Today (Monday) brought us another sunny but chilly afternoon, a degree or so colder than yesterday, making it more comfortable to stay on the sunny side of the streets where possible.
My favourite tree
I started by photographing the Curvaceous Tree, even though I have done so many times before. This is partly because I have become very fond of it and because it has, in some sense, become the symbol and inspiration of our pandemic walks.
We again drank our coffee al fresco, returning to one of our favourite resting places, Percy Circus.
The sun in a lamp
Photo by Tigger
Tigger was inspired to take a photo of the sun shining in a street lamp – rather artistic, don’t you think? As yesterday, the air was hazy, lending a soft-focus effect to distant views.
We found a bench in the sun in Percy Circus where we took our ease and drank our coffee.
A view of Percy Circus
A took this partial view of Percy Circus Garden from my seat on the bench.
Old Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court and Police Station
After coffee, we ventured down the hill to the King’s Cross Road. This is the Grade II listed former Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court of 1906. Attached to it is a former police station which is much earlier, dating from 1842. I think it is a rather handsome building. I wonder what the future holds for it.
We admired these white fronted houses with elaborate balconies resting between plainer siblings. This is not a chance alignment and we saw other examples during our walk. It seems that the builders of these streets sometimes included more elaborate designs in the middle of a terrace to attract buyers looking for something a little more special.
Calthorpe Community Garden
When she first arrived in London, Tigger lived for a while near here and remembers this terrain as a bomb site. It has now been converted into a community garden, with children particularly in mind.
Community Garden entrance
The elaborate artwork above the gate suggests that the garden is a place for children to play and explore and other signage confirms this message. One part of the garden (not shown here) has been left fairly rough, presumably on purpose. The organisation has a wider purpose, however, as detailed on its website.
Old cattle trough and drinking fountain
The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association was set up in 1859 to provide clean drinking water for the public. In 1867 it changed its name to reflect a new additional purpose: Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. The design of the troughs remained much the same throughout the history of their establishment and provided drinking water for humans, cattle and dogs (the ground-level trough is for the latter).
Many of its troughs were partly or wholly financed by people wishing thus to create a memorial to a loved or admired deceased. This one, for example, bears the following dedication:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
H T W & M M W
The MDFCTA has a website and this Wikipedia article gives an outline of the Association’s history. The troughs, no longer needed for their original purpose, have been taken in hand by local councils and often planted with flowers, as this one has been.
Old Royal Free Hospital
This rather fine Victorian building still bears the name under which it was founded: Royal Free Hospital. It later became the Eastman Dental Hospital and part of University College London Hospital. It is now being “redeveloped” but I don’t know what it fate is to be.
Old Eastman Dental Clinic
Its more recent companion site is also undergoing a similar change of fate. What is to become of them?
Sculptures at the entrance
The entrance is flanked by two columns bearing the sculpture of a child. I do not know who the artist is or whether they will survive whatever fate lies in store for the building.
The houses in the area present a mixture of types but the underlying character is the Georgian style domestic dwelling, some more elaborate than others. It’s fun keeping track of the different styles of mosaics in front of the door. Here are two in contrasting styles. The above above represents the traditional, while…
…this is a strikingly modern design.
Art Deco, 1938 vintage
This building caught our attention because of its odd – not to say awkward – configuration. It clearly divides into two sections. Bearing a date of 1938, it has two Art Deco figures atop pilasters either side of the entrance.
Art Deco figures
Photo by Tigger
It turns out that the building is Grade II listed and that the section we photographed was just part of a larger site which includes a pub called The Duke (originally the Duke of York). The curious thing is that this pub’s history goes back to at least 1841 (see this article). I can only suppose that the pub already existed when the site was developed and was incorporated into the new building.
I took this photo to illustrate a feature quite common in this area: double front doors. In Georgian style houses, the larger ones often have this feature while in less affluent neighbourhoods, the doors are single although their design often imitates double doors.
The problem with double doors is where to place furnishings such as the door knocker, the doorknob and, later, the letterbox. A common solution in this neighbourhood is to make the design symmetrical by including two knockers and two doorknobs. When letterboxes came into being, they spoiled this symmetry, having to be placed on one side or the other. This dissatisfied one house holder who…
…installed two letterboxes! I wonder how the postie decides in which letterbox to place the mail.
The Lady Ottoline, once the King’s Arms
This fairly handsome Victorian pub was built in its present form in 1898 on a site occupied since the 18th century by its forerunner, the King’s Arms. At some point, though I don’t know when, it was renamed the Lady Ottoline after Lady Ottoline Morell, a well known society hostess who lived nearby and rubbed shoulders with the elite of the world of letters and learning. Her most famous liaison was perhaps that with philosopher Bertrand Russell.
Royal Oak clock
Photo by Tigger
Here is another curiosity. This house at, I think, number 12 John Street, is an ordinary dwelling and yet it has a large clock affixed to the façade! The inscription on the clock is ROYAL OAK. That sounds like the name of a pub but large exterior clocks are not commonly found on pubs. However, I note that there exists a company called Royal Oak Insurance. Could this clock have once adorned the front of one of their offices? Perhaps the building was demolished or the clock disposed of for some reason and the householder of the time rescued it. Who knows?
When we found ourselves in Theobalds Road opposite Conway Hall, home of the famous ethical society of the same name, we realised how far we had come. We therefore adopted the solution we had chosen on Saturday and returned home by bus.