St Barnabas Homeless Charity to Close

Soho charity House of St Barnabas, based in Greek Street, has announced it is to close down at the end of January 2024 through lack of funds. Founded by Henry Munro MD in 1840, the charity’s primary objective is to help the poor, in recent years specifically the homeless. Crucial to St Barnabas’s funding was to run its building as a social club on a similar model to clubland, with a bar and comfortable lounge. It also raised money by renting out rooms for meetings. But Covid and its aftermath have made for tough times culminating in a serious collapse of the bar ceiling. The final straw.

London Historians enjoyed a tour of St Barnabas and its chapel in February 2020, a matter of weeks before lockdown kicked off.

St Barnabas Closure Announcement.

— 17 January 2024

Department of Justice Wills Proposal Widely Scorned

The Department of Justice has proposed a project to digitise all Wills in its possession before destroying most of the originals which are over 25 years old. This plan has met with vehement and near universal scorn from history, heritage and other research groups up and down the country. Historian Tom Holland’s comment is representative: “Obviously insane.”
The Ministry’s consultation page is here.
There is a petition to the Government to drop this proposal. You can sign it here.

— 22 December 2023

Boston Manor Re-Opens After Major Refurb

Grade 1 Listed Boston Manor House has reopened following several years of HLF refurbishment including some interesting changes in decor. The 400 year old Jacobean manor house is based in Brentford near the border of Ealing and run by London Borough of Hounslow. For most of its history it was owned by the wealthy Clitherow family until they sold it to the local authority in 1924. It is open to the public and free to visit. Open Tuesdays to Sundays.
More on this story.

— 7 July 2023

LISSCA calls on Michael Gove to cancel Liverpool Street Station development

Image: Guy Newton

The campaign group LISSCA, formed earlier this year and led by actor and built-heritage campaigner Griff Rhys Jones, has called on the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ‘call in’ a proposal for an intrusive development project for Liverpool Street Station. This would override the usual planning permission procedure. The move has received widespread media coverage, including a letter in The Times signed by dozens of heritage leaders and celebrities including Stephen Fry and Tracey Emin.
More on this story.

— 9 May 2023

Heritage Groups Join Forces to Save Liverpool Street Station

Following the announcement late in January by developers Sellar and Network Rail of a project to build large towers on top of Liverpool Street Station and the Andaz hotel next door, a consortium of heritage organisations have joined forces to oppose the scheme.

The umbrella group LISSCA (Liverpool Street Station Campaign) includes The Victorian Society, The 20C Society, Save Britain’s Heritage, The Georgian Group, The Spitalfields Trust and London Historians. The actor and frequent heritage activist Griff Rhys Jones has agreed to be the organisation’s President. He said he was honoured to be following in the footsteps of Sir John Betjeman, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Spike Milligan, who were instrumental in rescuing the station under similar circumstances the 1970s.

LISSCA’s first action is to launch an online petition in opposition to the project. You can sign it here.

— 3 February 2023

westminster council to axe 94 historic gas lamps

Simon Callow and London gas lamp. Picture: Carla Salvatore

Westminster Council has announced its decision to convert 94 historic gas-lit street lanterns to LED technology. This has been presented as a climb-down following an impassioned campaign in opposition to the original proposal to convert the entire total of 268 gas lamps which represent around 2% of all devices. 174 lamps – mostly listed – will survive the chop. For now. The campaign to save the gas lamps has been spearheaded by a group known as The London Gasketeers (@LondonGasketeer on Twitter). It cautiously welcomes the council’s u-turn but warns of the dangers lying ahead for the surviving lamps.

— 23 November 2022

Offshore Landlord Shuts Historic City Restaurant

Simpson’s Tavern, the historic chophouse off Cornhill in the City of London, has been feeding Londoners since 1757. On 16th October, the restaurant’s owners were locked out of the premises over a dispute about rent. They had been negotiating – seemingly in good faith – with their landlord, the shadowy Bermuda-based Travor Holdings.

Although the restaurant was carrying a large arrears owing to Covid, manager Benjamin Duggan points out that trade is well in excess of pre-pandemic levels with a credible and viable recovery plan in place. Instead, it has been forced to lay off staff with decades-long service.

All the major quality papers have weighed in to support Simpson’s. Here’s the Guardian.
And the Telegraph.
Here’s the Square Mile’s own City A.M.

And there is more, much more.

A crowdfunder – Save Our Simpson’s Tavern – has passed the £100,000 mark at time of writing.

— 2 November 2022

Fire Insurance Museum Launches First Show

The Fire Insurance Museum’s first online show – Fire! Risks and Revelations – goes live today. In interactive image- and video-rich space shows how the Great Fire of 1666 destroyed most of the City of London and what emerged in its aftermath. One significant development was the beginning of fire insurance, introduced by the notorious developer and economist Nicolas Barbon. See the exhibition here You can also sign up to the museum’s newsletter for updates.

— 7 September 2022

Horniman Scoops Museum of the Year 2022

South London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens has been awarded the Art Fund’s prestigious Museum of the Year award for 2022 and with it, a cash prize of £100,000, the largest of its kind in the world. As a previous finalist, it had narrowly missed out in 2013. The museum was founded in Forest Hill in 1901 by tea magnate Frederick John Horniman. It houses mainly anthropological specimens as well as a historic musical instrument collection.

More on this story.

Image: Fiona Pretorius.

— 15 July 2022

'Once in a Lifetime' Roman Find

Archaeologists working at a dig in Southwark close to the Shard have uncovered a Roman floor mosaic, said to be the best of its kind discovered in Britain for over 50 years. The well-preserved dining room floor comprises two panels decorated with a largely floral pattern design.

Museum of London Architects (MOLA) Site Supervisor, Antonietta Lerz, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime find in London.

The exploratory dig is in preparation for a large building project on the site. Therefore in due course the mosaic will be stabilised and removed.

More on this story.

— 22 February 2022

Westminster to axe gas street-lights

To the consternation of many, Westminster council has announced that it will replace its remaining gas street-lights by units which use LED lamps.

— 31 January 2022

1921 Census Publishing Date Announced

The 1921 Census for England and Wales will be published by Findmypast on 6 January 2022. Released a century after it was taken per the regulations, the data will provide a fascinating insight into post World War One society at a time of industrial turmoil when true universal suffrage was close at hand.
More on this story.

— 27 October 2021

Threat to Bevis Marks Lifted

City of London planning committee has rejected plans for a 48 storey tower block to be built adjacent to the 100 year old Bevis Marks synagogue in the City of London. The Grade 1 300 year old temple is the oldest non Christian place of worship in the Square Mile. A spirited campaign against the proposal by many heritage organisations and the synagogue itself has proved successful to the delight of all heritage-minded Londoners. But the battle doesn’t end here: there are several other nearby tower-block plans in the pipeline.
More on this story.

— 5 October 2021

Police Museum for Westminster Finally Announced

It’s been no secret that for almost a decade, the old Bow Street Magistrates Court and Police Station have been earmarked for a police museum as part of a hotel development. There have been several false dawns. Although the Bow Street Police Museum will open officially early in 2021, it may be some time before the public may gain access owing to anti-Covid measures. The original site acted as the HQ of the Bow Street Runners during the era of legendary magistrates Henry and John Fielding in the 18C and remained as a police station until 1993. The Magistrates’ Court operated until 2006.
More on this story.

— 23 December 2020

Society of Antiquaries Launches Campaign to Save its Home

Image: London Historians group visit, April 2017

The Society of Antiquaries (SoA from here) is in danger of losing its home of over 140 years due to imminent swingeing rent hikes by its landlord: the British Government. Along with four other learned bodies, including the Royal Astronomical Society, the SoA moved in to Burlington House, Piccadilly in the early 1870s. Their immediate neighbour in the complex is the Royal Academy which was set up on a 999 year peppercorn lease, so does not share the problem of its neighbours.

The SoA’s HQ houses over 40,000 historic items in addition to its library of over 100,000 books and rare manuscripts.

Since 2004, the learned societies have been negotiating with the Government new rental agreements for the future until late in 2019 the bombshell was dropped that they would have to pay standard commercial rate or be evicted.

Today, the Society of Antiquaries launched its campaign to save its home.

More information on the campaign and how to get involved.

— 23 November 2020

Ian Allan book and model shop to close

Ian Allan Publishing has announced that it will close its Waterloo-based bookshop, beloved of railway enthusiasts and historians, on 31 October. Although closed during lockdown, the shop was thought not to be in danger as an ongoing concern. Rather, it is believed that the popular store is faced with significant rent hikes by the owners who don’t seem to share the enthusiasm for this line of business as founder Ian Allan who died in 2015. Negotiations between staff and the owners – which included offers of reduced salary and even redundancies – failed to change the decision. Four full time staff – two with over 20 years’ service each – and a part-time employee, will lose their jobs. The firm’s Birmingham branch was closed last year in similar circumstances.

The eponymous founder of the business is said to have invented the expression ‘trainspotting’.

Ian Allan Publishing website.

— 16 September 2020

Firefighters save historic carriages at Gunnersbury

On the evening of 28/29 May, the external pop-up cafe at Gunnersbury Park was severely damaged by fire in what is believed to be a deliberate attack. Gunnersbury’s priceless collection of 19C carriages which were once owned by the Rothschild family was saved by the quick action of dozens of firefighters from three local stations. The vehicles, including an extremely rare hansom cab,had been on display in the same building as the cafe since Gunnersbury Mansion’s HLF restoration was completed in 2018.

More on this story.

— 29 May 2020

Two London Pubs Grade 1 Listed

Heritage England has listed two Victorian London pubs Grade 1. The Hand and Shears in historic Cloth Fair (pictured), and the Coach and Horses in Soho. The latter became particularly well known as the hang-out of Jeffrey Bernard during the time of Norman Balon, supposedly London’s rudest landlord. It also hosted Private Eye magazine’s weekly lunches and was frequented by Soho’s more bohemian writers and cartoonists. The Hand and Shears had historic links to the Bartholomew Fair which ran from medieval times until 1855.

More on this story.

— 8 February 2020

King Charles's Execution Shirt to go on Public Display

A silk woven vest worn by King Charles I on the scaffold on 30 January 1649 is to go on display at the Museum of London, it has been announced. The garment will be the star of the show at a forthcoming exhibition to open in October. It will examine public executions in London from the late 12C to the late 19C.

More on this story.

— 3 February 2020

Corporation of London Sells Wood Street Nick

The Corporation of London has sold Grade 2-listed Wood Street Police Station to a Hotels Group. This is apparently in agreement with the City of London Police who claim the building is ‘surplus to requirements’ even though it contains the stables of the force’s only police horses. This comes in the wake of the sale of Snow Hill Police Station, also to a hotels group. Snow Hill will close imminently. This leaves only Bishopsgate Police Station for the entire City, although a new station will be built near Fleet Street raising the complement back to two, although this is only expected ‘later in the decade’.

The building, by architect Donald McMorran (d1965) is the only post-war listed police station in the country.

More on this from the Corporation.

— 31 January 2020

Whitechapel Bell Foundry wins Public Enquiry

Further to our previous item, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government has announced there will be a Public Inquiry into the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The ancient business closed in 2017 in the face of difficult trading conditions. Its site was snapped up by a hotel group who were granted planning permission in November 2019 to develop by Tower Hamlets council, with insufficient oversight, according to campaigners, who include Spitalfields Life. Historic England raised no objections to the plans at the time.

More on this story and many links to the background of this saga.

— 24 January 2020

Abney Park Cem wins HLF Grant

Abney Park Cemetery has been awarded £4.4 million from an HLF grant to make significant improvements to the cemetery and, importantly, its chapel. Hackney Council will add. £710,000 to bring the total fund to over £5 million. Abney Park, opened in 1840, is one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ 19C cemeteries.

More on this story.

— 15 January 2020

Whitechapel Bell Foundry Given Reprieve

The campaign to prevent the building of the former Whitechapel Bell Foundry being turned into a boutique hotel won a reprieve yesterday when the Secretary of State placed a temporary stop on the project. The ancient London business was closed and its building sold off in June 2017. The project had been approved by the local council with no objections from English Heritage. But now Local Government Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has issued a holding direction which means the plans must be further scrutinised by Whitehall and no work can proceed while that is done. This represents a major breakthrough for campaigners who include TV historian Dan Cruikshank and Spitalfields Life blogger The Gentle Author.

More on this story.

— 5 December 2019

Turner originals to be shown at his Twickenham home

Pic: Sunset on the River, 1805. ©Tate

For the first time, original works by the artist are to be shown at Sandycoombe Lodge, JMW Turner’s country retreat in Twickenham, restored and reopened to the public in 2017. The exhibition – Turner and the Thames: Five Paintings – which opens on 10 January 2020, will include five oil sketches featuring scenes to the west of London. These rarely seen pictures have been lent to Turner’s House Trust by the Tate.

More information.

— 20 November 2019

NPG to close for three year refurb

The National Portrait Gallery is to close in June 2020 for three years for a comprehensive refubishment, estimated to cost around £35 million. Named Inspiring People, the project has been backed by Heritage Lottery Fund to the tune of £9.4 million. Although the project was announced early October, only today did it emerge the involvement of a total closure for this lengthy period, to the consternation of many. including ciritic Bendor Grosvenor who accused the gallery of treating visitors and staff ‘with contempt’.

More on this story.

Image: Elizabeth I, c 1592, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

— 5 November 2019

London's Largest Ever Bronze Age Hoard

© Archaeological Solutions Ltd_375

The Havering Hoard – London’s largest and the third biggest in the UK ever – is to go on show at Museum of London Docklands in a special exhibition from 3 April 2020. Consisting of 453 bronze objects dating between c.900 and c.800 BC, the hoard includes weapons, tools and unusual objects rarely found in the UK.

More information on this story.

— 21 October 2019

Freelance Job Opportunity with British Pathe

British Pathé are looking for a Freelance/Temporary Contract Researcher to assist with an ongoing Stills Digitisation project between 4th November – 20th December 2019.

Mainly working remotely, the Researcher will assist British Pathé in writing the associated metadata for its still images, taken from the wide variety of film material it holds. They will be following a specific Style Guide and drawing references from the relevant notes held on each film. Support will be provided from British Pathé throughout the project, to ensure uniformity and consistency.

Applications close on 25 October. See more details and how to apply on London Historians blog, here.

— 19 October 2019

Museum of London secures Pepys Silver Salver

The Museum of London has acquired a silver trencher plate that until recently was unrecognised as relating to and bearing the coat of arms of famous naval administrator, and diarist, Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703). It is one of only three items of silver plate known to have belonged to Pepys as part of his personal collection and is now the only one on display in the UK. The diarist was particularly proud of his silver collection.

More on this story.

— 3 October 2019

TFL Announces Sale of 55 Broadway

Years of speculation and expectation have come to an end as Transport for London (TfL) has finally announced a deal which will see it leaving its Grade 1 listed HQ sometime after Spring 2020. A large proportion of staff has already relocated in any case.The 1929 Charles Holden designed building has been the home for London Transport and its successors since that time. The £120 million sale to Integrity International Group will most likely lead to 55 Broadway being turned into a hotel.

More on this story.

— 16 September 2019

NPG's 'New' Jane Seymour portrait goes on display

After three years in restoration, the National Portrait Gallery has put its Jane Seymour portrait on display in the Tudor gallery. Having won it at auction in 2016, it is the gallery’s only painting of Henry VIII’s third wife and the mother of Edward VI. First thought to be a much later copy of the Holbein original, analysis shows that this unfinished work is contemporary with it, probably from Holbein’s studio, and therefore much more valuable, and important.
More on this story

— 25 August 2019

Spitalfields Weavers' Houses Saved

Following a hard-fought campaign against developers, a pair of historic weaver’s houses in Spitalfields, dating from the 1760s, have been listed. This last minute intervention by the Minister for Culture, Media & Sport makes the houses at 3/5 Club Row Grade II listed by Historic England. The upshot is that the owners’ plans to demolish the buildings for redevelopment of the site can not now go ahead. They will have to come up with an alternative and, no doubt, less profitable plan.

More on this story from Spitalfields Life who played a key role in this victory for heritage conservation.

— 12 June 2019

Soane's Pitzhanger Manor Re-opens

Pitzhanger manor
After a four year Heritage Lottery Fund sponsored full restoration, Grade I listed Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing reopened to the public today. The house was designed and built between 1800 and 1804 by celebrated architect Sir John Soane as a country residence for his family. The interior rooms are festooned with characteristic Soane designs.
Pitzhanger Manor costs £7.70 to visit for adults, with various concessions for other groups.

Pitzhanger Manor web site.

— 16 March 2019

Thames Stone Age skull item revealed to the public

Part of the cranium of a Neolithic male adult went on display today at the Museum of London. The fragment was recently discovered by Thames mudlarker Martin Bushell on the south bank of the river. The piece has been carbon-dated to 5,600 years ago, making it the oldest piece of human remains ever found on the Thames. The object can be seen in the museum’s London before London gallery.

More on this story.

Image: Museum of London

— 20 February 2019

Campaign to Save Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, London’s oldest business until closed in June 2017, is the object of a campaign to re-open it to commercial industrial use. The 450 year old factory was visited by London Historians members in 2012 and 2015. At the moment there is a planning application lodged with Tower Hamlets Council to turn the building into a themed hotel. An alternative plan by Factum Foundation and the United Kingdom Buidlings Preservation Trust has been devised which would see the property return to its previous purpose.
More on this at Spitalfields Life.
The campaign Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
The petition.
Join in: how to object.

— 10 February 2019

Fullers sells out

London’s last remaining large brewery – Fullers of Chiswick – has sold its brewing business to Japanese giant Asahi for a mere £250 million. The firm will continue to run its portfolio of pubs. Fuller, Smith and Turner was founded in 1845 although its riverside HQ has been the site of brewing from a much earlier date.
More on this story.

— 25 January 2019

London Stone Returns to Cannon Street

The mysterious and mythical London Stone was returned to its traditional home at 111 Cannon Street today after the building had been restored. It has spent the past two years on display at the Museum of London. Legend has it that the stone plays a part in the city’s foundation story. The object has been on this thoroughfare since at least the mid 16th Century and is mentioned by both Stow and Camden. Most accounts – all unsubstantiated – give it a Roman origin. The new setting for the stone was unveiled by Lord Mayor Charles Bowman.

More on the London Stone.

— 7 October 2018

New gravestone for William Blake

The London artist, poet, printer and mystic William Blake was remembered on Sunday 12 August – the anniversary of his death – with a new gravestone. Until recently, his actual burial site in London’s Bunhill Fields Cemetery, was unknown. But recent research located this precisely, allowing a new memorial. The event, attended by hundreds, was organised by The Blake Society. It comprised talks, singing, contemplation and ended with the lighting of 191 candles representing the years since Blake’s death.
More on this story.

— 15 August 2018

India Club reprieved by Westminster Council

The India Club, a much-loved Indian restaurant on the Strand, has won a stay of execution posed by hotel developers when Westminster Council refused their planning application on the grounds of the eatery’s historic and cultural significance. The restaurant had mounted a vigorous campaign and petition during the first half of the year which gathered huge momentum via social media. At its beginning the India Club was closely associated with the post-Independence scene in London which included, among many, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, along with the Indian diplomatic community. In recent times it’s also been a a favourite of students and academics from nearby King’s College.

More on this story.

— 2 August 2018

Boston Manor House wins £3.7 million HLF refurbishment award

Boston Manor House, the Grade I Jacobean manor house in West London has been awarded vital funding by Heritage Lottery Fund for a major two year refurbishment. Built in 1623 for Mary Reade, the house spent most of its history in the ownership of the Clitherow family, a dynasty of city merchants. It passed to Brentford Urban District Council in 1923 since when it has been used variously as a girls’ school and more recently a local tourist attraction. Whilst local volunteers have done their best for the building, the HLF injection will bring some much-needed TLC. The restoration project will run from early 2019 until 2021, but since the house opens only on weekends during the summer, you’re well advised to visit during the next several months.

More on this story.

— 16 July 2018

Museum of London Scoops 19C Panorama at Sotheby's

A seven metre wide panorama of Westminster was secured by the Museum of London at Sotheby’s last week. The urban landscape was painted in watercolour by Pierre Prévost in 1815, hence giving an important depiction of the Old Palace of Westminster which was lost to fire in 1834. With support from the Art Fund, the museum obtained the picture for £200,000. It is now working out how best to display such a large item.

The above image represents about a quarter of the full width.

More on this story.

— 12 July 2018

Westminster Abbey Reveals Breathtaking Treasures

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey has unveiled dozens of previously archived items in its collection, displayed in the new Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. The artefacts include silver plate, jewellery, costumes, ecclesiastical vestments, books and manuscripts, weapons and armour, drawings and architectural models. Most notable, however, is the collection of funeral effigies – mainly of royalty – which dominate this permanent exhibition. They date from the late 15th Century onwards and it’s fascinating to see how they developed in sophistication over the following centuries.

The galleries will open to the public on 11 June for an additional £5 on the standard entry fee.

— 5 June 2018

Fifty Shades Defend Quiz Title

Yesterday evening, London Historians’ second annual Big Quiz was won by the same team which scooped the inaugural competition in 2017. Fifty Shades, captained by Diane Burstein, scored 46 points from a possible 55 in a challenging contest run by popular London quizmaster, Matt Brown. Her fellow team members were Chris Burton, Colin Levy and Rachel Kolsky. Four teams had to fight a tie-break for second and third place having each scored 39.

— 30 May 2018

Roman Sarcophagus Unveiled at Museum of London Docklands

roman dead sarcophagus

A Roman sarcophagus discovered in Southwark in June of last year has been put on show to the public for the first time at Museum of London Docklands. Dubbed the ‘Harper Road Sarcophagus’, it is the centrepiece of a new exhibition, Roman Dead The limestone piece was found to contain the remains of a woman aged around 50. It has taken many months of painstaking conservation work and research to extract as much infomation as possible to add to our knowledge of life and death in Roman London.

— 24 May 2018

Maggi Hambling to create Wollstonecraft Memorial

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie NPG
Image: Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie. National Portrait Gallery, London.

The Mary on the Green Campaign, which has been lobbying and fundraising for the best part of a decade for a statue commemorating Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797), have chosen Maggi Hambling to create the work. Wollstoncraft, author of Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), is widely revered as a feminist pioneer and philosopher. Hambling is one of Britain’s leading sculptors, responsible for the controversial Oscar Wilde Memorial (1998) near Charing Cross.

The site of the Wollstonecraft memorial will be Newington Green.

More on this story.

— 16 May 2018

Heathrow Archive Opens to Researchers

Heathrow Archive LHR

From today, the archives of Heathrow Airport – one of the world’s largest aviation hubs – are now hosted in a facility at the University of West London’s Ealing campus. The airport, along with Heritage Lottery Fund, have backed the project in order to make its large wealth of records and artifacts accessible to students, academics and enthusiasts who wish to research over seventy years of aviation history. The facility is complemented by a permanent exhibition – Heathrow: The Journey – in the same building. It features old images, film, maps, books, drawings and airline ephemera. While the exhibition is open to all, visiting the archive is by appointment.

Find out more

— 18 April 2018

Electric House added to Water and Steam Museum

The London Museum of Water and Steam (formerly Kew Bridge Steam Museum) has opened a new gallery which features the transformation from steam to electric power for pumping water. The Electric House displays equipment from the entire 20th Century which was rescued over recent years from sites across the capital, such as Lots Road Power Station. Staff and volunteers at the museum have spent recent years cleaning and restoring the display items to working condition. The result is a gleaming array of industrial power and a fitting edition to the museum’s stunning collection of working steam engines.
London Museum of Water and Steam.

— 23 March 2018

Sir Peter Blake Opens Chiswick Timeline Mural

Years in the making, the Chiswick Timeline project came to fruition today when the pair of outdoor murals next to Turnham Green Station were officially unveiled by local resident, the artist Sir Peter Blake. The brainchild of Sarah Cruz and Karen Liebriech, the twin murals feature historic maps of the Thames near Chiswick from 1593 to 2018. Integrated with this are 23 representations of historic local scenes by Hogarth, Zoffany, Turner, Rysbrac, Ravilious and others. Turnham Green Terrace was closed for the grand opening, which was attended by hundreds of locals and visitors. Blessed by excellent weather, the festival atmosphere was enhanced by historic Routemaster buses, live music and stalls.

More information at

— 28 January 2018

Headstone Manor & Museum reopens

headstone manor

Headstone Manor, a Grade 1-listed manor house dating from the early 14th Century will reopen this week following a £5.7 million restoration. This includes the moated house, a great barn and the addition of a multi-media museum. The main building which has been owned by bishops, lords and Henry VIII himself is the earliest surviving timber-framed building in Middlesex. It is also the only fully-moated building in Greater London.
Headstone Manor web site.

— 7 December 2017

London Mithraeum to re-open to the Public

The ancient Roman temple dedicated to the mystical Eastern cult deity Mithras will open to free public view from 14 November. The remains of the building were originally discovered in post-War excavations in the Bucklebury area of the City in 1954. It was relocated nearby in 1962 but open to the elements for almost fifty years. The development of a new London HQ for the Bloomberg financial data company on the corner of Walbrook and Queen Victoria Street offered the opportunity for archaeologists to dig the site anew between 2012 and 2014. A record number of artifacts were uncovered including a tablet bearing the first know written use of the name Londinium. The temple and many of the finds are now on display in a purpose-built facility which is open to the public, but advanced booking must be made via the London Mithraeum web site.

— 8 November 2017

George Orwell Remembered with Statue

A bronze statue of the novelist and writer George Orwell was unveiled today outside the BBC’s London HQ in Portland Place. Orwell worked for the BBC during World War Two presenting a magazine programme for the Eastern Service. The statue is by Martin Jennings, the sculptor responsible for the John Betjeman in St Pancras Station and that of Philip Larkin in Hull. Next to the statue on the wall of the building is carved the inscription “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” The project was delayed by some years owing to BBC management’s concerns over Orwell being “too left-wing.”

More on this story.

— 7 November 2017

Mail Rail opens to the public

The eagerly awaited Mail Rail exhibition at London’s new Post Office Museum opened to the public today. The permanent facility includes rides on the Royal Mail’s legendary underground mail transportation system which closed in 2003 but had been kept mothballed ever since. Known as the Post Office Railway, the 2ft narrow guage system opened in 1927 running driverless trains between Paddington and Farringdon stations. In addition to the rides, the exhibition includes displays featuring old plant, maintenance and rolling stock plus the experience of Post Office staff who worked on the system throughout the 20th Century.

More information.

— 4 September 2017

Museum to Postal Heritage Opens

A patient wait ended today with the eagerly_anticipated opening of The Postal Museum in Phoenix Place, WC1. The museum covers 500 years of postal history, a system which began as the preserve of the literate elite and developed into a service for everybody by the time of he 1840 penny post. Its new galleries display hundreds of objects from the vital to the quirky: stamps (of course), cards, letters, post boxes, vehicles, uniforms, even weapons. But the big attraction will undoubtedly be the restoration of Mail Rail, the GPO’s own private underground transport system on which visitors can actually take a ride.

The Postal Museum web site.

— 28 July 2017

Punk Venue Commemorated

A plaque has been unveiled at 41-43 Neal Street in Covent Garden to commemorate The Roxy, the punk venue which ran from late 1976 until April 1978. With almost nightly gigs, the venue hosted bands such as Buzzcocks, the Clash, Generation X, Slaughter and the Dogs, Souxie and the Banchees, Captain Sensible, the Cortinas and dozens more. The unveiling accompanies a free photographic and poster exhibition – also in Neal Street – Fear and Loathing at the Roxy – which runs until 10 May.

— 26 April 2017

Emery Walker's House Re-Opens

Emery Walker's House

Following an extensive programme of refurbishment, Emery Walker’s House in Hammersmith today re-opens to the public. It was the home of one of the key members of The Arts & Crafts Movement, a close friend of William Morris and father of the Private Press movement. Over 6,000 items were removed from the house while the building received comprehensive repairs including a new roof. The collection includes William Morris’ 17th Century Library chair, Philip Webb furniture and glass, ceramics by William de Morgan and a Burne-Jones portrait of May Morris.

Emery Walker’s House.

— 20 April 2017

National Army Museum Reopens

national army museum london
The National Army Museum in Chelsea has reopened after a three year £23.75 million transformation, including a brand new building. £11.5 million was Lottery-funded. Breaking from the chronological arrangement of previous times, the museum is now divided into five permanent themed galleries: Soldier, Army, Battle, Society and Insight. There is also a 500 square metre temporary exhibition space. On display are over 2,500 objects, around two thirds of which are in public for the first time.

National Army Museum.

— 30 March 2017

Plaque to Pocahontas in Brentford

pocahontas syon brentford

On Monday 20 March, a plaque to the Powhatan princess Pocahontas was unveiled in Brentford by His Highness the Duke of Gloucester. It was to commemorate the 400th anniversary of her death following a year-long stay in London and Brentford with her husband, the tobacco planter John Rolfe. The plaque is positioned on the outer wall of Syon House near where the Rolfes stayed in early 1617. Sadly, Rebecca Rolfe – as she was known – died and was buried in Gravesend en route home to the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. The ceremony was also attended by three Indian chiefs from the Virginia tribes and the mayor of Hounslow.
More on this story.

— 20 March 2017

Last Gasp Campaign to Save Whitechapel Bell Foundry

whitechapel bell foundry

Along with other participants, the East End Preservation Society has launched a campaign to try and rescue the Whitechapel Bell Foundry from permanent closure. The centuries-old family-run business announced last December that the concern was no longer commercially viable and that it was to close with its building and contents sold off. The campaign will be appealing to the new owners of the premises and the Department of Culture Media and Sport to keep the enterprise going as an asset of national heritage value. At time of writing, the petition for this has over 7,500 signatories.

Read more about the campaign.
Sign the petition.

— 16 March 2017

Thousands of condiment containers discovered at Crossrail site

MOLA archaeologists excavating the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail site have unearthed the remains of 13,000 Crosse & Blackwell containers. Made largely of ceramic or glassware, the artifacts are in remarkably good condition. The products date from around 1830 to 1920, representing a variety of British condiments and sauces – favourites on the tables of Britain and its empire.

More on this story.

— 10 January 2017

Britain's Oldest Factory to Close

whitechapel bell foundry

Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which has been in business from at least 1571 – and probably earlier – is to close its doors in May of next year. The family business, which made Big Ben and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, will run down its order book before vacating its well-known premises for the last time. It has been on this particular site for over 250 years. The owners, whose family has run the foundry since 1904, are hoping to sell the business as a going concern.

More on this story.
Yet more on this story.

— 3 December 2016

Historic Woolwich Barracks to be Flogged Off by MoD

The MoD has announced yet more economising which involves selling assets, notably Woolwich Baracks, dating from 1803 and the widest building in Britain. In recent times it was the base of Fusilier Lee Rigsby who was murdered by Islamists in the street nearby.

More on this story.

— 10 November 2016

Memorial for Underground Visionary Frank Pick

A memorial to legendary London Underground boss Frank Pick (1878-1941) is to be unveiled at Piccadilly Circus station on 7 November. This year is the 75th anniversary of his death. Pick – who worked for the Underground in various roles from 1906 to 1940 – was responsible for creating a uniform design identity for the entire system. He engaged typographers such as Edward Johnston and architects like Charles Holden to create a look which has stood the test of time for over a century. He also sponsored a whole generation of up and coming commercial artists to create world class posters for the service.

The 9m wide artwork – called Beauty < Immortality – is by BAFTA winning and Turner Prize nominated artists Ben Langlands & Nikki Bell. It has been subscribed partly by a crowd-funding project in which participants can win rewards – for example, specialist tours – provided by London Transport Museum.

More on this story.

— 27 October 2016

City of London Police Museum Moves to the Guildhall

As the City of London Police celebrates its 175th anniversary, its museum collection will move to a new home at Guildhall, opening on 7 November. The museum has until now been housed in tiny accommodation at Wood Street Police Station, with patchy opening times owing to its curators being full-time serving police officers acting as volunteers. The purpose-built museum is a collaboration between the City of London Police and the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Library, which is situated next to the new museum. Every type of object imaginable from police work will be on display along with unusual items such as Olympic gold medals for Tug of War from the early 20C. Admission will be free.

— 11 October 2016

Queen's House Reopens to the Public

Following a year-long major refurbishment, the Queen’s House in Greenwich re-opens to the public today. The project commemorates the 400th anniversary of the building being commissioned by James I for his consort, Anne of Denmark. Unfortunately the queen never lived to see the mansion’s completion in 1619. The Queen’s House is a master work of architect Inigo Jones and considered to be the first neo-classical building in Britain. Today it is an art gallery housing masterpieces by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner and Hogarth in addition to its exquisite collection of maritime art.

Queen’s House web site.

— 11 October 2016

Heathrow Archives Find New Home in Brentford

Joint funding from the National Lottery and Heathrow Airport will underpin a project to create a permanent home and exhibition for the airport’s archives. The £179,000 initiative will see t the collection dating from the 1940s, moved and housed at the University of West London’s campus in Brentford. The facility will be open to researchers and the public in 2019.

More on this story.

— 13 September 2016

Crossness Pumping Station Re-opens with new exhibition

crossness pumping station

Joseph Bazalgette’s 1865 pumping station at Crossness has re-opened to the public following an extensive £2.7 million makeover, sponsored by Heritage Lottery Fund. Following the Great Stink of 1858, Bazalgette introduced a huge underground sewage system under London, powered by steam-driven pumping stations, one of which is the Grade I-listed Crossness facility. It still has its four massive beam engines in situ although only one – the Prince Consort – is in working order. The re-launch dovetails with a new exhibition, The Great Stink, which gives the background story to Bazalgette’s project.
Visiting Crossness Pumping Station.

— 13 July 2016

Museum of London Restores 17C Fire Engine

Using no more than a surviving barrel and contemporary illustrations, Museum of London has teamed up with Croford Coachbuilders, to accurately rebuild a 17C fire engine. Using only techniques and materials available nearly four hundred years ago, the team have reconstructed the machine in time for the museum’s Great Fire exhibition which opens next month.

Video of the project.

— 21 June 2016

Hounslow Issues Stop Notice to Save Historic Building

Sarah Trimmer School

The London Borough of Hounslow has placed a Temporary Stop Notice on the site of what is known as the Sarah Trimmer School, in Brentford. The notice has been served on the developer IDM West London Limited after its workers sand-blasted exterior paint from the building in breach of planning consent. This follows the removal of the building’s roof several weeks previously, also without consent. Sarah Trimmer was an educationalist and social reformer in Brentford during the Industrial Revolution. As research by local historians has recently revealed, the school was an industrial training establishment to help poor women into work, now thought to be the first of its kind in Britain. It is therefore of greater historical significance than hitherto realised. The simple one storey white building dates from 1806 and is Grade II listed. The developers have planning permission to convert it into a single dwelling, the Council having refused their initial application to create three apartments on the site. With the fabric of the building now seriously compromised, its future must be in doubt and once more we are left with another sad example of developer’s total lack of respect for local heritage.

— 10 June 2016

Boston Manor Receives Heritage Lottery Grant

Boston Manor

Boston Manor House, the early 17C country mansion near Brentford, has been awarded just over £200K by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The grant is to develop a plan to restore and renovate the building and its rooms with a view to applying for a more substantial application in due course. For a great part of its history, Boston Manor was owned by the Clitherow family until they dispersed of the estate to Brentford Urban District Council in 1923. Today it is owned and managed by London Borough of Hounslow.
More on this story.

— 23 May 2016

Roman Fort discovered in the City

roman fort

Archaeologists from Museum of London have uncovered a Roman fort which was built in 63AD. It was raised in direct response to the Boudicca raids a few years previously when Londinium was destroyed by fire. The fort was discovered at Plantation Place in Fenchurch Street in preparation for a new building development. It is a typical example of a strong temporary defensive fort on the road north prior to the erection of ancient London’s permanent stone defensive wall. MOLA have published a book about the project.

More on this story.

— 18 May 2016

London Stone Goes on Display

london stone

The mythical London Stone was put on display today in the Museum of London. It is expected to remain there for over a year while the building where it usually resides, in Cannon Street, undergoes major refurbishment. The limestone rock – a designated historical monument – dates from at least 1100, although a cobbled-up Victorian myth linked it to the city’s foundation story from circa 1000 BC. It was held for centuries at St Swithin’s Church until the building was destroyed in the Blitz. It is said that London’s very existence relies on that of the stone.
More on the London Stone.

— 13 May 2016

Porters' Rest Returns to Piccadilly

porters rest

Westminster Council today unveiled a porters’ rest in its original position in Piccadilly, near the Bomber Command Memorial. Before efficient freight services, fruit, vegetables and other mainly perishable goods were literally carried into London markets each day by hundreds of porters. Porters’ rests were a common sight on all the capital’s trunk roads. The final example mysteriously disappeared in 2012. Following a campaign led by leading Westminster tour guide Peter Berthoud (also a London Historians member), the council installed this one, albeit a replica.

— 12 May 2016

Charterhouse to Open to the Public

charterhouse london

Charterhouse, the former Carthusian priory in Clerkenwell, is to open its doors to the public for the first time this September. The estate of mainly Tudor buildings was originally established in 1371, but violently dissolved in 1537 under Henry VIII. The merchant Thomas Sutton purchased the site in 1611, establishing alms houses and a prestigious school. It is still the home to this day of 40 ‘brothers’, essentially retired Christian gentlemen.


— 9 May 2016

Layers of London Wins Heritage Lottery Fund Support

layers of london

The first tranche of funding towards an £1 million cost has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to the historic mapping project – Layers of London – which will launch in May of this year. The fund has pledged £103,000 to the Institute of Historic Research (IHR), part of University of London’s School of Advanced Studies. IHR will lead the project in partnership with British Library, London Metropolitan Archives, Historic England, The National Archives and MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology). They will bring all their relevant assets to bear in creating a rich interactive website featuring maps and other topographical information of London through the ages.

More on this Story.

— 20 January 2016

Mayor Johnson Overturns Heritage Planning Decision for Norton Folgate

London Mayor Boris Johnson has sided with developers British Land who wish to build on a historic area of land near Bishopsgate: Norton Folgate. Despite Tower Hamlets council rejecting the developers’ plans twice – siding with conservation groups including the Victorian Society – the mayor invoked his executive power to overturn their decisions. TV Historian Dan Cruickshank , who is a nearby resident, joined with local groups to push for the Georgian era streets to be given over to new housing and retail rather than the tower-style office blocks, considered by many to be architecturally oppressive. Campaigners were supported by over 6,500 signatures in a public petition.

More on this story.

— 19 January 2016

"New Visscher" to be displayed at Guildhall Art Gallery

A contemporary version of the 1616 Visscher Panorama is to displayed at the Guildhall Art Gallery through most of 2016.

Detail from Visscher redrawn for 2016

Artist Robin Reynolds has spent several years painstakingly planning and redrawing a contemporary Thames panorama to commemorate the famous version created 400 years ago by the Dutch artist Claes Jansz Visscher. The modern work will be displayed alongside the gallery’s own original copy of the Visscher engraving from 20 February until 20 November 2016.
Guildhall Art Gallery.

— 7 December 2015

Samuel Foote Comes Home

It has been announced this morning that Ian Kelly’s play Mr Foote’s Other Leg will transfer to Theatre Royal Haymarket after its sell-out run at the Hampstead Theatre.

samuel foote

The play is about the 18C satirical comedy actor and impresario Samuel Foote (1720 – 1777), who was all but forgotten until Kelly’s 2012 biography drew him out of the shadows. The West End run could hardly be more significant: the Theatre Royal Haymarket was Foote’s own playhouse and the royal warrant was awarded to him personally.

Kelly told London Historians: “I am chuffed to bits, of course as a playwright and actor, but mainly, in truth, for Mr Foote – who returns to HIS OWN theatre 240 years on….and if I do nothing else, as a historian, I am proud as punch of that – one of London’s great lost figures re-found”. The play is directed by Richard Eyre and stars Simon Russell Beale as Samuel Foot.

— 5 October 2015

Britain's leading print history archive closes

St bride foundation

The St Bride Foundation near Fleet Street has made the shock announcement that it is to close its library and workshop and has laid off two members of staff. The institution, endowed by Victorian philanthorpist and newspaper entrepreneur, John Passmore Edwards, has been a teaching institution and archive for thousands of print workers and print historians since its foundation in 1895. It has a vital role in the history and heritage of print in London. Chief Executive Glyn Farrow, quoted in yesterday’s Evening Standard, said that the institution had been unable to generate sufficient income to stay viable, suffering an annual shortfall of around £150K.

Update: Glyn Farrow has been in touch with London Historians to assure us that much reporting on the current situation has been inaccurate. He assures us that this is a temporary yet essential measure and that there are funding solutions in the pipeline which will restore the library to service in the fullness of time, although when that might be is difficult to predict right now.

— 13 August 2015

Grosvenor Calls Time on Pimlico Traders

Pimlico Road

Grosvenor Estate, owned by the Duke of Westminster and his family, has given notice to a group of independent shops in Pimlico Road to quit their premises by the end of the year. The landowner wishes to use the area for larger stores and luxury flats. One of the outlets, a Victorian timber yard owned by Travis Perkins, has been in continuous business since 1840 and in fact celebrated its 175th anniversary a matter of weeks ago. While for them the news is especially bitter, all the shops are angry at the plans. Grosvenor Estate abandoned a similar scheme in 2001 following stringent local opposition.

More on this story.

— 23 July 2015

Reprieve for KCL Strand Buildings

king's college london strand campus

Plans to demolish a row of five historic buildings on the Strand have been put on hold. Belonging to King’s College London, the structures were to be swept away and replaced by a modern block as part of KCL’s plan to expand the Strand Campus. But in the face of determined opposition by conservation groups including the Victorian Society, the college has shelved the plan, it has been announced.

London Historians warmly applauds this decision.

More on this story.

— 22 June 2015

Museum of London to Unveil Crime Objects for the First Time

Museum of London Crime

The Museum of London has announced a major exhibition starting in October which will display many objects from the Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum. This is the Met’s internal training museum, rarely accessible to the public, which means these artifacts will be seen by most people for the first time. Without resorting to sensationalism, the museum will place them in the personal context of the victims, the perpetrators and police investigators. Dr Crippen, the Krays and the Great Train Robbery will be among the dozens of cases featured.

More on this story.

— 5 June 2015

Developers Ordered to Re-build Illegally Demolished Pub

Westminster Council have ordered an Israeli property company to re-build brick-by-brick an attractive community pub in Maida Vale which they demolished without planning permission.
Locals were shocked when bulldozers moved in on 8 April and demolished most of the Carlton Tavern with unseemly haste it would seem, since the building still contained furniture and fittings. The public reacted with demonstrations at the site and an online petition demanding retribution from the council. CLTX’s appeal against refusal of consent is still pending.
More on this story

— 29 April 2015

Museum of London to Move to a New Home

The Museum of London has announced that it is to move premises to the derelict Smithfield General Market, recently subject of a controversial proposed redevelopment which was quashed at the eleventh hour by government minister Eric Pickles. The museum, which has been at its current London Wall home since 1976, is desperately short of space for both display and storage.

smithfield general market
Smithfield General Market today

The announcement was made last night at the Museum of London’s annual fundraising dinner. Director Sharon Ament explained that with massive growth of visitor numbers and increased pressure on curators and researchers alike, action was essential. It is expected that the plan will take until 2021 to implement.

Museum of London has created a special web site to elaborate on its plans for the future

— 27 March 2015

Last Porter's Rest in London Disappears

porter's rest, piccadilly
Picture: Peter Berthoud

The last porter’s rest on the streets of London has mysteriously disappeared from Piccadilly. Eagle-eyed Westminster Guide and London historian Peter Berthoud noticed that the structure was missing and raised the alarm on his blog and on social media. Yesterday evening it was picked up by the BBC News. He also started a petition to demand that Westminster Council return the Grade II-listed porter’s rest to its site. The council meanwhile are claiming to be unaware of the situation, that is to say that the outrage must have been perpetrated by another party. Developing…

More on this story.
Sign the petition.

— 27 March 2015

Heath Robinson Collection Saved

Thanks to more that £300K of grants a collection comprising over 400 William Heath Robinson drawings has been prevented from being sold off and potentially broken up. The images, whose future has been in doubt for several years, has been acquired by the William Heath Robinson Trust (WHRT), who will open a museum dedicated to the artist in 2016 in Pinner, the London suburb where he lived for many years.

w heath robinson
Golf club testing

The bulk of the funding came from The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) who gave a £250,000 grant to assist the purchase. The Art Fund chipped in and additional grant of £50,000 to make up the balance.

W Heath Robinson article on London Historians’ blog.
More on this story.

— 23 March 2015

Met Police display coming to Museum of London

Metropolitan Police Museum at Museum of London

The Museum of London has announced a forthcoming exhibition featuring objects from the Metropolitan Police’s so-called “Black Museum”, which normally has extremely restricted access to the likes of us. The Crime Museum Uncovered will reveal the secrets of the Crime Museum’s collection, created by serving police officers since its establishment in 1875. It will take visitors on a journey through some of the UK’s most notorious crimes, from Dr Crippen (1910) to the Krays (1969), the Great Train Robbery (1963) and the Millennium Dome diamond heist (2000).
More on this story.

— 19 March 2015

New Museum and Gallery to Open at 'Bedlam'

bedlam gallery and museum
‘Raving and Melancholy Madness’ by Cibber which adorned the second Bethlem hospital in Moorfields.

On 19 February, a new home for Bethlem Gallery and Museum of the Mind will open at the world’s oldest psychiatric institution, Bethlem Royal Hospital at Beckenham, south London. ‘Bedlam”, as the hospital became known in popular culture, has existed in various London sites since 1247. Displays will be filled with the personal stories – both historic and contemporary – of those who have experienced mental health difficulties and will explore the long, controversial and often misunderstood history of Bethlem. The Museum will house significant art and historical artefacts, almost all of which will be on display for the first time, as well as works by current artists and hospital service users. Among the highlights of the collections are paintings and drawings by Richard Dadd and others.
Entry to the new Gallery and Museum will be free.

— 11 February 2015

Help shape the future of the Parliamentary Archives, the oldest collection of its kind in the world.

The Parliamentary Archives contain four million records, including all acts of Parliament from 1497 onwards, and important historical documents such as the Death Warrant of Charles I.

Since 1860 the Parliamentary Archives have been housed in the Victoria Tower, part of the iconic Palace of Westminster. While this site provides an historic backdrop for the collections, space for research, exhibitions and tours is severely limited. In addition, the layout of the Tower makes collections storage both inefficient and cramped.

As the Palace looks to carry out significant and much-needed restoration work over the coming years, there is an opportunity for the Archives to consider finding a new home. This would reduce risk to the collections, allow more people to engage with the archives, and generate a deeper understanding of the work of Parliament in the past and today.

A survey is being carried out to help determine the most suitable location for a new archive centre. Your views will be very welcome, enabling them to make the best decision about the future of the Parliamentary Archives.

You do not need to have visited the Parliamentary Archives to complete this survey. You can participate here

— 5 February 2015

Freud, Cooper and Winehouse added to DNB

In the January 2015 update to the Dictionary of National Biography online, Lucien Freud, Sir Henry Cooper and Amy Winehouse are among the Londoners who have been included. The list:
Shirley Becke, the first woman commander at the Met
Brian Haw, anti-war campaigner
Mario Cassandro, restaurateur
Sir Henry Cooper, boxer
Lucian Freud, painter
Emanuel Litvinoff, author
Sir Simon Milton, leader of Westminster City Council and advisor to Boris Johnson as mayor
Jane Packer, florist
John Sullivan, scriptwriter and creator of Only Fools and Horses
Amy Winehouse, singer

There’s a page of highlights, together with a full list of new additions and an Introduction to the latest update. 152 of the new additions are recorded as having some connection with London; 56 were born in the capital; 79 were one-time residents.

Note that the DNB requires subscription access which is available for free at many public libraries and archives.

— 17 January 2015

Guildhall Art Gallery Reopens

Guildhall art gallery

The Guildhall Art Gallery has reopened following a £600K overhaul, its first since the new building was opened in 1999. The changes include new LED-based lighting for better control, and increased capacity. The biggest change, however, is a comprehensive rehang which sees the Victorian collection space on the upper floor populated with a 70% change of pieces selected and grouped in dychotomous themes. The London galleries downstairs have a much more considered focus on overlapping topography and chronology.

The Guildhall Art Gallery is open 7 days a week and is free.

— 15 January 2015

JMW Turner's Country House Granted Funds

sandycombe lodge turner's house

A house in Twickenham, designed and built by JMW Turner, has been granted £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards a complete restoration. Known as Sandycombe Lodge, the building was used as a country retreat by the artist and his father between 1813 and 1826. It was bequeathed to the nation by its last owner, Prof. Harold Livermore, who died in 2010. It is in the care of the Turner House Trust. The plan controversially includes the removal of the wings of the building which were added after Turner’s time. The work is expected to be complete in 2016.
More on this story
Turner House Trust

— 9 January 2015

Christina Broom Show for 2015

The Museum of London has announced an exhibition showcasing the work of Christina Broom (1862 – 1939) to start at their Docklands museum next June.

christina broom
1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, Christmas 1915

Broom, recognised as being the first woman press photographer, took over 40,000 images during her career from 1903 – 1939, many of them featuring WW1 soldiers and suffragettes, the twin foci of this exhibition wish will run from 19 June – 1 November 2015.

More Christina Broom photos

— 10 December 2014

Holden Masterpiece to become Luxury Flats

55 broadway

Transport for London has announced that its Charles-Holden designed Art Deco HQ is to become luxury flats.

TfL claims that turning the Grade I-listed 55 Broadway – a purpose-built 10 storey office block – into accommodation, will generate more revenue than keeping it as offices or making it into a hotel, which was the other plan being considered.

The scheme is opposed by heritage groups, chief of whom is the 20th Century Society.

TfL claims that its proposal delivers the best value for tax payers and customers.

More on this story.

— 7 November 2014

Hermione Hobhouse (1934 - 2014)

Hermione Hobhouse, a leading champion of London’s built heritage, has passed away at the age of 80. She was for many years a leading light of the Victorian Society and also the biographer of Thomas Cubitt. In addition, she wrote the acclaimed Lost London and was for over a decade the general editor of the Survey of London.

Obituary, Daily Telegraph

— 3 November 2014

Victorian Society cites Abney Park Chapel

abney park cemetery chapel

The Victorian Society has published this year’s list Ten Most Endangered Buildings. A notable London inclusion is the chapel of Abney Park Cemetery which is in great danger without urgent attention. Abney Park is one of London’s so-called “Magnificent Seven” public cemeteries built in the mid 19C and its Grade II-listed chapel is the oldest-surviving non-denominational building of its type in Europe. The Victorian Society urges Hackney Council and the Abney Park Trust urgently to work together to alleviate the danger facing the building.
More on this story

— 10 October 2014

Four Magna Cartas to be United

As part of the 800 year anniversary commemorations of Magna Carta (1215), all four original survivors of the ancient are to be on show together for the first time at the British Library next February. The Library, along with Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral will unite their copies of the ancient manuscript. However, the momentous occasion will bizarrely be for one day only, 3rd February. Members of the public wishing to see the display must enter a ballot.
More news and the public ballot.

— 9 October 2014

Thames Panorama Web Site Launched

panorama of the thames

After several years of preparation and hard work, the Panorama of the Thames web site has gone live. It is based on the now fully digitised 60 ft painting of the banks of the Thames, created in 1829. The Leigh Panorama as it is commonly known, features 15 miles of both banks of the river from Richmond to Westminster. By far a more ambitious adjunct to the project has been the addition of modern photographic equivalents of the same stretches of water but from Hampton Court all the way to Tower Bridge.
Panorama of the Thames.

— 29 September 2014

Adrian Tinniswood Delivers Inaugural Lecture

adrian tinniswood

Author, historian and architectural expert Adrian Tinniswood OBE, last night delivered London Historians’ Inaugural Annual Lecture at Gresham College’s ancient Barnard’s Inn Hall in Holborn. Addressing a full house, Tinniswood’s talk was titled Christopher Wren: Extraordinary Genius in which he threw light on the former Gresham College Professor’s scientific achievements in astronomy and medicine and not just architecture. The talk was recorded and has been uploaded to YouTube where it can be viewed here

— 5 September 2014

Transformed Imperial War Museum Re-Opens

Imperial War Museum
Image: Imperial War Museum

As part of the World War One Centenary, the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth will reopen on Saturday 19 July after a major transformation. The main change is the addition of the First World War Galleries which tell the story of the experience of the war by both the combatants and those on the home front. The re-opening will also see the start of a major art exhibition: Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War which runs until March 2015. Imperial War Museum is free admission.
More Information.

— 17 July 2014

Artillery Museum in Woolwich to Close

royal artillery museum, firepower, woolwich

Firepower, our oldest military museum, is to close at the end of 2016, in a move which allows Woolwich council to squeeze a more attractive return from the site. A statement, issued by the Royal Artillery Museum Board on 26 May, stated that the root of the problem is “the Museum will be unable to live within the available income and it is also clear that the location is very unlikely to be able to deliver the number of visitors in the timescale needed for financial sustainability.” It went on to say that a new home will be identified locally to house some of the collection. The staff of the museum are unable to comment. A petition to save the museum has been set up here.

— 4 June 2014

Pitzhanger Manor Awarded Lottery Grant

pitshanger manor, ealing

Pitzhanger Manor, once the Ealing “country house” of architect Sir John Soane, has won a £4.42 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a total restoration of the Grade I-listed building. Soane designed the building himself on the site of a house built by his mentor George Dance the Younger, a wing of which remains intact. It was used by the architect’s family in the first decade of the 19C as a weekend retreat from his city residence in Lincolns Inn Fields, now the Soane Museum.

The work will commence in January 2015 until 2018, so do visit the property this year while you can. Entrance is free.

More on this story.

— 3 June 2014