Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Pubs and parks.
For us Freedom Pass psychogeographers, in our seemingly aimless wandering of the streets of London Town, there is just no escaping the Victorian legacy all around us. The strident self-confidence, a level of inequality that makes our own fractured society seem positively utopian, the huge wealth of Empire; the evidence is all there in front of us in the bricks and mortar that even a combined blitz of Nazi bombs and speculative office building have not been able to wipe out. Much of what our ancestors left behind, such as the horrendous Albert Memorial, is mawkish and grotesque but when it came to designing pubs and parks, two of my favourite places, the Victorians knew a thing or two I reckon.
Yesterday I visited two of my favourites. Much as I am a fan the clean lines of modernist architecture and design, when it comes to watering holes give me the Victorians every time. The Princess Louise in High Holborn is probably the best remaining example of a Victorian boozer that you are likely to find. Acres of gilt mirrors, etched glass, wonderful tiles, wood panelling and ornate plasterwork - why, even the urinal is a gem! Enjoy your refreshment and ponder the fact that back in neolithic times that old commie Ewan MacColl ran a folk club upstairs.
Take a short walk south from the Princess Louise. Make your way through Covent Garden, by all means stopping off for a quick one in the Lamb And Flag, cross The Strand and enter the second Victorian gem - The Victoria Embankment Gardens. This is a only a tiny park but to my mind is a real classic. So get yourself a coffee, find a vacant bench and relax. There! Not been a bad afternoon has it?