It was an honour to be awarded the title of a Freeman of the City of London.
Although the privileges once afforded to those becoming a Freeman, being able to drive sheep not the City of London, being drunk without fear of arrest, and drawing a sword in public, have long gone, I felt proud on the special day.
In recent years, the UK as with other countries, have introduced strict no smoking laws.
Gone are the days when I sat in a restaurant, and a nearby smokers smoke drifted across my face.
Gone are the days I went into a bar and came out after an evening enjoying myself with colleagues or friends with my clothes smelling of cigarette smoke.
Gone are the days I walked down the railway platform following a smoker, my air space full of cigarette smoke, whilst the smoker was in fresh air.
Don’t take me wrong, I am not against smokers. As a reformed heavy smoker myself, I know the joy of a cigarette. Thirty years ago I gave up, but I still hunger for that same satisfaction on occasions.
The UK law restricts smoking in any public building or work space. This has resulted in workers having to stand outside the offices if they want to smoke, no matter what the weather is.
On the glass front entrance door can be found a notice:-
PLEASE DO NO SMOKE IN OR IN FRONT OF ENTRANCE
So what do the employees do? Go into the grounds of Norbiton Hall, and smoke there.
No problem, it is in the open, and some nicely maintained gardens.
But, why do they have to drop the FAG ENDS, the stubs, on the floor, stamping them out, and leaving them for other people to clear up.
I have a good mind to sweep them up and post them through the Clarendon House letter box.
I’m becoming a grumpy old man.
I have been writing a little about culture, especially when I heard a participant say on a recent course, “this is *?&$£: culture, and it will not change.”
After taking some of my relatives on a small walk after our meal in London’s China Town into Piccadilly Circus, then up Regent Street to Oxford Circus and Oxford Street, I was wondering what is happening to the British traditional Christmas celebrations, our cultural heritage, it is changing.
For a start the traditional street lights put up for Christmas lacked the festive message. They had nothing to do with what Christmas stands for, the tradition, OK the religious meaning, not even a Santa Clause and his reindeer.
In London’s Regent Street, the lights were just clusters of balls hung in the middle of the street changing colour. Perhaps they are one company’s identity or logo. Pathetic.
Trafalgar Square Xmas Tree
In Kingston upon Thames (20/12/2007) the lights were more festive, and this town is very multicultural, being a major shopping center for the area. If they can do it, why not Central London?
Britain is becoming too PC, too politically correct, as the UK is being settled by peoples from many nations of the world, for fear of upsetting these people, with other traditions, other cultures, other religions.
The tradition of holding the nativity play in the UK primary schools, where the young children would act the birth of Christ, has in some schools been dropped, withdrawn, as it may upset some of the minority of other faiths that have settled in the UK.
There was the case of a large worldwide media company having to cancel the traditional Christmas Party, usually held by organisations at this time of year, because two (2) people object to the word “Christmas” being used, even though there were I believe nearly 3,000 other staff who had no objection to the word.
The Christmas cards we send to our friends, some years ago would have said “Happy Christmas”. Now we read “Seasons Greetings”.
The culture and traditions of the British people is changing as is should do as more and more people settle in the UK, bringing their culture and traditions into the melting pot of life.
But I do think that these new people, incomers, should be more tolerant to others beliefs and culture of the countries they settle into, and those people who are trying to be politically correct go and visit certain countries in the Middle East, etc and witness their holidays.
But such is life, we have to just accept change or we will get upset, beat ourselves up, and complain.
Ten years ago, we gave up living on a boat, our Dicken’s Class 50′ ocean going vessel named Mr Toots, (click to see), and swapped her, with a friend Richard Morris, for our flat. Where are you now Richard?
The first clue obviously is that the estate is in the village or district of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, (Click to view film), called Norbiton, south west of London, and within the M25 motorway.
Another clue is a blue plaque on the outer wall of the flats which says:-
HERE FORMALLY STOOD NORBITON HALL
BUILT IN THE 16TH CENTURY ON LOVEKYN’S CHAPEL LAND
IT HAS BEEN THE RESIDENCE OF
MR ANTONY BENN
THE COUNTESS OF LIVERPOOL
I decided to research in the library and museum. What was here before these flats?
The first records I found for Norbiton was for 1174 when Henry II bestowed the Manor of North Barton to the Knights of Anjou. The word Barton I suspect being derived from the Saxon word “beartun”, meaning to store grain.
In 1309 Edward Lovekyn founded Lovekyn Chapel, still standing and in use opposite the end of Old London Road, and standing in the grounds of Tiffins Grammar School, at the start of London Road. It is said that most of the lands in the area belonged to Lovekyn at that time.
The plaque on the wall of the chapel says :-
“The Lovekyn Chapel founded 1309 by Edward Lovekyn bailiff and member of the butchers’ company of Kingston: rebuilt and re-endowed 1352 by John Lovekyn stock-fishmonger and Alderman and four times Lord Mayor of London: confiscated to the Crown 1535 granted to the Kingston Grammar School 1561 by Queen Elizabeth.”
There is mentioned that in 1532 a certain Mr Erasmus Ford who owned the land, complained bitterly to King Henry VIII, as some of King’s men had cut down 35 prime elms, it is presupposed to help built Hampton Court, which is not far away from Norbiton and Kingston, up the River Thames.
The Evelyn family in 1588 used the property to store and make gunpowder.
What building existed then could not be found, but there is reference of a building in 1631 as being newly built in brick and had 13 hearths. There is mention of the Jenkinson family owning Norbiton Hall in 1681 when major renovation and alteration was undertaken, saying that 43 persons could be comfortable sat for diner.
There were two large estates in the area, the one I researched Norbiton Hall, and the other which should not be confused with the Hall, which was Norbiton House or Place, the two estates divided by the London Road. Both areas prior to the 19th century being primarily agricultural land.
Norbiton Hall‘s grounds were to the north of London Road, the road was said prior to adoption by the local authority a difficult place to negotiate, as carts would become stuck for hours from the resultant mud and ruts after rain.
Norbiton House or Place was to the south of London Road, bordered by Cambridge Road and Coombe Road. The house and grounds were palatial, with the owner a rich merchant, a Mr Pallmer, trading in the West Indies, spending most of his money on the estate, eventually becoming bankrupt. He would open the grounds for the public to enjoy at weekends. The house was of more grandeur than the buildings at Norbiton Hall, having 23 hearths.
Opposite Norbiton Hall is St Peters Church, which was built in 1842 by Gilbert Scott in the Norman Style.
It was at this time that big changes started to occur in the area. By 1838 the Enclosure Commissioners alloted land from Norbiton Hall for development, and with the introduction of the railway line to Kingston and Maldon, the Norbiton Hall estate was split into two and got smaller. By 1873 there was only 12 acres left, and in 1882-4 the then owner drove a road though the estate calling it Birkenhead Avenue, named after the families favourite town. Land was sold in small plots to build houses adjoining the new Avenue.
In 1829 the estate was purchased by Mary, Countess of Liverpool, and her cousin Robert Jenkinson who was Lieutenant of Dover Castle, a well to do man, and was known as the squire. He died in the mid 1850s. The Countess died 1846. Lord Liverpool who died a year before the purchase was Prime Minister for 15 years, and was responsible for the erection of Kingston Bridge, the first stone being laid 1825 and opened 1828, replacing an earlier bridge which was documented crossing the Thames since 1219.
Norbiton Hall was acquired from John Guy 1864 by William Hardman, for 8000 guineas, he was to become Mayor of Kingston, magistrate and recorder, and was knighted in 1885. As a justice he had rooms in the hall which he used to hear cases against local villains on a daily basis.
In 1884 Norbiton Hall was advertised for sale with 4 servants bedrooms, 5 best bedrooms, dressing and bathroom, drawing dining morning and billiard room, library breakfast room. But the grounds were only 2 acres left and sold in lots.
A Mr E J Cave lived in the house for an annual rent of £200, and in 1884 brought the house for £3500, but it went into a long decline.
In 1933 a planning application was submitted for the land to be to become a dog racing track but was rejected by council, and subsequently by the government on appeal. Soon after the hall was demolished to make way for the 192 to flats as we see them today.
The back of Norbiton Hall, in Birkenhead Avenue.
Same position about 1925 with post box and tram lines
Norbiton Hall c. 1930
Old Photographs Copyright R.H.Byran
Reproduced with permission and fee from
Kingston Museum April 2007
See a film of Kingston upon Thames taken on a sunny day in April 2007, click here.
Today was my birthday, here in Istanbul, but nothing to do. Ho Ho.
I was asked to go to the training school (NLPGrup) to complete a certificate, and that is on the Eastern side of Istanbul, and I am staying on the Western near Taxim Tunel.
Istanbul is in two parts, the Eastern and Western sides, with the Bosphorus dividing the two, being the border between Asia and Europe, with about 13 million residents.
The journey across the Bosphorus takes about twenty minutes, and it is a time to relax, to take in the sights either side, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Mosque (The Pink Mosque), and many old palaces.
Today it was so grey, cold and with driving rain as the photographs show, but inside the ferry I was warm.
The Bosphorus links the Aegean, the Med to the Black Sea, and ships all shapes and sizes of all countries carrying different cargoes pass through this narrow passage. To sit and watch the passing of these ships on the bank of the Bosphorus eating a Kumpir (hot jacket potato, filled with various filings) and a Turkish coffee brings to you how small our world is.
The one Turkish characteristic which does get at me sometimes, is the wish to be first. OK, I’m British, and we British are a nation of queuers, if there are more than three people in a line, we will join the line, knowing nothing of why we are waiting. But, the Turkish people just push in front, that also happens with the driving, especially the taxis.
Yet the people are so nice. They will take time to talk to you. I had a great conversation with my taxi driver on the way home tonight, trouble was my fare went up from the usual 6 lira to 10. Oh Poo Poo. Perhaps the traffic was very bad, or as the taxi drivers say:-
“Istanbul, traffic, problem.”
Yes traffic is the same the world over, London, Paris, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur.
So early to bed, I am told that Sky TV wants to interview me tomorrow.
Now that’s another day.