London show dissects history of forensic science – Peninsula On


London–Forensic science, which has fascinated generations with its unravelling of gruesome crime mysteries, is being put under the microscope in an exhibition of real criminal investigations in London.

“Forensics: The anatomy of crime” at the Wellcome Collection traces the art of forensic inquiry, spanning 18th-century Japanese artistic studies of decomposition to Victorian murder cases.

One of the hundreds of exhibition pieces on display from February 26 to June 21 is a miniature crime scene of disturbing realism laid out in a dollhouse.

The front door is ajar, a newspaper rests casually on a chair, while on a sofa lies a corpse.

Created in the 1940s by investigative pioneer Frances Glessner Lee, the dollhouse poses the question “what happened, and who is the murderer?”

It was used to teach investigators to use more systematic approaches to gathering evidence, and is still used as an example by forensic investigators.

Such approaches to solving crime became prominent in the 19th and 20th centuries and continue to inspire popular novels and films.

“Ever since the early crime novels of the 19th century, the cultural fascination with death and detection has continued to grow,” said museum curator Lucy Shanahan.

The interest is “encapsulated in the multitude of popular television dramas that have brought the fictional world of violent crime, police procedure and cutting edge forensic techniques into the comfort of our living rooms”.

The trend is nothing new.

The exhibition contains an 1888 scale map of “Mitre Square”, where the still-unidentified London serial killer known as Jack the Ripper murdered one of his victims, Catherine Eddowes.

Drawn by Frederick William Foster, an architect commissioned for the work, the map includes the figure of Eddowes, with multiple stab wounds to her face, throat and stomach.

- ‘Question the dead’ -

Though forensics failed to uncover the identity of the most famous serial killer in history, it did prove decisive 47 years later in another case that gripped Britain.

In 1935, one of the first uses of fingerprinting and X-rays helped identify Buck Ruxton as guilty of the murder of his wife and servant.

Visitors to the exhibition can see a small vial containing maggots taken from the bodies of the victims — something that allowed investigators to calculate the day of their death.

The exhibition includes sections dedicated to the crime scene, the search, the courtroom and the morgue.

A post-mortem examination is a “last opportunity to question the dead”, said Shanahan, standing at a long ceramic dissection table used until 1944 and traced with thin gutters to allow the flow of blood.

More hygienic and easier to clean than previous models, which were made of wood, ceramic tables have now been superceded by stainless steel.

The exhibition also pays tribute to scientists who advanced the discipline.

These include Edmond Locard, who ran an early police laboratory and became known as the Sherlock Holmes of France for his principle “every contact leaves a trace”.

Shanahan said that popular fascination with forensics stems from a need to “make sense of these terrible acts”.

But real people and decades of scientific work lie behind the image, she added.

“In this exhibition our intention is to uncover the real lives and personal narratives at the hearts of forensic medicine.”



History: How the unemployed helped create Hollow Pond

Reporter Natalie Glanvill looks back at the history of man-made beauty spot – Hollow Pond. 

Without the manual labour of the unemployed in Waltham Forest over a century ago, a hugely popular beauty spot would cease to exist.

Set on the border of Leytonstone and Snaresbrook, Hollow Pond is described as a “mini oasis in the heart of London” by a tea hut worker who says its lake and natural grassland continue to attract huge numbers throughout all seasons of the year.

The ponds were formed after gravel was extracted out of the forest land to use for road building, but this ceased in 1878 and what was left was a series of water –filled pits on marshy land.

That was until 1905 when an army of unemployed labourers were specially recruited by Leyton District Council and Epping Forest Committee to expand the lake.

In a newspaper extract titled ‘Epping Forest: Annual Inspection’, it states: “The scheme was so much appreciated that each year the lakes has been extended and added to, and the water and islands now cover about 13 acres.”

What came next was Whipps Cross Bathing Pool, situated to the north of Hollow Ponds in grassland by Whipps Cross Roundabout.

Fed by natural springs, the pool became a popular swimming facility but suffered notoriously from build-ups of mud and silt and in 1932, at the cost of £7,000 it was redeveloped into a state-of-the-art lido considered to be the biggest in Britain at the time, containing over 1,300,000 gallons of water.

The oval shaped pool boasted a twenty foot-high diving board, racing lanes and a paddling area, serving hundreds of swimmers every day from across east London and Essex during the summer months. 

Carrolle Jaimeson, 68, of Calderon Road in Leytonstone has been visiting Hollow Ponds for 45 years and has fond memories of Whipps Cross Lido.

“I taught my children how to swim at the lido. It was a fantastic place to come to get fit, cleanse your skin, sunbath, socialise and be amongst the wildlife.

“It was such a shock when it closed as it was so well used by the community.

“To this day Hollow Pond offers tranquillity and a place to get away from tower blocks and depending on what you fancy, a place to pick up some fluff.”

It proved to be an instant success but continued to be dogged by hygiene problems and concerns over the safety of children accessing the pool through the forest.

It closed temporarily in 1971 and 1972 but then reopened again after a £29,000 refurbishment only to be consigned to the history books when it was eventually filled in and reinstated as Epping Forest land in 1983.   

Hollow Ponds has a reputation as being a destination of choice for gay cruising, but Log Cabin worker of 10 years Kathy Reilly, says otherwise.

 “It is one of the safest places this side of Whipps Cross because of the hospital. I have never seen people having sex here in public and this is open 24 hours.

“It’s peaceful and what I like to call a mini oasis in the middle of London.”  

Blurs frontman and Gorillaz artist Damon Albarn paid homage to his upbringing in Leytonstone by naming a track off his 2014 solo album Everyday Robots ‘Hollow Ponds’.

The council are to spend £30,000 this spring on natural play equipment at the City of London Corporation-owned site.


‘Thy Will Be Done’ Premiere – Mercy Johnson to make Nollywood History in …

ImaxComp copyThat’s right, Mercy Johnson’s latest movie, Thy Will Be Done, directed by Obi Emelonye of Last Flight to Abuja fame, will have its world premiere at the amazing 500-seat BFI IMAX in London on Thursday 26th February. This is the very first time an independent movie has premiered at the prestigious home of cinema in London, let alone a Nollywood movie! This event is truly history in the making and shows how far Nollywood has come on the world stage.

On Thursday 26th February, Mercy Johnson will be in attendance alongside her co-star Mary Njoku and the beautiful and talented actresses will be gracing the red carpet with other stars on London’s South Bank before the show starts.

Produced by Rok Studios and directed by Obi Emelonye, the organisers are promising a fantastic night of celeb-spotting to celebrate the first ever showing of Thy Will Be Done. Nollywood is taking over London. Tickets are selling fast but you can buy yours here for the big night – we suggest Bella Naija fans get in there fast so as not to be disappointed.Avatar 5Thy Will Be Done is the story of Pius (Ramsey Nouah), a happily married pastor in charge of a large church in Lagos, Nigeria. But when his first wife (Mary Njoku) that he buried 7 years ago suddenly shows up, his world is thrown into turmoil. His present wife (Mercy Johnson-Okojie) tries to fight her corner but Pius has a choice to make…between his calling and his wives; between old sins and new loyalties; between taking firm action and surrendering to God’s will. Weakened by guilt and overwhelmed by sensational revelations, nothing would have prepared Pius for how rapidly things would descend into violent chaos…for hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

It’s sure to be the premiere of the year and we will be sharing all the pics after the event. Make sure you get your tickets now!

mercy 2

When: Thursday 26th February 2015

Red Carpet starts at 5.30pm

TWBD Screening starts at 7pm

Where: BFI IMAX, 1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, London SE1 8XR

You Can Get Tickets Now!

@RokStudios | @iROKOtv | #TWBD


Advertorial – Sponsored Content

Lynn Nottage. (Special to QMI Agency)

Lynn Nottage puts faces and stories to the forgotten.

There’s no better example of that than the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright’s Intimate Apparel, now on stage at London’s Grand Theatre — perfect fare to help celebrate Black History Month, which is holding a fundraiser attached to Saturday’s show.

“It used to be that the only time our plays were produced was during Black History Month,” said Nottage.

“I don’t know the theatre scene in Canada, but in the U.S. I think theatre is becoming increasingly inclusive, which is exciting.”

Nottage said Intimate Apparel is “significant” in that it “resurrects forgotten people” and “in many ways, to celebrate their contribution.”

“Esther is extraordinary, yet ordinary,” said Nottage of the main character and seamstress.

“People like her didn’t shift the dial of history in a major way, but made small contributions that really helped define what America would become.”

The play, set in New York City in 1905, tells the story of Esther, a 35-year-old African American seamstress, who creates exquisite lingerie for clients ranging from wealthy patrons to “ladies of the night.”

Esther is saving her money to fulfil her dream of opening a beauty salon, until a letter from a stranger arrives and her life takes an unexpected turn.

With its themes of racism and sexism, Black History Month organizer Carl Cadogan said Intimate Apparel is “perfect” for the celebration.

“It’s good to see they are doing something (at the Grand) that has folks in it who are black and themes that most people can relate to — people struggling to survive, racism and sexism,” said Cadogan.

“It’s just perfect for Black History Month.”

The organizing committee is hosting the post-show reception featuring ethnic foods, a singer and a fashion display from Laurent House of Fashion, sponsored by London Living Real Estate.

Nottage won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 for Ruined, a play about the plight of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

But her best known work is Intimate Apparel, for which she also wrote a companion piece, Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, which is set 100 years later. The acclaimed Off-Broadway 2004 production of Intimate Apparel starred Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis.

In a telephone interview from her New York home, Nottage talked about theatre and its ability to change the world, people’s understanding of history and, perhaps, change perceptions.

“I think theatre can make a difference in our world,” said Nottage.

“There you can have a communal conversation with an audience. Television is a more passive medium where the audience doesn’t get to shape the outcome.

“Theatre, at any given moment, is dynamic and it can shift the interaction between the audience and the actors on stage. It’s a very powerful medium. Because it happens in the moment, it has the ability to absorb what’s happening outside (in the world).”

“That’s why we create theatre, to influence how people see the world, delivering small revelations that help shift perceptions.”

- – -


What: Intimate Apparel, a play by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage, a fundraiser for the Black History Month organizing committee including post-show reception.

Where: The Grand Theatre, 471 Richmond St.

When: Saturday, 8 p.m., play continues until March 7.

Tickets: For the fundraiser, $50 available only through Carl Cadogan by calling 519-670-4875, or by e-mail at For regular seating, prices vary from $29.95 to $79.10, available at the box office, by calling 519-672-8800 or online at


Legends, myths and memories to form basis of original play about history of …

The previously lounging players madly dove under the billiard tables and screamed profanities, only to realize they’d been had when the dynamite stick fizzled and went out.

Anecdotes like this 1960s-era tale could find their way into a script for a one-of-a-kind play about the 150-year history of New London that will be performed on the Mill Pond in July, at the peak of the town’s sesquicentennial celebration and community celebration of Water Days.

Script writers Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord, of PlaceBase Productions, have been gathering stories from residents through one-on-one interviews and community “story swap” workshops.

The fourth and final story swap will be 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the New London Senior Center.

Even people who don’t consider themselves storytellers find they have stories to tell when they come to the workshops and hear comments from participants that trigger memories, Hanson said.

A “memory map” of New London was created at a previous story swap when people were invited to mark up the map with stories and locations that are significant in peoples’ lives.

“We believe everyone has a story and a story connected to place,” Hanson said. “We want to find the sentiments behind the place.”

New London Mayor Bill Gossman said the first story swap that was held in November “produced some good recollections of residents about people and places from New London’s yesteryears.”

On top of the “text book” stories about the start of New London in 1865, the play will include the myths, legends and everyday tidbits of the people living together in a community over 150 years, Hanson said.

She said, for example, when the Swedish and Norwegian Lutheran churches merged the bells from both were hung in the new steeple and intended to ring together.

When it was discovered the bells sounded terrible together a decision was made to ring just one bell, with no disclosure whether it’s the Norwegian bell or the Swedish bell that’s rung.

“We love to look at these little dramas,” Hanson said.

The stories that people have of their hometown can show how people “live together in a small geographic community,” Hanson said, and how “we work together to celebrate our cultural history.”

She said the tidbits of humor, angst and neighborhood interactions may be “sprinkled in the script.”

Hanson and Gaylord will also go to the New London-Spicer High School and Glen Oaks care facility to get stories that span multiple generations to use in the script.

When it’s completed, Hanson said the play will show “what drew people to this place initially, what keeps them here and what will keep them coming back for the next 150 years.”

Theater on the pond

NEW LONDON –– A play depicting the 150-year history of New London will be presented on the Mill Pond during the Water Days celebration.

The drama will unfold July 19 on the banks of the Mill Pond, with the audience able to watch either from the shore or in a canoe in the water.

Local residents will be cast in the original, community-based theater production.

Auditions will be held in May.

Organizers say 50-100 performers, musicians, artists and volunteers are needed to fill the roles.

Auditions will be open to all ages. No previous experience or preparation is necessary.


Sophie the Stegosaurus 3D Scanned for London Natural History Museum Project

Computer model of the Museum Stegosaurus skeletonThe Natural History Museum in London recently purchased one of the most well-preserved skeletons of a Stegosaurus known. It was discovered in 2005 in Wyoming, and using 3D scanning and printing, they plan to reveal the long-held secrets of these ancient beasts.

The skeleton, 18 feet long and 9 1/2 feet tall, was assembled in the Natural History Museum Earth Hall, and it’s a rare beast indeed.

“Stegosaurus fossil finds are rare,” said Professor Paul Barrett, the lead dinosaur researcher at the museum. “Having the world’s most complete example here for research means we can begin to uncover the secrets behind the evolution and behavior of this intriguing dinosaur species.”

And it was the rarity of  ‘Sophie,’ as the Stegosaurus is known, that led the Natural History Museum to commission Propshop to laser-scan the Stegosaurus and create a 3D digital template of the find. The entire skeleton was scanned and specific pieces were 3D printed to preserve the form of the rare fossil in the event it’s ever lost or damaged.

steg-head-cleaning-773x350Dr. Charlotte Brassey says she used a technique called “convex hulling,” and she likens it to stretching a rubber sheet around the skeleton. She then analyzed the volume of the 3D shapes and found they correlated with the body mass of living examples of animals. Once she and Barrett took a set of very detailed measurements of the skeleton with the laser scans, CT scans, and 360° photography, they called in James Enright, the Managing Direct of Propshop for voxeljet UK, who says it was an honor for his firm to be asked to take on the project.

“We were able to use our experience in digitally scanning rare, large or one-off objects to good effect,” Enright says. “The skeleton was scanned using Lidar technology, and the data gathered from the noncontact, handheld, high-res Laser scanner was then digitally manipulated to create a highly accurate computerized model.”


Stegosaurus tail vertebra (A). Photogrammetry software created representation (B). 3D representation (C).

According to Enright, Propshop then used the data to 3D print some of the few missing parts of the skull, the radial plates, and tail bones with one of voxeljet’s larger printers. The parts were fabricated and finished using traditional modeling methods.

Propshop also created digital and real-world models which the museum plans to use to assess the strength and bone density of the skeleton. Museum staff also plan to use the models and data to fit the pieces and discover how they may have moved in the live version of a Stegosaurus.

“We’ve been using this mix of cutting edge technology and highly skilled craftsmanship for some time now, and it’s great to see it finding new applications and reaching new audiences,” Enright says. “The Natural History Museum is thrilled with the scan data, the modeling and the 3D printed touch objects. It’s incredibly forward looking, and I’m certain there will be further scope for future collaboration.”

Barrett was amazed to find such a remarkably complete dinosaur fossil, and he says the project is critical to discovering the many secrets of the Stegosaurus.

“Finding one as complete as this, where the only major parts missing are the left arm and base of the tail, is exceptional and it’s the only Stegosaurus in the world that’s anywhere near this complete,” Barrett said. “So it’s an amazing find and a really nice acquisition for the Museum.”

sophie-brassey-773According to Barrett, the first example of a Stegosaurus was discovered some 130 years ago, but he adds that even now, very little is known about its biology. He says that the fact that this new skeleton is nearly complete, and three-dimensional, means he and his research team can find out details such as how animal’s leg muscles worked or how the skull functioned during biting. He says the latter project involves taking a CT scan of the plate, turning it into a 3D model, and breaking the model down to thousands of ‘blocks’ which will then be compared to values from modern animal bones to extrapolate the overall strength of the skeleton’s bones.

Do you know of any projects like this where 3D scanning and printing are helping scientists understand the past? Let us know in the Sophie the Stegosaurus 3D Scanned forum thread on


Barbarians make London history

The Barbarians will play Samoa in the first rugby union match to be played at London’s Olympic Stadium in August.

The Baa-Baas, celebrating their 125th anniversary year in 2015, will take part in a dummy-run for the World Cup venue, on August 29.

New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa will all play at the Olympic Stadium as the Stratford ground hosts five World Cup matches, including the third-place play-off.

Samoa will complete their World Cup warm-up schedule by facing the Barbarians, who have already lined up high-profile clashes with Ireland, England and Argentina.

“It is a significant honour to take part in the first rugby match at the Olympic Stadium,” said Barbarians president Micky Steele-Bodger.

“The match should be a great spectacle for supporters and we hope to light up the stadium with the Barbarians brand of rugby in our first match against Samoa.”

Samoa will open their World Cup campaign against the USA at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on September 20, before also facing South Africa, Scotland and Japan in Pool B.

“It is a great privilege for the Samoan Rugby Union to play the Barbarians in the run-up to Rugby World Cup 2015,” said Samoa coach Stephen Betham.

“Not only will it be our first-ever match against the Baa-Baas, but at the Olympic Stadium too, it will certainly be a historic moment for us.

“The attacking flair of Barbarians rugby will be a good test for us to measure where we are at in our preparations for Rugby World Cup 2015.

“The game will allow us to test our attack, defensive systems and final combinations, and is the ideal final dress rehearsal for Manu Samoa’s Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign.”

England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said it is vital all the World Cup grounds are rigorously prepared for the tournament.

“We are delighted to add the Barbarians-Samoa match at the Olympic Stadium to our testing programme,” said Jevans.

“As tournament organisers it is important that we stress test all our plans to ensure that we are fully prepared to deliver the tournament and we are pleased to be part of the first-ever rugby match at the Olympic Stadium.”


London Food History: London Particular

London Particular image courtesy of Tina Jui of The Worktop blog

London Particular image courtesy of Tina Jui of The Worktop blog

In this new monthly food history series, we’ll take a look at individual foods that originated in – or are otherwise associated with – London. We’ll discuss their history, share their recipes, and tell you where you can currently enjoy them. Occasionally we’ll talk to chefs and food historians too.

It’s apt to begin a series on London food history with London particular: after all, it was the term used to describe various different foods associated with the capital. Additionally, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, whose chefs are (not entirely accurately) credited with inventing the dish, has recently been in the news as it’s facing closure. And moreover, it’s still chilly enough for you to enjoy a steaming, hearty bowl of this simple, comforting soup.

So what is London particular?

It’s a soup made from yellow or green split peas or dried whole peas, combined with smoked or unsmoked ham, ham hock, gammon or bacon. The traditional London version of the recipe uses only yellow split peas; with vegetables such as onions, carrots and celery added for extra flavour. It should be thick enough to stand a spoon in and eaten as a starter or main meal with fresh, crusty bread.

The name, in particular

According to Jo Swinnerton in ‘The London Companion’  and many other sources, the name, rather unappetisingly, comes from the thick smog caused by air pollution in the 19th century, given a yellowish tinge by gas street lamps — similar in consistency and colour to pea soup.

The natural mists of the Thames estuary combined with the huge amount of smoke from chimneys, coal fires, railways, and cigar and pipe smoke to create a persistent fog that was prevalent from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the original Clean Air Act of 1956. Unimaginably dense and the cause of many a death, it was known variously as pea soup fog, peasouper fog, London fog and London particular. Charles Dickens popularised the term London particular in ‘Bleak House’ – but it had existed for at least a century prior to that. The fog is memorably used in creating spooky atmosphere in the Sherlock Holmes books, Susan Hill’s ‘A Woman In Black’ and many other English literary classics.

The term then twisted around to be playfully adopted by Londoners — most notably the chefs at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand — to name the pea soup it was named after. So then… a fog named after the soup eventually became a soup named after the fog. A few other food and drink items associated with the capital were also named London particular – especially a Madeira wine imported for the London market, also said to be the colour of the London fog.

London particular image taken from Mark Hix's British Regional Food

London particular image taken from Mark Hix’s British Regional Food

Pea soup history and associated dishes

The chefs at Simpson’s were said to want to recreate the look of — or even minimise the effects of — peasouper fogs, but they didn’t actually invent the recipe themselves. Pea soup, according to Lizzie Boyd in ‘British Cookery’, dates back to the medieval period. Not only was it found all over Britain, it was, in various guises, popular all over the world. Peas (Pisum sativum) had been growing here since Anglo-Saxon times and dried ones came in several varieties, such as white, black and grey.

In Britain, pea soup began life as pease pottage, a very thick soup made from dried peas and salted bacon. (The idea of using fresh green peas in cooking – considered a highly fashionable delicacy — was only introduced by the French aristocracy much later). The poor weren’t allowed to grow their own fresh vegetables so they had to rely on cheap staples like dried peas. Not only were these inexpensive but also filling, nutritious and easy to store during the winter months in the days before frozen food.

The pottage evolved into pease porridge in the Middle Ages, commonplace right up to 16th and 17th centuries. Peasants and the poor cooked it in a kettle hung over a fire and continuously reheated it, topping up with more peas and vegetables each day. According to Alan Davidson in ‘The Oxford Companion To Food’, cries of “hot grey peas and a suck of bacon” were heard from street vendors as early as King James I’s 16th century reign.

Confusingly, the terms pease porridge and pease pudding have been used interchangeably throughout history — but the more solid form of pease pudding, as we know it today, was first made in the early 17th century when cotton and linen pudding cloth became available. Initially the dried peas were flavoured simply with sugar, pepper and mint. The rich added white wine and spices to their mix. And according to food historian Colin Spencer, peasants ate it with salt and garlic or raw onion. Eventually breadcrumbs, eggs and butter were incorporated to make the dish lighter.

The famous 18th century nursery rhyme, part of the Mother Goose collection, refers to the dish thus:

“Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.”

The pudding, eaten with salt pork, gradually gave rise to the mushy peas that we now eat with fish and chips and meat pies.

Where to eat London particular

In 19th century, London particular was a street food, sold by the pint from hundreds of stalls and taverns around London. Although we haven’t yet found it on the streets of modern-day London, a small number of restaurants — very few in fact — serve it from time to time.

You can currently enjoy it in Islington’s The Drapers Arms, The First Floor Restaurant in Portobello, and One Canada Square. The Old Dairy in Crouch End has a ‘pea and ham soup’ on its menu that’s not specifically referred to as London particular. You’d think a restaurant that pays homage to the soup by naming itself London Particular would always have it on its menu as a signature dish; but no, they only serve it occasionally.

In the past, we have spotted it on the menus of Rex Whistler at Tate Britain, The Restaurant at St Paul’s Cathedral, Harwood Arms, Butlers Wharf Chop House, The Narrow Limehouse, The Water Poet, The Mercer — and, occasionally, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand. The Fish Chip Shop’s take on London particular — in the form of fritters — has had many restaurant critics swooning with delight. And Morrisons sells an award-winning version of the soup. Last year, Dean Crews, the executive chef at the Charing Cross Hotel, demonstrated a recipe at the Feast of St George in Trafalgar Square organised by the Mayor of London.

And if you want to make your own…

One of the loveliest recipes we’ve found is by Tina Jui, author of The Worktop blog in which she describes the ancient cooking method before giving her modern version (pictured at top of page). Another wonderfully straightforward recipe is described by Karen Burns-Booth in her Lavender and Lovage blog.

Delia, of course, has a reliable recipe; and fans of Downtown Abbey will be delighted by Mrs Patmore’s take in The Unofficial Downtown Abbey Cookbook. When Gordon Ramsay was asked to contribute to the Chelsea Pensioners’ fundraising cookbook ‘A Salute To Cooking’, London particular is the recipe he chose to send in. Mark Hix, too, has a marvellous recipe in British Regional Food; as does Marcus Wareing in The Gilbert Scott Book of British Food.

There’s no shortage of recipes, then — so make the most of these last few days of cold weather by curling up with a bowl of London particular while watching Sherlock. And raise a silver spoon to the historic Simpson’s, which, like the soup itself, may be vanishing in the mists of Dickensian fogs.

Image kindly supplied by Tina Jui of The Worktop


£28million revamp of Alexandra Palace approved but critics say BBC history at risk

The £28million project will see parts of the iconic Grade II-listed building – known as Ally Pally – restored to their former glory.

These include the “hidden” Victorian theatre which will be brought back into use, hosting performances, cinema screenings, live comedy and music.

There will also be a new television museum at the former BBC studios, the birthplace of high-definition television broadcasts in 1936, while the the East Court will be refurbished.

Historic: The theatre at Ally Pally as it looks now


The scheme was unanimously approved by Haringey Council’s planning committee last night.

Haringey Council leader Claire Kober said: “These are brilliant plans for Ally Pally, which pave the way for the next chapter in this beautiful building’s history.

“Alexandra Palace has become a hugely successful venue, but with parts of the building in a state of serious decay, we have to act now to restore and preserve this landmark for generations to come.

“Opening up the spectacular Victorian theatre and transforming the derelict BBC studios will mean more people can enjoy Alexandra Palace and learn about its rich heritage, while we can be confident of a sustainable future for Haringey’s most iconic building.”

However, some conservation campaigners have criticised the project.

Jacob O’Callaghan, leader of the Save Ally Pally group, is angry that the outside walls of the BBC studio are due to be demolished during its conversion into a visitor attraction charting the story of television.

His campaign group insists the studio should be preserved in its original state.

“If you remove those walls it ceases to be a television studio,” he said.

However, the Save Ally Pally group does support “90 per cent” of the project, including the restoration of the 1875 theatre.

Nigel Willmott, chairman of the Friends of the Alexandra Palace Theatre, which has been campaigning for its restoration for 12 years, said: “It’s very exciting to get the consent.

“The fact this may now happen feels like a great achievement, but obviously we’re not quite there yet.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund still needs to officially approve a £16million grant to fund the work, while the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has to give listed building consent.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Alexandra Palace, said: “We are delighted with the planning committee’s decision, which allows us to move forward with the project and is a major step in the transformation of Alexandra Palace to realise its full potential as the ‘People’s Palace’ once again.”

The plans will also see the bricked-up colonnades along the palace’s south terrace opened up to restore them to original designs and improve links to Alexandra Park.


Mayor to auction off slice of London history

Mayor to auction off slice of London history

First published

in News

Last updated

by Pete Grant, Senior reporter

A rare chance to snap up a slice of one of the most iconic views in London history is being offered by Marlow’s mayor in the run-up to Easter.

Suzanne Brown is auctioning a ceramic poppy from the awe-inspiring Tower of London World War One remembrance exhibit last year.

She picked up the memento when she exercised her right to herd sheep across London Bridge after being named a Freeman of the City of London last year.

And the philanthropic mayor will now invite bids for the limited edition artwork – which sold out in weeks – with all proceeds going to charity.

She said: “We could not miss the opportunity of seeing the poppies in the moat around the Tower of London before they were removed after November 11.

“We all found it extremely moving and emotional to think that each one represented a life that is no more.

“I am auctioning one of the poppies for charity, because I know that some people were unable to buy one and really wanted one for their family or to remember someone in the family they had lost.”

After being given the Freedom of the City for her charity work, Mayor Brown was also treated to a private Beefeater tour of the famous Tower reserved for those bestowed with the title.

The sealed bid auction prize includes a presentation box, certificate and a watercolour of the Tower during the exhibit, when nearly 900,000 ceramic flowers surrounded the moat.

Mayor Brown has already revealed she has received a starting bid of £100.

Her nominated charities this year are Marlow Opportunity Playgroup and Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.

Please send your bids to with your contact details before April 1.

The winner will be announced in the Marlow Free Press on Good Friday.