Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Glimpse Into London's Past

Like most visitors to London I always seemed to confine myself to the major museums and attractions on each visit however, on this last trip I decided I should visit some museums I had never been to before.  The Museum of London is one of those places.

The Museum of London documents the history of London from prehistoric times to present day.  It's located in the City of London, very close to the London Wall, that relic of Roman occupation dating back to the second century.  The museum itself is very 20th Century in design.  It was opened in 1976 as part of the Barbican Center, a cultural complex that many Londoner's love to hate.  The museum's pathways direct the visitor from prehistoric times to modern day.

Just outside the entrance to the museum stands a large sculpture by Christopher Le Brun called "Union, a Horse with Two Discs".

There are many Roman era artifacts on display showing just how influential and developed the Romans were when they settled in this area.

In one dimly lit room, there is an elaborate display of a Georgian Pleasure Garden.  It was full of mannequins dressed in colorful costumes depicting the people and entertainment that might be found in such gardens.

The Pleasure Gardens were magical places where city dwellers could escape from the dirt and grime and unpleasant smells of the city to a place where refreshments could be enjoyed while being entertained by exotic street performers.  It was a little escape from every day life.

A little further on I caught sight of a collection of jewelry worn by the peerage and aristocracy.  The Orders of Chivalry "jewels" were worn as a sure sign of status and recognition.

A few weeks ago I posted about Selfridges department store and it's colorful history.  The Museum of London is home to a beautiful art deco "lift" that was installed in the store in 1928 just in time for the store's 20th anniversary celebration.  Young women wearing distinctive uniforms were employed to operate the lifts taking shoppers from floor to floor.

The Lord Mayor's ceremonial coach was on display in one room.  This coach is used annually at the Lord Mayor's Show.  I got to see that show back in 2013 on a previous visit to London and indeed, this coach with the Lord Mayor in it was the center piece of the parade.

Because the coach is used today it is deemed the oldest ceremonial vehicle in regular use in the world.

Another room in the museum housed a display that was closer to the present day.  It was display of the 2012 Olympic cauldron designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

Every single copper cauldron piece is different.  Each was shaped by hand and some took days to make.

The display showed it standing tall and.....

.....fully opened.  The design of the cauldron is described as one of the best kept secrets of the opening ceremony.  Along with the cauldron, there were several video's playing so I could see it as it looked in it's glory days.

I found these dapper gentlemen wandering around the museum gift shop.  They are members of the Pearly Kings and Queens, an organization dating back to 1875.  It is a charitable organization of working class culture in London.

Don't these gentlemen look magical in their pearl button laden suits?

As I was leaving the museum I saw this rather interesting sculpted plaque located in a sort of garden courtyard.  I couldn't quite figure out what it was supposed to be depicting so I had to do a little research about it.
I learned that it supposedly commemorates the Bull and Mouth Inn which was demolished in 1830 to make way for the Queen's Hotel which in turn was demolished in 1888.  The face eating the bull is said to represent Milo of Croton, a Greek wrestler who rumor says carried a bull on his shoulders.

That is one piece of historic art that has a meaning which remains deeply buried in the folds of time.


Lowell said...

What a post. Incredible photos of this amazing place and great commentary. I feel like I've been there. Thank you for sharing this experience. It is definitely a place I'd want to visit if I ever get to London so long as I don't have to wear one of those garish suits! :)

Thérèse said...

Wow! You found such treasures in this museum and so diverse. I definitively like these two dapper gentlemen.

William Kendall said...

I would enjoy visiting this one!

Lois said...

A very interesting place Sharon. I really like seeing the jewelry and that coach is gorgeous!