Welsh Harp (aka Brent Reservoir) ~ birding or boating in London


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welsh harp brent reservoirBrent Reservoir offer visitors a broad expanse of outdoor space, including open water, marshland, walking trails & bird hides.  Given that it is close to Wembley (easily seen from almost everywhere here) and less than 10 miles from the centre of London, it is an easy destination to reach and enjoy.  It is commonly called ‘Welsh Harp’ which is generally believed to have come from the pub that bordered the reservoir until the early 1970s when it was demolished.

Straddling the boroughs of Brent and Barnet, and owned by British Waterways, the reservoir is fed by both the Silk Stream and the River Brent.  Today the reservoir has a recreational centre, and is home to numerous sailing clubs.  It is also a significant wildlife habitat and is the only designated Site of Special Scientific wembley at welsh harpInterest in either borough.

History:  The rapid expansion of canals in London in the 1800s and the growth in their usage led to a problem - not enough water to fill them all especially the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals.  The Regent’s Canal Company received permission through an Act of Parliament to dam the River Brent to create a sustainable water supply for their canals.  In the 1830s construction began.  After various phases of construction the reservoir reached is peak size of 400 acres in the mid-1850s.  Today it is much smaller at 110 acres.  In 1965 the park expanded with the addition of Welsh Harp Open Space - a recreational area on the north-west edge of the reservoir.  Collectively the open space and reservoir are about 420 acres.

The ‘Old Welsh Harp Tavern’:  The Roman road (Watling St) that left London for Wales was the precursor to the Edgware Road section in Brent.  It was here where the road crossed the river that in the early 18th Century the Harp & Horn was brent reservoir maplocated.  This new expanse of water was capitalized on by the owner of an adjacent pub located on Edgware Road.  The name of the pub was changed, and during the 2nd half of the 19th Century the Tavern became the centre of what was effectively a ‘pleasure garden’ of the day - with music, fairs, sports and drinking.  Here the first ever greyhound dog race using a mechanized hare took place, also the first official bicycle race, and on the frozen reservoir in winter international ice skating competitions were held.

Birding:  The reservoir quickly became a location for birding (initially shooting, laterbrent reservoir 1 watching).  Over 250 bird species have been spotted here and it continues to be a significant breeding ground for water birds.  There are walking trails and hides to use.  It is for this reason that it became not only a local nature reserve but a Site for Special Scientific Interest - designations that have helped control area development.

Located:  Birchin Grove (west end) or Cool Oak Lane (east end), West Hendon , NW9

Closest Rail:  Hendon (First Capital from St. Pancras).

Map/Image Credit: brentres.com

St. James’s, Piccadilly (a Christopher Wren church) & site of a daily market.


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St James's Church Piccadilly exteriorJust a short stroll from the chaos of Piccadilly Circus is an oft overlooked church built by Christopher Wren as well as a simple, but pleasant, daily outdoor market.  It is unique as Wren only built a few “new” churches and it is one of only 3 churches he built outside the City of London (the others are St. Anne’s in Soho, and St. Clement Danes in Westminster).

The Church:  As the western edge of London grew, citizens started petitions for a new church to divide the parish of St. Martin’s in the Field.  Land was sought, and in 1662 the 1st Earl of St Albans (Henry Jermyn) offered land he had the leasehold for as a site for a church, vicarage and graveyard.  The Crownst james church picadilly interior Estate was slow to grant freehold status for this land, which was needed before a church could be consecrated on it.  But ultimately it did.  The land Jermyn set aside was bordered by Piccadilly to the north and Jermyn Street to the south.  Christopher Wren was selected as the architect in 1672.  This was a busy period for Wren as his firm was actively involved in rebuilding many churches destroyed in the Great Fire.  However, unlike those churches St. James’s was a new build - with no specific footprint to rebuild upon.  Consequently it is fairly unique within Wren’s oeuvre of churches.  Construction began in 1676 and while the church was consecrated into service in

Credit: Westminster City Archives

Credit: Westminster City Archives

1684 construction of its steeple continued after this.  The inside of the church is certainly elegant with its raised galleries on three sides and its barrel vaulted nave.  The architectural style is similar to only a few other churches Wren designed.  In various letters and documents attributed to Wren he states his affection for this particular church and his satisfaction with the architectural and design elements which were new for him at the time.  Today it is a Grade One listed building.  Of note: William Blake, poet and artist, was baptised here in 1757.  Also, the church was damaged in WW II but has been sympathetically restored.  Services are held daily (except Saturday).

The Market:  In the forecourt of the church on the south side of Piccadilly, there is aSt James's Market market from 11-5 on Monday, and from 10-6 Tues-Sat.  From small beginnings in 1981 it has grown significantly and provides a source of income to support the church’s maintenance.  On Monday it is a food market; on Tuesday the focus is on antiques and collectibles; on Wed-Sat the focus is arts and crafts.  Many of the traders, about 40 in all, sell items from emerging economic regions, like Tibet, Africa and India.  There is also an on-site cafe.  For more information or for a list of traders see their website at: http://piccadilly-market.co.uk/

Located at: 197 Piccadilly London W1J 9LL

Closest Tube:  Piccadilly Circus

Duke’s Bar ~ Ian Fleming’s “local” & the inspiration for James Bond’s martini


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Dukes HotelHidden down a secretive courtyard that most don’t even know exists, the approach to Duke’s Hotel brings out the feeling of intrigue in even the casual James Bond fan.  For it is the lure of Bond that brings many in-the-know to Duke’s Bar within the hotel for the first time, but it is the intimacy and uniqueness that brings them back.

History:  Duke’s Hotel opened in 1908 and is unquestionably one of London’s hidden hotels.  Within the hotel is Duke’s Bar which is now legendary but still evokes a feeling of being ‘found’.  Since the 1950′s Duke’s has had an Italian barstaff, as it does today, and it was during this time that Duke’s became a regular watering hole for Ian Fleming.  Given the focus on martinis at the bar, it is claimed that Ian Fleming gave Bond his passion for martinis because of Duke’s.  It is also here he purportedly created the phrase “shaken, not stirred” Duke's Bar interior from his interactions with the barstaff about how to make a martini (see below).  There is no reason to dispute the claim, nor is there any doubt that Fleming was regularly seen at Duke’s enjoying a martini.  For this reason, Duke’s today is a nostalgic experience for Bond aficianados.

Still today drinkers get tableside service as they did in Fleming’s day.  Martinis are made with great ceremony in front of you while seated at your tables.  A trolley laden with bottles of spirits fresh from the freezer is wheeled in front of you and the drink made on the spot.  It helps justify the price!

Duke's BarWhile some have claimed that James Bond got his name from the fact that the bar is off St. James’s Place and is near Bond Street, it is commonly accepted that Fleming selected the name from the American ornithologist who wrote a book about Caribbean birds.  It is certainly possible that the coincidence was not lost on Fleming and may have helped convince him it was the right choice.

Shaken not Stirred: Prior to modern Bond culture it was always accepted that you martini at dukesstir a martini, not shake it.  In addition you would never mix spirits into a single martini and you would only drink one (in a much smaller size than served today!) before dinner.  The fact that Fleming choose to have Bond request one with gin and vodka, and shaken, reinforces Bond as anti-establishment and a rebel.  Shaking ‘bruises’ the gin, and makes the drink too watery.  Stirring is designed to quickly chill the martini without diluting it.

The Drinks:  The current bartender, Alessandro Palazzi, launched several special martini drinks in 2012 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bond: the Fleming 89 and Fleming’s Classic Vesper.  The Fleming 89 was created in partnership with London-based perfumery Floris, whose “89” Eau de Cologne was famously worn by James Bond while the Vesper mostly follows the recipe created by Bond in the first novel - Casino Royale.  The bar uses Polish vodka in the Vesper in honor of the real-life inspiration for Vesper Lynd, Polish-born Christine Granville who was a wartime spy and reportedly Fleming’s lover.

Duke’s opens at: Mon - Thurs: 2pm, Fri - Sat: 12 noon; Sun 4pm.  Dress smartly.

Located at:  35 St. James’s Place, SW1A 1NY

Closest Tube:  Green Park

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand ~ with a history ranging from Chess to Dickens to Carving lessons


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Simpsons outside doorLocated on the Strand by the Savoy, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand is one of London’s most historic establishments for over 180 years, that over the years has offered everything from coffee, cigars, chess and food - and today even offers lessons in carving!

Its unique history makes it a place worth knowing about.

History:  In the early 18th Century the Fountain Tavern stood here and was home to the Kit-Cat Club, a famous political and literary group with members such as Congreve and Walpole.  By 1828 a new building, housing the “Grand Cigar Divan”, opened on the site as a smoking club.  It then evolved into a coffee house and also a chess club.  In 1848, the owner (Samuel Reiss) teamed up with the chef John Simpson so that they could expand the facility with a restaurant.  Then known as “Simpson’s Grand Divan Tavern”, its popularity took off.   Dickens, Gladstone and Disraeli were all regulars.  Such was their success that they claimed Charing Cross station was opened partly to support demand for access to their restaurant!  By the 1850s it had achieved fame for both its food and its notoriety as a chess venue.

Chess:  In the 19th Century Simpson’s could rightfully claim itself to be the home of simpsons chess hall imageChess.  From its earliest days Chess matches were played against other coffee houses in the town, with top-hatted runners carrying the moves from club to club.  In house, giant chess pieces and boards were used to make it easier for viewers to see and bet on the action. The Grand Cigar Divan soon became recognised as the home of chess in England. All the famous players of the time played here, and the ‘Immortal Game’, considered the greatest every chess game, was played here in 1851.  Simpson’s also hosted major global tournaments in 1883 and 1899, and the first every women’s global tournament in 1897.  By 1904 the simpsons original chess setnew managers removed the focus on chess and it faded from its position of prominence.  However, periodic tournaments are still help at Simpson’s to recognize and celebrate its role in the history of chess.  One of Simpson’s original chess sets is on display in the Bishop’s Room - so if no event is being held there ask to see it - along with other chess memorabilia.  You don’t need to eat here to view these items.

Grand Divan Restaurant:  Simpson’s still focuses on British ingredients with ScottishSimpsons grand divan beef a specialty.  Meats are carved at the tableside from antique silver-domed trolleys - a practice that started in the mid 19th Century to avoid disturbing the chess games and allowing food to be taken directly to the chess tables.   This style of service continues today.  In 1974 it was one of only 9 London restaurants to be the first recipients of a Michelin Star in London.  The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The Knights Bar is open for drinks and small bites from 11 onwards.

Literature:  Simpson’s is referenced throughout many books, including those by E. M. Forster, P. G. Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

simpsons carving chefCarving Classes:  While not cheap, one truly unique offering at Simpson’s, and something very British, is the ‘art of carving’ class.  Since Simpson’s is famous for its tableside carving, you can learn from their Master Cook the full art of carving meat.  The class is 90 minutes long and includes instruction on carving many different types of joints.  Upon completion you receive a presentation of a carving knife and fork, a ‘Certificate of Competency’ and then you get to eat lunch where you can demonstrate your carving skills to those who join you!  All for £155 and classes are usually on Sunday.  See their website for specific details and/or making a booking:  http://www.simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk/

Located at:  100 Strand, London, Greater London WC2R 0EW

Closest Tube:  Covent Garden or Temple

Photo Credit: Carving Photo: Simpson’s-in-the-Strand

Lauderdale House ~ arts & education in North London


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Lauderdale House vintage drawingBuilt in 1582 and set in the beautiful Waterlow Park (a topic for a future post perhaps), Lauderdale House is now a hub of community activities.  They provide a range of programs for individuals to enjoy, ranging from exhibitions, fairs, educational opportunities, arts programs and live performances.  While a visit to the home and park it is in itself worthwhile, to benefit from the full range of offerings a visit to their website is essential so that future activities and events can be viewed.  Alternatively just go for a meal in their restaurant and then take a walk in the park!

History:  Lauderdale House was built in 1582 as a private home for Sir Richard Lauderdale House outsideMartin, who was a long tenured Lord Mayor of London.  In 1645 it was inherited by the Earl of Lauderdale which gave us its current name.  In 1666, documents reflect that it was visited by Charles II and Samuel Pepys.  Nell Gwynne supposedly lived here briefly in 1670 (see our post of the Nell Gwynne Tavern for further details on her: http://londonunveiled.com/2012/07/07/nell-gwynne-tavern/ )  It was converted to a neoclassical style in 1760.  John Wesley preached here in 1782.  Ownership passed through several hands ending with Sir Sydney Waterlow - a famous printer.  In 1882, he leased the property to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital as a convalescent home.  In 1883 the house was empty and in 1889, he gave the house and grounds to the London County Council “for the enjoyment of Londoners”. The 29 acres of land became Waterlow Park.  The House was restored in 1893 to serve as a Park tearoom and park-keepers’ flats.  In 1963 a fire broke out, destroying the roof and much of the interior of the House.  Then in the late 1970s the Lauderdale House Society was established as a charity to run the House. In 1978, the House was reopened as an arts and education centre by Yehudi Menuhin.

Lauderdale house interior galleryActivities:  Throughout the year the House hosts a wide range of activities for both adults and children.  Regular performances of cabaret, jazz, classical concerts, poetry and children’s shows are staged here.  The galleries inside the home host visual art exhibitions that periodically change.  Art displayed ranges from known professionals to local school work and amateur artists.   Every month artisan and craft fairs are held at the property that offer a range of products for purchase.  Adult activities range from art classes (various media) to dance lessons to yoga.  When weather permits (often in the summer) many activities are held outside within the park.

See their website for full details and a calendar of events: http://www.lauderdalehouse.co.uk/

There is a restaurant next to the Lower Gallery serving modern British cuisine as lauderdale house restaurantwell as drinks and snacks (open 9-6, closed Mondays).  The restaurant offers views across Waterlow Park.

Located at:  Waterlow Park  Highgate Hill, N6 5HW

Closest Tube:  Archway

Kew Bridge Steam Museum ~ part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage


kew bridge towerWe make take our access to water for granted but it has to come from somewhere.  For many years the west of London had its water supply pumped from the Kew Bridge Pumping Station after the water quality at pumping stations in Chelsea deteriorated.  The water quality was better upriver (it was still filtered!) and so this location served west London from 1838 until 1944.  It is now home to an award winning museum that profiles the history of London’s water supply while being both the oldest waterworks in the world to contain its original steam pumping engines and the world’s largest collection of such engines.

Located on the north side of the Thames across from Kew Gardens, the location is easy to spot with its recognizable 60 metre high tower (easily seen from the M4).  The museum and location is also an anchor point on the European Route of Industrial Heritage, which is a network of the most important industrial sites in Europe.  It is the only anchor point in London.  To learn more about the ERIH see http://www.erih.net/index.php

History:  The pumping station began operation in 1838. It was expanded over the years as the demand for water grew.  By 1900 there were seven steam engines in operation in the works. Diesel motors were added in 1934 and soon afterwards electric pumps were installed. These made the steam engines outdated and in 1942 they were decommissioned.  It was closed in 1944 when newer facilities replaced it.   In 1973 work began to restore the facilities and in 1975 the waterworks reopened as a museum.

Railway:  The onsite railway was used for transporting coal from barges on the Thames to the boiler houses.   The museum has two restored steam trains that run on the narrow gauge railway during the summer.   While the trains were obtained from offsite, they are similar to the original locomotives that were used here.

kew bridge steam museumMuseum:  The museum galleries provide a history of water supply from Roman times through to the 19th Century, as well as how water has been managed from medieval times until now.  The heart of the museum is the collection of steam pumping engines.  The “Cornish” engines are in their original engine houses while the “Rotative” engines here were collected by the museum trust from pumping stations across the country. Together they demonstrate the developments in steam engine technology over the years.  The museum has also collected various diesel,  electric, water and animal powered pumping engines.  Every weekend throughout the year you can see some of the engines operating.  See their website for specifics on what runs when:  http://www.kbsm.org/  Kew Bridge Steam Museum is open Tues-Sun 11 am - 4 pm.  Admission: £10, Children £4 (discounted family ticket available).

Located at:  Green Dragon Lane (junc w/ High St - A315), Brentford, TW8 0EN
Closest Rail:  Kew Bridge (Rail) from Waterloo; Gunnersbury or South Ealing (Tube)

The Queen’s Head Pub ~ since 1565 and Darwin’s ‘local’?


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Queens Head outsideWhile an unlikely destination in and of itself, many individuals visit Downe Village to see Down House - the home of Charles Darwin for many years (see info below).  Combining a visit there with a trip to the Queen’s Pub is worthwhile.  As one of the oldest public houses in Greater London the Queen’s Head is an interesting place.

History:  Queen Elizabeth visited Downe in November 1559 to attended the baptism of the daughter of her Knight Marshall, Henry Manning.  He was the Knight Marshall (or Marshall of the Household) under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth so he had a high standing within the Royal Court.  The “Queen’s Head” was built a few years later in 1565 and named in honour of her visit.

The inn passed through various hands but maintained its significance by becoming Queens Head vintage photoa well established stage post and coaching inn for those heading in or out of London.  By the late 18th Century the inn has a grocers and a corn merchant shop adjacent to it - both of which were later integrated into the pub as we see it today.

Darwin’s Connection:  From 1842 until his death in 1882, Charles Darwin photoCharles Darwin lived locally at Down House where he conducted much of his research (see my prior post: http://londonunveiled.com/2012/06/27/darwin-down-house/ ).  It is claimed that during this time, the Queen’s Head was a pub he often frequented, which leads to the naming of one of the bars as the ‘Darwin Bar’.

Today:  The pub offers food and drink and has an outdoor patio & garden.  Set over three bars, with numerous fireplaces and a selection of board games, visitors will queens head interiorfind several real cask ales on tap. Some of the food offered is locally sourced (fish from Hastings, meat and vegetables from local farms).  Sunday roasts are available too.  For more information on menus or bookings see their website: http://www.queensheaddowne.com/  The pub is open Sun-Thu 12 noon - 11 pm (11:30pm on weekends).

Location:  The Queen’s Head, Downe, Orpington, BR6 7US

Closest Rail:  15 minutes from London Victoria to Bromley South, followed by bus 146 OR from Charing Cross or Victoria to Orpington followed by bus R8 (not on Sundays).

Photo credit: Queen’s Head Website

UCL Art Museum



UCL London CampusThe University College London (UCL) Art Museum is located at their main Bloomsbury campus and offers changing exhibits throughout the year (the new exhibit titled ‘Plastered’ opens on 21-Jan-2013 which focuses on plaster, the casting process, and scultpure) as well as opportunities for research, with a fully searchable online catalogue that can be viewed by request.  With over 10,000 works of art from the 1500′s onward, including drawings by Turner and etchings by Rembrandt, paintings, prints and sculpture there are plenty of reasons to visit.  The museum integrates its collection with students, researchers from other disciplines, modern artists and other museum collections when forming its exhibits creating a more unique and educational experience for the audience.

History of the Museum Collection:  In 1847, neo-classical artist John Flaxman made UCL Flaxman Gallerya gift of his sculpture models and drawings to the College.  Further gifts came over the years, including a bequest from Felix Slade in 1868 endowing the Fine Arts program (thus the Slade School of Art).  The majority of the collection came from two bequests - Mr. George Grote in 1872 and Henry Vaughan in 1900. Grote’s gift included an important group of 16th-century German works and a selection of Renaissance and Baroque prints and drawings mainly from Northern Europe, while Vaughan’s gift included drawings by Turner and De Wint, Rembrandt etchings, and early proofs and states of Turner’s Liber Studiorum and Constable’s English Landscape Scenery. A bequest from Sherborn in 1937 added more rare and important prints to the collection including an early edition of Dürer’s Apocalypse woodcuts and early states and proofs from Van Dyck’s Iconographia.

The collection also holds the collection of prize-winning student work from the school dating from 1890 to today, including gifts and purchases.  Since the Slade School of Fine Art was the first art school to admit women on equal footing to men a large number of works by pioneering women artists are in the collection, dating from the 1890s onwards.

ucl art museum print room insideMuseum Info:  The Museum’s “works on paper” (prints and etchings) are housed in a traditional Print Room setting in the museum, while paintings and sculpture are displayed in public rooms around the college.  The Flaxman Gallery (in the Wilkins Building) under the dome is currently being renovated to open it up to the ground level below, creating better light and a new exhibition space.  The collections are publicly accessible through temporary exhibitions and displays across the campus.  The museum is open to the public (free admission) Mon-Fri 1 pm-5 pm whenever an exhibition is on display.  See their website for more details, which includes information on their ‘Top 10′ items, as well as a self-guided tour outline.  There are also various conferences and lectures provided throughout the year, though they may require booking and fees.  See: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/uclart

Located at: South Cloisters, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Closest Tube: Euston Square

Creekside Centre ~ for a mudlarking nature walk!



creekside centre building deptfordNot far from Greenwich Maritime Museum is Creekside Discovery Centre at Deptford Creek which provides opportunities for individuals to get up close with urban wildlife in a river setting.  Run as a charitable company, Creekside Discovery Centre offers a broad range of activities, mostly focused on exploring the area of Deptford Creek, where the River Ravensbourne reaches the Thames.  Their walks allows participants an opportunity to walk through the muddy banks of the river and see fish, birds, saltwater plants and mammals in their natural environment.

The Centre comprises a purpose built environmental education building from which walking tours depart.  Participants don river waders and depart with a staff member / tour guide for a fun mudlarking style walk.

A little History: Deptford Creek is where the River Ravensbourne flows into the deptford creekRiver Thames.  The river rises at Caeser’s Well in Keston, near Bromley.  Flowing 11 miles, it reaches the Thames here - a place recorded in history for various reasons.  For example on 17-June-1497 the Battle of Deptford Bridge was the final battle in the Cornish Rebellion.  Also, here in 1580 Queen Elizabeth knighted Francis Drake on board the Golden Hind after he returned from circumnavigating the globe.  The Golden Hind remained moored here until it fell into disrepair.

Low Tide Walks:  Perhaps the most compelling activity here is the low-tide walk.  On this walk you are taken into an urban, but wild, river where you can experience both the regions history and its flora & fauna.  These walks usually occur at least creekside centre mud walkonce a month, and advance booking/reservation is highly recommended.  Each walk is about 2 1/2 hours long and led by an experienced conservationist.  You will often see eel, stickleback, flounder, chinese mitten crab, leeches, shrimp and prawn.  In addition, it is common to see birds ranging from herons to cormorants.  Must be 8+ yrs old.  Waders, waterproofs and a walking stick are provided.  It is recommended you wear old clothes as mud stains are hard to remove!  Most walks are on Saturdays. Adults: £10.00, Children: £8.50, Family: £28.00.

Free Events:  In addition to the guided river walks the Centre also hosts various free events.  Check their website to see the upcoming activities that are free.  These are often more traditional walks along the River Ravensbourne. No age restrictions as these do not go into the River.  Expect to get a guided tour that provides insight into local wildlife and history.  These tours are offered through the “Rivers & People Project” whose goal is to connect people with the region’s waterways and to preserve and enhance the interaction of nature with urban life.

For more information on both the ‘River Walks’ and the ‘Rivers & People Project’ and for specific events see: http://www.creeksidecentre.org.uk or @Creekside_Trust

Located at: 14 Creekside, Deptford, SE8 4SA

Closest Transit:  DLR: Deptford Bridge or Greenwich

Photo credit: Creeksidecentre.org.uk

Courthouse Hotel ~ a former Magistrates Court with a storied history.


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Courthouse hotel outsideAcross the street from Liberty’s is the ‘Courthouse Hotel’, so named as it was previously the Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court.  Here you can drink cocktails in a police cell and dine in a courtroom.  You can retrace the footsteps of celebrity defendants like Mike Jagger and John Lennon, and see where Charles Dickens worked when he was a reporter.

History:  The court here was one of seven Public Offices established in London in 1792.  It was the only Metropolitan Police Court to remain on its original site until it closed in 1990.  The current building was built by noted police architect J.D. Butler in 1913.  This Court and Police Station handled a significant range of cases involving famous individuals in British history.  For some of the more interesting people and cases that went through these doors see the chronology below.

courthouse bar vip room

Prison Cell in the Bar

While a hotel today, much of the visual character of the courthouse has beencourthouse hotel bar prison preserved.  For example inside the bar the old prison cells have been converted into semi-private VIP rooms to enjoy your drinks in.  In addition, their restaurant - Silk - occupies what was the main Court Room. Even the judges’ bench, dock and witness stand have all been retained and preserved.   Iron bars from the prison still separate the lobby lounge from the Bar. When it was operating as a court it was the second oldest magistrates court in the UK.  With these court related items still prevalent, original Robert Adams fireplaces in some of the suites, and period features throughout, the building is now Grade II listed.

Timeline:  When a Court, the following are some of the significant facts and dates:

1835: Charles Dickens worked here as  reporter there for the Morning Chronicle.

courthouse hotel restaurant

Number 1 Courtroom

1895:  Oscar Wilde took the Marquess of Queensbury to court here on a criminal libel charge.

1969:  Mick Jagger appeared in Court and was fined £200 for drugs offenses.

1970:  Case against John Lennon for exhibiting pictures which were too sexually explicit in the London Art Gallery dismissed.

1973:  Keith Richards appeared in Court and was fined £205 for possession of marijuana, heroin, a revolver and an antique shotgun.

1977:  Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols) was fined £40 for possessing amphetamines.

1981:  John Miller, who masterminded the kidnap of Ronnie Biggs, appeared in court after being arrested on his return from the Carribean.

Located: 19-21 Great Marlborough St,

Closest tube: Oxford Circus


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