A friend of mine mentioned how much she loved the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising otherwise I would probably have never given it a thought but when we found ourselves in London on a rainy chilly day and our other plans went awry, I pulled out the 2 for 1 coupon I had printed out just in case and we headed here thinking we would waste a 1/2 hour or so. About an hour and 1/2 later, we emerged and I probably could have stayed longer. It chronicles the history of advertising chronologically, with sections featuring major events in London's history such as the Queen's Jubilee, both Victoria and Elizabeth II, WWI and WWII and the coronation of several Kings and Queens. There is an amazing amount of items, over 12,000 according to their website and the foundation for it is the collection of consumer historian Robert Opie, assembled over half a century.
I thought as an American that I might find some of it a bore since they are brands I'm not familiar with but many of them are the same as American products just with slightly different names or the same items packaged differently. And there was a particularly interesting section at the end showing the advertising for a handful of products from their inception to now. It's interesting to see how dull some of the current packaging is compared to the flowery imaginative packaging of times past.
The Notting Hill Gate tube stop is about 10 minutes away on foot, Colville Mews is a small street so print directions from their website. It's very close to Portobello Road.
If you're a Beatles fan and visiting London, it might be fun to find Abbey Road, or the crosswalk where they took the picture for that famous album cover. It was one of our stops on our last free day in London.
To get there, get off at St. John's Wood tube station and cross Wellington Road. Continue down Grove End Road for a few blocks and eventually you will find the crosswalk, where there will probably be some other tourists attempting to cross. If you need more help, the person in the information desk at the Tube Station was very friendly and pointed us in the right direction. The walk is actually quite nice, and in a very quiet area of London, which was also a nice change.
One thing about Abbey Road--which may be a problem or may be a good thing, depending on how you look at it--is that it hasn't actually turned into a tourist trap or anything--there's no gift shop, they don't charge you to take your picture, etc. Which also means that the road it is on is still a pretty busy one... and crossing and getting a good picture is very difficult! It's a bit like playing frogger, but we actually had a lot of fun, quickly running out into the road to snap a picture and running off before the next cars came. Some of the locals will stop so you can get a picture, but others aren't so happy about it (understandably) and may honk or yell profanities at you if you don't get out of the way fast enough. Either way, we all had a good time--and a little bit of an adrenaline rush!--on our last morning in London, even if our pictures of us at Abbey Road were barely recognizable as the Beatles album cover.
Oh, and there is also a webcam there, and you can watch people trying to cross at the website I've attached below. It can be quite entertaining sometimes!
Well, I'm likely to never get to do this since I'm not a UK resident but if you do happen to reside in the UK there are free tours of the Elizabeth Tower at Parliament to see Big Ben (that's the bell, not the tower) that must be arranged in advance with your local MP or member of House of Lords.
There is a very limited capacity, tours are at set times of 9.15am, 11.15am and 2.15pm Monday – Friday, (except Bank Holidays) and currently at 4.15pm, July – Oct on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You must climb the 334 spiral steps and you must go through a security check. All of the pertinent details are on the attached website.
This place is situated just behind Covent Garden
This tiny enclosed rainbow-hued courtyard is an oasis to escape the shopping and busking frenzy of Covent Garden. There are several places to relax – al fresco in summer – with a cup and plate of whatever does you good. Neal's Yard has subsequently become a brand for several real food/healthy living/alternative-lifestyle shops. Well, they were alternative when they began in the relatively unenlightened 1980s – today they're very much mainstream.
In Neal’s Yard you will find various Cafe with so much color — of the route in London — once you are here you’ve stumbled upon an alive color palette in the London city.
Nice place for a quick salad for lunch or an afternoon big dessert (be careful of those!)…
Car Boot Sales - AKA Boot Sales, Are an integral part of British life. They have been going on for over half a century, if not longer. One of my favourites is "Chiswick " Car boot sale at Chiswick school which takes place on the first Sunday of each month. This is done for the benefit of the school and the community. They only charge £1.00 entry and are not there to ripe you off unlike other car boot operators.
No, that's not a typo.The Bug-ingham Palace is in the Children's Zoo in Battersea Park. This palace has been built for bugs who will certainly love the exquisite ornaments by dry leaves or grass blades.Note the clear design of the several stories. Clearly this palace has been designed for several generations of bugs, a multi-generation project.
If you are not a bug, you will also be interested in the animals this small zoo keeps, though none of them is living in a similar magnificent building.If you are a toddler, the highlight of your visit will probably be the playground there.
In fact, when we bought our tickets, we were told to start anti-clockwise and see the animals first, since otherwise the playground would be the first - and then probably last - point of visit. There is the usual playground equipment, a large sandbox, slides, etc, but also a fire-engine and a tractor and several other things to experiment with, like for example something like organ pipes.
The zoo is on the expensive side, two adults and a two-year-old paid £ 24 and there are several movable rides, the kind of cars which only start when you pay extra. But it's small, perfect for toddlers and especially the playground is worth a visit.When we were there on a Saturday afternoon, there were not too many visitors, so no long queues to get to the fire-engine or the trampolin.
We found the best way to get there is by bus, the 44 stops on the Chelsea Bridge, from there it's a very short walk to the entrance.
The only way to get in to the Tower of London for free, even though you don't have free reign of the place, is to attend the nightly ceremony of The Keys. It takes place every night promptly at 10:00 pm. The ceremony, in one form or another, has been carried out for the last 700 years.
A yeoman warder meets you at the West Gate at 9:30 pm and escorts you in, giving explanations and descriptions, some of them humorous, of the tower in general and the ceremony in particular.
You must write at least 2 months ahead to request the free tickets, as they are strictly capacity controlled. Details can be found on the web site below.
This, free to enter, museum is great to visit if you have any interests in aircraft. There are over 100 aircraft on site.
The Bomber Hall is really impressive, especially the Avro Lancaster 1.
I've been here a couple of times in the past few years and look forward to many more visits.
I'm off tonight for a special 70 year dambusters evening.
Well you can go to the Abbey Roads studio easy enough. The Beatles began recording here on June 6, 1962 and they recorded a vast amount of their singles and albums here. It is still a working studio today so many people sign the wall outside as a tribute (pictured). Don’t get too excited the weather and decorators remove everything every few months. The famous ‘zebra crossing’ from the cover of their Abbey Road album is still there – although many inconsiderate drivers make it dangerous. I almost got hit! You can book a group tour – but you have to pay.
TUBE STATION: ST JOHNS WOOD
** WARNING! Do not go to Abbey Road Station on the DLR - it is miles away! **
This is an amazing piece of history that is located on the side of a fairly non-descript road here in London. During World War I, Germany used massive Zeppelin rigid airships as bombers during the first half of the war. Essentially these were massive 196 metres (643 ft) long balloons with a diameter of 24 metres (79 ft). From 1915 to 1917 they were able to bomb London freely because they operated at altitudes up to 5,000 metres (16,500 feet) and moved at speed of 80kph (50mph). Fighter planes at the time took 50 minutes to reach just 3048 metres (10,000 ft). They also were above the range of anti-aircraft guns of that era. The original building on this site was completely destroyed during the most successful of all the Zeppelin raids on London on September 8, 1915. The building at 61 Farringdon Road was hit by a bomb from Zeppelin L13 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich (1883-1916) Heinrich Mathy. This single zeppelin and bombing run caused half the damage of all Zeppelin raids on Britain in 1915.
The building at the time was occupied by the Brass Foundry and Lamp Co. Ltd. As well as West and Price Jewellers. The building was rebuilt in the last year of Zeppelin Raids – 1917. The Managing Director of the Brass Foundry and Lamp Company, Mr. John Phillips, is listed on the plaque commemorating the rebuilding. It says ‘The’ World War as the much more damaging Blitz of World War II would not occur for another 20 years. The building is painted a very Zeppelin like grey and it architecturally different from its neighbours. Today the building is listed as 59-61 Farringdon Road and interestingly houses a business specialising in first aide training (RST Ltd.).
There are other plaques and memorials to these raids in London:
• 31 Nevill Road, Hackney. The first bomb of World War I to fall from a Zeppelin on London 30 May 1915
• Lincoln's Inn Chapel Undercroft, bomb damage 13 October 1915
• Dolphin Tavern, Red Lion Street, Holborn, London, WC1R 4PF. The clock on display still shows the time of 10.40 pm on 9th September 1915 when 3 men were killed.
After visiting the East section of the cemetery, I headed across the street for a prebooked tour at 2 pm of the West section of Highgate. Visits to the west section are by guided tour only, weekdays need to be prebooked, weekends are first come, first serve and are more frequent. The tour lasted about an hour and while I didn't really recognize any of the people buried in this section, our guide told us interesting stories about several people that would be better known to locals and commented on some of the more common designs that appear on gravestones. Part of the tour goes through the Columbarium where the remains of the cremeted lie.
My 1st two pictures are of angels, I had just read the book Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier which was set in Highgate Cemetery. Another book set in Highgate Cemetery is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.
The 3rd photo is of the grave of Thomas Sayers, a famous bare knuckle fighter in the mid 1800s. His gravestone features his beloved dog who is said to have ridden in the funeral procession in the car reserved for family
The 4th photo is of the entrance to the Egyptian Avenue
The 5th photo is of the grave of George Wombwell, founder of Wombwell's Traveling Menagerie, with a statue of his pet lion Nero
Appropriate dress is required, I just read someone's account where they were turned away for wearing a tank top. Remember this is an active cemetery, would you want to see someone in a halter top or shorts when you are visiting the grave of a loved one?
I visited the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe with Sarah (Toonsarah) and her husband, Chris. It is a small, but very interesting museum in the engine house for Brunel´s tunnel.
On a plaque on the engine house says: "The tunnel shaft and pumping house for Marc Brunel´s tunnel was constructed between 1825-1843. This was the first thoroughfare under a navigable river in the world".
The tunnel was constructed by Sir Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Its purpose was to carry cargo on horse carts.
The museum is on two floors, with drawings and paintings of the making, the technology and the history of the tunnel. It is an absolutely amazing project, very dangerous though and the men worked under unbelievably dangerous circumstances.
The tunnel collapsed frequently and the water of Thames, which was a sewer really at this time, came pouring into the tunnel, the methane gas of the sewer producing a risk of fire in the tunnel. The miners used candles and there were fires when the methane gas came into contact with the flames of the candles. In 1828 Thames came pouring into the tunnels and almost killed Isambard Brunel, who had a narrow escape, but 6 of his workers were killed. Investors were losing faith in the tunnel project, which was to take 3 years, but was delayed and delayed, so all in all it took 18 years to finish. When the Brunels almost ran out of money to finish the tunnel, they held a fancy banquet in the tunnel for 50 people, who had influence in the society. These people helped with further fundings of the tunnel.
The tunnel leads from Rotherhithe, under Thames, and into Wapping on the north side of the river. When the tunnel was finished, in the first 10 weeks, one million people paid an entrance fee of a penny for strolling under the Thames. They had to go down the shaft and into the Grand Entrance Hall. In the tunnel were shops in arcades on both sides. This must have been quite a sight, dressed up people strolling under the Thames in these days. The tunnel was never used for its initial purpose, for carrying cargo by horse carts.
The Grand Entrance Hall has been called the 8th Wonder of the World. It is locked and not open to the public today, apart from three times a week, when there are guided tours of the Grand Entrance Hall. The entrance to the tunnel is next to the engine house.
26 years later, in 1869, the railway started running through the Brunel tunnel with freight, making the tunnel the first tunnel of the underground railway system, which is the oldest in the world. These old trains filled the tunnel with smoke, as there was no ventilation in the tunnel. Imagine what it must have been like for the workers :( The Thames Tunnel is now used by the London Overground system, with the Rotherhithe station being the closest to the museum.
Opening hours: Every day from 10:00-17:00. On Thursdays from 10:00-21:30. There is a small café and a shop at the museum.
Admission: GBP 3.
The Brunel Museum is located at Railway Avenue in Rotherhithe. Almost next to the museum is the Rotherhithe Picture Research Library (see my former tip) and the Mayflower bar.
Sarah (Toonsarah) and her husband, Chris, decided on taking me on a surprise destination tour, while I was in London for a couple of months. I had visited a lot of museums and galleries etc, and Sarah´s husband got an idea of where to take us, where I had most likely never been. We met up in Canada Water and followed Chris to the secret destination. We walked by the canal up to Surrey Water and then by Thames to Rotherhithe. Our secret destination was the Sands Films Sudios, a remarkable place, a true gem hidden away in a 18th century, Grade II listed, former grain warehouse, called Grice´s Granary, in SE-London at 82 Saint Marychurch Street.
The Rotherhithe Picture Research Library keeps a large picture collection of costumes from historical periods, for films, theatre etc. There are thousands of large green books, which one can flicker through for reference to how costumes and settings were at a certain period in time. They don´t have it computerised, but use the old system. It was just amazing, I walked through the narrow corridors with all these costumes and accessories feeling such respect. I am such a fan of English films and plays, that I felt priviliged to be able to visit the library, and very grateful to Sarah and Chris for taking me there. There were people at work there, making costumes etc, offering their help to us.
All over were costumes and props from plays and films, f.ex. Keira Knightley´s slippers from the film "Pride and Prejudice", but Sand Films made most of the costumes for that film, Derec Jacobi´s waistcoat from the "Fool". And an original waistcoat from ca 1830 and the copy from "The Young Victoria" from 2006 placed together. Some of the costumes are recycled to make other costumes.
The library was established in 1976 and they are a non-profit educational trust, offering their services on picture research for free.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday from 10:00-16:00.
Admission: free of charge.
In the same restored warehouse are the Sands Films Studios. We didn´t visit that part, but there 25 people work on costume making etc. They are known for their quality work and make period costumes for films, theatre, TV etc. They have made costumes and offer other services for some big Oscar winning films and big names. Sand Films also make high quality films, f.ex. the adaptation of Charles Dickens´s "Little Dorrit" and "The Fool". They are unique as they are self-sufficient and in their studios they have everything needed to make films. They rent out their stage for films, TV shows etc. and provide everything needed - an "all in deal".
Opposite the library and Sands Films Studios is the Mayflower bar, from where the Mayflower sailed in 1620 on its voyage to America. We went there for a drink after visiting the library.
Tube: Rotherhithe (overground) or Canada Water.
The noted Londoner, William Morris (1834-1896) was truly an amazing, multi talented man. He was, amongst other things, a designer and designed beautiful wallpaper, textiles, ceramic tiles and furniture. He also did calligraphy, was an author and an illustrator, wrote poetry and was active in social reform. He has been called one of the most outstanding men of the 19th century. J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings) was influenced and inspired by William Morris's fantasy fictions.
My friend loves his wallpaper, and I was especially interested in William Morris for his ties to Iceland. He went to Iceland in 1871, learnt Icelandic and translated some of our Sagas (stories of the Vikings). The William Morris Society is going to Iceland in July 2013 to commemorate the 140th anniversay of William Morris´s second trip there.
So one lovely winter day my friend and I went to visit Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, where William Morris lived and where The William Morris Society keeps open a small museum in the basement of the house and the coach house. The rest of the house is privately owned. William Morris lived in this house from 1878 until his death. Upon entering one can watch a film on his life and flicker through his various, beautiful designs of the Morris & Co wallpapers and textiles.
It is a small museum, with 3 rooms only and a store, but well worth a visit. Here William Morris experimented with weaving and put up tapestry looms and carpet looms. He was especially interested in the medieval art of weaving. He later (1881) moved the carpet looms to the Merton Abbey Mill. Incidentally the mill is way down in Colliers Wood in South-West London, where I rented a room in 2012.
William Morris wanted social reform and formed the Socialist League with others and hosted Socialist League meetings. He established the Kelmscott Press in 1891. In one room in the basement there is a printing machine, the Albion proofing press from 1835.
He also founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
What I find especially endearing is that William Morris taught himself embroidery. What a multi talented man - hosting Socialist League meetings and then doing embroidery :)
William Morris design is sold by Liberty of London and Sanderson and Sons.
Opening hours: Thursdays and Saturdays from 14:00-17:00.
Directions: I was renting a room in Hammersmith in 2013, so I just walked down to Kelmscott House, but from the Hammersmith tube station it is easy to find. Walk down to the beautiful Hammersmith Bridge and follow the north side of the Thames path going west for ca 10 minutes. The house is at 26 Upper Mall.
There are several other buildings associated with William Morris, f.ex. 7 Hammersmith Terrace, where only a limited number of visitors are allowed with pre-booking. There is also a William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. And the Red House, a former home of William Morris.
You may not want to necessarily visit a library while in London, and in any case would not need to travel so far from the centre to do so, but if you’re at all interested in modern architecture and the design of public buildings, this one is worth the trip. It opened just a year ago and has everything you would expect of a modern library – plenty of computer access, wifi, study space, a small café, and of course books. But what makes it stand out is its design, which was carefully thought out to make the most of the water-side setting while compensating for the fact that the space allocated to the library in this development was rather smaller than the local council (Southwark) would have liked. The architect’s solution? To build an inverted pyramid, so that the upper floors could be larger than the small ground floor footprint of the building. This design makes for a striking building from outside, and when you get inside, the beautiful curved staircase is just as striking. I took lots of photos here as the semi-abstract patterns made by the woodwork really appealed to me.
If you’re interested in the history of the old docks in this part of London do go up to the top floor, where a series of panels on the wall tells the story. But bear in mind that this is the quiet study area of the library so you’ll need to explore in relative silence.
The café on the ground floor sells hot and cold drinks, light meals and cakes. I had a good sandwich here and a very good espresso. But it was a chilly day and we found it quite draughty sitting here, so didn’t linger too long despite the nice views of Canada Water right outside.
Directions: Right opposite Canada Water station (Jubilee line on the Underground, or Overground trains too)
There are many well-beaten paths in London as befits one of the major travel destinations in the world, but that is not the whole story. Visitors may well visit Buckingham Palace, the...