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It's been a busy year for Footnotes. We've had the pleasure of launching our first two guest walks – Fitzrovia, by Dave Head and Dickens and the Law – 'Bleak House', by Patrick Knox. We also embarked on a blog. This hit stride during the Olympics when we decided to link the Games alphabetically to Footnotes audio walks, posting on average every second day – a marathon from A for Archery to Z for Zaha Hadid, architect of the Aquatic Centre (both linked to Clerkenwell & Lower Islington). With the blog – an invaluable outlet for footnotes on Footnotes – came twitter and Facebook.
We feel we've earned our Christmas break but we hope that you'll decide to work off some of the se...
Maggs Bros Ltd is a firm selling antiquarian books which has existed since 1853. The 'shop' is at 50 Berkeley Square and features on the South Mayfair audio walk. It is not the sort of shop you would wander into idly, although I am sure the staff would be welcoming. Beyond the entrance, where you can see an autograph letter appointing the firm as antiquarian booksellers to King Manuel II of Portugal (1889-1932), you have to ring a bell to get in, and you might feel a little inhibited if you did not have buying antiquarian books in mind, but just wanted to see the inside of this Georgian Mayfair house, lined with bookcases full of old books and other treasures.
But until 21 December...
At our feet they lie low,
The little fervent underground
Rivers of London
Effra, Graveney, Falcon, Quaggy,
Wandle, Walbrook, Tyburn, Fleet
Whose names are disfigured,
These are the Magogs that chewed the clay
To the basin that London nestles in.
These are the currents that chiselled the city,
That washed the clothes and turned the mills,
Where children drank and salmon swam
And wells were holy.
They have gone under.
Boxed, like the magician's assistant.
Buried alive in earth.
Forgotten like the dead.
This poem by U.A. ...
Do add the Temple Church to the end of the 'Bleak House' walk, but be careful at the weekend, otherwise you risk becoming lost as I did today. Trying to find my way out of the Inner and Middle Temple, having slipped in through a door on Fleet Street as someone came out, I bumped into another wanderer, who was equally lost. 'There's the river', he said helpfully, and I eventually escaped onto the Embankment.
But it was well worth putting up with that bit of disorientation to see inside the church. The older part, The Round, was built by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century, the chancel was added in 1240. The Round is modelled on the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusal...
We try to base Footnotes walks on facts. We started creating them because we wanted answers to basic questions. Yet on virtually every walk fiction creeps in – 'Nancy's steps' in Borough, Oliver caught for stealing a handkerchief in Clerkenwell, Sherlock Holmes suggesting to Watson 'I think something nutritious at Simpson's would not be out of place', on Strand, and so on, and this year we have even gone so far as to devote an entire audio walk to a novel, 'Bleak House', created for Footnotes Audio Walks by actor and Dickens enthusiast Patrick Knox. Bleak House is the perfect guide to Legal London, as accurate as it is entertaining. Perhaps we could have based other walks entirely on no...
A few weeks ago we blogged about the diarist John Evelyn discovering Grinling Gibbons in Deptford and launching him on his career. I also like the story of the 6th Duke of Devonshire being so impressed by young Joseph Caxton (designer of the Crystal Palace) when he was working as a gardener at Chiswick House that he offered him the job of head gardener at Chatsworth, at the age of 20.
In Footnotes Audio walks there are, as yet, no historic encounters of such significance, but on several walks interesting paths cross: the Edwardian Courtesan, Catherine Walters, known as 'Skittles' living opposite Florence Nightingale in South Street, Mayfair – did either know of the other's existen...
In Craig Taylor's wonderful book 'Londoners' he interviews a civil engineer called Nick Tyler whose job is, he says, to think of extraordinary things, particularly in relation to transport in London. He talks quite a lot about the need to make walking in London easier. Walking gives you a personal relationship with the buildings around you, because you can stop. And stopping is to be encouraged, particularly if it involves looking up. He quotes John Betjeman as saying that we should look up.
Well, we entirely agree with him. Much of the pleasure from Footnotes walks comes from stopping in a street which may seem familiar or ordinary or even dull and raising your eyes to what there...
The last two blogs have talked about buildings well worth visiting which for various reasons have not made it onto a walk.
This one is about another Footnotes dilemma. What do you do about buildings that are no longer there? How much history and description of long vanished places can anyone be interested in?
The Victoria walk talks about the Turkish Baths for horses which used to be above the Underground station but which were removed to make way for the railway. Later it takes you past the site of a prison, which was demolished and the site used for building Westminster cathedral. It even goes into the detail of the uniform prisoners wore. And the Vauxhall walk talks at so...
St Nicholas in Deptford rounds off the trinity of churches covered in our recent blogs. Unlike the previous two it does not even have a nearby Footnotes walk to which it might be attached, although we have explored Deptford many times and would very much like to create an audio walk there some day.
I visited the church last Saturday, having failed to find it open on several previous visits. I arrived in time for morning coffee which was posted on the internet as the only time the church was open, apart from Sunday services. Two kindly gardeners, husband and wife, arrived by bicycle the same time as I did and said they thought that coffee had been cancelled. Seeing my distress, the w...
Following on from last week's posting about the frustration of gems discovered too late for inclusion in a walk, there's also the frustration of the gem that we feel we must exclude for some reason - length, a detour too many, information overload. A little of all three were behind the omission of a gem at the beginning of the Footnotes Chelsea audio walk – Holy Trinity church at the bottom of Sloane Street, which would only have involved a mini detour before we sent you off towards Peter Jones.
Holy Trinity was designed by John Dando Sedding, a leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement and is agreed to be the outstanding Arts and Crafts church in London. What first strikes you is the...