The Captain Kidd, Wapping, E1

After breakfast at the Turk’s Head ( see this post ) I went down to the river. The tide was out. I sat on the Thames foreshore and sketched The Captain Kidd.

The Captain Kidd, Wapping E1. 12.10pm 14 June 2021. 7″ x10″ in Sketchbook 10

The Captain Kidd is the building at the front. It’s a pub and restaurant. The larger building behind is “St John’s Wharf”, a warehouse now converted into flats.

The “Captain Kidd” is named after a “seventeenth century pirate William Kidd who was executed [in 1701] at the nearby Execution Dock” according to various websites e.g. The Londonist.

However there is no “nearby Execution Dock”. The carefully researched article on “London Inheritance” concludes that “King Henry’s Stairs” were formerly “Execution Dock” (see note 2). The name was changed in the early 19th century to be better in line with the burgeoning use of the area for trade. The London Inheritance author cannot discover a specific “King Henry” connection. He includes a list of some of the people who were executed here, for crimes at sea including piracy, fighting on board ship, murdering shipmates, and treason.

I note with interest that, these days, the headquarters of the Marine Police are just a few hundred yards upstream. This is a very ancient establishment, which started with a one-year trial in 1798 (note 1).

Here is work in progress on the drawing. See the wonderfully clean Thames foreshore.

I drew my picture in the shade under Wapping pier. Here is a map:

Walking back to the ladder, I collected a handful of porcelain pieces, blue and white. It was as though, years ago, someone threw a china bowl onto the foreshore, and the pieces somehow stayed in the same vicinity, through many tides. Or perhaps it is several bowls.

Note 1: There is a Wikipedia article on the River police: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thames_River_Police

Note 2. The London Inheritance article is here:

Turk’s Head Wapping E1, from the park

On Monday I cycled out East to the Turk’s Head for breakfast. With a coffee and croissant, in front of me, I sketched the view.

The Turk’s Head Wapping E1, from the park. 09:30am, 14 June 2021. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The Turk’s Head is the building on the right. The church in the picture is the former St John’s Wapping, now converted into flats.

The Turk’s head describes itself on its website:

“La Tète De Turc or The Turks Head is a French – Anglais Bistro. We serve French and English Food. Et Voilà!”

It has tables indoors, and outdoors under cover, and also in the adjacent park. I was outdoors in the park.

Here is a map showing where it is:

I have sketched the Turks Head before, in January 2020:

Turks Head Café Wapping

Here is the marvellous Turks Head Café, Wapping, rescued from demolition by local residents in the 1980s. Inside, I found warmth, quiet tables, and the gentle murmur of conversations: people actually talking to each other. I felt welcome here. The food was marvellous. Next time I’m going to have the Blueberry Tart. I only noticed it after I’d already had the substantial Chicken and Avocado Sandwich. … Continue reading “Turks Head Café Wapping”

Monument EC3, on a hot day

Le Pain Quotidien at Monument was open on Sunday. I found a table in the shade and sketched.

Back at home I added tone and an experimental print background. What do you think?

Drawing: waterproof ink and watercolour Neutral Tint.

Print: Plate made from cut cardboard. Printed using Schmincke relief ink: “Aqua Linodruck #19210 permanent yellow”. Printed directly into the sketchbook.

Vestry House EC4

I walked in the back lanes between Cannon Street and Monument. Here is Vestry House on Laurence Pountney Hill EC4.

Vestry House EC4, sketched 13 June 2021, 15:10, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 10

It is Grade II listed, listed in 1977. The listing says:

Late C19, red brick and stone. Stone doorcase with elaborate overdoor and pediment bearing the initials SP over panel of foliage inscribed Vestry House. 1st floor oriel window with big triangular gable over, projecting on scrolled consoles; 2nd floor windows in gable. Octagonal corner stair turret with pointed roof.

There is a blue tile further East along Laurence Pountney Hill. It reads:

Site of Laurence Pountney Church and Corpus Christi College.
Destroyed in the Great Fire 1666

I sketched from a raised walkway on a modern office block opposite. Here are some work-in-progress photos.

I stood in front of the offices of

Bryan 
Cove 
Leighton 
Pilsner 

Their logo cleverly captures all these initials.

Here is a map showing the location of Laurence Pountney Hill. The red square is Vestry House, the arrow shows the sightline of the drawing.

The colours are Lunar Earth, Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon. The grey is Perylene Maroon and Phthalo Blue Turquoise. The green is the same blue with Mars Yellow.

The Crown Tavern EC1

Here is The Crown Tavern in Clerkenwell Green.

The pub frontage dates from 1900, according to the historic buildings listing1. The building is Grade II listed. There has been a pub here for a lot longer than that, though. A Freemasons Meeting here is recorded in 17862

The Crown Tavern EC1, sketched 9th June 2021, 12 noon, 10″ x 8″ in Sketchbook 10.

I sketched the pub on a sunny Wednesday lunchtime. Building work was in progress on the site behind me. The cafés opposite were open and people were sitting outside.

I moved my position several times while sketching this. First I stood by a hoarding, where I had an unobstructed view and something to lean against. After 15 minutes a big car came and parked on the “Parking Suspended” bay in front of me. It was a mini-cab. It sat there, its engine idling. Will someone please explain to me why drivers leave their engines running while stationery? It was a beautiful pristine summer day. And now I had diesel fumes. I considered various courses of action, including abandoning the picture, remonstrating with the driver, or starting my picture again from the other side of the road. I did none of those things, but moved a few paces so to get fresher air and a better view of the top of the building. 15 minutes later, the mini-cab circled round Clerkenwell Green, and came to rest in a new place. I think they were avoiding the traffic warden, who had appeared on a bicycle.

I continued my drawing standing up and then moved to a nearby bench which did not have such a good view, but where I could do my watercolours a lot more easily.

The pub itself was dark and silent until suddenly, at 12 noon exactly, the lights came on and a person emerged and placed the menu board outside.

“Taken fromSt Paul’s letter…”

Under the lamp a beautiful piece of signwriting reads, in gold:

” Taken from St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews Chapter 13 Verse 2″.

I could find no indication of what had been “taken from St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews”. So back in my office I looked it up. Verse 2 reads:

“Forget not to shew love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”

This is my old school Bible “being the version set forth AD1611 compared with the most ancient authorities and revised”. Online, the New International Version gives “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”, which sorts out the double negatives a little better. But the thought that we might have ” … entertained angels unawares” is so succinct and entrancing that it stays in my mind as a beautiful image.

I finished off the drawing at my desk. The pub name is done in “pebeo drawing gum”. This is a synthetic rubber resist solution. I painted the letters with the drawing gum using a fine brush, on the white paper. It takes about 15 min to dry. Then I painted the dark background. Then that has to dry. Then I can rub off the drawing gum to reveal the white letters. It’s like magic.

The colours are, for the main picture: Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Fired Gold Ochre, Perylene Maroon, Mars Yellow, Lunar Earth. Lunar Earth is a strange granulating colour, it dries to a mosaic-like finish, which you can see in the brickwork of the pub.

I added highlights in Green Gold, Permanent Yellow Deep, and Transparent Pyrrol Orange. The pub lettering has some Iridescent Gold.

Here’s a map:

Sketch map showing the sightline of the drawing.

If you have been reading the Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling novel “Troubled Blood” then you will recognise these street names. The novel is wonderfully accurate in its geography.

I have drawn some other pubs and restaurants in this area:

Notes and references:

  1. The Crown Tavern Grade II listing is here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1195546
  2. Freemasons meeting is recorded in “Lane’s Masonic Records” here: https://www.dhi.ac.uk/lane/record.php?ID=1034

The Fox and Anchor EC1

…its varnish was peeling but it was heavy and strong….

I set off on a warm afternoon intending to sketch a pub in Clerkenwell Green. On the way there, I walked along the north side of Smithfield. Down a side street I spotted a lone chair, placed as if waiting for me. It commanded an excellent view of the Fox and Anchor. I tried out the chair. Its varnish was peeling, but it was heavy and strong.

So I settled myself down and drew the Fox and Anchor. This is a very decorative pub. Pevsner* says it has a “joyful front of Doulton’s coloured tiles”. That’s Royal Doulton, the pottery company. I recommend the startling Royal Doulton building in Vauxhall, on the corner of Black Prince Road and Lambeth High Street. This is even more elaborate than the Fox and Anchor pub, since it was a living advertisement for the wares of the firm.

The Fox and Anchor dates from 1898. This date is on the tiles in that magnificent halo on the top, together with a picture of the Fox. The date is written in such flamboyant Art Nouveau script that it’s difficult to read. The whole of the front is tiled with ceramic tiles, in wonderful shapes, including tiles which go around the window frames. There is a dragon either side of the pub sign.

Fox and Anchor pub and hotel, EC1. Sketched 5th June 2021, 17:30 in Sketchbook 10. 8″ x 10″

This is a Young’s pub, open now. The Fox is shown on the pub sign, but not the Anchor. It has a special Smithfield licence, which means that it can offer beer for breakfast. This special licence is historically for serving the night shift meat workers at Smithfield. Someone of my acquaintance recounts stories of financial services workers in the City celebrating the end of projects with the Full English at the Fox, complete with pints of beer.

It is also a hotel. “Boutique” rooms are offered on its website. It must be a great place to stay!

I drew this picture between 4 and 5:30pm on a Saturday. The area was already becoming lively. A crowd spilled out of the “Be At One” cocktail bar.

Outside the Fox and Anchor people sat at tables quietly taking in the evening. And observing the person sketching, sat on a chair on the pavement opposite. As I noticed with my drawing earlier in the week, Londoners are losing their fear and are starting again with the social interactions. Several people came to say hello as I was working on the picture. Someone had seen me looking repeatedly up at the building and down at the picture. They had been discussing with their companion why I didn’t use a photograph. So they came and asked me, which was nice of them, and provoked an interesting discussion. Part of the answer is because “I like sitting here looking at the building,” and another part of the answer, which I struggled to express, is that I get a very different picture if I work from a photograph.

Another person came and asked technical questions. They use watercolours for life drawing, and wanted to know the name of the brown colour I use, which is Fired Gold Ochre. They also admired my paintbox.

Here are pictures of work in progress and my drawing location:

Here is a map showing the line of sight of the drawing. The nearby street is called “Fox and Knot Street” which is intriguing.

The picture took an hour and a half, all on location. The colours are: Fired Gold Ochre, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Buff Titanium, Mars Yellow, Permanent Yellow Deep. and some Perylene Maroon to make the grey colours. The yellow lines on the road are Naples Yellow.

I have sketched other pubs in the area:

*p454, “The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London, by Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner. 1999 edition.

31 Central Street, EC1

This house is on the corner of Central Street and Gee St, London EC1.

31 Central Street, EC1. Sketched 2nd June 2021 on location, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

It was a lovely sunny day. I enjoyed the shadows on the house. When I sat down on the wall and got myself organised to sketch I found I had some startling shadows on my page.

While I was drawing, two people came up and chatted to me at different times. A man came, whose young son is a gifted cartoonist and illustrator. We talked about different styles of drawing, and how his son might develop his talent. Later a woman stopped to talk. She used to be an artist herself. She was interested to know why I was drawing that particular house. These people both preserved a respectful distance, but still chatted and appreciated the drawing. I am happy that people are talking again.

Here are some snapshots of work in progress and the location where I was drawing:

This drawing took about 2 hours, sketched and coloured on location.

The colours are: Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Perylene Maroon, Pink Rhodenite Genuine, Transparent Brown Oxide. The trees have some Green Apatite Genuine and Permanent Yellow Deep. There’s a Permanent Yellow Deep splatter across the leaves.

Here’s a sketchmap of the location:

St John Bar and Restaurant EC1

St John Bar and Restaurant EC1, 20 May 2021, 5pm. 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10.
A photo on location in the rain.

Yesterday I went out for a walk with my sketchbook. I sat on the edge of a low stone wall and started drawing St John Bar and Restaurant. Then the fine rain came. It was blustery and I thought it would blow over. It did not blow over. It became a maritime wind-blown spray. I protected my drawing as best I could with a screen made from a bag I was carrying. It didn’t protect it very well.

The ink I use is waterproof ink. This means that once dry, it does not run if water is added. The key phrase here is “once dry”. In the fine rain the ink didn’t have a chance to get dry. It was diluted as I put it on the paper, so my lines became a rather subtle grey, and somewhat blotchy.

…lines became a rather subtle grey, and somewhat blotchy…
…like drawing on blotting paper…

The paper I use is Arches Aquarelle. It is what is called “heavily sized”, which means it has substances added to make it partly water resistant. This is so that watercolours stay on the surface. This sizing has the useful consequence that rainwater beads on the surface, at least initially. This is not advertised in the description of the paper, but is useful for those of us who try to paint outdoors in the UK. After a while, however, it yielded. The rain penetrated. The paper became soft and absorbent, and the lines from my pen became blotchy, like drawing on blotting paper: possible, but you get some unwanted effects. It also became rather hard to see what I was doing. My glasses were wet with raindrops and are not equipped with windscreen wipers. So at that point I stood up and packed up. Rainwater fell off me in rivulets, dangerously close to the place where the sketchbook sheltered under the rucksack. This sketchbook contains earlier drawings done in watercolour. I had visions of the previous drawings becoming blotchy abstracts.

At home I laid everything out carefully on the floor to dry out. The paper admirably remained flat. The previous drawings were not damaged.

I dried out. Everything dried out. Then I added the colour.

This picture took 45 minutes on location, colour took another 45 mins at my desk. The colours are Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Perylene Maroon, Buff Titanium, Transparent Brown Oxide, Mars Yellow. For the tree leaves: Green Gold and Permanent Yellow Deep.

Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic.

Colechurch House SE1, 18th May 2021, 12:30pm. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but it meant I had my back to the passers-by on the pavement, which made me nervous. I strapped my rucksack to the railing and worked quickly. My drawing makes the building look a little precarious, perhaps that reflects my own nervousness standing in the wind on London Bridge, or perhaps it reflects the nervousness of the building as it awaits imminent demolition.

Here is work in progress. I completed the pen-and-ink on location and the colour at my desk.

Colechurch House was completed in the late 1960s* to the designs of E G Chandler. Pre-pandemic, the area under the building at podium level contained a tidal flow of commuters walking between London Bridge Station and the City of London. The City of London Corporation entity known as “Bridge House Estates” owns the freehold. The site is in the London Borough of Southwark (called “LBS” in the press release below). The planning application is GLA reference 2020/6867/S1 and has been approved. Here’s the plan, according to the summary in the planning application:

“Redevelopment of the site to include demolition of Colechurch House, pedestrian footbridge and walkway and erection of an elevated 22-storey building (+ 4-storey basement) above a public park and providing office floorspace, retail floorspace, restaurant/café floorspace, leisure floorspace (all Use Class E), theatre and a bar (Sui Generis), delivered alongside public realm improvements, roof gardens, cycle parking, servicing, refuse, plant areas and other associated works incidental to the development.”

Here’s a press release from the City of London last year, announcing the development.

*Completion date “late 1960s” according to https://colechurchhouse.com/site, the website of the new development. It also says “It is named after Peter of Colechurch who designed the first stone bridge across the Thames here.”

St Nicholas Cole Abbey EC4

St Nicholas Cole Abbey is at 114 Queen Victoria Street, EC4V 4BJ. 

The City of London entry for this church tells me:

The church is dedicated to the 4th century St Nicholas of Myra. The name “Cole Abbey” is derived from “coldharbour”, a medieval word for a traveller’s shelter or shelter from the cold.

It still performs this sheltering function. There is a large squarish space inside, very open and light, with stained glass, tables, gentle murmurings. And there is the wonderful Wren café, a welcoming place. St Nicholas Cole Abbey is an active church, offering “workplace ministry” according to its website.

Yesterday, however, the church and the café were closed. I found shelter from the rain in the overhang of 1 Distaff Lane, Bracken House, and drew this picture.

St Nicholas Cole Abbey, EC4. 16th May 2021, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

You see the magnificent trumpet shape of the spire. There is a boat on top! According to the Wikipedia entry:

This [weathervane] came from St Michael Queenhithe (demolished 1876), and was added to the spire in 1962.

Here is work in progress on the picture, and a map:

On sunnier days, I have drawn St Paul’s Cathedral from a bench to the south of the church:

City Churches

This is one of an emerging collection of drawings of City churches. You can see the drawings so far by clicking this link: