As the weather was dry, a little warmer and even threatening sunshine, we ventured a little further afield in our walk.
Aboard the 38 to Victoria
In St John Street we boarded a 38 bus bound for Victoria Station. We disembarked one stop before the station and began walking.
We left the bus here in a busy thoroughfare called Buckingham Gate which runs beside the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
In search of coffee and cake
We entered this pedestrian precinct full of restaurants and night clubs. Tigger had vouchsafed that she fancied coffee and cake so we went off in search of that.
Our search brought us to a coffee shop called Notes which supplied our needs.
Coffee and cake
Photo by Tigger
Tigger had a cake of some sort but I again chose a croissant. Croissants are among my favourites though it’s hard to find really good ones in the UK.
Steps to Palace Place
We set off to find a map shop that Tigger wanted to visit. Following the route shown in her phone brought us to this stepped street called Palace Place. (The proximity of Buckingham Palace has resulted in many local streets having “Palace” or “Buckingham” in their names.)
In Palace Place we encountered a man on a large delivery bicycle. Following his GPS, he thought he could cut through here, only to find his way barred by a staircase impassable for his loaded bicycle. He disappeared, seeking a way round the obstacle.
Still searching, we chanced upon the picturesque Buckingham Mews. Is it as pleasant a location to live in as it looks?
Not finding what we were looking for, we reverted to rambling and looking at (and photographing) whatever things of interest we chanced to encounter. Here we are walking along a famous street called Petty France. The name possibly derives from French Huguenot refugees who settled in the area. A number of important buildings, government and other, are sited here. I remember the passport office being here years ago.
It might be tempting to think that the “Petty” in “Petty France” comes from the French word petite but this is not likely. The word “petty” was used in past times simply to mean “small” or “of slight importance” as, for example, in the judicial term “petty larceny”. There is also a street near the Tower of London called Petty Wales for which any French linguistic connection is obviously non-existent.
We passed in front of the magnificent Grade II listed Caxton Hall, built 1878-82.
Caxton Hall, main entrance
The main entrance is lavishly decorated and provided with two sculpted figures with busts above them. We thought the figure in the right may be the then future King Edward VII but are uncertain of the remainder.
The nain doorway
This picture shows a closer view of the main doorway and its detailed decor.
A ground-floor window
This photo shows a ground-floor window and its decoration. Note that the figuring on the pilasters is different in each case and not repeated from one to the other.
We stumbled upon the local Blewcoat (sic) School, dating to 1709. Bluecoat Schools, originally dating from the 16th century were charity schools that accepted a number of pupils free of charge. Some accepted both girls and boys though this one seems to have been for boys only. The name comes from the blue uniform, a coat for boys and dress for girls, and the schools often feature a sculpture of a notional scholar – or pair of scholars, where girls were also admitted – on the façade as this one does.
Original name plaque with date
This school was originally founded in 1688, moving to these premises in 1709, and continuing as a school until 1954. Some other Bluecoat schools are still functioning as schools. More information will be found here.
The Greencoat Boy
Not faraway we discovered a pub called the Greencoat Boy and then several buildings with “Grey coat” in the name. I was beginning to wonder whether these too indicated the past presence of schools distinguished by the colours of their pupils’ uniforms. It seems the answer is both yes and no. The “Greencoat”, I think, has nothing to do with schools or anything else and is just an imaginative name, though I could of course be proved wrong. As for the Grey Coat, there at least we do have a school.
The Grey Coat Hospital
It is called the Grey Coat Hospital and is today a Church of England-run school for girls. (In past ages, establishments were often named “hospital” that were not medical facilities as we now use the term. They might denote charitable foundations where people could lodge overnight or longer. For example, the famous institution for old soldiers is called the Royal Hospital Chelsea.)
The Grey Coat Hospital was founded in 1698 and is an example of an ancient charity school that still functions as a school.
Two more architecturally interesting buildings that we “collected” along the way were…
St James’s Court
…St James’s Court and…
Westminster Palace Gardens
…Westminster Palace Gardens. I have not researched these two buildings: this is left as an exercise for the reader 🙂
St Matthew’s Westminster
Hiding coyly behind a tree is the Anglican Church of St Matthew Westminster. It was designed by that prolific producer of churches George Gilbert Scott, and built 1849-51, though almost completely destroyed by fire in 1977 and subsequently rebuilt.
Man in the Moon Passage
We now caught a bus that delivered us to Regent Street. There we were intrigued by the name of a narrow walkway called Man in the Moon Passage and, as it was leading our way, we walked down it, though it turned out not to be as quaint or interesting as its name.
It led us to another famous London street, Piccadilly. This contains many interesting places to explore (e.g. St James’s Church, a bit of whose spire you can see on the left, Waterstone’s flagship bookshop and Fortnum & Mason’s store) but we were content to go to the bus stop and catch a number 38 bus back home to the Angel.
Aboard the 38 bus