Home » London Book Review - Non Fiction » Book Review : Quiet London (Culture) by Siobhan Wall (Frances Lincoln Publishers)

Book Review : Quiet London (Culture) by Siobhan Wall (Frances Lincoln Publishers)


Siobhan Wall has been  the leading light of the ‘Quiet’ revolution which seeks to find peaceful and tranquil places in many major cities.

The success of the original Quiet London has led the author to produce three new Quiet London books which concentrate on particular areas. This book identifies some of  London’s cultural gems within  beautiful and serene locations.

The book has an introduction followed by sections about Museums, Libraries, Small shops, Bookshops, Cultural centres, Galleries, Public sculptures and monuments.

It seems a rather strange idea that you seek peace and quiet in places that are often places whose prior aim is to attract people to their institutions.

However this is an important aspect of the Quiet ethos, namely it is more about a determination to find a space in which values peace and quiet rather than finding empty and unused institutions.

Obviously the larger museums would find it difficult to provide that ‘ space’ but the authors provides us with a number of interesting alternatives. One of her favourites is the Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell whose Norman crypt she considers ‘the most silent, undisturbed place in London ‘.

Other favourites are Syon House, Brunel Museum, Hunterian Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology.

Libraries have always seen as a sanctuary of peace and the selection offered by the author includes a number of specialist libraries including the Wallace Collection Library, RIBA, Royal Academy Library and Westminster Reference Library.

The Small shops and Bookshops selected tend to biased  towards the more  personal and ‘old fashioned ‘ approach. However there is plenty of variety ranging from McQueens Florists to Rezai Persian Carpets , although some well known bookshops like Daunt books, Foyles and  Lutyens & Rubeinstein are featured.

It is probably the Cultural centres and galleries that offer the biggest surprises, the merits of the Nehru centre and the Daiwa foundation are largely unknown , the same sentiment could be applied to the majority of the Galleries featured.

Finally the outdoor sculptures and monument pay homage to some of the more unusual installations in the city ,  the Soas roof garden especially was conceived as a place for meditation and reflection.

This informative and well written book  offers something quite different from many other guides, the author is an artist as well a writer ,therefore  the short descriptions for each venue, alongside travel and contact details are complimented by  imaginative attractive photographs.

This book will appeal to those who  like to find peace and quiet in London, it will also appeal to those who appreciate a slower way of life and value their own ‘space’ and wish to find cultural institutions and shops that reflect that interest.

 Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

 If you would like to find out more about the book or buy a copy , visit the publishers website here 

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