28 March, 2010

Kingswood House and Crystal Palace

A visit to Southwark's only grade II listed building. Except it was closed today being Sunday.
Kingswood House is set in the middle of an estate of 1940s council houses and flats and was once a manor house set in fields near the Dulwich Estate.

21 March, 2010

The pocket handkerchief parks of Hatcham

A Sunday walk around Deptford and New Cross (which is really called Hatcham)

I started out at the rather bleak Deptford Park although this has been improved recently with a sculpture and a rose garden (no roses yet but we live in hope) and went into Folkstone Gardens. There was some criminal activity in the park but that didn't stop me, and I took a look at the pond. I noticed one of the rocks had a model terrapin on it, which I thought a somewhat odd choice for an ornament. Imagine my surprise when it saw me and crawled down the rock and into the water! No picture of course, but I hope I havent made it an endangered species.
After that went to Fordham park (just a piece of grassed waste ground really on the approach to Hatcham, and the hillside park called Telegraph Hill. This was an Admiralty semaphore signalling station when it was farmland but that fell into disuse with the advent of the electric telegraph. The views to London are amazing. It's a 10 acre park on a very awkward site but crams in a lake, a play area, tennis courts (free) toilets and office, and appears quite well looked after. There was a guided tour ongoing as I arrived.
Most of the land is owned by the Haberdashers Company (E.G. Haberdashers Aske Hatcham School) and this plaque appears on their property.

20 March, 2010

Barnet: fair

Even though it was wet. Barnet is at the end of the Northern Line and the station is called High Barnet although it really should be called Chipping Barnet, as that is the name of the town. The same happens at Chipping Ongar. I think London Underground somehow think that the word 'chipping' isn't very nice. That aside it was a wet day so I just did the town. I missed the old alms houses and the museum (as it takes a lunch break) but the church was open.
The reredos appeared to be victorian but there was a good modern stained glass window in the tower that looks much the same as it did in 1940 when the Kings England guide to Herts was published. The Folk Museum at East barnet is just a memory though - I once looked for it and found it derelict.
I did notice a lot of senility on the street and in the shops - most disturbing. Perhaps the proximity of the former Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum (Friern Barnet Hospital) now being turned like everything else into yuppie hutches has led to this madness. There were about 5 people obviously in mental distress in Barnet High Street alone.

I moved on to North Finchley and Friern Barnet where part of the hospital had not had anything done to it. I suppose nobody wants to live in a turrett..

I then went home via a friend in Hornsey.

14 March, 2010

Maidstone, Kent

I was debating whether to go to Aylesbury again but decided to go to Maidstone instead. I've been before but not blogged about it before so that swayed me. Maidstone is the seat of the County of Kent with the kent County Hall there.

When I was there before the museum was robbed while I was in it. (Wasn't me guv). I had been in a small gallery and when I went back into the gallery one of the cases was smashed. I noticed that it had been repaired on this visit but it is disconcerting that a museum could be robbed while one is present.

Maidstone has a traffic problem and some of Kent's finest old buildings. The Carriage museum is housed in the Archbishop's old stables, these have been built for 600 years or so.
The Archbishop's palace has been turned into the town registry office and lies, as is appropriate, next to All Saints Church. The palace was home to the Archbishops of Canterbury from the reign of King John to Henry VIII. Falling into decay it was rescued for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee.

The Collegiate church was surrounded by scaffolding when I called so I couldn't get a picture, but the original miseriecords were present for the college of 24 canons who were to pray for and educate the people. they had beautiful old carving rubbed smooth by the bottoms over 6 centuries although I noticed one chorister had the 21st century habit of leaving chewing gum on the ancient woodwork. The church is a wonder, and the ruined college next door picturesque.

Andrew Broughton the regicide lived in Maidstone, and may have known the old Tudor Chillington Manor, the town museum.
William Hazlitt also lived in Maidstone and the library had some of his books - in the discarded stock sale!

07 March, 2010

The Aldersgate Flame

John Wesley's conversion place where he felt his heart strangely warmed after a meeting of a society. The same thing happened to me after church one day, but then I discovered I'd spilled a cup of tea down my front!

Southend and Basildon

I've posted about Southend before and the place hasn't changed much since then, here is a picture of the Estuary front.

On the way back from Southend I stopped at Basildon, another new town. I’ve written elsewhere about Harlow and it is interesting to compare the two. Harlow dates from 1947 and Basildon from 1948 but they seem to be worlds apart, although this may be just familiarity. Basildon seems to bustle more than Harlow but has fewer artworks in the town. The oldest sculpture is on the side of ‘Freedom House’ (what a name) and is an abstract. Untitled, it is by A J Poole and was installed in 1957.

The sculpture of a mother and child in the fountain is interesting and is opposite the former co-operative store now occupied by Primark (as at Stevenage). The fountain was installed in 1962 and is black as coal. In the background is Brooke House also built in 1962, (did the council raid the housing account to pay for it one wonders?) a block of flats named after a Housing minister and designed by Sir Basil Spence. The only bit I could see was the lift lobby which was lined with marble and mosaic. A fitting setting for working class housing.

The Church of St Martin of Tours (Church of England of course) claims on its website that the church gardens make a pleasant place to sit, as well they might if they were not locked away behind 5 foot iron bars. The gardens have fountains playing round the side chapel of the church, although difficult to photograph. The church itself is attractive with a sculpture of Jesus over the door waiting in welcome and stained glass windows up to head height in the walls giving a floating impression.

The detatched modern campanile contains an 11cwt ring of 8 bells including the tenor cast in the 15th century and treble and second cast in 1997. The campanile was opened by the queen on my 32nd birthday

The library was quite well stocked with local history books although the books argued which shop had been the former co-op. I could not find out if it had been London Co-op Society, which was most likely, or Chelmsford Star Co-op which was the geographical best fit. There are a good few charity shops in Basildon and I bought a jug (£5 marked down from £15 although I even thought £5 was a little steep – cancer research are always pricey). It was dated 1943 and just as I got it home I dropped it and chipped it – blast! There were the usual pound shops but there was a Debenhams Department store.

There’s a very good train service from Basildon to Fenchurch Street.