Our visit to Benjamin Franklin House (QL p. 23) on Friday was such a success for us both that we decided to devote the rest of the weekend following up places suggested by Siobhan Wall in her book Quiet London and some eateries suggested in another little book of mine Tea and Cake London by Zena Alkayat.
From BHF we trotted off to Lincoln’s Inn Fields to try to track down The Fleet River Bakery (T&C L p. 40) mentioned in the Tea and Cake book. We eventually found it and bought ourselves tea and cake (my cake was Hummingbird – pineapple, mango and pineapple – so lovely and moist). We decided not to eat in but to take our food and drink into the Lincoln’s Inn Fields and picnic on a park bench in the sun.
London is so interesting and you never know what you might see so we usually walk whenever we can. Our route back to the hotel took us along Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, past St Paul’s Cathedral, past 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin, to you and me) and finally to Aldgate and Minories.
The Royal Exchange and The Gherkin
We called a few of the Quiet restaurants that evening but all were full. We ended up at Morito the Tapas bar next to and owned by Moro on Exmouth Market. The tapas was excellent but the bar would not gain a place in Quiet London!
Next day we had a number of places in mind and began our Quiet London Trail at the Crypt Museum (QL p. 20). A 20 minute ‘pop in’ to the church of All Hallows By The Tower ended about two hours later! You can see why (and this poster does not mention the exhibition “Bonuses, Benefits & Bailouts : the morality of the King James Bible”).
All Hallows By The Tower
“To tie in with the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer, All Hallows by the Tower and The Museum of the Book in Limehouse are pleased to present this exhibition of manuscripts, first edition bibles, prayer books and other artefacts challenging our thinking on issues of legality versus morality using the King James Bible as a starting point.” [Summer Programme leaflet]
“This tiny museum lies underneath one of London’s original Saxon churches. In the crypt is a Roman tesselated floor from a house built in the late 2nd century. The museum also holds registers dating back to the 16th century. The highlight, however, is the intricate brasses inlaid in the stone floor of the church, near the altar.” [Quiet London, p. 20]
Moving on from All Hallows we visited The Wellington Arch. Recently opened by English Heritage this London landmark has not yet arrived in Quiet London. You can climb (or take the lift) to the top for views towards Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace Gardens, Green Park and Piccadilly. There’s an exhibition space (at the moment it commemorates 100 years of Blackpool Illuminations and the Blackpool Tower), a further gallery showing the history of the Arch and its former locations plus a bijou bookshop of London book titles.
Next up we crossed the river (underground by tube) to Vauxhall. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall were one of the London places to see and be seen but our hunt was for something very much more esoteric : Bonnington Square Garden (QL p. 46).
Bonnington Square Garden
“Known as ‘the Pleasure Garden’ in homage to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, this former bomb site and derelict playground was transformed by the imaginative residents of the Bonnington Square Garden Association. Amazingly, this south London oasis is full of lush tropical plants and intriguing public sculptures.” [QL p. 46]
The residents continued their enthusiasm for all things green by planting out more areas in the neighbourhood, on street corners and other small open spaces.
Bonnington Cafe (plays music so not quiet!)
[To be continued]