A week ago tonight the world was left reeling in the wake of the devastating series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, France, which have left 132 people dead and hundreds more wounded. In the wake of the attacks, national landmarks across the world were lit up in the colours of the French flag, among them, the London Eye, overlooking the River Thames. PICTURE: Martin Sylvester/Digital Concepts.
Following on from its LEGO advent calendar and Christmas tree, Covent Garden is home to a giant LEGO snow globe this Christmas. Made of 120,000 bricks, it features 14 of London’s most iconic landmarks – from Nelson’s Column, Buckingham Palace (see below) and the London Eye to The Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe and, of course, Covent Garden. The models took Duncan Titmarsh, the UK’s only certified LEGO professional, around 75 days to build. Hidden among the models are a number of LEGO Santas – count them to win prizes and press a button to make snow fall inside the globe. For more, see www.coventgardenlondonuk.com.
The Olympic Torch Relay arrived in London last Friday night and has been moving around the capital ever since. Here are some of the highlights so far (all images are courtesy of LOCOG)…
Day 63 (20th July): A Royal Marine, believed to be Martin Williams, is carrying the Olympic Flame as he abseils from a helicopter into the grounds of the Tower of London.
Day 64 (21st July): Swimmer Natasha Sinha holds the Olympic Flame on the Meridian Time Line outside the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
Jaco-Albert Van Gass carries the Olympic Flame through Greenwich.
Day 65 (22nd July): Student explorer Amelia Hempleman-Adams poses with the Olympic Flame on top of a London Eye pod.
Sailor Aaron Reynolds carries the Olympic Flame on a London Fire Brigade Boat.
Day 66 (23rd July): Sprinter Marlon Devonish carries the Olympic Flame at Crystal Palace stadium in south London.
Tennis player Andy Murray carries the Olympic Flame at Wimbledon.
For more on the Torch Relay, see www.london2012.com/torch-relay/
ALL PICTURES: LOCOG.
• Dickens fever is well and truly upon us in the lead-up to the bicentenary of his birth in February and tomorrow the Museum of London opens its own unmissable exhibition, Dickens and London. Displays centre on the relationship between Dickens and the city and visitors will be able to follow in the great novelist’s footsteps as they visit some of the places which sparked his imagination as well as confront some of the great social issues of the 19th century – including childhood mortality, prostitution and poverty – and be taking on a tour of some of the age’s greatest innovations – everything from railways and steamboats to the Penny Post. Among the objects on display will be Dickens’ writing desk and chair, his bank ledger, excavated items from Jacob’s Island, a notorious slum which was located near Bermondsey, and manuscript pages describing an East End opium den which was featured in Dicken’s unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (this, along with William Powell Frith’s celebrated portrait of the author, are being lent by the Victoria and Albert Museum). The exhibition also features a specially commissioned film looking at London after dark in Dickens’ time and today. Costumes from the upcoming BBC One drama series, Great Expectations, will also be on display and there is also a specially commissioned window display by acclaimed creative director and set designer Simon Costin showing a wintery London in the mid-19th century. The museum is also offering a new iPhone and iPad graphic novel app, Dickens: Dark London, which will take users on a “journey through the darker side” of Dickens’ London. Opens on 9th December (tomorrow) and runs until 10th June, 2012. Admission charges apply. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk. For more on Dickens, see www.dickens2012.org. PICTURE: Dickens Dream by Robert William Buss (Courtesy Museum of London).
• New hoardings have gone up at Leicester Square celebrating the area’s history as work continues on an £18 million plan by Westminster City Council to revitalise the Leicester Square streetscape. The more than 160 square metres of hoardings feature 11 images spanning a period of 250 years (and selected from thousands of archive images of the square). Meanwhile in Trafalgar Square, the famous Norwegian Christmas Tree was lit in a ceremony last Thursday. The tree is an annual gift from the people of Oslo as thanks for British support during Norway’s years of occupation in World War II. It will be lit from noon until midnight every day until 6th January.
• And, briefly…..London’s Kew Gardens has been voted the top visitor attraction in Britain at the British Airways magazine travel award while the London Eye and Tate Modern came runner’s up…..Figures released to mark the 10th anniversary of free admission to England’s national museums show that visitor numbers to the museums have more than doubled over the past decade…..and, the first woman Tube driver, Hannah Dadds, reportedly died at the age of 70.
• On Now: The Flamboyant Mr. Chinnery: An English artist in India and China. This exhibition at Asia House in New Cavendish Street in the West End, focuses on the work of 19th century artist George Chinnery and features landscapes and portraits he painted while in China and India. Runs until 21st January. Admission is free. For more, see www.asiahouse.org.
• On Now: Miracles & Charms. The Wellcome Collection is hosting this exhibition which features two shows – Infinitas Gracias: Mexican miracle paintings, the first major exhibition of Mexican votive paintings outside of Mexico, and Charmed life: The solace of objects, an exhibition of unseen London amulets from Henry Wellcome’s collection. Runs until 26th February, 2012. For more, see www.wellcomecollection.org.
• London will this weekend celebrate the 15th annual Thames Festival, billed as the city’s “largest free festival”. The two day event includes a giant shipwreck sculpture outside City Hall (created with the aid of students from 100 London schools), barge races and a parade of more than 100 boats on the Thames, a wide array of musical and street performances (these include a mass choir of 700 school children and a performance in which the HMS Belfast is used as a percussion instrument) and an illuminated Night Carnival culminating in fireworks. More than 800,000 people are expected to attend the event which takes place at a range of venues stretching from the London Eye to Tower Bridge. Other highlights include the annual Feast on the Bridge on Saturday during which Southwark Bridge will be closed to traffic, Korean Taekwondo displays, a food market and an exclusive cruise on the Thames hosted by the likes of historian David Starkey and the creators of cult children’s character Rastamouse. River boat operators, meanwhile, are offering 2-for-1 tickets for the weekend to help people make the most of the festival. For more information on the festival, see www.thamesfestival.org. For more on the 2 for 1 tickets, see www.tfl.gov.uk/river.
• Regent Street and surrounds will be buzzing tonight with more than 40 shops, bars and restaurants taking part in Vogue Fashion’s Night Out. The event, which is running for its third year in London, will see many stores remaining opening until 11pm and feature special events and promotions. The night is part of a series of nights being held in countries across the globe – from Russia to Brazil, Australia to Spain. For more information, see http://fashions-night-out.vogue.co.uk.
• An art deco Tube train dating from 1938 and the Sarah Siddons, the last operational ex-Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive will be running between Harrow-on-the-Hill, Rickmansworth and Amersham this Sunday as part of the Amersham Old Town’s Heritage Day. Other activities include a best dressed competition showcasing retro fashions, a free heritage bus service, including rides on the Routemaster RM1, street performances including a Punch and Judy show and clowns, and “object handling sessions” at the Amersham Museum. For more information, see the London Transport Museum’s website here.
• First-up, we’d like to wish you all a happy St Patrick’s Day! And if you missed the St Patrick’s Day Parade and free festival in London last Sunday, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of Irish cheer on the city streets with the London Eye and Battersea Power Station both turning green to mark the occasion while the green beer is flowing at the city’s many Irish pubs.
• The building some believe served as a model for the workhouse in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist has been saved from demolition with a Grade II listing. Completed in 1778, the Covent Garden Workhouse in Cleveland Street became the workhouse of The Strand Poor Law Union in 1836 and was later used as an infirmary before more recently serving as the outpatients department of the Middlesex Hospital. The workhouse is believed to the most well preserved of the three surviving 18th century workhouses in London. Announcing the listing this week, John Penrose, Minister for Heritage and Tourism, said that while it is unknown whether or not the building was the inspiration for the workhouse featured in Oliver Twist, “we know that it is the sole survivor of the workhouses that were operating in the capital when Dickens wrote his famous novel and that as a young man he lived just nine doors along from it”. Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said the listing also recognised the association between the workhouse and Dr Joseph Rogers, whose direct experience of the workhouse when working as Chief Medical Officer led him to launch important reforms of the system of healthcare provision for the poor.
• David Gestetner, a key player in the development of office copying technology, has been commemorated with a blue plaque outside his former residence at 124 Highbury New Park in Islington. The Hungarian-born Gestetner lived at the property for 41 years until his death in 1939. The plaque was unveiled on Tuesday by two of his great grand-children.
• On Now: Watteau: The Drawings. The first retrospective exhibition of the drawings of French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau opened last Saturday at the Royal Academy of Arts. Watteau is known for inventing the genre of fetes galantes (small pictures of social gatherings of elegant people in parkland settings) and for his mastery of the ‘three chalks’ or trois crayons technique using red, black and white. The exhibition features more than 80 works on paper. There is an admission charge. Runs until 5th June. See http://www.royalacademy.org.uk for more information.
• Composer and teacher Herbert Howells has been commemorated with a blue plaque on his former home in Barnes, south west London. Known for composing “recognisably English” works, Howells is considered by man to be the last of the great English Romantic composers and is particularly remembered for this contributions to the Anglican liturgy. According to English Heritage, Howells lived at the house at 3 Beverley Close from 1946 until a few weeks before he died in 1983. For more on Howells, see www.howellstrust.org.uk.
• The London Eye is to have a name change. Having started life as the Millennium Wheel (while still under construction), it was officially named the British Airways London Eye when it first opened in March 2000 and later renamed the Merlin Entertainments London Eye when the BA naming deal expired. Following a new deal, the wheel will be known as the EDF Energy London Eye from the end of this month.
• On Now – The Natural History Museum’s new Images of Nature gallery opens tomorrow. The new permanent gallery showcases the museum’s collection of natural history artworks and includes works by bird illustrator, John Gerrard Keulemans, and botanical artist, Georg Ehret as well as a range of more modern-day creations such as a 3D scan of a shark’s head. The gallery also boasts a temporary annual exhibition with the first, a rotating collection of Chinese watercolors, featuring works by 19th century amateur naturalist John Reeves as well as contemporary works by the museum’s Shanghai-based artist-in-residence. Entry is free. See www.nhm.ac.uk.