The London Explorer No.3



Today, a bit about Shoreditch, home of the legendary Shoreditch Twat (see above).

Shoreditch was once known as the cradle of British drama, because it was the first parish in England to possess a theatre. In 1576 James Burbage built his stage – Shakespeare supposedly minded the horses here – and there’s a plaque that marks the spot of the theatre, which was still there when Peter Jackson’s book appeared. But what of it now?

In the 1860s, at a cost of £200,000, Baroness Burdett-Coutts built the Columbia Market for poor Eastenders as a place where they could shop cheaply. It never succeeded and ‘stands today, cathedral-like in its grandeur, the shabby ghost of a monumental failure’. I know it was let as workshops for a while, but what happened to it after that?

The Geffrye Museum opened its doors in 1914 (although it was built in 1715 as alms houses) to show the development of furniture. Well, that’s still there, and every Christmas they decorate the rooms beautifully.

The stained-glass windows of St Augustine’s in Yorkton Street are unusual because instead of showing madonnas and crucifixes they are filled with little scenes of everyday life, like kids playing makeshift cricket outside a pub – still there?

Question: Which London bridge has a chimney on it and why?


20 comments on “The London Explorer No.3”

  1. Alan Morgan says:

    Ooh! Ooh! I know this one, I used to walk by it all the time. Tower Bridge, and it’s right on the northern side from memory so you notice it as you eyeball the tower crossing over. I’m pretty sure it was once functioning as opposed to being purely ornamental. My Granda from memory said it was part of the original system for raising the bridge – but he said all sorts of things (he once told me the derrick on HMS Belfast was for the catching of an octopus…).

    Sorry to jump in early but this went ping!

  2. Jo W says:

    Yes Alan. It is on Tower Bridge and was the chimney for the guardroom that was once there in the parapet of the bridge. Don’t you just love thinking back to those things your Granda told you? In my case it was my Dad who told me that the black and white cows we saw from the train were the ones who supplied the milk for the Black and White milk bars. Anyone else remember those,back in the fifties?

  3. M@ says:

    There were actually two Shakespeare-era theatres in Shoreditch. The Theatre, which is marked by the plaque you mention, was on the northern stretch of Curtain Road, near the junction with New Inn Yard. There’s a Shakespeare mural round the back. The theatre’s long gone…indeed, it was demolished in Shakespeare’s day and reassembled in Bankside as The Globe.

    The other theatre, called the Curtain, was recently rediscovered behind the Horse and Groom pub on the southern stretch of Curtain Road. Its remains will be displayed in a visitor centre, in the basement of a new residential tower about to begin construction.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    How do you misplace a theatre behind a pub?
    Oh, I know through centuries of the accretive buildup of keg bungs, gentlemen’s pocket fluff, and desiccated road apples, but really. Londene is olde, and has lots of lost rivers, but it isn’t as olde as Mesopotamia. Or is it?

  5. snowy says:

    The stained glass windows by M E A Rope were moved to the crypt of St Mary Magdalene, Munster Square.

    The cricket player is in the St Leonard window.

    [The same window also features a bus! Blowers would be chuffed!]

  6. snowy says:

    Since I’ve found it have a photograph of said object. ⇧

  7. pheeny says:

    Blimey! Those trousers!

  8. Vivienne says:

    I bought a birthday card featuring a Black and White milk bar, as it was so 1930s modern looking. Has modern ever been done better? Haven’t actually chosen a recipient for this yet.

  9. Helen Martin says:

    I bought an absolutely stunning book for our elementary school library telling about the “demolition” of The Theatre and its rebuilding as The Globe. The claim was that The Theatre was having problems (paying bills?) so the company gathered one night and disassembled the building. They hauled the timbers to the new site and began building the next day. Sounds unlikely but it gave the artist scope for some beautiful night time illustrations with lanterns. I wish I could remember either the title or the author – the illustrator? Nope, all gone.

  10. snowy says:

    Time to break out these inter-continental mind reading skills.

    The mists are clearing…….

    I’m getting an author….

    It’s a Mike or a Michael…. and something about red or pink?

    He is English born but his name isn’t?

    Seems to be chiefly reknown for leading an expedition to locate creatures of the genus Ursus?

    Hang on, my spirit guide has rolled up, late and completely smashed out of his gourd on firewater, [again].

    It’s very slurred, something about the pictures…. ‘pigpen’, ‘inkpen’.

    Oh dear, he has just puked up all over Queen Victoria, she’s not happy, no, no not amused in the slightest. Don’t thing I’ll be seeing him for a bit.

  11. Helen Martin says:

    Yes, right, Snowy – Michael Morpurgo, but after 17 pages of his titles (in French, Welsh and Scots as well as English) I can’t find the Shakespeare one. I’ll have another go. (The Adolphus Tips is very good, by the way.)

  12. snowy says:

    Helen, I want you to focus your psychic energies, as I am now going to cast some mystical runes to help you in your quest.

    *complicated hand waving*

    M R
    I O
    C S
    H E
    A N

  13. Helen Martin says:

    Nice try, Snowy, especially the hand waving, but no, nothing seems right. I wonder if I can get into the School District catalogue. I could find it there.

  14. Helen Martin says:

    (SCREAMS) THAT’S IT!! So what is the title? You always know these things.

  15. snowy says:

    Shakespeare: His Work and His World
    by Michael Rosen (Author), Robert Ingpen (Illustrator).

  16. Helen Martin says:

    Thank you so much. I either have vivid memories of a book but none of the title/author/illustrator or remember the title/author but can’t remember the book itself. Particularly since I’m no longer working with picture books like this and don’t have grandchildren. That was the page I remembered so vividly, too.

  17. jan says:

    Oddly enough Tower Bridge also has its own Mortuary as the high level walkway was one of London’s most popular suicide spots. The walkways were reopened in the early 90s or could of been late 80s.but they are boxed in now. Great views from there though.

    I thought Columbia Market had been demolished absolutely ages ago in the 1970s or did it get a last minute reprieve and then fall out of use again?

  18. jan says:

    Very interesting about the stained glass windows with features from normal life. Can’t say i’d ever heard of them or that church. Something similar i think to be found in ALL SAINTS NORFOLK SQUARE just off Sussex gardens in Paddington. All Saints (and i’m 99% sure i’ve got the church right but deep apologies if i’m mistaken) instead of stained glass has etched in the window glass scenes from Britains industrial development work of Brunel, railways etc very interesting place to visit. Mind you be warned this church is slap bang inside Paddingtons red light area and gents driving round there very late in the evening is not a good idea nor ladies is going for a wander there late at night! The local officers are not likely to believe that your’e there to see the etchings !!! This church is also famous for being the place where Oscar Wilde and his wife Constance were buried.

  19. jan says:

    OOOOOOOOOO000000 CHRIS I’M SORRY this is because i get into 2 much of a tis trying to type in stuff within my 15 min time at the library! My fingers run on and off with my common sense!

    Course Oscar Wilde is buried in Paris (can’t for the life of me remember the name of the cemetery) its Constance – and maybe one of his kids buried in Paddington. i am sorry getting loopier and loopier in my old age. You’ll be fact checking me soon thinking wots the old tart dribbling on about now soon!!!

    Hope the swop over with the blog goes well.

    Am off to Dartmoor tomorrow. Did u know that theres more evidence of pre historic remains on the moors than anywhere else in the UK? Is thought now that prehistoric farming techniques may have even have made the land more acidic and more difficult to cultivate for later generations resulting in the great tracts of moorlands we have now. comforting to know that we started ***king things up quite early on isn’t it? at least we didn’t hang about in devastating the land!

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