We finish our series looking at notable English Heritage blue plaques with a look at a plaque which not only commemorates a prominent Londoner but, unusually, also displays there for all to see the reason (well, an important part of it, anyway) for his prominence.

Edward-Johnston1Yes, we’re talking about Edward Johnston (1872-1944), a master calligrapher who was not only credited with starting the modern revival of the art but is also noted for having created the famous Johnston typeface which he developed for London Transport in the early 20th century.

In a lovely touch, the sans serif typeface he created is that used on the plaque – located at premises at 3 Hammersmith Terrace in Chiswick where he lived from 1905-1912 – itself.

The plaque, which was erected on the building in 1977 by the Greater London Council, was the first to feature the typeface but isn’t the only one: in fact there are four, all of which commemorate people related to London Transport.

The other three commemorated include Frank Pick (1878-1941), a London transport administrator who steered the development of London’s corporate identity – he’s commemorated with a plaque on his former property at 15 Wildwood Road, Hampstead Garden Suburb, with a Greater London Council plaque erected in 1981).

They also include Albert Henry Stanley, Lord Ashfield (1874-1948), the first chairman of London Transport (placed on his former home at 43 South Street, Mayfair, in 1984 by London County Council); and, the most recent plaque commemorating Harry Beck (1902-1974), designer of the London Underground map (placed by English Heritage in 2013 on his former property at 14 Wesley Road in Leyton).

PICTURE: Edwardx/CC BY-SA 4.0

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Happy Easter! We’re taking a break over the Easter weekend…Our next update will be on Tuesday, 2nd April.

Mary-of-Modena's-bedA new exhibition exploring the secrets of the bedchambers of the Stuart and Hanoverian courts of the 17th and 18th centuries opened at Hampton Court Palace this week. At the heart of Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber are six royal beds which tell the story of why the bedchamber became the most important part of the palace and detail some of the events that took place there before an audience of courtiers, politicians and family members – from births and deaths to the consummation of marriages and the discussion of important affairs of state. It tells of why courtiers would fight for positions such as the ‘groom of the stool’ or ‘necessary woman’ and how beds which could cost the same as a London townhouse were sometimes never slept in. Among the beds on display is the ‘Warming Pan Bed’ (pictured), the State Bed of King James II’s queen, Mary of Modena, and scene of the royal birth that ultimately led to the end of the Stuart line, and the ‘Travelling Bed’ of King George II which travelled as far afield as Hanover and the battlefields of Europe. The exhibition also gives rare access into the Prince of Wales’ Apartments, designed by 17th and 18th architect Sir John Vanbrugh, and now open for the first time in 20 years.  Admission charge applies. Runs until 3rd November. For more, see www.hrp.org.uk. PICTURE: HRP

The Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are the subject of a major exhibition opening at the British Museum today. Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum brings together more than 250 objects from the two cities which were buried in just 24 hours during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The objects include celebrated finds and recent discoveries, many of which have never before been seen outside Italy, and help explore what daily life was like for the inhabitants. Artefacts include a beautiful wall painting from Pompeii showing baker Terentius Neo and his wife, wooden furnishings including a linen chest, inlaid stool, and even a baby’s crib from Herculaneum, and casts of victims including a family of four and a dog who died at Pompeii. Runs until 29th September. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.

Find out more about the history of chocolate at Kew Gardens this Easter, from the ritualistic use of cacao in ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures to the arrival of chocolate in 17th century London, where it was a luxury item for high society to indulge in at newly fashionable chocolate houses. Running from tomorrow until 14th April, there will be a range of workshops taking place at the gardens around the chocolate theme along with a traditional Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday (31st March). The garden’s cocoa tree can be found in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Admission charge applies. See www.kew.org.

Harry Beck, designer of the innovative first diagrammatic Tube map, has been honoured by an English Heritage blue plaque – inscribed in the Underground’s new Johnston typeface – at his birthplace in Leyton in London’s east. Beck, who was born in a small terraced house at 14 Wesley Road in 1902, was working with London Transport as a draughtsman in the London Underground Serial Engineer’s Office, when, in 1931, he produced his first design for a diagrammatic map. He continued to update the map with new stations and lines even after leaving London Transport with the last version of his map published in 1960. Beck died in 1974. Meanwhile, a blue plaque commemorating railway engineer Sir Nigel Gresley (1876-1941) has been returned to King’s Cross station following the completion of building work. It can be found on platform 8. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/blue-plaques/.

On Now: The Underground. A commission from Art on the Underground, this exhibition of artist Mark Wallinger’s work at the Anthony Reynolds Gallery (60 Great Marlborough Street) features some examples of 270 labyrinth designs – one representing each of the Underground stations – which are being installed at the Tube stations themselves. Among those stations represented at this showing are Westminster, St James’s Park, Oxford Circus, Victoria, Embankment, Green Park, King’s Cross St Pancras, Baker Street and Tottenham Court Road. While labyrinths are already in place at these locations, the remainder of Wallinger’s labyrinth designs will be appearing at Tube stations over the coming months. Runs until 27th April. For more, see www.anthonyreynolds.com.

There has been a market on the site now known as Old Spitalfields Market, located on the eastern outskirts of the City of London next to what was the Priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital, since the thirteenth century.

But it was centuries later when, following the tumult of the Civil War, in 1682, John Balch was formally granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II to hold a “flesh, fowl and roots” market on Thursdays and Saturdays in or on the rectangle of land known as Spital Square. A ‘market-house’ was built on the site around this time for administrators with traders selling their wares from stalls.

The success of the market drew people to the area – in particular, Huguenots fleeing France who brought with them new skills in silk-weaving, and later Irish fleeing the Potato Famine and Jews escaping the harsh political climate in Eastern Europe – and the market gained a name for itself as a place to buy fresh produce.

By late in the 19th century, the market had fallen into decline. So, in 1876, a former market porter by the name of Robert Horner decided it needed an upgrade and, buying the lease, had the central market square roofed with glass and new market buildings, known as the Horner Buildings (pictured above), constructed around the northern, eastern and southern sides of the site. Having cost £80,000, it was completed in 1893.

In 1920, the City of London took over control of the market and later than decade expanded the original buildings. Having continued to grow over the ensuing years and with traffic congestion continuing to increase in the surrounding streets, it was decided to move the fresh produce aspect of the market to a new location at Leyton to the north-east.

The new market, known as New Spitalfields Market, covers more than 31 acres and boasts more than 100 traders.

Meanwhile, Old Spitalfields Market, the western end of which was redeveloped in the late 20th century, continues to operate on the original market site – now known as Horner Square, with stalls selling everything from contemporary and vintage fashion to music, gems and jewellery, bric-a-brac and antiques as well as various themed market days – check the website for more details.

Old Spitalfields Market
WHERE: Horner Square, Spitalfields (nearest Tube stations are Shoreditch High Street and Liverpool Street); WHEN: Markets are held every day – times vary so check website for details; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com.
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New Spitalfields Market
WHERE: 23 Sherrin Road, Leyton (nearest Tube station is Leyton); WHEN: Trading hours midnight to around 9am, Monday to Saturday; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/business/wholesale-food-markets/new-spitalfields/Pages/default.aspx.