Willoughby House, Barbican EC2

A client asked for two pictures. The first was of CityPoint. Here is the second, Willoughby House.

Willoughby House from the highwalk by Andrewes. 9″ x 12″ [original SOLD]

This is a view from the public highwalk under Andrewes House. You see the waterfall into the Barbican Lake, and Speed Garden in the background. That marvellous tree is a feature of Speed Garden. It has white bark.

Willoughby House is a terrace block in the Barbican. The multi-storey flats inside have interesting intersecting shapes, and long views across the water. It was completed in 1971.

Here is work in progress on the drawing.

On the skyline the two towers are the Heron residential tower on the left and CityPoint on the right. City Point predates Willoughby House – it was completed in 1967, although it looked different then. The curved top is a 2000 addition. In the middle is Ropemaker Place. The Heron residential tower replaced the original Chamberlain, Powell and Bon utility building on the same site. This was a brutalist concrete building, matching the Barbican, which housed a Fire Station, registry office, coroners court and mortuary. Milton Court was integral to the Barbican, linked aesthetically and by highwalks. It was destroyed in 2008.

The Heron residential tower which replaced Milton Court was finished in 2013. It is 36 stories and 122 metres high. Its lower floors house the Guildhall School of Music and drama. The upper stories are luxury flats.

CityPoint (1967, refurbished 2000) is office space, with bars and coffee shops at ground level. It is 35 stories and 127 metres high. Ropemaker Place (2009) is 23 stores of office space. It looks smaller because it is further away. It has no bars, no coffee shops, just a straight cliff down to the street.

FloorsHeightContentsDate
Willoughby7 + podiumResidential1971
Citypoint35127mOffice space,
bars at ground level
1967,
and 2000
Ropemaker23127mOffice space2009
Heron36122mGuildhall School
and residential
2013
Fashion shoot

While I was drawing, a fashion shoot arrived. It was a jangling cavalcade of clothes rails, photographic equipment, and a music system on wheels. They set up camp a little way away and starting photographing the scenery, which included me. They turned their attention to the model who placed herself carefully against the concrete wall. Then they upped and went on towards Gilbert Bridge, their music and conversation fading into the perspective lines.

Here is the ink stage. You can compare with the colour by moving the slider.

The colours here are mostly Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, and Perylene Maroon. The red dots are Transparent Pyrrol Orange. There’s a bit of Green Gold in there too. I started this on location and finished it at home.

Citypoint from London Wall Place

Here is CityPoint, seen from the highwalk next to 2 London Wall Place.

Citypoint from London Wall Place. 12″ x 9″ [original SOLD]

On the left is the south side of Willoughby House, Barbican. Down in the street you see the gate which closes Moor Lane at certain times, and also various lamp posts, bollards and a pole holding three CCTV cameras. Beyond that, on the right, is a construction site on top of the Moorgate Crossrail station.

Here is a map and an annotated sketch to identify the buildings.

To draw this, I was standing above street level, on a public walkway next to a new office development, 1 and 2 London Wall Place. This walkway has walls with plants. The plants are doing really well.

As you see from those photos, the walkway was also empty and calm. The security guard came past, once in one direction, and once back. He smiled and greeted me politely. I was also watched by less friendly security: a CCTV camera, right over my head. I wonder what they made of my sketch?

CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker St, London EC2Y 9HT, was originally called “Britannic House”. The original architect was F. Milton Cashmore & Partners. It has 36 floors above ground. The website “www.emporis.com” tells me:

The building was built in 1967 as Brittanic House, a 122m (399ft) headquarters for British Petroleum. An extensive refurbishment, designed by Sheppard Robson International and completed in 2000, increased the floorplates and added height to the top floor. Britannic House was then renamed CityPoint.

Here are some photos of this drawing in progress. I did a preliminary sketch. The perspectives were fiendish. That “WeWork” building on the right has a weird sloping balcony and a strange sort of tilt in its orientation.

This drawing was a commission. It is the first of two. The next one will show Willoughby House.

City Buildings from Seething Lane Gardens EC3

In my previous post, I looked South from Seething Lane Gardens. I was sitting with my back to a strange cubical building. Yesterday I went back to Seething Lane Gardens and looked North towards the City.

City Buildings and St Olave Hart Street, from Seething Lane Gardens. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 9.
29 March 2021

On the right of my drawing is a part of the cubical building mentioned in my previous post.

The spire with the weathervane is St Olave Hart Street, which was Pepys’ church. It is just visible in between the more modern buildings.

Above the spire of St Olave Hart Street is the very tall building 122 Bishopsgate. The point to the right of that is “The Scalpel” which is on Leadenhall.

You see dashes of red through the hedge on the left of the drawing. That is because the gas mains are being replaced on Seething Lane, and red barriers surround the site. As I walked back home I stopped to admire the ancient metal pipes which have been excavated from the site.

Modern gas main. The gate to St Olave Hart Street is in the background.

A man coming the other way was looking at the pipes too. He spoke from a mouth that had no teeth, and he carried a crushed paper cup. “They look like art,” he said. “How old do you think they are?” I said that I thought they looked Victorian.

“Over a hundred years old, ” I suggested.

“They look like they would last another hundred years,” observed the man. It was true, the metal was nearly an inch thick. Where the pipe had been cut the metal gleamed as though freshly cast.

A little further on I passed the modern version.

Here is work in progress on the drawing and a photo of the bust of Pepys which is in the garden.

All Hallows by the Tower EC3

This is the view looking South along Seething Lane. The ground falls away quite steeply here, towards to the Thames. On the left, out of the picture, is “Ten Trinity Square” a 2017 Four Seasons development in the 1912-22 offices of the Port of London Authority. Behind me as I drew this picture was an incongruous 21st century cubical building, which seems to house utilities or a power plant of some sort, possibly communicating with chambers below ground. From time to time it emitted whirring and pumping noises.

Above ground is Seething Lane Gardens, and this view of All Hallows by the Tower.

All Hallows by the Tower, 7″ x 10″, 22 March 2021, in Sketchbook 9

All Hallows by the Tower describes itself as “the oldest church in the City”, referring to evidence that it existed 675AD. It is near the Tower of London and former docklands. Like many City Churches, it has been reconstructed several times in its long history, most recently after severe bomb damage in the 1939-45 conflict. The tower you see in my drawing was built in 1955, and the “spiritedly Baroque copper-clad spire” (Pevsner1) was added in 1958. Here is a photo during the reconstruction process. You see the Tower of London in the background to the right.

Church of Allhallows-by-the Tower and view along Great Tower Street to the Tower of London, 1955. View eastward, with Byward Street to the left. Picture credit: Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20592839 [Permission details: Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0]

For comparison, here is the same view today. I had to stand a bit further back to get the whole tower in shot.The single lamp-post in the distance in 1955 is still there today, but now it is joined by a host of other street furniture. And there’s a tree in front of the church now.

All Hallows by the Tower, 29 March 2021

Once again the marvellous “A London Inheritance” site has a fascinating article on the church.

The church is on Byward Street, which becomes Tower Hill.

The building to the left of my drawing is number 16 Byward Street. There’s an “All Bar One” at ground level. According to Pevsner1 below this building is the former “Mark Lane Underground Station” (1p440). This was closed when the current Tower Hill Station replaced it in 1967.

The building to the right, with the dark vertical fins, is ‘Knollys House’, described by Pevsner1 as “a slab” (p439). The architect was Howard, Souster and Fairburn. The fins are a 1985 refurbishment.

Seething Lane Gardens, where I was sitting, were re-opened in 2018 after a two year closure. According to the City of London Press release at the time (6 July 2018)

“Rainwater harvested from the roof of the 10 Trinity Square will be used to irrigate the garden. The garden has a long association with the 17th century diarist, Samuel Pepys, who lived and worked in the Navy Office which once stood on the site. It is marked by a Blue Plaque and a bust of Pepys by late British sculptor Karin Jonzen, which stood in the former garden, has been relocated as a centrepiece of the new garden.”

No mention is made of the cubical structure which makes the whirring noises. I must investigate further.

Here is work in progress on the drawing:

REFERENCES

  1. Pevsner: London 1, The City of London by Simon Bradley and Nicholas Pevsner 1997 edition.
  2. Mark Lane Station on an 1888 plan: “This file is from the Mechanical Curator collection, a set of over 1 million images scanned from out-of-copyright books and released to Flickr Commons by the British Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32674842”

Guildhall North Wing

From the site of the former St Mary Aldermanbury, I looked across towards the Guildhall, the offices of the City of London.

Guildhall North Wing, 7″ x 10″, in Sketchbook 9. 19 March 2021

It is dark and green in the former Nave of the church, whose pillars you can see on the right. The stones are covered in moss, which is almost phosphorescent.

The North Wing of the Guildhall was designed by Giles Gilbert-Scott2 in the 1930s and built in the 1950s. He also designed the red telephone kiosks, Battersea Power Station and Cambridge University Library.

The North Wing, and the area to the North of it, were redeveloped in the period 2002 – 2016 at a total cost of £112.6M1 . The architects were TP Bennett. They comment on their website:

The street entrance was lowered to give step-free access from the lowered landscaped piazza, and the two confusing entry points were replaced by one entrance anchored by a lively reception area, now the main business hub for the City of London.
Internally, cellular offices and gloomy corridors – unchanged since the 1950s – were refitted to offer more open-plan accommodation and social space, as well as extra accommodation at rooftop level. The familiar front entrance façade was retained but the internal elevation facing the Great Hall was removed and the building extended, re-glazed and given scenic lifts, offering good views over a landscaped courtyard and the Great Hall itself. Enhancing the City’s new agenda of openness and accessibility, the North Wing’s refurbishment has invigorated the Guildhall campus.

The area North of the Guildhall is flat and has a variety of obstacles and inclines, which make it an ideal venue for skateboarders.

I have described the site of St Mary Aldermanbury in a previous post. Here are maps:

In the corner of the site, where Aldermanbury meets Love Lane, there is a drinking fountain. Miraculously, this one still has the drinking cup on a chain. There is, however, no water.

The inscription is worn and hard to decipher. I could make out this:

"November 1890
The Gift of Robert ROGERSESO(N?)
Deputy of the Ward of the Parish of 
S Mary Aldermanbury"

This drawing took about 45minutes on location and half an hour finishing off at my desk. The colours are Green Gold (DS), Green Apatite Genuine (DS) Burnt Umber (Jacksons), Prussian Blue (DS), Permanent Yellow Deep (DS) and Perylene Maroon (DS). Here are pictures of work in progress:

Here in another drawing in the area:

NOTES

1 Guildhall redevelopment 2002-2016

These dates and the cost of £112.6M are from a paper dated 21st April 2016, a concluding report of the Guildhall Improvement Committee. The paper was on this link: https://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/documents/s63283/ITEM%2021%20-%20GIC%20-%20Closure.pdf

It can be downloaded from that link, or if not available there, try this link:

2 Giles Gilbert-Scott

Giles is the third in a line of architects. His son Richard followed him into the profession. From father to son here is the line:

  • George Gilbert-Scott (1811-78) – Albert Memorial, Midland Hotel, St Pancras Station
  • George Gilbert-Scott Junior (1839-1897)- St Agnes Kennington, [In 1884, he was declared ‘of unsound mind’]
  • Giles Gilbert-Scott (1880-1960) – Guildhall North Wing, Battersea Power Station, Telephone Kiosk, LMH Chapel, Bankside Power Station (=Tate Modern), Cambridge University Library, Cropthorne Court (Maida Vale)
  • Richard Gilbert-Scott (1923-2017) Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Library

Giles Gilbert-Scott’s brother, Adrian Gilbert-Scott (1882-1963), was also an architect. He designed St Joseph’s Catholic Church in the Lansbury Estate in Poplar, East London.

Guildhall from St Mary Aldermanbury EC2

At the junction of Love Lane and Aldermanbury in the City of London, there is a small park. If you are in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

The parklet is on the site of St Mary Aldermanbury. A large marble plaque tells the history.

Site of the Church of St Mary Aldermanbury 
First mentioned in 1181. Destroyed by the  Great Fire in 1666. Rebuilt by Wren. 
Destroyed by bombing in 1940. The remaining 
fabric removed to Westminster College, Fulton, 
Missouri, USA 1966 and restored as a memorial 
to Sir Winston Churchill. 
This plaque placed by Westminster College.

The plaque has a picture of the restored church:

Picture in the plaque

I sat next to the plaque, under what must have once been the West window. Here is the view, looking South.

Guildhall West Wing, seen from St Mary Aldermanbury, 7″ x 9″ in Sketchbook 9. 17 March 2021

In the foreground of the picture you see ancient stones, which look like the bases of the pillars of the Nave. Evidently not quite all of the church was exported to Fulton, Missouri.

The two flowering trees are magnolia, currently in bud. Between them, on that raised garden, is a bust of Shakespeare, and a memorial to two actors who published Shakespeare’s First Folio.

To the Memory of  
John Heminge and Henry Condell Fellow Actors 
and Personal Friends 
of Shakespeare 
They lived many years in this  parish and are buried here 
--- 
To their disinterested affection 
the world owes all 
that it calls Shakespeare 
They alone collected his dramatic writings 
regardless of pecuniary loss 
and without the hope of any profit gave them to the world 
They thus merited  
the gratitude of mankind

Equally interesting is the inscription below this plaque:

“Given to the Nation by Charles Clement Walker Esq. Lilleshall, Old Hall, Shropshire. AD 1896”

Charles Clement Walker (1822-1897) was a benefactor for various memorials in London, according to this post on the marvellous “London Remembers” site. He was a wealthy civil engineer, employing 400 people in Shropshire.

Near this monument is a tile let into the low wall:

The Aldermanbury 
Conduit
Stood in this street
Providing Free
Water
147-18th Century.

The water for this conduit originally came from the Tyburn river near Bond Street, according to a post in LostCityofLondon.co.uk.

There is much of interest in this small space. Across the road is 10 Aldermanbury. This was built in 2000, by Legal and General as an HQ office for a broker called Flemings. It is now a multi-use office occupied by financial services and consultancy organisations. Do not miss the amazing artwork on the corner. At first I thought it was just a weird artwork. Then I realised it was the building number: 10.

The picture was drawn on location and coloured later. Here is work in progress and maps. I will return to this location, it’s a wonderful tranquil green spot. Recommended.

From Stanley Cohen House

Here is the view from a top floor flat in Stanley Cohen House, Golden Lane Estate.

View from Stanley Cohen House, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 9

You can see right across the estate to buildings on the far side of the Goswell Road. That’s Basterfield House on the right, and Crescent House in the middle, with the scalloped roof.

Here are some maps:

“Outdoors Room” arrowed.

In the centre of this drawing is one of the features I particularly admire in the Golden Lane Estate. There is an “outdoors room” at Podium Level integrated into the Leisure Centre. The space feels like a room: it is roughly square and has a roof. On one side are glass windows which overlook the swimming pool, and on the other side the windows look down into the indoors exercise space. I feel sure that the architects in the 1970s anticipated that this outdoors space would be used for Yoga, or Martial Arts, or perhaps storytelling. They might have envisaged yoga mats, bean bags. It seems to me to be so clearly part of the Leisure Centre, that it must have been intended for a group exercise of some sort. It is now well maintained, but not used (as far as I can tell), except as a transit route. I drew a picture from there.

There was also an “outdoor room” on the way to the top floor flat in Stanley Cohen House, as well as splendid outdoor walkways with long views out to the west.

“Outdoor Room” on the top floor of Stanley Cohen House, Golden Lane Estate.

This generosity with public, communal and informal spaces seems to me to characterise a certain view of society, in which people would want to meet, improvise, and interact with strangers and neighbours. There is a certain value placed on “empty” and unallocated space: it represents “possibility” offered to residents, who may have better ideas than the architects about how to use their space. This shows humility and humanity in the design. A vacant outdoor room represents an invitation to residents and passers-by: “come in, make of this what you will, do something here”. There is a space in which to pause and breathe. It is very different from the modern developments, such as the Atlas Building or Eagle Point, whose stark vertical walls cut off the Outside from the Inside. Every square inch has an allocated use. The architects have decided in advance which space is to be a “lounge” or a “cinema” or a “gym”. There is no “empty” communal space. The designers have decided in advance what you will do here.

I applaud the empty spaces and white-walled “outdoor rooms” in the Golden Lane estate, just as I value the huge areas of unadorned public space in the Barbican: they are places in which your mind is free. Long may they remain.

I perhaps had these thoughts because I was drawing my picture from an empty unfurnished flat. I was kindly given access by the owner, while the flat was being redecorated between tenants. Here is work in progress on my drawing.

The main colours in this picture are: Phthalo Blue Turquoise (W&N), Prussian Blue (Jacksons), Perylene Maroon (DS), Mars Yellow (DS), plus Transparent Pyrrol Orange (DS) for the balconies on Basterfield House, and a small bit of Green Gold (DS) on the lighter parts of the tree.

Here are tools:

Here is a list of the drawings I have done in the Golden Lane Estate:

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St Magnus the Martyr

Here is a view of St Magnus the Martyr, a Wren church next to London Bridge.

St Magnus the Martyr, 7″ x 10″, in sketchbook 9

St Magnus Martyr has a foundation that goes back before the first stone bridge across the Thames, which was built in 1209.

The church of St Magnus Martyr escaped the fire of London Bridge in 1633. However it was one of the first churches to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is only a few hundred yards from Pudding Lane, where the fire started. The present church was built 1671-76 to the designs of Christopher Wren. The steeple which I have drawn was added in 1703-6.

At this time, the road going to London Bridge was just to the left (west) of the Church. The clock which you see in my picture, bottom left, hung over the road. I have all this information from the extensive history set out on the St Magnus Martyr website, which includes this marvellous story about the clock:

It was presented to the church in 1709 by Sir Charles Duncombe (Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within and, in 1708/09, Lord Mayor of London). Tradition says “that it was erected in consequence of a vow made by the donor, who, in the earlier part of his life, had once to wait a considerable time in a cart upon London Bridge, without being able to learn the hour, when he made a promise, that if he ever became successful in the world, he would give to that Church a public clock … that all passengers might see the time of day.” The maker was Langley Bradley, a clockmaker in Fenchurch Street, who had worked for Wren on many other projects, including the clock for the new St Paul’s Cathedral.

The current London Bridge was built 1825-1831. It is a little upstream (west) of the old London Bridge, so the approach road no longer goes past St Magnus Martyr.

The crane in my picture is at the junction of Gracechurch St and Eastcheap, next to Monument Station. It occupies the whole width of Gracechurch Street. It appears to be lifting concrete blocks onto the top of the building that was, for a short while, House of Fraser.

I drew this from a deserted platform, high up near the river Thames.

Inked on location, coloured back home. The outside air temperature was 4 degrees C.

St Albans, Wood Street, EC2

Here is the tower of the former church, St Albans. It stands firmly in the middle of Wood Street, in the City of London.

35 Wood Street. Tower of the former St Albans. 8″ x 10″

This is no longer a church. It’s listed as residential: some lucky person lives in there!

  • Foundation:medieval
  • Rebuilt 1634
  • Burnt down in the Fire of London 1666
  • Then rebuilt to a design by Christopher Wren 1685
  • Restored to designs by George Gilbert Scott 1858-9
  • Pinnacles replaced 1879
  • Then destroyed in the Blitz 1940
  • Listed Grade II* 1950

Here’s a link with more information about this building, including pictures of what it used ot look like.

Microsketching and memory

Here are some tiny sketches I made as a result of local walks. I have a small sketchbook, about 3½ inches by 5½ inches, the size of a big mobile phone. On my walks, I pause for a minute or so to notice a view, a detail. I make a few marks in the sketchbook, to remind me. Then when I get home, I make the sketch in watercolour, using the marks, and memory. I am trying to train my memory.

Here is the sketchbook:

It is from The Vintage Paper Company of Orkney. It was bound by Heather Dewick, @heatherthebookbinder on instagram. The paper is Saunders Waterford 200gsm Cold Pressed.

A nice small size for all occasions:

Colours are all Daniel Smith Watercolours. Pen is Sailor Reglus fountain pen with De Atramentis Black document ink (waterproof).