We hadn’t a particular plan in mind on starting out but let the day develop as it might. We did, though, decide to go for coffee, choosing Caffè Nero in Exmouth Market for that.
Myddelton Square Garden
Setting out, we crossed through Myddelton Square Garden which was deserted but for a couple of dog walkers. The weather was dry but cold.
We found a table at Caffè Nero and I went to the counter to order our coffees. For years, we had the little blue and white loyalty cards that the assistant stamped when you made a purchase and which gave you a free coffee when full. The cards still exist but we now have ours on our mobiles as part of the Caffè Nero app. I had earned two vouchers from our previous visits and so today’s coffees cost us exactly nothing!
After coffee, we went to the nearby bus stop to catch a number 19. There was a bit of a wait for the next one and just across the road was Cafe Maya. This suggested the possibility of going there for an early lunch. No sooner thought of than done!
Aboard the 19
After lunch, we went back to the bus stop and caught a number 19. It was fairly full and we occupied the rear-facing seats in the centre.
Duke of York’s Square
In the meantime, the idea had come to visit the Saatchi Gallery and so we left the bus in Sloane Square and walked to Duke of York’s Square where there was a market in full swing.
Approaching the Saatchi
The Saatchi Gallery is in the Grade II* listed Duke of York’s Headquarters. As we approaching we were struck by how few people were there. The reason soon became clear: the gallery was closed!
We started wandering and exploring, more or less at random. This is Draycott Place, a street of elegant town houses, many of which are now divided into flats.
Old Guinness Trust property
We observed this residential block built by the Guinness Trust in 1892, a Victorian project in “social housing”.
Marlborough Primary School
Photo by Tigger
We came upon the Marlborough Primary School which attracted our attention because it is a fairly modern build but with fragments of the original 1902 building incorporated in the façade.
Mossop Street Telephone Exchange
In Mossop Street, we found this telephone exchange dated 1930. There is very little to show that it is still a telephone exchange and we are uncertain whether it still functions in that role.
Old Harrods Store
If you think of Harrods as being forever a resident of its current location in Knightsbridge it might surprise you to come across this handsome building bearing the Harrods name and the date 1911.
We reached Michelin House, built in 1911 as the UK headquarters of the famous tyre manufacturer. Along the wall is a set of decorative panels with a motoring theme.
Michelin House entrance
Photo by Tigger
The Art Deco entrance is particularly eye-catching and beautiful. Once a tyre retail outlet, with a tyre-fitting bay, the building is now home to a restaurant and oyster bar.
We thought about stopping somewhere for coffee and a warm but everywhere was crowded so we kept on going back to the main Brompton Road.
Here stands the Brompton Oratory, also known as the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which was consecrated in 1884. It is a Grade II* listed building.
Victoria and Albert Museum
We crossed into Thurloe Place to wait for a bus in front of another famous building, a secular one this time, the Victoria and Albert Museum. We didn’t visit it today but will no doubt do so on another occasion.
Waiting for the bus gave us time to photograph the nearby Cabmen’s Shelter, one of the 13 surviving out of the 61 originally built. For a history of these curious but important buildings and the organisation that supports them, see this Wikipedia article.
Aboard the 74
We boarded a number 74 bus to start our journey home.
Old Marylebone Town Hall
We changed buses in Marylebone Road close to the fine old Marylebone Town Hall. Built in 1914-20 it is now a Grade II listed building, listed under its alternative name, Westminster Council House.
Here we caught a number 205 bus that was too packed for me to take photos but it carried us quickly and safely back home to the Angel. (I use the adjective “safely” advisedly as a bus caught fire at the Angel only a couple of days ago. Happily, no one was hurt.)
It was pleasant to leave the cold behind us, make tea and relax. Tomorrow is another day and we shall see where it takes us.