London in the summer time
Call me now, use the satellite
– Red Hot Chilli Peppers, ‘Emit Remmus’
Rather than flood this site with a mass of touristy pictures of London, I’ve decided to give this post a theme : Gothic London. London, to me, exemplifies Walpole’s notion of the fusing of ‘ancient’ and ‘modern’. Unlike cities such as Perth and Singapore, where I’ve spent lots of time in, London is a city that has such a rich history, possibly one of the richest in the world. And so it pleases me to present a ‘Gothic Tour’ of London, a host of things to see that might tickle the fancy of a person interested in Gothic stuff.
Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church
St Pancras Church, Euston Road
Nestled in the heart of London, off Euston Road, is the St Pancras Crypt Gallery. An actual art gallery in a church. It is a short walk away from the Kings Cross/St Pancras station along Euston Road, on the way west to Paddington. You go around the side of the building and this is what it looks like from the outside. Exhibitions are held there from time to time. Unfortunately, the gallery was closed when I visited it, due to it being Bank Holiday Weekend. For information about exhibitions, check out the Gallery’s website here.
Cafe in the Crypt, St Martins in the Fields
St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ, United Kingdom
Nestled in the heart of Trafalgar Square, it’s easy to miss the cafe while walking past. It is directly opposite the entrance to the Portrait Gallery. Walking down a spiral staircase, you are transported into a different world…….
Here, you can chill out in the confines of a restored church crypt and have a coffee, cake, and bask in the cafe’s gloomth.
Inscriptions like these adorn the floors. Amazing. For more information, here is the cafe’s website.
The Museum has a host of stuff from medieval stuff to samples of Gothic architecture. Some exhibits I found particularly interesting:
Sample of a Gothic arch. This is EVERYWHERE. Exhibit A – arches in Westminster Abbey:
But I digress. More interesting exhibits in the V and A:
The Ars Moriendi (Sixteenth century) – manual describing how people can have a ‘good death’.
A Memento Mori head. You can’t see much from this picture because this exhibit is made of glass, but it is of a woman with a skull superimposed at the back of her head. To get a better idea, imagine Professor Quirrell/Voldermort’s grotesque double head – that is what this glass skull looks like.
Sculpture of Death (Seventeenth Century). This one is interesting in that Death here wields a bow and arrow, and is dressed in shabby rags rather than the clichéd robe-wearing, scythe image of Death.
21 New Globe Walk, London, Greater London SE1 9DT, United Kingdom
This attraction deserves special mention because of the production that I caught – arguably one of his most ‘Gothic’ plays, Macbeth. The standing tickets were a steal at 5 pounds, and the production was one of the best I have ever seen. I caught an evening show at 7.30 pm, an apt time of day for the experience of the play’s dark subject matter.
My picture is rather blurred, but this is Billy Boyd – who played Pippin in Lord of the Rings! I couldn’t recognise him at first with the excessive facial hair and makeup, but when he recited his lines his identity was unmistakable. His performance brought a slightly comedic turn to Banquo which I had never considered before. One scene that struck me was at the beginning of the play, right after the witches deliver their prophecies and vanish. Banquo and Macbeth then totter off stage, laughing the prophecy off as if it were a joke. It is a constant reminder to me about how live productions can introduce elements of characterisation that go beyond the lines written in a script.
So all in all, quite a bit to see in London by way of Gothic stuff. What one can see and experience is directly proportional to the amount of time one can spend – I’m sure I would have found more things to see if I had more time on my hands!