CurioCity – A Review

Popular in the nineteenth century as a means of cheaply distributing popular culture in print was the chapbook. Small in size, thus suitable for pocket or purse, frequently printed on a single folded sheet of paper.

Launched in September 2011 there is,  for London in the twenty-first century, a new superior hybrid of chapbook and map in the form of CurioCity.

Edited by Henry Eliot & Matt Lloyd, CurioCity comprises beautifully executed vignettes of an eclectic mixture of London ephemera, contemporary and historical, also printed on a single sheet, presented duodecimo in a convenient and clever origami package befitting of the sub title London Unfolded.

Delighted to be furnished with Issue B to peruse, it may be useful to note that the card casing was sufficiently sturdy to withstand the chaotic disorder of that unruly item of luggage which doubles as boz’s handbag.

Do not be fooled into thinking that the compact size of this tiny publication is indicative of insubstantial, flimsy content. To the contrary it is packed full of miscellaneous snippets of informative; factual; entertaining; whimsical and occasionally weird insights into little known gems of London minutiae.

Contributions to Issue B include an article on the delightful Seven Stars public house and a list of risqué Tube Station sobriquet from Matt Brown at http://londonist.com/  along with tales of St. James’s Park and London’s oldest street art by Peter Berthoud http://www.peterberthoud.co.uk/  Additionally, such diverse subjects as a Book Barge, secret entry to see trading at the London Metal Exchange and the Crossbones Graveyard in Southwark.

The latter is a pertinent subject as the site is being marketed for redevelopment. Should any reader wish to sign the petition that is part of the campaign to protect Crossbones you can do so here: http://www.crossbones.org.uk/ and for further reading on this and other At Risk heritage sites in London, boz can do no better than recommend the excellent articles to be found at  http://thelondonphile.com/

The inside of Curiocity is given over to a specific theme illustrated in mapping format, which for the current issue is London the Zoo: drawing the reader through a labyrinth of creature related curios to be found for the looking within the metropolis.

London the Zoo

London Unfolded

Also included therein, is a Mythical Beast Safari taking a tour of lesser spotted dragons and gargoyles lurking in the capital. At number thirteen in this entry boz was most entertained to discover old friends Gog and Magog, having just undertaken illustration of said giants in miniature for the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Gog and Magog in Miniature

A regular visitor at the Guildhall and coincidentally avid collector of chapbooks was Samuel Pepys. The greater part of Pepys’s chapbook collection he acquired in the 1680s and had bound into genres. The collection of bound volumes is now kept at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Part map; part book; part curio; should you wish to obtain a copy of this highly entertaining publication it is readily available at these well reputed London stockists: http://www.curiocity.org.uk/stockists/ including one eminent purveyor of maps Established 1827, or can be ordered online at http://www.curiocity.org.uk/

Having enjoyed the second issue, boz will en route to Covent Garden, secure a copy of CurioCity London Unfolded A, as in the event a collection might end up in an illustrious archive, it had better be complete.

Purveyor of Maps

This Year Past

To welcome the arrival of the new impending year a pause to consider a few things of note such as have taken place in the preceding twelve months:

January

At the start of the year a very enjoyable comission for the shop at Strawberry Hill House Trust commenced. To this end some interesting time was spent in research of the history of the house. There will perhaps be more on this in greater detail for another post, however, for the time being the wonderful restoration project that has been undertaken by the Trust can be seen here  www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk 

February

This month saw another interesting museum commission which has taken until now to complete. The  Museum of the Order of St. John is in the heart of Clerkenwell and again will be the subject of another post. In the meantime it is well worth a visit, the charity dates back over nine hundred years. Entry to the museum is free although any donations are of course welcome www.museumstjohn.org.uk

St. John's Gate print

March

Most uneventful in terms of research or any new sketches. It is though, during such quiet months that small steps of progress are to be made to the building site. Some rather lovely salvaged cast iron fireplace inserts were installed in two rooms and tested for efficiency. These inserts are quite wrong in period for the late Victorian terrace having come from an older property but nonetheless fit in rather nicely. Nine months on the associated chimneypieces are still waiting to be fitted but fortunately the fireplaces work quite adequately without ornamentation in the meantime.

Fire in the Building Site

April

Much of this month was taken up exhibiting in Clerkenwell which will be returned to another time. An April excursion a walk through town has already been illustrated in a previous post. This year Easter fell within this month and was a beautifully warm weekend during which boz dined at Butler’s Wharf with some dear friends and a wonderful view. It is likely the photograph being out of focus is due to the good quality of the company and the associated quantity of wine.

Tower Bridge from Butler's Wharf

May

Four further exhibitions in Clerkenwell and in consequence numerous visits to the charming hostelries of the area, also to be saved for another post for another day. So a simple photograph …. also a little out of focus….  of the flower that boz associates with the month of May in a vase in the Three Kings Clerkenwell

Peony

June

A local event Faircharm Fair at Creekside, Deptford entailed a most pleasant walk along Deptford Creek for photographs to illustrate  flyers for the event.

Ha'penny Hatch

Laban

Faircharm Fair Flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July

On Tuesday 26th July boz went on a walk Waterloo by Maplight and most excellent it was too. It would not be correct to describe the route or the details here as you may at some point wish to experience it first hand which is to be highly recommended. The walk is one of several available here londontrails.wordpress.com where you will find Ken Titmuss provides a most interesting take on a guided walk using a series of old maps to transport you through many centuries in history of your chosen area and boz is looking forward to attending another of these in the coming year.

August

A little local walk on a sunny afternoon where an unexpected folly was discovered near to the building site. Set within Oxleas Wood at the top of Shooters Hill is Severndroog Castle. Standing sixty three feet high the tower was built in 1784 under the direction of Lady James of Eltham as a memorial to her husband Sir William James and named to commemorate his most famous exploit in destroying a pirate stronghold on the island fortress Severn Droog on the west coast of Malaba, India in 1755.  The tower is sadly in a state of disrepair and has been closed to the public since 1986. However boz was delighted to find that there is a preservation trust to undertake a restoration project of which more information can be found here: www.severndroogcastle.org.uk

Severndroog Castle

September

More exhibiting in Clerkenwell for London Design Festival. A very enjoyable week at the Craft Central Showcase in St. John’s Square. Linen glass cloths depicting Clerkenwell proved most popular as did a new item which we were barely able to keep with demand for ….. a strange little species of bird made of reclaimed slate salvaged from the rooftops of London

Slate Birds

October

An invitation to attend a meeting for London bloggers. This turned out to be a most enjoyable event both in itself, taking place in a very good hostelry in Pimlico in excellent company, and in the subsequent turn of events to which the acceptance of this invitation has led. The evening was arranged by Pete Berthoud a fully qualified City of Westminster Tour Guide who not only runs unique walking tours but writes most eminently on Discovering London which can be  perused in detail here www.peterberthoud.co.uk boz is and continues to be particularly taken with the series of posts which deal with The Lost which you will find along with a wealth of London gems.

En route through Green Park to Pimlico

November

Thus the aforementioned invitation led to meeting the wonderful group of people who are members of www.londonhistorians.org run by Mike Paterson arranging regular events and a monthly meet up and taking in some rather good public houses en route.  London Historians is open to all and is a most sociable and welcoming organisation and boz is extremely happy to have acquired new friendships along with a shiny beautifully illustrated membership card.

A few London Historians following a Christmas Lights Walk

December

An enchanting highlight upon which to end the year was a Christmas Lights Walk perfectly orchestrated by Joanna Moncrieff also a qualified City of Westminster Walking Tour Guide and member of London Historians. Beginning in Soho across Regent Street and Oxford Street and finishing in Marylebone the walk took in some beautiful displays in unexpected locations along with Jo’s specialities providing interesting histories of London’s eating and drinking establishments. Further details for these esteemed walks are here WestminsterWalking and a lovely account of our walk on the 29th December can be found here at LondonHistorians

A brightly lit end to the year

So our glass of something is now replete onward to 2012 and a Happy New Year to all