Kingston Connections


Given to me by Barrie earlier in the year, Neil Grant’s book ‘Village London Past & Present’, which I just finished reading, was a perfect adjunct to David Lawrence’s ‘Bright Open Spaces’.

The author’s style is both informative and entertaining, and the book is lavishly illustrated with photographs from the past and what was, to Mr Grant when published, the present. Much is made of the pace of change at a time when the Millennium Dome and the London Eye were both buildings of the future. Indeed, when studying photographs labelled ‘today’ in 1991, I found myself asking questions. Even my own ‘Streets of London’ series begun in 2004 is now history.

100 years ago, the metropolis was indeed a series of villages, and residences of, say Wimbledon or Dulwich cling to that term today. It is hard to believe that the un-idyllic Camberwell once harboured an eponymous beauty in the form of a butterfly.

Having lived and worked in various of London’s villages for most of my life, I am familiar with most of the book’s coverage. I have chosen just one area of the capital to illustrate this post and outline my connections.

Let me begin with 1966, the year when, as an Assistant Child Care Officer, I entered Social Work. My post ‘An Attachment To The Gates’ tells of what I did to the gates of Kingston’s Guildhall. For a good laugh, it is to be highly recommended.

Kingston Market

An important town in the Middle Ages, Kingston has probably the oldest continuing market in the country. It was in August 1972 that Jackie and her friend Linda set up a stall in this market, displaying their own hand-crafted goods. I encouraged my work colleagues to admire the contents.

Anglers at Kingston

Sometime later in the 1970s, Matthew was seriously into fishing. It is perhaps possible that it was somewhere near this bank of the Thames, seen in about 1890, that I accompanied him on such an outing. I was somewhat relieved that we didn’t catch anything.

Kingston was also where we carried out most of our mudlarking.

Today’s heavy rain had desisted by mid-afternoon revealing

Weigela and allium

a humble white allium paying obeisance to a weigela;

rose Jacqueline du Pre

bejewelled Jacqueline du Pre;

rose Absolutely Fabulous

sparkling Absolutely Fabulous;

Fungus on dead tree root

fungus breaking out on the dead tree root;

Dianthus Sweet William

the dianthus Sweet William;

clematis Doctor Ruppel

and clematis Doctor Ruppel.

Cow parsley

Anyone having read last year’s posts may be aware of a slight difference of opinion between The Head Gardener and her serf about the wisdom of welcoming cow parsley into our garden. This year Jackie has reinforcements. Apparently these plants are now in fashion. Naturally I now offer not even token resistance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken jafrezi, mushroom rice, and parathas. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Llidl’s Bordeaux superieur 2011.


55 thoughts on “Kingston Connections

  1. Wonderful historic information Derrick.. I came via Lynz reblog of Friday Favourites.. And Love all of your blooms in your garden.. Everything is more forward down south of me.. I am in the midlands.. Robin Hood country.. and my sweet williams are still tight bud so is my clematis Rose’s are still forming buds… 🙂
    Beautiful garden share.. and sounds like and enjoyable evening meal…

    Many thanks for sharing..

  2. I always enjoy books that present a comparative picture of the past and present of a particular city/town. Sound like an enjoyable book…:-)

    Lovely pictures, as always… 🙂 Lynn has featured you on her blog…great to see you there… 🙂

  3. No wonder we always say, ‘the good old days’ – everything looks better in sepia tones.
    Love the red buds on the weigela (spell check wants to call it ‘wriggles’).

    The Queen Anne’s Lace has been a cottage garden favourite for ever but they can be an environmental weed if left unchecked and allowed to spread.

    • They have featured a lot at this years R.H.S. Chelsea Garden Show, I have always liked them, and 20 years ago I was deliberately planting them in my London garden.

      • Cow parsley always reminds me of childhood holidays on the Isle of Wight: the stuff, or a related plant, lined both sides of so many of the footpaths we used to walk on East Wight. We had no country expert to advise us: our Observers’ book (a series of [now collectable] pocket identification guides, with, early in its history (1930s – 50s), a strong emphasis on natural themes; as they were UK-focused, they may not have reached the US, Oz, etc.) suggested the plant was Yarrow, which (I think) has a more delicate floret, whose heads never form almost solid masses of flowers. (It may be that ‘our’ plant WAS yarrow, and we misidentified it as cow-parsley, can’t recall now). Hogweed is another name for it, or for yet another relative in the same genus. The ones we saw had quite ridged stems, like the carved fluting on a stone column. I must say we never thought of harvesting a plant or two to put in our garden! I think the perfume (or the mix of aromas typical of a country lane flora) isn’t particularly appealing, out of context.

      • Red buds on the wrigglies, that is: WP is pretty off-the-wall about where it locates people’s replies

    • Wow Cynthia, you made me think! Went on line and had a quick lesson on the differences, then checked out the plants in our garden, not hemlock just cow parsley, not that I intend eating my plants, I understand that there is a soup you can make with the cow parsley. Amazing what you can learn from the internet!! Thank you for the journey.

      • Yes they have become more popular as people have less time to garden. Tough, self seeding plants are what everyone wants now.

      • it is indeed amazing. We used to see so much of it—we called it Queen Anne’s Lace—when I took nature walks with my grandmother, and I never thought about the similarities with poison hemlock until a recent discussion of it on Bruce’s blog, (he had a whole family fatally poisoned by a hobbyist who was into foraging for edible weeds, of course) so I too read about it online. Glad yours is the innocuous variety!

  4. Cow parsley is flowering all along the road side where I am at the moment. It looks beautifully poised and elegant in the bright sunlight. I imagine Jackie is prepared to pull a bit if the need arises.

  5. I enjoyed the historic photos this week. I didn’t know you were a social worker. My older daughter is a social worker in Boston (MA).
    The photos of your garden are glorious, as always!

  6. How quickly history slides its way in. The 1990s don’t seem like that long ago, but it’s long enough for things to have changed. As always, lovely pictures.

  7. The allium bowing to the wiegela may be the same as your unspecified “white alliums” you showed, mounted only, in your exhibition (with the flowers to one side, all the stems leaning over in a graceful curve). Our friend Jutta – I’m sure you’ve metta? 🙂 – has identified something very similar, growing wild, as Ransome (sp.?) which, diagnostically, has triangular stems. I think I can detect such in your shot today.

  8. I’m predicting you’ll be late posting the next blog… possibly unable to recall sufficiently what you all drank?

  9. I was circling round our Delaware Arts Festival shivering even in my winter jacket, Derrick yesterday so didn’t get a chance to read this post or maybe previous, too.
    I like fishing growing up on one of the Great Lakes (Erie). I laughed at your comment, though. 🙂
    Using old black and white photos is a great way to springboard into your activities, past and present, friend. Quite clever in appearance, too.

  10. your roses are bright and early! Only buds here. It may have been sorted before but that allium is A. triquetrum, the three cornered leek. It is a nice plant and I would give it room but it can be invasive – a bit like that cow parsley! I am not sure I would let the ordinary loose in my garden – i would plant the dark-leaved ‘ravenswing’ – in fact I have but I never have enough of it – unlike the ordinary one. And hemlock usually has purple spots on the stems and very shiny leaves so you can tell if the head gardener is trying to do away with you!

  11. The fungus are the colour of many of the eggs I collect around here, and that was my first thought when I saw the photo: heaps of eggs! Love those old photos of Kingston. For some reason I have loved Sweet William since I was a child and the fond memories still warm my heart. I haven’t seen a Sweet William flower in a decade… I should certainly put some of those around here!

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