Susan the urban fox and more hidden London


There’s a lot to see along London’s South Bank at the moment,including Susan the wonderful urban fox! Also this week I got to visit another of London’s hidden gems – the Guildhall Art Gallery which hides a roman amphitheatre in its basement.

In 1951, Britain was trying to recover from the Second World War, London was still full of bomb sites and food rationing was still in place. So what did they do? Set up a huge festival on the South Bank and built a vision of the future which regenerated the South Bank and lifted the mood of London. 60 years on we have a summer of events to celebrate the original festival which is huge fun. The summer theme is played out by having a whole set of beach huts with things to explore inside, a beach for kids to play in and boat on a beach, an albatross which is in fact an RSPB marketing ploy and an Indian beach restaurant thanks to the fine folks at Dishoom (great Indian cafe food). A museum shows films of 1951 with all the visitors having a great day out and as I took my mum, who was actually there in 1951, we watched them in the hope of seeing her in one but sadly no. Models of the site showed the amazing ambition and vision of the time. Somewhat left field is Susan the urban fox sitting above the Hayward Gallery, a giant fox made of straw – fabulous but I have no idea why she is there, tho’ that doesn’t matter at all!

Photos: the bunting from the Festival Hall; the beach huts; the Dishoom beach restaurant:the giant albatross; the boat and the beach; a retro ice cream van; and, last but not least the wonderful Susan!

Where is there an art gallery with a Roman amphitheatre in the basement? The not so well known Guildhall Gallery is a secret gem. Located right to the glorious Guildhall which was built between 1411 and 1440. The gallery itself was burned down in 1941 during a bombing raid but finally returned 1999 and even better news is that it has just decided to let visitors in free which is a great step forward. It houses a range of interesting work including many pictures showing London’s history and a piece by Copley which is one of the largest oil paintings in the country. However the amazing sight in the basement is the remains of a roman amphitheatre where you can see walls, wood and the shape of the ancient building. They have great lighting and have a panel showing the areas it would have covered and a wall display of the walls of the former building. Outside you can see line (just visible in the first photo) which is the outline of the amphitheatre which stood here from AD70. Well worth a visit and the photos hopefully give you an idea of the gallery exterior, the gallery interior, the projection of the amphitheatre, a plan of the site and the remains of walls and wooden structures Looking forward to next week in London with a lunch and a chance to explore the newly refurbished St Pancras building.

Bye for now,


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