Whenever I’m in London for business or pleasure, I try where possible to make some of my journeys on foot rather than by Tube or taxi; when weather and scheduling allow, I also try and photograph anything along the way that looks interesting, generally with the intention of learning more about what I’ve spotted at a later date. The first few days of February 2018 were suitable in all respects, and I’ve even found time to look up some of the buildings’ histories to share with you this month.
My first walk started at Belgravia House, 62-64 Horseferry Road, Westminster: home to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons since 1995 – and also to the RCVS Knowledge Library and Archive; a plaque on the corner of the building, however, tells us something of the building’s earlier history:
“Mr Fegan’s Homes” (incorporated) to the glory of God and the welfare of orphan, needy and erring boys, here and hereafter, the foundation stone of this House of Mercy was laid by the Right Honourable Lord Kinnaird on 20th May 1912. His compassions fail not Lam. III 22.
Some investigation online led me to discover James William Condell Fegan (1852 – 1925), who founded his first home offering education, accommodation and training to poor and homeless boys in 1872. The building on Horseferry Road was built to replace its predecessor in Southwark, which was no longer fit for purpose, and replaced a slum building o the Belgravia site: hard to imagine knowing modern property prices for the area.
Heading towards the British Museum, I next passed the Westminster Coroner’s Court: a very pretty brick building, which apparently dates from 1893, and is a great contrast to my own house, which dates from almost the same year, but appears far more functional on the outside. Sadly, I was unable to discover which is the more decorative on the inside (I suspect my house wins by virtue of its eccentric décor alone).
A more modern building that also caught my eye was the Channel 4 Headquarters at 124 Horseferry Road. Constructed between 1990 and 1994, the building houses offices and staff facilities, but only one television studio, since most of the broadcaster’s programmes are produced by external, independent companies.
I continued my walk past Westminster Abbey then across Parliament Square and down Whitehall to the Monument to the Women of World War II. Sculpted by John W. Mills, and unveiled in 2005, the monument depicts 17 sets of clothing and uniforms to represent the different roles and jobs performed by women during the Second World War, including the Land Army, the WRNS, nursing and welding.
At the end of Whitehall, I passed through Trafalgar Square and took note of the various crossing lights put up there prior to Pride 2015, and apparently responsible for some degree of consternation amongst the chattering classes. Personally, I think they’re rather cute.
Finally, I wandered through Bloomsbury until I reached the British Museum, where I paid a visit to the Living With Gods exhibition, which is well worth a visit if you can get there before the 8th of April 2018.