Saturday 30 June 2007

Wild flowers in Petersham - # 154

The meadows around Petersham are abundant with wild flowers. Can anyone identify this for me?

Friday 29 June 2007

Karl Moritz muses over Ham House - # 153

Only another 300 yards or so as the crow flies, and Karl stops to admire Ham House, standing on its natural hump, raised slightly (but safely enough) above the river bank level. The master builder seems to have been perfectly aware of flood risk, topography and excellent practice in the daring but ultimately safe siting of an important house so close to the river. The same goes for its neighbour, Douglas House, seen yesterday.

(This is an archived shot from last year. Right now the lawns are much greener, on account of the excessive rainfall).

Built in 1610, Ham House was at the centre of politics throughout the Civil War and the Restoration. Only "first rate Big Hitters"....both men and women....were entertained here.

By 1782 things had subsided somewhat to the the level of the Duke writing to his son asking why he needed yet more money to fund him on "the Grand Tour" of the continent of Europe, and "wasn't the modest allowance enough?"

On a domestic note (and let's not forget that Karl became a professor in the field of aesthetics), I am struck by the influence of this design on the "British 1930s suburban semi-detached villa". It has the typical bay window, the classic English brickwork; the same roof line and so on. I look at it every day and think how "homely" it is, although its history is one of hosting the nation's most powerful people and contributing to Richmond's current fortunate status.

From what I know, it is highly likely that Karl Moritz saw this view exactly as we see it here.

(The Moritz tour will continue, but I confess that right now the excessive rain and dark clouds are hampering my efforts and my intentions).

Thursday 28 June 2007

Karl Moritz admires the steps of Douglas House - # 152

A couple of hundred yards from Rutland Lodge Karl pauses to admire delicate iron work and planting around the steps of a large mansion called Douglas House, built in 1680. It would please him to know that today this mansion is part of the campus of the German School for London. The grounds now host a very fine modern school building developed in the late 1970s.

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Karl Moritz pauses to admire Rutland Lodge - # 151

Only a few paces from Petersham House, Karl's eye is drawn to it's neighbour, the three storied Rutland Lodge, also dating from about 1680, and he pauses to admire the decorated line dividing the first floor from the top floor, the colour and quality of the brickwork, and the overall proportions of this large "house in the country", fitting for any "gentleman of the first rate".
At this point one might turn to the painter William Hogarth and his comments on London society in the series "the Rake's Progress".

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Karl Moritz notices the architectural gems of Petersham - # 150

Within the tiny area of Petersham Karl would have noticed a dense concentration of country mansions built by "first and second rate" gentry needing to be near the King when he too was "out of London".

I'll try to delight you by showing extra special little details of the mansions. We can be certain that this is almost exactly as Karl would have seen them, and it is the kind of detail he would have picked out.

After passing St. Peter's church in its tiny lane, Karl turns right into the narrow main road (now almost overwhelmed by motor traffic), and passes No. 143, Petersham House, built about 1680, and admires the unusual doom shape over the elegant front door. He also notices the "fire insurance plate" pinned to the wall, to advise the firemen that they will be paid for tackling the blaze.

Monday 25 June 2007

A walk down into Petersham - # 149

I'm imagining that Karl Moritz probably spent his morning in Richmond exploring the villages of Petersham and Ham. So you'll get the benefit of seeing what he probably saw but did not write about. (Although Daniel Defoe did write about it in his "A tour through the whole of the island of Great Britain").

If Karl Moritz had walked directly down the slope of the meadow towards the white house (Petersham Lodge) he would have come first to St. Peter's church. Here you can see the church with it's early 18th century "new building": a christian church had already been here for about 1,000 years before even Karl Moritz arrived.

Sunday 24 June 2007

German guest suffers British weather: true! - # 148

(some readers have made special requests which are noted and will be handled as "off piste" extras in due course).

So, Karl rises very early to catch the sunrise over "the view" from Richmond Hill. We then have a piece of comedy in his letter where he describes his total frustration being locked into the inn and unable to rush out for about 2 hours. He laments the "late rising" of the English inn staff. Arriving on the hill he is greeted by cloud, and deeply disappointed. But, in spite of the cloud, this picture looks good to me.

This photo is therefore pretty well the sort of snap that Karl would have taken. The white building down among the trees was already there forty years before Karl came. The hotel, built in 1865, more or less replaces other buildings he would have seen on the spot in 1782.

But, OH SHOCK AND HORROR....a Victorian business man, who owned the island in the river, proposed putting up huge advertising hoardings in 1898 to catch the eyes of the visitors on the hill! This was the last straw, and the movement to protect the view gained strength, forcing the Act of Parliament in 1902.

Saturday 23 June 2007

Karl Moritz "does" Richmond; at last! - # 147

Karl rushes out in the evening to explore. He crosses the new bridge from Richmond to Twickenham and is astounded by the view looking up towards Richmond Hill from the Twickenham side. Today it's less easy to get the view he saw from that same point (I'll show it later as a comparison), but by standing on the Richmond side close to the Hammerton's Ferry crossing I can recreate the view more or less the same as Karl saw it, and wrote about it in the letter. On the left you can see the river squatter's raft I mentioned in a previous posting. This view is protected by Act of Parliament and cannot be changed (one of the earliest examples of environmental protection law). Karl's description, although emotional, is very accurate and perfectly captures the atmosphere and the scene.

Friday 22 June 2007

Toasting Karl Moritz - # 146

Here we are working hard on our research to find the inn where Karl Moritz stayed in Richmond.

He arrived on the 21st June 1782, so it's appropriate to toast him.

Over the next few days I'll post photos that try to show the scenes he described in Richmond during his short stopover, and also some shots of the various inns that I tested. Later, I'll also go back to show some shots of the other possible river crossing points that I identified but eliminated.

It's amazing how much of what he describes still exists in essence, and some of it almost unchanged after 225 years. Even the weather is the same! Karl expresses dismay that the morning of 22nd June was very cloudy.....and so it is today!!!!!......very cloudy indeed!!!!!!

Thursday 21 June 2007

Towards evening we arrived at Richmond - # 145

........actually, City Daily Photo readers arrive at "the very steps" where, I firmly believe, thanks to exhaustive research, that Karl Moritz crossed the river. He crossed it on this very same day, 21st June, 225 years ago! These are the steps at the end of Ferry Lane, Kew. The crossing went from Brentford to Kew close to the site of the current Kew Bridge.

Tonight I will go in search of the inn where he might have stayed, and I will drink his health. (Well actually I have spent several nights already searching for his inn, but it is hard and needs a lot of work to check them all out!).

In the coming days we will try to look through his eyes at things as they are now. We will also follow him out of Richmond (another search for another ferry!) and make an astounding discovery about a certain tree (if I can find it and actually get a photo).

Wednesday 20 June 2007

A fine house by the river - # 143

The Karl Moritz trail continues.
The sight of this fine 18th century house beside the river on Chiswick Mall makes me feel that I might be close to the point where he crossed. My research so far has lead me to suspect 3 options. It seems to fit the facts in Karl's letter home, but I'm not convinced yet.

Tuesday 19 June 2007

The age of communication dawns - # 143

In 1782 there were no bridges across the Thames between London Bridge and Kingston. So we must set off to discover the ferry point. Karl mentions seeing the many "fine houses" of upper class gentlemen along the way out of Hammersmith so I started on the narrow road close to the river.
As well as the many "fine houses" (which you we will see later) I discovered this amazing plaque on a wall of one such house. At this spot in 1816 the very first electric telegraph was opened and the line ran for 8 miles - no doubt into the centre of London. I had not idea that the electric telegraph started so early.
Even more amazing is the fact that by 1880 Britain had laid 97,568 miles of cable, nearly all underwater, to link it with India, Canada, Australia, Africa, America, the Middle East, China, and the Pacific.

Monday 18 June 2007

Strongly flows the tide of time - # 142

The Karl Moritz epic continues.

Our next objective is to discover the exact point at which Karl Moritz crossed the Thames from the north bank to the south side so as to reach Richmond. Some detective work is needed, because his letters home leave some things unsaid, but give tantalising clues. That's a bonus because on the way we discover some delightful views and learn some surprising facts that we did not know.

Here is a view of the river from Chiswick Mall. The tide was very high indeed. Here it is almost overtopping the protective wall. Further on we find the road flooded.

Click on the picture to enlarge it. The water has a massive fluidity about it that is impressive, and gives a sense of pent up power.

Sunday 17 June 2007

It was ever thus: an essay on thieves - # 141

Karl Moritz's coach has moved off towards Chiswick on the road to Richmond.
The passengers inside the stage coach are trapped by a bore who starts of by sounding interesting and then becomes annoying. Do read the episode for yourself. Karl gives this man five paragraphs, and so, some unknown "know-all" Brit passes into history and becomes famous.
..."The man who was with us in the coach pointed out to us the country seats of the lords and great people by which we passed; and entertained us with all kind of stories of robberies which had been committed on travellers, hereabouts; so that the ladies at last began to be rather afraid; on which he began to stand up for the superior honour of the English robbers, when compared with the French: the former he said robbed only, the latter both robbed and murdered."............

Saturday 16 June 2007

Don't bring your disgusting habits in here! - # 140

Karl Moritz series: episode 5

The coach is loading again ready to continue the journey towards Richmond.

Karl's eye is drawn to the Gum & Cigarette Bin placed at the entrance to the covered shopping mall that houses the large Underground railway and bus station interchange. On July 1st 2007 the ban on smoking in all enclosed spaces, including offices and workplaces will start.

Karl also pauses to contemplate the massive 1960s motorway flyover that carries tens of thousands of cars 24 hrs a day in and out of London. The speed, the noise and smell make his head spin. He plans to walk for most of his tour. This coach ride to Richmond is for fun.

He has already commented on the heavy road traffic, the general mobility, and the speed of 18th century England - "nobody walks!"

Friday 15 June 2007

Horror! EU Health and Safety official goes mad! - # 139

The Karl Moritz Epic: episode 4.

The stage coach is ready to leave Hammersmith. As we prepare to go Karl notices the sausage seller wearing rubber gloves. "Why?" he asks, in his earnest and admirably scientific German manner. "Surely a skilled 21st century butcher is clean and knows his trade and surely nobody ever died from shaking hands or taking money".

I reply: Karl, it's this crazy health and safety rubbish that pours out of the EU sitting in Brussels. Some years ago they even tried to stop the French selling unpasteurised cheese.

Maybe it's a sign that I am ageing, but I often find the legislative stuff pouring out of the EU annoying, and I find that modern so called "health and safety" regulations have created a silly "climate of fear". This disappoints me because I was always a "committed European". Now I'm just fed up with it.

Thursday 14 June 2007

If this is colonial food, then sell it to me! - # 138

For new comers this is the third Karl Moritz episode. This is going to be a long, and I hope engaging journey.

We're still wandering around the little market in Hammersmith, but keeping our eye on the coach which will soon speed off again towards Richmond.

Karl drags me over, excitedly, to the stall selling Philipino take away. He's never seen that before!

I am reminded that the discovery of the Indies meant that tea, sugar and coffee arrived, and also spices. The British went mad for them - in fact "consumerism" was alive and well in London. Not only sugar and coffee from the west indies, but also very high quality textiles from India were highly sought after and very affordable. Contemporary reports tell how every servant girl and "low type" in London would dress up in finery....."plain country Joan is now turned into a fine London madam.....can carry herself as high as the best.......her poor scanty petticoat is changed into a good silk one...five yards wide at least" Daniel Defoe. One commentator complained that it was impossible to tell a gentleman from his servant.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Transactions in a multi-cultural city - # 137

Karl Moritz's stage coach, on it's way to Richmond, pauses at Hammersmith to drop packages and do the business normal at a busy transport interchange at the western edge of London. We have a few moments to walk around the little market and focus on the people instead of the "brutalist 1960s" architecture.

Back in 1782 people from distant lands were a normal sight on London streets, especially around the shipping areas. Britain was a world power dominating the seas and dominating colonial trade.

The movement to ban the slave trade was well underway, having started before 1760. However, mistaken economic concepts blocked the path of abolitionists until 1807.

Africans such as Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano, Francis Barber and Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay were well educated, respected and fully integrated into the life of London. Black seamen served bravely alongside white shipmates in the British Royal Navy.

Tuesday 12 June 2007

All at "60s and 07s" in Hammersmith - # 136

We're rattling along with Karl Moritz in the regular stage coach, picking up and setting down passengers along the 10 mile journey from central London to Richmond. Karl admires the houses of Kensington (as indeed we do today - many owned by very rich Arabs and Russians) and he passes through thriving Hammersmith.

Hammersmith is a centre of the media and film trade in London. It was (in my opinion, appallingly) rebuilt in the 1960s. British 1960s architecture suffered from a streak of "brutalism" that in my opinion does not go well with the often grey or "white" skies of a bad day in London. It adds to the depression.

Fortunately, the cafe and street market "revolution" of the early 21st century London scene, together with a newly discovered zest for the use of gay and vibrant colour have relieved some of the horror. Karl noticed Hammersmith as he rushed through. He would notice it today for the noise, the brutal 1960s architecture, the degraded late 19th century areas, the frenetic mass of motor traffic, the tourists and the "melting pot" ethnic mix that is modern London.

Karl! Hammersmith is still noticeable, but Boy oh Boy, it "does your head in". It sure ain't pretty anymore.

Monday 11 June 2007

Karl Moritz's stage coach - # 135

OK Readers! We are going in search of Karl Moritz. Click on the Karl Moritz link on the right and find his letters about going from Kensington to Richmond on the STAGE COACH!

This epic "search" will go on for many days (it's taken me weeks to prepare - it's not finished either) and try to relive some of his excitement at being a tourist in England.

Karl describes his excitement riding both inside and on the top of the stage coach. This is the top deck of a London bus. I want you to notice the artistry of the gracefully curved grab-bars and seat backs. They are very elegant. The best view is at night, from the outside, seeing the lighted bus come towards you. The upstairs is a lovely arcade of bright light and graceful yellow bars. Watch out for it. It's a good little image of typical London.

(I "tweaked" the image slightly to enhance the yellow. Sorry, but it was necessary)

Sunday 10 June 2007

Weekend passtime - # 134

There's always something nice to see by the river. I hope that you are enjoying your week end.

Saturday 9 June 2007

Niche industry flourishes - # 133

Tough's Yard at Teddington was more valuable as building land, but one mile down river towards Richmond and Twickenham the building restrictions and economics are different. So the yard on Eel Pie Island flourishes, as you can see.

The weather was very poor on the day I took this photo. Attempting to get a more striking image, I slightly increased the colour saturation. On my screen the water has taken on a nice "molten metal" appearance and the colours on the boats are brighter, but still very realistic: that's how I remember seeing them, even on the dull day. The colour and the obvious busy activity are what attracts me to the area and that's why I took the photo.

Friday 8 June 2007

De-industrialisation - # 132

Still on the theme of boats, the river, and life styles: the luxury housing "ant-hill" seen beyond Teddington Lock is on the site of the old Turk's Boatyard that was once a by-word around the area. As the economy has transformed the land has become more valuable as a site for expensive housing. My aim in the photo is to highlight the change in the industrial scene, but also bring out the lines of the housing and the angles and lines of the railings, the steps and concrete work of the lock. There's also the steely, molten metal texture of the grey river water.

Teddington Lock is the first lock on the Thames. Up until Teddington the river is tidal.

The weather at the moment is very grey. The skies are flat grey and come out white. You may not like the photo. The detail in the sky was brought out using the "post-processing" techniques on Picasa. I had fun doing it.

Thursday 7 June 2007

Would you buy a used barge from a Dutch dealer? - # 131

Here's a fine example of a typical Dutch motorised sailing barge built to carry cargo and work the wide gauge canals of Holland. There are always several of these looking slightly "down at heel" lying at moorings around Richmond waiting to be refurbished into water borne homes.

What puzzles me is this: where do they end up? I see them in a rough state, brought across the North Sea for refurbishing, but I never see one finally done up and lived on. Perhaps they go back down river to a swanky berth nearer to fashionable Chelsea Reach.

Wednesday 6 June 2007

Almost totally independent - almost - # 130

Now here's a thing! 3 typical English "narrow boats" built for the narrow gauge of our old canal transport system. They've been converted to permanent, mobile homes. Zoom in and look closely: photo voltaic cells for electric power on the roof, and through the rear doors you can see some pretty fancy power switching gear; a television aerial so no luxury is missing, regardless of where you are moored. Admire the gardens and look closely at the old boot acting as a flower pot. Of course, bikes are there. A handyman carrying his skills with him can travel all over the country and find a good living. On the other hand, they might be slick London media types hooked up to broadband and "working from home" - Who knows?

Tuesday 5 June 2007

Townscape 20 May 2007 - # 129

11.45 on a Sunday; glance down the street and you see it: a fine combination of nature and man made, earth and sky, vegetable and mineral, organic and hard formed. I love the way these roof angles fold together and the way that the architects of the modern building in the foreground have sensitively matched it with the 1890's/1900 structures behind. The colour of the roof slates harmonises well with the remarkable sky tones, and the green trees hold it in a comfortable frame.

Monday 4 June 2007

Is this the decline of civilisation? - # 128

This is something that puzzles and annoys me. It's a derelict municipal toilet, built to a high standard in the 1930s and now derelict. It's typical of such facilities in towns all over Britain.

In the 1890s the (often laughed at) Victorians built magnificent public facilities and we continued to do this until the 1930s. In the 1970s these facilities were allowed to decay and the Nation gave up the battle against vandals and pleaded "poverty" in the face of rising costs.

Councils have claimed to be "in Partnership" with pubs, cafes and shops to provide toilets; but, in my opinion, this does not fill the gap.

Why is it that all over Europe we are suffering more and more vandalism, violence and public destruction at a time when we were never more wealthy, never had better education opportunity, better healthcare, better more comprehensive legislation on human rights, greater resources to help the disadvantaged? Have I missed something? Am I deluded? I certainly am concerned.

P.S. ......the world's most magnificent public toilet was built at Rothesay on the River Clyde (I hope I'm right - but I lost the post card photo) near Glasgow in the 1890s. It is stunningly well made, and a temple to public spirit, and the combination of art and engineering excellence and social optimism. Yet it too was allowed to decay until recently an enlightened authority rescued and restored it. Believe me, it's an amazing sight of copper, iron, brass, ceramic and glass.

You might like to folow this link:

Sunday 3 June 2007

Deer for Tel Aviv DP - # 127

Mandi in Tel Aviv knows and loves the deer of Richmond Park - so this one is done especially for her. I made a special trip and walked quite a long way. This little group was, unusually, separated from its main herd and had very intelligently distributed itself PRECISELY in the ring of shade caste by the tree. Animals certainly know what they are doing and how to do it!
Fortunately they are in a calm state these days and let me get to within about 6 meters.
The Park has two main herds, one of red deer and one of fallow deer. At mating time you keep your distance! The males get very touchy!

Saturday 2 June 2007

Morris dancers - # 126

This is another sight, rare in Richmond, that I was lucky to catch a couple of weeks ago: Morris Dancers outside a pub on Richmond Green.

Don't laugh! This is very English, ancient, going back to pagan times, celebrating many ritual formalities from a time when man was in closer touch with the earth. Therefore it's important to keep it alive.

Two troupes were gathered. The Green and White are more usual; the "Black Faces and Red Coats" are less usual and look more sinister but very impressive, and had a different dancing style, though of course typical. No doubt they represented a different "force of nature".
Here you can see a typically decorated hat, snapped through the pub window.

The pictures are not very "artistic" or technically well executed - I was running low on battery and it was more important to capture an event that is now rarely seen around London and the suburbs.

Click on the photos to enlarge - it's worth it.

Friday 1 June 2007

Medals will be worn - # 125

This is a rare sight. I was lucky to catch this vessel moored at Teddington Lock. Built in 1927 she became a "hero" in 1940 when she helped to rescue our soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk. She wears her "medal" proudly as you can see in the next picture.
Quisisana wears her Dunkirk 1940 Plate.

On the office wall at Teddington Lock there is a plate explaining the role of the nearby Tough's Boatyard in the Dunkirk operation. Those who wish to know more can look at
The Dunkirk operation took place during this week 67 years ago. This "Little Ship" was there.
"Hundreds of small vessels were co-opted after an order was issued on BBC Radio to "all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30' and l00' in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty". "