London Uncovered is a welcome follow up to photographer Peter Dazeley’s earlier work, Unseen London, and again has most informative accompanying text by Mark Daly. It describes both familiar places and those which are less known in the capital. There is a wide range of subjects from places of worship to halls of entertainment and unusual shops.
The photography is detailed and Daly’s text contains a wealth of stories. This is an exciting book full of the atmosphere of the buildings, large and small, that make the amazing city of London. Dazeley and Daly are a brilliant team and they bring the buildings to life.
Among the various subjects covered is Cleopatra’s Needle, a monument whose history is not, perhaps, so well known. This Obelisk is the oldest of London’s outdoor remains, predating the Roman Wall by 1,600 years. It was one of a pair erected in Heliopolis by Pharaoh Thutmose 11. After Egypt became a Roman Province, the obelisks were shipped to Alexandria and set up at Cleopatra’s Caesareum. Later one was discovered toppled by British Army Officers and after lengthy negotiation it came to England in 1877. Notice the plaques around the base.
It is a good choice to include the Charles Dickens Museum as this the last remaining home in London of this great writer. It has an important collection of material relating to him. Note the splendid photograph of his study.
The photographs of Eltham Palace encourage one to visit this unusual building. It is a modern home integrated with the Great Hall of the Palace which was built for Edward 1V. There are stunning photographs of the Entrance Hall and Dining Room. Stephen and Virginia Courtauld kept their Art Collection there and entertained guests.
It was a real pleasure to see Bibendum uncovered. It is seriously photogenic, especially the stain glass window based on one of the first Michelin posters of 1898. He was the tyre man who absorbs and drinks up obstacles on the road. Daly explains well that it is a unique industrial building and now a smart restaurant. It was built in 1910 incorporating a tyre depot and was the first building in London to use the Hennebique reinforced concrete usually used for warehouses. There are excellent photographs of the pictorial tiles by Gilardoni Fils and Cie showing Edwardian sporting scenes.
The Rivoli Ballroom, once a cinema, is a good subject. It is decorated in scarlet and gilt and has Chinese lantern lights, chandeliers and glitter balls. There is a stage one end and fixed chairs and tables for couples round the sides. The floor is Canadian maple and sprung! The building is grade 11 listed. The interior really is most original.
I liked the selection of unusual shops which included Lassco in Brunswick House which sells architectural salvage, antiques, curios and garden decorations, L. Cornelissen & Son in Gt. Russell Street which sells artists’ materials and has original Victorian and shop fittings, James Smith and Sons of New Oxford Street which has a wonderful window display of umbrellas, sword sticks and dagger canes. The frontage dates to 1930. Do not miss the photograph of L. Manze, the eel and pie shop in Walthamstow.
‘London Uncovered’ takes you on a journey of exploration giving surprises and visual pleasure. It would be a perfect addition to your coffee table or as a present for any occasion.
Photographs by Peter Dazeley
Text by Mark Daly
Published by Frances Lincoln. 2016