Wiltshire, 45A Cloth Fair (London) and Cambridge
4 - 14 November 2005

LAST UPDATED: 19 November 2005

The "Cloth Fairies" are:
Mary Payson. Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
Rob Stephenson. Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
Krista Yasvin. Periac-sur-mer, France.
David Fogle. Annapolis, Maryland.

Mary and I set out from Jaffrey on Thursday 3 November. Flight from Logan to Heathrow and tube to Green Park, then by foot to the Lansdowne Club off Berkeley Square. About mid-day, we walked over to the Covent Garden Hotel to say hello to Joanna Heathcote who I hadn't seen for years. This is a "boutique" hotel she has as a client. That night we headed out to Dulwich for the AGM and dinner of the James Caird Society. The next morning Krista came to the club and we cabbed it to Paddington. And from there by train to Marden, a village not far from Devizes in Wiltshire. we were on our way to spend the weekend with Krista's friends Sue Collison and Mark Noble. We arrived in a bit more than an hour at the very nicely restored station at Pewsey. Mark picked us up and soon we were at The Millstream enjoying a beer. Sue arrived soon after. Not long after we were at Marden House Farm. Here's a bit of the house.

Here we are in the kitchen at Marden House Farm. That's Ryan, Mark's son, then Sue, Mark, Mary (mostly hidden) and Krista. We enjoyed a marvelous venison stew. It rained a good bit of the time we were there, but fortunately it held off Saturday night when the village celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot (Guy Fawkes) with a bonfire and fireworks.

We had to pay our respects to The Barge Inn in Honeystreet. I stopped there years ago when I walked from Upton in Hampshire to Devizes; and when Krista and I were returning from Wortham Manor a few of years ago, we stopped there too. Among other things, it's the epicenter of the Crop Circle world. This is where the "croppies" hang out.

Here's a crop circle from a year ago. Pretty hard to knock one of these off between 11 pm and 4 am. Aliens, right?

Here's a glimpse of the Kennet & Avon Canal beside The Barge Inn. Too bad it wasn't sunnier.

We had a pub lunch and a couple of pints.

Across canal and on the distant hillside is The White Horse carved in the chalk hillside. You can just make it out at the right of the arrow.

On Monday morning, Mark dropped us off and his mother as well at the Pewsey station and we headed back to London. We got a cab to the Lansdowne Club where we had left our luggage and continued on to 45a Cloth Fair, our Landmark Trust flat for the next four nights. The housekeeper was fortunately there when we arrived. Soon we were headed to the supermarket in the Barbican to load up with groceries. Just after we got back, David Fogle arrived from up north. Our foursome was now complete. Here are two views of the sitting room. This is a pre-Great Fire (1666) house, so it's well settled.

SOME INFO ON CLOTH FAIR (from the Landmark Trust Handbook): These plain Georgian houses over shops face the churchyard of St Bartholomew the Great, which almost alone among City churches escaped the Great Fire of 1666. They were sold to us by the late Paul Paget, who had rescued them many years before, with No. 41, the only remaining house in the City built before the Fire. Round the corner is Smithfield market with its robust architecture, sights and smells, facing the noble buildings of St Bartholomew's Hospital. Further along Cloth Fair are new houses, bringing domestic life to this part of the City.

There is here a lingering feel of how alive the whole City of London once was before it was destroyed by money, fire and war--a place where long-established institutions, trades, houses, markets and people of all kinds were mingled together. Each of our houses has a respectable staircase, pleasant rooms and nice old joinery. No. 43 was long the home of Sir John Betjeman.

From the logbook:

This house is a remarkable oasis in central London, particularly at the weekend.

The whole ambience of the flat in this historic Part ofthe City of London was restful and pleasing to the eye, as well as having all the comfort of 'mod cons.'

History comes alive when you stay at Cloth Fair.

We had a wonderful stay here at Cloth Fair--a beautiful flat with its views of St Bartholomews. This is at least the 10th Landmark we have stayed at, and, as usual we found Cloth Fair as lovely as the others.

45 Cloth Fair. Our flat consists of the two floors above the shopfront on the left. You enter from the passage behind the bollard. Next door is Betjeman's, a restaurant that recently changed hands. We ate there twice, first for lunch on the day of arrival and then after our first "Garden Party" on Wednesday. Roland is the manager.

Looking west along Cloth Fair. Our flat is left by the first bollard. In the second photo you can see a bit of St. Bartholomew's on the left and our flat in the distance on the right.

That's Cloth Fair entering on the right. There's a pub on all three corners. In fact there's can't swing a cat in this area without hitting a pub. A bit of Smithfield Market in the distance. Here's the floorplan. My bedroom was the one in the upper rigtht corner on the first floor.

Here are two views of the sitting room.

A map showing the location. Note arrow. Closest tube station is Barbican. As you can see Cloth Fair is almost due north of St Paul's Cathedral.

The nearby Smithfield Market, London's meat market, built 1851-66. Most of the activity was over by 8 am.

On our first night at Cloth Fair we went off to visit the Dennis Severs' House at 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields. I had arranged this beforehand over the internet. I first learned of this from a New York Times article on March 21, 1991. Have had the article in my "must do on a future trip" file ever since.

We arrived at 6 and waited outside until called. Entered and paid our money (12) and adjusted our eyes to the darkness. Started in the cellar and worked our way to the attic. It didn't take much more than half an hour. We all came to the same conclusion: bizarro world! There's an awful lot that is unauthentic, just piles and piles of stuff of indeterminant origin and age. Several "docents" standing around motionless and silent. Be sure to take a little flashlight with you as an awful lot can't be seen easily because of the darkness. They must go through a ton of candles a year. For more, see www.dennissevershouse.co.uk

Afterwards we went back to Cloth Fair and after a drink headed to the other side of Smithfield Market to Abbaye, a Belgian Brasserie and Beer & Mussel Bar. Naturally, we had beer and mussels and, of course, pommes frites. Excellent.

On Tuesday, the four of us took the tube to Leicester Square and we wondered to the National Portrait Gallery, then next door to the National Gallery. From there, walked to the Golden Lion in King Street opposite Christie's and had a good lunch. Later in the day I picked up my William Morris fabric from Harrods. This I ordered several months ago. Destined from slipcovers for two chairs. That evening, David hosted us at a fine dinner at the Reform Club. The Cloth Fairies plus Hermione Hobhouse, an old friend of David's, nad John Jeronomo, Daivd's successor at Kiplin Hall. A beautiful clubhouse. Had liver and bacon.

Wednesday was a lovely day so we thought, "why not try the London Eye?" None of us had done it before. So we tubed it to Westminster station and walked across Westminster Bridge. Surprisingly, tickets were available right of way and we waited all of ten minutes, if that. Here's Krista, David and Mary.

We walked back a cross the Thames and headed for St. Martin's Lane where we stopped at The Salisbury for lunch. Then David and Mary headed for a matinee theatre performance and Krista and I headed for Beauchamp Place.

Later that day we were all back at Cloth Fair preparing for "Garden Party No 1." Of course, no garden at Cloth Fair, unlike our other Landmark Trust houses. But that's what we call them because one is not supposed to have parties in the houses. Among our guests that night were Judy Skelton, Michael O'Higgins and a friend of David's whose name escapes me. Afterwards, we all repaired to Betjeman's next door.

On Thursday, Krista, Mary and I left David to his own devices and headed to Greenwich aboard the Docklands Light Railway. Strolled to the National Maritime Museum which we spent perhaps an hour at, then traipsed up the hill to the Greenwich Observatory. Mary and Krista stand a day apart (?) from one another, straddling the prime meridian.

We thought lunch might be called for so dropped into The Yacht, a riverside pub. We all had fish and chips. Krista then headed for the Cutty Sark and Mary and I headed in the other direction to find Enderby House, where the Enderby Brothers carried out there Antarctic whaling enterprise. Finally found it but not without some backtracking. We remet Krista outside the Cutty Sark--she had just been interviewed by The Telegraph . . . something to do with apples--and headed by the DLR to Canary Wharf, where we got off and walked to the Thames to pick up the commuter boat. A nice trip on the boat to Embankment. Krista back to Cloth Fair and Mary and I made stops at Fortnums and Sotherans. Bought a book from Stuart there. Maldon salt at Tesco's for Mary, then back to Cloth Fair and some tidying up for "Garden Party No 2."

This time our guests included Juliet Evans, here talking with Mary, and Wendy Driver with David.

And here Krista is talking with Duncan Lawie and David Wilson.

Friday came and we tidied up ready to leave 45a Cloth Fair. The time had really gone fast. Just as 10 am arrived, Mrs Buckley, the Housekeeper showed up. David had left earlier. Mary, Krista and I then headed to the corner and got a cab for Kings Cross. Soon we were on our way to Cambridge.

On arrival we got a cab to Warkworth House (see below), our hotel for the next three nights. We ended up with a "family suite," 3 beds and a bath at 85 per night. Excellent value for Cambridge and a much better hotel than we were expecting. After organizing our stuff, we headed off to central Cambridge but with a stop first at The Clarendon Arms for a relaxing lunch. Later in the day we went to Scott Polar Research Institute where I was due to give a talk the next day. With Bob Headland, set up my computer and the projector and fortunately, everything worked fine. That night we went to the Corpus Playroom, a student theatre near the Cambridge Arts Theatre. A very funny comdey called "Dead Funny." Afterwards, we had dinner at the New Gulshan Indian Restaurant in Regent Street.

Mary and Krista surveying our beverage supply in our room in Cambridge. These were left-overs from our Garden Parties. We actually did finish off all but one of these before we departed. Here I am doing my part.

Saturday dawned a lovely day. We headed for the bus station and got tickets for Heathrow and Gatwicj respectively for Monday, and then took a local bus to Grantchester, about two miles away. This village was made famous by the World War I poet Rupert Brooke. We walked around the village, went into the church and checked out the four pubs. Decided on The Rupert Brooke for a beer. Sadly, it had been all tarted up since my last visit of a couple of years ago. We then walked back to Cambridge along the lovely meadow path.

Krista and Mary set out for the Fitzwilliam Museum and I headed back to the hotel to change and prepare for my talk at 5 pm.

The Scott Polar Research Institute with the Shackleton Library on the left.

Here's the reception following my talk on Saturday the 12th ("Antarctic Sites Outside the Antarctic: Memorials, Statues, Houses, Graves and the Occasional Pub"). I'm there on the middle right; Judy Skelton on the near right; Charles Swithinbak at the middle left; Krista and Mary in the middle back; Joe O'Farrell's silver head in the foreground; adn David Wilson nearly in the center. I think Duncan Lawrie took the photo.

After the reception, Mary, Krista, I and Mike Tarver walked to the Panton Arms for a beer, shortly to to be joined by Joe O'Farrell. Afterwards we (less Joe) had a pizza at Zizzi in Regent Street.

On Sunday we were picked up at 10 am by Charles Swithinbank who had kindly offered to guide us on a country drive. Some of the places we drove through or stopped at, among others: Clare, Cavendish, Long Melford and Lavenham. We stopped at the pub in Kersey for a good Sunday lunch.

Our final stop was St. Bartholomew's Church in Groton. This tiny village was the birthplace of John Winthrop founder of the city of Boston, and first governor of Massachusetts. The church contains what is supposed to be his parents' tomb. Winthrop was the leader of the disillusioned puritans who fled England during the reign of Charles I. Mary, Charles and Krista at the entrance. And the Winthrop stained glass windows.

We ended the day with tea at Charles' house in Fulbourn, then back to Cambridge.

The next day--Monday--Krista left early, then Mary and I, after breakfast, walked to the bus station and left on the bus for the three-hour trip to Heathrow. Plenty of time, particularly since our flight was delayed two or so hours.

We made it back to Logan, then the bus to Framingham, met by Jeff and Jamie. Dinner at Joe's American Bar, back to their house, retrieved my car, and back in Jaffrey around midnight.

An enjoyable trip.