Category Archives: buildings

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.

Requiem for the Subways

Requiem for the Subways

Sadly, the campaign to save the subways under the north roundabout in North Kennington is all over bar the singing. The 104 year old subways will be filled with concrete from April 9th.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, is your chance to say goodbye. Meet in the centre of the roundabout at 7pm. From sunset, there will be a free choral performance of a specially written composition by Danyal Dhondy, with one section being performed in each of the seven subways.

Positions by Eva Stenram at Siobhan Davies Studios

Siobhan Davies Studios on St George’s Road is one of Kennington’s best buildings. It plays host to modern dance, yoga, pilatestherapies, and visual art, and the current art exhibition – Positions by London-based Swedish artist Eva Stenram – is the best one we’ve seen there.

Siobhan Davies Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is Arrangement (after Irving Klaw), featuring reframings of risqué 1950s photos of Bettie Page and other pin up models:

Eva Stenram - Arrangement (after Irving Klaw) at Siobhan Davies Studios - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is part of her Score for a Sequence of Poses, again using pin-up photos as its inspiration:

Eva Stenram - part of Score for a Sequence of Poses at Siobhan Davies Studios - kenningtonrunoff.com

This print is available to buy, unframed, for £60:

Eva Stenram - Elastic at Siobhan Davies Studios - kenningtonrunoff.com

There are also a series of 1960s pin up photographs where Eva has digitally removed everything except one leg – eerie, and worth seeing in person.

Positions is open till March 22nd and admission is free. Eva will be leading a tour of the exhibition a week today, March 12th, from 2pm to 3pm.

Another current exhibition at the Studios addresses the age old question “is it art, or is it mould?”. It’s both! This is Lichen Colony by ceramicists Alison Proctor and Phoebe Cummings:

Photo by Robyn Caberet

Photo by Robyn Caberet

our North and East Kennington predictions for 2015

North Kennington (formerly known as Elephant & Castle) will be a messy snarl up from some time very soon for at least a year because of two massive Transport For London projects: the reconfiguration of the North roundabout, and the installation of the new cycle superhighway on St George’s Road. The number of cranes is expected to increase too, and associated construction beneath them, as Lend Lease commence work on the portion at the top of Walworth Road, including a 31 storey tower.

Ministry of Sound will get what they want in terms of planning approval, because they love to fight hard and win.

What will become of the shopping centre? Whatever it is, let’s hope it manages to keep the downtown Bogotá/magical realism vibe that makes it so vibrant at present. Likewise the Coronet and the bowling alley – North Kennington needs these!

The good news is the new Castle Leisure Centre will open in the heart of North Kennington with its two lovely pools (one of them 25m long), sports hall, gym, crèche, café, and a wooden ceiling for those doing back stroke to admire.

The Castle Leisure Centre

The Castle Leisure Centre

There will continue to be havens of green space in the area, including a new Mobile Gardeners event and gardening space opening on New Kent Road called Grow Elephant.

The modernist Perronet House (between St George’s Road and London Road on the North roundabout) will join Metro Central Heights in being listed. See this article about one of the top floor flats.

Like The Duchy Arms, North Kennington’s Marcel & Sons will cease to be a best-kept secret and become a destination eatery.

As for East Kennington, Walworth Road could become a foodie haven if some of the establishments would just sort out their Food Standards ratings.

Marcel & Sons Mauritian tearoom and restaurant

Marcel & Sons is one of the freshest, most exciting restaurant/cafe openings in London, but, so far, one of the most low-key.

Andy Ng and Randy Tsang used to work in advertising (Andy was a creative director at M&C Saatchi), but they quit the rat race to start a Mauritian tea room, restaurant and showroom in Artworks, the shipping container park at the junction of Walworth Road and Elephant Road in North Kennington. Theirs is the dark green entrance in the bottom left:

The Artworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

Such is their aversion to their former trade of advertising that all they’ve done to publicise Marcel & Sons is start a Facebook and an Instagram account. When we went, we were the only customers in there, but the food and the welcome were so great that perhaps word of mouth will be enough to fill their tiny restaurant.

Randy, on the left, is a the fully qualified Cordon Bleu chef, and Andy, on the right, is the front of house:

Randy and Andy from Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you’re wondering what the cases and shelves on either side are, that’s the showroom element, but we’ll leave that for another day because right now we want to focus on the wonderful food.

We’d never had Mauritian food before and we were blown away. You’ll recognise elements from Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Korean food, and Marcel & Sons’ take on it has some French Cordon Bleu influence with an emphasis on comfort food (they steer clear of certain Mauritian specialities like sea cucumber and octopus). We could see it catching on in a big way.

There are just three main courses on the menu, but they change every day. We had Bol Renversé which is a sweet yet savoury upside down bowl of rice with homemade Mauritian sausage, sweet wine, onion, garlic, choi sum, fried egg, spring onion and coriander. We liked it so much we even tolerated the shitache mushrooms. The packaging is great too:

Bol Renervse box from Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

But the real star dish was Bao Pao – crunchy strips of beef, mazavaroo aioli, pickled cucumber and watercress served in a delicious soft steamed bun:

Bao Pao at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

The menu was quite meat heavy but they can do a veggie version of Nouik Nain (steamed chayote dumplings).

Drinks wise, the Mauritian speciality is Alouda Vanilla, featuring Madagascar vanilla, sugarcane syrup, basil seeds, agar and milk, and yes, it’s as sweet as it sounds. They don’t serve alcohol but you’re welcome to BYOB, or get a drink from the new Longwave bar which has just opened right outside.

They’re closed on Mondays because the market where they buy their ingredients is closed, but they’re open from 11am to 9pm every other day. Get along there quick before the queue stretches out of the door and they open their twentieth branch in the Westfield food hall.

the new look Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum marked the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I by closing for refurbishment, briefly reopening, then closing again without much explanation. Anyway, they managed to reopen for good in July, and we finally made it along a couple of weeks ago.

The Imperial War Museum entrance - kenningtonrunoff.com

The cafe has relocated to the Kennington Road side of the building and now has outdoor tables in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth park which is a big improvement.

outside tables at the Imperial War Museum, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park - kenningtonrunoff.com

The food was good too – it’s run by Peyton & Byrne (not Ottolenghi but right up there), and we had a deliciously moist marinated herb fed chicken with slaw for £8.50.

Imperial War Museum cafeteria - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also have a good selection of cakes:

The cake table, Imperial War Museum - kenningtonrunoff.com

We were less impressed with the new look atrium, designed by Foster and Partners, which is slightly less spacious and seemed darker.

The Imperial War Museum Atrium - kenningtonrunoff.com

There are fewer vehicles on the ground floor to get up close and personal with although, thanks to Jeremy Deller, there is the arresting presence of a bombed out civilian’s car from Baghdad:

Bombed wreck of car from Baghdad - kenningtonrunoff.com

Admission to the museum is free but at busy times (most of the time), you’ll be a given a ticket with timed entry for the World War I exhibition, which includes a recreation of a WWI trench. That’s the huge queue in the photo of the atrium above – and one thing you can say for the new look museum, so far it seems to be even more popular than before.

The Londonist have a more detailed review of the museum itself.

Open House Kennington

Open House London is this weekend and the following Kennington places are participating:

Arts Lav (more info here)

Beaconsfield (more info here)

Lambeth Palace, but all the tours are booked up there

Mobile Gardeners Planting Station, which is the new incarnation of the Mobile Gardeners Park in the former Shell garage, 137-149 Walworth Road, SE17 1JZ. Help them construct the garden on Saturday from 1pm. More info here.

Morley College (Sunday only)

Perronet House (Saturday only – more info here)

Roots and Shoots (Saturday only)

Siobhan Davies Studios (Saturday only – more info here)

The Cinema Museummore info here

Coming Thursday for 3 days - The Cinema Museum - kenningtonrunoff.com