Wimbledon College As I Knew It

After our day in the sun, we are now in the grip of storm Gertrude. And they have only been given names in alphabetical order since the beginning of the year. Winds approach 50 m.p.h.

Owls

We have had no snow, so quite how a pair of snow-owls came to be on their perch in the garden, I don’t know. Anyway, they are thawing out.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton to look at a jacket I had ordered from Fagan’s. It wasn’t big enough, so we ordered a carpet instead.

Over the Christmas holiday period the library has become rather a dumping ground. Today we set about regaining the space for books and contemplation. This took some time, and prompted a certain amount of reorganisation. In the process, I discovered two postcards relating to our schooldays that were in a pile of Chris’s books that Frances had passed on to me.

The school which I and my two brothers had, between us, attended from 1953 to 1978 stands on a site where in 1860 John Brackenbury had purchased two large meadows below the Ridgway known as Tree and Boggy Fields. Brackenbury had helped to run Nelson House School, in Eagle House, Wimbledon High Street. His success there was such that in 1859 he took out a mortgage on the land below the Ridgway and founded the Anglican Preparatory Military Academy in 1860, also known as Brackenbury’s. The grounds of this college were so attractive that the school was opened to the public once a week.

In 1892 the buildings of the Anglican Preparatory Military Academy were purchased by the Jesuits and reopened as Wimbledon College which had existed on other sites earlier that year.

Wimbledon College

One of Chris’s postcards is of the very first pupils’ school photograph. Note the heavy leather rugby ball, such as we still used in the 1950s. Should any of my readers have antecedents likely to be present in this picture from 1893, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Wimbledon College

The other is of the splendid Victorian building I knew. The grounds seen in this photograph are just part of the sublime setting in which I was fortunate enough to spend my grammar school years.  During the summer holidays in 1977 the main college hall burned down. It is not clear what caused the fire, but the kitchens were located in the basement of the hall and it was supposed that the fire started there. Many a time I sat at the refectory tables in that hall, lobbing bits of food at other unruly juvenile diners under the eyes of the Catholic martyrs of the reformation, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher. Patrick Reid, the famous Old Boy who escaped from Colditz Castle in World War II, also looked down on us. I wonder whether their portraits survived the fire.

Extensive renovation and new building has since been undertaken.

Aubergin 'Al Funghetto'

Hello Fresh is an organisation that sends to our homes the ingredients and recipes for making exceedingly good meals. Jessica and Imogen sent us a week’s subscription for Christmas. This consisted of the wherewithal for three meals for two. Because we had such a houseful Jackie froze these goodies. Today we sampled the first. This was Aubergine ‘Al Funghetto’ with Grilled Butterflied Chicken. Containing supplied chicken breasts , aubergine, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes (these didn’t freeze so we replaced them’, flat leaf parsley, garlic, lemon , and chilli flakes, was absolutely delicious. Jackie is retaining the recipe card. Profiteroles was to follow. I finished the chianti and The Cook drank her customary Hoegaarden.

Well done the grandchildren.

History In The Streets

This morning Aaron continued work on decorating the bathroom. He was somewhat hampered by finding a section of the previous paintwork peeling off plaster that had not been sealed before the pigment was applied.

I scanned another dozen colour slides from the Streets of London series produced in April 2004.

Diadem Court W1

Between Oxford Street and Soho Square in the heart of the West End lies Diadem Court W1. This building on the corner has been enhanced by graffiti. The bar looked closed.

Grape Street WC2

A little further East, off Shaftesbury Avenue, we come to Grape Street, beside the Shaftesbury Theatre where the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie was showing.

Centre Point, the 33 storey office tower block in the background, stands almost directly above Tottenham Court Road tube station. Built for developer Harry Hyams, as a speculative project, the building remained empty from its completion in 1966 until 1975, following the weekend occupation the previous year by a Direct Action housing group. This successfully highlighted the fact that the potential accommodation was being deliberately kept unoccupied while thousands were homeless. It has passed through several ownerships since, and is now used for both offices and residential apartments.

St Clement's Lane WC2

In Holborn, South of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, we come to St Clement’s Lane. I was intrigued by the gentleman seated in the glazed bridge in the middle distance. Space is at a premium, but is that really where he keeps his office?

Houghton Street WC2

In Houghton Street, WC2 the paving outside the London School of Economics was being refurbished.

Serle Street1024px-Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_Project

The figure in the niche above this doorway in Serle Street, between Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Temple, is the Catholic Saint, Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor, beheaded by King Henry VIII’s executioner for refusing to take the Act of Supremacy in order to facilitate the sovereign’s divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon. The painting is by Hans Holbein the Younger. A copy of this, and another of St John Fisher, hung on the walls of the refectory of Wimbledon College, my Jesuit grammar school.

Bell Yard WC2

Bell Yard, WC2 is a little further South.

Fleet Street EC4

The Evening Standard placard announcing the return of City Bonuses in Fleet Street, preceded the 2008 crash by four fat years. I’m not sure how the prisoners were treated. Some dogs, of course, are treated better than humans.

Crane Court EC4

Crane Court is off Fleet Street. The All Day Breakfast is now ubiquitous in London, but I doubt if this one

Poppin's Court EC4

matches that of one off Poppin’s Court. At one time the excellent value cafes in London were the province of Italians, the older generation speaking halting English and the second generation being bilingual in Cockney and Italian. The Eastern Europeans have picked up that particular baton. One such hid around this corner. I often patronised it after a session at Portugal Prints.

Whitefriars Street EC4

Whitefriars Street also runs into Fleet Street. Sir Christopher Wren’s famous St Paul’s Cathedral can be seen in each of these last two pictures. This is what Wikipedia tells us about it:

‘St Paul’s Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren’s lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London.

The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, dominated the skyline for 300 years.[3] At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962. The dome is among the highest in the world. St Paul’s is the second largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.

St Paul’s Cathedral occupies a significant place in the national identity. It is the central subject of much promotional material, as well as of images of the dome surrounded by the smoke and fire of the Blitz. Services held at St Paul’s have included the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill; Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, the launch of the Festival of Britain and the thanksgiving services for the Golden Jubilee, the 80th Birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.’

Perhaps I should inform the website that it is also the cathedral in which my good friend, The Reverend Norman David Bird, was ordained almost thirty years ago.

Shoe Lane EC4Bride Lane EC4

Shoe and Bride Lanes, bring us nearer the River Thames. The latter features the transport of the modern London policeman. No set of London photographs should be devoid of scaffolding.

This evening we dined on chicken and bacon pasta bake; crisp carrots, green beans, and Brussels sprouts; and sautéed peppers and onions. I finished the malbec.