London meandering

24 January 2016
Ben Pentreath

We had such a nice day, on a walk we must have done fifty times but where you always discover something new. I’d been completely laid out this week… not quite sure by what, but there’s nothing like spending 3 days in bed and sleeping for 11 hours a night to put one on the mend.  (oh, and watching back to back War and Peace).  Anyway at the end of three days I was itching to get out and about.

So we set out in to what was a curiously springlike day.  I love coming across random sights like this in London, in a corner of Red Lion Square.

William Morris once lived in the tall Georgian house on the south side of the square.
P1070056 P1070057

Wide, spacious, Bedford Row:

I’m in favour of bits like this. Here we are in the heart of legal London, and there’s a lovely shabby run down feel about the place that makes one think we should be in the 70s.  That’s Bloomsbury (and why I like living here).P1070063

On Chancery Lane, what I think is the back of the Stone Buildings at Lincoln’s Inn. Perfect.P1070065

Lawyers wear Hoodies, it seems.P1070068

And this must be an ad for local drag queens:P1070069

We hit the Strand and found filming going on at the Royal Courts of Justice.  All a bit weird.  All the actors were dressed for the early 80s.P1070070

The Chinese Gentlemen at the Twinings Store opposite watched quizzically:P1070071

I’ve never really stopped to look at this incredible bell tower at the church of St. Dunstan-in-the-West. P1070074Reading a little, on the church’s website, it turns out that the clock was installed in 1671 and was the first public clock in London to have a minute hand.

Next door is this lovely facade:


Opposite, the site of the Mitre Tavern, Fleet Street.  I didn’t know anything about the Mitre Tavern at ALL.  There is a wonderfully illuminating website I discovered here…. which reveals that the Mitre was Dr. Johnson’s favourite supper-house in London. Who knew?

Behind is beautiful and serene Mitre Court.P1070080

A little further down the street, these crazy gables, P1070084

Next door to the austere deco of the former Daily Telegraph building:P1070085

Just across the street, the beautiful vault of St. Brides,

Which turns out to have been largely reconstructed after the war, but beautifully done.

Coming out of the church we caught the corner of the glossy Art Deco Express building, one of my favourite buildings on the street. Still completely modern, in its way.P1070095

The back of St. Brides:P1070098

And rounding the corner, a few minutes walk up Fleet Street, the serene facade of St. Paul’s, which as you know features from time to time on the blog…P1070102 P1070103 P1070105 P1070106

How many people can you fit in a phone box for a selfie?P1070109

My friend Francis Terry has written about Wren’s beautiful capitals and the enrichment of the carved moulding, and the depth of the shadows that Wren achieved on the scrolls… P1070111

Tucked around the corner, we found a building I don’t think I’d ever seen before; the Old Deanery. Really perfect.P1070114

We were on route to the Tate. That really was the purpose of the whole walk – we were just popping in to see the Calder exhibition (which is brilliant).P1070119

It suddenly struck me how dull this view of London is from the Millennium bridge, how low, and flat. Interesting. What’s that all about? Should the skyline campaign start campaigning to do something here. I  genuinely felt it needs it.P1070121 P1070122 P1070127

London is always a sea of cranes, but we felt it very much on this walk. They are beautiful in their way… often more so than what emerges.P1070131 P1070132 P1070133 P1070134

Rounding the back of the Tate, the extraordinary emerging extension by Herzog & de Meuron, which is encased in a delicate lace veneer of beautiful scaffolding.  Crazy. I don’t think I’d seen anything like it.P1070141 P1070142 P1070144 Underneath the scaffold you can see the facade of pierced brick.  It looks wonderful. My friend Chris Stocks idly wondered the other day – “I’m sure they’ve thought of keeping the pigeons off”…. although it does look like the dream pigeon roost of all time.

And then we caught the 17 bus home and settled into a guinness and pub lunch at the Ottoline, and wandered back to Queen Square in the encroaching grey afternoon of a late January Sunday in London.

13 comments on this post


another riveting post Ben; thank you!

gosh wondered where you went… the rss feed must have changed.. i had to re add you back to Feedly.

just caught up on the last four posts… glorious. if i ever get to london i will have so many wonderful things to look for from your posts!

sorry you were poorly..


Just shows what a variety of architecture and detail London has in a relatively small area. Whatever could catch the eye at the other end of the Millennium Bridge would have to match up to St Paul’s on every level, and I’m not sure what contemporary architectural practice could manage that, even if permission were granted. Many thanks for another fascinating tour. That Art Deco Express building is smart. Has it been washed recently?! Best, Nicola

Gisela Barringtonsays:

Thank you so much for taking me on this inspiring walk through parts of london from the comfort of my recamiere……

Hard to think of a better way to be ill than gorging on War & Peace, just so dreamy! Glad you made it out for a lovely walk round the Strand etc, so many buildings I’ve never seen before. Thank you!


Aha! The canoes spotted atop a Landcover in RL Square belong to the 8th Holborn Scouts and Guides – presumably moored by our esteemed local cllr and most excellent Scoutmaster, Mr. Julian Fulbrook, outside his home. Dib dib dib!


A friend is working on the Tate extension and I asked them about the potential problem with pigeons and was told, somewhat tongue in cheek, though the essential info is true: ‘on the enlightening advice of a specialist pigeon consultant, the brick laying craftsmen have also installed profile wire with the brickwork to dissuade the Southwark pigeon community from laying roost. . . the wires are conveniently camouflaged colour black for the enjoyment of invisible observations and deflection of aesthetic criticism’.


Many thanks for the wonderful pix – especially those of my old stamping ground around the Law Courts and Fleet Street. I worked at at the Public Record Office, (now at Kew, as the National Archives) which was housed in a crazy wedding cake of a building in Chancery Lane. Happy memories!


I love walking in London looking up, rather than down at the pavement. There is so much to see above street level. I’m not sure I agree with you about the need for something on the skyline however. Aesthetically, maybe; but one of the things I love about London is how low-rise it is (although becoming less so.) The trouble with tall buildings is that they create mournful shadows in the streets below and, while providing a focal point from a distance, they inevitably block other views elsewhere. Tricky one.

Lovely tour this morning, thank you for sharing. I share your friends concern re: pigeons…


I love your London walks. So pleased you have recovered and are ambulant! Good home nursing I remember Red Lion Square, wish we were there in good old Blighty. Scott.

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