Fresh Air and Fun

 

We got both fresh air and fun on yesterday’s Bermondsey walk and some stunning views of the Thames and the London skyline to boot!  Each time I walk these streets  as spring turns to summer and the trees come into full leaf, I marvel at how green Bermondsey is and how forward thinking Ada Salter was.  After almost eighty years Bermondsey’s streets are still tree-lined and the estates full of well-maintained shrubs and playgrounds.

 

 

I was delighted and very touched when Bermondsey  novelist, Mary Gibson gave me a copy of her second novel Jam & Roses, in which Ada features and which covers many of the places we covered on the walk. Mary has now published four novels set in Bermondsey and you can find out more about them on her website http://www.marygibsonauthor.co.uk

 

 

Posted in Hidden Heroines, Hidden Histories, Hidden People, Hidden Places, The Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Beautifying Bermondsey 

It was pretty windy when Oonagh led the first of our Ada Salter walks in Bermondsey last week, but that didn’t put off the group who all enjoyed the mix of Garden estate, old warehouses and sunning Thames views upriver. Ada’s trees, planted as part of the Beautification programme should look even better next Saturday with more in leaf. Why not join us and enjoy the Salters’ legacy?

The next walk is on Saturday 13th May at 11am. Click here to book.

Posted in Hidden Art, Hidden Heroines, Hidden Places, The Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Walks for 2017

After a couple of months of hibernation and planning I’m shall be starting to offer a regular programme of walks again from March. I’m excited  to announce new walks for 2017 about two women I admire  very much.

Ada Salter: Beautifying Bermondsey

ada-salter

This year Capital Walks  ventures south of the River to Bermondsey celebrating the life and achievements of  Ada Salter; socialist, pacifist, environmentalist, youth-worker and Quaker.  Ada was the first female Mayor in London and the first Labour woman mayor in the British Isles. Ada loved singing and plants; with her husband,  local doctor and MP Dr Alfred Salter, she made a significant impact on health, housing, employment and labour relations.  The Garden Suburb she created and the tree planting she championed can still be seen today.  Oonagh Gay, of Crouch End Walks, and I have put a route together that explores her achievements and the ethical socialism that underpinned them.

Book Now 13th May 2017

Dorothy L Sayers Bloomsbury

12-great-ormond-st

Back in Bloomsbury, I have been indulging  long-held enthusiasm for the writing of Dorothy L Sayers and developing a walk around some of DLS’s haunts along with those of her alter ego Harriet Vane and other familiar characters from the novels.  See where Peter Wimsey broke his collarbone, where Harriet lived, where her fictional lover Philip Boyes imbibed Strong Poison and find out more about the woman who brought them all to life.

An evening walk at 18:30 on 25th April and for DL Sayers birthday weekend 14:00 on 11th June

Posted in Hidden Art, Hidden Heroines, Hidden Histories, Hidden People, Hidden Places, The Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Garretts of Gower Street – an adventure story for girls

No 2 Gower Street

No 2 Gower Street

Behind this door between the 1870s to the 1930s, four women of one remarkable family were making their mark upon the world though only one, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, is named on the plaque. So how did it begin?

Apparently, her mother Louisa told this story of how two of her daughters decided upon their careers.  One evening at the family home in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, Elizabeth and Milly and Elizabeth’s friend Emily were brushing their hair by the fire, discussing the inequalities facing women and what they might do to advance women’s cause. Emily (aged 29) said women needed an education and she would open the universities to women, Elizabeth (aged 23) argued that women also needed an income so she would open up the professions, starting with medicine, and Milly (aged 13) was allocated the task of winning the Parliamentary vote.  (Emily Davies co-founded  Girton College Cambridge.)

Millicent Garrett Fawcett, who did indeed go on to lead the constitutional campaign for women’s suffrage, has long been one of my heroes.  Her peaceful and persistent campaigning for women to get the vote began almost fifty years earlier than the direct violent action of the Women’s Political and Social Union (WSPU) so graphically depicted in last autumn’s film Suffragette. The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), of which Millicent became President, continued to campaign for gender equality in different guises and, now as The Fawcett Society, celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

 

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital  – now part of Unison  Euston Road

Millicent’s older sister Elizabeth Garrett Anderson didn’t live in Gower Street but she did open up the medical profession. Elizabeth Garrett, became the first woman to qualify as a physician in Britain.  She went on to found the New Hospital for Women (later the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital), was Dean of the London School of Medicine for Women and the first woman in Britain to be elected Mayor when she was elected Mayor of Aldeburgh, Suffolk in 1908.

Part of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital building is now incorporated into the offices of the trade union Unison and houses the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery

IMG_1286

London School of Medicine for Women

Elizabeth’s daughter, Louisa Garrett Anderson, trained as a doctor at the London School of Medicine for Women and in 1915 established the Endell Street Military Hospital with her companion Dr Flora Murray.

From the 1870s, long before Millicent moved in, No 2 Gower Street was the home and workplace of the firm of A&R Garrett House Decorators.  A&R  were the architectural decorators Agnes and Rhoda , (sister and cousin of Millicent and Elizabeth) and strictly speaking, the neat brass plate on the door that advertised their business contravened the terms of their Bedford Estate lease.

After a formal apprenticeship with the architect John McKean Brydon (who designed the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and the London School of Medicine for Women) the two cousins became the first women  professional house decorators, They designed carpets, textiles, furniture and wallpaper, exhibited in Paris and published a design book that ran to several editions.   The composer Sir Hubert Parry employed them and they successfully tendered for interior design of the New Hospital for Women.

A&R Garrett Laburnum Wallpaper

Garrett ‘Laburnum’ Wallpaper

Agnes garrett Fireplace EGA Hosp

Fireplace by Agnes Garrett

Millicent moved in with her sister Agnes in the 1880s after the death of her husband, the academic and Liberal MP Henry Fawcett and their cousin Rhoda.  Millicent’s daughter Phillippa Fawcett lived here and from here set off for Newnham College (of which her mother had been one of the founders) where she made history and newspaper headlines with her success in the mathematics finals, when she was placed “above the senior wrangler”.  In plain English, she was better than any of the men!

If you would like to find out more why not join my Garretts of Gower Street walk on Saturday afternoon 10th December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Hidden Art, Hidden Heroines, Hidden Histories, Hidden People, The Blog | Leave a comment

From Black Dwarf to Spare Rib

Why not join me on Saturday afternoon to stroll through Clerkenwell?

The old Borough of Finsbury has a strong history  of print and publishing and many fictional links too. Bank notes; three national newspapers; periodicals from Edward Cave’s The Gentleman (the first ever magazine) through Lenin’s ISKRA to feminist Spare Rib in the 1980s.  Of these had their home within a short walk of our starting point at Farringdon Station.

For George Gissing it was the Nether World. Charles Dickens used the area widely in his novels and we will see where Oliver first encountered Mr Brownlow and the square where the ‘real’ Miss Haversham lived.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/from-black-dwarf-to-spare-rib-finsbury-in-print-tickets-26626104395

Posted in The Blog | Leave a comment

Charity Weekend – Reading, Revels & Royalty — Clerkenwell and Islington Guides

Clerkenwell and Islington Guides are marking the Queen’s official birthday with a weekend of walks across the Borough. Walks take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10th – 12th June from Angel, Farringdon, Highbury, Old Street and Upper Holloway Each walk costs are £10 and proceeds will go to The Reading Agency, the Islington-based…

via Charity Weekend – Reading, Revels & Royalty — Clerkenwell and Islington Guides

Posted in The Blog | Leave a comment

The flower pot on the windowsill

London Flower lovers badge etc

Despite recent heavy winds my polypropylene and tubular aluminium “grow house” has been remarkably resilient providing shelter to plants before their move onto the allotment and giving vegetable and herb seedlings a chance to toughen up enough to stand a chance against the slugs.  This morning however, my complacency (And neglect to secure said structure to the fence as advised!) was shattered.  Rain had succeeded where wind alone failed,  and I woke to discover my grow house face down on top of a jumble of plants and seedlings.

On closer, and wet, inspection the damage wasn’t as bad as it first looked but it took me back with a jolt to a windy summer day in the early 1960s when I awoke to my first horticultural disaster.  The clay pot of nasturtiums I had been painstakingly tending on my second floor bedroom windowsill lay shattered far below in the basement ‘area’ of the printers shop above which we lived .

IMG_1728

In the days when I was a pupil there, William Tyndale Junior School in Islington wasn’t known for its imaginative  curriculum (Though it had its moments later in the more radical 1970s.), so the advent of the London Flower Lovers’ League bulbs and seeds in Spring and Summer was really quite exciting.

The summer seeds were nasturtiums and candytuft.  My mother complained that the nasturtiums got blackly, but I preferred their bright colours and trailing flowers to the more sedate pink candytuft and always hoped that my small brown envelope would have nasturtium seeds in it.  Oddly, I don’t remember growing the bulbs (always daffodils) though I proudly pasted this  certificate into my scrapbook!

IMG_1727

Some time ago, I looked up the London Flower Lovers League and was delighted to see that  it still exists, though since 1974 it has been called The London Children’s Flower Society. I read the 2014 Annual Report online and was pleased to note that my old primary school still takes part and earned a Silver Medal Award in the daffodil and hyacinth class.

Alice K Street, whose printed signature appeared on all the certificates, founded the Society in 1945 in order to provide London children with an opportunity for gardening in the grey post-war years. She ran the League from her own home in Orpington until her death in 1966, and started with the very modest idea of a daffodil competition, open to all the school children of London.  The bulbs would be grown in pots, if necessary on a window ledge, as mine were, or standing in any space available where there was enough light. The bulbs, and later seeds, were accompanied by short, simply-worded instructions for growing them.

The bulb competition still exists, but now the Society offers a wider range of seeds – flower and vegetable – in standard sized packets – no more tiny brown envelopes containing only ten or 12 seeds. It also has categories for perennial plants and whole school gardens with prizes as well as certificates.  Alice K Street’s name lives on in trophies awarded to schools, but surely she should be better known?

London Flower lovers badge etc

Posted in Hidden Heroines, Hidden Plants, The Blog | 3 Comments