I wrote a story called 'The Assertiveness Group' which features various 'Secret London' locations. In 2015 I decided to take some time out and visit these special places with my mum. After 'Day Four', which we did in April 2016, we sat in Cafe Nero's and worked out our top ten 'Secret London' locations. The following features my photos and feelings around our top ten.
1. Dennis Sever's House
'The rooms were cluttered, but it was carefully, thoughtfully arranged clutter. The atmosphere was enhanced by smells, musty and aromatic, and noises; bells ringing, old conversations, a death knoll.'
2. Leighton House Museum
'Beautiful, sumptuous and amazing are just three of the adjectives I would use to describe Leighton House. The museum is an exquisitely kept artist's house, full of rich colours, deep reds and vivid blues, polished tiles, Arabian rugs, stained glass and heavy wood.'
3. Two Willow Road
'I live in a post war ex-council house and I could see some elements of 2 Willow Road in my humble abode. It was particularly pleasing to see the tiny kitchen, rather plain living room, early flat pack furniture, built in cupboards, DIY bookshelves and small entrance hall.'
4. Rudolf Steiner House
'When I had finally found the right place, mum and I found ourselves in a near deserted, lovely, curvaceous building going up and down the flowing stone, spiral staircase trying to find the discussion group debating what's wrong with the modern world.'
5. John Soame's House
'As well as his architectural plans and drawings; it is stuffed full of 'things' he collected throughout his life, including sculptures, plaster casts and cork models. My favourite part of the exhibition was the guide's explanation of the Hogarth series of pictures 'The Rake's Progress'.'
6. Alexander and Ainsworth Estate
'It's used a lot in films, as it is so unusual and eye-catching. Mum and I walked all the way through it admiring the symmetrical concrete forms and intricate well-designed shapes; taking photos of the striking angular houses and apartments.'
7. Gordon's Wine Bar
'Past the old framed newspaper front pages that decorated the walls I ordered two glasses of
Madeira wine from the friendly bar staff. Mum had found a nice spot for us to sit, at the back of the curved ceilinged candle lit cellar. It felt a little like we were sitting under the Thames itself.'
8. The Candid Cafe
'The café is on the second floor, up many stairs. I wasn’t disappointed when we reached the top, the café was bohemian and decadent, it had proper red velvet armchairs. There hung a large modern painting of a large breasted nude woman on the far wall. Elsewhere there was an intriguing overflowing bookcase, framed art work and fairy lights.'
9. Geffrye Museum Cafe
'It was very pleasant with elegant surroundings. I had a substantial ploughman's lunch and mum had a very tasty looking vegetarian hash.'
10. Wellcome Cafe
'It was a light filled, busy space and mum and I spent over half an hour enjoying our tea and cake and discussing the plusses and minuses of the Rudolph Steiner and Erno Goldfinger buildings.'
Secret London : an unusual guide by Rachel Howard and Bill Nash. France, Jonglez, 2009.
London A to Z. Kent, Geographers' A-Z map company, 2004.