The possession of a bleep in London. Bishops Brothels.

For the last ten years of my working life I was either based in Marylebone or the City of London. On-site, On-call was a requirement of my job. Sometimes depending on the rota I was lucky enough to be on- call with people who would be travelling in from home. That gave me some freedom when there was no actual work to do. Depending on the type of on- call I could be out walking, with the bleep, and as long as I was either 15 or 30 minutes from work everything was hunky dory. In normal hospitals this time would be spent studying, reading, or watching TV but in the centre of two historic locations walking the urban environment was a bigger pull for me. Bankside and Tate Modern was well within the half hour walking time from the City. Bankside became a favourite late night walk. It felt very safe. Historically this was not always the case.

Bankside was as well known as Amsterdam for its red-light district in the 16th and 17th centuries. The area had been historically linked to the sex trade since the development of the Roman city. Slaves of both genders provided a full menu of erotic services to military men and sailors. The area was effectively legalised in the 12th century. The Bishop of Winchester was granted the responsibility for the area.

The Bishops of Winchester made themselves the surprising benefactors of immoral earnings. They granted licences to operate for the brothels and taxed the money earned. They lived well on this income.

Prostitutes here were known as Winchester Geese. Clients travelled to Bankside by boat or horse, a dangerous journey, not only urologically but also because the area was a general dumping area for criminals and chancers who were not welcome in the city. They would happily rob or murder a man whose mind was not fully on his own safety.

Despite the luxurious life that the Bishops court maintained, thanks to the business, the prostitutes were not welcome in consecrated ground when they inevitably died. Winchester Geese were buried, or dumped on unconsecrated ground not so far from their workplace.

During early works in the 1990’s for Crossrail or the Elizabeth Line as it has become known, a graveyard was discovered just off Redcross Way. Crossbones as it is known holds 15,000 skeletons , predominantly women , one third are foetuses or infants and some older children.
http://crossbones.org.uk/

The industrial wasteland at Redcross Way has become the focus of remembrance for the outcast dead. Vigils, performances and other acts of observance are regularly created here. The gates of the site are a shrine that has become a place of pilgrimage.It is likely that a permanent Garden of Remembrance will be created here. The property is owned by Transport for London . The first recorded mention was in 1598 and the last body interred in 1853.

Brixton East.

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Brixton East is a former furniture warehouse in Brixton. It was my favourite venue for art exhibitions. Sadly it is closed now but I’ve got some lovely photographs from previous exhibitions.

Brixton East was a beautifully designed multi use space. The owner had a flat cleverly located to the rear at first floor level.

It was a very trendy place , used for weddings, photoshoots and product launches, after parties for musicians playing at the nearby Brixton Academy.

It was a great location and venue, I loved it for the textures of the building.

In part the beauty of the building brought people in to exhibitions. Stewarding at this venue was always stimulating , the most intriguing people popped in to see the art and have a natter.

While fact checking for this blog I’ve discovered that it has reopened under a new name.

https://www.100barringtonroad.com/

Hugo learning to be an art critic.

The River Effra, digressions and a memorial bench.

The River Effra plays a big part in my London life. Rising out of the ground near my home in Crystal Palace it has been constrained by engineers and now runs underground nearly all the way to Vauxhall Bridge where it emerges from a culvert to join the Thames.

Effra emerges and looks like a small lake in Belair Park, Dulwich, where Hugo and Lola love to walk. Then she sinks back underground.

I always think of Effra as a woman because Effra is a character name in Ben Arronovitchs series of books The Rivers of London.
Effra, the character, is the daughter of Mama Thames she has a BA in History of Art and is said to be very involved in UK Grime.

Just a little digression there.
Effra gives her name to.all kinds of things .

Effra Parade in Brixton

Effra Parade bus stop on the number 3 bus route.

More digression.

One of the most interesting bus routes in London. During a conversation this weekend someone said I loved riding buses because I’m a socialist. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I love riding buses because the front seat at the top of a London bus is a joyous calabash of cultures, particularly suited to a nosey person. The front seat on a number 3 is sublime.

Effra Social.A bar and casual dining location with iconic status in Brixton. Previously the Conservative Club.

Effra Farm in the 1790’s roughly where Effra Road is.
The point, however of this blog is the lake in Belair Park where Effra takes in some daylight between underground journeys.
Belair Park has less memorial benches than many London parks but there is one in a very picturesque spot.As usual with memorial benches I’ve used what3words to locate it.Whoever Guy Robinson was his friends and family have chosen a lovely spot to position his bench.It is very close to a picture I took to manipulate into some lacy pictures.The last image is my favourite, it sums up the mystery of an underground river.

Tobacco Tin

This little tin has been in every home I’ve lived. I know it and its content very well and yet I know nothing about the original owner.

This was all my mum had kept of her first fiance.

He was killed in a motor bike accident in the early 1950’s.

She would never talk about him but the nature of his death caused both my parents to be certain that they didn’t want either their only child or their grandchildren to ride motorbikes.

His name was David and he may have lived in or around Braintree in Essex England, but equally he could have been stationed at any East Anglian Air field and be from anywhere.

His surname may have been De’Ath but that could also be wrong.

These are the artifacts from the tin.

Its a sad little collection, on the whole as a family we’ve avoided motorbikes.

Libraries

Plymouth blue sky today, no filters.

Plymouth library, museum and art gallery all closed some time ago.

The site is being redeveloped to become The Box, a museum, gallery and cultural space . I’ve really missed being able to use the old facilities and have volunteered at the building site doing Hard Hat Tours as a way of being involved.
https://plymhearts.org/thebox/

Until today I hadn’t used the library in its new location. Primarily because I loved the old building and the new one, to be honest, is not charismatic. Plymouth deserves something glorious like Birmingham. In our dreams…

Libraries are not just about buildings and books.

theoldmortuary needed to find out the location of a deceased relations childhood address. We had tried all sorts of searches on-line line with no success. The library was our next choice and we arrived today with only scant information. The staff at the library were brilliant trying all sorts of searches. Eventually a pre war register of Plymouth inhabitants gave us the breakthrough we needed. Another member of staff delved into Cencus archives to double check the findings. After that we took a drive and found a cottage hidden from view up an alley and some steps. We would never have located it without the diligence of the library staff.
https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/libraries

Libraries are about friendly, knowledgable staff. Plymouth Central Library was very good to us.

Thankyou

Snowdrops

My first snowdrop of 2020. Known as the February Flower expected to appear at Candlemas on February 2nd. Always earlier in Southwest England. Stories stick to this little bulb which is the first to bloom in Cornwall as a sign of approaching Spring.

In the Creation story, it was gifted to Adam and Eve by an empathetic angel after they were cast out of Paradise following the apple incident. Gifted to give them hope of a future beyond banishment after their great transgression.

Neil Gaiman also gave the Snowdrop a positive spin in his novel Stardust giving it magical qualities.Character Tristan carries a small glass snowdrop to protect him from witches bad spells.

Not all myths and stories that are woven around the Snowdrop are positive . The Victorians blamed Snowdrops being brought indoors for causing the death of family members but the Victorians blamed lots of things for the death of family members. It can be known as the Death Flower.

One intriguing coincidence is that the snowdrop is believed to be the herb Moly mentioned in Homers Odyssey. Moly was given by the God Mercury to Ulysses to protect him from forgetfulness caused by poison. In the same poem it was also used to cure group amnesia . In the twentieth century it was discovered that the bulbs of snowdrops contain Galanthamine, an alkyloid used to manage Altzeimers Disease.

Fogblog

These lacy images were created by a tree skeleton in the fog, Fog in the Tamar Valley is clean and bright, it turns the world monotone. The light has no bounce, my favourite muddy squiggle lacks its usual twinkle and inviting silkiness.

Driving higher just makes things worse, the world is a bright white blanket of denser fog. Later in the day the bridges of Saltash are taking people to an unseeable destination.

Beyond these bridges lies the rest of the world or “Up the line”or ” Up Country” as it is known locally.
One more skeleton tree image, for now. This strange environment is perfect for them. I’m uncertain what else it is perfect for.

Mandalaesque Skeleton Tree ©theoldmortuary