Afternoon tea is served under the glass-dome of The Savoy Hotel‘s Thames Foyer. Once an outdoor terrace, the covered-in foyer was opened in 1889. The custom of afternoon tea, which dates back to 1840, had become a tradition at the hotel by the 1920s and, as well as sandwiches and patisserie, included everything from English muffins to fruit salad, chocolates to sweet waffles known as gaufres. Entertainment included music played by a house band while professional dancers demonstrated the latest moves for guests. Guests at the famous London hotel have included everyone from Sir Winston Churchill to Marilyn Monroe. For more, see www.thesavoylondon.com/experience/afternoon-tea-london/.
The Savoy Hotel
London Pub Signs – The Coal Hole…
This pub’s name is fairly self-explanatorily related to coal but there’s a couple of different versions floating around as to why.
One story, mentioned on the pub’s website, says the name comes from the legend that the pub occupies the space which once contained the coal cellar for the Savoy Hotel – not a great leap given its location on the corner of Carting Lane and the Strand, with the Savoy Hotel just behind.
The other is that it takes its name from the “coal heavers” – men who moved coal – who worked nearby on the River Thames. Again, not too much of a stretch.
Which-ever is true (or maybe both), the current Grade II-listed building at 91-92 Strand dates from just after the turn of the 19th century and, according to a plaque on the property, was apparently briefly known as as the New Strand Wine Lodge.
During Edwardian times it was apparently a ‘song and supper’ club where patrons were encouraged to sing (something like the karaoke bars of today).
Gilbert and Sullivan apparently regularly performed here regularly during Edwardian times and the great Shakespearean thespian, Edmund Keane, apparently started the Wolf Club – ostensibly “for oppressed husbands forbidden to sing in the bath” but apparently as a pretence for considerably more debauched activities – in the basement.
Now part of the Nicholson’s chain. For more, see www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/restaurants/london/thecoalholestrandlondon
PICTURE: Ewan Munro/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0/Cropped
10 fictional character addresses in London – 2. ‘Whitehaven Mansions’…
Since we’re talking about the homes of detectives, we’ll continue on that trend with a look at the home of Agatha Christie’s creation Hercule Poirot as it appears in the TV series of the same name (now in its 13th and final season).
The Belgian-born detective, who featured in some 33 novels and 65 short stories, rose to the rank of the police chief of the city Brussels before the outbreak of World War I forced him to leave his home for England. There he met up with his friend Captain Arthur Hastings – they had apparently previously met – and undertakes some government work before eventually embarking upon his new career as a private detective.
He subsequently moves into an art deco flat which becomes his workplace and home at 56B Whitehavens Mansions (he apparently chose the building based on its symmetry). In the TV show, the art deco block chosen to represent this building is the Grade II-listed Florin Court, located on the eastern side of Charterhouse Square in Smithfield.
Actually built in 1936 – well after Poirot apparently moved in – the nine floor building has a curvaceous facade and boasts some 120 flats along with a basement swimming pool and rooftop garden. Interestingly, last July there was a fire in a first floor flat causing the entire building to be evacuated.
Poirot apparently lived in a couple of different apartments in the building and was also known at times to reside in The Savoy Hotel and The Park Lane Hotel.
PICTURE: Goodwillgames/Wikimedia Commons
10 (more) curious London memorials…7. D’Oyly Carte Memorial…
This strange looking globe standing in Victoria Embankment Gardens just off Savoy Place may appear just another random piece of street art but in fact it’s a memorial to a man and his family who established the hotel now housed nearby.
Theatre impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte is known for having formed his own opera company – the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, it was known for staging Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Savoy operas’ – and for having founded the Savoy Hotel, which stands across the road from the memorial’s location.
The memorial, which was placed here in 1989 to mark the hotel’s centenary, takes the form of an armillary sphere – a model of objects circling the earth – standing in the middle of a cistern.
The inscription accompanying the memorial states that it honors not only Richard D’Oyly Carte but also others – including members of his family – who have since been involved in the hotel’s management. There’s also a note on the rim of the cistern, stating that the garden was “given to London by the Savoy in celebration of its centenary” while inscribed on the armillary sphere’s rings are the words “Savoy Centenary 1989, ‘For excellence we strive.'” and a line from dramatist WS Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) – “Every season has its cheer, life is lovely all the year”.