After our visit to the National Portrait Gallery, Diane and I once more decided to wander aimlessly through our favourite City. We soon came across Godwin’s Court, above, located off of St. Martin’s Lane. Built around 1630, it was originally called Fisher’s Alley and lately, it stood in as Knockturn Alley in the Harry Potter films. Coincidentally, Cecil Court, where Diane and I visited Mark Sullivan Antiques earlier in the day, stood in for Daigon Alley in the films, as well.
But Godwin’s Court is not a film set, it exists as you see it above day in and day out, which is what I love about London. There are pockets of centuries old history to be found almost around every corner, if one knows where to look. See the sign below.
Above is Seven Dials, once one of the worst areas of London and a true rookery and one that Dickens was familiar with. Seven streets intersect here, warehouses abounded and many of the taverns had interconnecting basements through which thieves and ne’er do wells could escape the clutches of the law, such as it was in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Above and below, further peeks into the City’s 18th century past.
After a while, we found ourselves in Charing Cross Road and in the same block as the few remaining antiquarian and second hand bookshops that survive here. When writing blog posts, I often forget that people I do not know, people who are younger than myself and people who haven’t been to London may be reading my posts. I assume that others know as much about the things I write about as I do, and so I often forget to include bits of history or back stories to the places I feature. I do not want to do that here. This I must tell you – if you haven’t read a book called 84 Charing Cross Road, you must rectify that immediately. Set just after WWII, the book covers the relationship in letters between a bookseller in London and a customer in New York who places requests for books via mail. There is also a movie of the same title starring Anthony Hopkins and Ann Bancroft which you are perfectly free to watch, but I urge you to read the book first and see the film afterwards, rather than watching it instead of reading the book.
After a good browse, during which I found but a single title and that for my mate Ian Fletcher, rather than for myself, we continued our stroll.
The entrance to The Ivy restaurant above and the stage door of the St. Martins Theatre, below.
Neither of us having seen The Mousetrap before, Diane and I decided to take in a performance and it was a hoot – a murder mystery set in an isolated English country house sometime in the 1940’s, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap is the longest running play in history. Afterwards, we returned to our hotel for dinner and indulged in ribeye steaks, chips and pinot noir.
The perfect end to a truly perfect day.
Day Three Coming Soon!