Both of these institutions are magical, unique and irreplaceable. The area will be much worse off without them.
Both of these institutions are magical, unique and irreplaceable. The area will be much worse off without them.
The Workshop is the former fire engine workshop on the corner of Lambeth High Street and Whitgift Street.
It previously played host to VIP parties and the Scumoween illegal rave before the developers Vauxhall One took it over and turned it into a temporary community and events space. It’s becoming an increasingly vibrant destination, playing host to the monthly Vintage Vauxhall Market, and seeing queues stretching all the way around the block when it hosted the Art Car Boot Fair.
The Workshop also has two more long term residents – the Fire Brigade Museum:
And a timely arrival in the area, the Migration Museum:
We are big fans of migration and found this a thoughtful and moving museum with a lot of relevance to the local area:
The Migration Museum is on the first floor of the Workshop with no step free access. It’s open to the public Wednesdays–Sundays (plus bank holidays), from 11am–5pm.
Address: The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, London SE1 7AG.
Watch out Brunswick House, steady on Louie Louie, there’s a new contender for the title of Best Restaurant in Kennington – The Garden Cafe at the redesigned, refurbished Garden Museum.
Let’s start with the negative – the Garden Museum have only gone and destroyed their beautiful garden! This was the best feature of the old museum – an oasis of calm and quiet featuring a 36 year old knot garden, and the grave of local, ahem, hero William Bligh. What has replaced it is a courtyard that’s nice enough but not an oasis. We’re so annoyed we might actually start paying attention to planning applications.
The old Garden Museum had a real community feel to it, whereas the new one feels more like a corporate events space. And it costs £10 to get in to the museum, so you’d have to be really interested in gardening (the cafe is free to enter).
But it might be worth it because the food in the new-look cafe is so good, and the space isn’t bad either – nice and light, with the courtyard along one side.
The food is fresh, modern, seasonal and full of flavour, with a constantly changing menu.
This was a melt-in-the-mouth chicken leg, with rainbow chard and borlotti beans:
The menu is fairly short and there aren’t as many vegetarian or vegan options as we’d like (unlike the old cafe which was all veggie), but this farro, courgettes, aubergine and mint was good:
On a subsequent visit we had this starter of pigeon, cooked rare and not as tender as we’d hoped, with radicchio and elderberries for £8.50:
But this beef shin lasagne more than made up for it – an awesome, mouth watering dish for £14:
Likewise this pappardelle with courgettes and parmesan, a bargain at £10:
Kennington’s leading restaurant critic Jay Rayner got there first of course, so read his review for more details including where the chefs came from (very good restaurants).
As Jay points out, the only snag with the Garden Cafe is the opening hours:
Monday to Friday 8am–5pm
But normally they only serve meals at lunchtime, 12pm–3pm daily, or 12pm–2pm on Saturdays, and booking is recommended.
Over the summer both the Café and Museum are doing late openings on Tuesday evenings and they’re serving meals from 6pm–9.30pm.
Address: The Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB.
Tomorrow (Sunday) sees the second monthly Vintage Vauxhall Market at the Workshop on Whitgift Street (entrance on Lambeth High Street), from 10am to 4pm.
It offers “Mid-century, vintage, decorative antiques, retro” and will take place on the second Sunday of every month. We went to the first market and lusted after a number of items including a mirror made of an old red London telephone box, an old Raleigh bike, some beautifully made children’s toys, a new woolly jumper, some old maps, and these prints:
This stall seems to have been designed with Kate Hoey in mind:
The Workshop is an impressive venue, full of light:
If you’re wondering how this market came to be in North West Kennington, there’s a clue on the website of the organisers: “Vintage and Antiques Markets also thanks local Vauxhall residents author and antiques specialist Mark Hill and Philip Reicherstorfer, owner of the restaurant COUNTER. Mark and Philip are keen to see the local communities and businesses of Vauxhall flourish and had the idea that a market could really work in the area, through their contacts at VauxhallOne they got the ball rolling and helped make it happen!” Well done Mark and Philip, the latter of whom you may see manning Counter’s stall supplying tea, cakes and more.
Did you know the Workshop also plays host to the Fire Brigade Museum?
And, from April 26th, The Workshop will provide temporary asylum to the Migration Museum. We trust Kate Hoey will be an early and frequent visitor.
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?
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.
Address: The Old Courthouse, 43 Renfrew Road, London SE11 4NA
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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”.
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:
The flower garden originally opened in 1931 and its layout has remained much the same since, including this water feature:
This new sundial was made from Welsh slate by Sam Flintham, a student of historic stone carving at Kennington’s own City & Guilds:
Get down there quick while the roses are still in season:
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:
Join the Friends of Kennington Park here – they made all this happen.
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.
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:
Most of their products are organic, and they serve local sourdough bread from the Kennington Bakery.
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:
and certainly nowhere else with a giant gold statue of Buddha surrounded by plants:
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.
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!
We were promised morris dancing, and we got it:
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.
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:
The JamJar flower fairies send out their blooms in a variety of receptacles, including enamel buckets, kilner jars and their signature jam jars:
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.
If you ever want to butter us up, an antique apothecary bottle filled by JamJar is a good place to start.