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Museum of London displays a Rare Silver Plate owned by Samuel Pepys

(c) Museum of London

The Museum of London has acquired and is displaying an extremely rare silver plate, originally owned by Samuel Pepys. The silver plate, with knife and fork scratch marks offers a fascinating link to the life and times of Samuel Pepys, the naval administrator and famous diarist.

(c) Museum of London

The rim of the plate is engraved with the coat of arms of the Pepys family, and the underside has London hallmarks. Also on the plate’s underside are the date letter for 1681/2 and the maker’s mark ‘MK in a lozenge’ indicating that it was made in the workshop of Mary King in Foster Lane: just five minutes’ walk from the Museum of London. There’s a much later scratched inscription, reading: ‘date 1681’.

(c) Museum of London

Very little 17th century silver survives because it was often refashioned or melted down. This plate is one of just three surviving items of silver known to have belonged to Pepys. The other two are now in the United States of America.

(c) Museum of London

Samuel Pepys was born in London in 1633 and began work at the Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board 1660. In the same year, Pepys started to write his famous diary that became an important chronicle of London social life and current affairs in a time of considerable turmoil. Pepys was an avid collector of books, prints, silver, household-furnishings, ship-models and curiosities. As his wealth increased, so did his collection of silver plate which was considered an investment and a sign of wealth and status.

In 1666, Pepys placed an order with the Goldsmith Sir Robert Vyner for twelve plates increasing his stock of plates to thirty overall. However in September of the same year Pepys sent his money and plates off for safe keeping due to the Great Fire of London ‘About four o’clock in the morning, my Lady Batten sent me a cart to carry away all my money, and plate, and best things, to Sir W. Rider’s at Bednall-greene….His house full of goods, and much of Sir W. Batten’s and Sir W. Pen’s I am eased at my heart to have my treasure so well secured.

(c) Museum of London

Pepys enjoyed showing of his silver, in 1667 Pepys wrote: I home and there find all things in good readiness for a good dinner … we had, with my wife and I, twelve at table; and a very good and pleasant company, and a most neat and excellent, but dear dinner; but Lord, to see with what envy they looked upon all my fine plate was pleasant, for I made the best show I could, to let them understand me and my condition.

You can see Samuel Pepys’s silver plate on display in the Museum of London’s War, Plague and Fire gallery.

If you would like further information, visit the Museum of London 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.
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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.

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

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.

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

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.
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here

Exhibition Review : Fire! Fire! At the Museum of London – 23rd July 2016 to 17th April 2017

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The Museum of London present a major exhibition entitled , Fire! Fire!, which opens 23rd July 2016. The exhibition marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and explores London life on the eve of the fire, the dramatic events that took place as the blaze burned through a quarter of the city in 1666, and how London recovered from the devastation.

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Using multimedia digital displays and rare objects from the Museum of London collections, Fire! Fire! is one of the Museum of London’s most immersive and interactive exhibitions to date, with recreations of Pudding Lane and a huge moving panorama of London in flames.

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The exhibition begins in Pudding Lane and looks at how the fire started and spread over the next few days. A variety of objects from the fire are shown including a ceramic roof tile that was blackened, melted and bent in half indicating the great heat created from the inferno. Also shown are Burnt padlocks and keys made from iron, found at Monument House excavations on Botolph Lane, near Pudding Lane.

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For a visual record of how the fire spread across the city, a large digital map shows the day by day progress.

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One of the more unusual exhibits is a restored 17th century fire engine, originally built in London in the late 1670s by John Keeling, the only surviving part when the museum acquired the fire engine in 1928 was the central barrel and pump. The restoration was modelled on a 19th-century photograph of the engine which showed it still intact with its undercarriage, wheels, tow bar and pumping arms.

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Although the loss of human life was small, the effects of the fire were catastrophic for many of the 100,000 who were displaced from their homes. Letters, books and paintings give voice to some of the great loss and sufferings experienced by the population.

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Rebuilding the damaged part of the City of London became a priority and plans from Sir Christopher Wren are shown to illustrate the mammoth task.

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A plaque from the wall of a house in Pudding Lane provides evidence of people using the fire to further their own agendas , plaques and pamphlets suggested that the fire was started deliberately by Catholics to enable foreign powers to take over the city. Although there was no evidence that the fire was anything but an accident, some people looked for scapegoats to blame.

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This intriguing and entertaining exhibition explores one of London’s most famous historical disasters from a number of ways. The attractive visual displays illustrate the way the events of September 1666 unfolded and how Londoners responded to the disaster and gradually rebuilt the city.

The exhibition is particularly attractive for families and children with plenty of interactive elements and a wide programme of fire themed walks and tours, lectures, workshops, family activities, children’s sleepovers and festival days.

Fire! Fire! runs from 23 July 2016 – 17 April 2017, tickets priced from £8 for adults and £5 for children online, family tickets are available

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Museum of London 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.
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Is it Time for Pu’er Tea ?

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Since the 18th century, the United Kingdom has been one of the world’s greatest tea consumers and although there is evidence that the purchase of basic teabags is in decline since 2000, the sales of fruit and herbal teas has increased markedly in the same period. In common with many other beverages, it appears that quality is replacing quantity for the modern tea drinker who often takes a considerable of effort to find authentic teas to their taste.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in Pu’er tea, which despite its long history is only now becoming widely available in the West. Pu’er tea has been grown for centuries in the “Six Great Tea Mountains” of Yunnan Province in China and has long been a prized commodity.  In Imperial China, the tea was carried by horses in a caravan along the Old Tea Horse Road to be traded all over China and beyond. Pu’er tea was a favourite beverage in the Chinese Imperial Court and the very best quality tea was presented in tribute to the Emperor. One of the advantages of Pu’er was that it was found that tea actually improved with age, so many of the most valuable grades of tea were kept in warehouses.

In the last 20 years, interest in Pu’er tea in China and internationally has led to an increasing market for “vintage” compressed teas and collectors will pay thousands of pounds for a rare vintage. This market has led to an unfortunate side effect, fakes and copies of the tea inside and outside of China have become more common.

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In response to this lack of regulation and tea being sold with big variations in price and quality, collector Carole Tan began her mission to bring the enjoyment of drinking Pu’er tea to the world in a contemporary manner. She created Teaspec, a company that seeks to become a standard-bearer for quality and pricing in the Pu’er tea market.

Carole and her family have been collecting tea for almost 30 years aiming to find and keep the best Pu’er teas in the world. Teaspec is a business that sells mostly Pu’er teas that are sourced from Carole’s own family collection which have been accumulated over decades.

The Pu’er tea provided by Teaspec is stored in Malaysia which is acknowledged by many Pu’er tea experts to possess the ideal conditions for ageing of this complex tea. The flavours and complexity of Pu’er tea are similar to wine and whisky where the land, skill of the producers, production methods and the best storage conditions have been developed and refined over centuries.

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Raw Pu’er

Pu’er comes in two forms – loose tea leaves or compressed into various shapes and has two basic classifications of  Pu’er tea, there is raw (non-fermented) or ripe (fermented) tea. Raw Pu’er was developed over 2000 years ago, and is recognized by its dark yellowish-green dry tea leaves, fresh floral aroma and rich aftertaste. Ripe Pu’er on the other hand only goes back to the 1970s. It requires an accelerated fermentation technique with humidity and temperature. The reddish-brown tea leaves are compressed after fermentation. It has a strong brew with a woody aroma and mellow full flavour.

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Ripe Pu’er

Once again like wine and whisky, it is considered raw Pu’er needs time and storage to acquire its unique taste and characteristics, whereas ripe Pu’er may lack some of the complexities but is ready to drink straightaway.

One of the benefits of using Pu’er tea is that you can use it for multiple re-infusions, a good quality tea can be re-infused up to 8 times with loose tea and more than 10 times with compressed tea.  Pu’er tea is best made using boiling water , it involves very short steeping time of ten to twenty seconds. Each infusion will offer a different intensity of flavour.

Chinese and Pu’er tea have been associated with health benefits for centuries. In 1667, Samuel Pepys noted that his wife was taking Chinese tea on medical advice, after the doctor informed her it is good for her ‘colds and defluxions.’  Even as recently as the 1970s, Pu’er tea was marketed in Europe in the 1970s mainly for its health benefits not just for its taste.

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If you are intrigued by Pu’er tea and would like to try it for yourself, Teaspec has developed some tea products in a range of sizes and prices. The tea is available in specially blended tea cakes which comprises of compressed tea, shaped into a round slab and weighing around 357 grams. The next size is a Tuo, a small dome of around 100 grams. A more portable version is the mini tuo which is handy for travelers or in a gift set. Teaspec also offers raw or ripe Pu’er in loose tea and teabag form.

The Teaspec range of Pu’er teas is now available in Harrods and will become more widely available later in the year.

For more information about Teaspec contact Carole at info@teaspec.com or visit the Teaspec 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

 

Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival 2015 – 10th May 2015

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Location : St Paul’s Church Garden, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9ED

The annual Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2015 and brings together Punch and Judy enthusiasts from around the country. The grand procession begins at 11am which features the Superior brass band, and ends with a birthday toast to Mr Punch next to the commemorative plaque on the church wall in the Piazza.

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The 40th Annual Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival will be celebrating Mr Punch’s 353rd birthday near the very spot that Samuel Pepys first saw Mr Punch in England in May 1662.

Mr Punch also provides mayhem in the pulpit  with a special church service at noon, and the afternoon (12.30pm-5.30pm) will be full of fun with Punch and Judy puppet shows and workshops, folk music, clowns and much more.

Admission is free.

Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival
Date: Sunday 10th May 2015
Time: 10.30am until 5.30pm

For more information, visit the Punch and Judy 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