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Review – Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens at the Charles Dickens Museum from 28 November 2018 to 22 April 2019

The Charles Dickens Museum provides evidence of Dickens’s enduring influence on the celebration of the festive season when every year, Dickens’s home is dressed for a Victorian Christmas.

Food is often an important ingredient in Dickens’s stories and a new exhibition entitled Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens investigates Dickens’s relationship with food and explores the epic menus of dishes and drinks served by the Dickens family to their many guests. The exhibition also examines how Dickens’s childhood memories of hunger led to him being a generous host of many dinner parties for some of the most influential and interesting members of Victorian society.

In the London townhouse into which Dickens moved with his growing family in 1837, the exhibition uses many of the family rooms to illustrate the influence of food in many Dickens novels.

In the upstairs exhibition gallery is a series of letters which provide first hand accounts by Dickens’s dinner guests that illustrate the experience of enjoying dinner with Dickens. Fellow novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell writes a letter giving a detailed description of a dinner at Dickens’s home.

Upstairs in the nursery is a reminder that the hardship of Dickens’s own childhood and the poverty influenced his writing most notably in Oliver Twist.

The exhibition examines some of the excesses of Victorian dining and often strange recipe combinations. The full dining table showcases a number of culinary delights that were often featured in novels.

A visit to the kitchen downstairs provides some insight into some of the ‘food scandals’ of the Victorian age, food was adulterated to extend its reach which led to acorns passing as coffee, plum leaves for tea leaves and the wholesale watering-down of milk and beer. The often ‘toxic’ ingredients sold indicate that food safety was in its infancy and became one of Dickens causes to fight for reforms.

A visit to the Charles Dickens Museum in the festive season is always a pleasure and a reminder of the enduring influence of Dickens on modern Christmas celebrations. The fascinating Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens exhibition gives a wider perspective on how food provided links to Dickens childhood and inspired some of the most memorable scenes in his novels.

Whilst at the museum, you can find out about the campaign to raise £180,000 in order to secure the portrait of Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) by Margaret Gillies for the nation, bringing it into the Museum’s permanent collection and placing it on public display. The portrait was thought to have been lost for more than 150 years until it was rediscovered in South Africa in late 2017. If you would like to donate, find a link here

Address: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX
Exhibition dates: 28 November 2018 – 22 April 2019

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Visitors to the exhibition can also explore the Charles Dickens Museum, The Charles Dickens Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dickens-related material, including the desk at which he wrote Great Expectations.

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Charles Dickens Museum website here

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

 

Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens at the Charles Dickens Museum – 28 November 2018 to 22 April 2019


Food is often an important ingredient in Dickens’s stories and a new exhibition entitled Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens investigates Dickens’s relationship with food and the epic menus of dishes and drinks served by the Dickens family to their many guests. It shows his dinner parties full of activity, wit, comedy and people and their peculiarities were essential food for his imagination.

The exhibition also examines the deep-lying reason for Dickens’s need to entertain and share food, his hidden childhood memories of hunger and his belief, made clear in his stories, that rich and poor alike had the right to enjoy food and drink and that children deserved the security of proper meals.

The Food Glorious Food exhibition will be displayed throughout the rooms in which Charles Dickens and his family lived, entertained countless friends and hosted dinner parties for some of the most influential and interesting members of Victorian society.

The exhibition will feature household culinary items used by Dickens and will draw on letters and first hand accounts by Dickens’s dinner guests to build a vivid picture of the experience of enjoying dinner with Dickens.

Among the exhibits is a previously-unseen letter from 1849, written by novelist Elizabeth Gaskell giving a detailed description of a dinner at Dickens’s home.

Other exhibits include:

A groaning Victorian dining table, set for dessert and featuring items used by Dickens and his family when hosting social gatherings at home 

Charles Dickens’s large wooden lemon squeezer used to prepare his favourite punch recipes

Hand-written dinner invitations from Dickens to his friends

Dickens’s hand-written 1865 inventory of the contents of his wine cellar at Gad’s Hill Place (among the items to be found in Dickens’s cellar in 1865 were ‘one 50 gallon cask ale’, ‘one 18 gallon cask gin’, ‘one 9 gallon cask brandy’ and ‘one 9 gallon cask rum’. The cellar also included dozens of bottles of champagne, Chablis, Sauterne, Metternich hock, claret, L’eau d’or and Kirsch)

An extremely rare early edition of a fascinating cookbook written by Catherine Dickens – wife of Charles – in the early 1850s, entitled What Shall We Have For Dinner? filled with meals and menus (‘bills of fare’) created by Catherine to put before gatherings of between two and twenty people, all aiming to answer the title of the book

A silver-plated samovar owned by Dickens and used at his home at Gad’s Hill Place

Dickens’s heavy silver fish-knife, engraved with a fish design and the monogram ‘CD’

A set of 6 silver punch ladles presented to Dickens to celebrate the completion of Pickwick Papers, each featuring a character from the novel

Dickens’s wooden bread board

The exhibition’s guest co-curator is Pen Vogler, author of Dinner with Dickens: Recipes inspired by the life and work of Charles Dickens, published by CICO books. The book celebrates Victorian food and recreates the dishes which Dickens wrote about and served.

Visitors to the exhibition can also explore the Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, the London Townhouse into which Charles Dickens moved with his family in 1837. The Charles Dickens Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dickens-related material, including the desk at which he wrote Great Expectations.

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Charles Dickens Museum website here

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

 

Dickens After Dark: A Hallowe’en Special at the Charles Dickens Museum – featuring The Grand Gothic Magic Lantern Phantasmagoria

For a very different Hallowe’en experience, take a trip the Victorian home of Charles Dickens for A  Hallowe’en Special after dark. Explore the mysteries of the future with a Tarot reading from the fortune teller in the basement. As guests move through the historic house, actor Dominic Gerrard will be performing best loved Victorian horror story extracts from The Signalman, The Monkey’s Paw, The Ghost in the Bride’s Chamber, The Ensouled Violin, Captain Murderer, Porphyria’s Lover & John Charrington’s Wedding. Performed in the shadows, with a live underscore, these stories will delight and fright.

For an added touch of Hallowe’en magic, tickets can be upgraded to include a Grand Gothic Magic Lantern Phantasmagoria by internationally renowned performers Jeremy and Carolyn Brooker. At the heart of the shows will be an authentic triunial magic lantern from 1880-90, the rarest and most complex device, combining three projectors in one. This will be a bizarre and fantastical celebration of goblins, ghosts and the downright weird.

Date: 25 October; Timed entry from 6pm. Tickets: £20; £25 (incl. magic lantern show).  Recommended suitable for ages 18+

Weekend of Magic Lantern shows – A Grand Magic Lantern Show (family show) and A Grand Gothic Magic Lantern Phantasmagoria

Amidst his fascination with science, Dickens was a great lover of the visual spectacle created by the magic lantern shows that he enjoyed as a boy; he also adored a good ghost story. The Museum presents a weekend of special magic lantern shows from internationally renowned performers Jeremy and Carolyn
Brooker, combining these two passions. At the heart of the two very different shows will be an authentic triunial magic lantern from 1880-90, the rarest and most complex device, combining three projectors in one. This will be a fast-paced, seasonal celebration of goblins, ghosts and the downright weird, featuring
the most spectacular effects the lantern can produce; an entertainment for children and families including acrobat pigs, exploding volcanoes and the most famous of all magic lantern illusions, the Man who Eats Rats.

Dates: Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October at 11am (family show), 12 noon (family show), 1.30pm (Phantasmagoria show), 3pm (Phantasmagoria show).
Tickets: From £6 – £16.50 from dickensmuseum.com.

Charles Dickens Museum is at 48 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, the London Townhouse into which Dickens moved with his family in 1837. The Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dickens related material, including the desk at which he wrote his later novels, including Great Expectations, A
Tale of Two Cities, Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Charles Dickens Museum website here

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

 

Book Review – London: Architecture, Building and Social Change by Paul L. Knox (Merrell Publishers)

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London: Architecture, Building and Social Change by Paul L. Knox (Merrell Publishers)

London’s diversity is truly remarkable, not just in its population but also its urban landscape with buildings of different centuries and architectural styles often occupying the same district. It is this unique distinctiveness of London that provides the focus of this book, London: Architecture, Building and Social Change. However to fully understand London’s development, the author contends  you must consider its economic, social and architectural history.

Fundamental to any understanding of London’s development is its rather unique history, as the author points out  ‘London did not grow from a single commercial, ecclesiastical or administrative centre’ but rather ‘ has grown piecemeal from an archipelago of villages and town centres to become a conglomerate metropolis of interdependent districts with twin cores.” Over time every district within this metropolis developed its own distinctive cityscape and instantly recognisable landmarks.

To illustrate this point, the twin cores of London, the City of London and Westminster developed over time to take on particular functions, The City of London was a commercial centre from Roman times whereas it was not until the 11th Century that Westminster became the centre of royal justice and administration.

The author considers in London’s development, a series of events had a major effects on the course of that development. First of all was Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, which took land away from the church which was transferred into private hands, therefore establishing the Great Estates. The Great Fire of 1666 swept away much of medieval London and bought about considerable building works. The coming of the Railways in the 1830s and 1840s bought a disruptive technology which tore up some London suburbs and bought access to large areas of the suburbs. Just as disruptive was the Blitz and bombings of the 1940s which decimated certain areas that often took decades to recover from.

If major events changed the face of London, so did individuals and the author suggest that a particular cast of characters were mainly responsible for widespread change. Amongst this cast were landowners, developers, architects, engineers, reformers, philanthropists and mayors.

To illustrate this interplay between events, people and architectural styles in real life, the author selects twenty-seven districts to discover their own distinctive character and pedigree. In the context of London’s general development, the book then considers the district’s specific developments that highlights the continuities and change within the specific areas.

A number of the districts show little change especially those built by the great landowners of London, areas such as Belgravia, Mayfair, Chelsea, Kensington and Knightsbridge were built for the elites and due to their status managed to avoid much of the destructiveness of the railways and industrialisation. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of Camden and  Paddington whose initial rural status was decimated by the canals and railways.

If money and influence were mainly situated in the West London, there is little doubt that for much of the nineteen century, the negative effects of industrialisation such as  poverty, crime, disease and unemployment were concentrated in East London. The sections on Whitechapel, Hoxton, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green pay testament to the role that reformers and philanthropists played in these areas to create a safer and healthier environment.

In many ways the south bank of the Thames has been the poorer relation to the north and the sections on Borough, Southwark, Bankside and Lambeth illustrate that they were for centuries populated by industry and working class residential areas. However, the South Bank and Bankside’s more recent riverfront transformation as a location of entertainments is actually a return to the area’s function in medieval times onwards.

It is perhaps the areas between the extremes of wealth and poverty that show the greatest diversity, districts like Bloomsbury, Notting Hill, Bayswater and Clerkenwell have veered between various degrees of respectability and often attracted the artists, writers and academics who have documented the changing times. The same could said of Soho and Covent Garden, which became locations of respectable and not so respectable entertainments.

This is a remarkably readable and interesting book for anyone interested in the changing urban landscape of one of the world’s most enigmatic cities. It manages to be authoritative without being overly academic, the profile of the development of 27 distinctive districts, illustrated with over 500 original photographs provides a number of insights into the past, present and possible future developments of London. One of the major insights is related to the ongoing gentrification of London areas and the creation of London as a Global city.

This book is an essential reference book for anyone interested in London, written by a leading expert on urbanization. It offers a comprehensive overview of many of the major buildings and landmarks of the city  and provides the context to understand their importance in London’s general development.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended 

If you would like more information or buy a copy of the book , visit the Merrell website here.

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 , 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

Book Review : Miss Carter’s War by Sheila Hancock (Bloomsbury)

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Miss Carter’s War is the first novel by Sheila Hancock, the highly regarded actress with a distinguished career covering film, television, theatre and radio. She has had previously published three autobiographical works, Ramblings of an Actress, The Two of Us, a  bestseller about her marriage to John Thaw, and Just Me, a memoir of her life as a widow.

In Miss Carter’s War, the author takes us to the immediate period following the Second World War, by looking at the life and times of one individual, their aspirations and beliefs, through their relationships both platonic and romantic that forge their life up until the birth of the 21st Century.

The main character of the book , Marguerite Carter has survived traumatic experiences in occupied France which involved working for SOE. She had returned to England after the war to further her education and in 1948 becomes one of the first women to receive a degree from the University of Cambridge.

Miss Carter then becomes an English teacher in a girls’ grammar school, and what follows is a wonderful graphical insight of how war weary Britain begins to deal with the dilemma of trying to re-establish its once pre-eminent place in the world.

Part of her mission is to change the world for herself and her ‘girls’ which means getting involved with many of the burgeoning movements including the peace marches in the 1950s, the battle for Women and Gay rights, and responding to the rise of the ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher.

But giving all her time  to her friends and her causes, can she ever find true love for herself ?

Through the life of the remarkable Miss Carter, the  book charts how the second half of the 20th Century drastically changes life in Britain from the austerity of post war Britain to the relative enlightenment to the way we live today.
As we follow Miss Carter through the burgeoning feminist movement and a new age of acceptance of difference, we gain insight into Miss Carter’s background and her own heroic past and guilty secrets.

Miss Carter may seem to be a ‘wonder woman’ to the modern reader, but the author embodies her with the very real sense of idealism prevalent after the war that propelled many people to want to ‘change the world’, the success of the Labour party over Churchill was a testament to how strong this feeling was. This idealism carried on into the sixties and led to a large number of successful movements. However the rise of Thatcher and the Iraq war were reminders that idealism can be sorely tested by world events.

This is a very ambitious book telling the story of a woman’s life within the framework of large scale developments in the wider society, however the author uses her considerable knowledge of the London in this period to give the book the air of authenticity. The book successfully reminds us about how far British society has moved in a relatively short time and how the various moves forward have been bought about often by the sacrifices of extraordinary ‘ordinary’ people.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended

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

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There will be a Bloomsbury Book Club Event with Sheila Hancock being
interviewed by Kate Mosse

Date: Thursday 23rd October

Time: Drinks at 6pm and talk at 6:30pm

Place: Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP

Tickets: £25 including a hardback book or £10 without the book

Book tickets at www.bloomsburyinstitute.com

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, 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

Great London Pubs – Museum Tavern in Bloomsbury

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Museum Tavern

Location – 49 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3BA

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The origins of the pub go back to 1723 when it opened as the Dock and Duck reflecting the more country pastimes of the area. However when the British Museum was built in the 1760s, the owners decided to change the name to the British Museum Tavern in 1762 and in 1858 after a refit it became the Museum Tavern.
The refit was overseen by architect William Finch Hill who was best known for his designs for Music Halls, much of his design still remains.

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It’s position at the entrance to the British Museum means it has for centuries been a favourite port of call for the many visitors, academics and workers in the area.
When the British Library was inside of the British Museum it attracted the great minds and thinkers, a regular user was Karl Marx and it has been said that the Museum Tavern was his ‘local’ whilst he was rewriting history.
Other famous visitors to the Tavern have included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and  J. B. Priestley.
There is no doubt even up to the present day a wide range of people have frequented the Museum Tavern which is part of its charm, it is a traditional London pub owned by Taylor Walker Brewery with real ales on tap and traditional food being served.

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Great London Pubs – The Princess Louise

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Princess Louise

Location – 208-209 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BW.

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Considered one of the finest Victorian Pub interiors in London, The Princess Louise is situated in High Holborn but near to Bloomsbury. Although the outside of the pub is unremarkable, walking through the doors is like entering a Victorian world frozen in time. The first surprise is series of booths surrounding the bar, each booth is large enough for around 8 – 10 people. Each booth has wood panelling and glass partitions, whilst the larger bars have wonderfully tiled interiors.

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The pub has a Grade II listing and unusually even the men’s toilets with their marble urinals are listed. The Pub is owned and run by the Samuel Smith Brewery who sell their own beer which is considerably cheaper than most other pubs in London.

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The Princess Louise often features in the Top London Pubs lists for its stunning interior rather than the quality of its beer.

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For a list of London’s Top Ten Pubs visit  Visiting London Guide