Hidden away on Hallam Street is one of the most impressive frontages in London's Fitzrovia. It is - I would say - distinctly Indo-Saracenic in style. And curiously, this is not the front of a building - but the back. It's the rear of the Central Synagogue - as far as I can make out - which has its main entrance on Great Portland Street..
There is a real elegance to these window surrounds which outshines the buildings formal entrance - grand as that is The Central Synagogue's website - http://www.centralsynagogue.org.uk/about-us/ - recounts that the building's foundation stone was laid in 1858, but that the synagogue was badly damaged by bombing during World War Two and was rededicated in 1958. I wonder if the back of the building is largely original, and the front (below) a much restored façade. Whatever, if you are out and about in central London, do go this a look. Its worth it.
A piece of cake in a pissoir
Of all the fates that could befall a subterranean Victorian urinal, this has to be about the best outcome imaginable. A boutique coffee, lunch and cake place ...
It's called 'The Attendant' (which is a lot more lofty than many of the names that must have been touted). It's in London's Fitzrovia, very handy for BBC staff at nearby Broadcasting House. To be precise, it's on Foley Street at the junction with Great Tichfield Street. And it's not just the tiling that's original. The stalls and cisterns are all still in place ...
In case you are wondering, my cappuccino and carrot cake was good - the service is friendly - the place is well patronised. I'll certainly go again. Perhaps see you there!
A shaft of autumn sunlight gave a radiance today to what is in any event one of the more arresting buildings in Fitzrovia. Now a hotel, this was built in 1901 as the Howard de Walden Nurses' Home on Langham Street (just opposite the 'Yorkshire Grey'). This is 'a neo-Gothic hygienic aberration' in the vinegary judgement of Nikolaus Pevsner - but I'm all for aberrations in the modern streetscape, and happily Ftzrovia provides them in ample measure.
The Street of Delights
Warren Street, that is. At the far northern end, the more lived-in end, of London's still-wonderful-to-explore Fitzrovia. The street dates back to the 1790s, and it's been knocked about a bit. But there's enough here to prompt me, just about every single morning, to get off the Northern Line a stop earlier than common sense suggests, just to have the pleasure of walking to work along Warren Street.
And having a morning cappuccino at this small, friendly corner cafe in what was once, as you can see, a Welsh dairy. It is, happily, a listed building - from the 1790s, and the shopfront is of First World War vintage.
There are any numbers of small cafes and restaurants, including 'Honey', another homely place, which does Middle Eastern food from breakfast time on, and serves up a formidable honey and coconut cake.
The street also boasts a theatre bookshop, an Indian languages bookshop, a flute centre, and a nice pub (below) which used to be called the Marquis of Cornwallis.
My route also takes me past a former pub, now an office furniture store - the model for Patrick Hamilton's rather forlorn pub novel, The Midnight Bell, which also features a down-at-heel brothel not far away on Bolsover Street.
Leading off Warren Street, or close at hand, are a number of mews streets, the always interesting Cleveland Street, and the most wonderful of London squares, Fitzroy Square - with all its Bloomsbury Group connections, a handful of smaller embassies (Croatia, Mozambique) and the still active Indian YMCA.
Who could want more!
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