What’s in a name?…Shoe Lane…

Looking south down Shoe Lane from near Charterhouse Street where it passes under the Holborn Viaduct. PICTURE: Courtesy of Google Maps.

This name of this rather long laneway, which runs from Charterhouse Street, under Holborn Viaduct, all the way south to Fleet Street, doesn’t have anything to do with footwear.

The name is actually a corruption of the Sho Well which once stood at the north end of the thoroughfare (and which itself may have been named after a tract of land known as Shoeland Farm thanks to it resembling a shoe in shape).

In the 13th century the lane was the London home of the Dominican Black Friars – after they left in the late 13th century, the property became the London home of the Earl of Lincoln and later became known as Holborn Manor.

In the 17th century, the lane was known as for its signwriters and broadsheet creators as well as for a famous cockpit which was visited by none other than diarist Samuel Pepys in 1663. It was also the location of a workhouse.

Prominent buildings which have survived also include St Andrew Holborn, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (it actually survived the Great Fire of London but was in such a bad state of repair that it was rebuilt anyway). The street these days is lined with office buildings.

Famous residents have included John de Critz, Serjeant Painter to King James I and King Charles I, preacher Praise-God Barebone who gave his name to Barebone’s Parliament held in 1653 during the English Commonwealth, and Paul Lovell, who, so the story goes, refused to leave his house during the Great Fire of 1666 and so died in his residence.

This Week in London – A celebration of Spain and the Hispanic world; Lunar New Year at Greenwich; and, RA gifts at The Queen’s Gallery…

Joaquín Antonio de Basarás y Garaygorta, ‘Indian Wedding, in Origen, costumbres y estado presente de mexicanos y filipinos’ (1763); Illustrated manuscript on paper (41 x 65.7 cm). On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY

• The collection of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York is being celebrated in a new exhibition opening at the Royal Academy of Arts. Opening Saturday, Spain and the Hispanic World: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library features more than 150 works from the collection – founded in 1904 by Archer M Huntington – which range from paintings and sculptures to jewellery, maps and illuminated manuscripts. Highlights include Francisco de Goya’s painting The Duchess of Alba (1797), Pedro de Mena’s reliquary bust, Saint Acisclus (c1680), earthenware bowls from the Bell Beaker culture (c2400-1900 BC), Celtiberian jewellery from the Palencia Hoard (c150-72 BC), and Hispano-Islamic silk textiles including the Alhambra Silk (c1400). There’s also a beautifully illuminated Hebrew Bible (after 1450-97), an exceptionally rare Black Book of Hours (c1458), and, Giovanni Vespucci’s celebrated world map from 1526. The exhibition runs until 10th April. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.royalacademy.org.uk.

The Lunar New Year is being celebrated in Greenwich this Saturday with a series of events at the National Maritime Museum. Activities range from Mahjong workshops to seeing a traditional lion dance, lantern making, a tea ceremony demonstration and, of course, the chance to find out about the items in the museum’s collection with Asian connections. For more, see www.rmg.co.uk/whats-on/national-maritime-museum/lunar-new-year.

Royal Collection Trust staff conduct final checks of a display opening today at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, showcasing 20 contemporary artworks gifted to Queen Elizabeth II to mark the Platinum Jubilee. PICTURE: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023.

Twenty contemporary artworks gifted by the Royal Academy of Arts to Queen Elizabeth II ar on display at The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. The works on paper – created by Royal Academicians elected in the past decade – were presented to the Queen to mark her Platinum Jubilee in 2022. They include Wolfgang Tillmans’ Regina – a photograph taken during Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 depicting the Queen in the Gold State Coach passing along Fleet Street, Yinka Shonibare’s Common Wealth – a digital print of an orchid against a collage of platinum leaf and Dutch wax printed fabric, and Sir Isaac Julien’s Lady of the Lake – a fictionalised portrait of the American abolitionist Anna Murray Douglass as well as a digital print of Thomas Heatherwick’s design for the Tree of Trees project. This 21-foot sculpture incorporates 350 saplings and was erected outside Buckingham Palace as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy and was illuminated during a special Platinum Jubilee ceremony on 2nd June last year. The works can be seen until 26th February. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.rct.uk.

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Happy New Year 2023!

ILLUSTRATION: extravagantni/iStockphoto.

Wishing all our readers a great start to 2023!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

PICTURE: Deep Trivedi/Unsplash

We’ll be back next week with our annual most popular posts countdown…

Five locations located to Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’…

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is forever linked to Christmas in London. So, with Christmas almost upon us, here’s a quick look at five locations mentioned or alluded to in the famous book…

1. 16 Bayham Street, Camden Town. Bob Cratchit’s house is described as being in Camden Town but what’s interesting is that as a child Dickins’ himself lived here at this property. So whether or not it’s the actual address Dickens had in mind for Cratchit’s property, it’s certainly in the vicinity.

The Royal Exchange today. PICTURE: Klaudia Piaskowska/Unsplash

2. The Royal Exchange. Referenced in regard to Ebenezer Scrooge who did business there. The current building was still being completed when Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 following a fire at the premises several years before. It was opened in 1844.

3. Simpsons Tavern. Scrooge is said to have taken his “melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern” which has been suggested could refers to Simpsons. Located in Ball Court, the current premises opened in 1757. The George & Vulture in Michael’s Alley is also mentioned as a possibility.

4. Newman’s Court. Located near Cornhill (which is mentioned in the book as the site where Bob Cratchit goes on a slide after leaving Scrooge’s office), it’s been suggested more than once that while the location of Scrooge’s counting house is not specified in the text, a location in Newman’s Court would fit the bill.

5. Leadenhall Market. Following Scrooge’s transformation, he sends a boy out to buy a turkey- commentators suggest the poulterer the boy attends was located in Leadenhall Market which would have been a predecessor to the current building which dates from 1881.

LondonLife – Christmas in London…

Ice skating at Somerset House. PICTURE: Owen Harvey
South Bank Winter Market. PICTURE: David Ogle
Part of the Miracle on Leake Street event in Waterloo. PICTURE: Leake Street
Christmas at Kew. PICTURE: Royal Botanic Gardens
Glide at Battersea Power Station. PICTURE: Joshua Atkins

Four unusual London Christmas traditions (redux)…

1. The Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses…

2. The Smithfield Meat Auction…

3. The Peter Pan Cup…

4. The Boy Bishop of St Paul’s…

This Week in London – Carols at Westminster Abbey; cathedrals at St Paul’s; and, ‘Making Modernism’ at the Tate…

PICTURE: Manuel Weber/Unsplash

The Princess of Wales will host a Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey today. The service, which will be attended by members of the Royal Family, will recognise the selfless efforts of individuals, families and communities across the UK as well as paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and the values she demonstrated at Christmas and throughout her life, including empathy, compassion and support for others. The service will be broadcast on ITV One in the UK on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, a special Christmas episode of Westminster Abbey: Behind Closed Doors will be shown on Channel 5 next Wednesday, 21st December. For more, see My5: Westminster Abbey: Behind Closed Doors.

An exhibition show-casing the work of photographer Peter Marlow, who has photographed all 42 Church of England cathedrals, can be seen at St Paul’s Cathedral. Commissioned in 2008 by Royal Mail to photograph six cathedrals – images of which were used on commemorative stamps marking the 300th anniversary of the completion of St Paul’s Cathedral, Marlow went on to continue taking pictures of cathedrals using just natural light. The display, which is touring all 42 cathedrals, can be found in the South Nave aisle until 26th January. Included in admission charge. For more, see www.stpauls.co.uk/whats-on/exhibition-peter-marlows-english-cathedral.

On Now: Making Modernism. The first major UK exhibition devoted to women artists working in Germany in the early 20th century, this exhibition at the Royal Academy’s Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries includes 67 paintings and works on paper. The artists featured include Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Gabriele Münter and Marianne Werefkin, with additional works by Erma Bossi, Ottilie Reylaender and Jacoba van Heemskerck. Runs until 12th February. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.royalacademy.org.uk.

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LondonLife – Christmas lights in the West End (part II)…

Christmas windows at Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly. ALL PICTURES: Jed Leicester/PinP
Carnaby Street lights.
Piccadilly Arcade decorated for Christmas.
Clos Maggiore shopfront in Covent Garden
New Bond Street.

A Moment in London’s History – The first Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree…

The Trafalgar Square tree in 2019. PICTURE: SHansche/iStockphoto.
The 1947 Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. PICTURE: Open Government Licence/National Archives.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.

The native spruce has been a gift from the people of the city of Oslo – the capital of Norway – to the people of Britain since 1947, presented as a thank you for the support given Norway during World War II.

Special permission had to be given for the 40 foot high tree to be illuminated. The Ministry of Fuel decided to do so on the basis that “the lighting will not be for business purposes: the tree is classed as ‘a charitable gift’ – a goodwill gift to cheer London.”

A sizeable crowd gathered to witness the lights being turned on.

Among the official party was the Ambassador of Norway. He told the crowd that the tradition of a Norwegian Christmas Tree in London started when King Haakon VII was residing in London during World War II.

The ambassador said that each year during the king’s residency, the Norwegian Navy undertook an operation to bring a tree from Norway for the King so he could celebrate Christmas “looking on a Christmas tree grown on Norwegian soil”.

In 2016, UCL academic Ingrid A Medby described the annual presenting of the tree as a “diplomatic gesture”, “a token of gratitude” and a “symbol of geopolitical ties”.

This year’s 21 metre-high tree had its 500 lights illuminated on 1st December (the tree is traditionally lit on the first Thursday in December), It had been chopped down on 19th November in the Nordmarka forests near Oslo and travelled 1,000 miles by land and sea to reach Trafalgar Square.

Treasures of London – The first (commercial) Christmas card…

Christmas cards have been a staple of Christmases (although a declining one these days) since at least as far back as 1843.

It was then that Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant, inventor and the first director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, came up with the idea of sending out a card bearing Christmas greetings to a large number of people as a means of coping with the substantial volume of correspondence he was receiving (and would have to send to greet family and friends at Christmas).

Sir Henry commissioned his friend, painter John Callcott Horsley, to design the card and an initial run of 1,000 cards were printed by Jobbins of Warwick Court in Holborn (a further thousands cards were printed in a second run).

Having sent the cards he required, Sir Henry sold the rest for a shilling each under his literary pseudonym of Felix Summerly from the premises of his publisher Joseph Cundall in Old Bond Street (the introduction of the uniform Penny Post in 1840 having made sending them affordable – Cole had been an important figure in its establishment as assistant to the idea’s main instigator Rowland Hill).

The card, which were hand-coloured by professional colourer Mason, depicts a family gathered for Christmas and imbibing wine with side panels depicting two acts of charity – “feeding the hungry” and “clothing the naked”. On it were printed the words “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You”.

The card was apparently controversial for its depiction of drinking wine (temperance advocates argued it promoted drunkenness) and particularly for its images of children drinking wine.

The idea didn’t also catch on immediately – the cost of a shilling was rather steep. But new designs soon began to appear in the following years and by the mid-1850s, the idea had finally taken hold.

WHERE: The Postal Museum, 15-20 Phoenix Place (nearest Tube stations are Farringdon, Russell Square, King’s Cross St Pancras and Chancery Lane); WHEN: 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday (booking in advance suggested); COST: Adult £17/Young person (16-24) £12/Child (3-15) £10 (discounts apply for booking online/other ticket types available; WEBSITE: www.postalmuseum.org

LondonLife – Christmas lights in the West End…

Christmas is looming so here’s our first look at some of London’s Christmas light displays…

Christmas lights in Regent Street. ALL PICTURES: Jed Leicester/PinP
Christmas lights in South Moulton Street, Mayfair…
Christmas tree and lights at Covent Garden.
One of the Selfridges Christmas windows on Oxford Street.
Harrods Brompton Road frontage decorated for Christmas.

This Week in London – Christmas at Hampton Court Palace; the V&A’s couture Christmas Tree; and, the stories of Asian and African foundlings…

Festive Fayre returns to Hampton Court Palace this weekend with visitors having the chance to do some Christmas shopping, sample some festive treats and enjoy live music. The festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday, takes place ahead of the launch of the palace’s Christmas light trail – Palace of Light – next Wednesday (7th December). Inspired by Henry VIII’s heraldic beasts, it features an array of installations, ranging from a sea-monster lurking in the Great Fountain Garden to polka-dot panther lanterns in the Wilderness. Created by the award-winning outdoor event producers Wild Rumpus, the light trail can be visited until 2nd January. For more, see www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/.

Christmas tree installation, designed by Miss Sohee PICTURE: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A has unveiled its couture Christmas Tree installation for this year – a work by London-based Korean fashion designer Miss Sohee. On display in the Cromwell Road Grand Entrance, the installation reimagines the traditional Christmas tree as a three metre long couture gown, which combines Sohee’s signature style of vibrant silhouettes and intricate embroidery with religious statuary found around the museum. The installation can be seen until 5th January. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk.

On Now – Tiny Traces: African & Asian Children at London’s Foundling Hospital. This exhibition at The Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury explores the newly discovered stories of African and Asian children in the care of the hospital in the 18th century, following the stories of more than a dozen children through personal items, physical artefacts, works of art and archival documents. In a parallel thread, works of art by artists including Zarina Bhimji, Hew Locke, Kehinde Wiley, Alexis Peskine, Deborah Roberts and Shanti Panchal form a dialogue with the historic narratives. Admission charge applies. Runs until 19th February. For more, see https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk.

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This Week in London – 12 Days of Christmas at the Tower; Museum of London celebrates its London Wall closing; and, William Beatty at the Old Royal Naval College…

The Tower of London is getting into the festive spirit with a celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Twelve installations have been installed at the Tower, each representing as different aspect of the fortress’s unique history – from nine wreaths representing “nine rowdy ravens” to five gold coins representing the Mint once housed there. There’s also the six Queens of King Henry VIII and three “lordly lions” – a reference to a gift presented to King Henry III and housed in a Lion Pit at the tower. Visitors will have the chance to collect a map at the start of their visit and follow a trail to find the installations at they explore the Tower. Christmas at the Tower of London runs daily until 3rd January. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/.

The Museum of London is preparing to close its doors at its London Wall site as it moves to its new location in Smithfield and to celebrate it’s holding two free weekend festivals. The first, to be held this weekend, will feature family-friendly activities including arts and crafts, dance, face painting and theatrical performances while the second, to be held on the weekend of 3rd and 4th December (after which the museum will close), will feature a celebration of London’s music scene from the 70s to the present day with a DJ sets, a late night film festival and museum’s first ever 24 hour opening. Visitors on both weekends can also take part in London Biggest Table Football competition for a chance to win an England shirt signed by Harry Kane and to see the museum’s collection in a new light thanks to an illuminated display. For more on the festivals, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london.

Now On: Blood and Battle: Dissecting the life of William Beatty. The life and work of renowned 19th-century naval surgeon and physician, Sir William Beatty, is explored in this exhibition at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. The display – which marks 200 years since Beatty, who had served as ship’s surgeon on HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar (and who wore the musket ball that killed Nelson in a locket on his watch chain for the rest of his life afterwards) – took up the post of Physician to the Royal Hospital for Seamen – explores Beatty’s work as a ship’s surgeon, his time at Greenwich Hospital and how he was honoured by being knighted and appointed Physician Extraordinary to George IV and the Duke of Clarence (later William IV) as well as his outside interests including his involvement in developing the London – Greenwich Railway. Admission charge applies. For more, see https://ornc.org.

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This Week in London – 10 years of Christmas at Kew; British and Chinese at the British Library; and, The Horror Show! at Somerset House…

Christmas returned to Kew this week with the launch of its 10th festive light trail. This year’s display features some past favourites as well as new light installations including Feathers by Pyrite Creative which features 16 floating UV feathers which sway in the breeze, LuminARTi’s Willow Hives which illuminate natural forms, and Illusion Hole by UxU Studio, a geometrically arranged pattern situated on the lake which presents visitors with an optical illusion in which water formed by light appears to flow into an unknown abyss. The popular Fire Garden has returned along with the Christmas Cathedral and a series of breath-taking projections dance across the surface of the Palm House and adjacent lake, set to a memorable soundtrack of much-loved Christmas classics. The display can be seen until 8th January. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.kew.org/christmas.

Frank Soo at the Victoria Ground, Stoke, 1933. PICTURE: The Sentinel & StokeonTrentLive

A free exhibition exploring British Chinese communities and culture opens at the British Library tomorrow. Chinese and British celebrates the lasting impact of Chinese communities in the UK and presents personal stories and artefacts. Highlights include a hand-drawn map of China by Shen Fuzong – the first recorded Chinese person to visit the UK in 1687, a detailed doll’s house model of a Chinese takeaway, Ling Shuhua’s 1953 autobiography, Ancient Melodies, which was dedicated to Virginia Woolf who offered advice on drafts of her memoir, a fan made of bamboo slats and paper from mulberry bark in Hangzhou and pair of hand-embroidered shoes belonging to Kathy Hall, a London-based practitioner of traditional Chinese opera. There’s also trench art produced by Chinese Labour Corps workers during World War I, cigarette cards featuring Frank Soo, the first player of Chinese origin to play in the English Football League, and Rosanna Lee’s 2022 film Parallel which follows a family during their weekly ritual of going out for dim sum at the Pearl Dragon restaurant in Southend-on-Sea. The exhibition can be seen until 23rd April. For more, see www.bl.uk.

On Now: The Horror Show!: A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain. This display at Somersert House, divided into three acts – ‘Monster’, ‘Ghost’ and ‘Witch’, explores how exploring how ideas rooted in horror have informed the last 50 years of creative rebellion, looking beyond horror as a genre and instead “taking it as a reaction and provocation to our most troubling times”. The display features more than 200 artworks and culturally significant objects including Chila Burman’s If There is No Struggle, There is no Progress – Uprising (1981), Derek Jarman’s last feature and magnum opus, Blue (1993), and a striking presentation of Turner Prize winning-artist Tai Shani’s The Neon Hieroglyph (2021). Admission charges apply. Runs until 19th February. For more, see somersethouse.org.uk. ​

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LondonLife – Marking the King’s birthday; remembering the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in war; and, welcoming a new Lord Mayor…

Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery arrive at Green Park for the 41 gun salute to celebrate King Charles III’s 74th birthday on Monday. In London, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and The Honourable Artillery Company each fired celebratory Royal Salutes at 12 noon and 1pm respectively in what was the first formal birthday salute for King Charles III since he became monarch. PICTURE: Giles Anderson/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.
Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery firing a 41-gun salute to celebrate King Charles III’s 74th birthday. PICTURE: Giles Anderson/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.
King Charles III leads the royal party to their position at the Cenotaph on Sunday as armed forces personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force came together for Remembrance Sunday and the National Service of Remembrance. Joining the King and members of the Royal Family, more than 600 members of the Armed Forces honoured the brave servicemen and women killed in all conflicts since the First World War. PICTURE: Simon Walker / No10 Downing Street/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.
Armed Forces personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force gathered at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, for the National Service of Remembrance. PICTURE: Cpl Tim Hammond/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.
Pikeman march through the streets of the City of London for the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday. Some 6,500 people, 250 horses, more than 50 decorated floats, and a flying pig, took part in the parade. PICTURE: Corporal Rob Kane/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022.
Nicholas Lyons, elected as the 694th Lord Mayor of the City of London, waves from the golden State Coach, which has been used in every Lord Mayor’s Show since 1757 and is the oldest ceremonial vehicle in regular use in the world. PICTURE: Lt Reilly AGC (ETS)/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

This Week in London – The Lord Mayor’s Show; Mass-Observation remembered; and, modern and contemporary art at the British Museum…

The Lord Mayor’s Show will be held this Saturday, 12th November, welcoming the 694th Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Nicholas Lyons, into office. The Show, which dates back to the early 13th century, features more than 6,500 people, 250 horses and more than 130 floats as well as the golden State Coach which has been used to carry the Lord Mayors since as far back as 1757 and is said to be the oldest ceremonial vehicle still in regular use anywhere in the world. The three mile long procession will start passing by Mansion House at 11am and make its way to St Paul’s Cathedral and then head on to the Royal Courts of Justice where the Mayor will swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch, before returning along the Embankment and Victoria Street to Mansion House. For more on the history of the Show and details about the best places to stand, head to https://lordmayorsshow.london.

The original headquarters of Mass-Observation, a pioneering social research organisation, has been marked with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. The organisation started its worked at the property 6 Grotes Buildings in Blackheath from 1937 until 1939 – by the end of its first year there were around 600 ‘mass observers’ involved in the work, one of the key aims of which was to gauge public opinion on a range of issues to help enable the writing of “a democratic people’s history from below”. During World War II, Mass-Observation worked on behalf of the government and morphed into a market research company in 1949, Mass Observation Ltd, before being incorporated into the British Market Research Bureau. The project was restarted in 1981 at the University of Sussex and continues to this day. For more on English Heritage Blue Plaques, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.

A collection of about 100 modern and contemporary artworks on paper have gone on show at the British Museum, part of a larger gift of works donated by London-based art collector Hamish Parker. Art on paper since 1960: the Hamish Parker collection features works by works by the likes of British artist Lucian Freud, French-Israeli artist Avigdor Arikha, American artist Richard Serra and Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi. There are also two “artist in focus” sections which take a more in-depth look at the work of American artists Carroll Dunham and Al Taylor. Runs until 5th March in Gallery 90. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.

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This Week in London – Bonfire Night; Treason at The National Archives; two Turner’s return after 100+ years; and, science fiction at the Science Museum…

A previous Bonfire Night in London. PICTURE: teo73/iStockphoto

“Remember, remember, the 5th of November…” It’s Bonfire Night this Saturday night and fireworks displays will be held across London with key displays at Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park and Wimbledon Park. Rather than list them all here, Visit London has put together a handy guide which you’ll find here.

A section of the Treason Act. PICTURE: Courtesy of The National Archives (Open Government Licence)

What did the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, the establishment of the Church of England, the creation of the United States of America and the extension of UK voting rights have to do with acts of treason? Treason: People, Power & Plot, a new exhibition at The National Archives in Kew, examines the role treason has played across the span of 700 years of history. On display will be the original Treason Act, passed in 1352 during the reign of King Edward III (pictured), and the Monteagle Letter – which suggested the recipient should not attend parliament on 5th November, 1605 (effectively tipping them off about the Gunpowder Plot) as well as Guy Fawkes’ confession, a document containing the charges levelled against King Henry VIII’s ill fated wife, Anne Boleyn, and the United States’ Declaration of Independence. Accompanying the display will be a range of online and on-site events. The free exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until 6th April. For more, see www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/treason/.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) The Harbor of Dieppe, 1826 oil on canvas 68 3/8 in. x 88 3/4 in. (173.67 cm x 225.43 cm) Henry Clay Frick Bequest. Accession number: 1914.1.122

Two ground-breaking JMW Turner paintings – Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile and Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening – have returned to the UK for the first time in more than 100 years as part of a new exhibition at The National Gallery. The Turner on Tour exhibition looks at the artist’s life-long fascination with ports and harbours and highlights the regular sketching tours he took within Europe that were central to his fame as an artist-traveller, as well as his “radical approach to colour, light and brushwork”. The two paintings, which have not been since in the UK since 1911, were exhibited in New York in 1914 at the Knoedler Gallery. They were subsequently acquired by the American industrialist Henry Clay Frick and have remained in the United States ever since but are now being generously lent by The Frick Collection. Can be seen until 19th February in Room 46. Admission is free. For more, see nationalgallery.org.uk.

On Now: Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination. This exhibition at the Science Museum in South Kensington features more than 70 objects and uncovers connections between significant scientific innovations and celebrated science fiction works. On display is classic literature that has inspired new understandings of the world as well as set-pieces and props from iconic films and TV – everything from a Lieutenant Uhura costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, to the Dalek from Doctor Who and a Darth Vader helmet created for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. There are also contemporary artworks from across the globe that explore alternative futures for humanity. The exhibition is accompanied by an events programme. Runs until 4th May. Admission charges apply. For more, see sciencemuseum.org.uk/science-fiction.

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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

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.