This Week in London – Cezanne at the Tate; Freud at The National Gallery; Diwali on the Square; and; a new Blue Plaque…

Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-6)/Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gift of Helen Tyson Madeira, 1977.

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.

Lucian Freud, Girl with Roses, (1947-8)/Oil on canvas; 105.5 x 74.5 cm
Courtesy of the British Council Collection
© The Lucian Freud Archive. All Rights Reserved 2022/ Bridgeman Images

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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8 locations for royal burials in London…2. St Clement Danes…

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.

St Clement Danes today. PICTURE: eltpics (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

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

LondonLife – ‘Antelope’ debuts on The Fourth Plinth…

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.”

This Week in London – Korean pop culture at the V&A; of video games and conflict; and, William Kentridge at the RA…

Installation image featuring re-creation of Parasite bathroom scene, at Hallyu! The Korean Wave at the V&A Ⓒ Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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.

William Kentridge, ‘Colleoni’, 2021. Hand-woven mohair tapestry, 350 x 300 cm. Courtesy the artist © William Kentridge
 

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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8 locations for royal burials in London…1. (Old) St Paul’s Cathedral…

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.

St Paul’s Cathedral. PICTURE: Catalin Bot/Unsplash

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.

PICTURE: Stephencdickson (licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0‘/cropped and straightened)

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.

LondonLife – Afternoon tea at The Savoy…

PICTURE: Christian Lendl/Unsplash

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/.

What’s in a name?…Angel…

The Angel Hotel, built in 1903. PICTURE: Des Blenkinsopp (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

London farewells Queen Elizabeth II…

The Bearer Party, formed of personnel from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, transfer Her Majesty The Queen’s Coffin from Westminster Hall to the State Gun Carriage, which was pulled by 142 Naval Ratings to Westminster Abbey. PICTURE: Wo1 Rupert Frere/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.
The State Gun Carriage, pulled by 142 Naval Ratings. arrives at Westminster Abbey for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. PICTURE: Corporal Rob Kane/ UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.
The Bearer Party formed of personnel from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards move the coffin of the Queen to the State Gun Carriage. PICTURE: Corporal Rob Kane/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022
The State Gun Carriage, pulled by 142 Naval Ratings, carries the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II through the arch onto Horse Guards Parade. PICTURE: Sergeant Robert Weideman/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022
The Queen’s funeral cortege makes its way down The Mall. PICTURE: POPhot Will Haigh/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022
The Queen’s coffin arrives at Wellington Arch where it was transferred to a hearse to be driven to Windsor. PICTURE: CPO Owen Cooban/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

Special – Lying in state at Westminster Hall…

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is seen here lying-in-state at the Palace of Westminster in London in 14th September. PICTURE: Harland Quarrington/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

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.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is seen here lying-in-state at the Palace of Westminster in London in 14th September. PICTURE: Harland Quarrington/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

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.

This Week in London – Mourning Queen Elizabeth II…

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is seen here lying-in-state in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster. PICTURE: Harland Quarrington/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

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.

LondonLife – Tributes to a Queen…

Flowers left outside Buckingham Palace. PICTURE: Samuel Regan-Asante
Left – Flowers and tributes left outside Buckingham Palace and, right, a bus shelter in Shoreditch. PICTURE: Samuel Regan-Asante
A electronic billboard at Piccadilly Circus. PICTURE: Samuel Regan-Asante
Prime Minister Liz Truss writes in a book of condolence at Number 10 Downing Street to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. PICTURE: Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The flags at Number 10 Downing Street have been lowered to half mast after the death of Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. PICTURE: Rory Arnold/No 10 Downing Street (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

King Charles III proclaimed monarch in London…

The Principal Proclamation of King Charles III was read by the Garter King of Arms at 11am from the balcony above Friary Court, St James’s Palace on Saturday. 10th September. PICTURE: LSgt Galvin/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022
A wider view of the crowd gathered outside St James’s Palace. PICTURE: Sgt Donald C Todd RLC Photographer//UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022
A Gun Salute at the Tower of London for the Principal Proclamation of King Charles III. Immediately following the Principal Proclamation, a Royal Salute of 41 rounds was fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Hyde Park, and a Royal Salute of 62 rounds from HM Tower of London was fired by the Honourable Artillery Company (below). PICTURES: Above – Corporal Cameron Eden, RLC/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022; Below – Sgt Jimmy Wise/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022
At noon, the Proclamation was read from the steps of The Royal Exchange (pictured) by Clarenceux King of Arms. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, together with the Court of Aldermen and Members of Common Council, were present. The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers of the Honourable Artillery Company, the Lord Mayor’s Body Guard in the City of London, were on duty at the Royal Exchange, accompanied by The Band of the Honourable Artillery Company and eight State Trumpeters of The Household Cavalry. PICTURE: PO Phot Joel Rouse/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022
One of the State Trumpeters positioned on the steps of the Royal Exchange echoing the fanfare from four State Trumpeters at Mansion House as part of the ceremony of the Proclamation of His Majesty King Charles III from the Royal Exchange. PICTURE: Giles Anderson/©MoD Crown Copyright 2022
The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers (pictured) of the Honourable Artillery Company, the Lord Mayor’s Body Guard in the City of London, were on duty at the Royal Exchange. PICTURE: PO Phot Joel Rouse/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

This Week in London – Open House Festival; Winslow Homer at The National Gallery; and, a celebration of wood engravings…

An image from the Open House Festival 2020 PICTURE: Phineas Harper/Courtesy Open House Festival
An image from the Open House Festival 2020 PICTURE: Sophie Cunningham/Courtesy Open House Festival

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.

Winslow Homer ‘The Gulf Stream’, 1899 (reworked by 1906)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

• 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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10 unusual parks or gardens in London…10. The Cloister Garden, Museum of the Order of St John…

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 Cloister Garden in 2015. PICTURE: MrsEds (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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.

LondonLife – Greenwich Park restoration…

Looking up to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park. PICTURE: mkos83/iStockphoto.

The Royal Parks announced recently Greenwich Park, here pictured showing the view up to the Royal Observatory, was to undergo a three year project to restore its 17th century landscape. The formal landscape of the park was commissioned by King Charles II and, designed by French landscape architect André Le Nôtre (who also designed the world-famous Versailles gardens), features tree-lined avenues which frame the view up the hill from the Queen’s House as well as “The Grand Ascent”, a series of giant, grass steps leading up the hill, and a terraced layout – known as a parterre. Massive numbers of visitors – some five million annually – have, however, seen the landscape features erode and slump while the trees – Turkey oaks planted in the 1970s to replace the elms wiped out by Dutch elm disease – are now in decline. The restoration work, which begins next month, will see the terraces restored and the declining tree avenues recreated with 92 new, more resilient trees. The work is scheduled to be completed by March, 2025. For more on Greenwich Park, see www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park.

Lost London – The Painted Chamber, Palace of Westminster…

Part of the medieval Palace of Westminster, the Painted Chamber took its name from a series of large paintings which decorated the walls.

A watercolour of the Painted Chamber in Westminster Palace by William Capon made in 1799.

The long and narrow chamber, which stood parallel to St Stephen’s Chapel, was constructed in the 13th century during the reign of King Henry III and was apparently initially intended as a private apartment for the king as well as a reception room.

It featured a state bed at one end positioned under a painting of King Edward the Confessor and also had a “squint” – a small opening at eye level – through which the monarch could view religious services in a chapel located next door.

The chamber was apparently originally known as the King’s Chamber but came to be known as the Painted Chamber when the walls were decorated with paintings depicting vices and virtues and Biblical figures.

These paintings, which were completed over an almost 60 year period from 1226 and which were repaired a couple of times during that period, were added to with commissions by successive monarchs.

The painted chamber was the location for the State Opening of Parliament in the Middle Ages and was where Oliver Cromwell and the others signed King Charles I death warrant in 1649. The body of King Charles II rested here overnight before he was interred in Westminster Abbey.

A ceiling panel from the Painted Chamber depicting a prophet, created between 1263-1266 PICTURE: © The Trustees of the British Museum (licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Later neglected, the walls of the chamber were whitewashed and hung with tapestries and in the early 19th century restoration work was done to reveal the paintings again with artist and antiquarian Charles Stothard commissioned by the Society of Antiquarians in 1819 to make watercolour copies (further copies were also made by the clerk of works at Westminster, Thomas Crofton Croker).

By 1820, the chamber was being used for the Court of Requests, a civil claims court.

The Painted Chamber was gutted when fire devastated much of the Palace of Westminster on the night of 16th October, 1834. It was reroofed and refurnished and used by the House of Lords until 1847 – as well as for the State Opening of Parliament in February, 1835. It was finally demolished in 1851.

Two ceiling paintings which were removed in 1816 during repairs are now at the British Museum (pictured right).

This Week in London – Month-long Thames celebration kicks off; glass vessels saved after Beirut’s port explosion; and, Chiswick House…in LEGO…

• Totally Thames – London’s month-long celebration of its river – kicks off Friday with a programme featuring more than 100 events across a range of locations. Highlights this year include Reflections, an illuminated flotilla of more than 150 boats that will process down the Thames to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on 24th September; River of Hope, an installation of 200 silk flags created by young people across the UK and Commonwealth at the National Maritime Museum; and, of course, the Great River Race, London’s great river marathon on 10th September involving some 330 boats and crews from across the world. There’s also talks, walks, exhibitions and art and, of course, the chance to meet some mudlarks. For more, including the full programme of events, see https://thamesfestivaltrust.org.

Roman beaker, 1st century AD, The Archaeological Museum at the 
American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Eight ancient glass vessels, newly conserved after being damaged in the 2020 Beirut port explosion, have gone on show at the British Museum. Painstakingly pieced back together and conserved at the conservation laboratories at the British Museum, the vessels were among 72 from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods which were damaged when a case fell over in Beirut’s AUB Museum. Six of the vessels at the British Museum date from the 1st century BC, a period which saw glass production revolutionised in Lebanon, while two others date to the late Byzantine – early Islamic periods, and may have been imported to Lebanon from neighbouring glass manufacturing centres in Syria or Egypt. The vessels can be seen in Room 3 as part of the Asahi Shimbun Display Shattered glass of Beirut until 23rd October before their return to Lebanon in late Autumn. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.

• Chiswick House LEGO model. A brick model of Chiswick House is on show at the property in London’s west. The model, which uses 50,000 bricks and took two years to build, illustrates the dramatic architectural changes that Chiswick House has undergone in its 300-year history including the addition of two wings which were demolished in the late 18th century. On show until 31st October. Admission charge applies. For more, see https://chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk/event/chiswick-house-lego-brick-model/.

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10 unusual parks or gardens in London…9. Sky Garden…

The Sky Garden in August, 2021. PICTURE: ian262 (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While recent years have seen the creation of a number of roof gardens across London, the Sky Garden – located atop the controversial ‘Walkie Talkie’ building (otherwise known as 20 Fenchurch Street) – has the honour of being the highest public garden in the city.

The three floor garden, which was designed by landscape architecture practice Gillespie’s, opened in January, 2015.

Located on the 36th to 38th floors, it was designed to provide 360 degree views across London and features landscaped gardens, observation decks, an open air terrace (named for the late architectural townscape advisor Francis Golding) and five bars and restaurants.

The gardens include flowering plants such as the African Lily (Agapanthus), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) and Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) as well as fragrant herbs such as French Lavender.

WHERE: Sky Garden (via 1 Sky Garden Walk) (nearest Tube station is Monument); WHEN: 10am to 6pm weekdays; 11am to 9pm weekends; COST: Free (but rebooking required); WEBSITE: https://skygarden.london.

LondonLife – The annual weigh-in at London Zoo…

Squirrel monkey Winnie with keeper Rowan Swainson PICTURE: © ZSL London Zoo
Sumatran tigress Gaysha climbs on giant ruler during annual weigh-in PICTURE: © ZSL London Zoo

Squirrel monkeys, Sumatran tigers and Humboldt penguins were among the animals that had their statistics recorded at ZSL London Zoo’s 2022 annual weigh-in last week. With more than 14,000 animals in their care, ZSL London Zoo’s keepers spend hours throughout the year recording the up-to-date heights and weights of all the animals – information which helps them to monitor their health and wellbeing. The data is added to the Zoological Information Management System, a database shared with zoos all over the world that helps zookeepers to compare important information on thousands of endangered species.  “We record the vital statistics of every animal at the Zoo, from the tallest giraffe to the tiniest snail,” says Daniel Simmonds, deputy animal manager. “This helps to ensure that every animal we care for is healthy, eating well, and growing at the rate they should, as weight is a key indicator of health and wellbeing – a growing waistline can also help us to detect and monitor pregnancies, which is important as many of the species at ZSL London Zoo are endangered and part of international conservation breeding programmes, including today’s Sumatran tigers and Vietnamese giant snails.” Three Sumatran tiger cubs which were born at the zoo in June will be weighed next month at their first health check – which takes place at the age of three months.  For more, see www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo.

Humboldt penguin Bobby is weighed by keeper Jessica Jones PICTURE: © ZSL London Zoo

This Week in London – Celebrations as Museum of London marks final 100 days at London Wall; Ustad Alla Rakha’s tabla at British Museum; and, Lucian Freud in his grandfather’s home…

• The Museum of London is celebrating its final 100 days at London Wall on Friday with free ice creams and “goody bags” for visitors. The museum will be giving away 500 Lewis of London ice creams from 11:30am, while visitors will also enjoy a performance by Grand Union Orchestra at midday. The first 100 visitors through the doors will also receive a gift bag featuring Museum of London memorabilia, including a Museum of London guidebook, a pack of playing cards displaying iconic images from the museum’s collections, a greeting card featuring a print by artist Willkay, and a special gift of either a tea towel, a Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens mug, a sketch notebook, an A3 print of London or a soft toy. Meanwhile, from Friday, digital screens will display a countdown clock to mark the days left before the London Wall site closes to the public on 4th December, in preparation for the museum’s move to a new home at West Smithfield. Friday’s event is part of a six-month long programme of activities leading up to the closure of the site. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.

PICTURE: Courtesy of the British Museum

The tabla – twin hand drums – used by legendary Indian musician Ustad Alla Rakha during his European tours of the early 1980s is going on display at the British Museum in a world first. Ustad Alla Rakha was one of the most important and respected tabla players of his generation, working with the All India Radio in the 1930s, composing music for the film industry in the 40s, and regularly playing with world-renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar. The tabla will be on display in the Hotung Gallery until early 2023 after which they will go on loan to the Manchester Museum South Asia Gallery. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.

Now on: Lucian Freud: The Painter and His Family. The first exhibition of Lucian Freud’s work at the Freud Museum, the home of his grandfather, Sigmund Freud, and aunt, Anna Freud, this display explores Lucian Freud’s childhood, family and friends and celebrates some lesser known aspects of his life including his love of reading and lifelong fascination with horses as well as his relationships with the former occupants of the building. Alongside paintings and drawings, the exhibition includes illustrated childhood letters, books Freud owned and book covers he designed. His sole surviving sculpture, Three-legged Horse (1937) and early painting, Palm Tree (1944), is also being displayed. The display is being accompanied by a programme of events. For more, see www.freud.org.uk.

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