Royal Exchange, London


Royal Exchange, London
1900s
Publisher: Horrocks & Co, Ashton

The Royal Exchange in London was founded in the 16th century by the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham on the suggestion of his factor Richard Clough to act as a centre of commerce for the City of London. The site was provided by the City of London Corporation and the Worshipful Company of Mercers, who still jointly own the freehold. It is trapezoidal in shape and is flanked by Cornhill and Threadneedle Street, which converge at Bank junction in the heart of the city. It lies in the ward of Cornhill. It has twice been destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt. The present building was designed by Sir William Tite in the 1840s. The site was notably occupied by the Lloyd’s insurance market for nearly 150 years.
Wikipedia

First Royal Exchange, “The Pictorial handbook of London : comprising its antiquities, architecture, arts, manufacture, trade, social, literary, and scientific institutions, exhibitions, and galleries of art : together with some account of the principal suburbs and most attractive localities” John Weale, 1854, p. 367

Based on the Antwerp Stock Exchange (Bourse) in Belgium, Gresham’s bourse consisted of a trading floor, offices and shops around an open courtyard where merchants and traders could meet and conduct their business. The original Royal Exchange building was completely destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666
Walk London

This month [January 2021] marks the 450th anniversary of the opening of London’s Royal Exchange, a complex created to act as a commercial centre in the City of London. The exchange was built on the orders – and with the funds – of the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham at a site on the junction of Cornhill and Threadneedle streets which was – and still is – jointly owned by the City of London Corporation and the Worshipful Company of Mercers. Drawing inspiration from the Antwerp Bourse, credited as the oldest financial exchange in the world (and where Sir Thomas had served as an agent of the crown), the Royal Exchange was built in ranges around a central courtyard and designed by an architect from Antwerp. … Gresham’s original building – to which two floors of retail had been added in 1660, creating what is said to have been England’s first shopping mall – was sadly destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was replaced by a second complex, this time designed by Edward Jarman, in 1669, but this too succumbed to fire, this time on 10th January, 1838. The building which now stands on the site – and is now an upmarket retail centre – was designed by Sir William Tite and was opened by another Queen, Victoria, in 1844.
Exploring London

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Kensington Gardens, London


Kensington Gardens
1900s

Google Street VIew (approximate)

Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, are among the Royal Parks of London. . . . Kensington Gardens was originally the western section of Hyde Park, which had been created by Henry VIII in 1536 to use as a hunting ground. It was separated from the remainder of Hyde Park in 1728 at the request of Queen Caroline and designed by Henry Wise and Charles Bridgeman in order to form a landscape garden, with fashionable features including the Round Pond, formal avenues and a sunken Dutch garden. Bridgeman created the Serpentine between 1726 and 1731 by damming the eastern outflow of the River Westbourne from Hyde Park. The part of the Serpentine that lies within Kensington Gardens is known as “The Long Water”. At its north-western end (originally the inflow of the River Westbourne), in an area known as “The Italian Garden”, there are four fountains and a number of classical sculptures. At the foot of the Italian Gardens is a parish boundary marker, delineating the boundary between Paddington and St George Hanover Square parishes, on the exact centre of the Westbourne river. Kensington Gardens were opened to the public in 1841.
Wikipedia

Map of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, “The American Cyclopædia” vol 13, 1879 (from Wikimedia Commons). “Italian Gardens are marked as “WW”

The Italian Gardens are an elaborate mix of four main basins. They feature central rosettes carved in Carrara marble, the Portland stone and white marble Tazza Fountain, and a collection of stone statues and urns. . . . The gardens are believed to have been a gift from Prince Albert to his beloved Queen Victoria. They are now recognised as being a site of particular importance and are Grade II listed by Historic England. The layout of the Italian Gardens can be traced to Osborne House on The Isle of Wight, where the royal family spent its holidays. Prince Albert was a keen gardener and took charge of the gardens at Osborne House, where he introduced an Italian garden with large raised terraces, fountains, urns and geometric flower beds. In 1860 he brought the idea to Kensington Gardens. The design by James Pennethorne includes many features of the Osborne garden.
Royal Parks

Old Curiosity Shop, London


The Old Curiosity Shop
c.1910
Publlisher: Stengel & Co

Google Street View.

Dating from the 16th century, its sloping roof, overhanging second floor, and uneven Tudor gabling mark it as one of London’s oldest shops. Dwarfed and out of place amidst one of the world’s most prestigious universities, the little creaking shop, constructed from salvaged ship wood, survived not only the Great Fire of London in 1666, but the devastation of the Blitz. Living in neighboring Bloomsbury, Charles Dickens visited the quaint shop on a number of occasions. Although the name was added after the novel was released, it is thought to have become the inspiration for his 1841 novel, The Old Curiosity Shop. The Old Curiosity Shop of Dickens’s imagination was the home of a virtuous teenage orphan, Nell Trent, and her grandfather. The tragic tale took place in “one of those receptacles for old and curious things which seem to crouch in odd corners of this town and to hide their musty treasures from the public eye in jealousy and distrust.”
Atlas Obscura

The idea that Dickens was inspired by this very shop in Holborn is untrue – although he lived for many years in the area and knew of the building. In The Old Curiosity Shop, the author himself writes “the old house had been long ago pulled down, and a fine broad road was in its place”. The actual shop which inspired Dickens’ tale is widely believed to be either 10 Orange Street (behind the National Gallery) or 24 Fetter Lane (off Fleet Street).Nearly 30 years after book was published, the shop’s proprietor decided to cash in on Dickens’ popularity. A bookbinder and bookseller named Tesseyman (d.1877) renamed it The Old Curiosity Shop, proudly declaring it was the very one ‘immortalised by Charles Dickens’. It’s been claimed Tesseyman was given the idea by Dickens’ illustrator Clayton Kyd Clarke (1857-1937) following the author’s death in 1870. Tesseyman’s brother confirmed to the Pall Mall Gazette in 1884 that the Curiosity Shop sign had been painted on the façade “for purely business purposes, as likely to attract custom to his shop, he being a dealer in books, paintings, old china, and so on”.
Memoirs of a Metro Girl

Indeed, it is so old that it is now a listed building and is widely considered to be London’s oldest shop, despite there being no evidence of its actually having been a shop prior to the Victorian era. And one thing that becomes more than apparent when studying the building’s history is that it is a true miracle that the building has survived the march of time and progress, given that, at various times in its long existence, there have been numerous occasions when its imminent demise has been announced and it has come within a hair’s breadth of being demolished. . . . The general consensus is that the buildings now known as “The Old Curiosity Shop” were built in the 1500s as two tiny dwellings. The land on which they stood was later gifted to Charles II’s mistress, Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth (1649 – 1734), for whom Portsmouth Street is named, and the two tiny dwellings were knocked into one larger dwelling and turned into a dairy.
London Walking Tours

Bank of England, London


London. The Bank of England.
1900s
Publisher: F. Frankel & Co, London

Google Street view

27 July 1694: The Bank of England began as a private bank that would act as a banker to the Government. It was primarily founded to fund the war effort against France. The King and Queen of the time, William and Mary, were two of the original stockholders. The original Royal Charter of 1694, granted by King William and Queen Mary, explained that the Bank was founded to “promote the public Good and Benefit of our People”. In essence, this is still used today in our current mission statement: “Promoting the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary and financial stability”. The Bank of England opened for business on 1 August 1694 in temporary accommodation in the Mercers’ Hall in Cheapside. It had a staff of just 17 clerks and two gatekeepers.
. . .
In 1734, the Bank of England moved to the site on Threadneedle Street where it still stands today. Slowly, over the next 100 years or so, the Bank bought adjacent properties until it owned the entire 3.5-acre site in the heart of the City of London. Our first architect George Sampson created the first purpose-built bank in the UK on the site. It was said to be Palladian in style, identified by its symmetry and classic design. Payment by the Bank to contractors for the balance of the new building in 1734 was £268, 17 shillings, and two pence.
. . .
Between 1925 and 1939, Bank of England architect Sir Herbert Baker demolished what had become known as ‘the old Bank’ or ‘Soane’s Bank’. The old Bank, designed by architect Sir John Soane, was regarded as one of London’s architectural gems. Sir Herbert built a new headquarters for the Bank of England on the same 3.5-acre Threadneedle Street site. The old Bank of England had mostly been no more than three storeys high. The new building stood seven storeys above ground, and dropped three below to fit in the extra staff needed to tackle the Bank’s rapidly increasing amount of work and responsibility.
Bank of England

Following images are from “Monumental classic architecture in Great Britain and Ireland during the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries”, Albert Edward Richardson, 1914, between pages 38 & 39, and 42 & 43.

Ground Floor Plan
Entrance from Lothbury courtyard
View in Governor’s Courtyard
Entry Vestible, from Princes Street
Treasury Corridor
Consol’s Office
The Court Room
Private Drawing Office
Public Drawing Office
Public Drawing Office

Guildhall, London


Guildhall, London
c.1910
Publisher: Philco Publishing Co.

Google Street View

Guildhall is a municipal building in the Moorgate area of the City of London, England. It is off Gresham and Basinghall streets, in the wards of Bassishaw and Cheap. The building has been used as a town hall for several hundred years, and is still the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London and its Corporation. It should not be confused with London’s City Hall, the administrative centre for Greater London. The term “Guildhall” refers both to the whole building and to its main room, which is a medieval great hall.
. . .
The current building began construction in 1411 and completed in 1440. The Great Hall did not completely escape damage in the Great Fire of London in 1666; it was partially restored (with a flat roof) in 1670. The present grand entrance (the east wing of the south front), in “Hindoostani Gothic”, was added in 1788 by George Dance. A more extensive restoration than that in 1670 was completed in 1866 by the City of London architect Sir Horace Jones, who added a new timber roof in close keeping with the original hammerbeam ceiling. This replacement was destroyed during the Second Great Fire of London on the night of 29/30 December 1940, the result of a Luftwaffe fire-raid. It was replaced in 1954 during works designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, though the original hammerbeam design was not retained.
Wikipedia.

Located in the north-central area of the old medieval city next to the parishes of St. Michael Bassishaw and St. Lawrence Jewry, Guildhall was mainly used as London’s city hall. There are references to the pre-1411 Guildhall that mention the meetings of the city’s officials that occurred in its chambers, as well as sessions of the Mayor’s and Sheriff’s Courts that took place there. The Common Council routinely gathered in the upper chamber while the Aldermen met in its inner chamber so that they could privately conduct their business. . . . Changes naturally came with the fifteenth century rebuilding of Guildhall. In the Great Hall, the Hustings Court took place on the eastern dais and the Sheriff’s court on the western dais, both under a large stained-glass window. The Mayor’s Court was held in its own building that was attached to the great hall. In this same building, the Court of Aldermen also met to deliberate on cases pertaining to the Law Merchant. The Guildhall Library was built between 1423 and 1425 and, though it was considered to be a public library, the priests of the Guildhall College and Chapel mainly used it. The College and Chapel were rebuilt in 1427 and 1440, respectively, and became part of the medieval Guildhall complex. . . . As the city hall of medieval London, Guildhall not only served as an administrative and civic center for the city, but also as a stage for political, religious, and social drama. Guildhall was where the English kings conferred with the Mayor and where extravagant banquets were held for the nobility. . . .Today, the modern Guildhall complex is still used as the center of government for the City of London, and remains one of the oldest surviving structures from the medieval era.
Medieval London

Though the Guildhall was heavily damaged in the Great Fire of 1666, the walls survived, and the interior was rebuilt. How did the Guildhall survive, when so much of London was destroyed in the blaze? One theory is that the hall was framed in solid oak, which was able to resist the worst effects of the fire. An eyewitness to the Great Fire described the Guildhall as standing amid the flames ‘like a bright shining coal, as if it had been a palace of gold, or a great building of burnished brass’. The medieval ceiling had been lost to the fire, and in its place was a flat panelled ceiling thought to have been the work of Sir Christopher Wren.
Britain Express


The Royal Banquet in Guildhall, 1761, from “Old and New London”, George Walter Thornbury, 1879-85, p. 325

After half an hour’s stay in the council chamber, the royal party returned into the hall, and were conducted to the upper end of it, called the hustings, where a table was provided for them, at which they sat by themselves. There had been, it seems, a knotty little question of etiquette. The ladies. in-waiting on the Queen had claimed the right of custom to dine at the same table with her Majesty, but this was disallowed ; so they dined at the table of the Lady Mayoress in the Court of King’s Bench. The royal table “was set off with a variety of emblematic ornaments, beyond description elegant,” and a superb canopy was placed over their Majesties’ heads at the upper end. For the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and their ladies, there was a table on the lower hustings. The privy councillors, ministers of state, and great nobles dined at a table on the right of this ; the foreign ministers at one on the left. For the mazarines and the general company there were eight tables laid out in the body of the hall, while the judges, serjeants, and other legal celebrities, dined in the old council chamber, and the attendants of the distinguished visitors were regaled in the Court of Common Pleas.
. . .
FIRST SERVICE. Venison, turtle soups, fish of every sort, viz dorys, mullets, turbots, tench, soles, &c., nine dishes.
SECOND SERVICE. A fine roast, ortolans, teals, quails, ruffs, knotts, pea-chicks, snipes, partridges, pheasants, &c., nine dishes.
THIRD SERVICE. Vegetables and made dishes, green peas, green morelles, green truffles, cardoons, artichokes, ducks’ tongues, fat &c., eleven dishes.
FOURTH SERVICE. Curious ornaments in pastry and makes, jellies, blomonges, in variety of shapes, figures, and colours, nine dishes.

In all, not including the dessert, there were placed on the tables four hundred and fourteen dishes, hot and cold. Wine was varied and copious. In the language of the chronicler, ” champagne, burgundy, and other valuable wines were to be had everywhere, and nothing was so scarce as water.” When the second course was being laid on, the toasts began. The common crier, standing before the royal table, demanded silence, then proclaimed aloud that their Majesties drank to the health and prosperity of the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and common council of the City of London. Then the common crier, in the name of the civic dignitaries, gave the toast of health, long life, and prosperity to their most gracious Majesties. . After dinner there was no tarrying over the wine-cup. The royal party retired at once to the council chamber, ” where they had their tea.” What became of the rest of the company is not men-tioned, but clearly the Guildhall could have been no place for them. That was summarily occupied by an army of carpenters. The tables were struck and carried out. The hustings, where the great folks had dined, and the floor of which had been covered with rich carpeting, was covered afresh, and the whole hall rapidly got ready for the ball, with which the festivities were to conclude.
“Old and New London”, George Walter Thornbury, 1879-85, pp. 326-7


The Court of Aldermen, Guildhall, from “Old and New London”, George Walter Thornbury, 1879-85, p. 390

The Court of Aldermen is a richly-gilded room with a stucco ceiling, painted with allegorical figures of the hereditary virtues of the City of London—Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude—by that over-rated painter, Hogarth’s father-in-law, Sir James Thornhill, who was presented by the Corporation with a gold cup, value £225 7s. In the cornices are emblazoned the arms of all the mayors since 1780 (the year of the Gordon riots). Each alderman’s chair bears his name and arms. The apartment, says a writer in Knight’s “London,” as its name tells us, is used for the sittings of the Court of Aldermen, who, in judicial matters, form the bench of magistrates for the City, and in their more directly corporate capacity try the validity of ward elections, and claims to freedom who admit and swear brokers, superintend prisons, order prosecutions, and perform a variety of other analogous duties ; a descent, certainly, from the high position of the ancient “ealdormen,” or superior Saxon nobility, from whom they derive their name and partly their functions.
“Old and New London”, George Walter Thornbury, 1879-85, p. 388

General Post Office, London


General Post Office
Postmarked 1908

Google Street View (approximate)

Originally known as the General Letter Office, the headquarters for the General Post Office (GPO) was built on the eastern side of St. Martin’s Le Grand in the City of London between 1825 and 1829, to designs by Robert Smirke. . . . It was built in the Grecian style with Ionic porticoes, and was 400 feet (120 m) long and 80 feet (24 m) deep. The building’s main facade had a central hexastyle Greek Ionic portico with pediment, and two tetrastyle porticoes without pediments at each end. The main interior was the large letter-carriers’ room, with its elegant iron gallery and spiral staircase.

While externally attractive, however, the building suffered from internal shortcomings. Poor layout meant that work requiring bright light was conducted in poorly illuminated areas; odours spread from the lavatories to the kitchens, while the combination of gas lighting and poor ventilation meant that workers often felt nauseous. The expansion of the work of the Post Office also meant that by the later 19th century it was occupied well beyond its intended capacity; The Times reported in 1860 that “rooms have been overcrowded, closets turned into offices, extra rooms hung by tie rods to the girders of the ceiling”. . . The original Smirke building was closed in 1910 and demolished in 1912.
Wikipedia

The story goes back to the era before Rowland Hill’s Penny Post and had its opening chapter during the glory days of the mail coach. The Post Office had been established in the City since the mid-17th century but it was in 1829 that the Post Office moved from cramped premises in Lombard St to a new home in an imposing neoclassical building nearer St Paul’s. Situated on the east side of St Martin’s-Le-Grand it was Grand by address, grand in design and become known fondly as ‘The Grand’ by its occupants. The new building housed the Postmaster General, The Secretary and his administrative staff together with the main sorting offices for mail for London, the provinces and overseas. The building, designed by Robert Smirke, was the best known public face of the Post Office in London throughout the Victorian period. After much internal alteration to cope with the enormous growth in business, it was eventually – and controversially – demolished in 1912-13.
The Postal Museum

Pagoda, Kew Gardens, London


Pagoda, Kew Gardens
Postmarked 1906
Publisher: Millar & Lang, Glasgow

Google Street View.

Kew’s Pagoda was completed in 1762 as a gift for Princess Augusta, the founder of the Gardens. It was one of several Chinese buildings designed for Kew by Sir William Chambers, who had spent time travelling and studying the architecture of East Asia. A popular ‘folly’ of the age, it offered one of the earliest and finest bird’s eye views of London
Royal Botatanic Gardens, Kew

The Great Pagoda was completed in only six months. The speed of completion and the quality of construction were points of pride for Chambers; “the walls of the building are composed of very hard bricks…neatly laid, and with such care, that there is not the least crack or fracture in the whole structure, notwithstanding its great height, and the expedition with which it was built”. 80 gilded dragons decorated the roofs of its ten storeys although these had been removed by 1784. The height of the building impressed contemporaries; in 1762, Horace Walpole wrote to a friend, “the Pagoda at Kew begins to rise above the trees and soon you will see it from Yorkshire”.
Wikipedia.

At the time of its construction it was considered so unusual that people were unconvinced it would remain standing. Chambers studied oriental architecture in China, but when he designed Kew’s pagoda he ignored the rules. Pagodas should have an odd number of floors, traditionally seven (rather than ten), believed to represent seven steps to heaven. The Great Pagoda was the most accurate reconstruction of a Chinese building in Europe at the time. It was originally flanked by a Moorish Alhambra and a Turkish Mosque, follies that were all the rage in the great gardens of the time.
Wordl Heritage Journeys

The dragons are back at Kew after more than two centuries, tails curled, wings neatly furled to make them less of a wind catcher, gazing down with glittering eyes on the acres of gardens and thousands of visitors far below. . . . Legends insisted they were made of gem-studded enamelled bronze or even solid gold, and that they were stripped off the pagoda to settle the Prince of Wales’s gambling debts, or to decorate his extraordinary oriental-styled in Brighton. The truth was more boring. Chambers took them off when he restored the building in 1784, because although they looked magnificent, they were made of cheap pine and after a spell of atrocious weather – the Thames froze over in 1783 – they were rotten.

Their replacements, blazing in green, blue, red and gold, guard a secret. The eight at ground level were hand carved from cedar wood, but the 72 dragons on the higher floors were produced on a 3D printer. “The biggest engineering problem we had was attaching the dragons to the roofs,” Putnam said. “They didn’t worry much about health and safety in the 18th century, but the biggest of the printed ones weigh less than 10 kilos, and the wooden ones weigh a quarter tonne – to make them all in wood we’d have had to punch the original structure through and through with steel-reinforcing rods to hold them.”
The Guardian

The Dorchester, London


The Dorchester, London, W.1.
c.1931

Google Street View.

Sir Robert McAlpine created a vision for what he considered to be the perfect hotel. His vision became a reality when The Dorchester opened its doors on April 20, 1931. The state-of-the-art design was built in record time over 18 months, at the speed of a floor a week, to become the world’s first hotel to be constructed from reinforced concrete.
The Dorchester

Sir Owen Williams was commissioned to design the new hotel, using reinforced concrete to allow the creation of large internal spaces without support pillars, but he abandoned the project in February 1930 and was replaced with William Curtis Green. James Maude Richards, hired by Williams, served as an architectural assistant within the all-engineer staff. Percy Morley Horder, consulting architect to Gordon’s Hotels, had not been consulted during the design process and, after seeing the plan, resigned from the project, remarking to The Observer that the design was ill-suited for the location, assuming the concrete was to be left unpainted and that the insulation would be minimal. Some 40,000 tonnes of earth were excavated to make room for the hotel’s extensive basement which is one-third of the size of the hotel above the surface. The upper eight floors were erected in just 10 weeks, supported on a massive 3 feet (0.91 m) thick reinforced concrete deck that forms the roof of the first floor.
Wikipedia.

Teddington Lock, England


Teddington Lock
Postmarked: 1905
Publisher: Stengel & Co

Google Street View.

The very first lock at Teddington was built in 1810 and was made of timber, this quickly became dilapidated and was replaced in 1856/7 with basically the launch lock that you see today (although it was refurbished in 1950) In 1904 the barge lock was added making Teddington Locks the largest lock system on the non-tidal Thames. Everything about Teddington Locks is big, we have the largest weir on the Thames , 20 electrically operated gates capable of letting 12 billion gallons (54.50 billion litres) of water through a day at peak flow. We also have the largest lock (The Barge Lock) which is 650 feet (198.12 metres) long and holds 1.75 million gallons (8 million litres) of water.
Teddington Lock

Teddington Lock is the lowest lock on the Thames and therefore the waters are tidal below the lock. There are, in fact, three separate locks chambers – a chamber was first built here in 1811 but replaced with a new one a little way downstream in 1857. This is the ‘launch’ lock we see today. In the same year, the tiny skiff lock was added especially for pleasure craft. This small beam-operated lock (nicknamed the coffin lock) is only 1.77metres (5ft 10in) wide, and 15.08metres (49ft 6in) long. In 1904 the mighty barge lock was built. Measuring 198.12metres (650ft) long and 7.54metres (24ft 9in) wide, this lock has an extra pair of gates (used infrequently) one third of the way along the chamber.
River Thames

Teddington Lock is a complex of three locks and a weir on the River Thames between Ham and Teddington in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, England. It was first built in 1810.
Wikipedia.

Buckingham Palace, London


Buckingham Palace, London
c.1910

Street View

Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch…. Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. In measurements, the building is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 metres high.
Royal Residence: Buckingham Palace

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site that had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and became known as The Queen’s House. During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, who constructed three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East Front, which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally congregates to greet crowds.
Wikipedia.

Highlights of Buckingham Palace (has 360o views of some rooms)


Buckingham Palace, London

On back:
Buckingham Palace
The London residence of the Sovereign. Derives its name from the Duke of Buckingham who erected the mansion in 1703. Was purchased by George III in 1761.