This week in our Love London section, we are focusing on the beautiful architecture of our city! Our pick of the week is the York Water Gate.
An Italian inspired gate, the York Watergate is an elaborate stone structure which currently sits in the Victoria Embankment Gardens. Built in 1626 by Nicholas Stone to provide easy access onto the Thames from York House, the Watergate is a fascinating insight into the constantly changing landscape of London. It currently sits about 150 meters from the bank of the Thames though it would originally have been a mere few feet away from the Thames, standing as the entranceway to the 1st Duke of Buckingham’s large estate. Its an excellent place to really see just how much the Thames has changed.
Over the years, the gate sadly fell into disrepair before gaining parliamentary approval to become an object of public interest. It is now lovingly taken care of by the residents and is back to its original grandeur. It is a fantastic place that has become the focus of painters and artists alike over the years and is simply a wonderful example and reminder of the stunning opulence found in 16th century London along the banks of the Thames. It is a fantastic spot for a group photo, and don't forget to look closely for the Coat of Arms facing the river for the Villiers family crest, and their motto - Fidei coticula crux, “the cross is the touchstone of faith”.
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History & Cocktail Bar
The name in itself is enough to make us want to investigate. But if you need more convincing, keep reading!
The Viktor Wynd Museum is an impressive insight into the truly weird and wonderful world of Viktor Wynd. The museum houses anything and everything that intrigues Wynd. You will find everything from taxidermied Polycephalous specimens (or animals and beasties with extra heads and arms!) to magic and occult artefacts from around the globe. Originally a curio shop in the basement, a kickstarter campaign literally kickstarted the museum's current and very successful following.
We love this little London Museum and its genuine desire to give all visitors a truly unforgettable experience. Entry is only £5 pounds and includes a cup of tea and a guidebook, about as British as it can be! There’s also a range of wacky cocktails to try in their cocktail bar. Pop in for a wonderfully strange experience.
Now we love singing, whether people are watching or not, so when we heard about a charity that is helping marginalised people connect with new friends, build confidence and have a good time through singing, we had to write about them in our first Benefit London post.
The Choir with no name was started in 2008 by Marie Benton, a gospel singer and saxophonist (how cool is she?). From their first rehearsal, singing One Love by Bob Marley the charity has grown to include 4 Choirs around the country, one in Liverpool, another in Birmingham and two right here in the heart of London. Since their founding, the Choir with No Name has been performing amazing gigs all over the city and around the country, helping anyone who feels alone or has experienced homelessness while bringing good music and happy vibes to everyone who attends their concerts.
The choir rehearses once a week and enjoy a hot meal together once they're done busting out their melodious tunes. Operating on an open-door policy, anyone is welcome to join in and sing.
It is truly inspiring to see how so simple an act can really make a difference to so many lives. The Choir with No Name is really doing something every day to benefit the marginalised of London. The impact on their members is fantastic. Take a look at this 2016-member survey!
- 98% of members report an increase in confidence
- 76% of member report an improvement in their mental health
- 96% of members feel that they've made friends at choir
- 97% of members have learnt at least one new skill
- 60% members have taken up volunteering, employment or found secure housing since joining the choir.
The future also looks bright for the Choir with no Name. A new fundraising strategy started in 2016 and is continuing this year. This will hopefully bring more funding to the charity, as they are hoping to implement their successful “Moving on up” project, where members have more one on one time with staff members to help realise personal goals and aspirations.
If you want to find out more about the Choir with no Name you can do so here http://choirwithnoname.org/