Category Archives: buildings

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 1 – Cafe at Jamyang

The Courtyard Cafe at Jamyang Buddhist Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

Positives: Any of our top six could lay claim to serving the best lunch in Kennington (in an establishment that doesn’t normally open in the evenings), but what edged it for Cafe at Jamyang is the setting. Where else can you have a delicious vegetarian quiche in a peaceful, green courtyard beneath a giant gold statue of the Pairnirvana Buddha?

Golden Buddha in the courtyard of Jamyang Buddhist Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: It’s better when the weather is good and you can sit in that courtyard. Sometimes they run out of quiche. Try not to think about the fact that the Buddha may have died of food poisoning (not from a vegetarian quiche though). They’re only open on weekdays.

What, no quiche?

What, no quiche?

Hygiene rating: 5 out of 5

The counter at Jamyang Buddhist Centre Cafe - kenningtonrunoff.com

Address: The Old Courthouse, 43 Renfrew Road, London SE11 4NA

Jamyang Buddhist Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

Website

Newport Street Gallery

Those of you who follow us closely on Twitter will know that our invite to the opening of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery (NSG) got lost in the post despite months of blatant solicitation. Nonetheless, we picked ourselves up and dragged ourselves along on the first day it was open to the public.

Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

NSG is a great building – lighter and more inviting than the Saatchi Gallery to which it has been compared (both having been built by rich people to show their huge collections of contemporary art).

Newport Street Gallery staircase - kenningtonrunoff.om

Well done to Damien who has certainly not skimped on this, and architects Caruso St John who were also behind the revamp of Tate Britain. The Guardian recently published an interesting article about the building and NSG’s issues with community outreach.

people at John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first exhibition is Power Stations by the late John Hoyland, whose huge, colourful but foreboding canvasses suit the space so well that it’s hard to imagine how smaller works will fare.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery under skylights - kenningtonrunoff.om

If you don’t like Hoyland’s stuff then you have a long wait for something else – this exhibition runs until April of next year.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery with sloping roof - kenningtonrunoff.om

Damien’s involvement in NSG is relatively inconspicuous until you enter the shop where there are eye-wateringly expensive skulls and jewellery galore. Newport Street Gallery’s shop is not the much-needed replacement for Kennington Bookshop as a place to buy a present a tenner – more like ten grand.

Newport Street Gallery skulls in the shop - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first day crowd was large and varied, and Beaconsfield, further down Newport Street, was the busiest we’ve ever seen it. We have no doubt NSG’s arrival will spark a new level of boom for the once-neglected area we call North West Kennington, others call Lambeth, and, in a blatant land grab of which we would have been proud, Vauxhall’s developers have decided is called Vauxhall. We’ll see about that:

Correction to Vauxhall sign outside Beaconsfield - kenningtonrunoff.com

The first floor of NSG is taken up by a restaurant named Pharmacy 2, a sequel to Damien’s Notting Hill restaurant that was open from 1998 to 2003. Whatever next – Fat Les reforming to play the opening party? Just as long as we’re invited that’s fine by us – and we mean now, not next year when Pharmacy 2 finally opens to the public. Altogether now: “Where on earth are you from?/We’re from Kennington”.

Kennington Park and its new Flower Garden

It’s all change in Kennington Park at the moment, and this weekend was a big one thanks to the reopening of the flower garden after a £500k makeover. We bring you photos, with apologies to the woman who we inadvertently followed around:

Kennington Park Flower Garden vista - kenningtonrunoff.com

The flower garden originally opened in 1931 and its layout has remained much the same since, including this water feature:

Kennington Park Flower Garden water feature - kenningtonrunoff.com

This new sundial was made from Welsh slate by Sam Flintham, a student of historic stone carving at Kennington’s own City & Guilds:

Kennington Park Flower Garden sundial - kenningtonrunoff.com

Get down there quick while the roses are still in season:

Kennington Park Flower Garden roses - kenningtonrunoff.com

Kennington Park Flower Garden flowers - kenningtonrunoff.com

Elsewhere in the park, the Kennington Park Centre on Bob Marley’s old hang out, St Agnes Place, is newish and features an arts and community centre, a stay and play club, and an adventure playground. Also newish is the exercise equipment just north of the cafe, which is proving very popular.

Finally, one of the big concerns about Northern Line extension works in the park was that Bee Urban, those harvesters of the world’s tastiest honey, would have to be relocated. Well, they have been, and their new site next to the cafe looks mightily impressive:

Bee Urban new site in Kennington Park - kenningtonrunoff.com

Join the Friends of Kennington Park here – they made all this happen.

Café at Jamyang Buddhist Centre

There are three Buddhist Centres in Kennington (see also the Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Centre and the Diamond Way Buddhist Centre in the former Beaufoy Institute), but only one of them is worth visiting if you have no interest in Buddhism, yoga or meditation – that’s Jamyang, for its excellent Courtyard Café.

The counter at Jamyang Buddhist Centre Cafe - kenningtonrunoff.com

All the food is vegetarian, much of it is vegan, and it’s delicious. They always have a selection of salads and cakes as you can see above. Their quiche is our favourite main but they’d run out last time we visited so we had bulghur wheat served with spinach, caper and artichoke for £4.80, or £6.80 with salads:

Bulghur wheat served with spinach, caper and artichoke sauce at Jamyang Cafe - kenningtonrunoff.com

Most of their products are organic, and they serve local sourdough bread from the Kennington Bakery.

Jamyang Buddhist Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

The building is an old courthouse dating from 1869, in its later days used as a maximum security court for special remands, including IRA terrorists, the Kray twins, and members of the gang who seized the Iranian Embassy. Despite that, when the sun is shining, Kennington has nowhere more peaceful to eat your lunch than the Jamyang courtyard:

The Courtyard Cafe at Jamyang Buddhist Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

and certainly nowhere else with a giant gold statue of Buddha surrounded by plants:

Golden Buddha in the courtyard of Jamyang Buddhist Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

Glastonbury Festival are increasingly looking to Kennington for inspiration when booking their acts. When the Foo Fighters pulled out as headliner, they booked Florence & The Machine, clearly remembering the time Florence Welch stepped up to the plate at short notice at South London Pacific. Likewise, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama “played” Glastonbury this year, but he appeared at Jamyang way back in 1999, when he blessed and inaugurated a new shrine.

Jamyang’s cafe is open Monday-Friday 10am-4pm (we wish they’d open on the weekend too). They have free wi-fi and takeaway available. Get there early for the quiche.

Address: Jamyang Buddhist Centre, The Old Courthouse, 43 Renfrew Road, London, SE11 4NA.

Lambeth Palace Gardens

We finally visited Lambeth Palace Gardens for the North Lambeth Parish Mega-Fete.

This is a garden so big (over ten acres) that you can barely see from one end to the other!

Lambeth Palace Gardens - kenningtonrunoff.com

We were promised morris dancing, and we got it:

Morris dancers at North Lambeth Parish Fete - kenningtonrunoff.com

The North Lambeth Parish Fete was Kennington’s best publicised event since The Great Chartist Meeting of 1848. But if you somehow missed it then don’t despair – there’s another chance to visit the garden today, and the first Wednesday of every month – it’s the Lambeth Palace Garden Open Day from midday to 3pm. It’s £4 or free for children. The entrance is on Lambeth Palace Road. More info here.

This is the oldest continuously cultivated garden in London, having been a private garden since the 12th century. The big question is why isn’t this huge, lovely central London garden open to the public every day? Sort it out Archbishop Welby.

wooden chairs in Lambeth Palace Gardens - kenningtonrunoff.comLambeth Palace from the Gardens - kenningtonrunoff.com

JamJar Flowers

Where do Stella McCartney, Nick Knight and the Chiltern Firehouse look to for supplies of London’s chicest flowers? Kennington, of course. JamJar Flowers is based in a picturesque Victorian shop on the Pullens Estate that could be straight out of a World of Interiors shoot:

Jamjar Flowers exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The JamJar flower fairies send out their blooms in a variety of receptacles, including enamel buckets, kilner jars and their signature jam jars:

Jamjar Flowers window - kenningtonrunoff.comJamjar Flowers arranging - kenningtonrunoff.com

The JamJar HQ is accessible to visitors twice a year when Pullens Yards host their open studios, although they do say knock on the door at other times and if they’re there, they will take your order. During the open studios (the next one of which will be in December), you can pick up floral offerings at far cheaper prices than their standard fare – succulents in French yoghurt jars for a fiver, pot plants, and handfuls of sweet peas in pretty little vintage glass vases for a tenth of the price of their normal deliveries.

Jamjar Flowers succulents - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you ever want to butter us up, an antique apothecary bottle filled by JamJar is a good place to start.

Plants in front of Jamjar Flowers - kenningtonrunoff.com

The Foundry

Did you know that Kennington is home to a new, RIBA award winning centre for human rights and social justice organisations?

The Foundry is on Oval Way, next to the gasworks:

The Foundry exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The interior is particularly impressive:

The Foundry stairs - kenningtonrunoff.com The Foundry interior - kenningtonrunoff.com.JPG

Beaconsfield are curating a selection of relevant art in the public spaces of The Foundry over the coming year. The current exhibition is called On The Wire, after the Leonard Cohen song Bird On The Wire, or perhaps the Kennington-based concert promoters of the same name, and runs until Friday.

This was our favourite from it – Mathew Gibson’s Checkpoint, with its echoes of MC Escher:

Mathew Gibson - Checkpoint - kenningtonrunoff.com

Most of the art is for sale, priced between £700 + VAT and £3000 + VAT.

The Foundry is open to the public on weekdays between 9am and 5pm, and is located at 17 Oval Way, SE11 5RR.

Fête-mageddon

Fête season is upon us.

Today from noon till 4pm is the mother of all fêtes, the Kennington Village Fête. This takes place in Cleaver Square, or St Anselm’s Church if it’s raining, which it won’t be – the sun always shines on the Kennington Village Fête – the Friends of Durning Library see to that.

Kennington Village Fete flier

We will be there, doing a supermarket sweep past the local honey stand, staring in fascination at the human fruit machine, and keeping a low profile around Kennington Tandoori.

Kennington Village Fete reverse side

Then on Saturday June 27th, the North Lambeth Parish Fête takes place from 12.30pm to 5pm at Lambeth Palace – another opportunity to visit their grounds. We are fully expecting The Archbishop of Canterbury to set up his own human fruit machine.

North Kennington’s beautiful West Square has a fête, AKA a summer afternoon, on July 4th:

A summer afternoon in West Square

If there are any other fêtes we’ve missed (perhaps something in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens?), please leave a comment below or email kenningtonrunoff@gmail.com

Oxymoron at The Royal Oak, Fitzalan Street – Kennington’s mystery pub

If you Google the Royal Oak Kennington, this pub at the West Kennington end of Kennington Lane will come up top. But there is another Royal Oak, at 78 Fitzalan Street. An earlier Kennington blog wrote about it here. Google suggests this is now a jewellery manufacture and repair business.

Then we saw this intriguing poster:

Royal Oak vintage sale poster - kenningtonrunoff.com

So we went along to what we thought might be a vintage sale in a derelict pub, perhaps squatted. We couldn’t quite believe our eyes.

Oxymoron at Royal Oak, Fitzalan Street exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

In many ways it is a derelict pub – you feel the old wooden floorboards might collapse beneath your feet – but imagine a derelict pub if Tim Burton’s set designer had got hold of it:

Oxymoron at Royal Oak bar during vintage sale - kenningtonrunoff.com

We think we spotted TV’s Mark Hill, who we suspect has a lot to do with the look of Counter. He was trying to purchase various items, only to be told by the female proprietor “Oh no, my husband will never sell that.”

Oxymoron at Royal Oak vintage sale - kenningtonrunoff.com

We got talking to a regular, who informed us the Royal Oak is still a pub, and they had recently started serving food. We asked what kind of food and her description sounded like small plates.

We’ve also managed to track down a Facebook page for Oxymoron at the Royal Oak. From this we have learnt that they opened on Feb 27th, were planning to serve Kernel, and they were serving food on April 13th, They even have a 5 star hygiene rating, reassuringly showing that food standards officers don’t care about creaky floorboards.

If our curiosity needed piquing any further, there were these two reviews:

“Doubt you will find a place like this anywhere in London, ask if the silver fox is there to cook you supper and if you turn up on the right night you may get the chance to see Henry and the Hooray’s play. #hiddengem” – Freddie Scott

“One of the very few undiscovered gems in London. Amazing interior decor like nowhere else. The foods pretty cracking too. Head there, right now!” – Adam Knight

It sounds like the pub we have been waiting for all our lives.

Taking Adam’s advice, we went back to the Royal Oak on a Saturday afternoon. There were about seven people there, who looked like they’d been drinking there for decades. We asked the lady behind the bar if they serve food and she recommended trying The Ship.

Dear Oxymoron at the Royal Oak, please get in touch and tell us when you are serving food and Kernel so we can tell Kennington!

Update, November 2015: They are now serving food regularly on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. More info from Facebook or Twitter.

Old Paradise Yard

Old Paradise Yard painted sign - kenningtonrunoff.com

We finally visited Old Paradise Yard for the first time after a tip off from the Earl of Bedlam. What an interesting hive of activity!

Old Paradise Yard and Kinks lyrics - kenningtonrunoff.com

It used to be a school for the children of the families of Lower Marsh traders, then became a Tibetan Buddhist centre. Now it’s a community of artists and creatives such as these:

Old Paradise Yard residents - kenningtonrunoff.com

From cycling clothing to sewing lessons to 3D printing to an Academy of Electronic Music, plus two places we’re planning to write more about soon: i’klectik – a vegetarian cafe and live music venue – and Gabriel Fine Art gallery.

Old Paradise Yard planter and sculpture - kenningtonrunoff.com

Whoever is based in this building, we are jealous:

Old Paradise Yard hut - kenningtonrunoff.com

There will also be a church-affiliated community farm soon, for at least five years until the extension of a children’s hospital is built on the site:

Oasis Community Farm Waterloo coming soon - kenningtonrunoff.com

Old Paradise Yard is located along the north side of Archbishop’s Park, at 20 Carlisle Lane, SE1 7LG, the other side of Lambeth Palace Road from St Thomas’s Hospital.