123 Cheapside, EC2

In “A London Inheritance” I read a fascinating article about this corner of Cheapside and Wood Street, near St Paul’s Cathedral. When I passed the corner last week I noticed that the shop had closed down. Fearing that this closure would presage demolition of this interesting building, and replacement with a 39-story office block, I rushed to draw the corner shop while I could. It was raining. But I could find a bit of shelter under the glass canopy of M&S in One New Change opposite.

123 Cheapside, from across the road. 2nd October 2021, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 10

This is a very ancient row of shops. The shop on the corner was, from before 1908 and until at least 1986, L.R. Wooderson Shirtmakers. In recent years it has been “Cards Galore”, but is now closed and the windows are obscured with brown paper.

The corner shop is a wonderful little building. I especially admire the curved glass of the two windows either side of the door, which seem to invite you in. Curved glass windows are rare, especially at street level, so these deserve recognition and admiration. Even more amazing is the mirror on the ceiling! If you step between the curved glass windows and look up, you see that this entrance space is reflected in a mirror. Perhaps this was a device so that if needed, you could see your newly purchased shirt or hat from above?

L.R. Wooderson is shown in a London Metropolitan Archives photo from 1908 (below).
The author of “A London Inheritance” photographed it 78 years later, in 1986. In his 1986 photo, the notice on the side of the shop says “Est 1884”. He has further information about L.R. Wooderson and the Wooderson family on his blog entry, and there’s yet more information in the comments on his article.

Here’s the photo from 1908:

123 and 124 Cheapside, 1908
LCC Photograph Library image © London Metropolitan Archives (City of London)
Record number 38726 Catalogue number: SC_PHL_01_006_79_7728
Accession number: 0577c . Used with permission.

Here’s the same row of shops circa 1870, showing a predecessor of L.R. Wooderson.: Joseph Williams, seller of “pianofortes”, with a warehouse in Berners Street in the West End.

View of shops and figures on Cheapside, also shows the corner of Wood Street, c1870
by WH Prior image © London Metropolitan Archives (City of London)
Record Number: 1884 Catalogue number:q2824343. Used with permission.

You see that “F. Passmore Stationer and Printer”, describes itself as “under the tree” – see the notice high up on a hoarding. This huge plane tree is famous, and at that time clearly famous enough to help in locating the shop. The commentary on the 1908 photo (above) in the London Picture Archive says:

124 Cheapside, City of London, by Wood Street. Front and side elevations of a two-storey shop, L & R Wooderson hosiers. In view is a street lamp. Towering above the premises is a Plane tree. The tree sits in the churchyard of St Peter Cheap. It’s thought the tree could date from the 1760s and is currently protected so can’t be cut down. The church of St Peter Cheap perished in the 1666 Great Fire and missed out on being rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren.

There is much more about the tree in an article on the “London Walking Tours Website” on this link.

I was interested to note how the tree size changes. In the 1870 drawing it is already huge. 40 years later, in the 1908 photo, it seems smaller, and more compact. I wonder if it was pollarded? Today it is again enormous. Here are the photos above again, with a modern picture to compare.

It remains famous. It is no. 1 in the “Top Ten Trees” of the City of London according to the “Friends of City Gardens”.

I completed the pen and ink of my drawing outside M&S, and then retreated from the rain and added the colour at my desk.

The colours are:

  • Perylene Maroon and Prussian Blue for the greys, with a bit of Transparent Brown Oxide in the the road,
  • Buff Titanium for the white of the shop with some Mars Yellow,
  • Green Apatite Genuine and Green Gold for the tree, and
  • a tiny bit of Transparent Pyrrol Orange for the City of London bollard tops and refections.

Guildhall Yard, London EC2

Here is the North West corner of the Guildhall Yard. The modern part is designed by Richard Gilbert Scott (note 1). What we are looking at, in pale concrete, is the Guildhall Library, and offices of the City of London Corporation. Behind it, you see the tops of the buildings on Wood Street.

In yellow stone, on the right of the drawing, is the old Guildhall, built in 1411 (note 2).

In the foreground you see the chairs, generously provided in the Guildhall Yard by the City of London, for public use. I commandeered a chair and a table and set myself up in a nice shady position next to the South East wall of the yard, between two gigantic plant pots.

Guildhall Yard, North West corner. 7th Sept 2021, 7″x10″ in Sketchbook 10

While I was drawing, someone took up residence the other side of the gigantic plant pot, and started a long and fascinating conversation on their phone. They were a recruitment agent, and embarked on a forceful sales pitch to a potential recruit. They were recruiting on behalf of a large bank in the City. They described the proposed future restructuring of said bank, and the nature of the forthcoming vacancy that was to be filled. They named the bank, which I will not do here. They aired details of the potential salary and work locations. After completing this gripping conversation, they immediately called a work colleague and gave an alarmingly candid opinion on the potential recruit they’d just been talking to. If you are thinking of having a conversation of this nature, the Guildhall Yard is perhaps not the most discrete place to choose!

At 3:45pm precisely, workers arrived and removed the chairs. I completed my drawing sitting on the flagstones.

This drawing took about 1½ hours, sketched and coloured on location. The main colours are Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, and Transparent Brown Oxide, with some Perylene Maroon to make the greys. The chairs are Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

The screens, shown white in my drawing, advertise a performance of dance entitled “Black Victorians”, which is part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.

Note 1: The obituary of Richard Gilbert Scott refers to his work on the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Guildhall West Wing. It is here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/12/richard-gilbert-scott-obituary

Note 2: The original Guildhall building has a long history, and has been rebuilt and enhanced several times, most recently after bomb damage in the 1939-45 conflict. Its original completion date of 1411 is quoted in this article from 1848: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol1/pp383-396

I’ve sketched around the Guildhall often. Also I’ve sketched 65 Basinghall Street, which is another design by Richard Giles Scott.

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. It is dark and green in the former Nave of the church, whose pillars you can see on the right.…

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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…

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Gaslight in Guildhall Yard

The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o’clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat…

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65 Basinghall St EC2 from the plaza

In a previous post I presented a drawing of 65 Basinghall Street done from the bridge which is on the North side of the building. Here is the south side. 65 Basinghall Street is the building in front, with the scalloped arches.…

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65 Basinghall St EC2 from the bridge

This is a view from the bridge over Basinghall Street, looking at the back of 65 Basinghall Street. There is much of interest in this view. There are the wonderful arching shell-like structures of 65 Basinghall Street. This was built in 1966-7…

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Haz St Pauls EC2

Here is the restaurant “Haz St Pauls“, 34 Foster Lane, London EC2.

“Haz St Pauls” Foster Lane, EC2, sketched from across the road, in Sketchbook 10, 11th August 2021

The restaurant has created a wonderful outside seating area on a part of the pavement. This corner has modern offices, the Haz restaurant, a coffee bar (Costa), and a church, St Vedast alias Foster. I sketched it from a new stone seat near St Pauls Underground station.

I have sketched St Vedast previously:

Here are some of my sketches of St Paul’s Cathedral, which was behind me as I sketched Haz.

St Edmund the King EC3

Here is a sketch of the church of “St Edmund King and Martyr” which is on Lombard St, City of London.

St Edmund King and Martyr, Lombard Street, from George Yard, EC3. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

George Yard is at the intersection of a number of city lanes, one of which leads West to “The George and Vulture”, and another leads North to the Jamaica Wine House.

Also in George Yard is a marvellous leafy garden. In the garden, shaded by vegetation, is the tombstone of “Sir Henry Tulse”. Below the tombstone is the inscription telling you about its incumbent:

"Sir Henry Tulse was a benefactor of the Church of St Dionis Backchurch (formerly adjoining)
He was also grocer, Alderman, and Lord Mayor of this City.
In his memory, this tombstone was restored November 1937 by
"The Ancient Society of College Youths" during the 100th year of the society's foundation.
He was also Master of the Society during his Mayoralty in 1684"

St Edmund King and Martyr is an active church. The Church is, according to the notice on Lombard Street, “The Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication”. Church Multiplication has a clear mission statement on their website: “We equip and resource the Church to reach new people, in new places, in new ways with the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The Vestry Hall is the cubical building on the right of my drawing.

Just off the drawing to the left is 2 George Yard and 20 Gracechurch Street, a modern building, where a long list of companies are registered with financial sounding names: “The Close Investment 1988 Fund “A” “, “The Greater Mekong Capital Fund”. This is the City of London, with all its contrasts and juxtapositions.

Here is work in progress on the drawing, and a view of the Church from the leafy garden.

This drawing took about 1 hour and 20 mins. The colours are Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon, and Phthalo Blue Turquoise.

Guild Church of St Benets, EC4

On a lovely sunny morning I walked to the Wren café for breakfast. The Wren is in Saint Nicholas Cole Abbey church on Queen Victoria Street. There is a terrace high above Queen Victoria Street. It commands an excellent view of St Paul’s Cathedral, but I chose to look along the busy road and sketch the Guild Church of St Benets.

Guild Church of Saint Benets, from St Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street EC4. 16th June 2021, 08:30 – 10:45am, 10″ x 7″ in sketchbook 10.

The building in the background is Baynards House, a BT building. In front of the church is the City of London School for Boys. Here are maps:

The Guild Church of St Benets is an active church with services in Welsh. It is a Wren Church, listed Grade I. The listing on the Historic England site says that this is “one of the least altered of Wren’s churches”, since it was not damaged in the 1939-45 war.

Here are a few photos of work in progress on the drawing, and a portrait of a magpie who came to look at my croissant:

I’ve sketched the view of St Paul’s from the same location:

I also drew a picture of St Nicholas Cole Abbey, from the North side, in a rainstorm:

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 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.

St Mary Somerset EC4

In a narrow sliver of land between Upper Thames Street and Lambeth Hill is the tower of St Mary Somerset. This is a Wren church, built in 1886-94. The body of the church was demolished in 1871, leaving only the tower. The tower was listed Grade I in January 1950. It is now being converted into a single private home, according to the website of architects Pilbrow & Partners.

St Mary Somerset, Upper Thames Street EC4, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10. 11 May 2021, 2pm.

I drew this picture from the footbridge over Upper Thames Street, on the North side, where it becomes Fye Foot Lane.

Map showing the position of St Mary Somerset, and where I was standing.

From this angle, Upper Thames Street is hidden behind the trees. The building on the left of the drawing is 1 High Timber Street. It’s an enormous post-modern building, which looks like offices.

I enjoyed the top of St Mary Somerset. There is no spire, instead there are eight huge stone monuments. The Historic England describes it in the listing: “Parapet with 8 tall pedestals supporting urns at the corners and obelisks in between.” It looks as though it might be a board game, laid out on a huge square board, for giants of immense strength to play.

Top of St Mary Somerset: a fantasy board game?

The sketch took about 45 minutes on location. I completed it at my desk after lunch. The colours are: Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Permanent Yellow Deep, Green Gold, Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon. Here are snapshots of work in progress.

I have drawn various City churches. I enjoy the way they co-exist with the modern buildings.

Microsketching (2)

On my walks around the City, as lockdowns have eased, I carry a tiny sketchbook and make quick drawings. I’ve just finished microsketchbook number 2.

Here are some pictures from this sketchbook. Mostly I draw buildings.

Sometimes I draw people, especially if I’m in a waiting room.

Microsketching sketchbook number 2 is 6″ x 4″ and came from “Print Urchin Press and Bindery” . The paper is real watercolour paper: Bockingford. I use De Atramentis document ink, black, which is waterproof, in a Sailor fountain pen with a fine nib. Then I put a watercolour wash over.

Now I am starting microsketchbook number 3.

Microsketchbook number 3, from Print Urchin press and bindery.

My first Microsketchbook is here:

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…

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