London History

.’. Marylebone Conduit .’.



Marylebone Lane is nowadays a side street which leads from Oxford Street to Marylebone High Street, and a popular short cut for traffic wishing to filter through to Wigmore Street, which in turn runs parallel with Oxford Street.

Inset in this modern piece of wall at the corner of Wigmore Street and Marylebone Lane, is this ancient plaque that goes unnoticed by the vast majority of passers by. This very spot was once the main source of the water supply to the City of London. The River Tyburn, with conduit head chiefly alongside of present day Oxford Street, where it would then flow down beneath Brooke Street. This plaque reminds us where the water was once piped to the City of London, close by the Lord Mayor’s old Banqueting House, which once stood in fields now occupied by nearby Stratford Place. Alongside this field was a small lane leading to Marylebone – the present day ‘Marylebone Lane’ – where on this corner stood the chief conduit, now marked by this commemorative stone inlaid into the wall and dated 1776 with its City of London claim.

London History

.’. John Betjeman .’.


Sir John Betjeman, (28 August 1906 – 19 May 1984) was an English poet, writer and broadcaster who described himself in Who’s Who as a “poet and hack”.

He was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture. Starting his career as a journalist, he ended it as one of the most popular British Poets Laureate to date and a much-loved figure on British television.

He led the campaign to save Holy Trinity, Sloane Street in London when it was threatened with demolition in the early 1970s.  He fought a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to save the Propylaeum, known commonly as the Euston Arch, London. He is considered instrumental in helping to save the famous façade of St Pancras railway station, London and was commemorated when it re-opened as an international and domestic terminus in November 2007.

He called the plan to demolish St Pancras a “criminal folly”. About the station itself he wrote “What [the Londoner] sees in his mind’s eye is that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill and outlined against a foggy sunset, and the great arc of Barlow’s train shed gaping to devour incoming engines, and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel seen from gloomy Judd Street.” On the re-opening St Pancras in 2007, a statue of Betjeman by Martin Jennings was erected in the station at platform level.


London History

.’. St George Hospital .’.


One of the strangest tales of landowership in London concerns the famous St. George’s Hospital in London’s Hyde Park Corner. The shell of the building remains to this day – the facade was preserved for a new hotel when hospital finally closed in 1980 having been run continuously as a hospital since 1783.

When it closed, the government of the day looked forward to selling the land for development. They simply assumed that they owned the land as the hospital was by then part of the National Health Service and all hospital sites were government enormously valuable – they received a polite letter from the Duke of Westminster, whose family, the Grosvenors, own much of the land in Belgravia and Mayfair. The letter pointed out that the land on which the hospital was built was owned by the Grosvenors and not by the government. The government thought they were safe when they realised they had a ninehundred-year lease on the ground, but again they were thwarted by the original deeds for more than two centuries.

The government certainly did own a very long lease on the land on which the hospital was built; that much was agreed, but when government officials were invited to take a careful look at the terms of the lease they discovered that it remained valid only if the land continued to be used for a hospital. Since a hospital was no longer required, the land reverted to the Grosvernors and the government was left with nothing.

London History

.’. Martin Van Butchell .’.


Who doesn’t LOVE to know more about the eccentric people of the City of London?

When we talk about extraordinary and eccentricities we may indeed apply to this ingenious and whimsical man.
Martin Van Butchell (1735–1814) was the morning-star of the eccentric world; a man of uncommon merit, science, wonderful and curious singularities, unique manners and mad appearance.
He was the son of a well known tapestry-master to his majesty George II and because of that he had the opportunity to know many distinguished people and also the luck to live in a large house “Crown House”, with extensive gardens in the parish of Lambeth.
The study of the human teeth accidentally took up his attention through the breaking of one of his own, and he engaged himself as pupil to the famous Dr. J. Hunter.
The eccentricities of Martin now began to excite public notice; upon his wife’s death, on January 14, 1775, he decided to have her embalmed and turn her into an attraction to draw more customers. He contacted his teacher of surgery and anatomy Dr. William Hunter and Dr. William Cruikshank who agreed to do the job.
Doctors injected the body with preservatives and color additives that gave a glow to the corpse’s cheeks, replaced her eyes with glass eyes and dressed her in her wedding gown.
The reason of keeping his wife unburied was occasioned by a clause in the marriage settlement, disposing of certain property, while she remained above ground: we can’t decide how far this may be true, but she has never been buried.
He call his children by whistling and by no other way. He dined by himself and gave orders to his children and wife to dine alone too.
His beard has not been shaved or cut for fifteen years, his clothes was once black, but after many years of use it was almost white and lets not forget his white pony that used to be painted with purple dots. He also was seen walking around London with a large Otaheitan tooth or a bone in his hand fastened in a string to his wrist.
Upon the front of his house, in Mount Street, he painted the following puzzle (see photo).
He was an eccentric man with an eccentric life. The embalm body of his wife had to go away after his second marriage. So it ended up in the Royal College of Surgeons.
The embalming was not very effective; the body begun to slowly deteriorate. In 1941, the body of Mary Butchell was finally destroyed in a German bombing raid.

London History

.’. One Way – Street Art .’.


Yes it’s a one way street sign, but not a common one!!

Look more closely… Something should put a smile on your face, like it did on mine… Yes, the  little guy that looks like he’s stealing the white rectangle inside this street sign! It’s so cute!!!

I had no idea who did this, but apparently after a search I found out that there are several ones in Paris, Florence, Rome and off course in my beloved London and I find it quite amusing.

Clet Abraham is a French 45 years old and the artist responsible for these little guys, also if you want to know more about him have a look at this interview or this one it is very interesting, and as they said:

“As Long as There are Streets, There Will be Street Art”


London History

.’. Operating Theatre .’.


I found this place while walking around Southwark few years back. As I love old churchs and while passing by St. Thomas Church I decided to go in and have a look, for my surprise inside of the Church I found at the top of a very old wooden spiral staircase with uneven steps the Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret is a museum of surgical history and one of the oldest surviving operating theatres. It is located in the garret (habitable attic) of St Thomas’s Church, Southwark, on the original site of the old St Thomas’ Hospital.

St Thomas Church was build at end of the 17th century and it says that the garret was used only by the Apothecary of the Hospital untill 1821 to cure herbs and medicine for the use of the old St. Thomas Hospital.

In 1822 the herb garret was converted into a purpose-built operating theatre. The Operating theater was a non-sterile, tiered theater or amphitheater in which students and other spectators could watch surgeons perform surgery.

The patients were mainly poor people who were expected to contribute to their care if they could afford it. Rich patients were treated and operated on at home rather than in hospital. The patients at the Old Operating Theatre were all women.

Until 1847, surgeons had no recourse to anaesthetics and depended on swift technique (surgeons could perform an amputation in a minute or less), the mental preparation of the patient, and alcohol or opiates to dull the patient’s senses. Thereafter, ether or chloroform started to be used. The Operating Theatre had closed down before antiseptic surgery was invented.

In 1859, Florence Nightingale became involved with St Thomas’s, setting up on this site her famous nursing school. It was on her advice that the Hospital agreed to move to a new site when the Charing Cross Railway Company offered to buy the hospital’s land. In 1862, the hospital began the move to its present site at Lambeth and the operating theatre was closed. The theatre lay undiscovered until 1957.

In 1962, after 100 years of disuse, the garret and operating theatre were opened to the public as the current museum. It is an unusual place, but also one of those secrets of London that we can’t resist a visit. Filled with herbs, stuffed animals and old props we feel like we just got into a time machine were the years went back to the days of medieval medicine.

The museum have great events and I definately say that a visit is a MUST!


Coal Holes


That is a perfect example of “Luxfer Prisms” coal hole, after all Luxfer was mostly responsible for pavement lights, but this example gives you 2 in 1!!!

Situated at 16 Hill Street – London the company started in October 1896 with the intention to make sunlight come into dark rooms reducing the need for artificial lighting.

“Luxfer” from the Latin words lux (light) and ferre (to carry).

Found @ East End.