Original Relics Of Medieval London

The history of London goes back to 43 AD when this city was first founded by Roman settlers and orginally christened Londinium. Yet when one visits London today, one could argue that the year zero of this city begins with the renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren who was responsible for rebuilding the city after most of it was devastated by the Great Fire Of 1666.

Today very little of old medieval London exists. Yet it is there! Mostly in the form of the few churches which survived the Great Fire and of course the mighty Tower Of London and Tower Bridge. One of the principle reasons why most of London was destroyed by the Fire was due to the fact that the majority of the city’s houses and buildings were made out of wood. The fact that the Tower of London was made of good old hard stone speaks volumes about how its bacon was saved.

To experience a decent slice of medieval London, I personally like to head to EC1 and the Cloth Court/Cloth Fair area of narrow medieval alleyways and of course the magnificent St Bartholomew’s church. Nearby you have the legendary Smithfields Market and a little further up is the Barbican. By the jungle of Brutalist architecture one can find St Giles church and surviving relics of the original London Wall. For a definitive and comprehensive history of this city, the Museum of London is right round the corner. Currently there is an excellent exhibition on there commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of 1666. It is a very thorough exhibition with lots of information and even some original artifacts from that time. The exhibition is on display until April 2017.

Below I am featuring some photographs from my wonderings exploring another side to this city and unearthing some of these original relics of London, which were unaffected by the Great Fire…

 

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A portion of the original London Wall in the Barbican area

 

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St Giles-without-Cripplegate church

 

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The Staple Inn: This enourmous medieval building was built in 1585 and narrowally escaped the Great Fire by only a few metres

 

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St Etheldredas Church: this church was built in the latter half of the 13th century. It is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in England.

 

 

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For me, this area close to Smithfields market is a fabulous slice of medieval London around the junction of Cloth Court alley and Cloth Fair. Notice the entrance to the iconic St Bartholomew’s church in the background

 

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41 Cloth Fair: This is the oldest house in the City Of London orginally constructed between 1597-1614

 

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St Bartholomew Gatehouse: this was constructed in 1595

 

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Priory Church of St Bartholomew-the-great: close up

 

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St Bartholomew-the-great church: this magnificent church was first founded in 1123 by Rahere (a prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral). It is adjacent to St Bartholomew’s hospital which was also founded by Rahere in that same year and is one of the oldest hospitals in the U.K.

 

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St Bartholomew-the-less church

 

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This shop built in 1567 was featured in Charles Dickens’ ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’

 

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The Seven Stars pub: This unique and charming pub first opened its doors in 1602. It is one of London’s few remaining independent pub and remains little change since it’s early days

 

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The Olde Wine Shades: first opened its doors in 1663

 

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This handsome medieval building on Fleet Street called Prince Henry’s Room survived the Fire. It was a former tavern where the London diarist Samuel Pepys liked to hang out

 

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St Katherine Cree Church

 

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St Andrew Undershaft Church: this church was originally constructed in 1532. It survived the Great Fire of 1666 an drew World War Two, but was unfortunately damaged in an IRA attack in 1992

 

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St Helen’s Bishopsgate Church: this gem of a church was built in the 12th century. It has the distinction of being the largest surviving church in the City of London. This was also William Shakespeare’s church during his time in the city.

 

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St Olave Hart Street Church: this church was constructed built in 1450. This church was saved by the Great Fire by Sir William Penn (who’s son also named William, founded the state of Pennsylvania) who instructed that the houses surrounding the church be destroyed to make a firebreak and thus save the church

 

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The Tower of London and Tower Bridge in the background. The Tower of London castle was built in 1078.

 

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All Hallows-by-the-Tower Church: Although the current facade of the church goes back to 1658, it is on the site of a church’s going back to 675. Samuel Pepys watched the city burn during the Great Fire from the church’s tower.

 

Text and photographs by Nicholas Peart

4th December 2016

(All rights reserved)

Touring The Oldest Pubs Of London

Following on from my tour of the pubs of Glasgow back in October, I thought I’d share with you all my experiences of touring some of the oldest pubs of London. Some of these pubs go back to the times of medieval London before the Great Fire Of London of 1666. The history of London is fascinating in itself and some of these old pubs or taverns project a strong energy and spirit of what London must have been like all those years ago.

 

Ye Olde Mitre

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This notorious pub, hidden down Ely Court in the Farringdon area, was first established in 1546. The bottom floor of the pub by the bar is full of hanging old beer mugs from the ceiling and historic photographs and pictures. The pub or tavern was originally built for the servants of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely from Cambridgeshire. The pub and palace were later destroyed in 1772. The pub in its current structure dates back to that year.

 

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Inside Ye Olde Mitre

I prefer to come here for a pint during the afternoon when it is quieter and there are less punters. My favourite part of the pub is upstairs where there are many old pictures of historical figures like Mary Queen of Scots. When I was there with my sister back in August, we were the only people there. During the evening, especially on a Friday night, the pub becomes uncomfortably overcrowded and loud. The pub is currently owned by Fullers brewery and does a decent selection of beers and ales. When I was there I had an Oakham Green Devil IPA ale. A sterling choice but at 6% this stuff can make you weak in the knees quicker than you think.

 

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St Etheldreda’s Church

If you have some free time, try to visit the atmospheric St Etheldreda’s Church which is the oldest Catholic Church in England built in 1291.

 

 


Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

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Number two of the Ye Oldes, this legendary pub, located on Fleet Street, was first established one year after the Great Fire Of London in 1667. What immediately strikes me about this pub is its heavy, wooden Old London austerity, rawness and darkness. You could have a thousand suns beaming down on this pub and inside it would still be darker than the blackest of hearses. This is not a place to go to for natural vitamin D therapy but if you want to experience the ghosts and grime of a time long gone, this is a great find.

 

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Many literary figures including Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P.G Woodhouse and Dr. Samuel Johnson are all said to have been locals of this pub. Charles Dickens was also a regular of this pub and the atmospheric and ‘gloomy old London’ energy of the pub must have provided him with an abundance of inspiration for his writing.

 

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Downstairs at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Here this pub is at times a curious mix of one timer global smartphone-glued tourists and hardcore spit and polish long timer locals who’ve been drinking at this pub longer than I’ve been on this planet. My favourite part of the pub to sit is either in the small room where the bar is by the main back entrance or downstairs below the ground floor. It’s in these areas where I feel the spirit of the pub the most.

 

 

The Seven Stars

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The Seven Stars is a special pub in London. Not only is it one of London’s oldest boozers first established in 1602, it also has the rare distinction of having survived the Great Fire of 1666. Fortunately none of the owners throughout the pub’s history have been shortsighted enough to redesign the pub in any shape or form and so it remains exactly as it was when it first opened its doors in the early 17th Century. Furthermore, it is one of the very few remaining independent old pubs in London.

 

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Inside the Seven Stars

Since the pub survived the Great Fire and owing to the fact that it has hardly changed since its original beginnings, it offers a veritable taste of a typical medieval London tavern. A part of me would probably die if this place was ever turned into, god help me, a ‘gastropub’. What’s more, this pub has a decent selection of ales. When I was there with my sister, I had a pint of the dark Roadside Adnam ale which was very good.

 

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Yours Truly at the Seven Stars with a pint of Adnam ale

It is located by the Royal Courts of Justice and London School of Economics meaning that it is often frequented by LSE students and barristers who take their clients here for a celebratory drink.

 

 


The Cittie Of Yorke

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The Cittie Of Yorke is an outstanding old pub located in Holborn. It is a Samual Smith owned pub but is probably one of the most atmospheric pubs I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The on site history of the pub goes back all the way to an impressive 1430 even if much of the current building is a rebuilding from the 1920s.

 

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Inside the Cittie Of Yorke

The main bar area is situated in an awesomely atmospheric hall with high wooden beam ceilings, low suspending globe like lights and a series of big wooden beer barrels above the bar. More than many other pubs I’ve frequented, it is here where I could really imagine myself in a crowded, noisy and messy old London tavern. People would be dressed in rags or in immaculate suits, coats and top hats. I could imagine the former like being straight out of a painting by the 17th century Dutch painter Adriaan van Ostade who was a great painter of the Dutch underclass who spent there time in tavern like places getting drunk and merry and disorderly; tankards clinking, loud voices singing and a multiple of instruments ringing.

 

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The legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas who was a great lover of pubs, wrote an impromptu ode to this pub when it was called the Henneky’s Long Bar. Aside from the main bar, there are some equally atmospheric rooms with dark wood furnishings, leather coaches, tall old windows and paintings.

 

 

The Hoop and Grapes

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The Hoop and Grapes located on Aldgate High Street was originally built in 1593 and is one of the few existing relics of medieval London to have escaped the 1666 Great Fire. This current pub dates back to 1721 and is currently owned by the Nicholson Brewery. In spite of its unique history and all the old furnishings and photographs on the wall, this is quite an ordinary commercial pedestrian pub playing standard mainstream chart music. Unlike Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the original spirit of this place is hard to find.

 

 

The Anchor

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This pub located on the South Bank has a very impressive history. This was William Shakespeare’s local and the pub from where the great London diarist, Samual Pepys, watched the Great Fire Of London. The genesis of this pub was a tavern reported to be 800 years old and this would make this place one of the oldest pub establishments in the city even if the pub had been destroyed during the Fire and subsequently remodelled a few times since then. The Anchor was recently refurbished in 2008.

Despite the epic and awesome history of the place and even the fact that the old decor remains, albeit with a slick facelift, it is quite an ordinary commercial pub serving the usual fare of alcoholic drinks and pub grub. Still it’s location on the South Bank can’t be beat and on a pure blue summer day, this is a good place to go.

 

 


The George Inn

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Located close to Borough Market and short distance walk from the Anchor, the George Inn is a gem of a pub and unlike the Anchor has retained much of its original character and charm. The George is a former coaching Inn dating back to 1542 and the current building dates back to 1676 after the original Inn was destroyed in a fire. The pub has also had a distinguished set of people who came here to drink. Most notably William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. The latter mentioned The George in his novel Little Dorrit.

When I came here I had a pint of the locally brewed George Inn ale which I highly recommend. This is an outstanding pub and would be my personal choice over the Anchor if you happen to be in SE1.

 

 


The Prospect Of Whitby

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The Prospect, located in Wapping, is one of the oldest pubs of London and the oldest riverside tavern of London dating back to 1520. It is also one of the best pubs I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It was originally called The Pelican, which was later renamed The Devils Tavern and then later The Prospect of Whitby in the 18th Century. Back in those early days most of Wapping’s residents worked by the river as fishermen, sailors, and boat and sail makers. In addition to this, Wapping also had its fair share of pirates, thieves and smugglers.

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Many famous people frequented the Prospect. ‘Hanging Judge Jeffries’ was a regular here. Throughout history it has been claimed that he would tuck into his lunch on the balcony of the pub whilst watching the hangings at a place then known as the Execution Dock. It was here where the notorious pirate Captain Kidd was executed in 1701. Then there was the 17th century London diarist Samuel Pepys who was a regular here during his stint as a clerk for the Navy and later Secretary to the Admiralty.

After the end of World War Two during the 1950s and 1960s, Wapping like many other parts of East London was in decline. However the pub was still doing brisk business and one of the pub’s rooms upstairs was a restaurant which was popular with many celebrities of that time including Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Mohammed Ali and Princess Margaret.

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One of the rooms in the pub upstairs was at one point in history used for boxing matches. Some of the earliest international matches happened between sea workers from around the world. As well as boxing matches, cock fighting matches also too place in this particular room.

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I came here with a couple of friends one summers day back in September. We spent most of our time here on the outside riverside patio of the pub enjoying our pints and the beautiful weather. When we were not outside we were exploring the interior of the pub, it’s multiple rooms with old shipping memorabilia and paintings, portraits, photographs and records of all the distinguished people who crossed paths with this mighty place.

 

 

The Mayflower

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From Wapping my friends and I take the Overground line one stop south of the river to nearby Rotherhithe. It is here that we visit the historic Mayflower pub. This pub was originally established in 1550 and then rebuilt in 1780 as the Spread Eagle and Crown before being renamed The Mayflower in 1957 after the Mayflower ship which took the Pilgrim Father’s from Rotherhithe to America in 1620.

 

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Inside the Mayflower

The pub is atheistically a very tasteful pub with lots of old shipping related pictures and artefacts on the walls and around the pub. In a way it is the perfect vintage pub and it’s cosiness and warm vibe increase its attractiveness. It is best to come here when it isn’t crowded. When we came here there was a massive entourage of people celebrating something and we couldn’t move anywhere. But when it isn’t busy this pub is a delight. The riverside terrace is also one of the best in London.

 

 

The Angel

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Also in Rotherhithe is the Angel pub. For me it is not as attractive or interesting as the Mayflower. The interior reminds me more of a tough East London boozer where the Kray brothers or one of the older EastEnders actors or Lennie McLean would call their local. Nevertheless, this Samuel Smiths pub is a good no nonsense boozer and has a long history. It was originally a 15th century tavern established by the monks of Bermondsey Priory. It is mentioned in Samuel Pepys diary as a place where he drank.

 

 

The Grapes

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This unique riverside Limehouse pub has a history going back to 1583. The current building of the pub has a history dating back to the 1720s and was originally a raw working class riverside tavern serving predominantly the dockers of the Limehouse Basin. Regarding notable figures, our faithful friend Samuel Pepys makes an appearance here. His diary mentions trips to lime kilns at the jetty right by the Grapes.

 

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Inside The Grapes

The pub also appears in the Charles Dickens book Our Mutual Friend. The back of the pub is full of Dickens related paraphanelia including a large portrait painting of him.

 

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Portrait of Charles Dickens inside The Grapes

I like this pub. The interior and decor hasn’t been messed with and as a result it retains its original character and spirit.

 

 

Spaniards Inn

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One day earlier this year I met a friend of mine in Hampstead. After a long walk in the beautiful Hampstead Health park, we visited this gem of a pub nearby. This attractive pub is one of London’s oldest pubs dating back to 1585 and is a great pub to visit full of original character and charm. There is also a large outdoor sitting area which is perfect for warm Spring and Summer days. This pub has a distinguished literary heritage. Dickens mentioned the pub in his book The Pickwick Papers and the poet Keats wrote Ode To A Nightingale here.

 

 

The Olde Wine Shades

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Although more of an ancient wine bar than a pub, this place in the City of London nevertheless merits a mention more for its history and the fact that it is, like the Seven Stars pub in Holborn, a rare example of pre 1666 medieval London. It was one of the few buildings of that year to escape the Great Fire. Historical importance aside, I was quite disappointed to discover that it is nothing more than a mediocre overpriced wine bar. I would come here for a curious peep but I would rather pick the Seven Stars or the Prospect over this place any day of the week.

 

 

Text and photographs by Nicholas Peart

2nd December 2016

(All Rights Reserved)

Photographs from Liverpool’s Chinatown

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The Chinatown quarter of Liverpool has a very interesting history. It has the unique distinction of being the oldest Chinatown in Europe. During the 19th century when Liverpool was a thriving and increasingly prosperous port city through the booming shipping industry, and when Britain was an enormous colonial power, it was trading with most of the world.

The seeds of Liverpool’s link with China go back to 1834 when the first ship from China arrived in Liverpool to trade products such as cotton wool and silk. Yet it wasn’t until the creation of the Blue Funnel Shipping line in the 1860s by Alfred Holt and Company, which employed many Chinese seamen, when the first real migration of Chinese to Liverpool began. This shipping line established robust trade ties between the cities of Liverpool, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The Chinese seamen who stayed on in Liverpool settled by the docks on and around Cleveland Square, where the Holt Shipping Company built boarding houses for them. This was the beginning of the original Chinatown in Liverpool. Around the 1890s, some of the Chinese settlers set up their own businesses mainly for the sailors who worked on the Holt shipping lines.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, there were around 6000 Chinese seamen in the British Merchant Navy with a quarter of them in Liverpool. Much of the original Chinatown around Cleveland Square was destroyed during the Second World War. Liverpool was already by then a city in economic decline.

The Chinatown one sees today in Liverpool was only established in the 1970s on Nelson Street as its official street, although it extends along Berry Street up to where the bombed out church, St Luke’s, is located. On these two streets and some surrounding streets are a plethora of Chinese restaurants and some supermarkets such as Chung Wah and Hondo. The imposing and ornate Chinatown Arch at the beginning of Nelson Street was officially opened in the year 2000 on Chinese New Year. The arch was constructed from an estimated 2000 block components manufactured by the Shanghai Linyi Garden Company Ltd and shipped over to Liverpool from Shanghai along with twenty specially selected Shanghai craftsmen to build the arch.

 

Text and Images by Nicholas Peart 

19th October 2016

(All rights reserved)

 

 

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Baba Vanga: The Nostradamus Of The 20th Century

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Vangelia Gushterova or Baba Vanga as she was better known was born on January 31st, 1911 in Strumica, former Yugoslavia. She is often referred to as the Nostradamus of the 20th Century for her prophecies and unique ability to foretell the future

 

The Life Of Baba Vanga

When Baba Vanga was only three years old her mother died and her father went to fight during the First World War meaning she grew up pretty much alone. Her father later remarried when she was seven years old and at the age of twelve they all moved to a town called Novo Selo where Baba Vanga went through a period of tremendous unhappiness.

One day something unusual happened which would change her life completely. She was with her cousins outside when a powerful tornado appeared and proceeded to catapult her into the air and into a field of crops some distance away. When she was eventually found in the field after a long search, witnesses say that she was very frightened and in considerable pain. Her eyes were covered in dirt and dust and she ways unable to open her eyes because of the pain. The incident left her permanently blind and she was sent to a home for blind people in a town called Zemun until the age of eighteen. Afterwards she came back home to care for her brothers and sisters after her stepmother passed away. It was during this time back at home when she experienced unusual metaphysical activities. She would often dream, hear voices, have visions and even communicate with the dead and plants. More significantly, she predicted many events which came true with unbelievable accuracy.

Some days before her death on November 11th 1996, she said the following worlds in a TV interview, “Don’t hate each other, because you are all my children!”

Also, some time before her death, she said that a blind 10 year old girl living in France would inherit her gift, and said that the world would soon hear about her.

 

Baba Vanga’s Prophecies and Their Significance Today

Many of Baba Vanga’s predictions came true. Some of the more recent events happening in the world today most notably the 9/11 attacks and the rise of ISIS have been linked to Baba Vanga’s prophecies and have put her in the spotlight.

Some of her predictions which came true include…

The beginning of WW2

The date on which Tsar Boris III died (Bulgarian king from 1918-1943)

The break-up of Czechoslovakia

The riots in Lebanon (1968)

The war in Nicaragua (1979)

The election of Indira Gandhi and her death

The break-up of the Soviet Union

The nuclear disaster in Chernobyl

The date when Stalin died

The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami (This is linked to a prophecy she made where she said, “A huge wave will cover a big coast covered with people and towns, and everything will disappear beneath the water. Everything will melt, just like ice.”)

The 44th President of the United States would be African-American (yet she also said that he would be the last US President)

The 9/11 Twin Tower attacks (This is linked to a prophecy she made in 1989 where she reportedly said, ‘Horror, horror! The American brethren will fall after being attacked by the steel birds. The wolves will be howling in a bush, and innocent blood will be gushing’.)

The disaster of the Russian “Kursk” submarine

 

Other Predictions

There has been quite a hullabaloo recently regarding some of her other predictions. Some claim that she had warned that Muslims would invade Europe in a ‘great Muslim war’ which would conclude with the establishment of an Islamic caliphate by 2043, with the city of Rome as its capital. This prophecy has propelled conspiracy theorists to highlight the rise of ISIS as evidence.

She also forewarned how the world would change due to the effects of global warming (“Cold regions will become warm … and volcanoes will awaken”)

Other predictions include a prediction that aliens would enable civilisation to live underwater by 2130 and another that in 3005 there would be a war on Mars

Although many of her predictions came true, many also didn’t. Most notably her prediction that in 2010 there would be another world war.

 

By Nicholas Peart

2nd October 2016

(All rights reserved)

 

 

Image source: http://www.catchnews.com

 

Text sources:

http://www.baba-vanga.com/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Vanga

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/baba-vanga-who-is-the-blind-mystic-who-predicted-the-rise-of-isis-a6765071.html

Remembering The Great Fire Of London

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The Great Fire (image source: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk)

 

Today marks the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire Of London. To recognise this the Museum of London currently has on display until April 2017 an excellent temporary exhibition. As well as a wealth of information, there are also original artefacts on show like the original leather buckets and fire squirt pipes residents used to stop the fire as well as some of the possessions affected residents tried to salvage from their burning homes.

Only a year before the Fire, London was devastated by the Great Plague of 1665 which killed 100,000 people (a fifth of the city’s population). There are a few reasons why the fire had the devastating impact it had. Firstly, most of the buildings of the city of London back then were made out of timber. The city at the time also didn’t have the proper facilities to reduce the fire. There were certainly no fire brigades and sadly one of the only ways to effectively put out the fires was to tear down many of the wooden houses to prevent the fires from spreading further. It had also been a very dry and hot summer and combined with a strong wind from the east, those initial small flames began to spread to almost all of the city of London.

The fire began very early one morning on Sunday 2nd September 1666 at a bakery on Pudding Lane close to London Bridge. The mayor of London at the time, Sir Thomas Bludworth, two hours after the fire didn’t take it seriously and was reported to have said, ‘Pish! A woman might piss it out’. Later in the morning the great London diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, told the King in Whitehall ‘that unless his majesty did command houses to be pulled down nothing could stop the fire’. By the evening the fire had already grown half a mile wide enveloping great parts of the city.

 

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A portrait of the 17th century MP Samuel Pepys who witnessed the Great Fire and wrote about it in his famous diary (image source: http://www.twitter.com)

 

Most of the residents of London were ill-equipped to deal with the fire. Most of the methods the residents used were ineffective. Water carried in heavy leather buckets and fire squirts were used to try and reduce the fire, but with little to no success. It was, however, Charles II and his brother James who established firefighting bases around the city on the morning of the next day on Monday 3rd September 1666 to tackle the fire. It seemed that Samuel Pepys was indeed right when he said that the only way to reduce the fire was to pull down many of the wooden houses. By doing this not only was the fire prevented from spreading further, it also created gaps between the rows of wooden houses which the flames couldn’t cross. The first major casualty of the day were the printers of the London Gazette which earlier in the day printed the news that ‘a sudden and lamentable fire’ is burning down London.

On Tuesday the next day, the fire has engulfed even greater parts of the city. By 6am, one of the most important streets of the city of London, Cheapside, began to burn. When night fell, gunpowder was used to blow up houses to prevent the fire from reaching the Tower Of London. Around 8pm, the fire had burnt large parts of St Paul’s Cathedral. Fortunately, as the night progressed, much of the wind began to die down and by the morning of Wednesday 5th September, most of the fire had been eradicated.

The fire had left many residents homeless. More than 13,000 houses, 87 churches and 436 acres of the city were in ruins. It had also created a great housing shortage and rents for the properties unaffected by the fire were extortionate. Whilst residents were fleeing their homes they also tried to scavenge many of their possessions. Money, musical instruments, pets and Parmesan cheese were some of the things residents tried to save. Some unscrupulous carters helping residents to save and transport their stuff made a killing with some charging residents £20 (£3000 today) to hire their carts. Samuel Pepys was one of the fortunate few who’s house was unaffected by the fire. He also protected his Parmesan cheese and wine from the fire by burying them in his garden.

 

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The architect Sir Christopher Wren who was responsible for rebuilding  the city of London (image source: http://www.britannica.com)

 

The principle person involved in rebuilding London was the great architect Sir Christopher Wren who redesigned St Paul’s Cathedral and many other churches and buildings affected by the fire. All new homes, churches and buildings were made with brick instead of wood in order to be able to withstand future fires. Few original relics (one example being the Tower of London) of London before the Great Fire remain and in many ways the year zero of the London that one sees today is the London of Christopher Wren.

 

by Nicholas Peart

2nd September 2016

(all rights reserved)

 

Greetings From The Cape Of Good Hope

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Greetings from the Cape Of Good Hope at the end of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. It was here where the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias landed in 1488. On arrival here he christened the cape Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of storms) before its later and more well known Cape Of Good Hope name. Contrary to what many think this is in fact not the most southernly point of Africa (that prize goes to Cape Agulhus, around 200kms to the east). However the Cape Of Good Hope is a majestic sight; a veritable lands end with the mighty force and temper of the southern Atlantic Ocean lashing against it’s rock face. Looking deeper south from the Cape there is over 5000km of raw, undisciplined wild ocean before the edge of Antartica appears; an area which requires solid Shackleton cojones to take a chance with.

 

by Nicholas Peart

8th August 2016

(all rights reserved)

 

Photographs from Bo Kaap

The Bo Kaap district is a fascinating and unique part of Cape Town with an incredibly rich history and culture. It is located on the slopes of Signal Hill, to the west of the city centre. From the top of Bo Kaap on a clear blue day, one is rewarded with an amazing view of the mother city and Table mountain. The first thing that attracts one to this area are its multi coloured period houses, which are a delight to photograph. It’s not uncommon to often see large tour groups and many tourists and travellers with their cameras. I’ve also fallen under its spell.

The residents of Bo Kaap have a very unique, exotic, complex and painful cultural history. When the Dutch first arrived in Cape Town in the 17th century as the Dutch East India company, they brought over slaves from various parts of the world where they had trading posts such as in South and South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and other countries in Africa like Madagascar. These slaves were known as Cape Malays (even if many were not of Malaysian descent) and the residents of Bo Kaap are descendants of these slaves. The takeover of the Cape Colony by the British from the Dutch in 1795 and the subsequent abolition of slavery gave the former Cape Malay slaves a newfound freedom including religious freedom. The Bo Kaap area is predominantly Muslim as can be seen by the mosques in the area and the residents refer to themselves as Cape Muslims.

The Bo Kaap is home to some important historical landmarks. The Bo Kaap Museum is the oldest house in Bo Kaap, dating back to the 1760s, still in its original construction. The museum is small but definitely worth a visit. There is a room dedicated to the history of the area. In another room one can watch a short documentary film featuring Bo Kaap Malay residents talking about the history of the area, their experiences of living here and their feelings on how the area is changing. The nearby Auwal Masjid is the oldest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere established in 1794.

If you want to sample some delicious Cape Malay cuisine, Biesmiellah restaurant serves excellent and authentic Malay dishes. The bobotie and prawn curry are very good. Directly adjacent to the restaurant, there is a cheap takeaway place which sells mutton curries and also small snacks like samosas and chilli bites. The Rose Corner cafe is the place to go to buy spices if you want to have a go at making some traditional Cape Malay dishes. The small corner shop called Jordaan Superette close to where I was staying on Jordaan Street sells delicious homemade chocolate biscuits.

In the past few years prices for property in Bo Kaap have been increasing at an unprecedented rate and many of the original Malay families who’ve been living in their houses for generations have been tempted to sell up. Yet many defiantly are staying put not swayed by the increase in value of their homes. On a sunny Sunday afternoon (or any other time of day) you will see local families relaxing by their front yards. If you are in the neighbourhood, a simple ‘salaam alaykum’ greeting goes a long way.

Cape Town Free Walking Tours, located on Green Market Square in central Cape Town, does free walking tours 2-3 times daily and is a fantastic way to get to know the area and it’s interesting history.

During my time in Cape Town, I stayed for close to a week in one of the Bo Kaap houses located on Jordaan street. From there I went for several strolls through the neighbourhood and the result is the many photographs (I hope not too many) I took, which I am featuring below.

 

by Nicholas Peart

6th August 2016

(All rights reserved)

 

 

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The heart of Bo Kaap

 

 

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The heart of Bo Kaap

 

 

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The heart of Bo Kaap

 

 

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Georgian style houses

 

 

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The Bo Kaap museum and the oldest house in Bo Kaap

 

 

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Inside the Bo Kaap museum 

 
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The Auwal Masjid: the oldest mosque in the southern hemisphere established in 1794

 

 

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Keeping up with the Finklesteins

 

 

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Your’s truly

 

 

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Rose Corner Cafe – sells great spices and other Maley culinary delights

 

 

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Biesmiellah Restaurant: excellent Malay Cuisine. Try the bobootie or prawn curry

 

 

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My neighbourhood on Jordaan street

 

 

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My temporary residence

 

 

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Nurul Islam mosque

 

 

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