Sidcup and District U3A
Jun 2007
Norwegian Buhund is a member of the Spitz family. It is closely related to the Icelandic Sheepdog and the Swedish Jämthund. In Norwegian, hund means dog and bu refers to both homestead and livestock.

Aug 2007
Benjamin Franklin was sent to England in 1757 by the Pennsylvania Assembly as a colonial agent to protest against the political influence of the Penn family, the proprietors of the colony.

Aug 2007
“The Rake's Progress” is an opera in three acts and an epilogue by Igor Stravinsky. The libretto written by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman is based loosely on the eight paintings and engravings “A Rake's Progress” of William Hogarth which Stravinsky had seen on 2 May 1947 in a Chicago exhibition.

Sep 2007
Sir John Lubbock’s son, Lord Avebury, was one of the foremost public figures of his day and was responsible for the Open Spaces Act of 1896 which enabled his former estate to be transferred to Bromley Council in 1965 as a Green Belt open space.

Sep 2007
Sandwich is an historic town; it was one of the Cinque Ports and still has many original medieval buildings. Once a major port, it is now two miles from the sea. Sandwich is no stranger to odd events in English history - it was there in the year 1255 that the first captive elephant was landed in England.

Nov 2007
A team representing the Hearing Dogs charity competed against the “Eggheads” in a programme broadcast by BBC2 on Thursday 1st November.

Nov 2007
The original Menin Gate Memorial stands to the east of the town of Ypres in Belgium; it marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line during World War I. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built by the British Government, the Menin Gate Memorial was opened on 24th July 1927 as a monument dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in battles around the Ypres Salient area and who have no known grave.

Dec 2007
Nonsuch Palace was Henry VIII's last and most fantastic palace. It stood on the west side of Nonsuch Park and is sometimes confused with Nonsuch Mansion on the east side of the park. Work on the Palace began on 22nd April 1538, in the 30th year of Henry's reign, and six months after the birth of his son. It was intended as a triumphal celebration of the power and grandeur of Henry VIII and the Tudor dynasty.

Dec 2007
The original building for Queen Mary’s Hospital was Frognal House. Opened in 1917, the hospital and its associated convalescent hospitals provided over 1,000 beds, and between 1917 and 1921 admitted over 5,000 servicemen.

Dec 2007
William De Morgan (1839-1917) was the most important and innovative potter of the 19th century, and his distinctive style and glorious lustres are instantly recognisable. He designed stained glass, ceramic tiles and painted furniture between 1863 and 1872. He met William Morris in 1863 and both became central figures in the Arts and Crafts Movement. Desiring more control over the finishing of his work, he built a kiln in the basement of his London home where he used his knowledge of chemistry and his gift as an inventor to develop different lustres and glazes.
Feb 2011
The motto on the coat of arms (of the Vintners Company) reads “Vinum Animum Exhilarat” - wine gladdens the heart. The shield bears 3 tuns which were used for transporting wine. Bunches of grapes adorn the swans’ necks, and a medieval ship known as a caravel symbolises the Vintners’ connection with the French wine producing area of Gascony.

Mar 2011
Finsbury Park covers 115 acres of the London Borough of Haringey. It was one of the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian era on what previously had been part of Hornsey Wood which had been cut back repeatedly for grazing during the Middle Ages. During the first half of the 19th century, following developments in Paris, Londoners began to demand the creation of open spaces and petitioned for a park to alleviate conditions of the poor. Originally to be called Albert Park, the first plans were drawn up in 1850. Renamed Finsbury Park (after the area where the benefactors who created it lived), plans for the park’s creation were ratified by an Act of Parliament in 1857. Despite considerable local opposition, the park was formally opened on Saturday 7 August 1869.

Apr 2011
Gabriel Kney was born in Speyer-am-Rhein, Germany, in 1929. At the age of 15, he was apprenticed to Paul Sattel of Speyer to become an organ builder, and he concurrently studied organ and composition at the Bishop’s Institute for Church Music in Speyer. He moved to Canada in 1951 to work as a voicer with the Keates Organ Co, and in 1955 he formed the Kney and Bright Organ Co to build tracker organs. He is now a renowned builder of pipe organs based in London, Ontario.

Apr 2011
Lullingstone Castle is actually an historic manor house set in an estate in the village of Lullingstone and the civil parish of Eynsford. The estate is mentioned in the Domesday Book and building commenced on the present structure in 1497. Henry VIII and Queen Anne were regular visitors to the Manor House. The Tudor gatehouse - one of the oldest in England - is believed to be one of the first to be constructed entirely from bricks. The manor has been inhabited by members of the Hart Dyke family for twenty generations.

May 2011
Until the 1870s Burgh House was called Lewis House. At the time of its construction, the Hampstead Wells Spa was flourishing and in 1720 the Spa’s physician, Dr. William Gibbons, moved there and enlarged it. He added the present wrought-iron gate which carries his initials. In 1858 it was occupied by the Royal East Middlesex Militia, and served as the HQ and Officers’ Mess until 1881. During the early 1900s, Gertrude Jekyll designed the garden, but only the terrace now remains. Rudyard Kipling’s daughter lived there from 1933-1937, and his final outing in 1936 was to visit his daughter there. From 1937-1946 Burgh House was disused but reopened as a community centre with a Citizen’s Advice Bureau in its basement.

May 2011
A Special Bridge or Subway Committee was convened in 1876 to address the need for a new river crossing downstream of London Bridge caused by commercial development in the East End. It opened the design of the crossing to public competition and over 50 designs were submitted. Evaluation of the designs caused controversy, and it took until 1884 to approve a design by Sir Horace Jones. Because tall-masted ships needed access to the port facilities in the Pool of London (between London Bridge and the Tower of London), a traditional fixed bridge was not an option; therefore, Jones’s engineer, Sir John Wolfe Barry, devised the idea of a bascule bridge with towers built on piers and raised walkways to allow pedestrians access during the bridge’s frequent opening. The piers comprise over 70,000 tons of concrete and support over 11,000 tons of steel that form the framework for the towers and walkways. This is clad with Cornish granite and Portland stone in a Victorian Gothic style to preserve the underlying steelwork, and to give the bridge an appearance that harmonises it with the nearby Tower of London after which it is named. Tower Bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by The Prince of Wales.

July 2011
The Docklands museum has its own website: www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands. Admission to the museum is free, and until 30th October it has a temporary exhibition relating to pirates - in particular the Captain Kidd story - although there is a charge to visit this part. In common with other museums, temporary exhibitions such as this vary all the time.

Aug 2011
Art Deco is an eclectic artistic and design style which began in 1920s Paris. Flourishing internationally up until World War II, the style influenced many areas, including architecture and interior design, fashion, jewellery, paintings, graphic arts and film, and its characteristics are angular geometric shapes and bold colours. Art Deco is short for the French “art décoratif.”

Sep 2011
Abaris - from Hyperborea (near the Caucasus) - was known to the Ancient Greeks as a legendary sage, healer and priest of Apollo. He is reputed to have acquired these skills in his homeland from which he fled during a plague. Said to have the gift of prophecy, he was held in high esteem because of his Scythian dress, simplicity and honesty. According to Herodotus, he was said to have travelled around the world with an arrow symbolising Apollo, eating no food. Plato classes him amongst the “Thracian physicians” who practice medicine upon the soul as well as the body by means of incantations.

Oct 2011
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich, KBE, (27th March 1927 - 27th April 2007), known to close friends as Slava, was a Russian cellist and conductor. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. He is widely considered to have been the greatest cellist of the second half of the 20th century - if not one of the greatest of all time. In addition to his outstanding interpretations and technique, he was renowned for commissioning new works that expanded the cello’s repertoire more than any other cellist, and he performed the premieres of over 100 pieces. Rostropovich was internationally recognised as a steadfast advocate of human rights, and was granted the 1974 Award of the International League of Human Rights. He was buried four days after his friend, Boris Yeltsin, in the same cemetery.

Nov 2011
William Kent designed the Grade II listed building - now called William Kent House - that adjoins The Ritz. Originally known as Wimborne House, it was acquired by the owners of The Ritz in 2005 who restored and lavishly refurbished it to its original Italian Renaissance style décor following guidelines determined by English Heritage.
Jan 2008
The Sächsische Staatskapelle (Saxon State Orchestra) based in Dresden, Germany, was founded in 1548 by Moritz, Prince Elector of Saxony. It is one of the world’s oldest orchestras still performing.

Feb 2008
Saint Pancras was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity and who, at age 14, was beheaded in AD 303 for proclaiming his faith during the persecution of Christians under Emperor Diocletian. His name is Greek and literally means “the one that holds everything”. Pope Vitalian sent his relics to England as part of the evangelisation of England so that we would have relics of the Church at large, and to install in the altars of new churches. Saint Augustine of Canterbury dedicated the first church built in England to Saint Pancras, and subsequent churches throughout England are similarly named for him.

Feb 2008
Strapwork is a decorative motif in flat relief consisting variously of interlaced scrollwork, braiding, shield forms, or cross-hatching, often pierced with circular or oval holes.

Feb 2008
About 250 coal tax posts forming a rough circle twenty miles from the centre of London were erected in 1851 to mark the points where taxes on coal due to the Corporation of London had to be paid. Coal sold in the City of London had been taxed since mediaeval times, and, as it had all been shipped in to one or two riverside wharfs, the tax collection had been relatively easy. By the nineteenth century, however, as a consequence of increasing trade by canal and rail, Parliament extended the catchment area to a radius of approximately twenty miles from London. The erection of these posts was a last ditch attempt to retain the tax despite growing opposition; however, within twenty years it was abolished. A book published in 1972 lists the position of 219 coal tax posts in varying states of repair still surviving in situ at that time; a survey has recently been commissioned to update this information.

Mar 2008
Finchcocks is a Georgian baroque manor in Goudhurst, Kent, which houses a collection of historical keyboard instruments: harpsichords, clavichords, fortepianos, spinets, organs and other musical instruments. It is a music centre of international repute.

Apr 2008
SELCHP is a major incineration plant located in Deptford. SELCHP is the acronym for the “South East London Combined Heat and Power” energy recovery facility.

Apr 2008
The human genome is the genetic material of Homo sapiens; it contains all of the biological information needed to build and maintain a living human. It is stored on 24 distinct chromosomes containing around 20,000-25,000 genes. The entire human genome occupies a total of just over three billion DNA base pairs, and has a data size of about 750 Megabytes; this slightly exceeds the capacity of a standard Compact Disc.

May 2008
The Carthusian Order is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns. The order has its own Rule, called the Statutes, rather than the Rule of St Benedict and it combines eremitical and cenobitic life.

May 2008
The Great Stink occurred during the hot summer of 1858 when the smell of untreated sewage almost overwhelmed people in central London. Part of the problem was due to the introduction of flush toilets which were replacing the chamber-pots that most Londoners had been using. These dramatically increased the volume of water and waste being deposited into London’s 200,000 cesspits. Costing one shilling to empty, they were frequently allowed to overflow into street drains originally designed only to cope with rainwater. The same drains also had to carry outfalls from factories and slaughterhouses, etc, and they contaminated the city even before emptying into the Thames.

Jul 2008
Basso continuo is a form of musical accompaniment used mainly in the Baroque period (c. 1600-1750). Basso continuo was played by a keyboard instrument - normally harpsichord - and another bass instrument such as cello, bassoon or violone (an early form of double bass).

Aug 2008
Two of the most played boule games are pétanque and boule lyonnaise in which the goal is, while standing with the feet together in a small circle, to throw heavy metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet {jack}. It is usually played on dirt or gravel.

Aug 2008
The Cinque Port of Sandwich, first recorded in AD 664, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in England and two of the town gates still exist. Before the River Stour silted up the river was wide and deep enough for great sailing ships, and, until medieval times, the town was an important Kent and UK port.

Sep 2008
Sarabande, first mentioned in Central America in 1539, is a dance in triple metre. The 2nd and 3rd beats of each measure are often tied, giving the dance a distinctive rhythm of ¼ and ½ notes in alternation. The ½ notes are said to have corresponded with dragging steps in the dance. It gained popularity in the Spanish colonies before reaching Spain itself - where it was originally banned in 1583 for its obscenity!

Sep 2008
Chiswick House, built in 1726-1729, is an octagonal domed Palladian villa inspired by the Villa Capra “La Rotonda” near Vicenza, Italy.

Oct 2008
The Royal Observatory was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II. At this time the king also created the position of Astronomer Royal (initially filled by John Flamsteed), to serve as director of the observatory.

Nov 2008
The full name of the Drapers’ Company is “The Master and Wardens and Brethren and Sisters of the Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Mystery of Drapers of the City of London”.

Dec 2008
Baba Yaga is a witch-like character in Slavic folklore who lives in a house on chicken feet, and who flies around on a giant mortar kidnapping small children. In most Slavic folk tales she is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters in other mythological folk stories have been known to seek her out for her wisdom.

Dec 2008
The Ashes Urn, often wrongly believed to be the trophy of the Ashes series, has never been formally adopted as such. Replicas are often paraded by victorious teams as a symbol of victory, but the original urn has never been presented or displayed as a trophy in this way. Whichever side holds the Ashes, it normally remains in Marylebone Cricket Club’s Museum at Lord’s. The urn dates from the 1882-83 test matches in Australia and is reputed to contain the ashes of an item of cricketing equipment.

Dec 2008
The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of London from Sunday 2nd September to Wednesday 5th September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman city wall. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. The death toll from the fire is unknown and is traditionally thought to have been small since only a few verified deaths were recorded. This reasoning has recently been challenged on the grounds that the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded anywhere.
Jan 2012
Saint Cecilia is the patroness of musicians and Church music. It is reputed that,
as she was dying, she sang to God. It is also written that, as the musicians
played at her wedding to Valerian, she “sang in her heart to the Lord”. An only
child, her feast day is celebrated in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern
Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic churches on November 22nd. It was long
presumed that she was a noble lady of Rome who, along with her husband, his
brother Tiburtius, and a Roman soldier called Maximus, suffered martyrdom in
about AD 230 under Emperor Alexander Severus. Recent research appears to
cast doubt upon this.

Jan 2012
The traditional Christmas carol, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” was published
by William B. Sandys in 1833; its author is unknown. However, in an earlier
publication of the carol on broadsheet dated about 1760, it is described as a
“new Christmas carol,” suggesting that its origin is actually in the mid-18th
century. It is interesting to note that the word “rest” here denotes “keep” or
“make”, and that “ye” was originally written as “you”; this alteration appears to
have been deliberate and makes the carol look quaintly archaic.

Mar 2012
Valentines Park lies between Ilford and Gants Hill in the London Borough of
Redbridge in which it is the largest green space. It was acquired piecemeal by
the Municipal Borough of Ilford with various purchases and gifts of land,
including the former estates of Cranbrook and Valentines.

Apr 2012
To celebrate the London Olympics, U3As of the Herts Network are walking the
Hertfordshire Way - a 193-mile collection of footpaths which encircle the county.
The Walk has been split into 17 sections, each to be walked on a specified day
between now and 19th July under the co-ordination of a different U3A. The Walk
began on the splendidly sunny morning of 8th March from the Roman Museum of
Verulamium, just outside St Albans. Some 60 walkers set out on the first 11-
mile leg, spurred on by encouraging words given by local dignitaries: the Mayor
of St. Albans and a representative of the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire.
Following the first leg co-ordinated by Ver-Colne Valley U3A, future legs will be
co-ordinated by the U3As of St Albans, Dacorum, South West Herts,
Chorleywood, Potters Bar, Borehamwood, Hertford & District, Broxbourne, Lea
Valley, Ware, Buntingford, Stevenage, Cheshunt, Luton and Harpenden. More
information is available on this website: www.hertsnetwork.org.uk.

May 2012
A tributary of the River Thames, The River Darent’s name is believed to derive
from a Celtic word meaning ‘river where oak trees grow’. Rising from springs in
the hills south of Westerham, it flows for 21 miles eastwards and then
northwards past the villages of Otford, Shoreham, Eynsford, Farningham,
Darenth, and then through Dartford. North of Dartford the Darent joins the River
Cray in Crayford Marshes and forms a boundary between Bexley and the
borough of Dartford. Dartford (‘Tarentefort’ in the Domesday Book) was once a
fording place over the Darent where it crossed the road from London to the
Kent coast. Records show that a ford existed in Roman times, and, by 1235, a
ferry operated by a hermit was established there. The post of hermit lasted until
1518, long after the first bridge was built - a footbridge constructed during the
reign of Henry IV which survived until the mid-18th century.

Jul 2012
Cormorants and shags are medium-to-large seabirds between which there is
no consistent distinction. Today, there are around forty species of cormorant
and it appears to be an ancient group, with similar ancestors reaching all the
way back to the time of the dinosaurs. They are coastal rather than oceanic
birds, and some varieties have colonised inland waters; the original ancestor of
cormorants seems to have been a freshwater bird. They are all fish eaters and
dine on small eels, fish, and even water snakes. They are colonial nesters and
use trees, rocky islets or cliffs. Cormorants have, indeed, been spotted on
Tooting Bec Common, Finsbury Park, and Danson Park.

Aug 2012
Glastonbury Tor has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument now
managed by the National Trust. Tor is a local word of Celtic origin that means
rock outcropping or hill. It occupies a striking position in the middle of a plain
called the Summerland Meadows - part of the Somerset Levels. The plain is
reclaimed fenland from which the Tor once rose like an island; now, with the
surrounding flats, it is a peninsula bordered on three sides by the River Brue.
The remains of Glastonbury Lake Village were identified nearby in 1892,
proving that there had been an Iron Age settlement in about 300-200 BC on
what was an easily defended island among the fens. Earthworks and Roman
remains also prove later occupation. The spot seems to have been called Ynys
yr Afalon (meaning “The Isle of Avalon”) by the Britons, and it is believed by
some to be the Avalon of Arthurian legend. A model of Glastonbury Tor was
incorporated into the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in

Sep 2012
Broadstairs gets its name from a former flight of steps through the chalk cliff
from the sands up to the 11th century shrine of St Mary on the cliff’s summit. The
town’s crest motto is Stella Maris {Star of the Sea}. Harbour Street, which was
cut into the chalk to give access to the sea, is still spanned by York Gate, a
portal built by George Culmer in 1540. Originally, it held two heavy wooden
doors that could be closed in times of threat from the sea.

Oct 2012
Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery and dates from the Renaissance.
Decorated in bright colours on a white background, it frequently depicts
historical or legendary scenes. The name is believed to derive from a medieval
Italian word for Majorca which is on the route for ships that took Hispano-
Moresque wares from Valencia to Italy. Moorish potters from Majorca are
reputed to have worked in Sicily and it has been suggested that their wares
reached the Italian mainland from Caltagirone.

Oct 2012
Ranger’s House is a red brick Palladian style Georgian mansion built on
wasteland adjacent to Greenwich Park in about 1700 for Captain Francis
Hosier (1673-1727). The house then had a superb view and enjoyed easy
access to London by both road and river. Hosier occupied the house from
1700-1727 during which period he was promoted to Admiral. He had made his
fortune through trade at sea, and both the ship on which he served as a
lieutenant and his own ship were called the Neptune. Hosier died of yellow fever
at sea in 1727 during the disastrous blockade of Porto Bello in Panama.

Oct 2012
Parts of the Olympic Park will re-open to the public in July 2013. It will be known
as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Nov 2012
Many businesses offer discounts to U3A members upon production of a
membership card - although there is no definitive list and situations vary locally.
It is always worth asking.

Dec 2012
It is generally believed that Prince Albert introduced Christmas trees; however,
George III’s wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, had made the Christmas
tree a feature of life at court from 1761. In 1832, a young Queen Victoria wrote
of her delight at having a Christmas tree hung with lights, ornaments, and with
presents placed around it. The tree that Albert and Queen Victoria set up for
their children in 1848 was depicted in the Illustrated London News and the
custom, seen then as a Germanic importation, was adopted by the prosperous
classes and thereafter became more widespread.

It is not illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day. Mince pies and Christmas
puddings were reputedly banned in Oliver Cromwell’s England as part of efforts
to tackle gluttony. In 1644 he enforced an Act of Parliament banning Christmas
celebrations. Christmas was deemed by the Puritans to be a wasteful festival
which threatened core Christian beliefs. However, the ban caused discontent,
was generally ignored, and then lifted after the restoration of Charles II.
Jan 2013
Wattle and daub is a composite building material that has been used to make
walls for at least 6,000 years; it is still an important construction material in
many regions of the world. It comprises a woven lattice of wooden strips called
wattle daubed with a sticky material usually made from a combination of wet
soil, clay, sand, animal dung, mud and straw. Many historic buildings include
wattle and daub construction, and the technique is regaining popularity in more
developed areas as a low-impact sustainable building method.

Feb 2013
Harenc School takes its name from the family of George Harenc, a cricketer
born in Footscray in 1811, who played for the great Kent team of the 1840s and
also the MCC. He was a late-order batsman, but was best known as a bowler
of right-arm slow underarm lobs who twice took ten wickets in a match. The
original Harenc School building (a preparatory school for boys funded by a trust
in the family’s name) was built 1815 as the village church school and then rebuilt
in 1882.

Feb 2013
In Britain, almshouses have been created throughout the period since the 10th
century to provide a residence for poor, old and distressed folk. The earliest
recorded almshouse was founded in York by King Athelstan; the oldest still in
existence is the Hospital of St. Cross in Winchester, founded between 1132-
1136 by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester. Many of the medieval
almshouses in England were established with the aim of benefiting the soul of
the founder or their family, and they frequently incorporated a chapel. As a
result, most were regarded as chantries and were dissolved by an Act of 1547
during the Reformation. Religion is less important now than it was in medieval
times and the Christian aspect of almshouses no longer applies to all voluntary
sector housing. Almshouses tend to be characterised by their charitable status
and their aim of supporting the continued independence of their residents.

Feb 2013
A quadriga is a chariot drawn by four horses abreast, but the word quadriga
may refer to the chariot or four horses alone, or the combination. They were
emblems of triumph; Victory and Fame are often depicted as the triumphant
woman driving it. In classical mythology, the quadriga is the chariot of the gods;
Apollo has been depicted driving his quadriga across the heavens delivering
daylight and dispersing darkness. Quadrigas were used for Roman chariot
racing, and they were raced in the Ancient Olympic Games and other contests.

Mar 2013
Continuo parts, almost universal during the Baroque era (1600-1750), provide
music’s harmonic structure. Instrumentalists playing the continuo parts are
called the continuo group, the makeup of which is often left to the discretion of
the performers, and this practice varied greatly within the Baroque period. At
least one instrument capable of playing chords must be included, such as a
harpsichord, organ, lute, or harp. In addition, any number of instruments which
play in the bass register may be included, such as cello, double bass, or
bassoon. The chording instrument player performs a continuo part by playing, in
addition to the indicated bass notes, upper notes to complete chords, either
determined ahead of time or improvised during performance. Performers use
their musical judgment and other instruments or voices as a guide, but numerals
written below notes may also be used to indicate the kind of harmony to be

Apr 2013
St Paul’s Cathedral’s dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original
church on this site, founded in AD 604. The fourth St Paul’s was begun by the
Normans after a fire in 1087. Work took over 200 years but a great deal was
lost in a second fire in 1136. Although it was consecrated in 1240, a change of
heart led to an enlargement commencing in 1256. Following its completion, it
was the third longest church in Europe and had one of Europe’s tallest spires at
some 489 feet. England’s first classical architect, Inigo Jones, added the
cathedral’s west front in the 1630s. Excavations in 1878 showed that the
cathedral had been 585 feet long and 100 feet wide (290 feet across the
transepts and crossing). The present church dating from the late 17th century
was constructed to an English Baroque design of Sir Christopher Wren, as part
of a major rebuilding programme which took place after the Great Fire of
London. At 365 feet high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to

May 2013
Faesten Dic (in Old English: strong dike or ditch) was built 1500 years ago by
Saxon settlers either to defend a village or settlement, or to mark the edge of a
territory. Its remains are a scheduled monument and run for over a kilometre
through Joyden’s Wood. Evidence of Iron Age roundhouses has also been
discovered there.

Jun 2013
Traditional Japanese gardens use highly abstract and stylized ways of creating
miniature idealised landscapes. Nevertheless, the idea of these unique
gardens did not originate in Japan; during the Asuka period (AD 538-710)
Japanese merchants who saw gardens that were being created in China
frequently became so inspired by them that they took many facets of Chinese
culture back to Japan. Styles include Karesansui - rock or Zen gardens, which
are meditation areas where white sand replaces water; Roji - simple, rustic
gardens with tea houses where the Japanese tea ceremony is conducted;
Kaiyu-shiki-teien - promenade or stroll gardens, where visitors follow a path to
see carefully composed landscapes; and Tsubo-niwa - small courtyard

Jul 2013
“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is based upon the short story “The Sobbin’
Women”, by Stephen Vincent Benét, which was in turn based upon the Ancient
Roman legend of “The Rape of the Sabine Women”. The music is by Saul
Chaplin and Gene de Paul, and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The 1954 film was
nominated for an Oscar for best picture. This musical is particularly known for
its unusual choreography which makes dance numbers out of mundane frontier
tasks such as chopping wood and raising a barn.

Jul 2013
The East India Docks was a group of docks to the north-east of the Isle of
Dogs; only the entrance basin remains today. Following the successful creation
of the West India Docks in 1802, an Act of Parliament in 1803 set up The East
India Dock Company. The docks, designed by Ralph Walker, were based upon
the existing Brunswick Dock, which had originally been connected directly to the
Thames and used for fitting out and repairing ships, and which then became the
Export Dock. To the north, the company built a larger 18-acre Import Dock and
both were connected to the Thames via an eastern entrance basin.

Aug 2013
“The Nutcracker” is a two-act ballet that was originally choreographed by Marius
Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from
E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. Its première
was staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on Sunday, 18th
December 1892, on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky’s opera, “Iolanta”. Although
the original production was not a success, the twenty-minute suite that
Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete “Nutcracker”
has enjoyed huge popularity since the late 1960s and it is now performed by
countless ballet companies.

Aug 2013
The London Wetland Centre covers an area of 105 acres; its creation was the
first urban project of its kind in the United Kingdom. Recognised as a Site of
Special Scientific Interest in 2002, it was voted the UK’s Favourite Nature
Reserve 2012 by Countryfile Magazine. Made up of a range of habitats linked
by over two miles of pathway and bridges, it is a nurtured and unique sanctuary
for flora and fauna which attracts numerous species of birds, amphibians, bats,
insects, reptiles and water voles.

Sep 2013
Kelsey Park was originally the landscaped park of the Kelsey Manor Estate of
which the last mansion was a rambling, Gothic Revival house built in 1869 with
matching chapel. In the late 19th century, the manor became a convent and then
a school for girls. The land adjoining Wickham Road was sold in the 1890s and
laid out with large Arts & Crafts movement houses. In 1908, after the death of its
owner, the Estate was sold; Beckenham Urban District Council later purchased
the ornamental gardens which became a public park in 1912.

Oct 2013
The Bank of England is currently gauging public opinion before making a final
decision on whether to issue plastic banknotes. Current UK banknotes are
made from cotton fibre and linen rag, and the average fiver lasts for about a
year. Unfit notes are shredded and can end up in industrial compost. Smaller,
wipe-clean, polymer £5 notes could be introduced from 2016, matching
currencies from over 20 other countries - and the £10 note would follow. The
new polymer notes are more difficult to counterfeit, remain cleaner, can be
recycled, and, because they last at least twice as long as the current ones, they
will eventually be cheaper to produce.

Nov 2013
The Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem is the oldest independent
international Order of Christian Chivalry. Its historical and spiritual roots are
linked to a hospice founded about 1048 in Jerusalem before the first crusade. It
was devoted to ministering in the name of Christ to the sick, injured and needy
regardless of race or religion. Their dedication and courage was
acknowledged by all, and in 1113 the Church recognised the Hospitallers as a
religious Order and thus the “Knights of St. John” was created. After the
Western Christian conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the 1st Crusade, the
organisation became a religious and military order under its own Papal charter
charged with the care and defence of the Holy Land.

Dec 2013
Today principally a museum of cultural art objects and antiquities, the British
Museum was founded as a “universal museum”. The naturalist, Sir Hans
Sloane, amassed an enviable collection of curiosities during his lifetime, and,
not wishing to have his collection dispersed after his death, he bequeathed it to
George II, for the nation, for £20,000. Comprised of about 71,000 objects of all
kinds, the museum opened on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House - on the site
of the current museum building. Expansion during the following 2½ centuries,
mainly because of British colonial activity, has resulted in the creation of several
branch institutions - the first being the Natural History Museum in 1887. Its
collection, some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive
in existence.
Jan 2014
The Workers’ Educational Association was founded in 1903 by Albert
Mansbridge and his wife, Frances. He was born the son of a carpenter in 1876,
and, when married at the age of 25, was recorded as a ‘Gentleman’. Owing to
his family’s tight finances, he had to leave school at 14 and, as a result, was
largely self-educated. He still managed to attend university extension courses,
however, but had concerns that they were aimed only at the upper and middle
classes. To help the situation, he founded the WEA using two shillings and 6d
from the housekeeping money. The association and its aims were quickly
recognised by universities, and Mansbridge became its full-time general
secretary in 1905. He later created other adult education groups and also
founded the National Central Library - a tutorial system and a scholarly library
for working people not connected to an academic institution. He is
commemorated by a blue plaque at 198 Windsor Road, Ilford. The WEA is now
the largest independent provider of adult education in England and Scotland. It
is one of the largest charities, has voluntary governance and its branches are
run by volunteers.

Jan 2014
The Fleet rises on Hampstead Heath, and, in Anglo-Saxon times, was a
substantial body of water with wells and springs that joined the Thames through
a marshy, tidal basin over 100 yards wide. In the 13th century it was called River
of Wells and considered polluted. Christopher Wren’s proposal following the
Great Fire of London for widening the river as a fire break was rejected, and in
1680 it was instead converted into the New Canal. The upper canal, unpopular
and unused, was enclosed between Holborn and Ludgate Circus in 1737 to
form Fleet Market. The lower part (from Ludgate Circus to the Thames) had
been covered by 1769 for the opening of the new Blackfriars Bridge. Fleet
Market was closed during the 1860s with the construction of Farringdon Road
and Metropolitan Railway. It is the largest of London’s subterranean rivers.

Jan 2014
Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678. Nicknamed “il Prete Rosso” {the
red priest} because of his red hair, he was an Italian Baroque composer,
Catholic priest, and a virtuoso violinist. Recognised as one of the greatest
Baroque composers, his influence was widespread across Europe during his
lifetime. He is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos as well as
sacred choral works and over forty operas. His best known work is a series of
violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were
written for the female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice - a
convent and orphanage where Vivaldi had been employed as a violin teacher
from 1703-1715 and from 1723-1740.

Feb 2014
Ælfheah (“elf-high” in Old English), who lived from 954 - 19 April 1012, is
officially remembered by the name Alphege (or Alfege by churches). Thought to
have been born near Bath, he became a monk early in life and entered the
monastery of Deerhurst before moving to Bath where he became an anchorite.
Noted for his piety and austerity, he rose to become abbot of Bath Abbey, and
in 984 he was elected Bishop of Winchester. He eventually became Archbishop
of Canterbury where he furthered the cult of a predecessor, Dunstan, and where
he also encouraged learning. He was captured by Viking raiders in 1011 and
killed by them the following year after refusing to allow himself to be ransomed.
He was canonised as a saint in 1078, and Thomas Becket, a later Archbishop
of Canterbury, prayed to him just before his own murder in Canterbury

Dunstan (909 - 988) was an Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, a Bishop of
Worcester, a Bishop of London, and an Archbishop of Canterbury who was
later canonised as a saint. His work restored monastic life in England and
reformed the English Church. His 11th century biographer, Osbern (himself an
artist and scribe) states that Dunstan was skilled in “making a picture and
forming letters”, as were other clergy of his age who reached senior rank. The
Guild Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West is in Fleet Street.

Mar 2014
Dr. Thomas Augustine Arne (12th March 1710 - 5th March 1778) was a British
composer, best known for the patriotic song Rule, Britannia! He also wrote a
version of God Save The King, which became our national anthem. Arne was a
Freemason and active in the organisation which has long been centred around
Covent Garden where he lived. His sister, Susannah Maria Arne, was a famous
contralto who performed in some of his works, including his first opera,
Rosamund. They and their brother, Richard, often performed his works
together. Between 1733 and 1776 he wrote the music for about 90 stage
works, including plays, masques, pantomimes and opera.

Mar 2014
The Victoria and Albert Museum’s origins are in the Great Exhibition of 1851
which Henry Cole, the museum’s first director, was involved in planning. Initially
known as the Museum of Manufactures, it first opened in May 1852 at
Marlborough House, but by September it had been transferred to Somerset
House, and its collections covered both applied art and science. It was
renamed as the South Kensington Museum, and in 1855 the German architect
Gottfried Semper, at the request of Cole, produced a design for the museum
which was rejected by the Board of Trade as too expensive. The existing
building, Brompton Park House, was extended, and, at the time of its official
opening and renaming to the V&A by Queen Victoria on 22nd June 1857, it was
the world’s first museum to include a refreshment room. A non-departmental
body governed by a board of Trustees appointed by the Prime Minister, it is
now the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design and its
permanent collection exceeds 4½ million objects.

Mar 2014
The Thames Tunnel is the first tunnel known to have been constructed
successfully under a navigable river. Attempts to build tunnels beneath the
Thames had been made before, but it had always proved to be too difficult
leading engineers to conclude that it was impracticable. Marc Brunel refused to
accept this, and, using his and Thomas Cochrane’s newly-invented tunnelling
shield technology, it was built between 1825 and 1843 - sponsored in part by
the Duke of Wellington. During construction, filthy sewage-laden water seeping
through from the river above gave off methane gas which was ignited by the
miners’ oil lamps, and when the resident engineer fell ill in April 1826 Marc’s
son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, took over at the age of 20. Although built for
horse-drawn traffic, it was never actually used for this.

A tunnelling shield is a protective structure used in the excavation of tunnels
through soil that is too soft or fluid to remain stable during the time it takes to
line the tunnel with a support structure of concrete, cast iron or steel. It serves as
a temporary support structure for the tunnel during excavation. The first
successful tunnelling shield was developed by Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, and
patented by him and Lord Cochrane in January 1818. In early shield tunnelling,
the shield functioned as a way to protect labourers who performed the digging,
and who moved the shield forward, progressively replacing it with pre-built
sections of tunnel wall. The early deep tunnels for the London Underground
were built in this way and its principles are still used today.

Apr 2014
Thomas John Barnardo (1845-1905) was born in Dublin. A philanthropist,
author of 192 books, founder and director of homes for poor children, he
studied medicine in London, Paris and Edinburgh with the intention of qualifying
for medical missionary work in China. However, the evangelical work he carried
out alongside his medical studies in London made him aware of the great
numbers of homeless and destitute children adrift in the cities of England and
he gave up his early ambition to begin what was to become his life’s work. The
first Dr. Barnardo’s orphanage was opened in London in 1870 from which time
the workload of his humanitarian venture steadily increased until, at the time of
his death, he had established 112 district homes throughout the UK and had
rescued, trained and given a better life to nearly 60,000 children.

May 2014
The River Moselle - also referred to as Moselle Brook - flows through
Tottenham towards the Lea Valley. It was originally a tributary of the River Lea,
but now flows into Pymme’s Brook, another Lea tributary. The river’s name
derives from ‘Mosse-Hill’ in Hornsey - the high ground containing one of its
sources - which also gave its name to the district of Muswell Hill. For a time, the
river was known as the Moswell and today’s name has no connection with
Germany’s river of the same name. Once posing a serious flooding threat to
Tottenham, it now has quite a modest flow. Until the 19th century, the whole
length of the river remained above ground, but, following major culverting, the
river is now completely enclosed from Tottenham Cemetery to the point at
which it runs into Pymme’s Brook.

May 2014
The name Bunhill derives from “Bone Hill” which is possibly a reference to the
area having been used for occasional burials since Saxon times. From about
1549, some 1,000 cartloads of human bones were periodically taken there to
make space in St Paul’s charnel house for new interments. The dried bones
were deposited on the moor and covered with a thin layer of soil; this built up a
hill across the otherwise damp, flat fens. In 1665 the City of London Corporation
decided to use some of the fen as a common burial ground for inhabitants who
had died of the plague and who could not be accommodated in the
churchyards. Although the burial ground was later enclosed with walls, the
Church of England never consecrated the ground nor used it for burials.
Finsbury, in which district Bunhill Fields lie, was once called Fensbury owing to
its marshy terrain.

Jun 2014
John Soane, the son of a bricklayer, lived from 1753-1837. An architect, he
specialised in the Neo-Classical style and became professor of architecture at
the Royal Academy. He was also an official architect to the Office of Works and
received a knighthood in 1831. His architectural works are distinguished by
their clean lines, massing of simple form, decisive detailing, careful proportions
and skilful use of light sources. However, it was not until the late 19th century that
the influence of his architecture was widely felt. His best-known work was the
Bank of England (although his work there has largely been destroyed); this
building has had a widespread effect on commercial architecture.

Jun 2014
Finlandia is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius.
Composed in 1899 for orchestra, Sibelius revised the entire work in 1900 for
solo piano. It was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899 and was a
covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire. It was
the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau
depicting episodes from Finnish history. To avoid Russian censorship,
Finlandia was performed under alternate names at various musical concerts.
Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous, a famous example
being Happy Feelings at the Awakening of Finnish Spring, and A
Scandinavian Choral March. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional folk
melody, the hymn section is of Sibelius’s own creation.

Jul 2014
In 1997, during the construction of the new Museum Island at the Viking Ship
Museum in the ancient city of Roskilde, Denmark, 9 ships from the late Viking
Age and early Middle Ages were discovered. One of them was a very long
warship which was found when the canal which surrounds the Museum Island
was dug. The ship later turned out to be the longest Viking ship yet found and
could have had a crew of around 100 men. Both timbers and craftsmanship are
of the highest quality. The Roskilde museum was originally built to house 5
Viking ships excavated in 1962; these became known as the Skuldelev Ships
which appear to have been sunk deliberately circa 1070 in order to block the
most important fairway and protect Roskilde from seaborne enemy attack.

Jul 2014
The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig is a symphony orchestra based in Leipzig,
Germany, and is named after the venue in which it is based - the Gewandhaus
(cloth or textile hall). The orchestra came into being when a society called the
Grosses Concert started performing in private homes in 1743. In 1744, the
Grosses Concert moved its performances to the ‘Three Swans’ Tavern where
their concerts continued for 36 years until 1781. Because of complaints about
concert conditions and audience behaviour in the tavern, in 1780 Leipzig City
Council offered to renovate for the orchestra’s use one story of a building
formerly occupied by textile merchants. The motto Res severa est verum
gaudium (loosely meaning “true pleasure is a serious business” - from the
Roman author Seneca) was painted in the hall; this suggests the priorities of
the sponsors. The orchestra gave its first concert in the Gewandhaus in 1781.
The orchestra thus has a good claim to being the oldest continuing orchestra in
Germany founded by the bourgeoisie, while older orchestras were part of royal
suites. Felix Mendelssohn, the composer, became the orchestra’s music
director in 1835.

Aug 2014
The name Chislehurst derives from Saxon words - cisel (gravel) and hyrst
(wooded hill). Chislehurst Common, a popular destination for bank holiday trips
in the early 20th century, was rescued from development in 1888 following
campaigns by local residents. It now provides a valuable green space, as do
nearby Petts Wood, Hawkwood and Scadbury. The caves are ancient and were
originally used to mine flint and chalk. During World War II, thousands of people
used them as an air raid shelter and there is even a chapel. A child born in the
caves during the war was given a middle name of ‘Cavina’. The caves are
reputedly haunted, but they have been used as a venue for live music and
druids are believed to have made grisly human sacrifices in their depths. Films
and television programmes, including Doctor Who, have been recorded there.

Sep 2014
Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse (1869 - 1954), regarded principally as a French
painter, was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor. He was known for his
use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. Initially labelled a
‘Fauve’ (wild beast), by the 1920s he was increasingly being hailed as an
upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the
expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in work spanning over
fifty years, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art. Brought up in
Picardie, he went to Paris in 1887 to study law and worked as a court
administrator. He started painting in 1889 discovering, as he later described it,
“a kind of paradise”. It greatly disappointed his father when he decided to
become an artist. (A ‘Fauve’ was a member of a loose group of early 20th
century Modern artists whose works emphasised painterly qualities and strong
colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism.
Their style was termed Fauvism; this began circa 1900 but was short-lived and
appeared in only three exhibitions).

Sep 2014
In 1930, British anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie accompanying a team of
archaeologists discovered various primitive bowling balls, bowling pins and
other materials in the grave of a protodynastic Egyptian boy. This dated to 3200
BC - shortly before the reign of one of the very first Egyptian pharaohs. Their
discovery provides the earliest known historical trace of bowling, although some
have claimed that it originated in Germany around 300 AD as part of a religious
ritual in which people rolled stones at clubs (or “kegels”) to absolve themselves
of sin. The rules, equipment and principles of bowling at pins or skittles have
evolved and diversified enormously over the intervening years, particularly
recently through technological advances.

Oct 2014
Valentines Park is the largest green space in the Borough of Redbridge; it
occupies 130 acres which were acquired in various purchases and gifts of land.
The estate had been privately owned since the 1690s when its present mansion
was built. When a nearby estate was sold for housing in 1899, local officials
realised that, unless an area of ‘relaxation and pleasure’ was retained for the
growing urban population, all traces of an undeveloped rural Ilford would be lost.

Oct 2014
The Suzuki Method is a way of teaching music conceived by Shin’ichi Suzuki in
the mid- 20th century. He was a Japanese violinist who desired to bring beauty
to the lives of children in his country after the devastation of World War II. He
said, “I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of
his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and
endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.” Although Suzuki believed that every
child, if properly taught, was capable of a high level of musical achievement, he
made it clear that the goal of such musical education is to raise generations of
children with ‘noble hearts’ rather than to create famous musical prodigies.

Nov 2014
London’s ‘Blue Plaques’ scheme, which was founded in 1866, is believed to be
the oldest of its kind in the world. It has inspired many other schemes across
London, the UK and even further afield. It has been run successively by the
(Royal) Society of Arts, the London County Council, the Greater London
Council, and, since 1986, English Heritage. It commemorates the link between
notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked.

Nov 2014
The Far Pavilions is an epic novel of British-Indian history by M. M. Kaye, first
published in 1978, which tells the story of an English officer during the British
Raj. The novel is rooted deeply in 19th century romantic epics and has been
hailed as a masterpiece of storytelling. It is based partly on biographical
writings of the author’s grandfather as well as her knowledge and childhood
experiences in India where she was born. It has been dramatised on television
and radio. The ‘far pavilions’ of the story are seen by its leading characters as
a sort of paradise in the Himalaya Mountains.

Dec 2014
Pavane is a slow processional dance common in Renaissance Europe. The
earliest-known example was published in Venice by Ottaviano Petrucci, in Joan
Ambrosio Dalza’s Intabolatura de lauto libro quarto in 1508; it is a sedate and
dignified couple dance and the music which accompanied it appears originally
to have been moderately fast. Like many other dances, it became slower over
time. The step used in the pavane survives to the present day in the 'hesitation
step' sometimes used at weddings.
Jan 2015
Richard Whittington (c. 1354-1423), was a wealthy merchant and, later, Lord
Mayor of London. Folklore stories loosely based upon his life abound of how he
escaped a poverty-stricken childhood and made his fortune thanks to the ratting
abilities of his cat. The earliest example of the folklore in written form is a
registry notice dated 1604-5 for a theatrical play. However, Whittington did not
come from a poor family of common stock, and there is no compelling evidence
to show he owned a cat. Antiquarians have noticed similarities to foreign tales
of medieval origin that relate how a character made his fortune through his cat
ridding some place of its rodent infestation. In 1392, Dick Whittington reputedly
heard Bow Bells call him back to London to become Lord Mayor. However, the
first known reference to Bow Bells is in 1469 when the Common Council
ordered that a curfew should be rung at 9.00 pm every day. A church has
existed on the site of St Mary-le-Bow since Saxon times.

Feb 2015
Located south east of Biggin Hill, the town of Aperfield has its name first
recorded in 1242 as Apeldrefeld; this means “field where apple trees grow.”

Mar 2015
The Cinema Museum at Kennington has had different homes. The first was
Raleigh Hall in Brixton, a tumbledown council-owned building; next was a former
council rent office which had been built as a fire station. In 1998, it moved only
yards away into part of the former Lambeth Workhouse near Elephant & Castle.

Mar 2015
Five Arches Bridge is a Grade II Listed Structure in Foots Cray Meadows.
Originally built in about 1781, it now incorporates a weir on its north side. Now
largely of yellow brick, but with red brick on each side, it contains courses of flint
below stone bands, and its stone parapet has been much replaced by cement.
The bridge linked the two former estates of North Cray Place and Foots Cray
Place as part of Lancelot Brown’s landscaping of both parks. North Cray Place
- damaged during World War II - was demolished in 1961, and Foots Cray
Place burnt down in 1949. Foots Cray Meadows now occupies part of what
were once the grounds of both. Foots Cray Meadows is the largest and least
formal open space in the Borough of Bexley, and its 97 hectares (240 acres) of
rolling landscape and ancient woodland lends itself to the variety of wildlife
habitats present.

Apr 2015
Du Cane Court is an Art Deco apartment block in Balham opened in 1937.
With 676 apartments, it is Europe’s largest privately owned block of flats under
one roof. So distinctive is it from the air that it was reputedly used as a
navigational landmark by German bombers during the Second World War. It
was thought that Du Cane Court escaped bombing because it was wanted for
use by German military officers in the event of a successful invasion. Many
music hall stars of the 1930s and 40s lived there when a social club was on the
top floor before it was converted into more flats.

Apr 2015
The Gentleman’s Magazine, founded by Edward Cave in January 1731, ran
uninterrupted for almost 200 years and was distributed throughout the English-
speaking world. The world’s first periodical to use the term ‘magazine’, from the
French word magazine {storehouse}, it provided Dr. Samuel Johnson’s first
regular employment as writer. Cave’s magazine contained a monthly summary
of news and commentary on any topic which might interest the educated public;
this ranged from commodity prices to Latin poetry. It carried original content
from a stable of regular contributors, plus extensive quotations and extracts
from other periodicals and books. Cave, who edited the magazine under the
pen name “Sylvanus Urban”, normally received contributions in the form of
letters addressed to “Mr. Urban”. An iconic illustration of St. John’s Gate on the
front of each issue depicted the magazine’s “office”. Sylvanus Urban is nearly
an anagram of the Latin words urbanus {city} and sylva {forest/woodland}; as
many gentlemen of the period understood Latin, we can assume that most
readers picked up on this pseudonym. (NB. ‘Storehouse’ is a translation of a
now obsolete meaning of the word magazine and it was used because this
publication was considered to be a storehouse of information).

May 2015
In 1625, Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape an outbreak
of plague in London and turned the area on the hill above Richmond into a park
to hunt deer. His decision in 1637 to enclose the land was not popular with the
local residents, but he did allow pedestrians the right of way. The walls remain
to this day and full right of public access to the park was confirmed by Act of
Parliament in 1872. Now a national nature reserve, Richmond Park is the
largest of London’s Royal Parks and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest of
international importance and it includes many buildings of architectural or
historic interest. It played an important role in both world wars and in the 1948
and 2012 Olympics, and, until 2005, was policed by the separate Royal Parks

Jun 2015
Hyde Park derives its name from the Hyde, an ancient manor of the priory of
Westminster and was created by Henry VIII as a deer park in 1536. It was then
enclosed and remained a private hunting ground until James I permitted limited
access to gentlefolk. In 1637, Charles I opened the park to the general public. In
1689, William III had a drive laid out across its south edge; now called Rotten
Row, it was originally known as “The King’s Private Road” and led to his new
residence at Kensington Palace. Formal landscaping was completed in 1733
and the Serpentine was formed by damming the little Westbourne that flowed
through the park. In 1814, the Prince Regent organised fireworks to mark the
end of the Napoleonic Wars. The Crystal Palace was constructed on the south
side of the park for the Great Exhibition of 1851; however, the public in general
did not want the building to remain there so funds were raised to purchase and
move it to Sydenham Hill. The combined areas of Kensington Gardens and
Hyde Park (625 acres) are larger than the Principality of Monaco. My pictures
of Hyde Park appear on the Gallery page of this website.

Jul 2015
“Cutty Sark” is Scottish for the short shift-like garment worn by Nannie which is
the ship’s figurehead. Nannie is the name of the witch in the poem Tam o’
Shanter (by Robert Burns) who pulls off the tail of Tam o’ Shanter’s horse; this
is why the figurehead holds one.

Jul 2015
Commodore Sir William James (c.1721-1783) was a Welsh-born naval
commander known for campaigns against Indian native navies. By 1738, he
was commanding his own ship and serving in the West Indies. He joined the
East India Company in 1747 and was later appointed commodore of its
Bombay Marine naval forces. He is particularly associated with an action on 2
April 1755, when, commanding the Bombay Marine Ship Protector, he attacked
and destroyed the fortress of Tulaji Angre (deemed by English revisionists to be
a pirate, but by local revisionists as admiral of the Maratha Empire Navy). The
fortress was located at Janjeera Soowumdroog (partly anglicised to
Severndroog) on India’s western coast between Mumbai and Goa. He had
been instructed only to blockade the stronghold, but, through his intimate
knowledge of the rocky coastline, was able to get close enough to blow it up.
Although the East India Company had spent considerable sums providing
protection from piracy, his reward was only £100.

Jul 2015
At a height of 423 feet, Shooters Hill reputedly takes its name from the practice
of archery there during the Middle Ages. According to Samuel Pepys, it also
had a reputation as a haunt for highwaymen and was infamous for its gibbets of
executed felons. During World War II, it held an array of anti-aircraft guns which
defended London. Its water tower dates from 1910.

Jul 2015
Mary Kingsley was born in Islington and came from a family of writers; she was
the niece of novelists Charles Kingsley and Henry Kingsley. Her family moved
to Highgate less than a year after her birth, and by 1881 were living in
Southwood House, Bexley. Her father was a doctor who worked for George
Herbert, 13th Earl of Pembroke, and was regularly away from home on his
excursions collecting information for his studies. During a trip to North America
in 1870-1875, Dr. Kingsley was invited to accompany Custer’s US Army’s
fateful expedition against the Sioux Indians. The reported massacre of Custer’s
army terrified the Kingsley family until they learned that bad weather had
prevented Dr. Kingsley from joining Custer. It is possible that her father’s views
on injustices faced by the Native Americans influenced her later opinions on
British cultural imperialism in West Africa. She wrote two books about her
experiences: Travels in West Africa (1897), which was an immediate best-
seller, and West African Studies (1899), both of which earned her respect and
prestige within the scholarly community.

Aug 2015
The Royal Geographical Society was founded in 1830 as an institution to
promote the advancement of geographical science. It later absorbed the older
African Association, which had been founded in 1788, as well as the Raleigh
Club and the Palestine Association. Like many learned societies, it had started
as a dining club in London, where select members held informal dinner debates
on current scientific issues and ideas.

Sep 2015
Following a multitude of ad-hoc firefighting arrangements and the Great Fire of
London, various insurance companies established units to combat fires that
occurred in buildings that those companies insured. As demands grew on the
primitive firefighting units, they began co-operating with each other until, on 1st
January 1833, the London Fire Engine Establishment was formed. With 80
firefighters and 13 fire stations, the unit was still a private enterprise funded by
the insurance companies, and, as such, was responsible mainly for saving
material goods from fire. Several large fires, most notably at the Palace of
Westminster in 1834, spurred the insurance companies to lobby the British
Government to provide the brigade at public expense and management, and, in
1865, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act was passed. In 1904, the brigade was
renamed as the London Fire Brigade.

Sep 2015
Peter Labilliere was buried upside down on Box Hill without religious ceremony
at his own request in June 1800. His headstone does not mark the exact
position of his grave and contains two errors: the spelling of his name and the
month of burial. He was a major in the British army.

Oct 2015
Thomas Arthur Leonard, OBE, (1864-1948) was a British social reformer who
pioneered organised outdoor holidays for working people. He began this with
the Co-operative Holidays Association (which he had founded in 1893), but,
because he disapproved of the CHA General Committee’s policy of
encouraging middle class rather than working class clients to stay in its centres,
he stepped down in 1912 and founded a new organisation - the Holiday
Fellowship. The HF established its headquarters in Conwy and took over some
of the CHA’s centres. He worked as General Secretary of the HF until it moved
its head office to London in 1925. By 1947, the HF had expanded to operate
some 30 centres with over 45,000 guests - more than the CHA. He helped to
establish the Youth Hostels Association and the Ramblers Association, and
also founded the Friends of the Lake District in 1934 with whom he pressed for
the creation of what later became known as the Pennine Way.

Oct 2015
In 1931, architect Charles Glover proposed to increase airborne traffic by
building an elevated airport above the railway sidings of King’s Cross Station. It
was a remarkable plan: a pinwheel arrangement of concrete runways,
supported directly on top of new buildings, allowing planes to take off in
different directions across the city. Like other plans for runways built over the
Thames, King’s Cross Airport didn’t quite see the light of day. But the perennial
problem of air capacity and obsolescent air infrastructure could be very different
today if they had.

Oct 2015
By the beginning of the 1970s, there were serious ambitious plans to upgrade
south-east England’s airport capacity and take some of the pressure off
Heathrow, which even then was straining. One proposal was to build Maplin
airport, at Foulness, on an artificial island eight miles long. The development
would include a deep-water container port and a whole new town to serve it.
Trial land reclamations began but the project, like so many others, was
scuppered by the oil crisis of 1973. It marks the last hurrah of what one might
call the “planned” era, after which Britain began to give up on large-scale
infrastructure. Today’s fevered talk of airport expansions, Boris Island and an
estuary airport underline its failure.

Nov 2015
Famagusta was founded in around 274 BC by Ptolemy II and named Arsinoe
after his sister. It was described as a fishing town by Strabo in his Geographica
in the first century BC. It remained a small fishing village for a long time but later
developed into a small port. Located to the east of Nicosia, it possesses
Cyprus’s deepest harbour. During the medieval period (especially under the
maritime republics of Genoa and Venice), Famagusta was the island’s most
important port city, and a gateway to trade with the ports of the Levant, from
where the Silk Road merchants carried their goods to Western Europe.

Nov 2015
Toc H members ease the burdens of others through acts of service. They also
promote reconciliation and work to bring disparate sections of society together.
Branches organise localised activities such as hospital visits, entertainment for
the residents of care homes and residential holidays for special groups. It was
founded at Poperinge, Belgium, in December 1915, as an international
Christian movement. The name is an abbreviation for Talbot House; ‘Toc’
signifies the letter T in the signals spelling alphabet used by the British Army
during World War I. It was named in memory of Gilbert Talbot, son of Edward
Talbot, then Bishop of Winchester, who had been killed at Hooge in July 1915.
The founders were Gilbert’s elder brother Neville Talbot, then a senior army
chaplain, and the Reverend Philip Thomas Byard (Tubby) Clayton. Talbot
House was styled as an “Every Man’s Club”, where all soldiers were welcome,
regardless of rank. It was “an alternative for the ‘debauched’ recreational life of
the town.” Poperinge (or “Pops”, as the soldiers called it) was a busy transfer
station where troops on their way to and from the Flanders battlefields were
billeted. The original building at Poperinge has been maintained and
redeveloped as a museum and tourist venue.

Nov 2015
Although London was home to the Crystal and Alexandra Palaces, it has been
overshadowed in the modern architecture stakes since 1889 by the Eiffel
Tower. Double the height of the next tallest structure in the world, the Eiffel
Tower was a true engineering marvel that London couldn’t match.

Sir Edward Watkin, a politician and railway entrepreneur, wanted to put this
right. He was laying out a park on land he had bought in the north-west London
hamlet of Wembley, and decided the showpiece would be a brand-new iron
tower that, crucially, would be taller than the one across the Channel. After one
of the maddest design competitions ever held generated 68 ludicrous flights of
Victorian whimsy, the chosen design was, in the end, pretty similar to Eiffel’s,
but 46 meters taller. Construction began in the early 1890s.

Unfortunately, the tower was only built up to the first level before it was
abandoned and then demolished a few years later. The site of the tower - which
would have been 52 meters taller than the Shard - is now occupied by Wembley

What became known as Watkin’s Folly, had it been built, could have set off an
early race to the sky. As it was, the Eiffel Tower’s height was only exceeded 40
years later by the Chrysler Building in New York.

Dec 2015
The Laughing Cavalier, painted in 1624 by Frans Hals, is not actually laughing;
his smile is much amplified by his upturned moustache. Generally,
commissioned portraits such as this rarely showed adults smiling until the late
18th century, but Hals is an exception to the general rule and he often showed
sitters with broader smiles than this, and in informal poses that bring an
impression of movement and spontaneity. It is considered to be one of the most
brilliant of all Baroque portraits and its title is an invention of the Victorian public
and press dating from its first exhibition in 1872-75. The subject was probably a
wealthy civilian as the embroidered sleeve and lace cuff bear emblems
representing “the pleasures and pains of love” and “bees, arrows, flaming
cornucopiae, lovers’ knots and tongues of fire.”

Dec 2015
Although word puzzles had been published in periodicals years before, the first
one regarded as a “word-cross” puzzle appeared in the New York World
newspaper on 21st December 1913. Created by Arthur Wynne, a journalist from
Liverpool, it embodied most of the features we know today. The puzzle’s name
was later changed to “crossword,” which first appeared in a dictionary in 1930.

Crossword puzzles became a weekly feature in the New York World and
spread to other newspapers in USA. By the 1920s, the crossword phenomenon
was starting to attract attention. In 1925, the New York Public Library reported
“The latest craze to strike libraries is the cross-word puzzle,” and complained
that when “the puzzle ‘fans’ swarm to the dictionaries and encyclopedias so as
to drive away readers and students who need these books in their daily work,
can there be any doubt of the Library’s duty to protect its legitimate readers?”

The first book of crossword puzzles appeared in 1924. “This odd-looking book
with a pencil attached to it” was an instant hit and crossword puzzles became
the craze of that year. Initially, some viewed the crossword puzzle with alarm,
and some expected (maybe even hoped) that it would be a short-lived fad. In
1924, The New York Times complained of the “sinful waste in the utterly futile
finding of words the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern, more or
less complex. This is not a game at all, and it hardly can be called a sport.
Solvers get nothing out of it except a primitive form of mental exercise, and
success or failure in any given attempt is equally irrelevant to mental
development.” A clergyman called the working of crossword puzzles “The mark
of a childish mentality,” and said, “There is no use for persons to pretend that
working one of the puzzles carries any intellectual value with it.” However,
another wrote a complete “Bible Cross-Word Puzzle Book.” Also in 1925, Time
Magazine noted that nine Manhattan dailies and fourteen other big newspapers
were carrying crosswords, and quoted opposing views as to whether “This
crossword craze will positively end by June!” or “The crossword puzzle is here
to stay!” In 1925, the New York Times noted, with approval, a scathing critique
of crosswords by The New Republic, but concluded that, “Fortunately, the
question of whether the puzzles are beneficial or harmful is in no urgent need of
an answer. The craze evidently is dying out fast and in a few months it will be
forgotten,” and in 1929 declared, “The cross-word puzzle, it seems, has gone
the way of all fads.” In 1930, a correspondent noted that “Together with The
Times of London, yours is the only journal of prominence that has never
succumbed to the lure of the cross-word puzzle” and said that “The craze - the
fad - stage has passed, but there are still people numbering it to the millions
who look for their daily cross-word puzzle as regularly as for the weather
predictions.” The New York Times, however, was not to publish a crossword
puzzle until 1942; today, it is one of the most popular in the USA. Britain’s first
crossword appeared in Pearson’s Magazine in February 1922, and in The
Times from 1930.
Mar 2010
The patriotic song, “Rule, Britannia”, actually originates from a poem of the same name by James Thomson which was set to music by Thomas Arne in 1740; it is often regarded as the UK’s unofficial national anthem. Its debut occurred in “Alfred”, a masque performed at Cliveden House, the country home of Frederick, Prince of Wales. So flattered was Frederick after the first performance that he immediately ordered an encore.

Mar 2010
Kennington Park was opened in 1854. Previously, (since 1600) the site had been called Kennington Common, a site of public executions between 1678 and 1799, as well as being South London’s venue for public speaking. Two of the most illustrious orators to speak there were Methodist founders George Whitefield and John Wesley, the latter of whom reputedly attracted a crowd of thirty thousand. The common was one of the earliest London cricket venues, and is known to have been used for major cricket matches in 1724, the first of which was London v. Dartford. It is also where the Chartists gathered for their biggest rally on 10 April 1848. Soon after this demonstration the common was enclosed, and, sponsored by the Royals, made into a public park. The first all-night illuminated footpath through a park was installed there in 1899.

Mar 2010
Execution Dock was used for more than 400 years up to 1830 to hang pirates, smugglers and mutineers who had been sentenced to death by Admiralty courts. Since the Admiralty had jurisdiction only over crimes at sea, the dock was placed within their area of authority just off-shore beyond the low-tide mark.

May 2010
River Quaggy is 17 km (10½ miles) long and flows through the boroughs of Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham; it is known as the Kyd Brook in its upper reaches. The river rises from two sources near Farnborough Hospital and is a tributary of the River Ravensbourne into which it flows near Lewisham station. Its name has existed for many years and references to it are found in several works of 19th and 20th century British fiction - for example in E. Nesbit’s “The New Treasure Seekers”. The name probably derived from the words quagmire and quag.

Aug 2010
Scotney Castle was built between 1378-1380 by Roger Ashburnham. It began life as a roughly rectangular fortified house with towers in each corner. In 1580 the south wing was reconstructed in Elizabethan architectural style, and around 1630 the three storey eastern range was rebuilt in the style of Inigo Jones. The Elizabethan wing remained a bailiff’s residence until 1905, but the eastern range was partially demolished after completion of the new house in 1843, leaving the ruin as a garden feature.

Aug 2010
Alonso Mudarra (1510-1580) was a Spanish composer and vihuelist of the Renaissance. An innovative composer of instrumental music, he was the composer of the earliest surviving music for the guitar. Vihuela is the name for two different guitar-like instruments - the one from 15th and 16th century Spain usually has 12 paired strings, and the other from 19th century Mexico has five strings and is typically played in Mariachi bands.

Oct 2010
Rutland is the smallest historic English county for which the motto “Multum In Parvo” {much in little} was adopted by its county council in 1950. Rutland’s only two towns are Oakham, the county town, and Uppingham, whose market was granted by Charter in 1281 by Edward I. Rutland Water has a similar surface area to that of Windermere. Rutlanders are proverbially called Raddlemen. A traditional game called Nurdling - which dates back to the Middle Ages - is played there; this involves hurling 13 old pennies into a hole drilled through the seat of an oaken settle.

Nov 2010
Resusci Anne, also known as Rescue Anne or CPR Annie, is a training mannequin used for teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to both emergency workers and members of the general public.
Jan 2009
“Les Francs-Juges” is the title of an unfinished opera by Berlioz who abandoned it and destroyed most of the music. The work is set in mediaeval Germany and “free judges” refers to the secret “Vehmic” trials held in Westphalia during the Middle Ages when the holy vehme, founded by Charlemagne in AD772, took jurisdiction over all crimes during this lawless phase.

Feb 2009
Appreciation of Schubert’s music during his lifetime was limited at best, and, for most of his career, he relied upon the support of friends and family. He made some money from published works, and occasionally gave private musical tuition. He died at the age of 31. The manuscripts of many of his longer works remained hidden in cabinets and file boxes of his family and friends. In 1838 Robert Schumann, on a visit to Vienna, found the manuscript of the C major symphony (the “Great”) and took it back to Leipzig where it was performed by Felix Mendelssohn. The most important step towards the recovery of the neglected works was a journey to Vienna which Sir George Grove and Arthur Sullivan made in 1867. They rescued from oblivion seven symphonies and a vast quantity of other pieces and songs. This led to more widespread public interest in Schubert’s work.

Apr 2009
The earliest existing reference to the church (St Martin-the-Fields) is a dispute in 1222 between the Abbot ofWestminster and the Bishop of London about who had control over it. Resolved in favour of the Abbot, it was used by the monks of Westminster Abbey. The church was rebuilt by Henry VIII in 1542 to prevent plague victims from the area passing through his Palace of Whitehall (then Europe’s largest palace and the main London residence of English monarchs). At this time it was literally “in the fields” - isolated between the cities of Westminster and London.

May 2009
A nocturne is a musical composition inspired by, or evocative of, the night. The name was first applied to pieces in the 18th century when it indicated an ensemble piece in several movements, normally played for an evening party.

May 2009
As early as the 6th century BC, the Ancient Greeks played a game of tossing coins, then flat stones, and, later, stone balls called spheristics, trying to make them go as far as possible. The Romans modified the game by adding a target that had to be approached as closely as possible. This Roman variation was brought to Provence by Roman soldiers and sailors. Pétanque is a form of boules where the goal is, while standing with the feet together in a small circle, to toss hollow steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (jack). The current form of the game originated in 1907 in La Ciotat, Provence, in southern France. The English and French name pétanque comes from la petanca in the Provençal dialect of the Occitan language; this derived from the expression “pès tancats” meaning “feet anchored”.

Jun 2009
The keyed trumpet is a brass instrument that, contrary to today’s valved trumpet, uses keys. It is rarely seen in modern performances, but it was relatively common up until the introduction of the valved trumpet in the early nineteenth century. The keyed trumpet has holes in the wall of the tube that are closed by keys. The experimental E flat keyed trumpet was not confined to the natural notes, but was chromatic in all registers of the instrument. Before this, the (natural) trumpet was commonly valveless and it could play only a limited range of harmonic notes by alteration of lip pressure. These harmonic notes were clustered in the high registers, which meant that early trumpet concertos could contain melodies only with very high pitches.

Jun 2009
The word clock is derived ultimately (via Dutch, Northern French, and Medieval Latin) from the Celtic words ‘clagan’ and ‘clocca’ meaning ‘bell’. Few, if any, of the earliest clocks had hands or dials and announced the passage of time audibly. For horologists the word clock continues to mean exclusively a device with a striking mechanism that rings a bell, gong, or chimes.

Jul 2009
In the Middle Ages the most desirable location for housing the nobility was Strand; this appeared between the City and the village of Charing (then in Middlesex but now the site of Charing Cross) in the 12th century. There a nobleman had a water frontage on the Thames and was free of the stink and social tumult of the City of London to the east with its constant threat of fires. The Savoy was the most magnificent nobleman’s mansion in England and renowned for its owner’s wonderful collection of tapestries, jewels, and ornaments. During the Peasants’ Revolt in June 1381, the rioters, who blamed John of Gaunt for the introduction of the Poll tax that had precipitated their revolt, systematically demolished the Palace and everything in it. What could not be smashed was dumped in the river. Despite this revolt, the name Savoy stuck to the site and the Savoy Theatre now occupies the place it once stood.

Aug 2009
The Saxon Shore Way starts at Gravesend and traces the coast for 163 miles as it was in Roman times as far as Hastings.

Aug 2009
The German ambassador who owned the dog was Dr. Leopold von Hoesch (1881-1936) who was a career diplomat. He was not a Nazi and was well liked by most British statesmen. His reputation among the British as a knowledgeable and able statesman helped to enhance Anglo-German relationships during the early 1930s. In 1934 Hoesch began challenging Hitler indirectly, and, by 1936, was becoming a thorn in his side. He distrusted Ribbentrop, whom Hitler had appointed Commissioner of Disarmament Questions, and the relationship between Hoesch and Hitler continued to sour as Ribbentrop gained more power within the German government. When Hitler broke the 1919 Treaty of Versailles by invading the Rhineland on 7 March 1936, Hoesch denounced the act as designed to provoke the French and, ultimately, the British. (His dog was an alsatian called Giro).

Oct 2009
In May 1857, the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé created an orchestra to perform at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, and the orchestra performed there until October 1857. Hallé then decided to continue work with this orchestra as a formal organisation, and it gave its first concert under those auspices on 30th January 1858. The orchestra’s home for the first part of its history was the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Now the UK’s oldest extant professional symphony orchestra (and the fourth oldest in the world), it supports a choir and a youth orchestra and releases recordings on its own record label.
Feb 2018
During Roman times, the Walbrook was used for transport from its mouth (just to
the west of the present-day Cannon Street railway bridge) for about 200 meters. It
also brought fresh water to the walled city from its source in Moorfields and
carried waste away to the Thames. It may have been so named because it ran
through or under the London Wall. When St. Margaret Lothbury was rebuilt in
1440, the Lord Mayor paid for the lower Walbrook to be covered over; by 1561
the whole river inside the city walls had been culverted.

Apart from the Walbrook, other partly or wholly culverted London rivers north of the
Thames include the Fleet, Tyburn, Hackney Brook, Moselle, Muswell Stream,
Westbourne, Counter’s Creek, Stamford Brook, Brent, and Rom. South of the
Thames are the Earl’s Sluice, Peck, Neckinger, Effra, Falconbrook, Graveney,
Quaggy, Beverley Brook and Sudbrook.

Mar 2018
In 1940, the threat of invasion was real; victory was not assured for Great Britain.
Norway, Denmark, France and the low countries had already been occupied and
it was feared England would be next. In preparation, over 600 secret bunkers
were set up in the countryside, with units of armed men tasked with staying behind
and fighting the enemy in case of invasion. The intention was to allow themselves
to be overrun and thereafter hit the enemy in the comparatively soft spots behind
zones of concentrated attack. There were about 30 to 35 units in each county with
six men per unit; each man’s life expectancy was counted in days.

Mar 2018
The Post Office Railway (later Mail Rail) was a narrow gauge, driverless
underground railway in London that was built from 1915 by the Post Office to
move mail between sorting offices owing to road traffic congestion causing
unacceptable delays. Electrically powered, it operated from 1927 until 2003 and
ran from Paddington Station to the Eastern District Office at Whitechapel, a
distance of 6½ miles, and, at its height, had eight stations, the largest of which
was underneath Mount Pleasant. It closed because transporting mail in this way
became several times more expensive than doing so by road. Most of the
tunnelling and track still exists with parts of it being used either for storage or

Apr 2018
The Hindu Temple at Neasden was built entirely using traditional methods and
materials and has been described as Europe’s first traditional Hindu stone
temple, as distinct from converted secular buildings. It was inaugurated in 1995.

May 2018
The history of the High Elms estate can be traced back to the Norman Conquest
when it was given by William the Conqueror to his half-brother, Odo, Bishop of
Bayeux. The Lubbock family acquired it in the early 19th century, and in 1840 the
astronomer and banker, Sir John Lubbock, 3rd Baronet, inherited it on the death
of his father. He built a grand new mansion in the Italian style. He became a friend
of Charles Darwin, who moved into the nearby Down House in 1842, and
Lubbock’s son - also called John Lubbock - was a close friend of Darwin and was
a frequent visitor to Down House from his childhood. In 1938, the estate was sold
to the Kent County Council and the house became a training centre for nurses. In
1965, the area became part of the London Borough of Bromley, and the estate
was transferred to the new borough and the land then became public open space.

May 2018
The Carthusian Order is a Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics
founded by Bruno of Cologne in 1084. The name Carthusian is derived from the
Chartreuse Mountains -part of the French Alps - in which Saint Bruno built his first
hermitage. Charterhouse is the English name for a Carthusian monastery and it is
derived from the same source. The same mountain range lends its name to the
alcoholic cordial Chartreuse produced by the monks which itself gives rise to the
name of the colour. St Hugh’s Charterhouse, Parkminster, is the only extant post-
Reformation Carthusian monastery in the United Kingdom; it is located in the
parish of Cowfold, West Sussex.

May 2018
The ‘wars of succession’ - of which there have been all too many -  were
prompted by a succession crisis in which two or more individuals claim the right
of successor to a deceased or deposed monarch when there is no clear heir.

Jun 2018
The South East London Combined Heat & Power is an ‘energy from waste’
incineration plant in Landmann Way, South Bermondsey, which can generate up
to 35 megawatts of power using a steam turbine. It incinerates up to 420,000
tonnes of municipal solid waste per year. The SELCHP plant was opened in
November 1994 by the Prince of Wales. More than 40 such plants now operate in
the British Isles.

Jun 2018
The Jubilee Greenway is a walking and cycling route in London marked with
distinctive paving slabs. Officially launched in 2009, its 37 miles of continuous
paths link 2012 Olympic venues with parks, waterways and other attractions. It
was part of the Inspire programme, run by the London Organising Committee of
the 2012 Olympic Games. The Jubilee Walkway Trust worked with relevant
authorities leading up to 2012 to improve accessibility, enhance continuity,
provide resting places and improve the safety and quality of the Jubilee
Greenway. The whole route can be viewed on this website:

Jul 2018
Footscray Meadows was once part of two estates: North Cray Place (to the east
of the River Cray) and Footscray Place. In around 1780, Lancelot ‘Capability’
Brown was paid £1,300 by the then owner of North Cray Place to widen part of
the River Cray to create a ribbon-like lake, and design the Five Arch Bridge and
weir to link the two estates. Brown also landscaped the parkland to create a
series of walks and drives around the estate. On 18th October 1949, Footscray
Place caught fire and the house was destroyed. The ruins were subsequently
demolished and the grounds became a public park. An alms-house was built
adjacent to the woods at about the same time as the bridge, and in 2008 it was
excavated by archaeologists belonging to the Bexley Archaeological Group.
(£1,300 in 1780 is worth close to two million pounds today).

Aug 2018
Robert Adam (1728-1792) was a Scottish neoclassical architect, interior and
furniture designer. With his brother, John, he trained under his father, William
Adam, Scotland’s foremost architect of the time. After William’s death, Robert
took on the family business with John and this included lucrative work for the
Board of Ordnance. In 1754, he left for Rome and spent nearly five years on the
continent studying architecture under Charles-Louis Clérisseau and Giovanni
Battista Piranesi. On his return to Britain, he established a practice in London,
where he was joined by his younger brother, James. Here, based on his studies
of antiquity, he became one of the most successful and fashionable architects in
the country, and where he developed the “Adam Style” and his theory of
“movement” in architecture. He influenced the development of Western
architecture, both in Europe and in North America.

Aug 2018
Bexleyheath Clock Tower was designed by architect Walter Epps; it cost around
£590, and was intended to stand “as a memorial to the enterprise and loyalty of
the inhabitants of Bexleyheath.” The foundation stone was laid on 8th January
1911, and officially unveiled on 17th July 1912 to commemorate the Coronation of
King George V the previous year. Nearby businesses and shops decorated their
premises with bunting, and at the opening ceremony, a bust of King George V
was unveiled in the west niche when Walter Epps stated, “I hope to see all the
niches filled with busts of members of the Royal Family.” Members of the council,
religious bodies, school children, the Fire Brigade, Boy Scouts, and Boy’s
Brigade attended the ceremony. In the 1930s, King George’s bust disintegrated
and then completely fell apart during cleaning; it was recast by a Bexleyheath
resident and re-installed in its niche. A bust of William Morris, who lived at the
Red House, was unveiled on 18th January 1997 in the east alcove to
commemorate the centenary of his death in 1896. The Queen’s bust was installed
in the south niche for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

Sep 2018
Membership of the Water Rats is restricted to 180 long-serving male members of
the entertainment industry plus 20 Companion Rats, all of whom must be
respected and trusted by their peers. The charity raises money by organising
shows, lunches, dinners, etc. Its objectives are “to assist members of the
theatrical profession, or their dependents, who, due to illness or old age are in
need.” When possible, additional funds raised go to a diverse range of charities
and good causes including hospitals, health charities and benevolent funds.

Oct 2018
There have been many London Bridges since the original Roman crossing in 50
AD. Made from wood, early versions were susceptible to fire, storms, and
occasional invading armies. The first stone bridge was started in 1176 when it
was common for men of the cloth to design buildings as they were taught the art of
building arch structures out of stone in the Monastic Orders. Completed in 1209,
this new London Bridge took 33 years to build but lasted more than 600 years. It
was 26 feet wide, and about 800-900 feet long, supported by 19 irregularly
spaced gothic arches, founded on starlings set into the river-bed. It featured a
central chapel, a host of shops and houses (the rent from which funded its
construction and upkeep), gates, a drawbridge and even waterwheels and a mill.
The houses were up to seven storeys high and jutted over the river by as much as
6½ feet on either side. Many practically touched in the middle, making the bridge
more of a tunnel in places. The bridge became the site of calamities: in 1282, five
arches collapsed under the pressure of winter ice. Houses on the bridge were
burnt during Wat Tyler’s Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 and during Jack Cade’s
rebellion in 1450. A major fire of 1633 that destroyed the northern third of the
bridge formed a firebreak that prevented further damage to the bridge during the
Great Fire of London in 1666. By 1762, all the houses were removed, the
carriageway was widened to 46 feet, and the two central arches were replaced by
one great arch at mid-span. The removal of the central pier led to serious erosion
of the riverbed, and gravel was constantly poured to protect the remaining piers.
Finally, the maintenance became too much of a burden, and the City held a
design competition for a replacement of the medieval bridge.

Dec 2018
The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William
Shakespeare who performed there in many of his own plays. It was built in 1599
by Shakespeare’s playing company and was destroyed by fire on 29th June 1613
during a performance of Henry VIII when a theatrical cannon misfired. A second
Globe Theatre had been built on the same site by June 1614, but was closed
down by the Puritans in 1642 along with all the other London theatres. The
Globe’s actual dimensions are unknown, but its shape and size have been
approximated from scholarly inquiry over the last two centuries. The evidence
suggests that it was a three-storey, open-air amphitheatre approximately 100 feet
in diameter which could hold up to 3,000 spectators. Although it is shown as
round on Wenceslas Hollar’s contemporary sketch of the building, the uncovering
of a small part of the Globe’s foundation in 1988-89 suggested that it was a
polygon of 20 sides. A modern reconstruction of The Globe opened with a
production of Henry V in 1997 approximately 750 feet from the site of the original
theatre. From 1909-1994, the current Gielgud Theatre was called “Globe Theatre”
until it was renamed in honour of Sir John Gielgud.
Jan 2016
The Brooklands Lakes complex has been under Dartford & District Angling &
Preservation Society control since the early 1930s; it was one of the early
pioneering waters of modern carp fishing which have been present from the early

Feb 2016
Outlandish Projects: Sunken Soho. During the post-war years, as the UK’s rapid
growth in car use threatened to grind cities to a halt, proposals for
“comprehensive redevelopment” were common. The Buchanan Report of 1963
proposed, among many other ideas, rebuilding Tottenham Court Road as a flying
pedestrian precinct, and the London County Council’s Sir William Holford tried to
demolish three-quarters of the buildings on Piccadilly Circus. But, perhaps,
boldest of all was a 1954 plan by Geoffrey Jellico, Ove Arup and Edward Mills to
remake the whole of Soho as a concrete landscape of sunken roads, plazas and
office towers. It would have involved knocking down much of Soho and building a
raised concrete platform, with 24-storey pinwheel towers, gardens and glass-
bottomed canals over the streets beneath.

Mar 2016
The Physical Energy Statue was installed in 1907. Designed by George
Frederick Watts, it is based on a memorial to Cecil Rhodes in Cape Town.
Rhodes was a diamond miner and founder of Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe. He
made his fortune before he was 30, and in 1880 established the De Beers mining

Mar 2016
The Green Chain Walk is a linked series of 300 open spaces in south London
between the River Thames and Crystal Palace Park. It was created in 1977 by 4
London boroughs (Bexley, Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich) and the Greater
London Council to protect the spaces from building activity. The system begins at
three places on the Thames: the Thames Barrier, Thamesmead, and the riverside
at Erith. There are various circular walks along the route, and there is an offshoot
from the main route to Chislehurst. The final section reaches Crystal Palace via
Bromley. The whole system of paths covers about 40 miles.

Mar 2016
Outlandish Projects: Covent Garden Redevelopment. ‘Covent Garden Is Moving’
was the name of the 1968 GLC report that outlined the proposed redevelopment
of the area around the old fruit and vegetable market. The area had become
utterly dysfunctional; the market was too small and the streets were unable to cope
with the traffic. Something had to be done. The GLC’s repertoire of modernist
redevelopment included sunken roads, raised pedestrian areas, residential and
office towers.

Locals rebelled. They set up a campaign group that attracted disgruntled
planners, disgusted local politicians and angry young architects. Eventually, they
got their way and the project was cancelled, saving the area’s Victorian buildings
and turning the tide against comprehensive redevelopment in general. What they
didn’t save, however, was the market, which decamped anyway, or the local spirit
of the place, which was washed away by commerce.

Apr 2016
Construction of Lullingstone Roman Villa began in around 82 AD and was
repeatedly expanded and occupied until its destruction by fire in the 5th century
when it was abandoned and forgotten until its excavation in the 20th century. Its
owners were either wealthy Romans or native Britons who had adopted Roman
customs. It is located in the Darent Valley, along with six others, including those at
Crofton, Crayford and Dartford. In the Saxon period, the ruins of a Roman temple-
mausoleum on the site of the villa were incorporated into a Christian chapel that
was extant at the time of the Norman Conquest; this is one of the earliest known
chapels in the country. Some evidence found on site suggests that, in about 150
AD, the villa was considerably enlarged and may have been used as the country
retreat of the governors of the Roman province of Britannia. Two sculpted marble
busts found in the cellar may be those of Pertinax, governor in 185-186 AD, and
his father-in-law, Publius Helvius Successus.

Apr 2016
Outlandish Projects: Hook New Town. Hook New Town would have been a
commuter town for London designed to relieve the population pressure on the
capital. In the 1960s, a team of ambitious young designers put together a plan for
a new town in Hampshire to relieve London’s population. It was one of most
radical bedroom community settlements proposed in the era - a small, super-
dense city of modern houses, where pedestrians and vehicles were completely
segregated, and paths ran through parkland to an integrated central complex that
contained all the civic and economic functions of the town.

It was passed over, but the book describing these proposals, The Planning of a
New Town, would go on to be influential for planners across the world. Perhaps it’s
a good thing Hook New Town was never built, though: its closest relative,
Cumbernauld in Scotland, has since become a laughing stock famed for the
dismalness of its very own concrete town centre.

May 2016
Two Temple Place - for many years known as Astor House - is a building near
Victoria Embankment. It houses notable works by the likes of William Silver Frith,
Sir George Frampton, Nathaniel Hitch and Thomas Nicholls. On 28th October
2011, Two Temple Place opened as a public gallery to showcase publicly owned
art from regional collections in the United Kingdom; it is only open to the public
during exhibitions. William Waldorf Astor, founder of the New York City Waldorf
Astoria, owned the gothic mansion. He built or renovated the home that was to
become a “crenellated Tudor stronghold” to be his office and a home away from
the United States because he felt his children would be safer from the threat of

May 2016
Outlandish Projects: The Ringways. The Westway section of elevated roadway
and the tower blocks that overlook it are, depending upon your point of view,
either a thrilling ensemble of modernism, or a horrific example of the dominance
of road engineering over post-war planning. But it could have been much better -
or worse. The Westway is actually just one small part of the breathtakingly
extensive traffic infrastructure being planned for London at the time.

By the late 1960s, the GLC had decided that four separate high-speed roads
would encircle the capital, a system to be known collectively as the London
Ringways. They would have ploughed through open countryside at their furthest
extents, and at the innermost were to smash through much of inner London.

The Ringways awoke a great level of protest. People campaigned vigorously
against the destruction of their neighbourhoods, and the plans were abandoned in
1973. What had been built of Ringways 3 and 4 were joined into the M25 orbital
motorway - you can still see the awkward links in the north-west and south-east
sections - and a handful of grimy inner sections, such as the Blackwall Tunnel
approach, remain as a reminder of what could have happened.

Jun 2016
Vigo Village takes its name from a pub reputed to date from 1471, which was re-
named after the Battle of Vigo Bay - a naval battle fought in 1702 during the War
of the Spanish Succession. An apocryphal story suggests that the inn was re-
named by a man who bought it with the proceeds of war prizes gained during the
battle. Although a nearby hamlet called Vigo was recorded on an 18th century
map, the present village was built on the site of a disused World War II army

Jun 2016
Koi are ornamental varieties of domesticated common carp kept for decorative
purposes in outdoor ponds or water gardens. Carp, a large group of cold water
fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia, were originally domesticated in
East Asia where they were used as food fish. Natural colour changes of these
carp occurred across all species, but they were first bred for colour mutations in
China more than a thousand years ago. The common carp was aquacultured as a
food fish at least as long ago as the fifth century BC in China, and in the Roman
Empire during the spread of Christianity in Europe. Common carp were bred for
colour in Japan in the 1820s, but the outside world was unaware of the
development of colour variations in koi until 1914 when they were exhibited at an
exposition in Tokyo.

Jun 2016
Outlandish Projects: Coin Street. Fresh from designing two of the most shocking
buildings in a generation, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Lloyds Building,
the third part of Richard Rogers’ hat trick was to be a mixed use scheme for Coin
Street, on the South Bank of the Thames. Early versions from 1979 depicted a
curving glass arcade, surrounded by high-rise housing and offices in his
trademark “guts out” style. Had this gone ahead, it would have cemented
Rogers’s early, extreme approach to architecture, and might have made a
difference in some of the battles with conservative neo-traditionalists that
dominated the 1980s.

Instead, a local campaign led to Coin Street being built as a low-rise housing
cooperative in what was widely considered a huge success for the provision of
social housing to Londoners on lower incomes. Nevertheless, when Rogers
returned to build in London more than a decade later, he had developed a mature,
smoother, more commercially tasteful style, and one can’t help wonder whether a
whole generation of city buildings were far less bold as a result.

Jul 2016
Outlandish Projects: The Fun Palace. In the late 1950s, the pioneering theatre
director Joan Littlewood hired architect Cedric Price to create a new kind of
theatre - one in which the users would have direct input into the activities within,
where no performance would be the same twice. Price, in thrall to cybernetics and
the new “network cultures” of the age, designed what was essentially a factory
shed - a giant frame with all the internal spaces able to be moved around and
reconfigured at will.

The Fun Palaces, as these creations were called, would have sat in various
locations in London, including Camden and the Lea Valley, where the Olympic
site is now. But the effort to get planning permission foundered against opposition
from bewildered churches, community groups and city councils, and funding
vanished when the scheme was almost through planning. Since then, its themes of
indeterminacy and of architecture that responds to users have become massively
influential, not only with architects, but also within the art world. In a way, however,
the fact that it wasn’t built meant that it can never fail to live up to its revolutionary

Aug 2016
Outlandish Projects: Maplin. By the beginning of the 1970s, there were seriously
ambitious plans to upgrade south-east England’s airport capacity and take some
of the pressure off Heathrow, which, even then, was straining. One proposal was
to build Maplin Airport at Foulness on an artificial island eight miles long. The
development was to include a deep-water container port and a whole new town to
serve it. Trial land reclamations began but the project, like so many others, was
scuppered by the oil crisis of 1973. It marks the last hurrah of what you might call
the “planned” era, after which Britain began to give up on large-scale
infrastructure. Today’s fevered talk of airport expansions, Boris Island and an
estuary airport underline its failure.

Nov 2016
Ightham Mote is a Grade I listed building; parts of it are a Scheduled Ancient
Monument. It dates to around 1320 and is important because it has most of its
original features; successive owners effected relatively few changes to the main
structure. It shows how such houses would have looked in the Middle Ages. Unlike
most courtyard houses, Ightham Mote wholly surrounds its courtyard and looks
inward towards it. A large kennel built in the late 19th century for a St. Bernard
named Dido is the only Grade I listed dog house. The Mote was purchased by
Thomas Colyer-Fergusson; in 1890-1891, he carried out much repair and
restoration which ensured the survival of the house after centuries of neglect. Mote
is thought to mean ‘meeting place.’

Dec 2016
The name “Mudchute” derives from it being the former dumping site for mud
removed during the construction of Millwall Docks in the 1860s, and the
subsequent dredging which had to be performed regularly to prevent them silting
up. A novel, pneumatic device was employed which pumped the liquefied mud
through a pipe over East Ferry Road (close to the George pub), and dumped it on
the other side. The mud smelt awful, and Poplar Borough Council continually
complained to the dock company that it was causing disease (including
diphtheria) among locals, as it attempted unsuccessfully to have the mud dumping
Jan 2017
The Trial of the Pyx - which is a formal court of law - is conducted in February each
year at the Goldsmiths’ Hall. It is presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer of
the Royal Courts of Justice, the oldest judicial office in the UK which dates to the
12th century. Throughout the year, coins are randomly selected from every batch of
each denomination struck - including Maundy money - put aside and sealed in
bags, and then locked away in the Pyx boxes (wooden chests) for quality testing at
the trial before a 16-strong jury. This ensures world trust in our currency. Last
year’s trial started on February 2nd and was full of pomp and circumstance.
Around 96,000 coins were scrutinised over a four month period ranging from a
£1,000 pound commemorative coin (which is legal tender and worth about
£45,000!) made from a kilogram of solid gold, down to the lowly 20p piece.

Feb 2017
George Romney (1734-1802) was the most fashionable English portrait artist of
his day. He was born the 3rd son (of 11 children) to a cabinet maker in Lancashire.
He appears to have been an indifferent student and was withdrawn at the age of
11 and apprenticed to his father’s business instead. He had a natural ability for
drawing and making things from wood - including violins. From the age of 15 he
was taught art informally by a local watchmaker, but his studies began in earnest
in 1755 when he went to Kendal for a 4-year apprenticeship with local artist,
Christopher Steele. All costs were to be borne by George’s father. In 1756,
Romney married Mary Abbot (a move he initially regretted), but the couple were
immediately separated when he was called away to York on business by his
employer. After a year, Steele agreed to cancel the apprenticeship at George’s
request, leaving the young artist free to pursue his own career as a painter.

Mar 2017
The National Maritime Museum is the world’s largest maritime museum.
Greenwich has been home to a naval-based art gallery since the early 1800s, but
the idea for the National Maritime Museum as we know it today dates back to
1927 when a public appeal was launched by the Society for Nautical Research to
develop a ‘national naval and nautical museum’. Sir James Caird, a wealthy
member of the Society, purchased the A. G. H. Macpherson Collection of over
11,000 maritime prints, along with ship models and many other items, to help
begin the museum’s collection. The Caird Archive & Library is named after Sir
James in recognition of his contribution. The National Maritime Museum was
opened by King George VI on 27th April 1937, with the museum’s name having
been suggested by Rudyard Kipling. Since then, it has grown to host the most
important artefacts in the world on the history of Britain at sea, including maritime
art, cartography, manuscripts, official public records, ship models & plans.

Apr 2017
The Battle of San Romano took place on 1st June 1432 about 30 miles from
Florence and lasted for some six or seven hours. It consisted of a series of heavy
cavalry fights between the soldiers of Florence and Siena after Florence had
found itself in conflict with the rival city state of Lucca and her allies, Siena and
Milan. The outcome is generally considered to have favoured the Florentines, but
the Sienese recorded it as a victory. The painting, which was commissioned by a
Florentine family, appears to depict the war as a theatrical ceremony.

Apr 2017
Sir Christopher Wren, 1632-1723, is one of the most highly acclaimed English
architects in history. He was accorded responsibility for rebuilding 52 churches in
the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including what is regarded as his
masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was completed in 1710. Other notable
buildings by Wren include the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the south front
of Hampton Court Palace. Educated in Latin and Aristotelian physics at the
University of Oxford, Wren was a notable anatomist, astronomer, geometer, and
mathematician-physicist, as well as an architect. He was a founder of the Royal
Society - of which he was president from 1680-82 - and his scientific work was
highly regarded by Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal. He was also returned as a
Member of Parliament on four occasions.

May 2017
Edward Linley Sambourne was an English cartoonist and illustrator who was most
famous for being a draughtsman for the satirical magazine Punch for more than
forty years. He also did work for The Naval and Military Gazette, The Pall Mall
Gazette, The Sketch, The Sphere, The Illustrated London News, The Piccadilly
Magazine and The Pictorial World.

Jun 2017
One reference source states that the furze wren is a local name for the Dartford
warbler. There are about 80 species of true wrens, but only the Eurasian wren
lives in Europe. Most wrens have complex songs and occupy a wide range of
habitats including dry, sparsely wooded countryside to rainforest where they live
mainly at low levels. Ulex (commonly known as gorse, furze or whin) is a genus of
flowering plants.

Jul 2017
The “Walkie-Talkie” building at 20 Fenchurch Street is a postmodern style
commercial skyscraper so-named because of its distinctive shape. The 34-storey
building is 525 feet tall, which makes it the 6th tallest building in the City of London
and the 12th tallest in London. Costing over £200 million, construction was
completed in the spring of 2014. A large viewing deck, bar and restaurants are
included on the top three floors; the top-floor ‘sky garden’ was opened in January
2015. In the same year, it was awarded the Carbuncle Cup for the worst new
building built in the UK in the previous 12 months.

Oct 2017
James Cracknell is a British athlete, Olympic and World Rowing Championship
gold medallist and prospective Conservative Party politician who has taken part in
many events to raise money for charity. He came second in the pairs division of
an Atlantic rowing race, and has run the London and New York Marathons. He
took part in an inaugural 473-mile race to the South Pole in 2008 suffering
frostbite, infected blisters, dramatic weight-loss, pneumonia and exhaustion, and
the 125-mile non-stop Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon in a two man
racing kayak. Six months after his cycling accident, which damaged his frontal
lobe, he finished second in the Yukon Arctic Ultra - a non-stop 430-mile multi-day
race of 3 disciplines: mountain bike, cross-country ski-ing and foot across the
frozen countryside of Alaska.

Oct 2017
There is also a Black or Crime Museum. This is a collection of criminal
memorabilia kept at New Scotland Yard. The concept of the Black Museum was
conceived in 1874 by a serving inspector, who at that time had collected together
a number of items, and its purpose was to give police officers practical instruction
on how to detect and prevent crime. By 1875, it had become an official museum -
although not open to the public - with a police inspector and a police constable
assigned to official duty there. Prior to an Act of 1869, items used in the
commission of a crime were retained by police until their owners had reclaimed
them, but the Act gave authority for police either to destroy these items, or to
retain them for instructional purposes. The only time these items have been on
show to the public was in The Museum of London for six months from October

Nov 2017
Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was a British Army
officer, writer, author of Scouting for Boys which was an inspiration for the Scout
Movement. He was founder and first Chief Scout of The Boy Scouts Association
and founder of the Girl Guides. In 1899, during the Second Boer War in South
Africa, Baden-Powell successfully defended the town in the Siege of Mafeking.
Several of his military books, written for military reconnaissance during his years
in Africa, were also read by boys. In 1907, he managed a demonstration camp on
Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour; this is now regarded as the beginning of
Jan 2019
Rochester has been inhabited since at least Neolithic times. Over the years, it has
been occupied by Celts, Romans, Jutes and/or Saxons, and known by several
names; in 730 AD, Bede called it ‘Hrofes cæster.’ It evolved into its current name
in about 1610. For many years, it was a favourite of Charles Dickens who owned
Gads Hill Place in Higham. Many of his novels are based in the area and several
extant buildings are identifiable in them. The Diocese of Rochester (the second
oldest in England) is centred on Rochester Cathedral and was responsible for the
founding of a school, now known as The King’s School, in 604 AD; this is
recognised as being the world’s second oldest continuously running school.

Feb 2019
The Serpentine is a 40-acre recreational lake in Hyde Park created in 1730 at the
behest of Queen Caroline. Strictly speaking, the name refers only to the eastern
half of the lake; the Serpentine Bridge marks its western boundary and the long
and narrow western half of the lake is known as the Long Water. Originally fed by
the River Westbourne and Tyburn Brook in the 1730s, the lake’s water was later
pumped from the Thames in the 1830s. The water is now pumped from three
boreholes within Hyde Park, the most recent being installed in May 2012 as part
of the 2011-2012 restoration of the lake. The Serpentine provided a focal point for
The Great Exhibition of 1851, and, more recently, was a venue for swimming
events in the London 2012 Olympics. Since 1864, the Serpentine Swimming Club
has organised a 100-yard race every Christmas morning. In 1913, the Peter Pan
Cup was inaugurated for this race by J. M. Barrie, the creator of the character
Peter Pan.

Mar 2019
Surrey Docks Farm was created in the 1980s to educate local people about
where their food comes from, and to promote outdoor activity. Free to visit, it
occupies a riverside site that has a rich and eventful history. Once part of a great
shipyard, it then became a timber wharf before the Metropolitan Asylums Board
used it as a Receiving Station for their River Ambulance Service to transfer
smallpox and fever patients to isolation hospitals downriver. During WWII, the site
was badly damaged, but served throughout as a Fire Service river station.

Apr 2019
Battersea Power Station, situated on the south bank of the River Thames,
comprised two coal-fired power stations. These were built in two stages in a
single building; Battersea A Power Station was built in the 1930s and Battersea B
Power Station to its east in the 1950s. They were built to a nearly identical design,
providing the iconic four-chimney structure. The station is one of the world’s
largest brick buildings and notable for its original, lavish Art Deco interior fittings
and decor. It was decommissioned between 1975 and 1983 and remained empty
until 2014. It was designated as a Grade II listed building in 1980. The site was
also listed on the 2004 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund.

Jun 2019
This railway was a precursor of parts of London Underground’s Northern Line and
was, in the 1930s, the core of an ambitious expansion plan for that line which was
thwarted by the Second World War. Parts of the line were closed in the 1950s and
have since been removed. The section of the line in this report ran from Highgate
to Finsbury Park and had intermediary stations at Crouch End and Stroud Green.

Jul 2019
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the debut novel of Scottish writer, Gail
Honeyman. After enrolling in a Faber Academy writing course, she submitted its
first three chapters to a competition run by Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge,
for unpublished fiction by female authors. The book went on to earn numerous
awards and wide critical acclaim.

Aug 2019
In the 15th century, Greenwich Park was mostly heathland and probably used for
hawking. It was given by Henry VI to his uncle Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who
built a house by the river, Bella Court, and a small castle. Deer were introduced by
Henry VIII for hunting, a small collection of which is maintained today. James I
enclosed it with a brick wall (much of which remains) and it now covers 180 acres;
it was landscaped in the 17th century. The castle fell into disrepair and its location
was used for the Royal Observatory by Charles II in 1675.

Sep 2019
The William Morris Gallery was opened by Prime Minister Clement Attlee in 1950.
It is the only public museum devoted to William Morris, the English Arts and Crafts
designer and early socialist. The gallery is located in Walthamstow in Morris’s
family home from 1848 to 1856 (his teenage years); the former Water House, a
substantial Grade II Georgian dwelling dating from about 1750, was set in its own
extensive grounds which now form Lloyd Park. The gallery won the national prize
for Museum of the Year in 2013 the entry to which is free.

Sep 2019
Royal Academy of Music Museum is located at 1-5 York Gate, Marylebone Rd,
London. Entry is free. The building was designed in 1822 as part of the main
entrance to Regent’s Park, and was an important feature in John Nash’s
architectural designs for Regency London. The interior of York Gate suffered
bomb damage in the 1940s, but the Nash exterior has Grade 1 listed building
status. The Royal Academy of Music moved to Marylebone Road in 1911.

Oct 2019
The name Carthusian is derived from the Chartreuse Mountains in the French
Alps where Bruno of Cologne built his first hermitage in a valley. The name was
adapted to the English ‘charterhouse’ meaning a Carthusian monastery. Bruno
founded this Catholic order in 1084 and it includes both monks and nuns. It has its
own Rule, called the Statutes, rather than the Rule of Saint Benedict, and
combines eremitical and cenobitic monasticism. The motto of the Carthusians is
Stat crux dum volvitur orbis, Latin for “The Cross is steady while the world is
turning.” The alcoholic cordial Chartreuse has been produced by the monks of
Grande Chartreuse since 1737, which gave rise to the name of the colour.

Nov 2019
Teddington Lock is a complex of three locks and a weir on the River Thames
which was first built in 1810. The weir called Teddington Weir is the lowest on the
Thames and marks the river’s usual tidal limit.