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A slice of Lakeland in London

Monday, 25 March 2019

london - Lake District Travel Guide

I don’t know how many Cumbrians live and work in London but I do know that if they ever miss the old county, they’re never far from reminders of home.

What struck me on a recent trip to the capital is that there’s always something, somewhere - no matter how small or tenuous - with a connection to the Lake District and the rest of Cumbria.

And it’s not just the street and place names like Cumberland Terrace, Westmoreland Street, Wordsworth Avenue, Carlisle Place, Kendal Street and Windermere Avenue.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

A few minutes walk from Euston Station - terminus for trains to and from Cumbria - is St Pancras Station where the Midland Grand Hotel was one of the glories of Victorian architecture. 

Saved from demolition in the 1960s, it was re-born in 2011 as St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. And the link with Lakeland? The building was originally designed by George Gilbert Scott, the man also responsible for St Mary’s Church in Ambleside. 

london - Lake District Travel Guide

Across the road from St Pancras is Kings Cross and behind the station is one of London’s biggest redevelopments, almost 70 acres of former railway lands being transformed into a shiny new neighbourhood. 

Google is already here, Facebook is on its way and a former grain store is home to Central Saint Martins arts and design college. The old gasometers I remember from my childhood are now apartments. Knight Frank has prices ranging from £825,000 to £7 million.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

For shoppers, the big draw is Coal Drops Yard, opened last year in what was once a huge depot for receiving and distributing coal. In two renovated Victorian warehouses, linked by a curved ‘kissing’ roof, is a collection of upmarket shops and restaurants, including one called Outsiders Store.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

And there in its window was a prominent display for Millican bags and rucksacks, the firm based near Keswick and named after the Victorian adventurer Millican Dalton. Another link with Lakeland!

About two miles (3.2km) west of Kings Cross is Marylebone where you’ll come across Brora in Marylebone High Street (for men’s and women’s fashion) and VV Rouleaux in Marylebone Lane (for ‘luxury ribbons, tassels, braids, flowers, feathers, cords and other trimmings’).

london - Lake District Travel Guide

Brora was founded by Victoria Stapleton, VV Rouleaux - its Easter windows pictured - by Annabel Lewis. Both grew up in Cumbria. 

A few minutes walk from VV Rouleaux is the Wigmore Hall which every year hosts the finals of the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, this year on April 26.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

The connection with Cumbria is that Lancashire-born Ferrier lived in Silloth for a while and won both the singing and piano categories at the Carlisle Festival of 1937. She later became one of the great contraltos of the age.

Four days before that Wigmore Hall final - on April 22 - The Power of Seeing closes at Two Temple Place, a mansion near The Strand.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

The exhibition celebrates ‘the legacy and enduring relevance of John Ruskin’s ideas and vision’, bringing together more than 190 paintings, drawings, metal work and more 'to illustrate how Ruskin’s attitude to aesthetic beauty shaped his radical views on culture and society’. 

london - Lake District Travel Guide

Ruskin, of course, spent the last 29 years of his life at Brantwood beside Coniston Water so it was fitting that Grizedale Arts - based near Brantwood - was commissioned to make two Nature Tables for the exhibition. 

london - Lake District Travel Guide

The venue itself (above) is wonderful, built for the hugely wealthy American, William Waldorf Astor. If you walk there from Temple tube station you’ll pass a statue of the famous scientist Michael Faraday whose blacksmith father moved to London in 1790 from the hamlet of Outhgill in Mallerstang near Kirkby Stephen. 

london 9

Architectural and sculptural metalwork is the forte of Ulverston-based Chris Brammall so it was great to see his work adorning a development of new, high end apartments in Young Street, Kensington. 

london - Lake District Travel Guide

Chris was chosen by the jewellery designer Shaun Leane to make the 1,850 bronze sculpted leaves that now stretch across the 40 metre facade of the building. The artwork ‘Arbour’ was cast in phosphor bronze and then hand-finished in Ulverston. To cap it all, a piece of the metalwork is now on permanent display in the nearby Victoria and Albert Museum.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

You’re probably never far from the Cumbrian staples of sticky toffee pudding and Cumberland sausage in London and so here are two places you can visit for a taste of them.

The Wych Elm pub is near Kingston upon Thames but the sticky toffee pudding served there would make most Cumbrians feel pretty much at home. Sharrow Bay country house hotel on Ullswater always maintains that the original recipe was created by the hotel’s founder Francis Coulson; Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding is probably the best known brand today.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

And so to Cumberland sausage and what more glamorous place to savour it - as part of the full English breakfast - than at the Brasserie of Light, ‘London’s ultimate destination restaurant and bar’ in Selfridges department store on Oxford Street. 

The brasserie was only opened last year as part of a £300 million investment in this flagship store on Oxford Street. OK, it may not be called ‘traditional Cumberland sausage’ - the one that has Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status by the European Union - but frankly who’s worrying when you’re sitting under Damien Hirst’s crystal-encrusted statue of Pegasus (over nine metre wingspan) and relishing the luxury around you.

london - Lake District Travel Guide

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