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