Due to the brass monkey nature of the weather & scarcity of walkers your City of London Guide has been savouring the City’s indoor pleasures! I thought I’d share a few pictures so you could get the feel of my visitations. Sadly the effect of the weather on my digits is leading to less camera activity. On this occasion I found my battery about to run out, which impeded my creativity further!!
Let’s see what delights South London had to offer, where I swear the faint-hearted attempts at snow were due to the temperature too low for even that metereological phenomenom!
Erected by Charles Harris Townsend 1901 in the English Freestyle architectural style, the building is Grade II* listed. The tower is made of Doulting stone from Somerset.
Bell’s pastel mosaic shows the central figure of Humanity, with figures symbolising the fine arts, poetry & music. Endurance is the armed figure & kneeling are Love & Hope. Charity bears figs & wine, whilst Wisdom is white-haired. Meditation is soberly clothed & Resignation of sombre expression resting on his staff in front of the gates of Death (right). The Gates of Life are on the left.
These mosaics were put in place by a team of women on scaffold (they were used due to their nimble fingers). 117,000 pieces make up the mural & took 10 months to install (cold work!) This is in the style & manner of the Arts & Crafts Movement & is linked to a contemporary decorative work by Mary Watts & the villagers of Compton in Surrey on the cemetry chapel. Mary married G.F.Watts & they lived & worked in Compton. Both were hugely talented artists in their own rights. They were also Victorian socialists, who worked to improve the lives of the poor through involvment in the creative arts.
Beneath Bell’s mosaic is a plaque stating that the museum was gifted to the LCC (London County Council – the forerunner of the GLC -the Greater London Council, which preceded what exists now & is the GLA – Greater London Authority, though the latter is politically neutered). Referring to the LCC it says “as representing the people of London” & for their “recreation, instruction & enjoyment”. Very much in the sentiments of George & Mary Watts. Frederick John Horniman was a tea magnate & M.P. His collection of natural history & indigenous art resulted from his travels in the Middle & Far East & the Americas he opened it to the public, then had this marvellous museum built to house it.