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Hidden London: London’s Lighthouse in Blackwall

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Thames has been a highway for shipping for centuries, however the river is not considered a dangerous river to navigate. Therefore it is a suprise that near Blackwall which is around six miles from the centre of London is a lighthouse.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The lighthouse is located in Trinity Buoy Wharf which for centuries was occupied by the Corporation of Trinity House and used for storing buoys and other marine equipment with workshops for testing, repairing and making equipment.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In the 19th century, a lighthouse was built, not to aid the Thames river traffic but as an experimental lighthouse. In the original lighthouse built in the 1850s,famous scientist Michael Faraday carried out tests in electric lighting for lighthouses. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1864 and was used to experiment with electric light and different coloured lights, the results being checked at Charlton across the river. After the Second World War, the lighthouse was used for the training of lighthouse keepers.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The lighthouse and the workshops were closed in 1988 and the area was acquired by the London Docklands Development Corporation. In 1998, Urban Space Holdings Ltd took control of the site on a long lease. The site has been, and continues to be, developed as “a centre for the arts and cultural activities”.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Inside the Lighthouse is the Longplayer installation, which has been running since the 31st December 1999. In addition to the listening post, there are 234 singing bowls, used as a part of the 66-foot-wide orchestral instrument to perform Longplayer Live, are on display. The steel structure, designed by Ingrid Hu, was commissioned to display and store the bowls and was installed in autumn 2012. Each tier of the structure, containing 39 bowls positioned sequentially, corresponds to one of the six concentric rings of the Longplayer Live instrument. Longplayer is programmed so it will not stop until 2999.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Lighthouse is the main attraction in Trinity Buoy Wharf but there are a number of other attractions including a small installation in shed called the Faraday Effect, an old Trinity lighthouse ship which has been turned into a Music Recording Studio, Old shipping containers have been painted and made into office blocks called Container City.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

But perhaps the last thing you would expect to find in such a place is the Fatboy’s Diner, a genuine 1940s American Diner from New Jersey that was bought over from the States then had a few short stays in different parts of London before finding its present site. The Diner itself is a bit of a celebrity featuring in the film Sliding Doors, music videos and magazines.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Trinity Buoy Wharf is located near to the financial district of Canary Wharf and visitors can enjoy great views of the Thames and the O2 whilst drinking a milkshake at an original American Diner next to a lighthouse.

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Hidden London: The Strange Story of Bleeding Heart Yard

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
There are places in London that on the surface are quite ordinary and not worth a second glance but scratch below the surface and you may be surprised by what you find.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Bleeding Heart Yard is one of these places, it is a fairly anonymous cobbled courtyard off Greville Street in the Farringdon area of the City of London. The courtyard was probably named after a 16th-century inn sign displayed on a pub called the Bleeding Heart. It was said that the sign showed the heart of the Virgin Mary pierced by five swords.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
There is still a Bleeding Heart Tavern in front of the courtyard and visitors will notice the heart motif as they wander around. It is not by accident because the area was known for the gruesome ‘murder’ of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, relative of Sir Christopher Hatton (known as the dancing ‘Chancellor’ during the reign of Elizabeth I). He lived in nearby Ely Place and owned much of the area around Hatton Garden. It is said that her body was found here in 1626, “torn limb from limb, but with her heart still pumping blood.”
The origins of the legend is not known but a well known version of the story was published in the early 19th century as one of the Ingoldsby Legends by Richard Barham. In a story entitled  The House-Warming!!: A Legend Of Bleeding-Heart Yard.
In this version, Sir Christopher Hatton marries Alice Fanshawe, who is suspected of having made a deal with the Devil so that her husband will have success at the court of Elizabeth I. Sir Christopher success leads to him becoming Lord Chancellor, and the Queen forces the Bishops of Ely to give Sir Christopher the keys to their London residence at Ely Place.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
However, when the Hattons celebrate their good fortune at their housewarming they have an unwelcome visitor who wants to dance with Alice, the Devil it seems wants Alice to pay her part of the contract.
Of poor Lady Hatton, it’s needless to say,
No traces have ever been found to this day,
Or the terrible dancer who whisk’d her away;
But out in the court-yard — and just in that part
Where the pump stands — lay bleeding a LARGE HUMAN HEART!
And sundry large stains
Of blood and of brains,
Which had not been wash’d off notwithstanding the rains,
Appear’d on the wood, and the handle, and chains,
As if somebody’s head with a very hard thump,
Had been recently knock’d on the top of the pump.
Like many legends, there are elements of truth and more than a splash of fantasy. While it was true that Sir Christopher Hatton did benefit from Queen Elizabeth’s patronage and did receive Ely Place from the Bishop of Ely.
Other parts of the story are a confusion of the various Christopher Hattons and Lady Hattons, no Lady Hatton was murdered in Bleeding Heart Yard in 1626.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Richard Barham was not the only author attracted to this peculiar corner of London, Bleeding Heart Yard features in the Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit as the home of the Plornish family. Dickens describes the yard and its name.
Bleeding Heart Yard was to be found; a place much changed in feature and in fortune, yet with some relish of ancient greatness about it. Two or three mighty stacks of chimneys, and a few large dark rooms which had escaped being walled and subdivided out of the recognition of their old proportions, gave the Yard a character. It was inhabited by poor people, who set up their rest among its faded glories, as Arabs of the desert pitch their tents among the fallen stones of the Pyramids; but there was a family sentimental feeling prevalent in the Yard, that it had a character.
As if the aspiring city had become puffed up in the very ground on which it stood, the ground had so risen about Bleeding Heart Yard that you got into it down a flight of steps which formed no part of the original approach, and got out of it by a low gateway into a maze of shabby streets, which went about and about, tortuously ascending to the level again. At this end of the Yard and over the gateway, was the factory of Daniel Doyce, often heavily beating like a bleeding heart of iron, with the clink of metal upon metal.
The opinion of the Yard was divided respecting the derivation of its name. The more practical of its inmates abided by the tradition of a murder; the gentler and more imaginative inhabitants, including the whole of the tender sex, were loyal to the legend of a young lady of former times closely imprisoned in her chamber by a cruel father for remaining true to her own true love, and refusing to marry the suitor he chose for her. The legend related how that the young lady used to be seen up at her window behind the bars, murmuring a love-lorn song of which the burden was, ‘Bleeding Heart, Bleeding Heart, bleeding away,’ until she died.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The Bleeding Heart Yard of today is more sedate than its fictional past but there are still reminders of the legends of the past.
London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Hidden London: Southbank Undercroft Skate Space

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Many visitors to the London Southbank may be surprised by skateboarders doing their tricks under the Southbank Centre. They may even more surprised that skateboarders have been using this space for nearly 50 years and it has gained a reputation as London’s iconic skateboarding site.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

For many years, the skateboarders were tolerated but not encouraged and in plans to redevelop the Southbank Centre, it was considered to use the space for other uses. However a long running campaign and a successful fundraising exercise has bought official recognition.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The local community of skateboarders, BMXers, Graffiti Writers and other creatives approached Southbank Centre in 2013 and 2014 and a partnership was formed to develop the space. After planning permission was granted, £1.1 million was raised in a joint fundraising campaign. From July 2019, Long Live Southbank (LLSB) and the Southbank Centre have opened sections of the Southbank Undercroft Skate Space which have been closed to the public since 2005. This marks a joint commitment to reopen and promote the space as a skateboarding site.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The work has restored Southbank’s little banks, one of the most important sites in UK skateboarding history. The work will also restore the wooden ledge, a large area of flatground and create a new jersey barrier for skaters to use in the space.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Various events have been planned to celebrate this official opening of the new areas and plans are being developed to consider the skateboarding future of the space.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Hidden London: Clifford’s Inn in the City of London

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The City of London is a wonderful place to explore to find some of the hidden corners which takes you back into the past. One of hidden corners is Clifford’s Inn between Fetter Lane, Fleet Street and Chancery Lane.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Clifford’s Inn is a former Inn of Chancery which was founded in 1344 and refounded 15 June 1668. It was dissolved in 1903, and most of its original structure was demolished in 1934. Clifford’s Inn had the distinction of being the first Inn of Chancery to be founded and the last to be demolished.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Inns of Chancery evolved with the Inns of Court. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Law was taught in the City of London primarily by the clergy. This changed in the 13th century when a decree was issued by Henry III stating that no institutes of legal education could exist in the City of London; and a Papal Bull prohibiting clergy from teaching law in London.

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Legal education led to lawyers carrying out their business within “inns”, which were used for accommodation and offices. The land on which Clifford’s Inn was built was granted to Lord de Clifford in 1310, Isabel, Lady de Clifford granted use of the land to students of the law for £10 annually. It was the first recorded Inn of Chancery.

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The Society of Clifford’s Inn purchased the freehold of the property in 1618, however in 1903 it was decided that the Inn was not needed anymore, so its members unanimously agreed to dissolve the society, selling the buildings and giving what was left to the Attorney General for England and Wales. The Inn was sold for the sum of £100,000 and the buildings were demolished in 1934.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The only surviving part of Clifford’s Inn is the gatehouse in Clifford’s Inn Passage, which is believed to have been designed by Decimus Burton, a former student of the Inn.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
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The Golden Boy of Pye Corner in London

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The Golden Boy of Pye Corner is a famous small monument located on the corner of Giltspur Street and Cock Lane near the City of London. The Golden Boy marks the spot where the 1666 Great Fire of London was stopped. The statue is made of wood and is covered with gold. The building that incorporates it is a Grade II listed building.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

It bears the following small inscription below it:

This Boy is in Memmory Put up for the late FIRE of LONDON Occasion’d by the Sin of Gluttony.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The main inscription, 10 ft below the boy is The boy at Pye Corner was erected to commemorate
the staying of the great fire which beginning at Pudding Lane was ascribed to the Sin of Gluttony
when not attributed to the papists as on the Monument and the Boy was made prodigiously fat to
enforce the moral he was originally built into the front of a public-house Called The Fortune of War
Which used to occupy this site and was pulled down in 1910.

‘The Fortune of War’ was The chief house of call North of the River for Resurrectionists in body
snatching days years ago. The landlord used to show the room where on benches round the walls the bodies
Were placed labelled with the snatchers’ names waiting till the Surgeons at Saint Bartholomew’s could run
round and appraise them.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The area was known as Rennerstrete in the 15th century, famous London historian Stow considered that the name “Pie Corner” from the sign of the Pie, “a fayre Inn for recipte of travellers, but now divided into tenementes “.

Pie Corner in the 17th century was often mentioned for its food, Ben Jonson writes in the Alchemist in 1612 remarks

“I shall put you in mind, sir, at Pie Corner,
Taking your meal of steam in from cooks’ stalls.”

In the 18th century, Strype mentions Pie Corner, as “noted chiefly for cooks’ shops and pigs dressed there during Bartholomew Fair.”

As noted in the information on the wall, The Fortune of War public house was known for resurrectionists who often displayed their corpses to surgeons at nearby St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The public house was mentioned in William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities before being demolished in 1910.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Despite the knowledge of the area, the origins of the Golden Boy is shrouded in mystery and little is known when he appeared on the wall on Pie Corner. Many have mentioned that although the Golden Boy is associated with gluttony, he is not really a fat little boy. In fact he resembles a cherub but where he came from is not known.These mysteries are quite common in London where the origins of these objects are often lost in time.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Hidden London: The Strange Story of the Republic of Texas Legation in London

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A small plaque in an alley leading to Pickering Place off St. James’s Street near St. James’s Palace is a reminder that for a very short time, the Republic of Texas had a small embassy over a wine shop in London. The Republic of Texas was declared in 1836 and quickly the republic tried to foster international ties. A number of Texas Legations were established in Washington, D.C., London, and Paris in 1836. These were more diplomatic missions rather than embassies but were useful to promote the republic, the Texas Legation in London was in a building that was the premises of Berry Bros.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Berry Bros. & Rudd as it is now named can trace its origins to 1698, when the Widow Bourne established a grocer’s shop on the site. The Widow’s daughter Elizabeth married William Pickering and their family ran the business which supplied the fashionable Coffee Houses around St James’s. In the 19th century, tastes had changed and Berry Bros had become wine and spirit merchants to the aristocracy and especially the royal family. The Texas Legation may have been attracted by this access to high quality wines, but it is more likely that the location was chosen for its proximity to St. James’s Palace.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Texas Legation in London was maintained from 1836 through 1845 and although the United Kingdom never granted official recognition of Texas it did agree to accept Texan goods into British ports.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

When the Republic became a state in the United States of America in 1845 the legations were shut down and this strange part of Texan history was largely forgotten until the 20th century.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Anglo-Texan Society was founded in London in 1953 and had the famous author Graham Greene has its founding president. Greene knew the Pickering Place area well because he had a flat overlooking the courtyard. The society was led in its early days by Sir Alfred Bossom who was a member of Parliament with extensive ties with Texas.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In 1963, on the initiative of Bossom, the Anglo-Texan Society erected a brass plaque at the corner of No. 3 St. James’s Place in the passageway of Pickering Place to mark the location of the Texas Legation in Great Britain during the final years of the Republic of Texas, 1842–45. The plaque was unveiled by Texas governor Price Daniel, Sr and the text of the plaque reads: “Texas Legation In this building was the legation for the ministers from the Republic of Texas to the Court of St. James 1842 – 1845. Erected by the Anglo-Texan Society”. The society also paid an outstanding debt of $160 which the Texas Legation had ‘forgot’ to pay for rent to Berry Bros in 1845.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Texas Legation was not the only place of political intrigue in the building, George Berry who ran Berry Bros at that time was friends with the future Napoleon III who was in exile in London. Napoleon used Berry Bros cellars to hold secret meetings, their Napoleon Cellar is named after him.

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Since the plaque was attached, there has been more interest into this curious piece of Texas history and it was celebrated by The Texas Embassy Cantina on the corner of Cockspur Street near Trafalgar Square for many years before it closed.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Hidden London: The Panyer Boy in Panyer Alley

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

London is the type of city where you find the most unusual objects in the strangest places. This is most certainly the case with The Panyer Boy in Panyer Alley.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Next to St Paul’s underground station and on the wall next to a Caffe Nero coffee shop is a stone plaque of a boy sitting on a basket with written underneath ‘When you have sought the city round, Yet still this is the highest ground. August 27, 1688.’

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The plaque has been the source of mystery for centuries and has been moved to various locations in Panyer Alley as buildings have been pulled down and replaced.

Panyer Alley is located near St Paul’s Cathedral and was first mentioned in the 15th century. One of London’s early historians, John Stow in his Survey of London published in 1598 mentions the location.

At the west end of this parish church is a small passage for people on foot through the same church; and west from the said church, some distance, is another passage out of Pater Noster row, and is called, of such a sign, Panyar alley, which cometh out into the north over against St. Martin’s lane.

We do not what sign that Stow is alluding too but other sources suggest that Panyer Alley got its name from a dwelling house with outbuildings and land called the “Panyer,” or” the Panyer on the hoope”. Some have suggested this might be an Inn or tavern.

We do know that Samuel Pepys frequented the Alley in 1666 when he was looking for some stationary services.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys

13th April 1666

Thence called upon an old woman in Pannier Ally to agree for ruling of some paper for me and she will do it pretty cheap.

Monday 16 April 1666

Then I left them to come to me at supper anon, and myself out by coach to the old woman in Pannier Alley for my ruled papers, and they are done.

This was before the Great Fire of London in September 1666 which destroyed St Paul’s and large parts of the City of London. It is possible that in the rebuilding work after the fire that the plaque was attached to a new building with the boast of this being the highest spot.

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John Strype updating Stow’s Survey of London in 1720 noticed something new in Panyer Alley.

When you have sought the City round,
Yet still this is the highest Ground.
August 26. 1688.

This is writ upon a Stone raised, about the middle of this Panier Alley; having the Figure of a Panier, with a Boy sitting upon it, with a Bunch of Grapes, as it seems to be, held between his naked Foot and Hand: in token, perhaps, of Plenty.

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This is one of the first mention of the Panyer Boy and provides some idea of its location. The mystery of Panyer Boy has led to a number of theories. Many people have made the connection with the name of the alley and the basket the boy seems to be sitting on. Pannier derives from the Old French panier, meaning ‘bread basket’.

Stow mentions that nearby Bread Street has long been associated with bakers.

Then is Bread street itself, so called of bread in old time there sold; for it appeareth by records, that in the year 1302, which was the 30th of Edward I., the bakers of London were bound to sell no bread in their shops or houses, but in the market, and that they should have four hallmotes in the year, at four several terms, to determine of enormities belonging to the said company. (John Stow, Survey of London).

A newspaper report of 1893 mentions that some people had their eye on the Panyer Boy.

A wealthy American is said to have offered a workman £50 to procure for him the Panyer Stone in Panyer Alley, Newgate-street, which for two centuries has marked the highest point of the City of London. The workman, who was engaged in pulling down the old warehouse in which the stone is fixed, informed the city authorities, and now a guard is placed upon the relic.

The real mystery is how the plaque has survived over 330 years of political turmoil, bombing and buildings being pulled down and redeveloped. It has certainly led a charmed life and although ignored by thousands as they pass by, for some Londoners it is part of the fascination of the capital.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here