News today that Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister of the UK. Johnson, who will take over from Theresa May – only the second woman to hold the office – as PM tomorrow after winning the Conservative Party vote over Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, will be the 14th Prime Minister to serve in the office during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. PICTURE: US State Department

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Queen-at-CrossrailBoris Johnson, the Mayor of London, announced last week that the new Underground line under construction in the Crossrail project will be named the Elizabeth line, in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen (pictured above with Transport Commissioner Mike Brown), who became the first ruling monarch to travel on the Underground when she did so in 1969 at the opening of the Victoria line, was on hand for a tour of the line’s Bond Street Station site and was presented with a commemorative Elizabeth line roundel. The new line, which will change the way people travel across London, stretches from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. PICTURES: © Transport for London/James O Jenkins (above).

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Gothic The UK’s largest exhibition of Gothic literature opens at the British Library in Kings Cross on Saturday (4th October), marking the 250th anniversary of the publication of the breakthrough book, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will feature manuscripts and rare and personal editions of Gothic classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist as well as the work of contemporary writers like Angela Carter and Mervyn Peake. There will also be Gothic-inspired artworks by the likes of Henry Fuseli and William Blake and modern art, photography, costumes and movies by the likes of Chapman Brothers and Stanley Kubrick. A range of literary, film and music events will accompany the exhibition which runs until 20th January. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/gothic/. PICTURE: Percival Delivering Belisane from the Enchantment of Urma, Henry Fuselli. © Tate.

The founder of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission, Sir Fabian Ware (1869-1949), has been honoured with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former home in Marylebone. Sir Fabian lived at the early 19th century Grade II-listed terraced house at 14 Wyndham Place between 1911 and 1919. It was during this period that he served with the British Red Cross in France and first began recording the graves of soldiers killed in battle. In 1917, the Imperial War Graves Commission was formed with the task of reburying the war dead in permanent cemeteries in France. Knighted in 1920, Sir Fabian was to be director of graves registration and enquiries at the War Office during World War II and it was at this time that he extended the war graves scheme to civilians killed in the conflict. The commission changed its name to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1960. Today it cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in 153 countries. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/blue-plaques/.

New Year’s Eve in London will be a ticketed event for the first time this year with 100,000 tickets being made available to the public with each costing a £10 administration fee – the entire sum of which will apparently be used to pay for the ticketing system. Making the announcement last month, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s, office, said the growth in numbers of those who have gathered to watch the fireworks on the Thames – from around 100,000 in 2003 to an estimated 500,000 last year – has put an enormous strain on transport and safety infrastructure and meant people have had to turn up earlier and earlier to get a good view, facing hours waiting in cold and cramped conditions, or risk being among the “hundreds of thousands” unable to get a good view or even see the display at all. Booking tickets – people may secure up to four – will guarantee “good views of the celebrations and a better visitor experience”. To book tickets, head to www.london.gov.uk/nye.

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A former car breaker’s yard in Hackney has reopened as a “pocket park” of “installations and hidden spaces” following an extensive transformation project. Located next to the National Trust’s Tudor manor house, Sutton House, Breaker’s Yard incorporates elements from the site’s history including car tyres, a bus greenhouse, bespoke metal gates made out of more than 1,000 toy cars donated by celebrities, locals and artists, and a multi-storey caravan sculpture, The Grange, created by landscape designer Daniel Lobb who also designed the park in collaboration with arts-based educational charity, The House of Fairy Tales. The flower-filled park also features an ice-cream van, decorated by Rose Blake – daughter of Sir Peter Blake, which will act as a “playful shop”. The park is one of a 100 ‘pocket parks’ created under a $2 programme by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in this case in collaboration with the National Trust and a host of volunteers. Entry to the park is free but admission charge applies to the house. For more on the park and Sutton House, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-house/.

A photographic exhibition, Exploring London’s First World War Memorials, is running at City Hall near Tower Bridge in Southwark. Organised by the Mayor of London with aid from the War Memorials Trust, English Heritage and others, the exhibition is centred on new images of war memorials by London-based photographer James O Jenkins. As well as more traditional monuments, the memorials take the form of everything from fountains to paintings, buildings and landscape features. Entry is free. Runs until 12th September. For more, see www.london.gov.uk/events. Meanwhile, the Guildhall Library is showcasing images taken by photographer Simon Gregor for the Remembrance Image Project. Runs until 12th November and is part of a series of World War I commemorative events the library is running. Others include an installation by artist Rebecca Louise Law called Poppy made up of 8,000 paper poppies from the Royal British Legion. For more on World War I commemorative events at the Guildhall LIbrary follow this link.

Open House London’s programme is available for download from tomorrow (Friday, 15th August). The event, which will be held over the weekend of 20th and 21st September, will this year be conducted under the theme of ‘revealing’ and will feature more than 800 buildings, from Open House “favourites” like The Gherkin (aka 30 St Mary Axe) and the Foreign and India Office through to lesser known properties like Wandsworth’s Quaker Meeting House or the Butcher’s Hall in the City (some of which have to be booked before the weekend). There will also be a free programme of neighbourhood walks, engineering and landscape tours, cycle rides and talks by experts. To see the programme, head to www.openhouselondon.org.uk.

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Claire Lomas, an event rider paralysed from the chest down who became the first person to complete a marathon in a bionic suit when she finished the London Marathon in April, is applauded by Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Prime Minister David Cameron and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, after lighting a ‘celebration cauldron’ in Trafalgar Square (with the National Gallery in the background). The event, using the English National Flame which was originally created at Scafell Pike, was part of the Paralympic Flame’s visit to London last Friday during which it was taken to various landmarks across London including the Houses of Parliament, Notting Hill ahead of last weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival, and the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. During the event in Trafalgar Square, 26 ‘Flame ambassadors’ each collected a ‘splinter’ of the Flame in a lantern to take to various Flame celebrations being held around the country over the past few days. The Flame visits London again this Wednesday in the 24 hour Torch Relay leading up to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games on Wednesday night. For more on the Paralympic Torch Relay, see www.london2012.com/paralympics/torch-relay/PICTURE: LOCOG. 

London, along with the rest of the world, will this week pause to remember 11th September, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people died after planes were flown into New York’s World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon (a fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania). In preparation for the 10th anniversary, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson unveiled a 10 metre high sculptural memorial, After 9/11, in Battersea Park which controversially uses steel girders from the towers in its design. But London already has a memorial to the events of 11th September. This is located in Grosvenor Square Garden, opposite the US Embassy. Opened on 11th September, 2003, the memorial features a pavilion which has three bronze plaques listing the name of UK citizens, UK Overseas Territories and people of dual nationality who lost their lives. The site was chosen partly on the basis that it was at the foot of the nearby Roosevelt Memorial that people laid flowers and lit candles in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Plants at the memorial include white Bianca Roses which were among the flowers in the Queen’s bouquet laid at Westminster Abbey in a service held on 29th November, 2001, and were the roses that family members laid on the innocent victims memorial outside the abbey . In addition, more than 3,000 of the rose petals cascaded from the Whispering Gallery to the altar of St Paul’s Cathedral on the  first anniversary service.

• Tens of thousands of people are expected to join London Mayor Boris Johnson for the annual Sky Ride this Sunday. The event, organised by the Mayor of London, Sky and British Cycling in partnership with Transport for London, allows people to cycle a 11.6 kilometre route through the city centre minus the usual car traffic. The circular route, which takes in Westminster Bridge, the Mall and Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, will be vehicle-free between 9.30am and 4.30pm. Last year more than 85,000 took part. For more information, seewww.goskyride.com/london.

• The Imperial War Museum is marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US with a new photographic exhibition showing artefacts recovered after the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. Memory Remains, which opened on 26th August and runs until 26th February, is a photographic exploration of Hangar 17 – a previously empty hanger at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York where debris and material retrieved from the 16 acre World Trade Center site were stored. It features images taken by Spanish-American artist Francesc Torres, who was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to capture what was happening inside the hangar and granted special access to do so. The exhibition is being accompanied by another at Imperial War Museum North in Manchester. In the Spotlight: Remembering 9/11, which runs from 10th September until September next year, features artefacts from the World Trade Center including a British flag which was laid on the altar in St Paul’s Cathedral on the first anniversary of the attacks. Admission to both exhibitions is free. For more information, see www.iwm.org.uk.

South Bank hosts the Liberty festival, an annual showcase by deaf and disabled artists, this Saturday. The festival, which will take place at two sites – the Southbank Centre and the National Theatre, will feature a mix of music, dance, street theatre, comedy, circus performances and aerial displays. Highlights include Mark Smith’s Deaf Men Dancing, performance artist Bobby Baker, Jean-Marie Akkerman’s Cirque Nova featuring four disabled aerial artists, and Kazzum, who produce theatrical work for children up to 16-years-old. The event is free. For more information, see www.london.gov.uk/liberty.

The British Library and BiblioLabs have launched a new 19th century historical collection app for iPad users. The app (which costs £1.99 a month or $US2.99 for those outside the UK and is available through Apple’s App Store) allows users to explore historical and antiquarian books including classic novels, original accounts by Victorian travellers, books on science and poetry, memoirs and military histories. Around 45,000 titles are initially available with a further 15,000 to be added by the end of the year.

On Now: Freedom from: modern slavery in the capital. A new exhibition looking at the reality of trafficking and forced labour has opened at the Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands – the museum first cross-site exhibition. Created in partnership with Anti-Slavery International and coinciding with the launch of its Slavery-Free London campaign, the exhibition looks at the personal impact of human trafficking and slavery in 21st century London and includes personal testimonies such as that of ‘Gheeta’ who was trafficked from India and forced into work. It also features a series of large scale photographs by Chris Steele-Perkins of Magnum Photos. Runs until 20th November. Admission is free. For more information, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.

Earlier this month it was former US President Ronald Reagan’s turn to be honored with statue in Grosvenor Square. Last week it was the turn of former Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – the first man in space – to be so honored with a new statue located outside the British Council’s offices in the Mall (opposite another explorer, Captain James Cook). The statue, a gift of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, was unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s celebratory visit to London on 14th July, 1961, just three months after he completed his orbit of the earth on 12th April that year. The 3.5 metre high zinc alloy figure stands close to Admiralty Arch which was where Gagarin met then Prime Minister Harold MacMillan after he was invited to the UK by the National Union of Foundrymen. Among those present for the unveiling of the statue – which is a replica of one in the town of Lubertsy where Gagarin worked as a foundryman as a teenager – was Gagarin’s daughter Elena Gagarina, now director of the Kremlin Museums, and Vladimir Popovkin, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency. The British Council is running an exhibition, Gagarin in Britain, which looks at the life of Gagarin and the early Soviet space programme, until 14th September – among the objects on display is the first space suit and an ejector seat similar to that Gargarin used when he ejected out of Vostok 1. Entry is by registration only and space is limited – email gargarin@britishcouncil.org is you’d like to register for a place. For more information, see www.britishcouncil.orgPICTURE: Frank Noon/British Council

A new iPhone app which directs people to key sites in what was Roman London (Londinium) will go live on Monday. Developed by the Museum of London and the History Channel, Streetmuseum Londonium will bring to life some of the city’s most significant Roman sites, such as the amphitheatre at Guildhall, using “augmented reality video” which will overlay scenes of Roman London over the modern city while soundscapes will allow users to listen to a ritual at the Temple of Mithras or traders at the forum. In addition, users will be able to ‘digitally excavate’ Roman artifacts including leather bikini briefs and an ancient manicure set. Navigation to these “immersive experiences” will be via a specially created new map of Roman London which will be superimposed on a modern map of the capital, allowing users to see how the city has changed. The launch follows the earlier creation of the Streetmuseum app which guides people to more than 200 sites across the city. More than 200,000 people from across the world have so far downloaded this. Streetmuseum Londinium will be available free to download from 25th July. See www.museumoflondon.org.uk/apps for more.

London will mark one year to go until the Olympic Games next Wednesday with a ceremony in Trafalgar Square which will be broadcast live on BBC1. Among those present with be the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) chairman Sebastian Coe and Mayor of London Boris Johnson. The event will also feature a live cross to the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park where Olympic hopeful Tom Daley will make the first dive into the pool.

• The British Library hopes to raise £2.75 million to acquire the world’s earliest surviving intact European book, the 7th century St Cuthbert Gospel. A copy of the Gospel of St John, the book was buried with St Cuthbert on the isle of Lindisfarne in 698 and later found in the saint’s coffin in Durham Cathedral in 1104. The National Heritage Fund Memorial has already awarded £4.5 million to obtain the St Cuthbert Gospel and the Art Fund and The Garfield Weston Foundation have donated £250,000 each. The book has been on long-term loan to the library since 1979 and is regularly on view in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery. The library was approached last year and given first option to acquire the text after the Society of Jesus (British Province) decided to sell it. A price of £9 million has been agreed, of which £2.75 million remains outstanding. For more, see www.bl.uk.

Around London…

October 15, 2010

Richmond’s historic Ham House will be appearing in the forthcoming film Never Let Me Go, based on the best-selling novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. The historic house – which was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshal to James I – was transformed into a fictional English boarding school named Hailsham for the movie which stars Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley. The house site, which is owned by the National Trust, was ‘let go’ for the film meaning lawns for left unmown for several weeks and weeds encouraged to grow while inside an institutional atmosphere was reportedly created by the installation of flourescent lighting and removal of objects usually displayed there. For more information on Ham House, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-hamhouse/w-hamhouse-history.html

• Leaflets showing the route of this year’s Lord Mayor’s Show have been released by the City of London. The ‘show’, to be held on 13th November, is the world’s oldest civic procession and has been held for 795 years. It commemorates the day when the newly elected Mayor had to make the journey from the City to Westminster to declare his allegiance to the monarch (this year’s Lord Mayor of the City of London – the City’s 683rd – is Alderman Michael Bear (not to be confused with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson)). The procession kicks off at 11am, with the route going from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice and back. This year it will involve from than 6,500 people from livery companies, military units, marching bands, local schools and businesses and community groups. For more about the event, see www.lordmayorsshow.org.

Now on: London’s contemporary art fair, the Frieze Art Fair, is off and running in Regent’s Park until Sunday, while at Primrose Hill, The Museum of Everything has launched Exhibition #3 which features the bizarre animal tableaux of Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter. At the National Gallery, meanwhile, the new exhibition of Canaletto and his Rivals has opened (it runs until 16th January), while the city has been abuzz with the Tate Modern‘s latest exhibitions, Gauguin, and Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds.