The Whittington hospital has a new aspect - or an old aspect revealed. The demolition of an undistinguished building on the east side of Dartmouth Park Hill (I think a nurses' home) has revealed once again the full magnificence of the building at the heart of the Whittington estate.
So here in its majesty - well, it's a pity about the fire escape - is the west facing side of the Smallpox and Vaccination hospital. It's the oldest part of what is now the Whittington and was built over 1848-1850.
Grand as this Italianate facade is, this is not the front of the building. That's the south facing side, complete with portico, clock and inscription.
It is so much more stylish than modern hospitals, don't you think?
By the end of the nineteenth century, a new smallpox hospital has been built, and the old smallpox hospital became the administration block for the adjoining Islington workhouse infirmary (which is also part of the Whittington these days).
What is now the Whittington combines three former workhouse infirmaries. On the east side of Highgate Hill there's what the was the Holborn and Finsbury infirmary. And on the left side of Dartmouth Park Hill is the St Pancras infirmary, now a mental health centre, altogether more distinguished and dating from the late 1860s. Some clearing of trees and shrubs in Waterlow Park, plus the weight of the snow on the branches, offers just at the moment a marvellous view of what was the imposing administration block of St Pancras infirmary.
And below is what this western section of the Whittington once looked like - taken from the Camden History Society's excellent Streets of Highgate.
Not one of the oldest churches in and around Hornsey - not one of the biggest - not one of the prettiest ... but there is a charm about Hornsey Moravian Church, don't you think?
The building dates back to 1908, and according to Pevsner it is 'distinguished by an attractive octagonal corner turret with a spire'. And this is certainly the stand-out aspect of the architecture.
The Moravians are one of the oldest Protestant churches, dating back to the fifteenth century, and perhaps best known for their symbol of the Lamb of God.
They are also one of the smaller churches with perhaps a million members worldwide, mainly in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America.
There are around 20,000 Moravians in Europe - and a thousand or more are in the UK in about thirty congregations (including the Chelsea church and burial ground which I have blogged about before).
The Hornsey church seems to house the headquarters of the church in Britain. The Hornsey Moravians have a good website, and have posted online a comprehensive history of their church, from which this photograph of its opening in 1908 is taken:
The Moravian Messenger reported the plans for the construction of the church as follows:
'Various sites in North London suburbs were examined by the Committee, and it was decided to recommend a plot of ground on Priory Road, Hornsey, at the foot of Muswell Hill. ... The district is a new one, few of the houses in it being more than ten years old. While to all intents and purposes the site is on the main road, it is separated from it by a public garden which runs along the Priory Road to Hornsey. This ensures a certain amount of privacy, and will also prevent the noise of the electric cars causing annoyance during services. ... Ours will be the first Free Church in the field. Trams to various parts pass the site, and several G.N.R. Stations are within a short distance. The people belong almost entirely to the middle class and the wish, so often expressed, that efforts be made to reach the middle classes, will have a chance of fulfilment.'
I feel an affinity with the Moravians because I am part of the 0.01% of the population - actually, that's probably on the high side - that went to a Moravian primary school ... at Fulneck outside Pudsey in West Yorkshire. A beautiful spot with wonderful eighteenth century architecture. My parents weren't Moravians (indeed they were, if anything, lapsed Baptists) - but they preferred me going to fee-paying Fulneck rather than the village primary.
So although I'm a non-believer, I'm pleased there is a flourishing Moravian church just down the road.
Tucked away in the back streets of Upper Holloway in North London, there's a pedestrian and cycle bridge over rail lines which is decorated by two wonderful murals. It's close to Duncombe primary school and the school and its pupils seem to have had a hand in the artwork.
If you are local to the area, do seek out this spot - it's a pedestrianised section of Sussex Way just south of Fairbridge Road and only a few minutes' walk from Archway.
The bright winter sun caught one of the murals today, which is what captured my attention, Both are rail-themed and are bright and charming.
Looking more closely, you can see the name of the artist, Gail Astbury, and the designs on the black tiles which surround the murals are worth closer inspection.
This pamphlet relates to one of the key events of the early women's liberation movement - the disruption of the Miss World contest in November 1970. The event at the Albert Hall was compered (badly) by Bob Hope and televised live to millions of homes across the country. When women protestors among the audience sprang up, threw small flour bombs, blew whistles and tried to clamber on the stage, the contest was interrupted - and the women's movement gained nationwide attention.
The historian Sally Alexander was one of the protestors and she spoke to me some years back for the BBC TV slot 'Witness' (there's audio of a longer interview and a transcript here):
The Why Miss World? pamphlet has no date or publication details - it seems to have been put together by the Women's Liberation Workshop probably a few weeks after the protest.
The pamphlet is a description of the protest and the trial that followed ... a justification of the disruption ... and a call to action.
On the back of the pamphlet is the slogan which women protestors chanted at the Albert Hall - quite a feminist mantra.
The first record I ever bought - a 45 rpm single - was 'How do you do it?' by Gerry and the Pacemakers. My parents tried to suggest other songs then in the charts but I was set on this one. I remember my mother remarking that it was top of the charts at the time - which dates my purchase to April 1963, when I was six.
The song wasn't Gerry Marsden's composition - and the Beatles recorded it first, though George Martin decided against releasing it.
I never became a Pacemakers' fan - never bought another record of theirs. But this number still has a place in my heart.
Gerry Marsden died at the weekend. Unlike the Beatles, his music never really advanced behind pop songs with a touch of ballad or skiffle to them. But he did those well.
And he was part of my life - and I imagine of many thousands of others. Walk on!
This rather impressionistic piece of art is made from chewing gum. The used stuff. It's also tiny. The circle is perhaps eight centimeters in diameter.
I came across it in Muswell Hill, on the Parkland Walk - it's on a bridge with a rather dramatic view, and depicts that same view (you can see the gum towards the bottom of the photo below). Clever!
The artist himself had passed by minutes earlier - I didn't initially realise who he was. His name is Ben Wilson; he lives in Muswell Hill; and he has done upwards of 10,000 pieces of chewing gum art, with a technique he has devised himself.
It turn out that Wilson and his miniature art featured in the New York Times almost a decade back. The image below is from Kickstarter which has been seeking pledges towards a book on 'the Chewing Gum Man'.
This is just wonderful. A reconstruction of one of NW5's most splendid - and faded - ghost signs. It's a digital restoration of the sign - the original is as below (my photo from this morning).
My view is that these old signs should be allowed to gently drift away rather than restored with paint and brush. But this is a marvelous evocation of what the sign must once have looked like and a retrieval of most of its wording.
Roy says on Twitter - @RoyReed13: 'I'm not sure if 'Improved' is correct and I can't make out the line below that at all. I've used Adsans and Penshurst typefaces which have a similar look to the original.'
What the ghost sign doesn't reveal is where John Hirst was based. The Dartmouth Park Conservation Area appraisal of 2009 suggests that he was responsible in the 1870s for the construction of quite a bit of the housing in the area around this ghost sign.
Perhaps this sign on a gable wall was placed on a house that Hirst had built as an example of the quality of his work?
In spite of my many collecting vices and obsessions, I have been resistant to vinyl. But there are always exceptions.
So I came away from an Oxfam shop yesterday with Traffic's 'John Barleycorn Must Die' - released an astonishing half-a-century ago in 1970. If you don't know the title track, here it is:
Of the six tracks on the album, four have become rock classics - not a bad hit rate!
And the freshness of much of the music of that era - it is more than just nostalgia! In 1970, did anyone listen to music from 1920? There is something exceptional about the music of the late 60s and early 70s, and it's more than simply the time that I first started buying albums.
By the way, in case you are wondering, I do still have a turntable - and I have give my new album a spin. Cool!
Holly Village is a wonderful piece of 'full-blown' Victorian gothic, hidden away in Highgate New Town just three minutes' walk from Hampstead Heath and even closer to Highgate Cemetery.
It's private so you can't venture past the entrance arch - which explains why some of the photos that follow are taken over walls and through hedges.
The village dates from 1865. It consists of eight buildings - four detached houses and four adjoining pairs of cottages - round a small green. The community of buildings was designed by Henry Darbishire for the extravagantly wealthy heiress and philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts.
Coutts lived nearby on Holly Lodge - a grand house with large grounds which, several decades after her death, was demolished and is now the sought after Holly Lodge Estate.
The elegant iron gates in the entrance arch of the gate house have prompted the description of Holly Village as London's first gated development.
Pevsner describes Holly Village as a 'picturesque eyecatcher' and comments on one of the really stand-out features of the development: 'All immaculately kept, down to the rustic lattice fencing and thick holly hodges.'
It's just a pity it's so difficult for the rest of the world to see and appreciate it.
This is a wonderful piece of political memorabilia - ephemera feels too insubstantial a term - from the London radicalism of 160 years ago. It's a membership card of the Land and Labour League, an organisation which is not well known and only survived a few years, but was of real importance in the development of a determinedly radical tradition within the movements for political reform and social justice.
Many thanks to Richard Gold for recognising its importance and steering it in the direction of one of small band of political anoraks who collect this sort of thing (viz the author).
The Land and Labour League consisted largely of supporters of the Chartist radical Bronterre O'Brien (died 1864), who is sometimes regarded as a proto-socialist. They had mustered in force in some of the central London branches of the Reform League.
O'Brien's followers - many of them self-educated artisans - were strong advocates of currency reform, land nationalisation, rights for women and - though it's not on the League's list of founding principles - republicanism. The paper associated with the LLL was called the Republican. It was published for two years from 1870, and so through the period of the Paris Commune, which many LLL members supported. The O'Brienites were also instinctively opposed to class collaboration and to working with Liberals.
The story of the Land and Labour League has been told by the historian Royden Harrison in Before the Socialists. As well as establishing the League, many O'Brienites were also active in the International Working Men's Association (the First International) where they worked with Karl Marx and other emigre socialists living in London.
Marx had a mixed opinion of his O'Brienite allies, writing of the followers of 'the sect of the late Bronterre O'Brien, [who] are full of follies and crotchets such as currency quackery, false emancipation of women, and the like. In spite of these follies, they constitute an often necessary counterweight to trades unionists on the Council [of the IWMA]. They are more revolutionary, firmer on the land question, less nationalistic and not susceptible to bourgeois bribery. Otherwise they would have been kicked out long ago.' Given how irascible Marx often was, this is almost an endorsement!
Later the O'Brienites devoted much of their energies to an ultimately unsuccessful venture to establish a cooperative colony in Kansas - the sort of 'crotchet' of which Marx would have disapproved. They also established the Manhood Suffrage League. And a few of O'Brien's followers were still around in the 1880s to enlist in the ranks of the Social Democratic Federation.
The early 1870s were a high water mark in what was sometimes called social republicanism - the movement demanding the abolition of the monarchy not as an end in itself but as a step towards a truly representative system of governance which would work towards achieving social justice.
A century-and-a-half later, we haven't progressed very far down that path!
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