Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lancaster Gate

Lancaster Gate station on the Central line was first opened in 1900 but that building was demolished and a new surface building was constructed in 1968 as part of a new office block development but was converted to a hotel shortly afterwards.  Arriving at the station you have a choice of walking up 78 steps or getting the lift as there are no escalators here. Fortunately the lifts were renovated in 2006 making them far more efficient.
Strange that the station is called Lancaster Gate as it is actually opposite Marlborough Gate. The Lancaster gate entrance into Kensington Gardens is about 300m away.

You enter the park close to the Italian Gardens. The gardens were restored in 2011 as part of a programme of works entitled Tiffany-Across the Water which focused on the restoration and renewal of water features across the 5000 acres of London's eight Royal Parks. The work was funded by The Tiffany & Co Foundation in New York.

I walked through the gardens and then continued along the path by the side of Long Water.

Cormorants taking a rest. Kensington Gardens used to be the private gardens of Kensington Palace and Long Water refers to the long and narrow western half of the Serpentine lake. The Serpentine Bridge marks the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

This is the bronze Peter Pan statue sculpted by Sir George Frampton and placed here in 1912. Sir James barrie who wrote the play 'Peter Pan' lived closed to the gardens and would walk here regularly. It was here that he met the Llewelyn boys out with their nursemaid who became the inspiration for the Lost boys in the story. Barrie commissioned the statue himself and arranged to have it erected overnight, 'as if by magic'.


This drinking fountain was presented to the park by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough association to mark its 80th anniversary in 1939. Set up in London in 1859 its aim was to provide free, clean drinking water to the people of London.

A rather less well known feature of the park is the Pets cemetery. It is noted on maps of the park but not visible from any of the pathways.

The only way to actually see it is to go back out onto Bayswater Road and look through the railings as it is well hidden behind the herbaceous borders and dense undergrowth. These were not the pets of your everyday mortal but those of the rich. The cemetery was founded in 1880 by George the Duke of Cambridge who asked the gatekeeper to find a suitable burial spot for his wife's favourite dog. The cemetery was closed  in 1915 as there were now over 300 pets buried there.

Across the road from the park is The Swan pub. Licensed premises on this site can be traced back 300 years.  The sign outside the pub claims that this was one of the final  drinking places for those being carted to the Tyburn gallows at Marble Arch (More info in my previous post here). It is said that the phrases 'one for the road' and 'on the wagon' date back to the practice of the local jailer stopping and requesting one last beer for prisoners.

 Behind Bayswater Road is Lancaster Gate Square, a good example of a mid Victorian London development. The Grade II listed terraces have classical porticoes and colonnaded balconies.

Christ Church built in 1854-55 survived WW2 but suffered from fungal decay and was demolished in 1977, leaving the tower and the 205 ft spire. The tower and spire are Grade II listed so I am surprised that a modern development adjoining the church was given planning permission as it neither fits in with the Gothic architecture of the church nor the Victorian terraced housing in the square.

The Christ Church war memorial is unusual with its gilded crucifix on top of a tabernacle. There are eight niches within the tabernacle to house statues of St George of England, St Louis of France amongst other warrior saints.

There are so many roads with these grand Victorian terraced housing often in squares surrounding a private garden. I also came across a number of Mews.

I also came across a number of Mews.
These cobbled cul-de-sacs were once stables for the horses and carriages needed to transport the ladies and gentlemen of the area. Now the majority have been converted into desirable homes for the wealthy.

Bathurst Mews still has a stable block providing horses for you to hire and ride in Hyde Park.

Walking back to Lancaster Gate station I went down Craven Terrace which had a few independent shops.

My attention was drawn to this shop, a grooming parlour for cats and dogs. Looking in the window I couldn't quite believe that people would buy these outfits for their pets.

Just around the corner from the station on  Clarendon Place is the former home of  Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. An English architecture best known for his work on Liverpool Cathedral, Battersea Power station, Waterloo Bridge and of course the iconic red telephone box. He designed and lived in this house from 1926-1960

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Marble Arch

Can't believe I'm visiting the  32nd station on the Central Line already. The Central line has 49 stations almost double the number on the Bakerloo line which took me 18 months to complete.

This photo shows all the  stations I have visited on the Eastbound side with the remainder still to visit on the Westbound route.

Exiting the tube train you are greeted with decorative enamel panels based on an arch. Designed by Annabel Grey they were fitted in 1985. This is the best I could do as I couldn't step back any further to take a photo of the whole design without falling onto the track.

There are three exits from the station, the main one exiting next to a major road junction of Oxford Street,  Park Lane, Bayswater Road and Edgware Road

Of course the station is named after Marble Arch. Made from white marble the arch was designed by John Nash in 1827. It was built to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace but with Queen Victoria's large family the Palace needed to be extended and the Arch was dismantled and relocated as a ceremonial entrance to Hyde Park. When Park Lane was widened in 1960-64 it left Marble Arch stranded as a traffic island.

The bronze gates to the Arch showing the lion of England, the cypher of George IV and the figure of St George and the dragon.

In the middle of this traffic island at the corner of Edgware Road and Bayswater Road lies the site of the Tyburn tree gallows.

A plaque in the paving stones marks the site of the gallows. Between 1196 and 1783 criminals, religious martyrs and political prisoners were executed here. They were brought be cart from the prisons mainly Newgate (now the Old Bailey) along Tyburn Street which is now Oxford Street. It is estimated that 50,000 prisoners were hanged here. Hanging days became public holidays and crowds of up to 200,000 gathered here to witness the event. Eventually the tree was replaced by moveable gallows when a toll-house was built on the site. By around 1780 Oxford Street was fully built up as a residential area and the last public execution took place at Tyburn in 1783.
A little further along Bayswater Road is the Tyburn Convent. From 1535 to 1681, 105 Catholics were hanged on the Tyburn Tree Gallows. The convent was founded here in 1901 and has relics of bones and clothing from the Tyburn Martyrs  in the crypt. The convent houses a cloistered community whose main occupation is prayer. There is always a nun praying in the chapel. The public may also worship there during certain times of the day but behind a grill, out of sight. I went into the chapel but felt it disrespectful to take a photo of the nun praying at the altar. Sitting in the silent chapel I was surprised by the rumbling of the Central Line tube trains travelling below the convent.

Walking by Marble Arch you cannot miss the large drinking horse sculpture by Nic Fiddian Green
I crossed over into Hyde Park. Here in the North East corner of the park is Speakers' Corner. In 1855 a large number of protest meetings were held in Hyde park. In 1872 the right to free assembly was recognised. Since then anyone has had the right to say what they like at Speakers' Corner provided they do not break the law.

I exited the park onto Park Lane to visit the Animals in War Memorial which is located on an island in the middle of the road. It is a powerful and moving tribute to all the animals that served, suffered and died alongside the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces in the wars and conflicts of the 20th cent. Some eight million horses, mules and donkeys died in the First World War.

Crossing Park Lane I went down Brook Street and walked through these back streets which are just a couple of minutes walk from Oxford Street. Once the homes of the rich and wealthy, nowadays many of them are owned by companies, embassies or split into apartments. I meandered through the streets and although the traffic was heavy there were very few pedestrians. The only people I saw were builders working on conversions and renovations.

I walked back to Marble Arch station and used the pedestrian subway to cross the busy Bayswater Road.
These 1962 mosaics which combine traditional and experimental mosaic techniques, brighten up an otherwise very dull passageway

Back at Marble Arch I walked passed Cumberland Gate and the Lodge. For about 100 years from 1851 it  was  a Public Convenience (toilet) on Park Lane but then the building was moved here on North Carriage Drive by Cumberland gate. I believe it is now used as a home for the assistant park manager.

Just through Cumberland Gate inside Hyde Park is this futuristic drinking fountain. Made from stainless steel it has four drinking fountains at different levels.Unveiled in 2009, it was the first drinking fountain in Hyde Park for 30 years. It was donated to the park from the developer Michael Freeman who is a regular jogger in the park. The idea of the fountain is to encourage more drinking from the fountain and less from plastic water bottles.

Leaving the park I walked along the Bayswater Road and noticed the plaque outside this building.

I turned onto Albion Street passing the Mews There are numerous Mews in this area. The Mews were the stable blocks for the numerous wealthy families that lived in this affluent area. Now the Mes have been converted into homes.
I walked round the corner onto Connaught Street. This road refers to itself as Connaught Village and to be fair it does have  lots of individual shops, eating places and numerous hanging baskets overladen with flowers giving the area a villagy feel.

This is Connaught Square. Like so many other garden squares, the garden is reserved for residents only. I walked round the Square looking for places of interest and noticed that one of the houses had two armed police on duty outside. I assumed this was a consulate building or such like but as there was no plaque outside I was intrigued. I was not foolish enough to stop and photograph the building but made a mental note of the address to search online. I discovered that it is the family home of the ex Prime Minister Tony Blair.

I crossed over Edgware Road onto Upper Berkeley Street

You will find restaurants from around the world here.

This is the West London Synagogue on Upper Berkeley Street. It is a Reform synagogue and is one of the oldest synagogues in the United Kingdom.

Turning onto Seymour Place you find The Carpenters Arms, established in 1776 and rebuilt in 1872. This traditional pub is also home to the London branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).

From an artisan bakery to a Lindy Hop dance club, this road very close to Oxford Street is devoid of tourists yet full of interesting shops and eateries.

Back towards Marble Arch  I passed the large Neo- Gothic church of the Annunciation.