Tag Archives: history

Skylon, history and hangovers

25 Jan

Running was not on the agenda yesterday, not even slightly.

Boyfriend and I had been celebrating the night before and, truth be told, had become intoxicated.

If it’s any consolation as I sipped my fresh grape and ginger muddled martini shaken with vodka, Manzana verde, fresh lime and apple juice in Skylon overlooking the Thames on the South Bank I did think of Janathon.

Unfortunately not in a “I’ve got to run tomorrow, so this is the last cocktail” way, but instead I was trying to remember exactly what Highway Kind wrote in his fascinating blog post about the Skylon art installation, the Festival of Britain and Winston Churchill.

So Sunday arrived along with my hangover and other half wasn’t looking lively either, but because Janathon waits for no man we got the Walking London book out and set off to explore Chelsea.

He lives there at the moment, but this is a short-term arrangement, so it seemed like a good opportunity to explore Chelsea’s nooks and crannies before he moves on.

The three mile walk started in Sloane Square and looped around past the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where we saw several smart-looking Chelsea Pensioners going about their business, down to Battersea Bridge, along the embankment and then wound back to the King’s Road.

I’d forgotten how densely packed the history of the city is – we could barely move for blue plaques and statues.

Highlights of the walk included the home of one of my favourite novelists George Eliot, the church of critic of Henry VIII and devout Catholic Thomas Moore and the site of his former residence Crosby Hall (anyone who read and loved Wolf Hall will understand why this is so exciting) and the Japanese Cherry Tree in Roper’s Garden dedicated to Koizumi Gunji, who the plaque informed me was the father of British Judo. How Janathon.

The Chelsea Physic garden is every inch the Secret Garden, tucked away behind high walls among the mews, but still plays a role today in modern medical and botanical research. It was created in 1673 by Sir Hans Sloane and the Society of Apothecaries. Sir Hans wasn’t a bad advert for his herbal remedies – he died at the ripe old age of 92, which must have been something of a medical marvel in 1753.

We stopped also to contemplate the idea of Margaret Damer Dawson, a founder of the Women Police Volunteers, a female task force created in 1914 to control the behaviour of young women.

Cheyne Walk had the most varied and impressive claims to fame – you can read some of them here – but King’s Road takes the biscuit in the sheer extravagance stakes. It sounds obvious now I type it, but it was initially only the King’s Road – no plebs allowed – and acted as a means for the royals to drive to Kew without having any upsetting encounters with the great unwashed until 1830.

So to recap: Three miles, dozens of pub quiz facts and zero raindrops – I declare Sunday a success.

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