The other day I posted some ghost sign pictures near the shop that was fixing my laptop in the unprepossessing west London suburb of Hanwell. What more had the area to offer the lazy historian, I wondered?
So on Sunday we drove a few miles up the road to explore Hanwell. Hanwell was, and is, a village on the Uxbridge Road between Ealing and Southall, although administratively it has been absorbed by Ealing. It’s very much the type of place one passes through. But if one gets out the car, as with most places in greater London, there is treasure. Primarily this takes the form of the Wharncliffe Viaduct, built by Brunel in 1836-37 on the route of the Great Western Railway between London and Bristol. Standing 65 feet above the Brent Valley, it is a wonderful example of magnificent 19C engineering. It is said that Queen Victoria liked to stop the Royal train here to gaze across her realm. Immediately north of the viaduct is some rather lovely park land, ideal for picnicking.
Back on the Uxbridge Road we head east and come across two cemeteries facing each other on either side of the thoroughfare. One is the Westminster Cemetery, the other the Kensington and Chelsea Cemetery, both miles adrift from the eponymous boroughs concerned. They were both established in the 1850s when Central London could no longer cope with its corpses, though one imagines that the prevailing “miasma” theory of cholera transmission (despite Snow), had something to do with it. The Westminster Cemetery was involved in the notorious 15p cemetery sell-off by Westminster Council in the 1980s
I don’t think I’ve purposely visited a cemetery before outside the business of attending a funeral. It is an interesting and peaceful experience, tinged with sadness, obviously. There are no persons of note in these cemeteries, but the stories that the monuments and gravestones tell are often compelling. And misleading. One such said: M Wheeler builder of Notting Hill. Who was this unknown Cubitt of west London, I thought? On finding no information whatsoever about Mr Wheeler, I realised that Lynne Truss may have told me that the inscription should have been punctuated: M Wheeler, builder, of Notting Hill.
Weather-beaten George and Dragon on the gatehouse of Westminster Cemetery
Pretty chapel. Kensington and Chelsea (Hanwell) Cemetery
A sad tale. Louisa Eliza Radford died a matter of weeks after the death of her newborn. Two years later her teenaged son perished in a drowning accident.
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Posted in 20th Century, Local History, Reviews, Victorian period, tagged kew, Local History, london history, Maid of Honour, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Tea on 31 May, 2011|
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On Saturday a friend suggested we meet for tea and cake at The Original Maids of Honour tea room opposite Kew Gardens, an establishment that many readers probably know well. What could be more agreeable?
Maids of honour are a type of tart, the recipe of which has been handed down the generations, apparently since the time of Henry VIII. They have been served from the earliest times in Richmond and then in the present premises since 1887. The building was damaged by a V2 flying bomb during WW2 and restored. It’s extremely pleasant and relaxing without the tweeness that one might expect. The word “Original” in the name of the tea room suggests there must have been some proprietary dispute over these delicious comestibles at some time in the past.
Anyway, while we visited the Original Maids of Honour it was fairly busy, but we got a table easily enough. We chose to have the menu item which included tea, sandwiches, cream & jam scones and a maid of honour for £14.95 each. The food was delicious and I squeezed four cups of tea from my pot, so not bad value. Service, though cheerfully given, wasn’t the fastest in the world, but when you’re having a great time with friends and in no particular hurry, this hardly matters.
The OMoH sells a wide variety of treats, savouries and breadstuff to eat in or take away.
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A few excellent recently discovered blogs to share with you:
Georgian Gentleman is written by Mike Rendell, whose recent book I reviewed here.
Discovering London by Peter Berthoud, whom I met on our recent Thames walk.
We would like to extend hearty congratulations to Songs from the Howling Sea for completing a London history song and video blog post every week for the past year, a staggering achievement, most entertaining, most enlightening.
Mark Blitzstein, Roland Hayes and the “Negro Chorus” at the Royal Albert Hall by Another Nickel in the Machine.
Wilton’s Music Hall Needs Help! by Caroline’s Miscellany, also covered by TheVictorianist, here.
Mydidee: from Tahiti to Deptford with Captain Bligh by Caroline’s Miscellany
The Taming of a/the Shrew by Dainty Ballerina
The loathesome and odious sin of drunkenesse by Dainty Ballerina
Nightmen by Lee Jackson
Where’s London’s oldest… outdoor statue? by Exploring London
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert by the Virtual Victorian
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Posted in 20th Century, Local History, tagged brunel, Ealing, ghost signs, Hanwell, history, london, Queen Victoria, Viaduct on 24 May, 2011|
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Inspired by the excellent Caroline’s Miscellany, I thought I’d share with you some ghost signs I spotted the other day in Hanwell, which is just west of Ealing. Hanwell doesn’t have any stately houses, fine churches or things of that nature, but it does have Brunel’s magnificent railway viaduct that passes over Brent Valley. Queen Victoria (happy 192nd birthday, Ma’am) used to have the royal train stop here so she could gaze over her realm.
Anyway, here they are, round the back of a 2nd hand car dealership in Hanwell Broadway.
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Posted in London Events, London Historians, tagged Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriars station, Brian Cookson, london, River Thames, Somerset House, Thames Embankment, waterloo bridge on 22 May, 2011|
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Yesterday a group of London Historians and friends went for an excellent historical mosey from the Embankment past Blackfriars, over the Wobbly Bridge (known by a few as the Millennium Bridge) into Southwark and the extremely popular Anchor pub. We were led by the excellent author, Blue Badge guide and true gentleman, Brian Cookson, a friend of London Historians who has encouraged us from the outset, not least by writing some superb articles on London’s bridges.
The sun was out, the tide was high. Dozens of packed pleasure craft plied their trade up and down our great river. The Embankment bustled with happy Londoners and tourists. We met at Temple tube station and headed west through Embankment Gardens, taking in Somerset House, the York Watergate, the Savoy. Through Embankment station we doubled back along the river bank past Cleopatra’s Needle, under Waterloo Bridge. The Blackfriars station redevlopment forced us to detour “inland” a bit taking in the Unilever building, the art-deco Blackfriar pub. Over the Wobbly Bridge we went, checking out Shakespeare’s Globe until we reached the Anchor pub.
And there most of us remained for the next three hours and more, happily downing away, the smokers in particular grateful for the fine conditions. This is the part of London Historians events that I enjoy the most: socialising with like-minded historians and making new friends. Everyone has their own particular interests, specialities. I love finding out what other historians are doing, what turns them on. When starting London Historians, this is exactly what we wanted it to be all about. Long may it continue.
So do look out for further London Historians events on our web site.
York Watergate marks the former position of the water's edge prior to embankment by Bazalgette.
The Art Nouveau Blackfriar pub
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Posted in London Events, Stuart period, Tudor period, Uncategorized, Victorian period, War, tagged British Army, history, Honourable Artillery Company, london, Military, Royal Horse Artillery on 18 May, 2011|
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Following a tip by IanVisits, a fellow London Historian and I went yesterday to The Honourable Artillery Company’s open evening. It was a great opportunity, since this site is normally closed to the public. The HAC headquarters is in City Road near Bunhill Fields Cemetery. It has its own cricket and rugby field in what must be one of the highest value patches of real estate in the world.
Raised in 1537, the HAC is the oldest extant unit in the British Army. Today it is a territorial unit, its gunnery function mainly for ceremonial purposes, although its troops still do active service in an infantry role. They put on a superb show. Here are some pictures. As we were leaving, I was delighted to find in the grand staircase a sculpture model from Charles Sargeant Jagger’s Royal Artillery Memorial, which I wrote about last November. My favourite London monument.
Royal Horse Artillery with 13 pounder
Royal Horse Artillery. How they train the horses.
Lieutenant and Captain. Garb is mid-17C.
Honourable Artillery Company. Pikemen and Musketmen.
Boer War re-enactment
Lavish interior of Honourable Artillery Company HQ.
Model of figure from Royal Artillery Memorial by Charles Sargeant Jagger. And the real thing, Hyde Park Corner.
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