Gaslights on 1 & 2 Mitre Buildings, Temple

Here is a back alley off Fleet Street, London EC4.


It is Old Mitre Court. The buildings on the right are 1 & 2 Mitre Court Buildings. They are listed Grade 2. Here’s what Historic England says in the listing:

Early/mid C19. 4 storeys plus basement. Plain classical, south elevation of Portland stone with channelled ground storey and cornice below top floor. Arched passage through centre. Plain, rear elevation of yellow brick with railings and gates.

It’s the “rear elevation of yellow brick” that you see in the picture. There are three gas lamps, at least one of which works. The other two look very rickety.

The buildings, 1 & 2 Mitre Court Buildings, are legal practices, housing Barristers and their associates. A list of the barristers is by the doors. The notice on the pavement says “Inner Temple Treasury Office, Open 10am – 4pm”. This is the office underneath the furthest gas light, the one with the right-angled support above it.

The paving slabs at the bottom of the picture were in fact green, as I have drawn them. It was damp, and there was a coating of moss-type algae on the paving slabs. A saying of my late father was, “The plants will win in the end”. When I see such a green coating on stone, in the middle of the City, I am reminded of his words, and I think he is right.

Eventually I had to stop drawing as the rain came down. The drawing got a bit wet.

Here is work in progress and a map:


Drawing took 1hour 15 mins. Colours used mostly Perinone orange, and Prussian blue, with a bit of burnt umber. Indian yellow for the gas lights. All Daniel Smith colours. Pen is Lamy Safari EF nib, with De Atramentis document (waterproof) black ink.


St Peter upon Cornhill

I went out to look for more gas lights in the City. There was rain, and the back alleys were wet. I couldn’t find any more gaslights.

At the South East extreme of my peregrination I looked up and saw St Peter upon Cornhill. It is wedged in between other buildings.

The adjacent building is labelled “54 & 55” Cornhill, in lovely art-deco writing. There is a branch of “EAT” on the ground floor. High up, there are three strange devils (ringed in red on the annotated picture above). The two larger and higher ones are definitely female devils, with big breasts and strong muscles. The smaller devil is yelling from his position above a window.

I drew this picture from the shelter of White Lion Court, which is on the North side of Cornhill. This is one of those City of London back-alleys. It doesn’t go anywhere, just to the door of what looks like an insurance company, and off to the side is a doorway with ecclesiastical carving above. It looks like the entrance to a monastery. But that can’t be right. The modern iron gate is adorned with modern litter.

As I was drawing a man came round from the nearby branch of Sainsbury’s to eat his sandwich and smoke.

Then later another man came by and asked me if I had seen the fire brigade. I said no, because I hadn’t. He said the fire alarm in one of the offices had gone off. He said he’d be wandering about for a bit, while he contacted the key holder. I could hear him calmly making phone calls. He was still there when I finished my drawing and packed up. I waved goodbye to him, and he nodded and half waved back, constrained in his movements as he was holding his phone to his ear and consulting a notebook.

It is astonishing how many tourist groups go down Cornhill. If I have done nothing else today, I have at least inspired a few tourists and other passers-by to look upwards to the onion spire of St Peter upon Cornhill. People pause, see that I am drawing, wonder what I can possibly be drawing in that dingy back-alley, and then look in the direction I’m looking and see the spire.

The tourist groups pause in the shelter of nearby Sun Court. I guess they are being told anecdotes about why there are she-devils on 54 and 55 Cornhill. I looked online. I can only find anecdotes, no facts. The building is by Runtz, 1853.

There has been a church at St Peter upon Cornhill since the 2nd Century AD, according to a tablet whose inscription was recorded and copied on various printed media, and now on Wikipedia. The tablet doesn’t exist any more as it was destroyed in the fire of London. The current building is by Christopher Wren, and was constructed between 1677 and 1684. There is also an entrance on Gracechurch St, which I must go and have a look at.

Here is work in progress.

The drawing took 1½ hours.






Gaslight in Guildhall Yard

There are quite a few gas lights in London. I aim to draw as many as possible before they are taken out of service. It’s quite remarkable that there are so many still in operation. This one is in Guildhall Yard, in the City of London. St Lawrence Jewry is in the background.

Gaslight, and St Lawrence Jewry, from Guildhall Buildings


Here is the gas light close up, drawn from Guildhall Yard, looking south.


Written on the little blue canister are the words:


It is a timing device. According to the marvellous website “Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History”,  in 1904 the Horstmann Gear Company patented….

“…the Solar Dial which automatically adjusted lighting times at dusk and dawn throughout the year. It was the start of nearly eighty years of Horstmann’s manufacturing involvement in the street lighting controls market.”

However before this innovation, the gas might have been lit by a person, because there is the arm for the ladder, as shown in my drawing. Perhaps that arm was always there, though, even after automation, in case someone needed to inspect the light. The North face of the light, the one shown in my picture, includes hinges on the left, and evidently could be opened.

I do not know if this light still functions. I shall take a diversion that way in the night, and let you know.

I have drawn another local gas light, which does still function, off King Edward Street.

All pictures drawn and coloured on location. Pen and wash.

From the Barbican Lakeside Terrace

This is a drawing on one of those hot days last week.

I sat at one of the tables on the Barbican Lakeside Terrace and drew what I saw. The massive building is 125 London Wall, a multi-occupancy monolith. Behind, to the right is 88 Wood Street, designed by Richard Rogers (“Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners”). It’s a bit like the Lloyds Building, with transparent walls and lifts you can see going up and down. On the left is the new building at One London Wall Place.

In front of all that is the side of St Giles’ church, with its castellations. There was a celebration going on: Barbican@50.


The banner you can see fastened to the railings says “”. It is placed by objectors to the proposed extension of the Girls School.

1 hour 20.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Here is the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, seen from across the Barbican Lake. I drew this sitting on a ventilator grille in an alcove of the residential flats in Andrewes House.


The Tower in the distance is Cromwell Tower. The sloping glass roof is the Barbican Conservatory. Gilbert House is the residential block on the left. In the foreground is the magical sunken garden, a planted area whose walkways are below the level of the lake.

IMG_3621As I drew, I was watched with interest by mallard ducks. One settled at my feet, in a proprietorial way.

I had not noticed before that the Guildhall School is built as a series of blocks, rather like a container park. The top row and the bottom row don’t quite match. The second row has a series of upright concrete beams, which I’ve shown, between the blocks.

I saw that the windows are angled. The inhabitants of one block must be able to see, in a sideways sort of way, into the next block. I’ve never been inside the School, so I don’t know how this works out in practice. But after all, this is a school of performing arts, so it’s rather good if you can see your fellow students through a window: every window a stage.

However the angling of the windows meant that from outside I couldn’t see inside.  I have to wait until the performers are ready to present their pieces on a public stage. Still, from time to time I heard a flight of notes on a saxophone. Perhaps they had opened the window of one of the practice rooms.

About 2 hours, including a chat to a fellow resident who stopped by.

Predominantly just two colours: Perinone Orange and Prussian Blue, with a tiny bit of Mars Yellow in the rushes.



St Mary Abchurch

Here is St Mary Abchurch, a view from Cannon Street, London EC4. There was a church here from about 1198. It was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666. The current church was built to the design of Christopher Wren in 1681-86. It is the headquarters of the “Friends of City Churches” who make the City Churches accessible.

This is one of those ephemeral views. There is a huge building site in front of the church, and so when the building is done, this view will disappear.


The notices on the hoardings say:

“DANGER! No climbing. Fall behind”

“Dragados SA (UK) Considerate Contractor Scheme, 30th Anniversary Winner 2018”

“No Pedestrian Access or Egress Apart From Plant Movements or in an Emergency”

I enjoyed the use of “Egress”, and puzzled over the phrase “Fall behind”. It must mean “There is a big drop behind this notice”, but it sounds like “We are delayed, and falling behind schedule.”  There is also a huge Health and Safety notice, mandating in detail the protective clothing you must wear, including, rather ominously:

“Flame retardant clothing must be worn near buried services”

What’s this building? Well, according to the notice:

” We’re transforming Bank Station to improve your journey. Completion 2022. Search TFL Bank”

I searched “TfL Bank” as instructed, and found a vast amount of information. TfL (Transport for London) is making Bank Station bigger – a “capacity upgrade” as they term it. The building site I’ve spent this afternoon looking at is described thus:

“The Cannon Street worksite consists of the area bounded by King William Street, Nicholas Lane, Cannon Street and Abchurch Lane. The proposed new station entrance and infrastructure such as new escalators will be constructed on this site, which is currently occupied by six buildings. Demolition will be required to allow the worksite to be established before the start of any ground treatment, piling or work on the station entrance. The façade of 20 Abchurch Lane will be retained and will partially screen Abchurch Yard from the works. The worksite is over the proposed new Northern line platform tunnel. The site provides access to the work below ground through the new station entrance box and escalator barrel. During the works there will be site office and welfare facilities within 20 Abchurch Lane. The proposed worksite provides a minimum of space for storage of some materials and equipment for construction operations. It will also be used to store excavated material, before it is transported off site.”

They provide wonderful maps. Here’s an extract:

Screen Shot 2019-09-08 at 19.39.40.png
From “Bank Station Capacity Upgrade – fact sheet 2”

It’s somewhat reassuring to know they have such detailed maps, as the area round St Mary Abchurch looks medieval. I walked through there, down “Sherbourne Lane” and back home though the alleyways of the City.

Here’s my map, and some work-in-progress photos.

About two hours, drawn from the steps of 108 Cannon Street.


Barbican Lakeside Terrace from St Giles’

Here is a picture of someone looking across the Barbican Lake. Their mobile phone is telling them that the Barbican Arts Centre, the Lakeside Restaurant, the Art Gallery and the Cinemas are all over there in the sunlight. Such delights! But how do I get there? In between here and there is some murky water, and a big drop down.
What they need to do is to turn their back on where they want to go, walk, go up an obscure staircase that looks private, and then proceed across Gilbert Bridge which is high up to their right and invisible from where they are standing. I would have told them all this, but they obviously worked it all out for themselves before I could put my paintbrush down and descend from the tiled stone monument where I was sitting. Perhaps the mobile phone app is, by now, educated on the Barbican geography.


The tower in the picture is Cromwell Tower, and the glass building is part of the Barbican Conservatory.

“” banner on Mountjoy House

Today there are banners outside some of the flats in Mountjoy House in the Barbican. They are there to draw attention to the proposal by the City of London School for Girls to build an extension, including kitchens, right underneath these flats. I have drawn pictures to illustrate the proposal, and to show why many of us object. See this link: Under Mountjoy House, Barbican

Information about the campaign is here: Objection  to CLSG expansion. If you appreciate the Barbican architecture, please consider signing the petition.

Here is a map:

Map showing the direction of the view in the picture, and the location of the banners.