Richmond-Weir

Crossing the River Thames just downstream of Richmond and Twickenham Bridge, the Richmond weir and lock complex (actually it’s a half-lock and it also incorporates a footbridge) was built in the early 1890s to maintain a navigable depth of water upstream from Richmond. The Grade II*-listed structure, which is maintained by the Port of London Authority, was formally opened by the Duke of York (later King George V) on 19th May, 1894.

BeetleFrom Dr Livingstone, I presume? A recently unearthed collection of beetles gathered together by Dr David Livingstone during his Zambezi expedition of 1858-64 will go on display in its original box at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington on Friday night. The specimens were found among the museum’s 10 million beetles by beetle curator Max Barclay who stumbled on an unusual box received from a private collector. The collector was later found out to be amateur entomologist Edward Young Western (1837-1924) who apparently bought the specimens from a member of Livingstone’s expedition. The 20 beetles found inside the box are believed to the only surviving specimens known to have been collected by Livingstone. The specimens will be on show as part of Science Uncovered, a free annual after hours event – part of European Researcher’s Night – which will take place at the museum between 3pm and 10.30pm Friday night. Other highlights of the night include the chance to extract DNA from strawberries and bananas, create your own earthquake and chat live with NASA about chasing asteroids. For more, see www.nhm.ac.uk/scienceuncovered. PICTURE: Giant Predatory Ground Beetle, Termophilum alternatum © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Totally Thames – the month long celebration of the great river – is going out with a bang this weekend with more than 300 crews expected to take part in the Great River Race. Running from Millwall to Ham in Surrey, the 21.6 mile long event attracts entries from across the globe. The first boats leave Millwall at 12.40pm. Head to the riverbank between Richmond and Ham at approximately 3.40pm to see the winners cross the line to a cannon broadside. For more on the Great River Race, see www.greatriverrace.co.uk. Other events on as part of Totally Thames this weekend include historic riverside walks – one focused on Brunel and another on London’s ports before the Great Fire of 1666 as well as exhibitions including Richmond’s River at Orleans Gallery House in Twickenham and your last chance to see Florentijn Hofman’s HippopoThames. For more on Totally Thames, see www.totallythames.org.

Some of Snowdon’s most iconic images will be on show as part of a new exhibition opening at the National Portrait Gallery near Trafalgar Square on Friday. Snowdon: A Life in View will feature studio portraits spanning a period from the 1950s to the 1990s alongside images from Private View, Snowdon’s 1965 examination of the British art world, created in collaboration with art critic John Russell and then director of Whitechapel Gallery, Bryan Robertson. More than 40 black-and-white portraits are included in the display including some works acquired by the gallery last year. To be held in Room 37 and 37a of the ground floor Lerner Contemporary Galleries until 21st June. Admission is free. For more, see www.npg.org.uk.

On Now: Foundlings at War: World War I. This display at the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury reveals for the first time the stories of foundlings who fought as well as those of the mothers forced to leave their children at the hospital as a result of bereavement or abandonment of those serving abroad. A free digital ibook, The Foundlings at War: World War I, containing expanded background information was published to coincide with the opening of the display earlier this month and can be downloaded from iTunes. The exhibition is part of a major research project, Foundlings at War, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is the first of several displays examining the institution’s historic links with the military. For more, see www.foundlingmuseum.co.uk.

Send all items for inclusion to exploringlondon@gmail.com.

Marble-Hill-HouseA Palladian villa located on the bank of the Thames between Richmond and Twickenham, Marble Hill House was built in the mid to late 172os for Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II and later Countess of Suffolk.

The symmetrical property – seen as a model for later Georgian-era villas in both England and overseas – was constructed by Roger Morris. He, along with Henry Herbert – a friend of the countess and later the 9th Earl of Pembroke – was also involved in its design as was Colen Campbell, architect to the Prince of Wales and future King George II, who is believed to have drawn up the first sketch designs for the house.

As well as being familiar with the work of neo-Palladian Inigo Jones, Lord Herbert had travelled in Italy and there is it believed had directly encountered the works of sixteenth century Italian architect Andrea Palladio whose architecture the property emulated (see our earlier post on Chiswick House here).

Key rooms include the ‘great room’ – a perfect cube, this is the central room of the house and boasts a wealth of gilded carvings; the dining parlour which had hand-painted Chinese wallpaper; and, Lady Suffolk’s rather sparsely furnished but nonetheless impressive, bedchamber.

Marble-Hill-GrottoHoward, who as well as being a mistress of King George II both before and after his accession to the throne in 1727, was a Woman of the Bedchamber to his wife, Queen Caroline of Ansbach, and, as a result, initially spent little time at the property (which coincidentally was built using money the King had given her while he was still Prince of Wales).

But after she become the Countess of Suffolk in 1731 when her estranged husband Charles Howard became 9th Earl of Suffolk after his brothers’ deaths, Lady Suffolk was appointed Mistress of the Robes, and following the death of her husband in 1733, retired from court.

In 1735 following the end of her intimate relationship with the King, she married a second time, this time happily, to George Berkeley, younger brother of the 3rd Earl of Berkeley and an MP. Together the new couple split their time between a house in Savile Row and Marble Hill. Her husband died in 1746 and Lady Suffolk, who had come to be considered a very “model of decorum”, died at Marble Hill in 1767.

Among the visitors who had spent time at the property were poet and neighbour Alexander Pope (responsible for the design of the grounds along with royal landscape gardener Charles Bridgeman), writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, and, in Lady Suffolk’s later years, Horace Walpole – son of PM Sir Robert Walpole and builder of the Gothic masterpiece Strawberry Hill.

Following Lady Suffolk’s death, later residents of the property included another Royal Mistress – Mrs Fitzherbert, mistress to the future King George IV, Swedenborgian Charles Augustus Tulk and Jonathan Peel, brother of Sir Robert Peel (you can read more about Sir Robert Peel here).

Following the latter’s death, the house stood empty for many years before publication of plans for a redevelopment by then owner William Cunard caused a public outcry which saw the property pass into the hands of the London County Council around the year 1900.

The house opened to the public as a tea room in 1903 and remained as such until the mid-1960s when, now in the hands of the Greater London Council, it underwent a major restoration project and was reopened as a museum. In 1996, the house – which now stands on 66 acres and can be seen in a much lauded view from Richmond Hill – came into the care of English Heritage.

The grounds – Marble Hill Park – are open to the public for free and include a cafe located in the former coach house. Other features in the grounds include Lady Suffolk’s Grotto – pictured above – based on one at Pope’s residence nearby. It was restored after being rediscovered in the 1980s.

WHERE: Marble Hill House, Richmond Road, Twickenham (nearest Tub-e station is Richmond (1 miles) or train stations at St Margaret’s or Twickenham);  WHEN: Various times Saturday and Sunday – entry to the house by guided tour only; COST: £5.90 adults/£3.50 children (5-15 years)/£5.30 concession/£15.30 family; WEBSITE: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/marble-hill-house/.

Where is it? #73…

November 9, 2013

Where-is-it--#73

Can you identify where in London this picture was taken and what it’s of? If you think you can, leave a comment below. We’ll reveal the answer early next week. Good luck!

This is actually a picture of the Twickenham War Memorial, commemorating those who died in World War I and World War II. The bronze figure, the work of Mortimer Brown, sits in Twickenham’s Radnor Gardens, once the site of a house owned by the Earl of Radnor which sits on the bank of the River Thames. The memorial was recently restored following a campaign by the Friends of Radnor Gardens after one of its bronze plaques was stolen.

St-John's-GateHidden Treasures – the national initiative to celebrate the UK’s museum and archive collections – kicks off for its second year next Thursday, 22nd August, and runs over the bank holiday weekend until 27th August. Among the London institutions taking part this year are the British Library, the British Postal Museum and Archive in Houghton, the Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell (pictured) and Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham. Hidden Treasures is an initiative of the Collections Trust and the Independent newspaper. All events are free but some have to be pre-booked and have limited spaces so make sure you check out the details at www.hiddentreasures.org.uk/?page_id=118.

The programme for Open House London – held over the weekend of 21st and 22nd September – will be made available online from today (or alternatively you can order a hard copy via the Open House London website). It’s important to note that a few of the buildings involved can only be entered by those successful in a ballot – they include 10 Downing Street, The View from The Shard, EDF Energy London Eye and Gray’s Inn. Head to the website – www.londonopenhouse.org – to enter the ballots which close on 13th September.

The Isabella Plantation – a 40 acre ornamental woodland garden located in the south west area of Richmond Park – is celebrating 60 years since its creation and they’ve kicked off a fortnight’s programme of free events community to mark the occasion. The events, which will be focused around the yurt by Peg’s Pond in the plantation,  include guided walks, a showcase of art for young people and a Teddy Bears picnic on the bank holiday weekend. One of the most visited parts of Richmond Park, the plantation is home to the Wilson 50 National Collection of Evergreen Azaleas, more than 150 hardy hybrid Rhododendrons, 50 species of Rhododendron and a large collection of camellias and magnolia as well as many rare and unusual trees and shrubs. While the plantation can be dated as far back as 1771 (then named Isabella Slade), it was planted for timber in 1831, and in 1953 the present garden was established and the old name Isabella adopted for it. For more on the events, see www.royalparks.org.uk.

As Muslims mark the end of Ramadan this weekend, the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated in Trafalgar Square on Saturday. As well as the chance to sample foods from across the Islamic world, there will also be entertainment on stage, exhibitions and children’s activities. The festival, put on by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, runs between 1.30pm and 6pm. For more, see www.london.gov.uk/eid.

On Now: Take One Picture – Discover, Imagine, Explore: Children Inspired by Willem Kalf. This display at the National Gallery focuses on Willem Kalf’s Still Life with Drinking-Horn (about 1653) and features alongside it responsive works created by children from 25 schools across the UK and as far afield as Turkey with works from other schools captured in a slide-show. Located at the Annenberg Court (Getty Entrance), admission is free. Runs until 12th September. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

Where is it?…#61…

April 19, 2013

Where-is-it--#61Can you identify where in London this picture was taken and what it’s of? If you think you can, leave a comment below. We’ll reveal the answer early next week. Good luck!

Well done to Sue and Helen – this is, of course, Marble Hill House, located in south-west London on the banks of the River Thames between Richmond and Twickenham (this picture is taken from the opposite side of the Thames). Built for Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II when he was Prince of Wales, for the lady in her “retirement” from court, the Palladian villa is set among 66 acres of parkland. We’ll look at the house in more detail in a later post.

WHERE: Marble Hill House, Richmond Road, Twickenham (nearest Tube station is Richmond (1 mile) or train station, St Margarets (0.5 mile)); WHEN: 10am-2pm Saturday, 10am to 5pm Sunday (cafe and park are open daily); COST: £5.70 adults/£5.10 concessions/£3.40 child (5-15 years); WEBSITE: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/marble-hill-house/.

Twickenham was only a new ground when, in 1910, a England played Wales in what was the first international to be played at the ground – part of the first of what later became officially recognised as the Five Nations competition.

The game played on 15th January, 1910, was only the second to be played in the competition and followed Wales defeat of France in Swansea earlier in the month. A crowd of about 18,000 watched as England defeated Wales 11-6 (England went on to win the competition, winning three matches and drawing the match they played against Ireland).

Twickenham, meanwhile, had only hosted its inaugural match the year before when local sides the Harlequins and Richmond played (the Harlequins won, 14-10). The Rugby Football Union had purchased 10.25 acres of land in Twickenham – previously a market garden – after witnessing the crowds at international rugby contests held at Crystal Palace in south-east London in 1905 and 1906 and decided they needed a ground of their own.

The pitch was raised to prevent flooding and covered stands were build on the east and west side of the pitch, a terrace at the south end and an open mound at the north along with space f0r 200 automobiles or carriages.

The ground – the pitch of which was used for grazing animals in World War I – was developed further in the following years until World War II when it was used as a civil defence depot.

The next major development occurred in the late 1970s/early 1980s when the south terrace was controversially replaced with the South Stand. A new North Stand followed in 1991, a new East Stand in 1993 and a new West Stand in 1995. What was then known as the Museum of Rugby, based at Twickenham Stadium, was opened to the public the following year.

The most recent work has again been on the South Stand which was reopened in 2006 and brought the capacity of the ground to 82,000.

Other landmark games among the many played at Twickenham include the 1959 Twickenham Jubilee celebration match between England and Wales versus Ireland and Scotland (England and Wales won, 26-17) and the final of the 1991 Rugby World Cup (Australia defeated England 12-6). Twickenham will also host the final of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

There are regular tours of the ground (it’s advised to book these in advance) with highlights including the England dressing room, royal box, hospitality suites, medical room, player’s tunnel onto the pitch, a panoramic view of the arena from the top of the stand and a walk pitchside.

The tour also includes a visit to the World Rugby Museum (it’s possible to just buy tickets to the museum). Located in the East Stand (and known between 1996 and 2007 as the Museum of Rugby), the museum is home to some 25,000 artefacts – everything from a 1910 England v Ireland programme to pieces of kit worn by players from the earliest days of the game, a ceremonial wahaiki (or war cleaver) presented to the RFU by New Zealand Maoris in 1989, and the Calcutta Cup – dating from 1878 and made from the melted down silver coins (the savings of the now defunct Calcutta Rugby Club), it is presented to the winners of annual England versus Scotland match played as part of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

The museum also houses the Twickenham Wall of Fame, described as “a celebration of the best players from all over the world that have ever played at Twickenham Stadium”. There are also a series of blue plaques around the stadium celebrating some of the best players.

WHERE: Twickenham Stadium, Whitton Road, Twickenham (nearest station is Twickenham); WHEN: Museum is open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday/11am to 5pm Sunday; Tours are run at select times Tuesday to Sunday – check website for details including scheduled closures; COST: £7 an adult/£5 concessions for museum only; £15 and adult/£9 concessions/£45 family ticket; WEBSITE: www.rfu.com/twickenhamstadium.

Where is it? #32…

June 9, 2012

The latest in the series in which we ask you to identify where in London this picture was taken and what it’s of. If you think you can identify this picture, leave a comment below. We’ll reveal the answer early next week. Good luck!

Thought this one might stump a few but no! Well done to Janet Holmes and Park Town – both correctly located this at Twickenham and Janet in the gardens at York House, a 17th century mansion now used by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The house was named for the York family who once owned it and was also used by the French royal family (as well as nearby Orleans House). The gardens, which are open to the public, are quite spectacular and include two sections joined by a high bridge over a road. The gardens features numerous statues which were imported from Italy by a fraudulent financier, Whitaker Wright, who in the early 20th century took his own life. They were subsequently acquired by the last private owner of York House, Sir Ratan Tata (the son of an Indian industrialist, he purchased the house from the Duc d’Orleans). The larger than life-sized marble statues suffered neglect and vandalism before being restored in 1989. The particular group shown here is known as ‘The Naked Ladies’ and include eight ‘Oceanids’ and two aquatic horses. For more on the gardens and York House, see www.yorkhousesociety.org.uk.

In which we continue our look at some of London’s connections with Dickens’ writings…

• ‘Oliver Twist’ workhouse, Cleveland Street. The building, recently heritage listed following a campaign to save it, is said to have served as the model for the workhouse in Oliver Twist and was apparently the only building of its kind still in operation when Dickens wrote the book in the 1830s. Dickens had lived as a teenager nearby in a house in Cleveland Street and was living less than a mile away in Doughty Street (now the Charles Dickens Museum) when he wrote Oliver Twist. Thanks to Ruth Richardson – author of Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor – for mentioning this after last week’s post.

• Clerkenwell Green. It is here that Mr Brownlow first comes into contact with Oliver Twist and, mistakenly suspecting him of stealing from him, chases him through the surrounding streets. Interestingly, the grass (which you would expect when talking about a green) has been gone for more than 300 years – so it wasn’t here in Dickens’ time either.

• Barnard’s Inn, Fetter Lane. It was here, at one of London’s Inns of Court, that Pip and Herbert Pocket had chambers in Great Expectations. Barnard’s Inn, now the home of Gresham College, is only one of a number of the Inns of Court with which Dickens and his books had associations – the author lived for a time at Furnival’s Inn while Lincoln’s Inn (off Chancery Lane) features in Bleak House and the medieval Staple Inn on High Holborn makes an appearance in his unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. And, as mentioned last week, Middle Temple also features in his books.

• ‘Dickens House’, Took’s Court. Renamed Cook’s Court in Bleak House, the house – located in a court between Chancery and Fetter Lane – was where the law stationer Mr Snagsby lived and worked in the book. It’s now occupied by music promoter and impresario Raymond Gubbay.

• London Bridge. The bridge, a new version of which had opened in 1831 (it has since been replaced), featured in many of Dickens’ writings including Martin Chuzzlewit, David Copperfield and Great Expectations. Other bridges also featured including Southwark Bridge (Little Dorrit) and Blackfriars Bridge (Barnaby Rudge) and as well as Eel Pie Island, south-west along the Thames River at Twickenham, which is mentioned in Nicholas Nickleby.

We’ve only included a brief sample of the many locations in London related in some way to Dickens’ literary works. Aside from those books we mentioned last week, you might also want to take a look at Richard Jones’ Walking Dickensian London,  Lee Jackson’s Walking Dickens’ London or, of course, Claire Tomalin’s recent biography, Charles Dickens: A Life.