The London Grill: Fiona Rule

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

Fiona Rule

[F]iona Rule is a writer and historical researcher with a passion for the history of London. She regularly contributes to TV and radio programmes and has written three books: The Worst Street In London, London’s Docklands and London’s Labyrinth – The World Beneath the City’s Streets.

What’s your secret London tip?

To hear top class choral music in a beautiful setting – completely free of charge – go to Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s held at 5pm on most days.

London's LabyrinthWhat’s your secret London place?

The Garden of St John’s Lodge in Regents Park. Down a narrow path (I won’t say exactly where) lies one of the most stunning gardens in London. I found it completely by accident and initially thought I’d strayed into someone’s private garden!

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

There are way too many vehicles on the roads these days. It makes driving (and parking) a complete misery.

What’s your favourite building?

I’m fascinated by buildings so it’s hard to choose just one. However, if pushed, I would go for The Old Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green. It’s a wonderfully elegant Georgian building with an amazing interior and a very interesting history – it was once the busiest courthouse in England where all manner of thieves and vagabonds were tried. Today it’s a Masonic Centre and a conference venue.

What’s your most hated building?

Westminster Tube Station. This subterranean monstrosity has won various architectural awards but I absolutely hate it. It has a depressing, vaguely apocalyptic atmosphere. Whenever I’m in it, I can’t wait to get out!

What’s the best view in London?

I recently went to a block of flats on the Marylebone Road that had an amazing roof garden with 360 degree views of the city. I could have stayed there for hours spotting the various landmarks.

What’s your personal London landmark?

Although I’m not keen on its exterior, I would have to say the British Library. Within its walls you can find out virtually anything you want to know about London (or anything else, for that matter).

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

This is difficult as there are so many to choose from. However, I have always been more interested in “ordinary” Londoners rather than the great and good so I will choose Henry Mayhew’s extraordinary mid-Victorian survey “London Labour and the London Poor”. Mayhew was intrigued by the city’s working people and interviewed all sorts of characters in order to find out how they lived. The result is a fascinating snapshot of London in the middle of the 1800’s.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

Julie’s in Portland Road, Notting Hill. The restaurant is labyrinthine and every dining area is decorated in a different style. The atmosphere is always good and the food is great. Highly recommended.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

I would start off by having breakfast in the café in Regents Park (the weather would be splendid, of course). I would then go and have a trawl round Portobello Market before meeting some friends for a drink in one of the many pubs there. In the afternoon I would visit the National Gallery, then go for something to eat in Julie’s before rounding the evening off with a gig at The Roundhouse.

This ‘Grill’ was first posted on the Radio Taxis blog.

3 thoughts on “The London Grill: Fiona Rule”

    1. Thanks for your encouragement. ‘Like’ button is now showing, but I’m not sure that I like the ‘like’ button as it ruins the symmetry of my Gibson signature, but I’ll give it a trial.
      Oh! As a fan of hens you might like this. I have started tracing my family tree and came across my old school reports. One note from the headmaster read:
      David has made a good job of looking after ‘Nelly’ the school hen this past year. Oh well! So much for academia.


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