Our visits and events are open to all unless specified and we hope non-members will enjoy our programme and consider joining the Society.  To book please go to our Eventbrite page   CLICK HERE.

If you do not wish to book online, please contact us and we will be happy to make your booking (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to 10 Old Pye Street, London SW1P 2DG)  




Tuesday 4th February 2020, 6.30pm        ‘Ignatius Sancho’ - Short talk by Victor Keegan.  MEMBERS ONLY.  TTIS Archives, 10 Old Pye Street, SW1P 2DG - SOLD OUT/WAITING LIST


Victor Keegan, author, London historian and member of The Thorney Island Society’s Executive Committee, will tell the fascinating story of Ignatius Sancho who is buried in Christchurch Gardens. Born on a slave ship, Ignatius Sancho became a noted writer, playwright and composer in 18th century London and one of Thorney Island’s most distinguished residents.


Monday 9th March 2020, 2pm                  Talk and workshop by Master Florist, Jens Jakobsen.  MEMBERS ONLY.  The Blewcoat School, 23 Caxton Street, SW1H 0PY – £20-£25pp  - SOLD OUT/WAITING LIST

Danish-born Jens is world renowned for his unique floral constructions and has more than 20 years of floristry experience in dressing offices, storefronts, luxury hotels and large scale events. After a description of how he works and what inspires him, Jens will guide us through the process of making a small personal arrangement to take away – To be held in the schoolroom of this much loved building. Materials & refreshments included.


Saturday 4th April 2020, 2pm                  Visit to St Stephen’s Church, Rochester Row, SW1P 1LE - £15-20pp


St.Stephen's church, Rochester Row, was built in the mid-19th century to reclaim and improve the Devil's Acre. Member John Turpin, who attends St.Stephen’s, will describe the Baroness Burdett-Coutts connection and later developments to the church. Refreshments included.


Wednesday 6th May 2020, 12.30pm         Westminster/Kingsway College, Vincent Square, SW1P 2PD

Lunch in The Vincent Rooms Restaurant and tour - £20-£25pp


We have pleasure in supporting the students studying on the Professional Chefs Diploma and enjoy a 2 course lunch (wine extra) prepared and served by them in their brasserie restaurant. We will have the opportunity to learn about the college, its courses and see behind the scenes in the kitchens and preparation areas.


Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 3pm                  Visit to RUSI (Royal United Services Institute), 61 Whitehall, SW1A 2ET £15-£20pp

Founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, RUSI has throughout its almost 190 years remained faithful to its heritage and founding principles to generate rational and free-thinking debate on issues of security and defence. Their historic headquarters are steeped in history, being the old Whitehall Palace. Our tour will include the RUSI Library of Military History, a unique collection of historical and cultural importance. Refreshments available.

June 2020, Date to be confirmed                       T@35 Celebrations – Summer Party

A special party is being planned to celebrate the Society’s 35 years. Venue and further details to follow.

Saturday 4th July 2020, 2pm                   ‘Caring for the Poor & Vulnerable on Thorney Island’ - A local walk by Michael Marriott. Meet at Broad Sanctuary, SW1P 3EE - £15-£20pp

Inspired by Lucy Peck’s Newsletter articles on the history of schools in the area, Westminster Guide and member Michael Marriott will lead us through the back streets of Thorney Island, describing the social situation of the past and the establishment of the charity schools, hospitals, almshouses, social housing and children’s homes.                                                                                                                                                                                                      


Tuesday 14th July 2020, 2pm                  The IncrEDIBLE RHS Collections Tour, Lindley Library, 80 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PE - £15-£20pp


Specialising in garden history and botanical art, explore how the Society aimed to support and enrich the commercial growth of food in the UK through defining fruit varieties, funding plant collecting expeditions, collecting horticultural knowledge from both the past and the present, and sharing that knowledge with the nation. Items on display will include volume 1 of William Hooker’s fruit portraits (1815), A New Orchard and Garden by William Lawson (1635), Robert Hogg’s The Fruit Manual (1860), and the seminal Dig for Victory publication The Vegetable Garden Display’d (1941). 


Tuesday 8th September 2020, 10.15am    Tour of Shepherd’s Bindery and Talk on Antiquarian Books by Anthony Davis, 76 Rochester Row, SW1P 1JU - £15 MEMBERS ONLY

Shepherds Sangorski & Sutcliffe dates back to 1901 and is one of the few large bookbinding companies left in England specialising in fine binding, restoration and conservation.  As well as being given rare access to view their workshop, we have pleasure in hearing a talk from Anthony Davis, member, bibliographer and book collector about the pleasures of forty-five years collecting historic and modern fine bindings.  Anthony will bring along a selection of books for us to see including books with Royal ownership connections, bound and used in Westminster from the seventeenth century onwards and some contemporary designer bindings. The talk will be held at the Blue Orchid Rochester Hotel across the road from Shepherds. Refreshments available.


Saturday 19th September 2020, 2pm       T@35 ‘In Celebration of Thorney Island’ - A new local walk by Victor Keegan. Meet at our Archives, 10 Old Pye Street, SW1P 2DG –

Victor Keegan will lead a walk around the wider outposts of Thorney Island to where the subterranean Tyburn river meets the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge. On the way we will see the site of the biggest piano manufacturing company in the world, the place where Oliver Cromwell built a fort to keep out Charles I’s army during the civil war and lots more.


Tuesday 29th September 2020, 12noon   The Guards Museum and Guards Band Recital in Guards Chapel.  MEMBERS ONLY.  Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, SW1E 6HQ - Free of Charge.

The Guards Museum has given access to a wealth of information and artefacts from the long history of the five regiments of the Foot Guards. This curated tour will include items from the English Civil War, through Waterloo and two World Wars to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Followed by a lunchtime concert featuring one or a combination of the Guards Regimental bands in the Chapel at the Wellington Barracks.

Monday 5th October 2020, 7.30pm                      T@35 Celebrations - Cocktails and Canapés at The Cinnamon Club, Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU – Further details to follow.


Tuesday 10th November 2020, 6.30pm     The Society’s 34th AGM and Talk, Blue Orchid Rochester Hotel, Vincent Square (entrance in Vane Street) SW1P 2PA – Free of charge.


Monday 7th December 2020, 6.30pm       T@35 Celebrations - Christmas Party, Carols & Raffle Draw, Blue Orchid Wellington Hotel, (entrance on Vincent Square) SW1P 2PA - £14pp




  • All bookings must be paid for in advance, either via Eventbrite, cheque or BACS
  • Visits & events are non-refundable unless cancelled by TTIS
  • The Society reserves the right to cancel a visit or event due to unforeseen circumstances
  • The Society and its officers cannot be held responsible for death or injury to members or their guests, or loss or damage to property at any time and however caused
  • If you have concerns about the accessibility of the venue, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to TTIS, 10 Old Pye Street, SW1P 2DG
  • In the interests of others, please be punctual and respect the dress code of the places that we visit
  • Children are welcome at Society events but must, for safeguarding reasons, be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult




All Thorney Island visits are full of interest and our specially organised tour of The Palace of Westminster was as challenging as it was fascinating since it coincided with the first day of two weeks of protests by Extinction Rebellion. The streets and bridges around the Palace were occupied by protesters who laid down in the streets, made speeches, chanted and drummed. Loudly.

Our tour began in the grand medieval Westminster Hall and we looked up at the carved angels 'holding up the ceiling' and learned that their faces were modelled on the carpenters' own wives and sweethearts.  So many important historic events had taken place in the Hall including the meeting of Parliament and Simon de Montfort who led the rebels who defeated King Charles I in 1265.

We learned that the Parliamentary Estate has one thousand rooms, and that the architect Charles Barry gave the trade mark of the portcullis to Parliament. Jostling with school groups we visited both the Commons and the Lords chambers, passing through the 'nay' lobby and saw where we can petition our MP in the Central Lobby.  After the Second World War the Commons needed to be rebuilt and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill insisted that not only should the bomb-damaged arch leading into the chamber be retained, but that the design of the chamber should be 'intimate and adversarial'.  We wonder whether he would do the same thing now? The coat of arms designed by the children of the murdered MP Jo Cox, hangs alone on the wooden panelling behind the seat where Jo Cox sat as a back-bencher. A moment when we all reflected.

What would be the same for a Prime Minister was for all MPs - the Division Bell which rings across the parliamentary estate, giving 8 minutes to get to the Commons to vote.  Said to be the time it takes for a PM 'to walk briskly' from Downing Street. Another quirky custom takes place to commemorate the Gunpowder Plot. In 1605 the plot was uncovered under the Princes Chamber and each year before the Opening of Parliament a search is made to make sure there is no repeat of the plot.

We heard so many details about the history of the buildings and finished by seeing the statue to which suffragettes chained themselves in pursuit of the vote and finally the inspiring art installation in recognition of the many organisations who fought for women's rights in the 20th century. The installation lights up with the ebb and flow of the Thames and makes up the symbol of the portcullis. A fitting end way to end an illuminating tour.

Then off across the road to The Jewel Tower, the only other medieval building of the Palace, built between 1365-6, under the direction of William of Sleaford and Henry de Yevele, to house the personal treasure of King Edward III.  We admired the wooden and stone roof and walls of the ground floor room and up the tiny staircase to further rooms above.  With thanks to all those who made these tours possible.


Visit to the Palace of Westminster & Jewel Tour

Members of the Thorney Island Society have been blessed with many splendid visits this year but none was looked forward to more than our trip to the gardens of Buckingham Palace.  We were particularly fortunate to be shown around by Mark Lane, the Head Gardener, who freely shared his encyclopaedic knowledge of gardens assisted by his deputy, Clare.

As the tour began, we learned we were standing on what was once part of the four acres of mulberry garden that James I had planted in the early 1600s as part of his plan to create a new silk industry in Britain. Sadly, he chose the wrong sort of mulberry not eaten by silkworms and what could have been a major new industry bit the dust. 

But the gardens still have a strong connection with this wonderful tree as the National Mulberry Collection is housed here in the gardens with 40 different taxa. None of them are direct survivors of James I’s efforts except one has been grown from a cutting of the famous heritage mulberry at Charlton House which is believed to have been planted at the behest of James I. 

Mr Lane then walked us by the 156 metre long herbaceous border bristling with colourful plants and shrubs punctuated by an occasional banana plant and leading to 100 plane trees. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert planted two of these trees, though no-one knows which was which.

Among other highlights were an avenue of Indian chestnut trees which flower a month later than the Horse Chestnut and a lovingly tendered rose garden beyond a subtly camouflaged camomile lawn. There is a fine sundial nearby which was moved after a television programme in which David Attenborough pointed out to The Queen that its position then was too much in the shade.

The gardens used to have a hundred elms which were all lost when Dutch elm disease destroyed them - but a new disease-free variety is now being planted. 

Past the lovely lake with two islands much loved by dragonflies, damselflies and insects.  Pollen producing flowers are encouraged to thrive in the garden to provide a source of nectar for bees living in the garden’s hives. Almost 200 jars of honey have already been produced this year.   There is also a tennis court where Fred Perry played against the Duke of York, later George VI (who also played in the doubles at Wimbledon).

We had a very pleasant tea afterwards on the long terrace of the Palace itself which is open for visitors during the Summer Opening of the Palace.

Our deepest thanks to Her Majesty The Queen for granting permission, and to Mr Lane and his team for organising such a delightful afternoon.


Tour of Buckingham Palace Gardens - August 2019

Anthony Davis, a Westminster guide and fellow of the Society of Antiquaries treated fellow TI members to a fascinating walk around the western hinterland of Thorney Island, when the threatened torrential rain mercifully held off. 

Starting from St James’s Park station we soon learned about the complicated history of a house at the end of Queen Anne’s Gate which was owned by Jeremy Bentham and housed the family of John Stuart Mill. It looks out onto the back of what was John Milton‘s house and garden, the entrance to which was in Petty France.

After an interesting description of the wonderful houses in Queen Anne’s Gate we walked down to 55 Broadway where he spent some time extolling the magnificence of this very special building with sculptures by Epstein and Henry Moore embedded into the stonework.

Among other highlights were details of the history of Caxton Hall and the sculptural heads on a frieze above the door which hardly any of us had noticed before.  These included one of Shakespeare which served as a fitting introduction to the stunning courtyard garden at the back of the St James's Court Hotel which includes a wonderful - and very long - frieze in terracotta of key scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. It is presumed that it must have been made at the fabled Royal Doulton works in Lambeth but the company has no record of it. 

We ended our walk in Cardinal Place, once the site of the original Watneys Stag Brewery until the early 60's.

It is not easy to tell Thorney Island members about their own territory but Anthony succeeded again and again, giving us lots of new information. Our sincere thanks to him for a very successful walk.


From Beer to the Bard - A Victoria Walk by Anthony Davis - July 2019



The highlight of our visit to Westminster Abbey was access to the Jerusalem Chamber which is part of the Dean’s private quarters and rarely open to anyone. This actual room, still much as it was, where Henry lV died and which Shakespeare conjured up in Henry lV Part ll. 

After falling ill whilst praying at the shrine of Edward the Confessor in the Abbey, Henry was taken unconscious to lie by the fire. He was en-route for Jerusalem where he was going to atone for his sins.  When he recovered consciousness, he asked where he was and being told "The Jerusalem Chamber", he realised that he was about to end his life according to a prophecy in the Holinshed Chronicles that he would die in Jerusalem.

Shakespeare says:

"It hath been prophesied to me many years,
I should not die but in Jerusalem,
Which vainly I suppos’d the Holy Land.
But bear me to that chamber, there I’ll lie,
In that Jerusalem shall Harry die."

The Jerusalem Chamber was also where the committee met regularly, who overlooked the creation of the beautifully written King James Bible - one of the most influential books ever written and where many celebrated people such as Isaac Newton were laid out before being buried in the Abbey.  

Our excellent guides, Patricia Braithwaite and Avril Gardener weaved us through throngs of visitors, highlighting the story behind the grave of the Unknown Soldier and the spaces reserved for scientific and literary figures irrespective of whether they were religious or not - including a recent arrival, Stephen Hawking.  Other new additions were the David Hockney stained glass window which includes a hawthorn bush in flower.  This is a resonant historical reference as hawthorn bushes almost certainly formed the brambles which gave Thorney Island its name.  At the end of the tour, some members enjoyed the fantasic views from the Triforium and fine exhibits in the Galleries.  Our huge thanks to the Dean and all those who made this tour so special.

Special Tour of Westminster Abbey - July 2019