Archive for the ‘London’ Category


The Italian themed drawing room is entered directly from the entrance hall.

It is a lovely spacious room and was probably a guests first impression of the house when they arrived.


A beautiful day to be out and about. I travelled a few miles to Lesnes Abbey in south-east London to attend a field studies council teaching day on the identification of Spiders. Now, as regular readers know I do recording for Butterflies, Dragonflies and Bumblebees on my local patch but I have to confess that I know next to nothing about spiders. Unlike the others, they don’t tend to make themselves obvious, quite the opposite in effect so I thought this course, part of the FSC’s Biolinks project was an excellent opportunity to at least start to remedy that.

The morning was taken up by an introductory talk on common spiders and how to recognise them. Species-level identification can be very difficult in the field so it is often about just identifying the family they come from – in some case there are only one species in a family which helps. In the afternoon we spent the time in and around Lesnes Abbey. We started with a wall in the ruins and soon had examples of 5 or 6 species to look at – who would have guessed that so much lived in an old wall. The highlight was a large but very agile example of the Lace web Spiders (Amaurobius ferox) along with a Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus)and the more common lace web spider (Amaurobious similis).

Amaurobious Ferrox

Zebra Spider (left) and House Spider spp (right)

Next, we examined a bush and found another group of species. My favourite was the Cucumber Spider (Araniella cucurbitinia).


Cucumber Spider. Photo by Mary Shattock (

Our final stop was some grassland where we found some Large Jawed Spider (Pachygnatha spp) along with Wolf Spider. My favorite here was the Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).


Cricket Bat Spider. Photo by Christophe Quintan (

This was a very worthwhile and productive day. Thanks to Lawrence and Keiron who led it. I would encourage anyone who wants to improve their invertebrate identification to check out the Biolinks page at

Spider spp seen

Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena accentuata); Crab Spider spp; Running Crab spider spp; Cucumber Spider (Araniella curcurbitinia); Nursery Web Spider spp; Lace web Spider ( Amaurobius similis and Amaurobius Ferrox); Zebra Spider ( Salticus scenicus); Money Spider spp; House Spider spp; Wolf Spider spp; Large Jawed Spider spp; Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).

Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)

There is a house in Brook St in central London that carries two Blue memorial plaques. Both are dedicated to master musicians, although of very different genres and ages.

George Friderick Handel lived at 23 Brook St for over 40 years (1719-1759) and wrote most of his famous compositions here including ‘Messiah’ and ‘Water Music’.

Rock Guitarist and songwriter Jimi Hendrix moved in with his girlfriend Kathy, who lived in a flat in the now converted building, in 1968. By this time he was one of the biggest hits in rock music. He lived here until March the following year when he left to tour the USA. He was only to return for brief spells in the year that followed. He died in a hotel in Notting Hill in September 1970, aged 27.

23 Brook St now houses the Handel House Museum. The rooms in which Hendrix and his girlfriend lived are used by the museum as offices, although they were opened up to the public and used to display a temporary exhibition in 2010 to mark the 40th anniversary of Hendrix death.

A question that is often asked is did Hendrix know about the Handel connection? Reports suggest that he did not until he moved in, but was so intrigued by it that he scoured local record shops in the search for recordings of Handel’s compositions and some even claim that there are elements of Handel’s music in Hendrix’s later compositions.




As you enter from the gardens through the entrance hall you are immediately struck by the beauty of the amazing reception room that lies beyond. With corridors and stairways leading off of it this room acts as a central focal point for the whole house.



This is perhaps my favourite room in the house with its wonderful simplicity and amazing woodwork


This statue stands above the main entrance to the well-known London store Selfridges situated in Oxford Street. It depicts the Queen of Time and was created by Gilbert Bayes. It was unveiled in 1931.

A bright Sunny day and so a good opportunity to do this week’s invertebrate survey. Finally, there seems to be some movement towards spring and in the garden, I recorded 4 species of Bee including Tree Bumblebee which as far as I can remember I have never seen here before. I also found a single Comma butterfly.

Tree Bumblebee (left) and Comma Butterfly

Around the Tarn, it was much the same picture with the same 4 species of Bumblebee including another Tree Bumblebee but no butterflies to add to the count. I did see a Slider, an American species of Terrapin which has been introduced into our waterways by pet owners who no longer want to look after them.

Red Slider and Common Moorhen


Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)                                                                             Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestis)                                                                                   Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)                                                                                           Honey Bee


This sculpture which stands at the entrance to the Museum of London in the Barbican is entitled ‘Union’ It depicts a horse with two huge discs one on either side of it. It is by Christopher Le Brun.

A quote from the artist reads:
“When you talk about horses and riders in my work it is important to me that they are not seen as real…I think of it as an entrance or key to the place that I want to enter. It’s as if ‘the horse’ enables the journey rather than providing the final subject.” (translations welcome as I have no idea what he is  trying to say)


I might not understand the meaning behind the sculpture but it is certainly an impressive figure as you approach the museum.



Eltham Palace is approached from the town centre across a bridge which spans the moat and leads you into the inner garden which runs alongside the northern wing into the area which would have formed the courtyard of the Medieval Palace.


The gardens which incorporate the remains of the medieval palace along with the house are a great place to walk in the summer and are a great place for butterflies and dragonflies. They also give some great views of the House.

At one point in the garden, there is a great vista looking north towards central London.


This ancient Egyptian obelisk which stands on the banks of the River Thames in Central London was a gift to the United Kingdom from the rulers of Egypt to commemorate Lord Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Although it was presented in 1829 it remained in Alexandria until it was finally shipped to the UK in 1877 and erected on the Embankment.

The name is historically inaccurate as the obelisk dates from the reign of Tutmoses III around 1450 BCE and so was already 1350 years old at the time of Queen Cleopatra. It had originally been erected in the city of Heliopolis but had been removed to Alexandria in 12 BCE by the Roman Emporer Augustus.

There is another story commemorated on the monument and that is of the obelisk’s journey from Eygpt to London. There had been much discussion as to how it was to be transported and eventually a special barge was built to hold the obelisk. This was named ‘The Cleopatra’. It was to be towed by a steamboat ‘The Olga’ all the way from Eygpt to the UK. All went well until the boats reached the Bay of Biscay when it appeared the Cleopatra was going to sink. Fearful for the lives of the crew on board the barge, the captain of the Olga launched a boat to take them off. However, the sea was too rough and the boat capsized with the loss of 6 lives. The captain then managed to bring the Olga alongside the Cleopatra and the crew boarded the steamship. He then cut the cable and left the Cleopatra to its fate. 5 days later the Cleopatra was discovered by another ship, still afloat, and towed to the port of Ferrol in Spain. Another steam tug was sent from the UK and the obelisk finally arrived in London in January 1878. The names of the seaman who lost their lives during the journey are recorded on a plaque at the base of the obelisk



The Courtaulds moved into their new house in 1933 and stayed there until  May 1944 when they finally decided to move away from London because of the bombing. The house was leased to the Royal Army Educational Corps as a base from which it ran army schools overseas and administered examinations. The RAEC remained at Eltham until 1992.

RAEC at Eltham in the 1960s

The house passed to the Ministry of Works. A programme of repairs was carried out and it was opened to the public with the focus on the medieval remains on the site. English Heritage acquired responsibility for the Great Hall in 1984 and for the whole site in 1995 and set about a major refurbishment plan for the 20th century part of the property, the first stage of which took 5 years. A further set of rooms were opened to the public in 2013 following refurbishment.

Restoring the house to the 1930s look during the 1995-9 restoration