A foody feast at Kew; the Queen goes to Westminster; Morecambe & Wise remembered; and, Francis Goodman on show…

Bompas-&-Parr-with-pineapplesKew Gardens is all about food this summer and autumn with the launch of IncrEdibles: A Festival to Feed the Imagination this Sunday. Visitors are being encouraged to take part in a range of food-related activities including taking a fruit-shaped boat on the Palm House Pond around a floating pineapple island (the Tutti Frutti Boating Lake has been designed by “culinary creators” Bompas & Parr – pictured right), checking out a ‘global gastronomic garden’ featuring more than 90 edible plants on the Great Lawn, and listening to volunteer guides in the Palm House discussing how many of our foods have their origins in the rainforest. The festival also features a range of talks, tours and tastings and you can sample some special foods at the onsite eateries. The festival runs until 3rd November. For more, see www.kew.org. PICTURE: Bompas & Parr

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II standing on the Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey will go on public display for the first time this afternoon at the abbey as part of the celebrations surrounding the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. The Coronation Theatre: Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is the work of Australian-born, London-based artist Ralph Heimans and has been acquired by the abbey for its collection. The painting, which was officially unveiled in London for the Diamond Jubilee last year, was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra until the end of March. The painting can be viewed in the chapter house at the abbey from 2pm today and will remain on display until 27th September. For more, see www.westminster-abbey.org.

A blue plaque commemorating late comic duo Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise has been unveiled at the Teddington Studios in west London. The Heritage Foundation plaque was reportedly unveiled by Morecambe’s widow Joan and daughter Gail. Teddington’s Studio One was where the last four series of the duo’s show were produced.

On Now: Francis Goodman: Back in Focus. This display at the National Portrait Gallery features more than 40 black and white photographs spanning the career of fashion and society photographer Francis Goodman (1913-1989), from the 1930s to the 1970s and includes portraits of the likes of artists Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud as well as writers including Noel Coward and Nancy Mitford. The exhibition runs until 3rd November. Admission is free. For more, see www.npg.org.uk.

Treasures of London – The Cosmati Pavement

Hidden underneath carpet and a layer of grime for years, this unique medieval “carpet of stone” before the High Altar of Westminster Abbey can now be seen in all its glory, thanks to two years of restoration works.

Laid down in 1268 on the orders of King Henry III who, 23 years earlier had started rebuilding the abbey in the new Gothic style, it was created by a team of workmen from Rome headed by a man called Odoricus.

The decision to create the pavement was apparently taken after the Abbot of Westminster, Richard de Ware, visited the Pope, saw a newly made pavement in His Holiness’ summer residence, and thought it would be just the ticket for the abbey.

The pavement, described by one writer as a “prayer set in stone”, takes its name from ‘Cosmati’ work which describes the type of inlaid stone decoration used in its making (Cosmati work, in turn, was named after one of the families that specialised in it).

Made from rare marbles, gemstones and even glass (with some pieces recycled from earlier projects), the design is abstract. Unlike Roman and earlier medieval mosaic work which tended to feature stones cut into squares of equal sizes, it features stones of various colors and sizes cut into a range of different shapes which create a geometric pattern and is believed to symbolise the world, the universe and the end of both.

In this regard, the pavement also features three brass inscriptions, now damaged, which refer to the end of the world and suggest that at the time of its creation, there were 19,683 years left to go. The inscriptions, which also express the date of its making in a most unusual style, are a unique feature of the pavement and are not found on other Cosmati works.

The pavement has recently undergone a two year restoration program, now completed, which has removed the dirt and stains which had covered it – this was in part caused by the thick carpets which have covered it for the most of the 150 years.

WHERE: Westminster Abbey, Westminster (nearest Tube station is Westminster or St James’s Park); WHEN: Open to tourists everyday except Sunday  (times vary so check the website); COST: £15 an adult/£12 concessions/£6 schoolchildren (11-18 years), free for children aged under 11/£36 for a family (two adults, two children); WEBSITE: www.westminster-abbey.org

PICTURE: Copyright: Dean and Chapter of Westminster.