Coppice Park is one of Nottingham’s oldest parks, next door to St Ann’s Allotments. The Coppice was a great wood which was given to the city as a mark of favour by King James I in 1615. The name comes from the practice of “coppicing”, a woodland management technique of repeatedly felling trees and allowing them to regrow in order to create a sustainable supply of timber – in this case for fuel and construction work around Nottingham. It was made a recreation ground in 1904.
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When the Midland Railway commissioned William Barlow to design St Pancras Railway Station they also wanted a spectacular front to the building and the designs of George Gilbert Scott were selected, even though he far exceeded the cost and scope of the original commission. Gilbert Scott, whose other designs included the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and restorations of Worcester Cathedral and Lichfield Cathedral, wanted a building with the presence of an ornate palace in the Gothic Revival Style, and he certainly succeeded.
I travel through St Pancras a lot but don’t often have the chance to take photographs so I made sure to do so on my last trip. A beautiful example of Victorian Gothic architecture it was opened in 1868 by the Midland Railway Company. Designed by William Henry Barlow, after it opened the MRC built the Midland Grand Hotel as part of the station’s facade (I’ll talk about that in the next post).
Highgate Cemetery had been on my list of places to visit for a long time and I finally managed to do so on a surprisingly warm and sunny weekend in January. The cemetery is split into two sites across the road from each other – Highgate Cemetery East will feature in my next post. The West Cemetery is accessed by guided tour only and costs £12 (which includes access to the East Cemetery which is self-guided). You can’t book in advance on a weekend but you must do so during the week – I had no problem getting on to a tour on the Sunday at 11am (tours start at 10.30).
The Royal Academy of Arts is based in Burlington House, a 17th century mansion. Construction began in 1664; the plot of land had been given to Sir John Denham, Charles II’s Surveyor of the Office of Works, as thanks for his loyalty to the King. Renovations to the exterior and interior took place over the years with the third Earl of Burlington in particular inspired by Italian architecture.
The V&A is one of my favourite London museums. When I’m in the area I always pop in, visiting the fashion collection and then wandering up to the top floors. If you hit the right time – late afternoon on a weekday – you can pretty much guarantee to come across maybe only two other people and it feels like you have the whole place to yourself.
The Cock and Hoop is a a Grade II listed pub in the Lace Market area of Nottingham. A house stood on the site in 1832 but from 1833 it was the County Tavern public house which conveniently had rooms set up so patrons could watch the public hangings taking place on the steps of what was then the County Gaol and is now the National Justice Museum. It became the Cock and Hoop in the early 2000s and is now part of the Lace Market Hotel.
I’ve been to the Natural History Museum lots of times before but on this trip I wanted to pay particular attention to the building’s architecture, and of course to see the whale skeleton that replaced Dippy the diplodocus.
A few weeks ago I decided to head to Birmingham and visit the Sea Life Centre. I hadn’t been there for a good ten years or so and it’s still a nice place to visit, but very expensive even when booking online in advance. Not all of the creatures photographed particularly well and the lovely seals the Centre recently fostered from a coastal sea hospital (they have medical conditions that will prevent them ever being returned to the wild) were particularly active and difficult to capture, but you can find a few of my favourites below.
St Mary-at-Hill was one of those churches I decided to pop in and visit while I was wandering around the Billingsgate area of London. The entrance is hidden away down a narrow street, handily marked by the sign below, and is far bigger inside than I’d been expecting.