Pimlico, Millbank and St Paul’s

Today is to be an in-town day and we shall wander wherever whimsy takes us.

Cafe Maya in Mount Pleasant
Cafe Maya in Mount Pleasant

One of the advantages of holidaying at home is that you know where to find the good places to eat. There is no need to take pot luck and risk disappointment. So for breakfast we went to Cafe Maya in Mount Pleasant, where we chose the Vegetarian House Breakfast with grilled haloumi cheese.

The Exmouth Arms, Exmouth Market
The Exmouth Arms, Exmouth Market

After breakfast, we went for a stroll along Exmouth Market. Like Chapel Market, this is a street of shops and eateries which also hosts street market stalls. However, this one seems fairly quiet these days, in contrast to the livelier Chapel Market.

Grand old Victoria Station
Grand old Victoria Station

We took a bus into town and stopped off at the grand old Victoria station, where we had coffee on the terrace of the Wetherspoon’s pub there, which allows a good view of the bustle of the station.

The bustle of Victoria station
The bustle of Victoria station

Close to the station is the Apollo Theatre which has some rather fine decorative panels on the outside. I am not sure of the date of these, but their style looks like that of the 30s to me.

Stabbed in the back!
Stabbed in the back!

They seem to allude to the cinema rather than to the theatre, and their silver colour perhaps agrees with this. The audience, however, sits and stands around in a much more free and easy way than in any cinema I have ever attended. This panel depicts a stabbing and the reactions of the audience are studied carefully but also with humour.

The smoker
The smoker

This panel, cracked unfortunately, shows a calmer moment – perhaps a romantic interlude – and the gestures and stances of the audience reflect this. What shocks us today, though, is the gentleman luxuriously puffing out smoke from his cigarette. Here is a closer view:

Blowing smoke rings during the film
Blowing smoke rings during the film

This dates from a time when smoking was seen as an elegant habit rather than a health-destroying addiction. The panels also give us some indication of the costumes and hair-styles of the day. If you look carefully, you can see the same people in the audience in both panels.

Golden ballerina atop the Victoria Palace
Golden ballerina atop the Victoria Palace

Across the road, a golden ballerina dances atop the dome of the Victoria Palace, rather like the fairy on top of the Christmas tree.

Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station

We took a bus to Pimlico and walked along the Thames. Here we had a rather hazy view of Battersea Power Station on the opposite bank. It is a long time since it generated any power and its future still seems uncertain, caught between conservationists and would-be developers.

A tug moving a barge loaded with containers
A tug moving a barge loaded with containers

Nearby were tugs pulling barges laden with containers, up to three barges each. They had to manoeuvre like articulated lorries but also taking the flow of the river into account.

A narrowboat braving the choppy river
A narrowboat braving the choppy river

Several narrowboats went by on some mysterious mission, looking rather vulnerable bouncing past on the broad, choppy river instead of the flat waters of the canal.

Pimlico Gardens
Pimlico Gardens

We found a pleasant little park called Pimlico Gardens which contained two pieces of sculpture.

The Helmsman by Andrew Wallace William Huskisson
Sculptures in Pimlico Gardens

The first is called The Helmsman and is by Andrew Wallace. The other represents William Huskisson, the statesman, but I do not know the name of the sculptor. He is rather pretentiously dressed as a Roman.

Crown Reach Riverside Walk
Crown Reach Riverside Walk

We found the Crown Reach Riverside Walk, a pleasant place for a stroll beside the water.

River Cut Tide
River Cut Tide by Paul Mason

There was art here too, though I can’t say this piece does anything for me.

Riverside homes
Riverside homes

The people who live here have a good view and pleasant surroundings.

No sleeping here!
No sleeping here!

Though it makes them a tad possessive. I suppose that’s understandable.

Tate Britain
Tate Britain

While we were in the area, we thought we would carry on along to Millbank and visit the Tate Britain – an art collection that can really lay claim to a “sugar daddy”.

The Clore Gallery
The Clore Gallery

However, barely had we entered the Clore Gallery (yes, photography is allowed) to see the Turner collection when the fire alarms went off and we had to leave the building. The staff were naturally unable to say when we might be able to re-enter the gallery, so we decided to move on and come back another day.

Lunch at the sandwich bar
Lunch at the sandwich bar

We took a bus back to town and had an omelette lunch in a sandwich bar at Charing Cross.

Hall of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers
Hall of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers

We then headed in leisurely fashion towards St Paul’s, with a goal in mind. Many interesting sights along the way held us up, though. Such as this, the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, one of London’s ancient livery companies.

Frieze detail
Frieze detail

It is remarkable for, among other things, the wonderful frieze by Benjamin Creswick, of which a detail is shown above.

Flower beds, Postman's Park
Flower beds, Postman’s Park

We passed through Postman’s Park, which I have already written about (see A walk around St Paul’s).

Fish pond and fountain, Postman's Park
Fish pond and fountain, Postman’s Park

People often write about the Watts memorial to heroic men and women and forget the other charms of this little park, such as the beautiful flower beds and the pond with goldfish and a fountain.

Drinking fountain 1870 Still working!
Drinking fountain 1870 – still working!

Outside the park is a drinking fountain dated 1870 (I think that’s the date – the inscription is rather eroded) which is still working. Quite a surprise when we tried it.

Golden Lion of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
Golden Lion of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths

We passed by the premises of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths whose golden lion graces their gates, and…

The Red Herring
The Red Herring

… stopped for tea at The Red Herring.

The Guildhall
The Guildhall

Dawdling, dawdling all the way, we eventually reached St Paul’s and the destination we had been heading for – the Guildhall. We had for some time had it in mind to try to visit the clock museum there.

Pepys Wren
Pepys and Wren at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Unfortunately, we had dawdled too long and the Guildhall and its Art Gallery were closing. We had to content ourselves with photos of the outside and of the busts of some of the Great and Good, such as Pepys and Wren.

Dick Whittington and his cat at the Guildhall
Dick Whittington and his cat at the Guildhall

And, of course, Dick Whittington, possibly the most famous Lord Mayor of London, and his cat, looking rather plump in this rendition.

Shadows lengthen
Shadows lengthen

By now, shadows were beginning to lengthen and London’s spires and domes were turning into silhouettes against the evening sky. It seemed good to catch a bus back to Islington, and home.

A good day out? Assuredly. From breakfast to supper we had kept moving, revisiting favourites and discovering new things. London is a magic treasure chest that can never be emptied for the more you take out, the more there remains to be found.

Sculpted brick planter, Pimlico
Sculpted brick planter, Pimlico

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to Pimlico, Millbank and St Paul’s

  1. In the Pimlico Gardens photo, what structure is the little house-looking building? It’s barely bigger than the pedestrian walking past.

    Also, what are “patisseries”? Is it some form of “pastry”?

    • SilverTiger says:

      It is, as you say, a very small building. There was a man in council uniform sitting in the doorway but he moved away when I approached so I could not ask its purpose. I think it is probably a store for garden tools and a refuge for the park keeper.

      I think the word “pâtisseries” is used incorrectly here. Strictly speaking, this French word means a shop selling cakes and pastries and is used in Britain by self-defined up-market bakeries and tea rooms. Here, however, it seems to be used to mean simply “cakes”.

  2. WOL says:

    On the Worshipful Company of Cutler’s hall, is that a reflection off a glass “cube” building or has the brick actually faded in places? It is a gloriously orange brick, though. I agree with you on the friezes from the Apollo theatre. They look very “Art Deco” to me. So does the “riverside homes” building, although I’m sure it was built much later. I love the lamp posts on the Crown Reach riverside walk. — and the golden lion!

    • SilverTiger says:

      The City is crowded with tall buildings so you often get these reflected light effects in sunny weather. They change as the sun moves around the sky.

      The lamp posts closely resemble those all along the Thames which figure a pair of rather medieval-looking dolphins. Most are modern reproduction replacements of worn out originals.

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