Queen Elizabeth II didn’t attend the State Opening of Parliament last Tuesday for the first time in almost 60 years with Prince Charles delivering the Queen’s Speech for the first time. In an event that’s all about pomp and pageantry, more than 500 soldiers and 125 military horses took part in a variety of ceremonial roles over the day.
City of London-managed open spaces Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches and Ashtead Common have been selected to be part of a nationwide network of 70 ancient woodlands to be dedicated to The Queen in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee. At almost 6,000 acres, Epping Forest is London and Essex’s largest green space and is known as the “green lungs” of London. Burnham Beeches, located in Buckinghamshire, is only a square mile in size but is described as a “New Forest in miniature” while Ashtead Common in Surrey’s 200 hectares of open public space is home to more 1,000 living ancient oak pollards. For more on The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, see www.queensgreencanopy.org. For more on the City of London’s green spaces, see www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do.
A row of terraced houses overlooking the Thames in Hammersmith.
The Arks of Gimokudan, the first large-scale installation by Philippine artist-designer Leeroy New, has taken up residence in Somerset House’s central courtyard to mark Earth Day later this month. The installation features a fleet of three ships – made using reused and recycled materials and plastic waste – which appear to float some three metres above ground, inviting visitors to imagine themselves underwater and looking up at the vessals which draw on the history, culture and mythologies of his home nation of the Philippines, the country most at risk from the climate crisis according to a 2019 report. The ships represent a Spanish imperial galleon highlighting the Philippines’ long history of colonisation, a contemporary, military battleship, referencing continued territorial conflict and international tension in the region, and a futuristic spaceship, inspired by New’s fascination with sci-fi and world-making while the overall work also references Mebuyan, the Goddess of Gimokudan (Death and Fertility). Earth Day will be celebrated on 22nd April and the work can be seen in the Edmond J Safra Fountain Court until 26th April. Meanwhile, the first in the series of Morgan Stanley Lates at Somerset House with The Courtauld will take place on Wednesday (13th April) with Leeroy New in which visitors are invited to take part in a free live sculpting workshop in the courtyard. There will also be food from Hackney’s Bongbong’s Manila Kanteen, dance performances from 2022 Olivier award nominee Julia Cheng, a DJ, drinks and more. For more, see www.somersethouse.org.uk.
Visitors to the Cutty Sark now have the opportunity to climb the ship’s rigging for the first time since the ship arrived in Greenwich in 1954. The ‘Rig Climb Experience’, which was launched last weekend, sees those bold enough to do so stepping up from the main deck onto the ship’s ratlines, climbing up its shrouds and traversing one of the ship’s lower yardarms to reach the tops platform where they’ll be able to take in magnificent views over Greenwich and The Thames. One of the fastest tea clippers of its day, the Cutty Sark – which was built in Dumbarton in 1869 – had more than 11 miles of rigging, 32 sails with an original sail area of 32,000 square feet, and a 152 foot main mast. Prices start at £41 for adults and £26 for children for a ‘Standard Rig Climb’ and £51 for adults and £36 for children for the Rig Climb Experience Plus. For more, head to www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark.
A parakeet admires the cherry blossom in St James’s Park.
Demonstrations in support of Ukraine have taken place in numerous places in London since Russia launched its invasion on 24th February, including in Trafalgar Square.
The largest Roman mosaic to be unearthed in London in 50 years has been found near The Shard in Southwark.
The well-preserved mosaic, parts of which are thought to be 1,800-years-old, features two highly decorated panels.
The largest of the two shows large, colourful flowers surrounded by bands of intertwining strands – a motif known as a guilloche – while the design also features lotus flowers and several different geometric elements, including a pattern known as Solomon’s knot which is made of two interlaced loops.
The smaller panel features a simpler design, with two Solomon’s knots, two stylised flowers and striking geometric motifs in red, white and black. Its design is the “almost exact parallel” of a mosaic found in the German city of Trier which suggests a travelling group of artists may have been responsible for both.
The mosaic is believed to be floor of a dining room or ‘triclinium’ of a Roman ‘mansio’, an “upmarket ‘motel'” which offered accommodation, stabling, and dining facilities to people of high rank. The room would have contained couches on which people would have reclined to eat and would have featured brightly painted walls. Fragments of colourful wall plaster have been found on the site as well as traces of an earlier mosaic underneath the one they discovered.
The discovery was made by archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) during an excavation ahead of building work on a new mixed use development to be constructed on the site, which was previously used as a car park.
MOLA site supervisor, Antonietta Lerz, described the discovery in a statement as a “once-in-a-lifetime find in London”.
“It has been a privilege to work on such a large site where the Roman archaeology is largely undisturbed by later activity-when the first flashes of colour started to emerge through the soil everyone on site was very excited!”
The archaeologists have identified another large Roman building neighbouring the mansio which they believe is likely to have been the private residence of a wealthy individual or family.
Plans for the future display of the mosaic are currently under discussion.
As the world reacts to the Russian attack on Ukraine, on 24th February, Number 10 Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minister, and, below, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, in Whitehall are lit in the colours of the Ukrainian flag as the UK “stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine“.
The Hungerford Bridge, flanked by the two Golden Jubilee Bridges, and the north-west bank of the Thames.
The Honourable Artillery Company fires a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London to mark the 70th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. The gun salute at the Tower was one of a number which took place across the UK on Monday – while the date of the Queen’s accession was the 6th February, gun salutes do not traditionally take place on a Sunday. The gun salutes are traditionally comprised of 21 rounds with a further 20 rounds fired at Royal Parks and palaces and a further 21 at the Tower to show the respect the City of London has for the Queen. Below, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery can be seen firing 41 rounds in Green Park.
Buckingham Palace is among the sites across London which will be hosting events to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee this June. The Queen’s 70th year on the throne will be marked with four days of celebrations across the June bank holiday weekend which will include the Queen’s Birthday Parade (known as Trooping the Colour), the lighting of Platinum Jubilee Beacons – including the principal beacon at Buckingham Palace, a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, the ‘Platinum Party at the Palace’ – a celebration concert in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, The Big Jubilee Lunch in communities across the city, and a special Platinum Jubilee Pageant, part of which will see a moving river of flags rippling down The Mall. For more information, head to www.royal.uk/platinum-jubilee-central-weekend.
Christmas came early for some of the residents at ZSL London Zoo this week. Asiatic lions Bhanu and Arya discovered brightly wrapped boxes scented with seasonal spices in the Land of the Lions while in the Gorilla Kingdom, the zoo’s troop of Western lowland gorillas found gifts of their favourite festive vegetables. “Gorillas Alika, Gernot, Mjukuu and Effie are always keen to clean their plates of all the festive veg at Christmas – they loved digging into their presents to find juicy carrots and tasty Brussels sprouts,” said head zookeeper Dan Simmonds. “And while lioness Arya carefully picked up her gifts and carried them off to play with later, Bhanu opened his all at once, rolling around in the boxes to release his favourite seasonal scents – nutmeg and cinnamon.” The zoo is open every day apart from Christmas Day. For more, see www.zsl.org/london-zoo. PICTURES: ZSL London Zoo.
The Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London has been decked out for Christmas with an array of glittering decorations. Animals including a polar bear, elephants and lions were kept at various times in the Tower’s menagerie which started thanks to a royal penchant to giving exotic animals as gifts to fellow monarchs. King Edward I created the first permanent home for the menagerie which, after hundreds of years, closed for good in 1835. The Christmas display the Tower, which centres on the Tower Green Christmas tree, can be seen until 3rd January. Admission charges apply. For more, see www.hrp.org.uk.