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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Flippin' 'eck, flamingos!!!

After the screeching and clanking of the trains going past right next to us by 2300 it was deathly quiet and you could hear a pin drop until 0530 when the first train came past.

We went for a walk today to get into London mode. We caught the Tube to High Street Kensington and our first stop on the walk was to find St. Mary Abbots church.

By the church yard was St. Mary's school. It was started as a Charity school in 1707 but the current building however dates from 1875. The statues of a boy and girl date from around 1715. I understand that David Cameron's daughter went to school here.

The church stands where the old village used to be. The current building dates from 1872 and the architect was Sir George Gilbert Scott who also designed the Albert Memorial and the iconic St. Pancras Hotel. The walls are covered inside have many memorials and were a good read. We didn't linger in the lovely church as a service started up, but well worth a visit as an escape from a shopping stint in the High Street.

We then walked through some lovely streets to Holland Park that was the grounds of Holland House. It was very busy with folk soaking up the sun and kids out with their nannies.

Just south of Holland park is Tower House that was built in 1877 by a Gothic Revivalist William Burgess. It was bought in 1960's by the actor Richard Harris we renovated it to the original designs. He sold it to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin who I think still owns it. He outbid David Bowen for it. Next door is a 47 room house built for Sir Samuel Luke Fildes a painter and illustrator. It then came the Winner family and until his death Michael Winner the film director etc lived there. In 2011 it was valued at £60 million. It has since been sold to Robbie Williams and appears to be undergoing massive renovations.

This area of Kensington and Chelsea became home to many of the famous artists at the end of the 19th Century and they had homes designed by architects that were distinctive and were practical so that not only did they house the family but the studio and the sales are too. As you walk around you see many very large windows and glassed areas that were the studios of the artists. This relief seems to be a much more commercial venture but there were studio spaces on the top floor.

The biggest surprise of the walk was the Kensington Roof Gardens. These were built 6 floors up at the top of the Derry and Toms department store that opened in 1933. The gardens were an idea of  Trevor Bowen the Vice President of Barkers the owners. It was designed by Ralph Hancock between 1936 and 1938. It has three main areas, a Moorish garden, a Tudor style and an English woodland! Amongst there are streams and rills with many ducks and falmingos!!!

The Tudor cloister walk way.

The Moorish area based on the Alhambra.

A lovely sitting area in the Moorish garden area. We had out pack-up on the roof, just to lower the tone as there is a club and bar up there. If the roof gardens are booked for a private function it will be closed to the public.

We walked down a mews and saw some lovely old cars in the old stables of many of the what are now garages. At the top we the premises of R.A Creamer and Sons who are suppliers and service engineers of the Jaguars of the Queen and Prince Charles. They opened in 1927 and were the very first franchise of Jaguar. However it seems they are to relinquish this franchise as it has become too challenging to comply with JLR strategy.

We wended our way to Kensington Palace and the Gardens. I was taken by this handsome statue of William III of Orange that was actually given by German Emperor William II to Edwrad VII in 1907.

You don't often see statues of a young Queen Victoria or of here sitting down too often. It is of her at age 18 when she was crowned. She was born in Kensington Palace and lived there until her father died and she began her reign in 1837. One of her daughter's Louise lived here later and it was she that sculpted this statue of her mother to commemorate fifty years of her reign. It was paid for by Kensington residents.

Kensington Palace sunken gardens were looking a picture through the railings. We then walked down to the Serpentine as Helen wanted to look at some summer houses that were on show there. I have too many photos to include them today. From there we walked back up the hill to the Albert Memorial.

It is not quite the Taj Mahal but it is a fantastic statement of love for somebody. The Albert Hall is also a pretty impressive building too.

The detail in the frieze is fantastic and you can see every person is named above or below. It is called the Parnassus Frieze and has 169 people who are all composers, architects, poets, painters or sculptors.

There is also fantastic detail in the frieze around the Albert Hall. It is called the Mosaic Frieze and depicts the 'Triumph of arts and science'

At each corner of the monument are large pieces to represent continents. This one is Africa and there is Africa, Americas and Europe.

By each of the four columns of the memorial are this sculptures. This one depicts manufacturing and the other three are agriculture, commerce and engineering. The latest restoration cost around £11 million and the finished article is really stunning. Albert himself is now covered in gold leaf as originally designed in 1862. It was opened in 1872 with the statue of the seated Albert added in 1875. Until recently the statue was painted black and this had always been reported as being of a result of disguising the memorial from Zeppelins in WWI. but it has been found that the paint dated from before 1914 and may have been a response to the acidic action of the heavy Victorian pollution on the gold.

We then caught the tube back to St. Pancras before rush hour got under way properly and got back for a well deserved sit down and a cup of tea. I still can't believe it, flaming flamingos!!!

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