15 June, 2013

Southend on Sea's six museums.

A day of heritage in Southend - not least my lunch. I've never really done the historical bits of Southend itself. True I've walked to Hadleigh Castle but that just passed Southend by. I've also tried to get in to the Art Gallery before although not successfully. I decided to do all the museums in Southend today with the exception of the Town Museum and Planetarium. My first was the cliff lift. For £1 it will take you from the cliff to the estuary front and back again, or vice versa. You also get the pleasure of the attendant's genial company. The lift closes about 1710 so there's no night service. Some of these installations are called cliff railways. Not sure what the difference is. Prittlewell square is at the top of the cliff and I took this arty picture to show how bright the day was, which doesn't always come across in my other pictures. The Beecroft Art Gallery, given by Alderman Beecroft in the coronation year of 1953 had a few exhibitions on, one a group of artists from Chelmsford, another of some of the art from the permanent collection, paintings and posters and some photography of beach huts, which were very colourful. The lighting was far too low to appreciate the permanent collection which was a pity because they looked quite nice. During my break for lunch I was seduced by the 1950s typography of the menu and the 1950s atmosphere of the cafe into some of the worst 1950s food you could get. Although I grant you it was cheap. Chicken pie was not on the menu here so I can make no comparisons. So I had my lunch and set off for Southchurch Hall which is a moated meadieval hall house with an extension firmly in the latter part of the twentieth century and victorian bedrooms etc. The service end of the hall is set out as a kitchen and the other end is done out for dining. There are two solars attached and a bedroom above the south solar, that is open to the public. The hall was restored in 1930 and used as a library but later became a museum. I enjoyed that one very much. In the surrounding park, presumably the grounds of the house there was a lake with two families of red snapper terrapins in them. The poor things looked a bit muddy though. Here is another pic of Southchurch Hall After leaving this house I was to walk up to Prittlewell Priory a former cluniac priory made into a vicorian house. However inclement weather made me take shelter in the Town Museum although there is not much there. A display about EKCO radio and a big fireplace being the main points of interest. Prittlewell Priory is heavily restored but well restored. The park was given to the town in 1917 together with the mansion. It was interesting to see the rooms including the cellars. On the way I saw a very old place called Swan Hall and this old place that was called nothing at all.

02 June, 2013

Green Chain walk - from home to the Crystal Palace.

A beautiful June Sunday in Rotherhithe so I went to the Crystal Palace accompanied by the scent of this plant. The sun was shining the birds were singing (at least they were in Dulwich) half way through the walk. In Hatcham I think they'd been eaten. I began my walk in Deptford Park, still a little bleak even after the sculpture was installed. I hesitate to say at my request but I did mention it during a surbey of park users. It's three years since I've blogged about Deptford and Hatcham and it hasn't really changed since then. However I did go into upper Telegraph Hill park, the one with the tennis court built on the remains of the semaphore station. I came out of the park and passed some eco looking houses, crossed the railway and wandered into Nunhead Cemetery. Laid out in the 19th century the cemetery was abandoned when the company went bust and it has now been taken over by Southwark Coincil In fact the whole of this walk really spans the boundary between Southwark and Lewisham, sometimes on the Southwark side sometimes Lewisham. I left the oergrown and derelict cemetery and walked as far as the Camberwell New Cemetery. I could not go in as I would not be able to get out the other side so I crossed into Lewisham via the modern church of St Silas Nunhead and got some food from the excellent Crofton Park Co-op opposite the Rivoli Ballroom, reputedly home to drag balls. A reasonable walk through low class suburbia led me to the Honour Oak where Queen Elizabeth I reputedly rested on May Day during her reign. The park was saved from the ravages of golfers and opened as a public open space after a protest invasion in the 1890s. Honour oak was a detour really and the next port of call was in Southwark again and Brenchley Gardens, partially formal gardens dedicated to Alderman Brenchley. On the way there some kind soul had put books on their garden wall for people to take if they wished. I found some nice reads there. The next green space up - Camberwell old cemetery which was pleasant with some new areas for graves laid out and interesting gates. To walk through there I had to deviate from the straight path but it was worth it. The next bit was through a slightly more respectable semi detatched street and then into Horniman museum gardens the back way. I went the way I'd never been before and went down to the bottom of the gardens where there was a paddling pool with goalposts in it. But no water. There were also curious green spaces that might repay a little more time. Leaving the gardens and obeying the instructions to cross at the crossing I came upon this telephone box which doesn't look as though it has been used for years. The walk then led through Dulwich Woods past the site of Lordship Lane station, immortalised by Pisarro but closed by British Railways, some Victorian ruins built as eyecatchers, and a bat cave in the old railway tunnel. I walked over the top of the tunnel and down the other side to walk through a Lewisham housing estate and come out in very posh Southwark Dulwich - where the houses would not have been out of place in Hollywood (well the Victorian ones would but you know what I mean). Coming out at the Dulwich Wood Pub the next thing to do was to walk down to the Crystal palace passing my grotty Landlord's founder's home and some exceptionally beautiful flowers. My walk was not over as there were no overground trains from Crystal Palace so I had to walk to Annerley to get home.