Vestry House Museum


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Tuesday 27th June – 25th meeting of 2017

Weather had completely change this week. It was raining so although warm, rainmacs and umbrellas we certainly needed. We met at Charing Cross and then took two tubes, Northern line to Warren Street and Victoria line to Walthamstow Central. Using the Northern makes you realise how low the tunnels go on this line and on Victoria line how fast the trains travel!






Outside Walthamstow Central was a very busy area with a bus garage and the station had three exits so we found it hard to find the street, St Mary Street, that we needed for the walk to get to the Museum. Once we found the correct street we went for a coffee in the McDonalds before the short walk to reach the Museum for our booked tour at 12 o’clock.

At the Vestry House Museum we were greeted by our guide. It is not open to public on Tuesday so it was good that one of our ladies had arranged for a tour after seeing it on one of the antique programmes. Opening days Wednesday – Sunday and entry is free.







The Museum is a history museum in Walthamstow and focuses on the heritage of the local area. It was originally built as a workhouse, later became a police station and also private housing and became a museum in 1931.

Our guide was brilliant. He gave us a clear talk on the House and really made it interesting. He showed us some exhibits such as wooden soled shoes and oakum which the people in the workhouse worked and received pay for. It was made into rope or used to waterproof ships. The life was hard but it seems it was not a cruel workhouse.

Once established as a Museum many local people donated items and on display are Victorian parlour complete with wonderful fireplace, a costume gallery which houses two wedding dresses one from early 1800’s which is brown velvet with lots of material and decoration and one from 1940’s which is hugging the figure and was wore three or four times by different brides on their wedding day. There is a police cell with iron door with sliding peep-hole and a very small barred window. This must have been a grim horrible place to be locked up in.






The most amazing item I believe was the famous Bremer car which was the first petrol car in Britain. It has been lovingly restored to its original state and looks magnificent. It took part in the 1965 London to Brighton race but unfortunately now is not in working order.

There was a wonderful display of toys dating back to the time that there were two thriving toy factories in Walthamstow.

We went out into the beautiful volunteer-run garden which is an oasis in which to relax and enjoy the wonderful plants which are grown.

Our tour finished after just over an hour and we all really enjoyed our time. The guide was fabulous and this Museum is an absolute delight! A real gem of a small but very interesting local museum.



Army Museum Chelsea


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Tuesday 20th June -24th meeting of 2017

Today was another really hot sunny summer day and it seems London is having a heat wave and as hot as Spain! We planned today to go to the newly refurbished and re-opened Army Museum which is next to Chelsea Army Hospital, home of the Chelsea Pensioners. We have been before but wanted to see the changes that had been made.






District line to Sloane Square and a walk to Chelsea Embankment was the plan but as we walked along King’s Road in the heat we decided to stop at the Saatchi Gallery for a drink. This was very welcomed by all and we sat outside in the shade and watched the world go by!

When we arrived at the Museum and went inside, we remarked of how different the area was. Now a very bright light area with seating. The new museum has had a radical transformation and now provides a welcoming and interactive place of discovery. I must say that Museums are now so much improved. They are now much more interesting and interactive making it fun for children and everyone really to learn and enjoy!





We went up to the first floor where there is the temporary exhibition area and the exhibition was ‘War Paint Brushes with Conflict’. This was an interesting area with paintings from way back showing war and conflicts from an artist’s point of view. It included maps, sketches and paintings. Although now much is caught in photographs with the modern camera, war artists are still employed to produce paintings.There was great contrasts from the work of 1600’s showing Colonel’s in fancy red uniforms on horse back in the foreground and fighting soldiers in the background, and modern soldiers all in camouflage uniforms sheltering in dry sandy areas.

We then went into one of the new galleries Soldier. This was well laid out and easy to understand. It gave the plight of the soldier from joining, serving and coming home. It covered all times and it was amazing the differences in size of soldiers, equipment issued and used and how training has changed. Many uniforms from all era on display of special interest Lawrence of Arabia and the Queens uniform. There were lots of activities to take part in and one that I enjoyed was to stand in front of a screen as an ordinary soldier and be taught drilling by an on-screen Sargent Major shouting and telling me off! Great fun!





When we finished this section we decided on another drink and bite to eat in the wonderful new cafe. It was still very hot and possibly one of the hottest Tuesday we have had!

This is a really good Museum and well worth a visit. I feel sure we will return to go round the parts that we missed today.

One of our ladies decided to get a bus to Victoria and train home. The rest of us walked to Sloane Square keeping in the shade as much as possible and got our trains home.


Walk from Chiswick to Hammersmith


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Tuesday 13th June – 23rd meeting of 2017

Today we were back to our roots by doing of walk! This is the reason we all met and something we enjoy doing. We were aiming to finish the second part of a walk from the London Walking book that one of our ladies own.

We met at Waterloo and took a main line train to Chiswick. It was a beautifullly hot sunny day. Once at Chiswick station we walked to Chiswick house to have a coffee and chat in the cafe there. It was so lovely we sat outside but in the shade!





We had a little confusion about the right path to start the walk but once we had that sorted we were fine! We wound our way through the lovely streets which have some fabulous well kept houses and it has a lovely feel to the area. We passed the high walled St Mary’s Convent which is now a nursing home. Following the route we found ourselves on the river walk which was gorgeous. Chiswick Mall has some beautiful houses overlooking the river and the gardens are directly on the river with the road separating them from the houses. We looked at the very well kept gardens and on such a lovely summer’s day, I for one, was wishing I could sit and relax in them! As we walked we plotted out the route that the annual Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race takes and there were many rowing boats on the river training. We passed Chiswick Lodge Hospital, Fuller Griffiths Brewery and the house where William Hogarth lived.






It was Open-Studio day so many of the houses that we saw were artists studios and were open to the public to view the work going on. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to go inside but maybe that might be another thing to do another year!

There were many people walking, cycling, dog-walking, running and generally enjoying the river and sun. The many pubs along the route were very busy. This part of London is quite unique and a pleasure to enjoy on such a glorious day.

The walk ended Hammersmith Bridge and we went to the tube to catch trains for our journey back home.

We have now completely yet another walk from the London Walking book which was enjoyable and on such a hot summer day a great success!

National Gallery


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Tuesday 6th June – 22nd meeting of 2017

Unfortunately due to the heavy rain and wind we had to change our plans for today and decided to meet for a coffee at the Crypt at St Martin’s in the Fields and then paid a visit to the National Gallery.

We started out in the Sunley Room where there is an exhibition by Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili entitled ‘Weaving Magic’ showing his present interest in classical mythology and colour of his Trinidadian landscape.The whole room had been painted from floor to ceiling with figures – all similar and in one greyish colour with the tapestry exhibited on one wall. This was very colourful and a huge contrast to the walls and had taken two and half years of collaboration with the Dovecot Tapestry Studios to produce. It had been commissioned by the Clothmakers company. It will go on permanent display at Clothmakers Hall after this exhibition at end of August.

We then walked slowly through the galleries from C14th upwards and admired several paintings including Carrelettos, Gainsboroughs and Stubbs etc. We all had our own favourites!

As always it was extremely busy and we managed easily to spend a few hours enjoying the paintings!



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Tuesday 30th June – 21st meeting of 2017

This week was the half term from school for the children and we usually do not meet but now have this arrangement that anyone who wants to meet up for lunch. As usual we choose Cooling Garden Centre as it has a very nice restaurant, Arthur’s, and it is generally a good convenient place to meet.

Six of us met at 11.30 and after a coffee and chat ordered and enjoyed our lunch. After this we had a walk around the garden centre. There is always lots to look at here and often a few of us purchase an item or two. The flowers, plants, shrubs and trees here are wonderful. Lots of colour and lots of ideas for tubs and baskets.

A pleasant day and weatherwise sunny and warm!