21 December, 2009

The Chilterns - Chalfont st Giles

A visit to the chilterns in the middle of winter with snow on the ground anddifficulty walking. I got off the train at Chalfont and Latimer, expecting to be able to reach Chalfont St Giles easily. It was not to be. I picked up the wrong map and so had to ask in the library where I should go. They directed me for 3 miles of pavementless road and, eventually, I arrived at Chalfont St Giles.
A pleasant little village with an old church, and a green. It was where John Milton escaped the plague in London, and his cottage is preserved. Alas it is not open in December or three other months of the year, so I could not go in to see where he enjoyed himself and kept free of plague. The church was locked as well.
The only thing for it was to take the bus to Amersham and come back to London.

07 December, 2009


A visit to the Middlesex side of the Borough of Richmond, including the voluntary Twickenham Museum.

Think Twickenham and the thought goes immedietely to Rugby. Not sure I can cope with the arcane sport that used to be divided in two with a league and a union so all I can say is that Twickenham, and Whitton, is pretty good for charity shops, in some cases three in a row.

The shopping and pubbing is OK in Twickenham - basically just Richmond's poor relation although there are some aristocratic mansions. The old riverside (and Eel Pie Island) is much more interesting. First off I went to Twickneham Museum, staffed by enthusiastic volunteers (including a lady from the North East) diamond geezer was disappointed with the museum and so was I really. It was a bit short on artifacts and a bit heavy on reading.

I think the church was having a striking competition or peal attempt day on their 8 bells. On the wall of the church high up was a flood commemoration level - floods are not a recent phenomenon..

Twickenham has some of the nicest council offices I've seen. These used to belong to an indian millionaire who had these naked ladies frolicing in his garden. They have been restorred recently.

The Modern art gallery had some connection with the Duke of Orleans but the house was mostly demolished apart from this little banqueting house with a very fine interior.
Twickenham - I might go back.

29 November, 2009

Compton surrey

A drive around the Surrey Hampshire border country and tea in the tea rooms at the Watts Gallery.

28 November, 2009


A day out in Derby- home to Crown Derby (natch, although Cornish ware comes from Staffs)and the former Midland Railway and current railway research.

It's also a cathedral city

and home to the first ever factory

Who says railway couplings can't be fun?

21 November, 2009

East Grinstead and Oxted

I was told I'd be bored by East Grinstead but really it wasn't that bad. The town is noted for having the longest run of 16th Century buildings in the country and I've no reason to doubt that. It is in the North East corner of West Sussex and the old buildings are well used.

One is the Sackville College an almshouse. We met the Sackvilles at Knole, if you remember, but it was here that they founded their old people's home.

Back in the 1960s the inmates had to wear a uniform - in the museum there was one of the old uniforms - a black dress and a black cloak. In the 1960s the inmates finally rebelled and made a bonfire of the uniforms! I hope they can now wear their own clothes.

The church of St Swithun was rebuilt in the 18th century, unudually in the gothic style. Even inside the church is hard to date. Probably it was rebuilt to be much the same as before.

So I wasn't bored with East Grinstead and might even go back there at some point.

The train back from East Grinstead calles at Oxted also. Now Oxted looked meadieval but I suspected it was all 1930s fakery or maybe 1890s fakery. Certianly most of the housing was of the mid 20th century. Oxted was quite nice with a tudor cinema and the church of St Mary - you can't fake that!

Oxted is also on the meridian.

15 November, 2009

07 November, 2009

Baldock, Letchworth and a brief look at Hitchin.

Hitchin was only a flying visit with a view to going back there one day.

Baldock was quite nice but not much there - rather overshadowed by Letchworth too.
From Travels around London

Ah, now- Letchworth Garden City - First Garden City Limited and that's what it was - the first city (well town really) founded on town planning lines which endeavoured to put the maximum number of people into a high quality environment. The final goal is Freedom and Co-operation (in the sense promoted by the International Coöperative alliance). See Howards Magnets for the full story.
Temperance until the 1960s there was a pub the skittles inn now the settlement.
From Travels around London

This led to the comment that life in Letchworth was all skittles and no beer!

Houses were built in all kinds of styles from garden city modern
From Travels around London

Modified council house
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And edwardian rustic
From Travels around London

Letchworth has apparently a good sense of community, the developer always acting for the public good. It's a nice open community in a pleasant environment. I think the aim has succeeded.

02 November, 2009

A sunny Monday Portslade to Saltdean

A beautiful monday after a wet weekend. A trip to Portslade and Hove. Old Portslade has an ancient church.
From Travels around London
although plain within. Portslade isn't so good but the old village is pleasant.

Above the village is the foredown tower (shut)
From Travels around London

Then it was time to go into Hove and western Brighton which was gorgeous. Another bus ride led me to Rottingdean home of Burne Jones, Rudyard Kipling, Angela Thirkell (mother of Colin McInnes) and Enid Bagnold. Not sure who remembers these authours now although Kipling will be recognised.

There were Burne Jones Windows in the church and a special Kipling Garden on the green.

The final bus ride led me to Saltdean to photograph the lido there
From Travels around London

A good day.

01 November, 2009

Veteran Brighton

A visit in the rain to see the end of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
This commemorates the ending of the Red Flag Act, which was falling into disuse anyway, which meant that any vehicle had to have a man with a red flag walking in front of the vehicle. Members of the Royal Automobile Club tore up a red flag and hared off to Brighton in 1896 creating both the first car park
From Travels around London

and the first traffic jam.
From Travels around London

From Travels around London

31 October, 2009

Bexhill and Eastbourne

A wet saturday in Bexhill and Eastbourne. Bexhill on Sea is the UK's charity shop capital and doesn't have much else going for it. There is, however the De La Warr Pavilion, a socialist pleasure palace by the sea. This is a splendid example of modernist architecture which seems to have been quite well restored.

Nothing much happening in it and the roof deck was closed at the top but was open at the first floor. There were two architecture exhibitions.

After that I went on to the Bexhill museum a small museum with big ideas. I got in for nothing but the admission was not cheap. There were racing cars as Bexhill was where British motorsport began, as the Earl De La Warr had a private road along the seafront.

Afterwards I had a walk up to Old Bexhill and a look round the church, as well as the demolished old manor house with a fireplace in the park.
From Travels around London

Having failed to obtain lunch in the pub in old Bexhill (the landlord gave the excuse that he was making food for tomorrow - why couldn't he make the food for today yesterday? - that's what I wonder) I left Bexhill and went to Eastbourne to hava a walk down to the front and on to the pier. Eastbourne Pier was described as the Palace Pier and had signs saying 'welcome to Brighton' but I suspect that was for filming purposes.
From Travels around London

I went into the restaurant (food served all day) and ordered a steak pie and chips. Unfortunately this was off and there was nothing else I fancied. A sign said no jumping off the pier but I suppose the last person who did had failed to have lunch.
From Travels around London

After another look round the shops I eventuaally had a late lunch complete with knickerbocker glory.
From Travels around London

Then it was time to go home after a good if wet day out.

05 October, 2009

Wigan and Warrington

Warrington (Cheshire) is nicer than Wigan but quite frankly there's not much in it. Wigan was more red brick and Warringtom more stucco but that was about it. Both had fine town halls but Warrington's had nice gates and looked like an old mansion. Wigan's was red brick and looked like a town hall.
From Travels around London

As far as I could see Wigan had no museum although there was a 'school of mines' sign above one of the doors of the town hall. Warrington had a museum, a real victorian gem with mummies shrunken heads and all sorts of things relating to Warrington and the wider world. Stuffed animals abounded in a recreated curator's office. It was worth going to see.

01 October, 2009

Eastbourne and Berwick, Sussex

A visit to Eastbourne with an old friend from a long time ago!

Firstly to Seaford head for the finest view in Sussex - the seven sisters.

Eastbourne is a pleasant seaside town where I havent spent much time, being more aware of brasher Brighton. But Eastbourne is rather pleasant and I think I might try spending a bit more time there.

Finally a visit to Berwick church - decorated by the Bloomsbury set who had a farm - Charltons - nearby. I wonder what the farming community thought when they came to church one Sunday and found their church redecorated?

Luton Beds

Luton is not a place to inspire one. The home of CWS Lutona cocoa and chocolate, the straw hat industry and lately the the Luton Bedford Van. Even though the inhabitants burnt down the Town Hall in 1919 - yes 1919 - it's not marvelous.
So Town Hall Riots: a penny pinching council had a peace celebration. Unfortunately the banquet was for councillors only with no ex servicemens organisations or others involved in the war effort. No wonder they rioted. The town clerk - in a despearte attempt to avoid blame, blamed drunkennes. I suppose he might have been drunk.

The church is interesting - charismatic and lively in a meadieval building with this curious baptistry standing 20 ft high!

The beautiful magnificat window is a fine example of stained glass art.

At Stockwood park with a very fine carriage collection there is a sculpture garden. All the sculptures are unlabelled and allowed to be come upon by chance in the garden. The picture shows one of the finest of these.

From Travels around London

29 September, 2009

Epping Upland Church

A short walk from Epping station to Epping upland to see the picturesque church, unfortunately it was not open. This is the ancient church of Epping.

On the way there I disturbed a small flock of goldfinshes- I don't think I've ever seen so many.

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It was well worth the trip and maybe I'll go back on Sunday for tea there.