Objection to proposed cycle stands in Queen Anne's Gate
We have written a formal objection to the siting of cycle stands in front of some of the best preserved and attractive early eighteenth centry houses in London.
Please see our letter in full on our Planning page. FM Conway Ltd is the service provider carrying out the consultation on behalf of Westminster City Council.
Thorney Tales (6) - St Margaret's Church, the amazing history of a window
Courtesy of The British Museum
The beautiful stained glass window which dominates the east side of St Margaret's Church can best be described as ill-timed. It was created in Holland around 1526 to celebrate the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon. But by the time it had been finished Henry had become besotted with Anne Boleyn. Henry is depicted in saintly contemplation in the panel at the bottom left of the window while on the right hand side of the window Catherine, against an almost identical background, is also deep in prayer. Both appear to be looking at the Crucifixion which occupies the whole of the central panel of the window.
Annual Review 2014-15
Our AGM was held on Wednesday 18th November 2015 at the Grange Rochester Hotel.
After the official business of the meeting, Dr Caroline Shenton,
an archivist, historian and writer, gave a fascinating and
humerous talk about her book The Day Parliament Burned Down.
Please go to the About Us page to view the Minutes of our AGM and our Annual and Financial Reports.
A visit to the hidden archives of Westminster Abbey, 4th November 2015
The Thorney Island Society came into being as a result of saving London's first public library in Great Smith Street in 1985. So it was with a double reverence that we made our much anticipated visit to a far older library only a few hundred yards away in Westminster Abbey. Our objective was the Muniments Room where ancient documents, particularly about Abbey transactions, are stored. But to get to it you have to go through a library that Time has told to stand still. Matthew Payne, Keeper of the Muniments, had us enthralled as he explained the history all around us dominated by the overpowering hammerbeam oak roof dating back to 1450. Only three books survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1540s - probably because they were about coronations and not associated with the old religion - but the library has since acquired a book of 1477 and has a fragment of the History of Troy printed by William Caxton (c 1422 - 1491) at his press mere yards away from where we were standing.
A wooden spiral staircase took us up to the Muniments room itself where we enjoyed a spectacular view of the inside of the Abbey - at least when we could take our eyes off the ancient memories around us including a long oak chest dating back to 1159, million believed to be the oldest in the country. Among other treasures shown to us were the beautiful prayer book of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry V11, who died in 1509 and what seemed to be a document of Offa - yes, he of Offa's Dyke - dating back to 693 though it turned out to be a 12th century reproduction. However, the Abbey does have an authentic document that can be traced back to 959, which is long enough ago for most of us.
With that we bid our farewells to a remarkable part of the Abbey beyond the reach of most visitors. Our thanks to Matthew Payne for showing us around and to Pippa Parsons for organising the trip.
Thorney Tales (5) - Westminster Hall Roof
Visit to new Parliamentary Education Centre, 28th October 2015
Discovering Parliament through virtual reality
Construction of the new Education Centre for Parliament has proved controversial for some Thorney Island members. This was partly because it encroached on rare green space in Victoria Tower Gardens and partly because it was difficult to believe that a new building costing £7 million was going to be "temporary" for just 10 years as claimed.
At the end of October we visited it and were very impressed with the facilities provided to enlighten school children of primary and secondary age about the history of our parliamentary democracy. A series of rooms mimicing the look of the House of Commons and Lords utilise augmented reality techniques to explain over a thousand years of history at rapid speed to 100,000 of today's techno savvy kids every year.
Thorney Tales (4) - The tomb behind one of Britain's biggest fortunes
St Margaret's churchyard is not short of famous dead bodies, being the resting place of
William Caxton, Sir Walter Raleigh, Wenceslaus Hollar, the brilliant engraver of London,
and the largest number of regicides you'll find anywhere. But there is only one tomb
Close to the road between St Margaret's church and Parliament Square, it is regularly ignored by passers by but is the source of one of the wealthiest families the country has ever known.
Visit to the RHS Lindley Library, 14th July 2015
Queen's Walk Cycle Route, The Green Park
We were asked by the Royal Parks to comment on a proposal by Transport for London (TfL), as part of the Quietways Programme of the Central London Cycle Grid, to create a cycle path between Lancaster House and Picadilly. One of the possible routes would be on the much-used Queen’s Walk, along the eastern boundary of The Green Park. They also asked us to comment on their proposal to alter the ‘alignment of the paths in the south east corner of The Green Park, between the Canada Memorial and Queen’s Walk, in order to address the problem of informal desire lines / paths that are created by pedestrians using this area of the Park’.