Tag Archives: The Grill

The London Grill: Jane Northcote

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Jane Northcote (JaneSketching.com) is an urban sketcher and printmaker based in the City of London. She sketches in pen and ink and watercolour. She aims to show the changing city: new and old structures together, the often surprising juxtapositions that result from patchwork planning decisions and historical changes of use. Drawing a building is a good way to notice it. Jane’s drawings take about 1-2 hours, done mostly on location. Looking at a building for that length of time reveals architectural details and odd quirks of design, which enriches the experience of the city. Image above shows The Globe Moorgate, sketched 29 August 2022, details can be found here.

What’s your secret London tip?

It’s often quicker to walk. Look at a street map, not the Tube Map. For example, St Pauls to the Barbican is a 5 min straightforward walk north, but a complicated and lengthy Tube journey. It looks a long way on the Tube Map, but the two locations are really close.

What’s your secret London place?

Cleary Gardens off Queen Victoria Street. This garden is almost invisible from the street, it looks built up. But go inside and you find a terraced garden, sheltered by vines and trees, with benches. A lovely quiet sanctuary in the City.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

The air quality. Cars running their engines when stationary. People leaving rubbish, especially takeaway food containers, in public places. Often they stack them neatly, or line up the discarded cans, as though that makes it better! Bicycles jumping the lights. I am a cyclist. A minority of cyclists zip through red lights and onto pavements, often at unexpected angles. This scares pedestrians and irritates motor vehicle drivers. As well as this being unbelievably dangerous, these selfish miscreants give all cyclists a bad name, and drivers get angry at all of us. I’m in favour of bike registration, as in the Netherlands.

What’s your favourite building?

The ruined church of St Mary Aldermanbury, North of the Guildhall in the City of London. The truncated columns of the church are still there, and the old walls are covered in moss. I like to imagine the church. Sometimes the best buildings are those of the imagination.

What’s your most hated building?

122 Bishopsgate. It’s huge, bland, and has a forbidding entrance at street level. Perhaps it’s nicer on the inside?

What’s the best view in London?

From the Millennium Bridge, early in the morning, looking east.

What’s your personal London landmark?

The Post Office Tower, now the BT Tower. It is often visible from the most surprising places. A sudden view of the BT Tower helps me orient myself.

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

There are many. My current favourite is the Slough House series by Mick Herron, starting with “Slow Horses”. He evokes the enormity and the detail of London.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Am I allowed two? The Turks Head Wapping: a great restaurant, tables in amongst the trees. The Wren Café in St Nicholas Cole: wonderful views of stained glass windows inside, wonderful views of St Pauls outside.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

A walk up the river to the Turks Head, lunch outdoors under the trees, a walk back, sketching on the river foreshore, a stroll around exploring city lanes, tea at the Barbican lakeside.

The London Grill: Joanna Moncrieff

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Joanna Moncrieff is a qualified tour guide in both the City of Westminster and Clerkenwell and Islington and has been leading guided walks in these areas and further afield since 2009. Apart from guiding in Central London she also regularly guides in Walthamstow and has delved quite deep into its history and that of neighbouring but very different Chingford where she lives. Her Walthamstow walk ‘From Monoux and Morris to Beer and Bacon Jam’ is a best seller alongside her West End based ‘Foodie themed Christmas Lights’ walk. Joanna has a number of half-finished research projects which she hopes in time to write-up on her blog. Her upcoming public walks are marketed via Footprints of London and can always be found on the following link. Any of these walks can also be offered for private groups and some of them have virtual versions too.

What’s your secret London tip?

Attending lunchtime concerts in City churches. A bit of culture in a beautiful setting. St Bride’s, St Dunstans in the West, St Stephen Walbrook are just a few that offer these on weekday lunchtimes.

What’s your secret London place?

Canonbury Tower. I’m sure people walk past this Tudor building all the time without noticing it. It has a fascinating and rather mysterious history. You can go inside too; Clerkenwell and Islington Guides lead regular tours of it.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

People riding scooters and electric bikes who seem to have no consideration or awareness of other road or pavement users.

What’s your favourite building?

St Paul’s. I used to work in an office job close by and took a photo almost every time I walked past! Tower Bridge also falls into this category!

What’s your most hated building?

The Strata Tower; it is just so ugly!

What’s the best view in London?

Not very original but from Waterloo Bridge in both directions.

What’s your personal London landmark?

The series of reservoirs along the River Lea close to where I live which I love looking out for when flying home from overseas.

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

At the moment the Rivers of London book series.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Gotto at Here East, Hackney Wick but Zedel Brasserie is a close second.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

A random amble which I do quite often with London obsessed friends. We pick an area or a theme and then spend a day wandering about the streets seeking out things of interest and stopping in a pub or two along the way. We have recently been trying to follow routes from an 1887 guide book.

The London Grill: Caroline Roope

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Caroline Roope is a freelance writer specialising in social history. She contributes regularly to Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, Best of British and Discover Your Ancestors, writing on history topics as diverse as Scalextric to Victorian cross-dressing. Caroline spent over ten years working in the heritage and museums sector for small-scale independent charities, as well as larger organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage. Her first history book The History of the London Underground Map is out now with Pen & Sword.

What’s your secret London tip?

If you’re travelling by Underground, it’s easy to zone out – I know because I used to do it myself – but certain sections are a historical feast for the eyes if you know where to look. Look out for Victorian detailing in stations such as Paddington and Baker Street, and early twentieth-century style at Russell Square and Edgware Road (Bakerloo line).

What’s your secret London place?

Inside the Queen’s private facilities in the Royal Albert Hall there is a toilet with a velvet seat, especially for Royal bottoms. I have seen it with my own eyes…

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

That no one can really afford to live there – least of all me!

What’s your favourite building?

This is the hardest question so far! There are so many wonderful buildings, with so many amazing stories behind them. For sheer drama and kerb appeal it has to be the Midland Grand Hotel – now St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. I was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes nose around during its restoration and it just radiates magnificence, inside and out. Thank God I got that opportunity because I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay there now!

What’s your most hated building?

I’m not keen on the O2 – it’s a shame Storm Eunice didn’t take the whole thing with it. And there are some pretty awful 1960s monstrosities dotted around London too. It’s all subjective of course. Today’s eyesores often become tomorrow’s heritage.

What’s the best view in London?

From an aeroplane window. I flew over London at the end of last year on my way back from a holiday and because I don’t often see London from above like that, it was fascinating seeing all my favourite London landmarks in miniature. I was also surprised at how much green space there is, given the density of buildings. In London itself, my best view is from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. That sweeping vista down to the old-world grandeur of Sir Christopher Wren’s Naval College, set against the backdrop of modern and shiny Canary Wharf is the perfect juxtaposition of old and new.

What’s your personal London landmark?

It’s got to be the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. I studied there from 2005-2007 and it holds some very special memories for me. Getting off the DLR at Cutty Sark and meandering down College Approach to those enormous globe-topped gateposts always made my heart sing. Being able to study for an MA in Heritage in a UNESCO World Heritage Site was an absolute privilege – my surroundings inspired me every day.

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

I love both of Peter Ackroyd’s studies of London – London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River and urge everyone to read them because they absolutely capture the essence of London and what makes it special. I also love John Betjeman’s quiet but poignant eulogy to London’s suburbs in his documentary Metroland.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

I recently went to Barrafina in Drury Lane, which was superb. It’s tapas, which is perfect if you’re with friends and you all like pinching off each other’s plates (which my friends and family do) But actually, what made it special were the staff – our server was attentive and knew all the dishes and was happy to explain each one to us, as well as recommending drinks. The seafood dishes are out of this world.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

A day isn’t long enough! Now I live out in the sticks near Portsmouth, I’d need several days to really make the most of it. I’d head to Tate Britain first, so I could catch up with my favourite painting The Lady of Shalott by J. W. Waterhouse – if she’s in town, and not on tour somewhere else. I’d head to South Kensington on the Tube, just for the sheer excitement of walking down the District Railway’s stunning 1885 pedestrian subway. You can’t go wrong with a good bit of Victorian engineering. Obviously, I’d have to visit the museums too, having walked the length of the subway it would be a shame not to! To be honest, I’d plan my trip so that I could spend most of the day travelling around the Underground and looking at its architecture.

The London Grill: Mark Monroe

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

My name is Mark Monroe first and foremost I’m a London cabbie. A few years ago, I started a YouTube Channel partly as a way of documenting everything I’ve learnt about London, mostly concentrating on the peculiar, strange, bizarre oddities of this incredible city. I’ve been lucky enough to have some of my content aired on a local TV station called London Live. Everything I film is free to discover and visit and offers an insight into London from the life of a London Cabbie. I hope you enjoy Secrets of London with Mark Monroe.

What’s your secret London tip?

When visiting London don’t try and do everything in one day. London is Big! Pick an area and spend time exploring that, you’ll absorb much more and won’t be sitting on public transport all day.

What’s your secret London place?

St Dunstan in the East, a unique Wren church whose ruins are situated in the heart of the city a green oasis of tranquillity and calm.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

Road closures and other drivers who fail to indicate when turning.

What’s your favourite building?

Senate House in Malet Street. (It belongs in a moody New York Batman film).

What’s your most hated building?

Trellick Tower.

What’s the best view in London?

On a summer evening stand in the centre of Waterloo Bridge and be prepared for a magical vista.

What’s your personal London landmark?

Big Ben, everything in London seems to start here and then works outwards.

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

All the Bond films! Sherlock Holmes and the Krays documentaries.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Without a doubt Rules in Maiden Lane. London’s oldest restaurant serving traditional English fare.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

I love to head for the river, I feel more connected with London and its history when I’m there.

The London Grill: Jack Self

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Jack Self is an architect and journalist based in London. He is Director of REAL and Editor-in-Chief of Real Review. Jack’s work is dedicated to promoting democracy, inclusivity and equality of many kinds. His clients and collaborators include the British Council, IKEA, MINI, Landsec, Prada, Virgil Abloh (LVMH), Alyx, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Junya Watanabe (Comme des Garcons). In 2016, Jack curated the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale with the show Home Economics. Jack’s other work includes curation, exhibition design, spatial strategy, brand consultancy, communications, publishing, editing, writing and creative direction. Jack Self is a registered architect with the UK ARB.

What’s your secret London tip?

One of my favourite trips around London is to begin by taking the DLR from Bank through the east and Canary Wharf, down the Isle of Dogs to Mudchute, then use the pedestrian tunnel to go under the Thames, walk up the hill at Greenwich to the observatory, then take a Clipper ferry back through the centre of London along the river to Westminster. In about 3 hours you see almost the entire centre of the city: from its ancient Roman core to its maritime and imperial periphery, and then back to its political heart.

What’s your secret London place?

When I’m in the West End, I like to go into the Angel pub in St. Giles for a pint (near Tottenham Court Road). Like all pubs run by Samuel Smith, it doesn’t have any music (making it relaxing) and the food is pretty good. It was originally designed with a mens’ and womens’ section, and while it is a simple Victorian pub in many ways, it reminds me of growing up in London in the 90s (minus the cigarette smoke, but still with the dartboard).

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

With total unoriginality, I would say it is the ever-accelerating, eye-watering, vertigo-inducing cost of rent.

What’s your favourite building?

The Lloyd’s of London headquarters by Richard Rogers is quite spectacular; designed inside out, and almost resembling the Pompidou in its mechanical complexity. Right next to Lloyd’s is the majestic Leadenhall Market, under which are the remains of the Roman Londinium forum (the largest building north of the Alps for over three centuries).

On a completely different note, I am also a fan of the modestly-sized, but rich and complex, 15 Clerkenwell Close (above) by architect Amin Taha.

What’s your most hated building?

The GLA headquarters at New London. It is a glass bollock, surrounded by a wasteland of privatised paving.

What’s the best view in London?

For my money (£3 last time I went) it is at the top of the Monument.

What’s your personal London landmark?

In the late 1800s, the ancient London Bridge was torn down to make way for a new bridge, and its stone arches were installed in Victoria Park. (The 19th-century bridge that replaced it was in turn sold to an American in the 1970s and carted across the Atlantic to become an attraction, do Google it).

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

I like London by Patrick Keiller – it is both very boring and monotonous and fascinating and intricate at the same time. This is how I feel about London.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Fish pie at J Sheekey’s.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

Doing loops of Hampstead Heath with intermittent tea breaks at Kenwood House and the Spaniard’s Inn.