Liz Hand is visiting and we talked about Brits and rain. If you live in London you quite simply don’t let rain change your plans – you just go out there and keep your umbrella angled into the wind. And so yesterday, on a very wet Sunday afternoon, Liz and I were exploring the lanes and passage ways around Playhouse Yard Blackfriars and discovered, by chance, the beautiful Apothecaries Hall was hosting an open house. Here is Liz in the courtyard.
Inside, while my camera misted, I caught an atmospheric pic of liz listening to an explanation of how the foul and smelly Fleet River had a special walkover. It was designed for Henry V111 so he could pass from the Whitefriars side to the impressive, dominant Blackfriars without offending his delicate nose. It was sided with stain-glass. This was the route by which Henry V111 brought Katherine of Aragon to the Domincians for trial. And so the world changed.
The Rhinoceros horn stood for the unatainable Unicorn’s horn in the middle ages when first this company was engaged in herbs and spices and drugs. The rhinoceros makes up the crest in the coat of arms. Here it is on the Master’s Chair.
And a member of the Guild showed me that the rhinoceros was not only depicted on his tie, but also on his cuff link.
Here is a carouche from one of the Company’s River Barges. The Thames was London’s central highway in the old days and the City Livery Companies vied with each other for the beauty of their crafts. Especially important were the processions by barge on the river for the annual Lord Mayor’s Show. The Apothecaries were 58 in precedence. Still are.
The Apothecaries Hall is a special survivor. It was quickly rebuilt after the devastation of the Fire of 1666. 1672 is given as the date of completion and we see panelling and carving from this time.
And a general range of interiors starting with a circular mirror above a small painting of Katherine of Aragon’s Trial at Blackfriars.
As we left this beautiful Apothecaries Hall we thought about the stroke of luck and great daring implicit in its survival. So much of this part of London was flattened by bombs during the Blitz. There was the terrible night on the 29th of December, 1940, when almost everything around St Pauls was damaged. Then there was another devasting onslaught of raids in May 1941, when many of the ancient halls of the Guilds of the City were gutted and that is when an unexploded bomb lodged in the main chimney of the Apothecaries. It was carefully taken out by a bomb disposal team and taken to Hackney Marsh where, in a controlled explosion, it left a huge crator. It would have completely destroyed the hall had it exploded in situ.
Here are a few etchings done this summer. They follow from the Nest Wars theme that I set in here on the 12th of January.
The following framed etchings are variously sized. Scorched earth is 16 by 17 inches. (I always measure the height first, then the width.) And Self Portrait is 19 by 13 inches. The others are all 18 by 13 inches. Each framed etching whatever the size sells from the artist at GBP 125.