On Wednesday 15th November 2017, the Society held its 31st AGM with the generous support of Grange Hotel Rochester.  Following the business of the meeting Caroline Shenton spoke on her fascinating new book "Mr Barry's War", sequal to "The Day Parliament Burned Down". 


In October we started our collaboration with our neighbour Chelsea College of Art and Design. As part of their BA Interior and Spacial Design course, 20 students were given an orientation tour, covering the history, culture and architecture of The Thorney Island area. They then visited the Archives in groups with their tutor, Shibboleth Shechter, browsed and found an object that sparked their interest. From this they sketched, measured and photographed, then went away to research, plan and create a new piece of work based on the item.

We could hardly wait to see what they produced and eagerly accepted the invitation to their exhibition in early December. Attended by past and present tutors, including a curator at the V&A, each student presented their own and their group’s work and the tutors gave comment, praise and criticsm. There were a wide range of subjects that were well thought out, then skilfully and beautifully crafted.

Here are some of the exhibits and what inspired them:

From a 1950’s 'Bakelite-type' telephone, the 1953 Coronation Approved Souvenir Programme and souvenir cups, came an installation work; a 1950’s desk unit, complete with original tv footage of the Coronation playing on a fitted screen accompanied by other objects of the day and a study of the social significance of the first such public broadcast.  From an embroidered purse, or wallet, containing a personalised invitation to Queen Victoria’s Coronation complete with seat number, a study of the owner, Lady Gerard and her journey from her home in Mortlake to the Abbey on 28th June 1838 and a 3D pop-up paper collage, displayed with an embroidered fabric book. 



From an C18th drawing of Dr Busby’s (Headmaster at Westminster School 1638-1683) chair, a study and reproduction of the caricatures depicting English grammar on the chair. From a description of Devil’s Acre, a small hand bound illustrated children’s book entitled “The Story of Old Pye Street through the eyes of Tommy”. Tommy was a pickpocket and the work included items that Tommy might have in his own pockets!  A study and architectural drawings of Millbank Penitentiary. 

From an old photograph of once local Pulic Baths, a study of its use and a 3D pop-up cut out collage.

From a shoebox containing objects found on the Thames foreshore and on local building sites, a giant box containing 3 students work. One was a working jug made of mosaic of old glass and ceramic fragments.  From a plaster model of Buckingham Palace, a number of same size reproductions in herculite, wax and clear Perspex, made from a rubber mould and a study of methods of fabrication and value depreciation caused by the mass production of souvenirs.

From a small wooden plaque carved with the words “For My Pet” found in the foundations of 50 Tufton Street, a study into the house, its  inhabitants and possible pets!  Also a model of the interior of the ‘original’ house.  A pop-up book and study of the Abbey and The Chapter House. Copies of a newly created local newspaper full of Thorney Island articles and pictures. These were displayed in a lit case standing on carved legs copying the thorns in our logo.

A study of the Womens Suffrage Movement, their local meeting places and how letters from June Stubbs to an MP to save a building, showed modern womens’ continuing determination to be heard.  Lastly a study of the Army & Navy Stores and comparison between a 1907 copy of their global mail order catalogue and the Argos catalogue and Amazon. 

Apologies to those whose work is not described here due to lack of space, but we would like to thank all the students, Shibboleth, the tutors and Chelsea Local for making this collaboration such a success. We hope to exhibit this work again soon.


Many thanks to Dan & Rebecca for their tour and commentary as we wandered the corridors and courtyards of the Treasury building. 

Work started at 100 Parliament Street in 1899 to John Bryden's design.  Stately, spacious and light with sweeping stairs and statues.  But it was not until 1907 that the land was purchased for the 2nd half of the building, demolishing narrow streets, houses and churches.  Sir Henry Tanner, a Government Architect, incorporated & finished the new building quickly and cheaply by 1917, ditching some of Bryden's original ideas including 580 fireplaces.  So a building of two halves. 

Moving swiftly forward, it received a much needed revamp in the early 2000's, sympathetically given by (Sir Norman) Foster & Partners via a PFI initiative, including the addition of a new mansard roof and opening up inner courtyards with gardens, ponds and benches.  Today it is an exciting, efficient workplace with every desk having natural light and lots of it !  Although much is open plan now, one cannot avoid the corridors, one is even Listed as a 'heritage corridor'. 

Some ordinary meeting rooms, off our first corridor, were used by Sir Winston & Lady Clementine Churchill as their private living and bedrooms during WW2, not wanting to sleep in the Cabinet War Rooms underneath and underground.  See photo below.  The building has 3 levels of basements and there is a constant flow of water through a channel in the sub-basement.  Our river Tyburn perhaps ?  Now up to the 'heritage corridor', past the Chancellor's enormous, carved office door !  Each current chancellor may choose what artwork they would like from the Government's extensive collection (on view near Tottenham Court Road - a Pippa visit a few year's ago !).  Mr Hammond is said to prefer large, classical pictures but some of Gordon Brown's more smaller, modern pieces are still to be seen.  Now into the very grand Old Chancellor's Room (see photo below) and then the Churchill Room where the creation of the NHS and the Independence of the Bank of England, amongst other monumental plans, were worked on and signed.  Glimpsing, through the net curtains, the narrow balcony where Churchill delivered his VE day speech, which at the time was the Ministry of Health's boardroom.  Then out into 'the Drum', the huge round central courtyard, with tremendous echoes, used for filming The Fast & The Furious and for speeches by George Osborne and the Pope !  Not missing a view, through tall iron gates, past the FCO, straight to No.10 Downing Street.  During the war, the Drum had been covered in anti-torpedo netting.  Very successfully, as a torpedo sat on it from 1914 to 1950 when it was eventually removed. 

We didn't meet Gladstone, the Treasury cat, but his reputation was hailed of catching 14 mice since he had been in residence, bought in to cheer everyone up after the referendum in June 2016.  Thank you again to the organisers for their time and enthusiasm.  Congratulations too on the 100th birthday of the building.









Thirty Thorney Island members were delighted to be shown around St Margaret's Church, Westminster, by Blue Badge guide Ian Godfrey. St Margaret's church is full of history and interesting people, the only downside being that it is almost touching Westminster Abbey and is largely ignored by tourists. On the day of our visit on July 11 there were huge queues for the Abbey yet no one but ourselves in the church.

More's the pity because, as Ian pointed out, as the church is a treasure trove of memories. 


William Caxton, the pioneer of printing in Britain, who worked a stone's throw from the church has a dedicated stained glass window,  or rather the remnant of one, and is buried there as is Sir Walter Raleigh who was executed around the corner in Old Palace Yard yet promptly given a prime burial place under the altar. 


Many interesting people are commemorated in the church including Olaudah Equiano, a freed black slave, who became a celebrity in London and a leading light in the anti-slavery campaign.  Members were pleasantly surprised at the number of Americans who had helped finance stained glass windows and other memorials including Cubby Broccoli of James Bond fame and Frank Sinatra. 


The church was built in the perpendicular style and dedicated in 1523 though virtually nothing of the original stone work remains. One of the reasons for its proximity to the Abbey is that the Benedictine monks did not want parishoners interrupting their prayers and other activities inside the monastery as they had traditionally done. 


The oldest part is probably the huge stained glass window commemorating the marriage of Henry VIII's elder brother Arthur to Catherine of Aragon which was added later.  St Margaret's - named after Margaret of Antioch - also has a large crypt which, we were told, is full of dust with a skull or two and, sadly, not open to the public. Our heartfelt thanks to Ian for a very entertaining visit. 




Our events and visits are open to all unless specified and we hope non-members will enjoy our programme and consider joining the Society.

To book events and read further details, 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.


Friday 9th March, 2.30pm

Unveiling of a plaque dedicated to the Society's Co-Founder, June Stubbs, MBE. in St James's Park.   Meet at the Boy statue just inside St James's Park at the Queen Anne's Gate entrance, a short walk from St James's Park Underground.  Refreshments afterwards in the Park's offices in Storeyard.  No booking required.  All welcome.

Thursday 22nd March, 6pm

Grey Coat Hospital School Talk at Westminster City Archives, 10 St Ann's Street, London SW1P 2DE.  Free of charge but booking essential directly with Westminster City Archives on 020 7641 5180 or to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tuesday 17th April, 11am

Tour of Watts & Co, Ecclesiastical Furnishers and Outfitters, 7 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QE.  £15pp.  A tour of the workroom and archives of one of the most remarkable survivals of the Gothic Revival of the C19th.

Tuesday 1st May, 6.30pm

Volunteers Briefing for Duck Island/Thorney Island Society Project, St James's Park Office, Storeyard, Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2BJ  Free of charge.  This exciting new collaboration with the park is calling for volunteers from TTIS to help restore and revitalise Duck Island. If you are interested in helping clear brambles and paths, raking and tidying the meadow area and lake edges, making log and deadwood piles, sorting and documenting artefacts in the barn or helping in the cottage garden, please come along to the briefing where Mike Turner, Assistant Park Manager, will discuss the project and get an idea of people’s availability. Please register your initial interest by emailing the Secretary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post us a note to TTIS, 10 Old Pye Street, SW1P 2DG

Wednesday 9th May, 6.30pm

St James's Park Tree Walk, Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2BJ  £15pp. Greg Packman, Royal Parks Arboriculturist, will take us on a tour of the special and ornamental trees of St James's Park.  He will share his enthusiasm and knowledge of his subject and the park together with a history of its creation and development.  Meet at the war memorial opposite Horse Guards Parade.

Thursday 31st May, 11am

Tour of The Institution of Civil Engineers, 1 Great George Street, SW1P 3AA  £15pp.  Number One, Great George Street is a Grade II listed Georgian building in the heart of the Thorney Island.  It has been home to the Institution of Civil Engineers since 1913.  Following the tour of this grand building there will be an opportunity to view the exhibition 'Invisible Superheroes' to explore projects that have already changed the world and will do so again.  ICE have kindly let us use their cafe for lunch afterwards where hot meals, sandwiches, soups and salads are available to purchase. 

(Glass lantern slide from the ICE Archives illustrating the principle of the cantilever, as used in the design for the Forth Railway Bridge)

Wednesday 6th June, 2pm

Thorney Island Sources Tour at Westminster City Archvies, 10 St Ann's Street, SW1P 2DE  £15pp. Westminster archivist Alison Kenney will show us her specially chosen items in the Search Room, the Conservation Studio and the Strong Rooms.  Alison will also discuss the social history of the area from the 18th to 20th centuries. This definitive tour should not to be missed by any Thorney Island enthusiast.

Saturday 23rd June, 6.30pm (5.30pm Drinks at the Archives) - Members Only

The Purcell Club Musical Tour of Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean's Yard, SW1P 3PA  Tickets via ballot £45pp. Former Abbey choristers will sing and narrate their way around the Abbey and through history. This is a unique opportunity to be in the Abbey at night and this ‘four yearly’ exclusive tour is for Members and one guest only. Our Chair invites you to drinks before in the Archives at 10 Old Pye Street at 5.30pm. Please apply with names, telephone number, number of tickets and a stamped self addressed envelope to the Secretary, TTIS, 10 Old Pye Street, SW1P 2DG or by email giving full details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Please apply by 30th April 2018 and we will notify you soon after whether you have been successful. Payment can then be made by cheque or BACS and tickets will be posted to you 2-3 weeks before the event.

Tuesday 26th June, 6.30pm

The Society's Summer Party, Grange Rochester Hotel, 69 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PA (entrance in Vane Street)  £14pp.  With the generous support of Grange Hotels

Friday 6th July, 2pm

Tour of Westminster School, 18 Dean's Yard, SW1P 3PF  £15pp. Westminster is an ancient boarding and day school, the only long-established school to remain on its original site in the centre of London. Its origins can be traced to a charity school established by the Benedictine monks of Westminster Abbey.  Situated in Little Dean’s Yard the school inhabits a varied collection of buildings, many of which were formerly part of the monastery.  Meet outside the School Offices at 18 Dean's Yard or inside if raining.

Thursday 2nd August, 10.30am

Tour of The Church House, Dean's Yard, SW1P 3PF  £15pp.  A rare look inside this historic building.  The tour will be hosted by the Chief Executive Chris Palmer and will include a history of the site, the first building and its significance and the architecture and use of the current building.  We will be shown the principle rooms placing them in their historical context of Parliament during WW2, the War Crimes Tribunal, the United Nations and Government occupation and national inquiries. 

September (date to be confirmed)

Tour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries (Triforium), Westminster Abbey, SW1P 3PA   Due to open to the public on the 11th June, we will be given a private tour of this exciting much anticipated new exhibition space and museum in the early Autumn. The date will be announced in the Summer.

Tuesday 13th November, 6.30pm

The Society's 32nd AGM & Talk, Grange Rochester Hotel, 69 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PA (entrance in Vane Street) With the generous support of Grange Hotels

Tuesday 11th December, 6.30pm

The Society's Christmas Party, Grange Rochester Hotel, 69 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PA (entrance in Vane Street) £14pp.  With the generous support of Grange Hotels.