The Griffin, 93 Leonard St, EC2

After I’d sketched The Old Blue Last, I left the thundering traffic behind and walked through back streets of Shoreditch. I encountered “The Griffin”. It seemed like a friendly place, with neat brickwork, and welcoming lights inside. I sat on a low wall, and sketched it, as electric taxis glided past. Or should that be “glid”?

The Griffin, Leonard Street EC2. Sketched on 21 September 2022 in Sketchbook 12.

The pub is built on a slight slope. Ravey Street slopes upwards towards Leonard Street.

Map showing where I sat and sketched “The Griffin”

It’s an area of sharp contrasts. Behind me was the “Nobu Hotel” radically modern. Blackall Street, however, looks unkept, like the seamy side of a garment. The people walking by were various. A group of young people speaking a Germanic language rushed past onto Leonard Street following a route on a mobile phone. Several men in florescent jackets walked towards me in a tight group, studiously conversing and referring to a clipboard which one of them carried. As they passed I realised they were speaking another language, perhaps of a Baltic region, with soft “shh” sounds. A young woman strode past in the opposite direction, frowning, speaking no language but with her mobile phone held at her ear. None of these people paid me any heed. Then a totally different person appeared, dancing a jagged line along the street, with hair in long strands, and a huge smile. He noticed me and marched up, asked how I was, commented on the day, admired my drawing, and offered me a fist to bump in greeting. This done, he completed a 36o degree turn on the spot, and walked loosely on up the street, offering his benign greetings to other bemused passers-by. This is London.

The Griffin is in an area of contrasts.

The area containing The Griffin has recently been totally redeveloped. A new hotel was constructed on Great Eastern Street. These works took place in 2013-5. They included a renovation of the pub itself, and conversion of its first floor into flats. There is extraordinarily detailed research on the whole site done by “The Historic Environment Consultancy”. See this link.

The pub is Grade II listed, the buildings around were unstable, and archaeological investigations were called for. The Historic Environment Consultancy wrote a scholarly account of the state of The Griffin in 2013, in preparation for the redevelopment. They generously put this report online. You can read it on this link or download it here if that link is no longer valid:

The consultant carefully identified the phases of construction of the pub, by looking at details of its structure. For example they observe:

The timbers in the roof are machine-sawn where visible and thus they date the roof to post 1790 and likely to be post 1840.

The Historic Environment Consultancy, Colin Lacey 2013

They conclude that it was constructed in three phases, the first two between 1799 and 1872, and the later one after 1887. This later phase is dated because it included the installation of a Dumb Waiter which was only invented in 1887. It was built as a pub, and has always been a pub.

At the time of their inspection, the consultants noted that the building was on the “At Risk” register:

The building also appears on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register. It is said to be in ‘poor’ condition because, according to the register, of a lack of maintenance.

The Historic Environment Consultancy, Colin Lacey 2013

This poor state is evident from the photos they include in their report, which show plants growing out of the roof, and crackling stone work.

When I sketched it, the pub was in an excellent state of repair, very neat looking, with beautiful patterned brickwork. Worth a visit.

I drew the pub in pen and ink on location and completed the colour at my desk.

The colours are:

  • Ultramarine Blue, Lavender and Burnt Umber for the sky
  • Fired Gold Ochre and Mars Yellow for the brickwork
  • A mixture of all of the above plus Perylene Maroon for the tiled ground level
  • All blacks and greys are Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber

The drawing is done on Arches Aquarelle 300gsm cold-pressed paper, made into a sketchbook by the Wyvern Bindery. The pen I use is a Lamy Safari with a fine nib and De Atramentis Document Black waterproof ink, both from “The Writing Desk”.

The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, EC2

Yesterday, I went to look for “The Old Blue Last”, a pub which featured in a book I was reading.

“The Old Blue Last stood at the top of Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, a snub-nosed, imposing three-storey brick building curved like the bow of a boat…..”

‘Career of Evil’ by Robert Galbraith, Chapter 12.
The Old Blue Last, Great Eastern Street, London EC2. Sketched on Wednesday 21st September in sketchbook 12.

I sketched standing outside the estate agents Fraser and Co.

Map showing where I was standing, outside Fraser and Co, and my viewpoint. I later sketched “The Griffin” which is marked also.

This pub is now owned by “Vice Magazine” (“VICE is the definitive guide to enlightening information.”). Their website helpfully publishes a history of the pub:

“…in 1576 a venture capitalist named James Burbage built a venue called The Theatre where The Old Blue Last currently stands…..Eventually Burbage pulled down The Theatre and moved it south of the river, where it became The Globe….in 1700 a bar was built on the site of the old theater. It was called The Last, which, remarkably boringly, refers to a wooden block that a shoemaker uses to mold a shoe. The Last was owned by a brewer named Ralph Harwood, who went on to achieve a small level of fame when he was pronounced bankrupt one day by Gentleman’s Magazine…..In 1876, Truman’s brewery took over the pub. They pulled The Last down and rebuilt it as The Old Blue Last, which means “the old blue wooden pattern that is used to mold(sic) the shoe….Eventually Truman’s went down the toilet and Grand Metropolitan Hotels took over the OBL…[1970s, 1990s] —At that point, The Old Blue Last was a rough place full of rougher men and people who were afraid of being beaten up by them. It housed an illegal strip club and brothel, which was on the second floor…” [https://www.vice.com/en/article/ex575k/how-vice-bough-a-brothel-v10n12]

“Vice” bought The Old Blue Last in 2004 and turned it into a music venue.

“Anyway, it’s a great bar, all the gigs are fun, and it’s right by our office.” [https://www.vice.com/en/article/ex575k/how-vice-bough-a-brothel-v10n12]

“It’s not about great food, beer connoisseurship or child-friendliness (it’s very much 18+): it’s about atmosphere, which it has to spare, and dedication to live music…” [https://www.datathistle.com/place/54846-the-old-blue-last-london-ec2a/]

Great Eastern Street is a very busy thoroughfare, taking buses, lorries, delivery vehicles and cars between the Old Street Roundabout and places East. I noticed the crowd of street furniture outside the pub. See the lamp post, which, though modern, attempts to imitate some of the Victorian features of the pub. The CCTV camera next to it, however, is strictly utilitarian, on its unadorned pole. I wonder why they didn’t put the security camera on the lamp post. They are only about 3 feet apart.

I tired of the pounding noise of Great Eastern Street, despite the friendly location outside Fraser and Co. One of their employees, mobile phone clutched in his hand, paused and commented favourably on my drawing, as he re-entered the office. People passed by wrapt in intricate conversations about modules, funding agreements and childcare issues. After I finished the pen drawing, I retreated into the quiet back streets.

I added the colour later, at my desk.

The colours are:

Ultramarine Blue and Lavender for the sky and street signs, Mars Yellow and Burnt Umber for the brickwork, with some Fired Gold Ochre. The black is made of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber. There’s some Cobalt Turquoise Light on the Colt Technologies building behind the pub. I used acrylic gold paint by Liquitex to pick out the gold on the pub, including the lettering.

Cornwall Road, London SE1 – packaging print

Here is another packaging print. This one shows Bridge ELR-XTD Structure 20 on Cornwall Road (N) between Charing Cross and Waterloo East, South East London. The road that leads off to the left is Sandell Street SE1. The road under the bridge is Cornwall Road.

The print is made using the intaglio process. The plate is a milk carton.

Railway bridge on Cornwall Road, SE1, Packaging print made on 3rd September 2022, about A3 size

Here is the plate, front and back:

The plate is made by peeling away the metallic substance inside the milk carton, then painting it with shellac to make it stronger. I describe the process in this post.

I used traditional etching ink, “Shop mix – Bone Black” from Intaglio Printmaker, whose shop, as it happens, is not far from this railway bridge.

Here’s a video of the print being peeled away:

Here is the print and the plate:

Plate (left) and print (right)
Print (left) and plate (right)

The plate made 8 prints.

Here is detail of the print:

For more of my prints made with packaging material, click on this link:

The Globe Moorgate, and Crossrail buildings EC2

The Globe Moorgate is a magnificent Victorian pub, standing boldly on the corner of London Wall and Moorgate. As you see, it is in the midst of more recent developments. The huge office block you see in the centre left of my drawing is still under construction. It is above the new Crossrail station at Moorgate. Crossrail is now called “the Elizabeth Line”. In the background there are two further blocks going up. These are 22 Ropemaker, on Ropemaker Street.

The Globe Moorgate, EC2, sketched on 29 August 2022, at 5pm in Sketchbook 12

There are various curious things about The Globe. On the corner is the prominent number “199”. You’d think that was the street address, but no, the Globe is 83 Moorgate. I can’t discover where this “199” came from.

The corner of The Globe: “199” in huge lettering. But the Globe is number 83 Moorgate.

Here’s a 1904 map. The street layout was different then. Fore Street went all the way to Moorgate. But still it’s easy to identify the Globe. On this map it is numbers 11 and 13 Moorgate, certainly not number 199.

Here’s a map from the Historic England Listing entry for the Globe. This is a 2022 map. The Globe, ringed in red, is shown at number 83.

https://mapservices.historicengland.org.uk/printwebservicehle/StatutoryPrint.svc/390651/HLE_A4L_Grade|HLE_A3L_Grade.pdf
The Keats bar: the plaque is on the second storey

Another interesting thing about the Globe is that it recently absorbed an adjacent pub. There used to be a pub right next door called the John Keats. This was absorbed by The Globe in 2008, according to this Evening Standard article. The connection to John Keats is described on a plaque high up and difficult to read. It says:

IN A HOUSE ON THIS SITE
THE “SWAN & HOOP”
JOHN KEATS
POET
WAS BORN 1795

I sketched The Globe from across the junction of London Wall and Moorgate. As it was a Bank Holiday the junction was not as busy as normal. But it was still pretty busy. After a while I had had enough of the people passing in front of me, and the buses and the noise, and I packed up and finished the drawing at my desk. Here is work in progress and another map, showing the direction I was looking.

Here are all the buildings, labelled:

The office block above the Crossrail station is a stupendous feat of engineering, because essentially it is built across a great hole in the ground. From the Barbican Podium on the other side, I saw the great struts, spanning the gap. It is built like a bridge. I drew a picture in this blog post (May 2020):

Sketching in Aberdeen, summer 2022

Here is a house in Firhill Place, Aberdeen, near the University.

House in Firhill Place, Aberdeen, 24 June 2022

I sketched it from a coffee shop called “Grub”, on Orchard Street.

Here’s Aberdeen Town House, with its marvellous turrets.

Aberdeen City Council Town House from Broad Street. 24th June 2022

Aberdeen Town House was built in 1868-74 by John Dick Peddie and Charles George Hood Kinnear. It incorporates the remaining part of the Tolbooth of 1615-29 by Thomas Watson of Old Rayne at the east, and includes the City Chambers to Broad Street, added in 1975 by the Aberdeen City Architect’s Department, with Ian Ferguson and Tom Campbell Watson as its chief architects.

https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200406609-aberdeen-town-house-castle-street-aberdeen-aberdeen

The building on the left of my sketch is the brutalist structure “City Chambers” covered in a tessellation of rectangles of grey marble. Its foundation stone was laid on 17th November 1975, according to the inscription on the foundation stone.

I was on my way to the ferry terminal.

Next stop, Shetland.

Great Suffolk Street, Railway arch

Huge brick arches carry the railway lines into Waterloo Station. Here is a view looking North up Great Suffolk Street.

Great Suffolk Street railway arch, monoprint #3 of 6. Printed image size 12″ x 9″. On Fabriano Unica paper, 20″ x14″

This is a packaging monoprint. It is an intaglio print from a “plate” made from a milk carton. Here is the plate:

I’ve described the process in this blog post: Print plates made of packaging. The basic method is to use the shiny metallic surface inside the carton. I cut out the shapes I want and peel back the shiny surface to reveal a rougher surface which takes the ink. The yellow colour you see on the plate is shellac, a varnish that I paint on to make the plate last a little longer.

The plates are quite fragile, and can only make a limited number of prints. Here is number 6:

Great Suffolk Street railway arch, monoprint #6 of 6. Printed image size 12″ x 9″. On Agawami Washi Kitakata Japanese paper, 20″ x1 4″

I made all the prints on the Henderson press at East London Printmakers, Stepney. I used Chabonnel F66 traditional oil-based etching ink.

The Horse & Groom, EC2

The Horse & Groom pub is on Curtain Road in Shoreditch.

The Horse & Groom, EC2. 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 12. Friday 10 June 2022 12:05

The Horse and Groom describes itself on its website :

Since opening our doors in 2007 the Horse and Groom has grown to be one of East London’s best loved pubs. Recognised as the original entrance for Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre, in 2012 we were protected as a venue and we look to keep Shoreditch drinking and dancing for a long time yet

TheHorseandGroom.net

The reason why the pub’s future might need to be mentioned is clear from the modern map. As you see from the 2022 street map, the pub and its neighbours are surrounded on three sides by a huge office and residential development “The Stage”.

The Horse & Groom (left) and its neighbours are surrounded by new build.

The pub not only survives, it thrives. Squaremeal.co.uk, a review site, says “The rickety Georgian boozer’s twin dance floors get hectic and steamy at weekends, when house, funk, and rare garage rule….”

Sketching in Curtain Road

I sketched The Horse & Groom standing in Curtain Road. At first I had a clear view, but cars gradually arrived, and vans, and delivery vehicles. I finished the drawing at my desk.

The pub is number 28. The building next door, number 26, is, or was, “Cincinnati Chilibomb”. One of the vans that arrived discharged a consignment of building materials. Construction workers started shifting tools and materials into number 26. So maybe there will be a change of use.

The building next to that, on the right of my drawing, must be number 24. Numbers 24 and 26 are listed, Grade II, Listing NGR: TQ3326982177. I cannot find any listing for the pub.

No 24: early C18, 3 storeys and attic, 2 windows. Rounded gambrel roof, tiled, with dormer. Painted brick with parapet front. Gauged segmental arches to later sash windows. Early-mid C18 shop front, with slightly altered glazing, on ground floor. No 26: house of early C19 appearance, possibly with older core, 3 storeys and attic, 2 windows. Stock brick with parapet, slated mansard with dormer, Gauged near-flat brick arches to modern plate glass windows. Ground floor mid-late C19 shop front.

Historic England listing

Number 24 is a fascinating building. What will happen to it? Currently it is gradually falling derelict:

Click and enlarge the pictures to appreciate the amazing carved woodwork on the door.

The huge buildings behind are described on the website for “The Stage”. The development has “over an acre of public space and landscape gardens surrounded by luxury apartments, cutting edge office space and prime retail…”

London is certainly a city of contrasts.

Here you can see the pen-and-ink drawing and the colour side-by-side:

pages in Sketchbook 12

The Artillery Arms EC1

Here is The Artillery Arms, a local pub, on Bunhill Row, London EC1

The Artillery Arms EC1, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 12, 30th May 2022

I sketched this standing outside the fence which surrounds Bunhill fields.

The Artillery Arms is near the Honourable Artillery Company. The Honourable Artillery Company is a regiment of the Army Reserve, and has occupied its current location since 1641, according to their website. It is very active: helicopters land there. Every so often there is a firework display which we can hear from our flat. At least I hope it is a firework display, and not the firing of actual artillery.

The pub is more recent. Up to at least 1852 it was known as the “Blue Anchor”, and became “The Artillery Arms” sometime before 1856 [1].

Here are some photos showing work in progress on the drawing:

I have sketched several other pubs in the area and further afield. Here is a collection:

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…

Keep reading

The Fox and Anchor EC1

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…

Keep reading

The Horseshoe, Clerkenwell

Here is The Horseshoe, in Clerkenwell Close. I enjoyed the way the pub is slotted into that corner space, amongst the taller buildings. The building behind it looks as though it might be…

Keep reading

The Old Red Cow, from Cloth Fair

Here is a view of the pub “The Old Red Cow”, seen from Cloth Fair. The front of the pub is on Long Lane. When CrossRail opens, it will be very well placed…

Keep reading

Rose and Crown, SE1

Here is the Rose and Crown, just south of Blackfriars Bridge. This pub stands amongst modern blocks: linking past, present and future in a swirling area of change. Behind the pub, unexpectedly, is…

Keep reading

The Palm Tree, E3

Here is “The Palm Tree” pub, seen from the south. I have often puzzled about this pub. I pass it as I’m cycling or running on the Regent’s Canal towpath. It stands alone,…

Keep reading

The Eagle, 2 Shepherdess Walk

Here is The Eagle. This is a very old pub, located at a significant junction on City Road. In the picture above, the alley on the right of the pub is called “Shepherdess…

Keep reading

Note 1: Change of name of “The Artillery Arms”: https://pubwiki.co.uk/LondonPubs/StLuke/ArtilleryArms.shtml

3-5 St John Street – William Harris

These glorious buildings are at the south end of St John’s Street. This is the view looking north from the Smithfield Meat Market, Central Avenue.

3-5 St John St EC1, 18th March 2022 3:30pm, in Sketchbook 11

It’s a busy corner. I tried to show some the street life: couriers cycling, people sitting at the café, and people, like me, standing and looking. A little further up St John Street, on the right, is construction work.

There was a blue sky as I drew. But do not be deceived: it was cold, as you see from the person on the right, hunched under their coat.

Here is a work-in-progress photo and a map:

This is an ornate buildings: lots of fluting and complicated brickwork. Who thought all that was a good idea? Who could afford it? Number 1, on the left, slightly more restrained, was built for a Frederick Goodspeed, a grocer, in the mid 1880s. The architect was S.C. Aubrey. (reference 1 below)

Numbers 3-5, the building on the corner, has chimneys with all kinds of complicated brickwork, and a highly decorative frontage onto Smithfield. It was built in 1897 for William Harris, the “Sausage King”. He was a sausage manufacturer, and proprietor of a chain of restaurants specialising in sausage and mash. Mr Harris was evidently quite a character. He named all his three sons William, and all his four daughters Elizabeth (reference 2 below). This may have had practical problems, but it meant he and his sons could have fun with the Magistrates:

Woolwich Gazette – Friday 10 November 1905 from “https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk”

The “Sausage King” was somewhat eccentric, but this was to a large extent due to his love of “personal advertising,” which was his motto for business success. At all times of the day he wore a sort of evening dress, with an opera hat, and a blazing diamond in his white shirt, even when buying in the market, and he used not a scrap of writing or wrapping paper that did not bear his photograph. His trade mark, which he registered about forty years ago, depicts him winning the “Pork Sausage Derby” on a fat porker. His principal catch-phrase was “Harris’s sausages are the best,” and it spread the fame of his sausages all over the world. He also composed a lot of poetic advertisements, which caused much amusement.

This snippet from “London Standard, via the Montreal Gazette, 3 May 1912” reporting his death (reference 2).

He died in April 1912, leaving a considerable fortune. His death was reported far and wide, including papers in many parts of England and Ireland.

London Evening Standard – Thursday 06 June 1912 from “https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk”.

Note the reference to “William Harris No. 2”, that is, his second son, to whom he left all his property. I wonder what all the other sons thought – and the four daughters?

I am glad that the flamboyant house of this extraordinary man still stands. The architect was Francis John Hames, who also designed Leicester Town Hall. So you see what kind of league Mr Harris was in.

Reference 1: Thanks to British History Online who alerted me to The Sausage King: ‘St John Street: Introduction; west side’, in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, ed. Philip Temple (London, 2008), pp. 203-221. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol46/pp203-221 [accessed 8 April 2022].

Reference 2: The piece from the Montreal Gazette is online at https://charlespearce.org/people/william-harris.html

I have drawn extensively in this area, both in St John St and around the meat market.

Here are my drawings of and around Smithfield meat market:

Bristol – Jacobs Wells Road Dance Centre and former baths

Here is the Bristol Community Dance Centre on the Jacobs Wells Road.

Bristol Community Dance Centre, Jacobs Wells Road. 12:15, 23rd March 2022 in Sketchbook 11

This is building is special for me. Here I learned how to stand up straight, and I learned where my feet were. Or rather, I learned how to learn those physical things, or I learned that they could be learned. My teacher was a dancer, Helen Roberts.

Earlier on, many years previously, in another town, in a different life, I had been to a performance by London Contemporary Dance Theatre. There I saw, for the first time, movement as language. The way I described it to myself was: “First they teach you a language, then they talk to you in it.” That, for me, was Contemporary Dance. Once I’d seen it, I wanted to do it.

Life events unfolded and I was in another town, another life. And still, the idea of Contemporary Dance remained. Searching through printed events listings, in fuzzy type on thin paper, I found a Contemporary Dance class, for beginners. It was in Bristol, half an hour’s train journey from Bath, where I was living. So I turned up to this building, with shoulders hunched from stress and aching from desk work, and body strong from running and swimming, but uncoordinated. Without ceremony or introduction, the class started. This was the early 1980s.

I kept on with the beginners’ class, for years. It didn’t get any easier, but I felt that I was learning something. Recently I found a word for what I was learning: kinaesthesia, awareness of where my hands and feet are.

Helen Roberts was up at the front, calmly demonstrating the movements. Sometimes there was recorded music, once or twice a drummer. Sometimes she simply counted or sung a rhythmic click-type song. I copied the movements as best I could, and tried to follow her directions. Arms up, arms wide. “Arms wide” she repeated, with a bit of a glance my way. I was concentrating. My arms are wide. “My arms are wide” I said to myself, “just like Helen’s!”.

“Look at your shadow” suggested Helen, gently. There weren’t any mirrors. I looked at my shadow and I saw me. Rather than ‘soaring bird’, I was ‘drooping tree’. I lifted up my arms. It felt far too high, far too difficult. And that was the beginning. Holding your arms out wide is hard, it takes practice, it takes proprioception, which (I now know) is the sense of where your limbs are in space. It can be learnt, improved, refined, made easier, made more intuitive. I’m still learning.

I learned what it feels like to stand up straight, to line up my spine, to tauten my legs. I learned to “uncurl” from a deep fold into this upright standing position. It’s a pleasant feeling. We did it again and again in this beginners’ class. I did it again and again also outside the class, and it helped me: movement as medicine.

Life moved on again, another town, a different life, moving from place to place.
Now it’s 35 years later. I’m getting older and need to stretch stiffening muscles, aching joints. I have a sequence of exercises given to me by an NHS physio after an injury. In the sequence was that very same uncurling exercise: medicine as dance. With the remembered movement came Helen Roberts’ voice, instructing me, encouraging me.

I incorporate several more of Helen Roberts’ movements into my routine now. I reach upwards, the energy “flowing along the arm and out of the fingertips” as she described all those years ago. Although I don’t know quite what that means, I find it makes a difference to think of it that way: a static movement made dynamic.

I hold my arms out wide, and catch a glimpse of my shadow. I check that my arms are really out there, in the widest possible preparation for an embrace. Even if I don’t do it perfectly, I know now how to learn. I know there is something there to learn, even in this simple movement. And I do it again, and again, with more knowledge, more awareness. It is strangely satisfying.

Helen Roberts – if you are reading this, thank you!

Here are some photos of the dance centre now, and work in progress on the drawing. It seems that the dance centre is closed. It looked closed when I saw it.

Here’s a map:

Sketch map of Bristol Harbour area showing the Jacob Wells Road and sightline of the drawing.

Here is a 2012 video of Helen dancing and describing her work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJxSshFh6PM&ab_channel=JudithJarvisgyroscopic

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