Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry 30:08:09

A bumper edition of The Gallimaufry for a Bumper Week in London Then and London Now…

London Walks on Twitter!

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Ho Ho Ho (Yes! Already!)

In a break with tradition, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre down on Bankside will open over Christmas this year to welcome Footsbarn Theatre Company and their production Christmas Cracker. Booking is now open for the show, which runs from 22nd December 2009 to 3rd January 2010. See London Links, right.

Shakespeare’s Globe, however, will be closed on Christmas Day. Unlike London Walks , where it will be business as (almost) usual.

Click this FESTIVE LINK for details of the special Christmas Day London Walks.

Sherlock Holmes Saves the Nation!

Movie magazines Empire and Total Film both have outstanding features on the forthcoming Sherlock Holmes movie in their newsstand issues this month. Regular LW Blog Followers will already know that we’ve been keeping abreast of gossip regarding the movie – see earlier post HERE. A privileged few London Walkers will also know that we interrupted the filming of the movie in St Bartholomew’s Churchyard, Smithfield a few months back when Richard III gatecrashed their location – which happened to be in the way of his Ghosts of the Old City walk. (Nothing, not even Hollywood, stops London Walks!)

On the 12th September there’s a special Sherlock Holmes London Walk, Sherlock Holmes Saves the Nation, meeting at Green Park Station (Ritz Exit) at 10.45a.m. The regular Sherlock Holmes London Walk meets every Friday at Embankment Station at 2.00p.m.

First Past the Post

With the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games 2012 almost exactly three years away, the Royal Mail will issue the first in a series of three sets of ten commemorative stamps. They'll be available at all Post Office outlets from October. (The next Going for Gold in the East London Walk takes place on 27th September.)

(Keep an eye out here for further instalments of our Stars of the London Olympics series and on our Facebook page for regular Olympic News updates.)


The new Mini Coupe Concept, celebrating 50 years of a British motoring and design classic, was unveiled last Friday… in the very same week as the immortal words “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” rung out in the Crystal Palace air once more.

Michael Caine’s famous line from the movie The Italian Job (in which he starred opposite Noel Coward, Benny Hill and several Minis) was the punchline to a scene shot at Crystal Palace Park, and London Walks guide Adam did his best to replicate it (struggling manfully against his native Scottish brogue) last Sunday.

The Crystal Palace Walk is due to go again next year (that's Crystal Palace Park, above, in all its summer pomp) – when the new leaflet for the Winter Season is finalised, we’ll give you a “heads up” right here on the LW Blog. (The official website of the Mini is at

The Ministry of Truth

A last-minute movie tip… Monday night at the NFT (31st August at 8.40p.m), you can catch the great Richard Burton in his final filmed performance, as the chilling O'Brien in the big screen version of George Orwell’s 1984. (See the building that inspired his Ministry of Truth on the Old University Quarter Walk this and every Friday at 2.00p.m. Keep an eye out for our George Orwell walks, too)

This Week in London History #1

That David: he’s been rummaging in the darkest corners of the library at London Walks Towers again. Here he is…

"It's September 4th, 1733. We're in the Tower of London. Looking forlornly down at a corpse. A very special corpse: that of the first lionness in Britain. She's just gone to the great savannah in the sky. Old age did for her. It's not desperately sad, though. She whelped litter after litter of cubs. Year in and year out. And got along famously with her human charge: the Keeper of the Lion Office. (And you were wondering why one of the towers in the Tower of London is known as the Lion Tower!)

Okay, now fast forward to 1962. You're up our way, in the self-same manor as London Walks Towers. On Abbey Road, in St. John's Wood. In the famous EMI studios. And sure enough, there they are: those Mop Tops from Liverpool. Starting their recording session at the studio they'll forever be associated with.

(All those passengers wishing to alight at 1733, we do a weekly ‘special’ walk in the Tower of London. Check out The Mothership for full details. Beatlemaniacs should head for Richard P's Beatles London Walks.)"

Thanks, David! ('e's got more where that came from: come back soon for more from the archives of London history…)

This Week in London History # 2

London history is world history. The 3rd September 1939, seventy years ago this week, saw the commencement of the Second World War. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s famous and grave broadcast to the nation, announcing that "this country is now at war with Germany," launched a million-and-one London Stories.

Of those million-and-one tales, how’s this for a topical reference:

Seventy years ago this month the United States Ambassador to the Court of St James, Joseph P. Kennedy sent his children back from London to the United States to ensure their safety – among them the youngest of his nine-strong brood, the chubby, exuberant 7-year-old Teddy.

Edward Moore Kennedy
22nd February 1932 – 25th August 2009

Coming soon…

Highlights of the Winter Leaflet… and MORE London Walks Movies (rumour has it that the long-awaited screen debut of London Walks stalwart Tom is almost upon us: he's been ready for his close-up down British Museum way, so they say…)

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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Remembrance of London Things Past…

Lance Pearson looks back and asks…

“What is your earliest memory? Some bleary image from your childhood? Some favourite toy, or place, or person? If you tried to write down what it was, would it sound anything like this?

Red cliffs arise. And up them service lifts
Soar with groceries to silver heights.
Lissenden Mansions. And my memory sifts
Lilies from lily-like electric lights
And Irish stew smells from the smell of prams
And roar of seas from roar of London trams.

Out of it all my memory carves the quiet
Of that dark privet hedge where pleasures breed,
There first, intent upon its leafy diet,
I watched the looping caterpillar feed
And saw it hanging in a gummy froth
Till, weeks on, from the chrysalis burst the moth.

Probably not! But that is one of John Betjeman’s earliest memories as he describes his upbringing in Highgate in the poem N.W.5 and N.6. To hear more of Betjeman’s poems, come along on Lance Pearson's Poetry in Motion tours – dates will be announced at


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

… and Pulled out a Plum!

A definition…

adjective informal
a plum job excellent, very good, wonderful, marvellous, choice, first-class

Talking of which, here’s that Ann, limbering up for another Foodie Extravaganza

“Late summer, the season for plums: plum tart, plum crumble, brandy, jam, wine, sauce, cake- but not pudding (here, plums mean raisins). So why not buy a local London plum? The Victoria, pink, golden and sweet, just right for eating, was introduced by Mr. Denyer, a nurseryman in Brixton in 1840.

Presumably the Victoria was named after the young Queen – just as Czar (purple skin, yellow flesh) was named after a trip to Britain by the Russian Czar in 1871. Marjorie’s Seedling (blue black skin) was named after someone closer to home – the nurseryman’s wife, Marjorie.

Not only are plums nice to eat – they have other virtues, as outlined in the Great Herbal printed in Southwark in 1526 by Peter Treveris: ‘Plomes; They have vertue to smothe and polyshe y bowelles.'"


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Plaque of the Week No.1

The first in our new series…

Commemorating: “An International Incident” from 1850
Street: Park Street
Postcode: SE1
Borough: Southwark

Many a North London wag and wit has, down through the years, had fun with this plaque. “Only in South London,” they joke unkindly, “would they commemorate a punch-up with a plaque!”

The punch-up in question is referred to on the plaque itself (in Park Street, SE1) as an “International Incident”: international it was in that the recipient of the fisticuffs was the Austrian General Julius Jacob von Haynau (illustrated above), at the hands of two employees of the Barclay & Perkins Brewery. G.K Chesterton describes the incident thus:

“When an Austrian general who had flogged women in the conquered provinces appeared in the London streets, some common draymen off a cart behaved with the direct quixotry of Sir Lancelot or Sir Galahad. He had beaten women and they beat him."

Keep an eagle eye out for this plaque on and around the route of the Along the Thames Pub Walk.

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Monday, 24 August 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry 23:08:09

“The chances of anything manlike on Mars are a million to one,” he said.*


There he is! He’s Alphonse, the London Walks maître d' and his appearance can mean only one thing: Ann’s back with another of her London Walks foodie extravaganzas. This Saturday she’ll be waiting for you at Monument Station at 10.00a.m on Saturday the 29th August for her Epicurean, Gourmets', Foodies' London. Come back later in the week when she’ll be serving up her customary amuse-bouche here on the LW Blog.

Pictures of Lily (and Pete and Roger)

Greatest London rock group of all time? Now there’s a debate. Surely no shortlist would be complete without the name of Acton’s finest, The Who. Proud Central Gallery at 32 John Adam Street WC2 is presenting an exhibition of Townsend, Daltrey, Entwistle and Moon in all their 60’s pop art pomp. It opens on 24th September and runs to 15th November. (Keep an eye out at The Mothership for the Baroque to Rock Musical London Walk.)

(The pic is from the Deluxe Edition two-disc set of The Who’s debut album My Generation on the MCA label, available at all good record shops.)

The Truth is Out There

That respected north London institution the Hampstead and Highgate Express (known affectionally as the Ham & High) is not usually known as a journal of the sensational or the outré. But how’s this for a Silly Season headline:

UFO Spotted on Hampstead Heath

Read the story HERE and look for yourself on THIS WALK.

Pick of the Pics

This from Amy, taken on an Along the Thames walk last week. It was taken on the route of the walk, looking back over the River to St Paul’s from the opening to the man-made chasm that is Clink Street.

(Amy was part of a group that had made a booking for a private tour with London Walks. You can do the same by contacting Mary, Noel or Fiona over at the website

Thanks Amy. Keep those pics (and stories, etc) coming to the usual address.

* Our strapline this week – “The chances of anything manlike on Mars are a million to one,” he said – comes from H.G Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898). Hear all about it on Ed’s Picturesque Primrose Hill Pub Walk.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Parklife (Victorian Style)

Here’s London Walks guide Adam on his Crystal Palace Walk (taking place this Sunday 23rd August at 2.30p.m, Crystal Palace Park, meeting at Crystal Palace Station)…

“This Sunday sees the return of the special Crystal Palace Walk, a London Walk fairly teeming with names that graced the BBC’s list of 100 Greatest Britons. We’ll hear from Churchill, Queen Victoria, David Bowie and John Logie Baird – to name but four.

We’ll also hear of John Markham.

The name of John Markham does not appear anywhere in the aforementioned 100 Great Britons list. It is doubtful that it would even have featured in a list of 500 Greatest Britons. But he remains a local hero in Crystal Palace, and his legend is preserved on a plaque outside the Paxton Arms. For it was here that Mr Markham was enjoying a quiet pint on a summer’s night in 1944 when a V1 rocket gatecrashed the party.

Mr Markham, one of the countless unsung war heroes, helped to dig out survivors. But only, according to local legend, after he’d taken a moment to finish his pint first.

The damage to the pub was, of course, extensive and the refurbished hostelry didn’t re-open its doors until the 28th December 1955 – 11 years, one new monarch and three Prime Ministers later. The brewery took care to ensure that Mr Markham was the recipient of the first pint to be pulled in the new boozer. I like to picture him crooking his arm, holding his ale aloft and murmuring, “Now where was I before I was so rudely interrupted.”


(Follow these links to earlier LW Blog posts about the Crystal Palace Fire and Crystal Palace and the F.A Cup Final.)

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