London’s Second-Biggest House Faces A Dilemma


Buckingham Palace is the biggest house in London. What’s the second biggest? That would be the Grade II listed house Witanhurst in Highgate, once owned by Sir Arthur Crosfield, the English soap and candle magnate, who had the place designed in Queen Anne style. He chose Witanhurst, a combination of the old Anglo-Saxon words “witan” […]

London Gets A Creepy New Street


The SF novel The Day of the Triffids has links to Hampstead in North London, and is set to be celebrated with a new road name, for an alley that will be opened after being shut for years. Author John Wyndham’s 1951 book tells the story of how the ambulatory poison-spewing plants take advantage of a […]

Bonkers London Ceremonies

Beating the Bounds 2

January 6th The Royal Epiphany The Queen and the Yeomen of the Guard hand out three purses symbolising frankincense, gold and myrrh to the poor of the parish. The three wise men’s gifts symbolise birth, life and death. It’s also the day that Baddeley cake is handed out. The failed actor Robert Baddeley bequeathed money […]

London Gets A Test Case


It’s the same old story you’ve heard before, but this time there’s a twist; the Carlton Tavern in Kilburn was being considered for a listing at Grade II heritage status; Historic England said the pub was “remarkably well-preserved externally and internally”. So the owners, Tel Aviv-based development company CLTX, slipped in with the demolition after Westminster […]

10 Bits Of London We Mislaid (And Sometimes Put Back)


Do you ever get the feeling when you walk along a familiar street that something is different and a bit of it has perhaps vanished? I get this feeling all the time, usually because developers have whipped something away behind my back – but the mislaying of bits of London is not a new thing […]

Severing The Links With London’s Past


London grows, and in doing so it sheds the past. The fabric of much that made the city special to Londoners is unravelling. Here’s another small example. The city’s drag & cabaret pubs can trace their origins back to the old music halls. They hide in plain sight in high streets around the city – […]

When Big Architects Get Big Ideas


I’ve always disliked Richard Rogers (not the composer, the architect). Although I know the purpose is for their interiors to be sightline-free, I still think Paris’s garish Pompidou Centre is an eyesore, and I hate London’s gasworks-like Lloyds building. Both have exteriors that look like Ferraris made for the Middle Eastern market have been carelessly […]

Who Will Survive In The Great Soho Sell-Off?


Yesterday I walked through Soho to see what all the fuss was about – residents have been running a ‘Save Soho’ campaign ever since Soho Estates decided to rebuild sections of beloved streets. I’d seen that work on the new Crossrail link had taken its toll, but I hadn’t realised quite how much demolition was […]

The Weird World Of London Robberies


Go on, admit it. If you’re over thirty, right after you heard about the Hatton Garden robbery you thought of Sid James and gelignite and vans roaring out of post offices. You secretly think it’s a bit cool robbing safety deposit boxes. It’s old-school-drop-it-copper-and-nobody-gets-hurt thieving in the grand tradition of the Great Train Robbery. There’s […]

Happy Birthday, Will!

Will birthday

‘Fun-packed’ isn’t a phrase you often hear associated with ‘Hamlet’. However, I think the Globe theatre has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek (at least I hope so) because it’s advertising a special day on Sunday April 19th to celebrate Will’s birthday. And in classic Shakespearian style they’re planning ‘to mark the mid-point of […]