Saturday, December 30, 2023

Bank of England Museum Late: The Christmas Special

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A solid gold bar.

Thursday December 21, 2023.

It was a remarkably mild evening as Emma, Erin, Keilyn and I made our way from Watford to London, for the evening. Our plan had been to catch a fast train from Watford Junction to Euston, but problems with the overhead power cables saw us take the London Overground, instead. We changed to the Northern line, at Euston, and continued on to Bank station. This route put an extra twenty minutes-or-so on our journey, but we still made it in plenty of time.

Our reason for travelling to London, late on a Thursday afternoon... to see the Bank of England Museum and, hopefully, receive a bauble filled with shredded bank notes. The queue was already at the corner of Threadneedle Street and Princes Street, so that's where we joined it. The time was just after 16:30.

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We have joined the queue.

We chatted to other people in the queue, plus those who stopped to ask what we were all queuing for, as we passed the time. Slowly, very slowly, the train of people began to move as 17:00 arrived and the doors to the museum opened. All the while Erin was keeping her eyes peeled, in case she spotted the ghost of Sarah Whitehead, who is said to haunt Threadneedle Street. We saw no sign of her.

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Keilyn standing in an alcove, outside the Bank of England.

However, due to the capacity of the museum, only small groups were able to enter at a time. 

By now the queue behind us had travelled the length of Threadneedle Street and up Princes Street, around onto Lothbury and then across the road to Throgmorton Street. One of the museum staff had estimated that there were nearly 2,000 people in the queue, at one point.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Ghosts, Hauntings, Murders and Superstitions

Below are some of the more unknown hauntings and murders of London. 

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There are some gruesome details, below, so only read on... if you dare!

Downing Street

This street is said to be haunted by the ghost of Spencer Perceval, who was shot dead outside the Palace of Westminster on May 11, 1812. He is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated... so far.

Ministry of Defence

This building is haunted by the ghost of a headless lady. The hooded figure of a lady was stopped by a Policeman, who asked, "what are you doing in a Government building?" She pulled back her hood to reveal an empty space where her head should have been.

Charing Cross railway station

It was here that a rather grisly murder was discovered, on May 10, 1927. Porters reported a dreadful smell coming from a trunk that had been deposited in the left-luggage office, four days earlier. When the Police opened the trunk they discovered the body of a woman, who had been hacked into five pieces, with each piece then wrapped in brown paper. The killer was caught, tried and then executed at Pentonville Prison on August 12, 1927. The case became known as the 'Charing Cross Trunk Murder'.

Adelphi Theatre

On December 16, 1897, the actor William Terriss was stabbed to death, outside the stage door, by Richard Prince, an actor that Terriss had had dismissed from the Play. He died in the arms of his leading lady and his last words were reported to be... "I shall return." His ghost has been seen outside the stage door and within the theatre, where he has been seen knocking on dressing room doors. His ghost has also been seen at Covent Garden underground station.

Savoy Hotel

This is a very superstitious hotel where there is no room thirteen. Also, if you are in a group of thirteen a statue of a cat, called 'Kaspar', is placed on your table to be your fourteenth 'guest'. 'Kaspar' is a two-foot high model of a cat, cut from a single piece of London Plane. Plus, if you die, while staying at the Savoy Hotel, they will pay for your funeral.

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

The theatre's most famous ghost is the 'Man in Grey'. Unlike many ghosts that appear during the hours of darkness, this apparition appears during anytime of the day. Plus, instead of solitary accounts of sightings, entire casts have witnessed his appearance. He is usually seen in the upper circle, before he makes his way down the aisle and disappears into a wall. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

'Collector' by Georgie Fay

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'Collector' by Georgie Fay.

Tuesday November 28, 2023.

It was a particularly chilly Tuesday morning as I made my around Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, during my walk from Angel to the City of London then up to Euston. The sun, bright in the morning sky, did nothing to dispel the chill that permeated this enclosed park and burial ground, which I had last visited back in 2018, during another walk, and had long since wanted to revisit the place.

Since my previous visit a new public artwork had been installed, consisting of a metal ring, suspended by ropes from three trees, from which hung sails of original printed art.

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Hanging like Tombstones.

With the sun still low in the sky it cast just the right amount of light, dispersed by the surrounding trees, to highlight these unique printed sails.

With no breeze to disturb the piece it seemed to hang like painted tombstones.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Brunei Gallery and Japanese Roof Garden

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A piece of Japan in the heart of Bloomsbury.

Having only recently discovered that there was a Japanese Roof Garden, on top of the Brunei Gallery, I decided that I should pay it a visit.

The SOAS Brunei Gallery is situated in the heart of the University of London, Bloomsbury, but is fairly easy to locate. 

Avoiding the throng of students, who were making their way to classes in the myriad buildings that make up the campus, I headed along a path through the centre of the University, until I reached the Brunei Gallery SOAS.

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Japanese Officials, Nagasaki, circa 1862.

After climbing the few steps at the entrance of the gallery I found myself in a large foyer, where a security guard gave me a perfunctory glance, before I made my way through another set of doors and into the gallery itself.

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Brass Gong, Brunei, 19th century.

The gallery has different exhibitions, throughout the year, and the current exhibitions are called 'Extraordinary Endeavours', which celebrates the bicentenary of the Society's involvement in the study of science, literature, religion and arts of Asia, since 1823., and 'Discovering the Artwork and Object Collection', allowing you to discover highlights from the Gallery's own collection.

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Snakes and Ladders gouache on paper mounted on cloth, circa 1800.

There were pencil drawings, ink drawings, paintings, tapestries, photographs, books, manuscripts, weapons, religious artefacts and so much more, to see, spread across two floors.

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Tibetan Thangka, 18th-19th century.

For a small gallery there was a lot to see and, as it was still morning, there was no one else there, allowing for a thorough exploration.

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Wukong Java, 1811-1816.

Having meandered my way through across both floors I made my way to the roof, to see the Japanese Roof Garden. 
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Rock Islands in a Sea of Gravel.

The garden itself is small but, considering where it is situated, a perfect place to relax. Rocks and planks are set in a gravel sea, bordered in a rectangle shape. Towards the south of the garden is a raised platform beneath an open canopy, while to the north is an obelisk, set among squares of alternating pebbles and moss.

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To the side are wooden benches, beneath climbing vines, that allow for quiet contemplation, high above the campus below.

Suitably relaxed I made way out of the garden, down the stairs and exited the gallery, ready to continue my walk.