all angles by Tony Via Flickr: construction of the Speke Hall was began in 1530, though earlier buildings had been on the site, parts of which are incorporated into today’s structure. The Great Hall was the first part of the house to be built, in 1530. The Great (or Oak) Parlour wing was added in 1531.
More photos found clearing out old files, this is Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire, and its one of my favourite old houses to visit, its so compact and quirky. It is a moated half-timbered manor house not far from me actually and the earliest parts of the house were built for the prosperous Cheshire landowner William Moreton in about 1504–08, and the remainder was constructed in stages by successive generations of the family until about 1610. The building is highly irregular, with three asymmetrical ranges forming a small, rectangular cobbled courtyard. The house remained in the possession of the Moreton family for almost 450 years, until ownership was transferred to the National Trust in 1938. Little Moreton Hall and its sandstone bridge across the moat are recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building, and the ground on which Little Moreton Hall stands is protected as a Scheduled Monument.
Old Post Office by Tony Via Flickr: The area around Northwich has been exploited for its salt pans since Roman times, when the settlement was known as Condate. The town has been severely affected by salt mining, and subsidence has historically been a significant problem. Recent investment has been designated in mine stabilisation.
The Inns of Court are only open 12.30-3:00 in the afternoons, M-F, no bank holidays, so plan to be there at noon. The entrance to MiddleTemple Lane is just where the Strand becomes Fleet Street, to your right if you’re walking towards Fleet Street. You will think you aren’t allowed to enter because a long barrier reading NO ACCESS or something like that stretches beneath the entrance archway, and there is a man sitting inside a booth like a sentry on the lookout for eager explorers. It definitely puts you off.
Rest assured, however, that the sign is for CARS (they may not enter) You are free to stroll past Scary Man, as long as you are properly dressed (no trainers/tennis shoes, hoodies, that sort of thing) and you must behave yourself in a very dull fashion or they will throw you out. You cannot shout or run around or ride a bicycle or spin like a top and cartwheel across the gardens in a short skirt. These are LAW COURTS! You must behave. You won’t care, though, because the place is so fabulous even I behaved myself and that is extremely unexpected.
Inner Temple and Middle Temple are connected by a multitude of labyrinthine passageways and courtyards and Narnian portals and the allotted two and a half hours will pass very very quickly. My BFF and I went to Inner and Middle Temples one day and Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn (the other two) the next.
Lincoln’s Inn is easily reached from the Gothic Revival glory that is the Royal Courts of Justice building, on the other side of the street (the Strand). Follow the enormous building until you can turn left up ChanceryLane, which may be my favourite street in the whole city it is EXTREMELY EXCELLENT! Walk up and down that first (you’ll see the back of the Tudor Lincoln’s Inn building- it’s the oldest of the law courts, founded in 1422); then at the bottom of the street turn into Carey Street and begin your explorations into glory.
Gray’s Inn is north of Lincoln’s in Holborn, and isn’t as attractive or thrilling as the other three; but the others I would rate my number-one- can’t-miss London attraction.
We’re all guilty of rushing down a high street (especially when panic-buying Christmas gifts) but here’s a list the best things you miss when you forget to look up around Oxford and Regent Street…
Venetian Mosaics Now occupied by Apple, this vast building at 235 Regent Street used to house Antonio Salviati’s mosaic shop (built in 1898). If you look up you can still spot the gorgeous spandrel mosaics placed there to advertise the Salviati’s craftsmanship. On the left hand side (top picture) you have the heraldry for London and Westminster, accompanied by the British royal lion. Whereas the right references the Venetian Islands of Murano and Burano, with the symbol of Venice; the lion of St Mark, in the centre. You may also be able to make out the names of cities above, which refer to the places you could buy Salviati’s wares.
The Other Liberty The mock Tudor Liberty building on Regent Street (built in 1924), is one of the most iconic shops in London, but it actually started life down the road. In 1875, Arthur Lasenby Liberty borrowed £2,000 to acquire half of 218a Regent Street, creating an Eastern Bazaar to try and revamp the homeware and fashion scene in London. Arthur Liberty’s collection of ornaments, fabrics and artworks proved very popular to a society obsessed by Japan and the East and within eighteen months he repaid the loan and bought the second half of 218a Regent Street. On the front of the building, if you can take your eyes from the monumental frieze, are four Japanese disciples of Buddha, known as “Iohan”. They sit on a ledge on the first floor to either side of the main entrance, so look up next time you’re passing.
Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure Mounted on the side of John Lewis in 1965, Barbara Hepworth’s ‘Winged Figure’ is well worth a glance while waiting at the traffic light junction of Holles Street and Oxford Street. It was commissioned by John Lewis, who have had a premises on this site for over 150 years, with Hepworth wanting to produce a sculpture about freedom; “If the Winged figure gives people a sense of being airborne in rain and sunlight and nightlight I will be very happy.” Which is lovely, but can you honestly say you’ve felt like that on Oxford Street?
Festival of Britain Panels The Festival of Britain in 1951 generated a mass of creativity across art, music and literature, so when 219 Oxford Street was being built at the same time – despite being miles away from the action on the South Bank – the architects (Ronald Ward and Partners) must’ve wanted to get involved. The middle relief shows the Festival’s plaque designed by Abram Games, while the top one shows the Festival Hall and radio beacon with musical instruments scattered below and the bottom panel represents the dome of discovery and the skylon.
The Pantheon You’ve probably heard of the original Pantheon in Rome, so what’s this doing at 173 Oxford Street? (Hint – it’s not that M&S is a temple to the shopping Gods). In 1772 an assembly room was built on this site by James Wyatt, it was called the Pantheon because it had a central dome reminiscent of its Roman counterpart:
Interior of The Pantheon, Oxford Road by William Hodges and William Parr, c.1770s
It was so exclusive that there weren’t enough eligible punters and after 8 short years of little use, it burnt to the ground in 1792 before being rebuilt 3 years later in the same style. There were attempts to revive it as an opera or theatrical venue but with little success and in the 1830s it became a department store. The whole interior was redesigned in 1838, paving the way for M&S to acquire it in the 1930s, so it’s now only the façade that reminds us of its 18th Century grandeur.
Ill-fated Rodents If you look up above the Tiger at 105-109 Oxford Street, you’ll spot three more furry creatures perched precariously on top of the building. They hint to the original function of this site, which used to be the premises of Henry Heath’s Hat Factory, established during the 1820s. Henry’s hats were made using felted fur from Beaver Otter, Rabbits, Hares and Musk Rats, hence the charming (but sadly doomed) little sculptures on top.
The Liberty Clock Restored by master craftsmen Gillett & Johnston and reinstalled to its former glory in December 2010, the Liberty clock above Kingly Street, chimes each hour and every quarter of the hour St George emerges, on horseback to slay the dragon. The figures are made from hand beaten fabricated copper highlighted with 24 Carat Gold Leaf, running on a new track unit with a radio signal monitoring system to ensure the accuracy. In the four corners around the face are four winged heads representing the Four Winds and either side of the clock are carved panels; morning is symbolised by a crowning cock and rising sun; night by an owl and moon. Beneath is an inscription: “No minute gone comes back again, Take heed and see ye nothing do in vain.” Take note, Christmas Shoppers…
Shakespeare’s Head Built in 1735 the Shakespeare’s Head pub was originally owned by Thomas and John Shakespeare (who, according to the owners Taylor Walker, was a distant relative of the playwright himself!) Peering out a Christmas shoppers on Carnaby Street is a life-sized bust of the bard and if you look closely you’ll see he has a hand missing; damage from WW1 when a bomb fell nearby.
So next time, gaze upwards on these busy thoroughfares and why not point them out to a fellow shopper, spreading some Christmas joy?