From a 1903 letter to Franz Xaver Kappus from Rainer Maria Rilke

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.


“Live the questions now.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Thank you for visiting this page. I’m Julia, and I work as a psychodynamic psychotherapist, relationship counsellor, and clinical supervisor. I’ve been in private practice in the City of London and in south-west London for the past three years; for the decade before that, I worked as a specialist psychotherapist for working age adults in the NHS (where I’ve also run staff groups).

This is where you will find the posts on my London-based blog, which I update constantly through the week, almost as a stream of consciousness. It reflects my interests, including psychotherapy, and my weekly experience outside – though not divorced from – my work. It’s a contemporary version of the commonplace book – one where the thoughts, responses, and comments of others are welcome.

“…the exile of the psyche to the outskirts of existence is the unshared secret of the hour.”*

*Jacqueline Rose, Professor of Humanities at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, writing in the London Review of Books on 19th November, 2020.

Image: “Cupid and Psyche” (1817), by Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825).

“Aristotle (the tutor of Alexander the Great) made the first recorded instance of the word “psyche”, meaning the human spirit or soul in reference to a butterfly, in his treatise The History of Animals (c 350 BC). It stemmed from the belief that caterpillars’ cocoons were like tombs, and the butterfly emerging was like the “anima” (soul) fluttering free from the prison of the corpse after death. In Greek myth, Psyche, the goddess of the soul, is often depicted with a butterfly.” (BBC.com)

“David used the story of Cupid and Psyche to explore the conflict between idealized love and physical reality. Cupid, lover of the beautiful mortal Psyche, visited her nightly on the condition that she not know his identity. Cupid was usually depicted as an ideal adolescent, but here David presents him as an ungainly teenager smirking at his sexual conquest. David took inspiration from a number of ancient texts, including an obscure, recently published Greek poem by Moschus that describes Cupid as a mean-spirited brat with dark skin, flashing eyes, and curly hair.” (Cleveland Museum of Art)

“Caught between the two worlds of Ted (a worthy example of the working class) and the social rarity of Brandham Hall, Leo spends the book travelling between two foreign countries, while his own roots atrophy.”
(Adrian Wright)

I was fascinated to hear Dominic Guard interviewed (above), though surprised that the only parallel he drew between L.P. Hartley’s story of The Go-Between and his practice as a child psychotherapist was the question of “Something that is washed over, is ignored, nobody’s transparent about it…”. Perhaps he’s keen to underplay more disturbing themes for the sake of his clientele; or perhaps he is back in role as the innocent Leo.

Hartley himself wrote that he set out to tell “a story of innocence betrayed, and not only betrayed but corrupted….” (In the summer that the book was being filmed, he wrote to his sister: “A friend tells me that “The Go-Between” is [to] be “shot” near East Dereham, though not at the house where it happened.”) He gives the adult Leo the words “I should be sitting in another room, rainbow-hued, looking not into the past but into the future; and I should not be sitting alone…”

(The link to the feature film is at the end of this post.)

At the beginning, the decorous twelve year old Leo arrives at his friend Marcus’s grand estate for a holiday. As they climb the stairs, their shadows are thrown on the wall: foreshadowing has its place in the narrative. They are the only children in a houseful of adults.

About forty minutes into the film, farmer Ted Burgess concedes to young Leo: “All right – I’ll trust you…”, as though Leo has requested this privilege (of carrying a love letter to Miss Marian), when in fact he has no awareness of its significance. Not long afterwards, Viscount Trimingham (Hugh), whom Marian’s mother fully intends she should marry, calls Leo “Mercury, the messenger of the gods”. (Trimingham is played by Edward Fox, of whom John Sessions said, “Eddie Fox, the only man with a bicep in his face.”) These people do indeed take for granted their godlike status, not only in relation to the child, but in society.

Mercury is the god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travellers, boundaries, luck, trickery, and thieves; he also serves as the guide of souls to the underworld. Trimingham’s epithet proves to be an unconscious disownment and projection (plus a prediction). Leo is responsible for carrying messages and for a little divination, but everything else belongs to the adult world of privilege. When Leo defines Mercury as the smallest planet, he describes himself more accurately.

Trimingham calls Leo from a distance: “Come here, I want you!” No one can find Marian, and in a scene which is repeated more dramatically later in the film, Leo is dispatched to find her. She is dishevelled, and at first speaks sharply to the boy: “What are you doing here?” There is, of course, no reason why he should not be there – she is the one who has strayed.

Sitting beside the coachman on a carriage outing, Leo asks him what he thinks of Ted Burgess. The man replies that he’s “A bit of a lad”, which puzzles Leo – for Ted is a grown man.

Leo tells Marian that he’s happy to carry messages between her and Ted. “Because you like him?” she asks eagerly. “Yes,” confirms Leo, “and because I like you.” She kisses him on the cheek, less in genuine affection than in celebration of her happy love affair.

Leo’s sunny fulfilment of his role as messenger is blighted when, in her haste to hide a letter from Trimingham, she hands Leo an unsealed envelope. Halfway between the Hall and its farm, he reads the contents and is devastated to find that it does not concern business matters as Marian had assured him it did. Angry and distressed, he arrives at the farm, and politely informs Ted that he can no longer keep his missions secret from Marcus, and must curtail them.

Ted, more experienced than Marian in bargaining, begins a line in emotional blackmail: “You want her to like you, don’t you? She used to cry, before you come along.” He turns to talk of the farm. Confused by Ted’s reference to the mare being in foal, Leo hazards: “I didn’t know horses could spoon…” Ted arrives at a potential bargaining point, having heard that Leo’s father is dead, and offers to let Leo in on the facts of life “on condition you carry on being our postman.”

The village and the Hall come together for the annual cricket match. Leo, the “twelfth man” for the Hall, is the hero of the hour when he catches the ball off a big hit by villager Ted, who comments, almost prophetically, “I never thought I’d be caught out by our postman.”

Apparently inevitably, the engagement between Marian and Viscount Trimingham is announced. At first, it seems this may clarify matters for Leo. He’s seen in reflective mood when Marian appears with yet another note for him to deliver. He protests uncertainly, “Hugh might be upset.” Marian flies into a temper and tells the boy not to be silly. As he still hesitates, she becomes more virulent: “are you too stupid?” She resorts to her full sense of (over) entitlement, telling him that as a guest he is “A poor nothing, out of nowhere – you have the damn cheek to say you won’t do something that any tuppeny ha’penny ragamuffin in the street would do for nothing – you want paying, I suppose?”

The insult is too much to bear, and Leo snatches the message and runs to the farm. Ted looks up from the task of cleaning his gun – he has been staring down the barrel – and, seeing Leo’s tear stained face, offers to shoot something for his diversion, then invites him to stay for tea. He explains that his daily housekeeper doesn’t attend on Sunday, and looks up sharply as Leo enquires: “Do you have a woman every day?”

Ted invites Leo to stay for tea. His domain gives him greater latitude than does Marian’s in which to negotiate for Leo’s service: “What can I do to make it worth your while?” Leo reminds him of his promise to explain adult relations, and becomes increasingly agitated, demanding: “Are you a lover? What do you do? I won’t take any more messages for you unless you tell me.” Ted panics, no doubt at the prospect of Leo reporting back to the Hall, and shouts at the boy, who tears away.

In a heart rending scene, Leo writes to his mother to say “I am not enjoying myself here”, and asking to return home.

He sees Trimingham going to the smoking room, and follows him in. Troubled by what he is beginning to piece together, Leo asks Hugh about a hypothetical point of honour. Trimingham informs him firmly, “Nothing is ever a lady’s fault.”

Marian’s father joins them in this male sanctum, and they discuss the problem of Ted Burgess: “A bit of a lady killer.” When Leo hears Mr Maudsley say that Ted has “A woman up this way”, he pipes up innocently, “I know,” referring, as the two men realise after a moment, to Ted’s housekeeper.

Believing that his mother will arrange for him to return home, Leo calls on Ted to take his leave, little knowing how final it will be. Ted now offers, perhaps disingenuously given that others are in earshot, to explain the facts of life to Leo, who declines, stuttering slightly, with, “I wouldn’t dream of troubling you. I know s-several people who can tell me.” He asks if Ted will join the Army, as Trimingham seemed to expect. Ted replies that the choice is Marian’s: “It’s what she wants.”

Leo remains confused, and asks Marian: “Why are you marrying Hugh?” She replies, “Because I must.” Leo and Marian embrace while she sobs on his shoulder, and he comforts her. It’s inappropriate: Leo stands for the parentified child at this point.

Marcus confides in Leo that Marian plans to present him with a green bicycle on his birthday, teasing him: “You are green yourself, Marian said so.” Leo is stung by this reference to his gullibility from the young woman who has taken advantage of his devotion to her, and starts to show off to Marcus that he alone knows where Marian goes when she disappears.

Leo seems overwhelmed by knowledge that should not be his and which he does not know how to decipher. He gathers deadly nightshade from the old garden to use in his “black magic”: “Die, all evil. Delenda est belladonna.”

The next day, Marian approaches him brightly. Leo asks if she thinks that summer has come to a close. She asserts “Of course it isn’t over!” before trying to press another note on him. Leo had thought she was inviting him on a walk. When she discloses, “You see, it’s this kind of walk” (to Ted’s farm) he whimpers “oh no”.

They scuffle as Marian tries to press the note on Leo, and attract the attention of Marian’s watchful mother. (Watchful, that is, for unimpeded progress towards an advantageous marriage. Pure care and affection towards Leo is represented by the friendship of Marcus and, below stairs, by a cook who lets him lick the mixing bowl.)

From here the plot reaches a fairly swift denouement, but not before Mrs Maudsley has subjected Leo to a cross examination. Witheringly, knowing that Leo is concealing the note from her, she demands: “Has no one ever told you not to stand with your hands in your pockets?” Hellbent on tracking down her errant daughter, Mrs Maudsley inadvertently exposes Leo to a sort of “primal scene”. Finally, Marian, her mother, and Ted, have forced on him in blatant form the knowledge he required.

In an epilogue which takes place fifty years later, the older Marian, still absorbed in her own emotional world, tramples over Leo’s traumatic experience, telling him: “Remember how you loved taking our messages? the child of so much happiness and beauty…”

“South of Nansen Road: later development towards the common”

From a draft Chapter 13 of the Survey of London – ‘Clapham Common to Lavender Hill:

“South of Nansen Road, the owners of the big houses and gardens on this stretch of the common held out to the developers until 1890. In that year the first of them fell when Northfields House and its L-shaped grounds were acquired by the builder and brickmaker John Cathles Hill. Scottish-born, Hill had been in London since his early twenties, and by this date had experience of successful suburban development on a large scale in Crouch End and Haringey. At Northfields, he was joined as co-owner and co-developer by the City architect Charles J. Bentley. Formerly based in Wandsworth, Bentley was well versed in house-planning locally. He quickly went to work on a street layout, and between the summer of 1890 and 1895 several builders erected all the houses on the south side of Nansen Road (Nos 1–59),

“Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen (10 October 1861 – 13 May 1930) was a Norwegian polymath and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He gained prominence at various points in his life as an explorer, scientist, diplomat, and humanitarian. He led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, traversing the island on cross-country skis. He won international fame after reaching a record northern latitude of 86°14′ during his Fram expedition of 1893—1896.” (Wikipedia)

in Fontarabia Road,

present-day Marmion Road

and Forthbridge Road,

as well as in the adjoining portion of Taybridge Road (Nos 54–76)

Note the Victorian postbox

and on the site of the old house on Clapham Common North Side (Nos 82–85). Bentley’s assistant, Leopold S. Rogers, did much of the legwork, and probably provided basic guidance to the builders, of whom the most productive were the Kervens (W. E. & C. J.), the Stringers (George H. and his sons George H. & Alfred W. J.) and Joseph Palmer. Hill followed his usual course, raising substantial sums in a series of concurrent mortgages, a practice that later in life would prove his undoing.

Nearly all the houses were in standard two-storey terraces, with splayed bays. A livelier row at 48–72 Forthbridge Road (c.1891) breaks the mould,

Broke the mold is an idiom describing someone’s uniqueness. The image is of a mold being destroyed so that an item may not be duplicated. Usually expressed as “they broke the mold when they made him”, the second portion “when they made him” is usually left unspoken. The phrase they broke the mold affirms that there is no one in the world like that person and that no one can compare to that person. The phrase “they broke the mold” is almost always a term of admiration, the implication is that it is too bad that there are not more people who are like the person. The term “they broke the mold” may be expressed because of someone’s kindness, intelligence, patience, or any other positive attribute. The expression “broke the mold” came into use in the 1560s. The English spelling is broke the mould.(Grammarist.com)

…with finial-topped gables, bands of contrasting brick, and shallow rectangular bays with tripartite windows; it was designed by the architect Herbert Bignold.

Some street-names suggest Hill’s Caledonian origins. Fontarabia, along with two other proposed names refused by the LCC (Scrivelbaye and Lutterward), derived from Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion.

In 1894, as work at Northfields was drawing to a close, Hill and Bentley became involved in another estate near by on the north side of Clapham Common, centred on Maitland House and Bell House. By sacrificing the western half of the latter, as well as the long, narrow gardens behind both houses, Hill and Bentley were able to drive a new road south from Marmion Road to the common. This was known as Taybridge Road, a name later also applied to the north–south arm of Marmion Road; the noticeable kinks along its route follow old property boundaries.

And so all the houses on the road’s lower east side, now numbered 61–163 Taybridge Road, date from 1894–7.

Heard Brothers of Harbut Road were the most active of several builders involved.

(Nos 135 & 137 were rebuilt in a pseudo-Victorian style in 1987.) At the same time Rogers remodelled Maitland House and added new houses either side of it (see 59–61 Clapham Common North Side, above).

Also in 1894, two other large mansions and their grounds standing immediately west of the Maitland House estate—Northside and Springwell— were sold to the Wandsworth solicitor H. N. Corsellis. In the past Corsellis had often relied on the Stanbury family to design and build his estates; but by this time John Stanbury, the family’s chief builder, had moved out to Worcester Park in semi-retirement, and was in a position to join Corsellis as co-developer, leaving most of the construction work to lessees.

Generally shrewd, Corsellis and Stanbury were at their most efficient here, overseeing within three years the erection of around 180 houses on an estate of just six acres, beginning with 90–126 Taybridge Road

(1897–8), followed by all the houses in Tregarvon Road (1897–9),

at 65-79 Clapham Common North Side and finally all of Jedburgh Street (both 1898–1900).

The pared-down, virtually identical two-storey red-brick terraces in the side- streets were built by Frank Eaton of Cicada Road, Wandsworth (on another Corsellis estate). Only in the bigger houses overlooking the common, built by Stanbury and George Abbott of Brixton, was more effort put into appearances, in the way of gables, first-floor balconettes and moulded brick aprons. Despite this unforgiving approach the development did well, and the high demand for such houses locally encouraged the Mitchell (City of London) Charity to buy most of the estate freehold in May 1900 as an investment, at a price of £32,500. The pair of shops jutting out into the roadway at 78 & 80 Taybridge Road (of 1897)

and the four houses behind at Nos 82–88 (of 1900) seem to have been part of this development; their obtrusiveness was dictated by a small, irregular salient of land, once the hindmost part of the grounds of Northside.

Side entrance to 88, Taybridge Road

In 1928 parts of the rear gardens of 62 & 63 Clapham Common North Side were sold and the short terrace of six white-faced, bow-fronted houses at 128–136 Taybridge Road built there by Fawcett & Company of Clapham.”

The Queen’s, 26 Broadway Parade, London N8

From the Historic England entry:

“HISTORY: John Cathles Hill (1858-1915) was a builder-developer, responsible for building much of Crouch End. Many of the fittings of the pub were manufactured in his workshops. The notable Art Nouveau glass was supplied by Cakebread, Robey. Along with its sister pub by Hill, the Salisbury in Green Lanes, the Queen’s Hotel represents the pinnacle of late Victorian pub design and is a remarkable survival, with exceptional joinery and glass.

Pub, formerly hotel. 1899-1901 by John Cathles Hill (1858-1915), builder and developer. 3 storeys and attic; 3 bay front to Broadway Parade with lesser bay at south end, rounded angle to 2 bays and lower end bay on Elder Avenue.

Red brick with extensive pale yellow limestone dressings; black granite to ground floor pilasters and base; lead-sheathed roof to angle turret; slate mansard roof with dormers.

EXTERIOR: circular entrance lobby with mosaic floor with QH monogram,

“The circular entrance has a mosaic floor bearing the monogram of Mr Hill and Q for Queen’s.” (Edith’s Streets) “John Cathles Hill was usually referred to as ‘Mr J C Hill’ or ‘Mr John Hill’.” (Harringay Online)

wrought iron screen above inscribed with THE QUEENS.

Tripartite front to Broadway Parade with central gable, triple arcade to ground floor containing arched windows with heavy mullions and pedimented aedicular frames within, with Art Nouveau stained glass to lower lights. Dado and below faced in granite, with diaper pattern panels.

Southern entrance via entrance flanked by Corinthian columns with aedicule, set below wrought iron screen with pub name,

and above a mosaic floor with the name repeated again.

Entrance to upper floors at south end with 9-panel door with overlight, set within stone hood; open swan’s neck pediment above.

Main front articulated with Corinthian pilasters, with shafts of granite supporting entablature with painted frieze; pedimented caps to projecting piers. Upper floors faced in banded brickwork. Aedicular surrounds to 1st floor windows with mullions (treated as square columns) and transoms (treated as a continuation of a projecting string course); windows arranged 2-3-3 along main front with arched windows to central bay. Second floor windows with square column mullions support continuous frieze to both elevations. Gabled bay to attic over central bay with banded stonework, triple window, segmental pediment termination. Corner drum with six-light windows to each floor (seven to attic), with cornice of cut brick beneath decorative lead roof.

Return to Elder Avenue is stepped up towards corner with a chimneystack beside the corner drum. Arcaded ground floor with decorative screen. Former entrance to upper floors to east (now blocked), beneath pediment with name of hotel.

INTERIOR: survives largely intact. Central bar with four separate areas divided by ornate wooden glazed partitions with etched decoration to doors,

and Art Nouveau stained glass to upper sections of screens; pierced parapets above.

From: Victorian Pubs (1984), by Mark Girouard:

“The Queens Hotel was planned in 1899 and opened about 1901…the glass and metalwork are Art Nouveau throughout…the Queens Hotel has a corner tower amazingly cantilevered out over a circular lobby lined with Art Nouveau glass. Cakebread, Robey and Company’s Art Nouveau masterpieces are the stained glass windows at the Queens, Crouch End, where fronds and flowers in brilliant colours leap, whirl and rotate across the big arched windows looking out towards the Broadway. As the glass dates from about 1901, it was too late to get a mention in Cakebread, Robey’s catalogue; but there is little doubt that it was their work, for it was made for the same publican as the glass at the Salisbury and immediately after it.”

Bar counter with panelled front to all sides,

Ionic terms flank counter facing saloon bar,

which has a snuggery

and wooden fireplace with tiled surround and mirrored overmantel within inglenook.

Wooden chimneypiece along east wall with tiled surround and mirrored overmantel.

Coffered ceiling with relief decoration of arabesques and mermaids. Cast iron Corinthian columns to centre. Upper floors not inspected.

“Lens-bury” (Teddington, Middlesex)

From Wikipedia:

“The Lensbury Club (“Lensbury Social and Athletic Club”) was established in 1920, as a sports club for Shell staff in the United Kingdom – one of the driving forces behind its formation was Dutchman Henri Deterding, one of the original founders of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, who was a fitness fanatic. Land was acquired in Broom Road, Teddington, for playing fields and within a year, there were active sections in Cricket, Rugby, Football, Rowing, Ladies Hockey, Tennis and Chess. Between 1920 and the beginning of the Second World War, significant additions to the Lensbury estate were made with property and land purchases on both sides of Broom Road.

In 1933, the club merged with “Britannic House”, a similar club operated by BP, and created a joint venture known as the “Lensbury and Britannic House Associated Clubs” – an arrangement that lasted for 30 years. In 1938, a new clubhouse was opened which comprised 162 bedrooms, a dining room, a ballroom and many other facilities. During the war years, club activities were suspended and Lensbury became a Shell office and some of the sports grounds were ploughed up to grow vegetables.

The name Lensbury was coined in 1920 from part of the names of Shell’s two London offices at the time which were located at St Helens Court, in Bishopsgate and at 16, Finsbury Circus, also in the City of London. The name took the “Lens” from “Helens” and the “bury” from “Finsbury”. For most of its existence, Lensbury had a logo which reflected its Shell ownership and essential purpose as a benefit for Shell employees. When this purpose was changed in the 1990s, the logo was also changed and today, there is little or no overt sign of Shell’s ownership at the clubhouse. “The” was added to the title. The present day hotel and conference facility is now called The Lensbury.

“The Lensbury” is a name sometimes also given to the Bridges Handicap Race, a traditional running race which starts and finishes on the Albert Embankment, near to Shell Centre in London.

In 2002, Shell/Lensbury proceeded with a civil lawsuit against former Lensbury team sport players who had sought to retain the Lensbury name for (e.g.) their rugby team. Shell/Lensbury won the case on trademark grounds. After losing the rights to continued use of the “Lensbury” name, Lensbury Rugby Football Club renamed themselves “LockSide RFC”.”

“Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent.”*

*from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” Act 2, scene 1.

Above: Mercury keystone on 30 St James’s Square, St. James’s, London SW1.

“These figures are up at the attic level of the National Westminster Bank Building at the corner of Prince’s Street and Poultry – facing the Royal Exchange. They are part of a group of large figures with Britannia at the centre, and were carved by Ernest Gillick in 1929-32. The woman crouching below Mercury looks like she’s trying to hear something as she supports a Magic Square – a mathematical puzzle in which the numbers add up to the same sum horizontally, vertically or diagonally. In this case the answer to the puzzle is 34.” (Looking at London)
Coat of arms of Edward VII of the United Kingdom above the coach entrance to the King Edward Buildings (former General Post Office Headquarters), with caduceus keystone below. The King Edward Buildings, on the west Side of King Edward Street in the City of London, is one of the remaining buildings of the former General Post Office Headquarters, the other being The North Range (now Namura House) across the street.
Built 1907-1911 to the designs of Sir Henry Tanner, architect of the Office of Works. An early example of the use of reinforced concrete construction, the building has stronger accents, as was fashionable in the Edwardian period, than The North Range, completed two years previously. The facade of the building has various ornamental motifs celebrating King Edward VII. (Quintin Lake)

The Royal Exchange, London EC3

Baldwin Hamey posted on his blog on 7.7.15:

“…The present Royal Exchange building is the third on the spot. The first was built at the instigation of Sir Thomas Gresham in 1566-68, but that building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.

Grasshopper, Gresham’s heraldic symbol.

The same fate fell to the second building on the 10th of January, 1838, and the third was subsequently built in the early 1840s. Many plans were submitted for the new building, but the Committee could not decide on a winning design. Several architects were then asked to submit a design, but not many were willing to commit themselves, and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing the classical design of Sir William Tite was chosen who characterised his design as a building “of grandeur, simpilicity and usefulness”. The fact that a classical design was chosen is no wonder as the remit was that the design was to be “of the Grecian, Roman or Italian style of architecture, having each front of stone of a hard and durable quality”.

Tenders for the actual building work were received in October 1841 and the firm of Messrs. Webb was chosen to lay the foundation. A second contract for the actual building itself was granted to Thomas Jackson, “of course”, as the Sydney Herald would have it, because he submitted the cheapest estimate. On 17 January, 1842, the foundation stone was laid by Prince Albert. The official opening took place on 28 October, 1844, by Queen Victoria herself.

The coat of arms on this Royal Exchange clock features Atlas at the top, with Britannia and Neptune either side of a shield. The shield features the old Exchange that had burned in 1839, and the motto ‘Service and Protection’.

Thomas Gresham, a mercer, had bequeathed the first Royal Exchange jointly to the Mercers and the City of London Corporation.

You can see the coat of arms of the City on the gates at the southern entrance. The Mercers’ Maiden graces many buildings in London signifying their ownership. According to the Mercers’ website, she first appeared in 1425 on a seal and over the centuries her apparel has changed with the fashions of the day until 1911 when she was officially turned into the coat of arms of the Company.

On the bottom of the gate the name of the ironworks that supplied the gates can be found: H. & M.D. Grissell.

Henry and his brother Martin De La Garde Grissell had a partnership between 1841 and 1858 as the Regent’s Canal Ironworks at Eagle Wharf Road. Henry was the driving force behind the firm and had worked with John Joseph Bramah before he started his own business. After 1858, Henry continued the business on his own. The firm made ironworks for bridges, lighthouses, dockyards and other waterworks, both in England and abroad. Robert Stephenson and Grissell had the highest regard for each other and they often worked together on Stephenson’s engineering projects, such as on the bridges over the Nile. Other gates and fences that were supplied by the Regent’s Canal Ironworks can be found at Buckingham Palace and the British Museum. After Henry’s death, an obituary appeared in the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers (vol. 73, 1883) in which Henry was given the sobriquet of “Iron Henry” and was said to be almost obsessed by the details of his work. This attention to detail speaks strongly from the gates at the Royal Exchange…”

“The caduceus is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. By extension of its association with Mercury and Hermes, the caduceus is also a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation, two realms in which balanced exchange and reciprocity are recognized as ideals. This association is ancient, and consistent from the Classical period to modern times.” (Wikipedia)

“On a sunny day it looks gorgeous, just like a cube of sugar…”

Alison Rae, former Head of Tours, National Theatre, writes for the Open House Festival:

“…performance of the National Theatre Company began in October 1963 at the Old Vic Theatre. The following month Denys Lasdun was unanimously selected as the architect for the new permanent home to not just plays and actors, but of everything needed to run a theatre, to be housed under one roof: workshops, rehearsal rooms, provision for planning and administration, along with dressing rooms, extensive foyers and public areas and not a single stage but three performance spaces, with backstage storage capacity for shows to be presented in repertoire.

The foundation stone, still in the main foyer, had been laid on the South Bank, though not at this location, in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain but quarter century passed before audiences visited. Lasdun’s brief was, in fact, a commission for a National Theatre and Opera House. The Opera House part of the project was dropped in 1967 when the government of the time declined to make available the additional funding required for the building and running of an opera company.

Work on the National Theatre building next to Waterloo Bridge finally started in 1969 and was completed in 1976 when it was officially opened by The Queen. The largest auditorium with over 1,000 seats is named to honour the first Artistic Director, the actor Laurence, later Lord, Olivier and takes its inspiration from the ‘fan-shaped’ plan of a Greek Theatre. Oliver Lyttelton is commemorated in the ‘proscenium’ theatre, which also owes its name to his parents who both campaigned for a national theatre. Lord Cottesloe, as Chair of the South Bank Theatre Board, gave his name to the smaller flexible space and his bust can be seen in the Cottesloe Room.

The South Bank area has seen much change since the GLC first gave the site. In the 1970s there was no river walkway connecting Lambeth to Bankside and so the National was something of a ‘bookend’; it appeared to face towards Westminster so the back of the building where the service yard was located, was therefore the north east corner. In the 1990s the first modernisation programme opened up the space next to Waterloo Bridge, creating Theatre Square, by removing the road that once encircled the site.

By 2008 a conservation plan had been produced by Howarth Tompkins, the practice who later headed the ‘NT Future’ project. This opened up even more of the building. It addressed the fact that the NT sat mid-way in the now vibrant South Bank, between the London Eye and London Bridge, and that bookend of the north east corner could be repurposed to reveal an addition to the public realm with a bar, cafe and outdoor space…

… “I give Lasdun’s building six years. On a sunny day it looks gorgeous, just like a cube of sugar, but on a wet day it doesn’t look nearly as impressive.”
Kenneth Campbell – Principal housing architect for GLC Building, 16 May 1975

The sugar cube has survived and was listed in 1994 as Grade II*…”

“his enthusiasm for religion was aesthetic rather than theological”

Image: “Our Tower Tour…Climb more than 300 steps to reach the top of the Central Tower of Lincoln Cathedral and take in the fantastic 360 degree views of the city, county and beyond.” (Lincoln Cathedral)

From: Foreign Country – The Life of L.P. Hartley (2001), by Adrian Wright:

“Holidays at home were more enjoyably spent by visits to Lincoln cathedral (where Leslie counted 388 steps up to the ‘Central Tower’)…

…It was not Leslie’s allegedly dismal health prospects that stood him apart from his fellows at Harrow. If he in any way felt an outsider, it was the fault of politics and religion. He was the only Liberal in his house, and there were not more than twenty in the entire school. His background of Wesleyan Methodism also struck a jarring note, in as much as it did not conform to the religious tenor of the place. By the end of 1911 he was going to his form-master, the Revd Owen, for confirmation classes, and was subsequently received into the Church of England. Harry and Bessie accepted the change (though strong Methodists, they were never bigoted or overbearing), but this breakaway from family tradition was a significant step in Leslie’s development; it distanced him from what they might have expected – it was, indeed, one of the few decisive steps he ever took. Religious zeal had little to do with it, and in later life his enthusiasm for religion was aesthetic rather than theological; the conversion of itself – as Richard Mardick admits in The Brickfield– may have been as much an act of snobbery as any other, a repudiation of the homespun respectability of provincial Methodism. His personal involvement with the organised Church was as much a social as a fundamental commitment, a view shared by Timothy Casson in The Boat. When Timothy communes with his god it is in his boat-house, not his church; it is his social horizons that are broadened by the vicar and his wife, Mrs Purbright. Eustace, like Leslie, is moved by the trappings of religion, by a nave, a transept, a stained-glass window; he epitomises the man transported by the sung Evensong without being touched by its religious intention. Interestingly, the one novel in which Leslie uses religion as a central theme, My Fellow Devils, is one of his dullest and least heartfelt. Even here, it is the spire of St Saviour’s church that Margaret Pennefather runs to at the close, not the arms of the comforter. In Facial Justice the only hint of centuries of religious fervour left behind by the holocaust is a remnant of Ely cathedral;

…once again, architecture inspires Jael’s affirmation of belief, not the teachings of the body that created it. As an adult, Leslie said that he enjoyed attending church because he enjoyed being admonished from the pulpit. He would sometimes fall asleep during the sermon, on one occasion waking just in time to hear the vicar say, ‘Take marmalade, for instance.’…”

Change Alley, London EC3

From Wikipedia:

“Exchange Alley or Change Alley is a narrow alleyway connecting shops and coffeehouses in an old neighbourhood of the City of London. It served as a convenient shortcut from the Royal Exchange on Cornhill to the Post Office on Lombard Street and remains as one of a number of alleys linking the two streets. Shops once located in Exchange Alley included ship chandlers, makers of navigation instruments such as telescopes, and goldsmiths from Lombardy in Italy.

The 17th and 18th century coffeehouses of Exchange Alley, especially Jonathan’s and Garraway’s, became an early venue for the lively trading of shares and commodities.

“The grasshopper was the personal emblem of Tudor financier Sir Thomas Gresham (c1519-1579).” (Londonist)

These activities were the progenitor of the modern London Stock Exchange. Similarly, Lloyd’s Coffee House, at No. 16 Lombard Street but originally on Tower Street, was the forerunner of Lloyd’s of London, the Lloyd’s Register and Lloyd’s List.

The nearest London Underground station is Bank and the closest mainline railway station is Cannon Street.

Lombard Street and Change Alley had been the open-air meeting place of London’s mercantile community before Thomas Gresham founded the Royal Exchange in 1565. In 1698, John Castaing began publishing the prices of stocks and commodities in Jonathan’s Coffeehouse, providing the first evidence of systematic exchange of securities in London. Many stock jobbers, who had been expelled from the Royal Exchange for their rude manners, also migrated to Jonathan’s and Garraway’s.

“In 1700 Garraways Coffee-House abutted west­wards on the Crown Alehouse, and beyond this, at the corner of Change Alley, stood the Exchange Tavern.
To the south of these lay Bakers Chop House, formerly known as the Rummer Tavern. The freehold of all these properties was acquired by Martin and Co. in 1882 and 1884, but Bakers Chop House kept its identity until only ten years ago when the increase of business made it essential that this last survivor of many taverns should be thrown into the Offices of Martins Bank.” (from a leaflet published by Martins Bank in 1930)

Change Alley was the site of some noteworthy events in England’s financial history, including the South Sea Bubble from 1711 to 1720 and the panic of 1745. “The South Sea Bubble, a Scene in ‘Change Alley in 1720′”, Edward Matthew Ward’s painting now in the Tate Gallery, skewers stock jobbers’ opportunism and the foolishness of investors.


Contemporary songs and sarcastic decks of cards are described in Charles Mackay’s Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Although lampooning the collapse of the South Sea Company has been a popular pastime, others have considered that “the basic outlines of the Anglo-American structure of finance were set by 1723 — a complementary set of private commercial and merchant banks all enjoying continuous access to an active, liquid secondary market for financial assets, especially government debt. The South Sea Bubble proved to be the “big bang” for financial capitalism in England.”

In 1748, a fire started at a peruke-maker’s in Exchange Alley, and from ninety to one hundred houses were burnt down in Exchange Alley, Cornhill and Birchin Lane. Many lives were lost and the fire destroyed the London Assurance Office, the “Swan”, “Fleece”, “Three Tuns” and “George and Vulture” taverns, and “Tom’s” the “Rainbow” “Garraway’s,” “Jonathan’s” and the “Jerusalem” coffee-houses. The fire also destroyed a rare collection of butterflies assembled by the Aurelian Society.

“The Marine Society, the world’s oldest public maritime charity, was an initiative of a group of London merchants and gentlemen, who first met at the King’s Arms Tavern, Cornhill, London on 25 June 1756 to discuss a plan to supply two or three thousand seafarers for the navy.” (Wikipedia)

In 1761 a club of 150 brokers and jobbers was formed to trade stocks. The club built its own building in Sweeting’s Alley in 1773, dubbed the “New Jonathan’s”, later renamed the Stock Exchange.”

Offices. 1934-5 by William Curtis Green for the Scottish Widows’ Fund: “glazed brick to rear elevation in Change Alley. Trapezoid plan, incorporating a passage to Change Alley. Return through passage to Change Alley of eight bays.” (Historic England)

The former Unilever House, 100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4

From the Claxity website:

“This imposing building occupies a prominent location as New Bridge Street curves towards and into Victoria Embankment, facing Blackfriars Bridge. It has a wedge-shaped plan with a gently curved front that, together with the long vista, makes the large scale less daunting without subtracting in any way from its grandeur. Stylistically, the most noteworthy characteristics are the solidity of the lower storeys and the extended, widely spaced Ionic colonnade.

The ground floor, in particular, is almost fortress-like, with limited and bronze-gated opening in the middle

and two further entrances at the corners being surmounted by heroically sized plinths and sculptures.

Angus Crutchfield said…
Hi Chris
You may be interested to learn that it was my uncle, Jack Crutchfield, b 1909, who posed for the male statue on the offside of the stallion referred to above by Phil Graham. Jack (b. John Robert) and my father, Kenneth Crutchfield, b 1901 were both born in London but spent as much time in the countryside as possible and both worked with horses. Kenneth modelled for Charles Sargent JAGGER and Hermon CAWTHRA in the 1920s and early 30’s and we know that Reid – Dick finished a piece of Jagger’s work still in progress at the time of his death. Models used to get recommended by sculptors and I’m sure that this was the case here. I can well see the resemblance between my uncle and the finished piece. If you would like further info do feel free to get back to me.
Angus Crutchfield anguscrutchfield@outlook.com

28 December 2017 at 13:59

The two successive storeys also feature rustication and a rather aloof air but concede more fenestration. After such a start, the giant (three storeys) order of Ionic columns in the round appears relatively lightly handled and nicely frames the subsidiary bronze screen behind it.

At the macro level, this is a purely classical building (albeit in stripped form), like several prestige headquarters of this period, indicative of a certain British stylistic conservatism relative to the Continent. The taste of the applied decoration, however, fully embraces Art Deco style. See the keystones in the ground-floor doorway arches and bronze gate grills, (below: “merfolk carved by Gilbert Ledward, a mermaid with flowing hair and a merman with a net full of fish.” Chris Partridge)

as well as the statuary of ‘Controlled Energy’ (a man or woman straining to contain a powerful horse) above the lateral entrances.


Fearless said…
The model for the female sculpture was my aunt, Vera Ferguson. Her father was a friend of William Reid Dick and a fellow-Scotsman. When I was younger she had photos of herself posing for the photo session, which was pretty risqué back in the day! She also had a miniature of the sculpture, given to her by the sculptor. Sadly the photos have long since gone missing. The facial likeness, as I remember her, is perfect. If anyone is interested contact me: phil@philgrahampublishing.com
24 April 2015 at 15:58

This large site was previously the location of Mr De Keyser’s Royal Hotel (1874) which Unilever bought in 1921 and subsequently demolished. Unilever was created by the merger of two prominent consumer goods companies, the Dutch-based Margarine Unie and the British-based Lever Brothers. As a non-financial company (albeit a large multinational), Unilever was somewhat atypical in establishing its headquarters in the City, by then dominated by the finance industry. The building still houses some of Unilever’s offices.

Note that there was some controversy between Lomax-Simpson (a member of Unlivever’s board and in-house architect) and Burner, Tait & partners, about the importance of each other’s contribution to the design. It is generally thought that the former came up with the original design but that it was significantly adapted by the latter.

Unilever House underwent two major refurbishments in recent decades. At the turn of the 1980s, the interiors were refurbished (with some retention of original features) and an extraneous ‘north wing’ was added. At this time, the previously windowless 8th floor was slightly lowered and endowed with fenestration. The second, more brutal, change came in 2004-06, when the interior was largely gutted and replaced by generic modern floor plates and a full-height atrium.”