Thursday, June 27, 2024

Royal Parks

Greenwich Park and the Royal Obseervatory
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich Park.

London is full of parks and green spaces, both large and small, that offer quiet areas to relax in relative tranquillity, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

These parks stretch from the City of London out to all Boroughs and come in all shapes and sizes. Some are well known, while others are only known by those in the know.

St Dunstan-in-the-East
A quiet place for contemplation.

Ruined churches, pocket parks and even cemeteries offer green spaces in which to sit and contemplate your day. Such as, Postman's Park, St Dunstan-in-the-East, Bunhill Fields and 

Holland Park
Holland Park.

Then there are the larger parks like Battersea, Gunnersbury, Holland, Olympic, Southwark or Victoria Parks, with their long and storied histories.

Gunnersbury Park Lake and Orangery
The Orangery and lake, Gunnersbury Park.

Many of these have playgrounds, for children, but others offer just peace and quiet.

However, the best known of these green spaces are the Royal Parks, of which there are eight. These Royal Parks contain memorials, ancient trees, historic buildings, flower gardens, palaces, deer, lakes and much more.

Below are the eight Royal Parks, with a little information about each one.

Bushy Park is the second largest of London’s Royal Parks and is home to wild deer and the Diana Fountain.

  • Location - North of Hampton Court Palace
  • Area -1,100 acres
  • Date - Circa 1500s
  • Open (pedestrians) - 24/7 
  • Open (vehicles) - 06:30-21:00
  • Rail - Hampton, Hampton Court, Hampton Wick, Teddington
The Green Park is a peaceful triangle of mature trees and grasslands and is home to the Bomber Command Memorial. It is here that you can see the Royal Gun Salute, performed by The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
  • Location - Next to Buckingham Palace
  • Area - 47 acres
  • Date - 1660
  • Open (pedestrians) - 05:00-00:00
  • Open (vehicles) - n/a
  • Rail - Green Park
King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery
A Royal Gun Salute in Green Park.

Greenwich Park is part of the UNESCO Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site. A mix of 17th-century landscape, stunning gardens and expansive views over London, plus it is home to the Old Royal Naval College, Meridian Line, National Maritime Museum, the queen's House and the Royal Observatory.
  • Location - South of the Old Royal Naval College
  • Area - 184 acres
  • Date - 1433
  • Open (pedestrians) - 06:00-21:30
  • Open (vehicles) - n/a
  • Rail - Greenwich, Maze Hill, Greenwich Pier
London from Greenwich Park
An impressive view of London, from Greenwich Park.

Hyde Park is home to a variety of gardens, children’s playgrounds, sports facilities and historic monuments. It is also where you will find the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Speaker's Corner and the Royal Parks Shop.
  • Location - Northwest of Buckingham Palace
  • Area - 350 acres
  • Date - 1637
  • Open (pedestrians) - 05:00-00:00
  • Open (vehicles) - n//a
  • Rail - Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch
The Serpentine in Hyde Park
The Serpentine, Hyde Park.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Horsleydown Old Stairs

Horsleydown Old Stairs
Looking up Horsleydown Old Stairs, from the foreshore.

Back when the River Thames was a working river, there were countless stairs that workers could use to access the foreshore. Over time, many of these stairs were removed or access restricted. Some, like Horsleydown Old Stairs, still give access to the River Thames.

Tower Bridge from below
City Beyond the Bridge.

One of the reasons that I love using these stairs, to access the foreshore, is the unique views you can get of the historic Tower Bridge. Plus, there is a wide swathe of the foreshore to explore, where pieces of clay pipes are in abundance, along with other artefacts favoured by mudlarks.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

'Modern Marriage' by Simon Fujiwara

Modern Marriage top view
'Modern Marriage' by Simon Fujiwara (2015).

Wandering around the Nine Elms Regeneration Zone, Embassy Gardens, surrounding the Embassy of the United States of America, you will notice some pieces of public art on display.

These works of art are on display along a Linear Park, which, when completed, will be a green walking route linking Battersea Power Station to Vauxhall.

One of the pieces that I find most interesting is 'Modern Marriage' by Simon Fujiwara.

This sculpture of a dismembered left foot, lying on its side, looks, at first glance, to be just a sculpture of a foot. However, on the sole of the foot there is a gold wedding ring embedded in the skin.
Modern Marriage bottom view
A wedding ring embedded in the sole of the foot.

It is an intriguing piece, that I find endlessly fascinating.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Southwark Park

Caryatids of the Old Rotherhithe Town Hall
The Caryatids of the Old Rotherhithe Town Hall.

Opening to the public on June 19, 1869, Southwark Park covers 26 hectares and is Grade II listed. It stretches from Jamaica Road, to the north, to Hawkstone Road in the southeast.

Southwark Park, has two entrances on Jamaica Road, Christchurch Gate, named after a nearby church, and Paradise Gate. Christchurch Gate was designated an entrance in 1903, but following damage in World War II it was replaced with a new gate, modelled on the original, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund restoration in 2001-2002.

Southwark Park Bandstand
Southwark Park Bandstand.

Entering through Christchurch Gate the path divides, with one that leads you on a tree-lined avenue around the park, while the other leads you to the Bandstand. This Bandstand was acquired, in 1884, from the Great Exhibition in South Kensington and placed in the park. During the summer months free concerts are held here.

Caryatids. One representing Oak and the other Laurel.

Continuing south from the Bandstand you suddenly come across some stone pillars, hidden among the trees. These are Caryatids that originally flanked the the main entrance of the old Rotherhithe Town Hall. They were placed here in 2011. Continuing on there are tennis courts to the west, while a bowls club, hidden behind manicured hedges, takes up a small area at the centre of the park. 

Jabez West Drinking Fountain
Memorial to a working-class man.

Then there is the polished grey granite Jabez West Drinking Fountain, which is a memorial to a working-class man. 

Gateway from Carriage Drive
A simple gate.

Jamaica Gate stands at the west end of Carriage Drive, which now divides the park into separate spaces.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

'Real Time' by Maarten Baas (Man in a Clock)

Real Time by Maarten Baas
The man trapped in a clock, Paddington.

At the corner of Eastbourne Terrace and Craven Road, in Paddington, on the front of the EFL building, you will find a clock.

Now, clocks are everywhere, so why is this one so special? Well, this one has a man trapped inside it.

Yep. As you peer up at this clock, a man appears and cleans the clock face, from inside, rubs out the hands and then repaints them... every minute.

It is part of an art installation entitled 'Real Time', by Dutch artist Maarten Baas.

The first 'Real Time' piece, entitled 'Sweeper's Clock', was produced in April 2009 and consisted of a video of road sweepers moving rubbish around to create analogue clock hands.

Maarten Baas followed this up with a person painting a digital clock from behind a translucent screen and then a man painting analogue hands on a grandfather clock, from behind a screen.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Gnome Land

Gnome Garden
Gnomes relaxing in the afternoon sun.

Just off Kensington High Street, in the Holland Park area, someone has turned their small front garden into Gnome Land.

Now, these aren't your usual full-sized Gnomes, that many people have in their own gardens, but miniature Gnomes.

Gnome Garden
Gnomes in their natural habitat.

These Gnomes are all busy doing things like having a BBQ, gardening, having a drink at the bar, sunbathing, fishing, shopping, tending to animals and playing on slides.

There are buildings that the owners have created from wood, that include homes, a bar, shop, farm and much more. These are to scale and the planting of shrubs, trees and flowers appear to be in proportion, too.

Gnome Garden
Some of the Gnomes were still going about their business, when I walked by.

It is a small plot of land, but with the miniature Gnomes it looks a lot larger and reminds me of the film Gnomeo and Juliet.

I don't know when it was created, nor why, but I am glad that is there for everyone to see. I am actually looking forward to taking another trip to see it, next summer, to see if it changes each year, or if it stays the same.

One of the signs states...

"We like photos

Share Gnome Land

With the World"

Once I had seen enough I continued on my way gnomeward. 

Saturday, June 08, 2024

'Greyscape' Photo Competition Winner

Bastion House
My entry to the photo competition.

Back in April, 2024, I was informed about a 'Photo competition' that was being run by 'Greyscape', a website that celebrates Brutalist, Modernist and Constructivist architecture.

Their competition was for photographs of Bastion House, near Barbican.

Fortunately, for me, I had visited the area while on one of my walks with Keilyn, and so had a couple of photographs that I could use as my entry.

I wasn't particularly enamoured by either of the two photographs, that I had taken, but chose the one that I thought looked the better of the two.

Bastion House
The photo I rejected entering.

Having sent in my entry I promptly forgot about the competition and carried on with my walks and continued to take photographs.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

City of London: 'Ring of Steel'

Police Sentry Box
A City of London police sentry box.

Walking through and around the City of London you may notice that roads, entering the City, narrow and concrete islands have, usually empty, Police sentry boxes on them. 

These sentry boxes are a remnant of far more dangerous times. They were put in place, along with narrower roads and CCTV cameras, as a response to the IRA threats to the City of London from the 1970s through to the 1990s. This initiative became known as the 'Ring of Steel'.

But, this wasn't the City of London's first form of protective security. For that we must go back to the founding of Londinium. 

Roman Wall
The City of London's original defensive ring.

The Romans constructed a wall, many parts of which are still visible, to protect early Londinium from invasion from the Picts, who had invaded northern Britain and overrun Hadrian's Wall. 

To further protect Londinium the Roman's increased fortifications along the wall, as well as increasing the wall's height.

Various Wards were also created within the City walls, ensuring that communities were linked and security could be maintained. These community links are still as important today for keeping the City of London safe.

Terrorism became an issue for the City of London, and London as a whole, when Irish Republicans began a bombing campaign between 1867 and 1885. This was followed by Militant Suffragette actions, along with Anarchist attacks.

The Irish Republican Army started a limited campaign between 1939 and 1940, which became known as the 'Sabotage Campaign',

The most deadly attacks began in 1973 and would continue until 1997, when the Provisional Irish Republican Army began a sustained campaign during what was called 'The Troubles'. This was further exacerbated by attacks related to Middle East politics and more Anarchist attacks.

Police Sentry Box and Police Car
The City of London's 'Ring of Steel'.

It was during the 1990s that a new 'Ring of Steel' was put in place. This involved the narrowing of roads and the adding of small chicanes, which forced drivers to slow down. Concrete medians were also installed, each with a police sentry box manned by armed police. Some roads were closed to traffic altogether.

CCTV cameras recorded vehicles entering, and leaving, the City of London. One of the measures, now used throughout the world, was Automatic Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) which was developed in the City of London. Today, the whole of London has traffic monitoring systems which are constantly viewed by police. This data is kept for five years.

Some dissident members of the Real Irish Republican Army and Islamic terrorism has continued to attack locations within the City of London, London and the UK, up to the present day.

Police Sentry Box
Keilyn in a police sentry box.

As new threats are detected new technology evolves. Cameras are moved, upgraded or more are installed. As the City of London changes, with roads rerouted, new businesses moving in or new infrastructure being constructed the 'Ring of Steel' adapts, doing its best to keep us safe.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Jabez West Drinking Fountain

Jabez West Drinking Fountain
Memorial to a working-class man.

In Southwark Park there is a drinking fountain that was installed in 1885, shortly after the park opened to the public in 1869. 

It is fairly unique as it is a memorial to a working-class man.

Jabez West was born in Princes Risborough, on June 6, 1810, to Anne and William West. His father was a blacksmith. 

He moved to Bermondsey some time in the 1830s and married Sarah Johnson on October 21, 1838. They went on to have seven children.

His wife, Sarah, died in 1873 and, in 1876, he married Hannah Aiton.

Jabez died on May 13, 1884.

Jabez West Information Baord
The information board in Southwark Park.

Although he originally worked in the leather trade he is best known in the area for his devotion to political reform and the temperance movement.

He also campaigned for the creation of Southwark Park.

Following his death the Metropolitan Board of Works took the unusual step of agreeing to this memorial for a working-class man. Made from polished grey granite the fountain was paid for by public subscription at a cost of £120.