Watts What

Just down the road from the GF Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey is the Grade I listed Arts & Crafts funerary chapel designed by GF’s wife Mary.

Funerary Chapel Mary Watts

A skilled artist, she wanted to encourage local people to join in her project, so held classes. The response was enthusiastic and she had to double the number classes held each week from one to two.

The end result is an extraordinary piece of architecture, perched on a small rise, surrounded by graves old and new. One of those few places that truly deserves to be called unique.

Funerary Chapel Interior

Mary Watts founded the Compton Pottery in 1900. The chapel exemplifies her Arts & Crafts leanings and has been described as part of the Celtic Revival. Continue reading “Watts What”

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Watts Gallery

On a grey damp day my BBG colleague Chris and I went to Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey. The last time we visited together was around twenty years ago, when we took my much loved Aunt Kath who lived locally there for lunch. Even then the Welsh Rarebit served in the café was renowned.

Neither of us has visited fOr several years, and Aunt Kath died in 2015. So this visit was somewhat overdue. Especially since we were both well aware that an important restoration project had taken place, and the gallery, once the preserve of locals, and very much below the radar, had become much better known.

The spur for the visit was, oddly enough, another my relatives. My cousin Russell is the current artist in residence and we wanted to see what he was up to.

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Artist in Residence

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Hey Ho

Hey ho, it’s back to school they go. Meaning London is quieter as well as cooler. The crowds in the museums and galleries are thinning out and there are hints of autumn in the air.

For a Keatsian moment visit the British Museum. You could contact me to arrange a private tour, or come on a public tour. I’ll be there this afternoon, 22nd August, meeting outside Russell Square tube at 2.15, and again next Monday,27th August, at 2.30.

The City is endlessly fascinating. Such a small area packs an impressive punch. I am always happy to lead bespoke tours around the Square Mile on a variety of subjects and themes. st-pauls.jpg

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Keep Blue Badge Guided Tours in Parliament

Some of you follow this blog because you have been on my tours and enjoyed them, tours that include the Palace of Westminster. I qualified as a Blue Badge Guide twenty years ago. In 2000 I took an additional course and passed the written and practical exams to allow me to guide in Parliament.

However, the future of Blue Badge Guides in this building is under threat. There are plans to replace us in just five months with non-professional guides who will learn a script.
Continue reading “Keep Blue Badge Guided Tours in Parliament”

A Spring in my Step

London under snow was beautiful, but I can’t say I’m sorry the thaw has come. It was cold. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Now the mercury is rising, the daylight hours are longer, and with the snow gone growth is apparent everywhere you look.
I’ll be leading a number of public tours over the next few weeks, starting with one around the Elephant and Castle on Sunday.
Continue reading “A Spring in my Step”

Happy 2018! Travel Safely, Visit Well

A New Year. A fresh start. A new opportunity. So what will you do? Have you made your resolutions?

I’m going to continue my 2017 pattern of day trips to places in the UK. They have been fabulous. Without a doubt Coventry was the highlight. I went there twice, and I urge any of you who have not been to add it to your list pronto.

I’d love to take people around that amazing city, so if you want an enthusiastic guide get in touch. Sheffield is on the list for 2018, and I’d like to visit Lincoln and Nottingham, but I’m not sure they are achievable in a day trip from London.

One destination on my list that is definitely not achievable in a day is New Zealand. I have quite a few clients from New Zealand and I was supposed to be a New Zealander but my parents decided not to emigrate. Visiting other countries helps join the dots, make sense of our connections and shared history as well as our differences. Continue reading “Happy 2018! Travel Safely, Visit Well”

Cutting It

Tomorrow morning is due to be sunny; the heavens be praised.

I shall be leading a walk around The Cut starting at 10.45 outside Southwark tube.

The Cut is pretty couth these days, but George Sala, a nineteenth century journalist saw it differently. He said the gin shops, leviathan, ghastly in their newness, richness of decoration were the only things new. Everything else was secondhand. The women were slovenly, you could hear the howling of beaten children and kicked dogs; the tenements were vile and rotten. There was a smell of escaped gas, deceased cats, ancient fish, unwashed soddened, unkempt, feckless humanity.
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Going Under

I’m going to be having a bit of break from guiding people around this wonderful city as tomoorow I am heading for Australia.

I’ll be back in December, and getting back into harness leading the Walworth walk on Saturday 3rd December at 10.45 from outside Kennington tube, and getting into the festive season at the artists’ open studios.

Continue reading “Going Under”

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