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Book Review – London Explored: by Peter Dazeley and Mark Daly (Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd)

From the authors of the very successful Unseen London, London Uncovered, we have London Explored, a new book that explores some of London’s lesser known institutions, buildings, homes, shops, museums and attractions, together with new perspectives of well known and well visited locations across the capital. Award winning photographer Peter Dazeley and writer Mark Daly illustrate and tell some of the remarkable stories behind more than sixty of the capital’s most fascinating locations.

Clermont Casino staircase ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

The various sections of the book are divided into geographical areas including Westminster & West End, West London, Looking East, Further Afield, South of the River, and the City & Clerkenwell.

The Powder Room at Annabels ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

The section on Westminster & West End begins with a trip to the upmarket Annabel’s nightclub and private members club in Berkeley Square. It is safe to say the décor in the club is not understated with almost every surface populated by wild and exotic animals and plants. This garish wonderland finds it bizarreness reaching the upper limits in the Ladies powder room.

Libertys Exterior ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

From the ridiculous to the sublime with a trip to John Snow Water Pump and Tower Lifeboat Station which celebrate the saving of lives. Other highlights of this section is the Art and Craft splendour of the Liberty department store, the great monolith to transport which is 55 Broadway, the eccentric Grant Museum of Zoology and the inner workings of master gunmakers, James Purdey & Sons Ltd.

Ace Cafe Reunion Weekend ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

West London takes the reader into the often strange history of the Natural History Museum, the mysterious Windrush Car Storage, stopping for a drink at Fuller’s Griffin Brewery and Sipsmith Distillery, consumerism delight at the Museum of Brands and motorbiker’s mecca The Ace Cafe.

Gods Own Junk Yard ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

Looking East explores the old with House Mill and the Old Royal Naval College and the new with the neon heaven of God’s Own Junkyard and the hip Strongroom Studios.

Garricks Temple to Shakespeare ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

Further Afield moves beyond Central London to some of the delights of suburbia, literary figures are referenced by Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare, Keats House and Pope’s Grotto. Discover the story of The Metropolitan Police Historic Vehicle Collection and wallow in wartime nostalgia at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger.

Raqib Shaw, The Salon, at the Sausage Factory ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

The section entitled South of the River ranges from the sporting history of the Kia Oval, the strange story of the OXO tower, the unusual London Sewing Machine Museum, the quirky Raqib Shaw’s Sausage Factory and the remarkable and largely unknown Crystal Palace Subway.

Interior of Lloyds ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

The City & Clerkenwell visits some of the grand attractions of the City of London like St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall Yard, Lloyd’s of London and Leadenhall Market. The journalist’s favourite watering hole, El Vino, new attraction London Mithraeum and the grand Drapers Hall also make an appearance.

The Dome St Pauls Cathederal ©Peter Dazeley – Photographs from Peter Dazeley’s book, London Explored.

After the recent lockdowns, this is the type of book that inspires its readers to put on their walking boots and get back into the capital and look again at old favourite locations and discover some of the exciting new locations featured in the book.

The quest for the hidden or unusual locations in the capital has become a a growing genre in London books in recent years but what sets this book apart from its many rivals are the stunning and lavish photographs of Peter Dazeley and the entertaining informative text from Mark Daly. This attractive and fascinating book will appeal to Londoners and visitors who like to look beyond the main attractions and find those strange, unusual, beautiful and historic locations that make London a city that endlessly delights and surprises.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and to buy book, visit the Publishers 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 Theatres by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley (Frances Lincoln)

Few would argue that London is the undisputed theatre capital of the world. However most theatregoers focus on the action on the stage and often pay scant regard to their surroundings. This new book ‘London Theatres’ takes readers on a tour of forty-six London theatres with stories of the architecture, the people and the productions by leading theatre critic Michael Coveney and a series of stunning photographs of the public areas, auditorium and backstage by acclaimed photographer Peter Dazeley.

Award winning actor Mark Rylance writes the foreword for the book, describing the interaction between the actor and the theatre space. One of the first actions he takes when entering a theatre is to look up at the ceiling, if there is some kind of circular device, he is convinced that the theatre experience will be fine.

The book considers 46 London Theatres as they stand in the 21st Century, ranging from the grand Royal Opera House to the lesser known delights of Wilton’s Music Hall. The theatres are divided into chapters that illustrate some of the remarkable diversity of London Theatres, these include  Grandes Dames, Palaces of Pleasure, Popular Landmarks, Informal Delights, Legends Alive, Hidden Gems, Eastward Ho! and West End Jewels.

Michael Coveney in the book’s introduction considers that to understand many of London’s theatres development, it is important to study the architectural and cultural context. Although for centuries, theatre was a favourite British national pastime, by the 1980s thousands of theatres around the country have been lost. Remarkably, the West End of London has been resilient and constantly reinventing itself, even new theatres have sprung up to provide a platform for different types of drama. Although many of the large theatres are owned by large concerns, they have often spent millions of pounds to restore the decaying fabric of many old theatres.

The book begins with the opulence of the Royal Opera House, Theatre Royal Haymarket and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, these ‘Grand Dames’ provide evidence of intriguing history, decorative splendour and more rustic back stage. One of the themes of the book is the contrast between the front and back of house with grandiose design schemes and often Heath Robinson contraptions that create the atmospheric magic from back stage.  Peter Dazeley’s remarkable range of photographs take us on a journey in the theatres where often things are not what they seem to be and the glitz and glamour is often a mere façade.

One theatre that has redefined the theatre going experience is Shakespeare’s Globe, the wooden recreation of one of the famous theatres from the time of Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson illustrate that the connection between actors and audience was not always as clearly defined as modern theatres and the more basic seating or standing can provide a wonderfully different theatrical experience.

The connection between audience and actors has been one of the guiding lights of the more modern theatres which have often gone back to basics, Donmar Warehouse, the Young Vic and the Almeida Theatre suggest that it is important to concentrate on the quality of the drama rather than worrying too much about ornate splendour of the surroundings.

The book is full of wonderful stories and anecdotes from the theatrical world with the Theatre Royal Drury Lane holding the record for the number of ghosts stalking the building. Often it is the ghosts of the past that make a meaningful connection between theatre and theatregoer. Many of the great actors and actresses of the past have trod the London theatre boards and it often is considered their presence is still there in the memories of the audience and fellow actors.

This fascinating and important book puts the selected London Theatres centre stage with the illuminating photographs by Peter Dazeley  and intelligent commentary by Michael Cloveley. Generally, because so much time is focused on the action upon the stage, relatively little is written or shown about the part the actual theatre plays in creating the right environment for a successful performance.  The nature of theatre and drama is often about illusion and make-believe and this book illustrates the interesting part the theatre plays in this process. Walking into an opulent building indulges the fantasy that you are entering something extraordinary and amazing things will happen on stage. Even the theatres that have gone back to basics are creating a different kind of illusion that draws the audience into the make-believe world of theatre. This intriguing book provides plenty of evidence that the whole structure of a theatre is often as much part of the performance as the action on the stage.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or buy a copy of the book, visit the Publishers 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 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