as much as or little as they like. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/the-credit-suisse-exhibition-lucian-freud-new-perspectives.
• Diwali on the Square will take place at Trafalgar Square this Sunday. The free annual family-friendly event will open with 200 colourfully dressed dancers in the main square followed by performances from artists drawn from London’s Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities. From 1pm to 7pm, there will also be a host of activities including Neasden Temple’s Diwali Festival Experience, dance workshops, yoga and meditation, sari and turban tying, comedy, a children’s zone, and, henna and face painting. Meanwhile, an array of South Asian food stalls will be serving up delicious traditional and fusion, vegan and vegetarian cuisine. For full details, head here.
• Lawyer Hersch Lauterpacht, who played a key role in prosecuting the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials and whose belief that states should be held accountable for crimes against their own people led to lasting change in international law, has been honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. Born in what is now Ukraine, Lauterpacht moved to London in 1923, originally to study at the LSE and lived with his family at 103 Walm Lane in Cricklewood for 10 years (it was here that his son Elihu – who went on to be a prominent lawyer himself – was born in 1928 and where Lauterpacht was living when he was naturalised as a British citizen in 1931). For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.
• Nicholas Lyons was elected as the 694th Lord Mayor of the City of London last week. He succeeds current Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny and will take office on 11th November for a one-year term. The annual Lord Mayor’s Show takes place on 12th November, which will be followed by the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 28th November at Guildhall where the Prime Minister will deliver a keynote speech.
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This “island church”, located in the middle of the Strand just outside the Royal Courts of Justice, is believed to have been the eventual burial site of King Harold I “Harefoot” who died in 1040.
The son of King Cnut, Harold’s rule was brief. Following the death of his father, he initially ruled as regent on behalf of his father’s heir and younger half-brother Harthacnut (Harthacnut was in Denmark and threats to the kingdom meant he couldn’t leave).
While Harold had apparently sought to be crowned king from the start of his rule (without success thanks to the opposition of Aethelnoth, the Archbishop of Canterbury), it was only in 1037 that, with the support of Leofric, the Earl of Mercia, and other nobles, he was crowned king.
But Harold (who was known by the name Harefoot apparently due to his speed and skill at hunting) died in 1040 and his brother subsequently returned from Denmark to claim the throne peacefully.
The story goes that King Harold had originally been buried in Westminster but that Harthacnut (clearly not a fan) had his body exhumed and flung into marshlands by the River Thames. The body was said to have been found by a fisherman who then had him buried at the church.
It had been established in the ninth century to serve the Danish community which was established after King Alfred the Great had granted them land.
Of course, the current church was not one King Harold would have recognised, having last been completely rebuilt in the 1680s to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren (and then having had its interior completely restored after it was gutted when bombed during World War II).
St Clement Danes, also known as one of the contenders for the church mentioned in the song Oranges and Lemons, is now the central church of the Royal Air Force. It’s one of two “island churches” in the Strand, the other being St Mary le Strand.
WHERE: St Clement Danes, Strand (nearest Tube stations are Temple, Covent Garden and Holborn); WHEN: 10am to 3:30pm weekdays; 10am to 3pm weekends; COST: Free (donations appreciated); WEBSITE: https://stclementdanesraf.org
Samson Kambalu’s Antelope was unveiled on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth last week. The sculpture – the 14th commission since the Fourth Plinth programme began – depicts the restaged of a photograph taken of Baptist preacher and educator John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley which was taken in 1914 in Nyasayland (now Malawi) at the opening of Chilembwe’s new Baptist church.
Chilembwe, who is shown wearing a hat in defiance of rules forbidding Africans from wearing hats in front of white people and is depicted as almost twice the size of Chorley, led an uprising in 1915 against British colonial rule, triggered by the mistreatment of refugees from Mozambique and the conscription to fight German troops during World War I. He was killed and his church destroyed by the colonial police.
Though his rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, Malawi, which gained independence in 1964, celebrates John Chilembwe Day on January 15th and the uprising is viewed as the beginning of the Malawi independence struggle.
The artist Samson Kambalu was born in 1975 in Malawi, and is now associate professor of fine art and a lifelong fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University.
“I am thrilled to have been invited to create a work for London’s most iconic public space, and to see John Chilembwe’s story elevated,” he said in a statement. “Antelope on the Fourth Plinth was ever going to be a litmus test for how much I belong to British society as an African and a cosmopolitan. Chilembwe selected himself for the Fourth Plinth, as though he waited for this moment. He died in an uprising but ends up victorious.”
• From K-Pop to Parasite, the popular culture of South Korea is being celebrated in a new exhibition which opened at the V&A last weekend. Hallyu! The Korean Wave features around 200 objects across four thematic sections focused on the phenomenon known as ‘hallyu’ (meaning ‘Korean Wave’) which rose to prominence in the late 1990s and rippled across Asia before reaching across the world. Highlights including outfits worn by K-Pope idols PSY, Vespa and ATEEZ, an immersive recreation of Parasite’s bathroom set and monumental artworks by the likes of Nam June Paik, Ham Kyungah and Gwon Osang. There’s also fashion designs by Tchai Kim, Miss Sohee and Minju Kim, and early examples of advertising and branding, including an original poster from the Seoul Olympics, and the first Korean branded cosmetic from the 1910s. The display can be seen until 25th June next year. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/hallyu-the-korean-wave.
• An exhibition which seeks to challenge perceptions about how video games interpret stories about war and conflict opens at the Imperial War Museum London on Friday. War Games: Real Conflicts | Virtual Worlds | Extreme Entertainment explores the relationship between video games and conflict through a series of 11 unique titles, including everything from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to 2D artillery game Worms and a military training simulator, which, over the last 40 years, have reflected events from the First World War to the present. The display features immersive installations, never-before-displayed objects and perspectives from industry experts. There’s also a retro gaming zone and a programme of supporting events. Admission is free. Runs until 28th May next year. For more, see iwm.org.uk/events/war-games.
• The work of celebrated South African artist and Honorary Royal Academician William Kentridge has gone on show the Royal Academy. Spanning the artist’s 41 year career, William Kentridge brings together important works spanning from the 1980s through to the present day, including charcoal drawings, animated films, a mechanical theatre, sculptures, tapestries and performance pieces. Highlights include a selection of Kentridge’s early, rarely-seen drawings from the 1980s and 1990s including three triptychs displayed together for the first time and the most significant work from the period, The Conservationist’s Ball, (1985) as well as around 25 large charcoal drawings, made for the creative process of the eleven animated Drawings for Projection, and the installation Black Box / Chambre Noire, (2005), a mechanical theatre piece including puppets and projections, which interrogates the harrowing story of the massacre of the Herero people in Namibia, now considered the first genocide of the 20th century. The display in the Main Galleries can be seen until 11th December. Admission charge applies. For more, see roy.ac/kentridge.
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Following the laying to rest of Queen Elizabeth II in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, we’re taking a look at where some royal burials have taken place within London.
We start our new series with Old St Paul’s Cathedral which believed to have been the burial site of two Anglo-Saxon kings before it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.
Aethelred (Ethelred) the Unready, who ruled from 978 until 1013 (and then again from 1014 until his death on 23rd April, 1016) was known to have been buried in the quire of the old cathedral (it’s marked on Wenceslaus Hollar’s 1658 plan of the cathedral as being on the northern side of the quire, just past the north transept) but his tomb was lost in the fire.
His memorial is among those which were lost in the Great Fire mentioned on a modern plaque in the crypt of the St Paul’s of today.
While his was the last royal burial to take place in St Paul’s, Aethelred wasn’t the only Anglo-Saxon king who was interred there.
Sæbbi, a king of the East Saxons who ruled from 664 to 694 (and is also known as Sebba or Sebbi), is also listed as being buried there (Aethelred was apparently buried close to him) and his grave also lost in the great fire.
There’s a story that when Sæbbi was about to be buried in a stone coffin, it was found it was too short for his body to lie at full length. Various solutions were proposed – including burying him with bent legs, but when they put the body back in the stone coffin this time, miraculously, it did fit.
Following an earlier fire in St Paul’s – in 1087 – Sæbbi body was transferred to a black marble sarcophagus in the mid-1100s and it’s that which was lost in the Great Fire.
Afternoon tea is served under the glass-dome of The Savoy Hotel‘s Thames Foyer. Once an outdoor terrace, the covered-in foyer was opened in 1889. The custom of afternoon tea, which dates back to 1840, had become a tradition at the hotel by the 1920s and, as well as sandwiches and patisserie, included everything from English muffins to fruit salad, chocolates to sweet waffles known as gaufres. Entertainment included music played by a house band while professional dancers demonstrated the latest moves for guests. Guests at the famous London hotel have included everyone from Sir Winston Churchill to Marilyn Monroe. For more, see www.thesavoylondon.com/experience/afternoon-tea-london/.
Located just north of Clerkenwell, this inner city district is centred on the intersection of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road.
Its name come from a building that once stood on that site – the Angel Inn, which was existent in the early 17th century. The building has since gone through several incarnations with the current structure on the site, the Angel Hotel, built in 1903, and now used as offices. A modern pub, called the Angel, is adjacent.
The district encompasses both the triangular Islington Green in the north and Chapel Market in the west.
Angel is also the name of a Tube station on the Northern Line. Other landmarks include the Angel Wings sculpture in Liverpool Road.
The Angel Islington is also, of course, a property on the Monopoly board (one of the cheapest in reflection of the area’s standing at the time of the game’s creation, before the gentrification that took place there in the 1980s).
The story goes that it was in 1936 that Victor Watson, founder of the game’s manufacturers John Waddington Ltd, who decided to include the property whilst taking tea at the cafe when occupied the lower floors of the Angel Hotel.
Before we commence our next special series, here’s a recap of the series we’ve just run…
The tradition of lying in state – whereby the monarch’s coffin is placed on view to allow the public to pay their respects before the funeral – at Westminster Hall isn’t actually a very old one.
The first monarch to do so was King Edward VII in 1910. The idea had come from the previous lying-in-state of former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone who had lain in state following his death in 1898.
Ever since then, every monarch, with the exception of King Edward VIII, who had abdicated, has done so along with other notable figures including Queen Mary, wife of King George V, in 1953, former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, for a three day period in 2002 when some 200,000 people paid their respects.
During the lying-in-state period (which members of the public may pay their respects), the coffin is placed on a central raised platform, known as a catafalque, and each corner of the platform is guarded around the clock by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. The coffin is draped with the Royal Standard and placed on top is the Orb and Sceptre.
Westminster Hall, the oldest surviving building in the Palace of Westminster and the only part which survives almost in original form, was constructed between 1097 and 1099 on the order of King William (Rufus) II.
Measuring 240 by 67 feet and covering some 17,000 square feet, at the time it was the largest hall in England and possibly the largest in Europe (although once anecdote has the King, when an attendant remarked on its size, commenting that it was a mere bedchamber compared to what he’d had in mind).
Since then, it has been used for a range of purposes including coronation banquets – the earliest recorded is that of Prince Henry, the Young King, son of King Henry II and King Henry’s other son, King Richard the Lionheart, other feasts and banquets – including in 1269 to mark the placing of Edward the Confessor’s remains in the new shrine in Westminster Abbey, and for political events and gatherings such as in 1653 when Oliver Cromwell took the oath as Lord Protector.
It has also been the location of law courts (the trial of William Wallace was held here in 1305 and that of King Charles I in 1649) and even shops.
As the city, nation and world mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, thousands are queuing outside Westminster Hall to pay their respects to the Queen ahead of the State Funeral on Monday. The designated queue route crosses the Thames at Lambeth Bridge and then stretches northward along the south bank to near Tower Bridge. The live “queue tracker” can be found at this link. The Lying-in-State will be open 24 hours a day until it closes at 6.30am on Monday. For more detailed guidance, head here. A national moment of reflection will take place at 8pm this Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Queen’s funeral – which will be broadcast on the BBC – is slated for 11am on Monday at Westminster Abbey, prior to which her body will be transported on a gun carriage from Westminster Hall. Following the funeral, the Queen’s coffin will be taken in a walking procession from the abbey to Wellington Arch, at London’s Hyde Park Corner. The coffin will then be transported Windsor by hearse. On arrival, the Queen’s coffin will then be walked down the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. There, in St George’s Chapel, the Queen’s coffin will be lowered into the Royal Vault under the quire as Her Majesty is laid to rest beside her late husband, Prince Philip.
A Book of Condolence has been set up at www.royal.uk.
We ran a special series to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, so in honour of the Queen’s memory we interrupt our current series to recap ‘Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee with 10 royal London locations’…
• The Open House Festival, a two week-long celebration of buildings and neighbourhoods in London, kicks off today. Now in its 30th year, highlights from this year’s programme include the introduction of nine “headline neighbourhoods” – among them Aldgate, Somers Town, Battersea, and the Greenwich Peninsula, each of which will feature a specially-curated programme of free events. Buildings open for tour include the Bank of England, the recently refurbished Leathersellers’ Hall, and ROOM, an inhabitable sculpture by Anthony Gormley forming part of Mayfair’s Beaumont Hotel as well as pioneering homes such as the David Adjaye-designed ‘Fog House’ in Clerkenwell, the Khan Bonshek-designed ‘Two-up Two-down House’ in Stratford, and Richard and Su Rogers’ high-tech house in Wimbledon. There are also tours of housing estates including Dawson’s Heights designed by Kate Macintosh for Lambeth and infrastructure demonstrations including the new Rolling Bridge designed by Tom Randall-Page at Cody Dock in Canning Town as well as walks, talks and other event. The festival runs until 21st September. For the full programme, see https://open-city.org.uk/open-house-festival.
• The first in-depth exhibition in the UK of the work of late 19th and early 20th century American painter Winslow Homer has opened at The National Gallery. Winslow Homer: Force of Nature features more than 50 paintings and watercolours from public and private collections spanning over 40 years of the artist’s career. Highlights include his paintings from the front lines of the American Civil War such as Prisoners from the Front (1866), those depicting the lives of African Americans during the period known as Reconstruction such as A Visit from the Old Mistress and The Cotton Pickers (both 1876), paintings from his travels to England and the Caribbean such as Inside the Bar (1883), A Garden in Nassau (1885), and The Gulf Stream (1899, reworked by 1906), and works created in the final years of his life such as Driftwood (1909). The exhibition can be seen in the Ground Floor Galleries until 8th January. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/winslow-homer-force-of-nature
• A celebration of some of finest wood engravings of the past 100 years and those who made them opens at the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner on Saturday. Scene Through Wood, which comes from the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, celebrates the founding centenary of the British Society of Wood Engravers. It traces wood engraving from its origins – objects on show include an early woodcut by Albert Dürer (1471-1528), its subsequent development by 18th and 19th century naturalist Thomas Bewick and the establishment of the SWE in 1920. Included is the work of notable 20th century artists such as Robert Gibbings, Eric Ravilious and Gertrude Hermes as well as more recent figures such as Monica Poole, Edwina Ellis, Simon Brett and Anne Desmet. Admission charge applies. Runs until 11th December. For more, see www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org/whats-on/scene-through-wood/.
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Located in the historic former Priory of St John of Jerusalem in Clerkenwell, this garden – despite its historic context – was planted out in the mid-1950s after the adjoining church was restored having suffered extensive damage from incendiary bombs in 1941.
The garden, which was created on the site of two former church buildings and was designed by Alison Wear, is planted with flowers and fragrant and medicinal herbs and features a 200-year-old olive tree brought from Jerusalem.
A quiet place of reflection, it serves as a memorial to those who died in the two World Wars.
The garden, which is maintained by volunteers, was redeveloped in 2009-10 – thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Wellcome Trust – with the addition of paving and beds for planting.
Alongside being a peaceful haven for a casual visit, the garden is also these days used as an event space.
WHERE: The Cloister Garden, The Museum of the Order of St John, St John’s Gate, St John’s Lane, Clerkenwell (nearest Tube station is Farringdon); WHEN: Museum galleries and garden are open from 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Saturday; COST: Free; WEBSITE: https://museumstjohn.org.uk.