Belgravia Residents’ Journal
Residents’ Culture Spring comforts in the form of dog walking and book reading
Belgravian moments Spring’s warmer weather heralds nature to bloom and the area’s dogs to frolic in our lovely communal gardens, observes local resident Briana Handte Lesesne
iving in the heart of Belgravia, I can walk a short distance and find myself at the doorstep of the Austrian Embassy, the Norwegian Embassy, the Finnish Embassy, the Spanish Embassy and the German Embassy, just to name a few. The area both openly and covertly houses a vast array of nationalities inside elegant buildings, giving Belgravia its unique and diverse array of cultures. Much in the same way, I can walk a short distance from my doorstep and find a vast of array of canine breeds on the leads of their owners or dog walkers heading out for their morning, afternoon or evening stroll to the communal gardens. With daffodil and crocus bulbs planted in December, flower beds laid, leaves carted away and trees and shrubs pruned, spring arrives to Belgrave Square Gardens. In tandem I become keen to learn more about man’s best friend, and do a little research. The various breeds of dogs can be categorised according to the type of behaviour they demonstrate. First we have the herding dogs (Border Collies, Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds). Next up: the gundogs, used in hunting and ranging from Pointers and Setters to Spangles and Retrievers. We then enter the territory of the scent hounds (the Beagle, the Basset
Hound, the Dachshund and the Fox Hound) and their counterparts the sight hounds: Afghan Hounds, Whippets and Greyhounds. Should none of the aforementioned suggest a particular use for you, there is always the option to request a designer dog, as they are known. This fad has led to the cross-breading of canines and the blending of names resulting in Cockapoos, Labradoodles and Pomapoos taking to the streets. All such dogs and their owners are welcome at Mungo & Maud on Elizabeth Street, where a collection of well-designed and functional items awaits, all made from natural materials. Whether sporting the latest collar or sweater, or munching on the very best organic treats (the carrot flavour being a favourite), your pet can look as chic as Panda, a male German Spitz I met walking with his owner down Pont Street in his Mungo & Maud milk-chocolate brown coat. For those whose dog might need a trip to the vet, Elizabeth Street Veterinary Clinic offers care for its patients for both routine appointments and check-ups. It also provides a twenty-four hour emergency service for twenty clinics in central London. What dog, and owner, wouldn’t be grateful for that? As I watched Belgravia’s dogs frolic in the garden, some on their play dates, I was touched by Lulu and Bella’s story, two beautiful petite Shih Tzus. Lulu, experiencing old age and having recently had one of her eyes removed, was ‘depressed’. Her owner bought her a companion, a Shih Tzu named Bella to comfort her and bring her out of her sadness. I watched as they played together in Belgrave Square Gardens, bathing in spring’s light among the scent of fresh grass and flowers. Dogs, it turns out, are not only man’s best friend, but a dog’s best friend as well.
This month we recommend two very different books and invite your reader responses, for publication, to both…
The King’s Henchman: Stuart Spymaster and Architect of the British Empire by Anthony Adolph’s Published last November, historian Dan Cruickshank gave this book a four-star review, labelling it ‘a rich and heady brew that gallops along at a cracking pace.’ The pages chart the rise of Henry Jermyn’s path from commoner to court, how he became the founder of London’s West End and how he set the style for the rest of London. Aside from detailing links between him and the current royal family (there are claims he secretly fathered Charles II) the book touches heavily upon Belgravia. In the late seventeenth century, Belgravia was just farmland on the western periphery of London, and was about as fashionable as the cowpats its fields contained. The book’s authot, Anthony Adolph, explained to the Belgravia Residents’ Journal: ‘What made Belgravia fashionable was when Richard Grosvenor, second Marquess of Westminster, started developing it in the 1820s. He could have done this in the humdrum style that was current at the time, streets and streets packed with terraced houses. Instead, he chose to lay the area out with wide streets, stylish squares and fine Classical architecture; a style which was then enjoying a revival (that was to prove short-lived). ‘His inspiration for magnificence, excellence and grandness of design came from the area that Henry Jermyn had developed together with Queen Henrietta Maria, as they had done with the Banqueting House and Greenwich Park, employing the finest architects of the time such as Inigo Jones. Like St James, Belgravia became in its time such a success that Westminster became a byword for elegance that the marquesses’s family had even chosen the name Westminster for their title.’
Something for your coffee table London Secrets: a draughtsman’s guide by Tim Gosling
Tim Gosling has many a connection to our local area. He designed the interiors of The Goring Hotel, worked at David Linley in a former existence and has carried out multiple interior projects on houses in Belgravia. This book, published in July 2012, brings together a fabulous collection of sketches and imagery and offers a forward by Vivienne Westwood. With beautiful thick cream pages and a smart grey material hard cover, the book is one to treasure. Accompanying the simple yet atmoshperic sketches are blurbs on the architectural and social history Fans of Tim Gosof each, as well as a ‘secret’ about the edifice in question. If you aren’t much ling’s designs will be into buildings you will be by the time you’ve clamped your eyes on these interested to hear that modestly laid-out pages. Of Buckingham Palace it reads: ‘Originally the site he is giving a talk for [the Palace] was known as Mulberry Garden, in honour of James I’s at Chelsea Harbour forlorn attempts to establish silk production in England…’, later continuing, during London Design ‘The building that Edward VII inherited in 1901 had, according to critics, more Week on 19 March in common with a railway station than a palace.’ This book is easy on the eye, at 11.30am. Durinspiring and full of little conversation pieces. ing ‘Conversation in Design – His Master’s Voice’, Tim will host Tim Gosling a panel of interior and architectural experts to discuss the everchanging architecture in our capital and how the masters of the LONDON SECR past have influenced ETS buildings of today. A DRAUGHTSMAN
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B E L G R AV I A R E S I D E N T S ’ J O U R N A L
from Duncan Lawrie, Belgravia’s local bank since 1971 James Humphreys, a Senior Investment Manager at Duncan Lawrie, offers his thoughts on what’s happening in the global economy
Residents’ Culture We interact with readers about life in the community
The Residents’ Association’s
March round-up T
he BRA’s ‘Great People Have Always Lived Here’ campaign of 2011 reminded local residents of the history and heritage of our wonderful neighbourhood. In support of this, we launched a series of historic house tours. This year, our first historic house event is a tour of Hertford House on 7 March (10.15am), to view the wonderful Wallace Collection. Our tours have proved very popular, offering members a way to meet each other amidst fine art such as the Canalettos, the Madame de Pompadours and the Cavaliers of this world. For further details, and to book, please visit the Historic Events section of our website. Tickets cost £20 and if you bring a friend they pay £15.
by Sara Oliver
t the beginning of the year, most major equity markets continued on a positive trajectory, with Europe the stand-out performer. The UK and the Unites States, however, didn’t follow suit. There were disappointing Q4 GDP data from both countries: the former contracted 0.3 percent and the latter shrank a full 1.1 percent over the same period. In the UK, growth was held back by overrunning maintenance on North Sea oil rigs, while in the US a drop in national defence spending was largely to blame for the country’s first negative growth period in three years. We would not be surprised if the US figure were to be revised upwards in the coming months; this belief appears to be shared by investors, who took advantage of reasonable equity market valuations and pushed many equity indices to highs not seen since before the financial crisis. Gilt and corporate bond indices are marginally negative this year, with investors reducing exposure and moving into equities. During January, the Office of National Statistics decided against a recommendation to alter the Retail Price Index, a fact which provided a boost for index-linked gilts. So far this year, all UK domestic sectors are in positive territory. Mobile telecoms enjoyed a strong performance following share price weakness towards the end of 2012. These companies hope to benefit from the adoption of 4G superfast services across the UK and Europe, driving data consumption from smartphones and tablets. Food and household-good producers reported generally good results, largely driven by the growing consumption in Emerging Markets. Mining
energy prices in the US, helped by new unconventional gas and oil reserves, have improved corporate margins across many industries. Looking ahead, the US is yet to tackle its fiscal issues, which were only partly addressed by the rushed agreements at the beginning of 2013. Alongside this, improving but tentative industrial data from China and upcoming elections in Europe present some uncertainty. While we believe this will be a good year for equities, there is the risk of some short-term profit taking in the weeks ahead. To find out more, contact us (mentioning the Residents’ Journal) on 0845 680 8778, at www.duncanlawrie.com/bank or pop in to see us at 1 Hobart Place.
It is the offices of Duncan Lawrie Private Bank on Hobart Place that have recently been the site of much artistic interest, following the placing of a blue plaque upon the exterior, as an ode to composer Felix Mendelssohn (see also page 5). Mendelssohn stayed at 4 Hobart Place during visits to London when at the pinnacle of his profession. Matthew Parden, Managing Director of Duncan Lawrie, said ‘We are greatly attached to our London home here in Belgravia. We have been here for more than twenty years and it is wonderful to know some of the history that precedes us. It is an honour to think the prestigious composer Felix Mendelssohn frequented the property.’ Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Magaging Director of the Barbican Centre, was among those unveiling the plaque and commented, ‘Mendelssohn was so beloved by the English that he virtually became one of our composers. Many of his greatest works like ‘Elijah’ were premiered here, our Philharmonic Society commissioned him, and he spent much time in London, conducting and composing. In return we made his music, from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to ‘The Hebrides’ (overture), part of our national tradition. It is very appropriate that a blue plaque should mark one of his regular London lodgings.’ Next time you are passing, you might reflect on the valuable history of this building.
Last year, our campaign ‘For Those Who Love Belgravia’ was a successful way to remind our members of the special quality of this part of London and to bring them together with local businesses. During this period, we developed a companion website – Perfectly Belgravia – to encourage greater connections between local shops and services, and our members.
This year we have a Perfectly Belgravia series of Member Events, the first of which will be held at Floris, purveyor of the finest bespoke perfumes. Floris, at 147 Ebury Street, will host members and their friends on 14 March, surrounded by beautifully bottled blends of oils and essences from around the world. Both the art of fragrance and the history of the perfume house will be discussed during hourlong slots at both 11am and 3pm. A goody bag will be included as a memento of the day, and all this for a very reasonable £15, and if you bring a friend they pay £10. Book online at www.perfectlybelgravia.co.uk. If you would like to help us coordinate some of our 2013 events, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch for further details via our website.
Until next month...
At the beginning of the year, growth in the UK was held back by overrunning maintenance on North Sea oil rigs
Strings attached to Belgravian banking scene
Meet other local residents among the Canalettos, the Madame de Pompadours and the Cavaliers of this world
stocks have taken a pause, after a strong finish to last year. Many have been reducing capital expenditure in favour of improving returns to shareholders, which has been taken well by the market. The corporate earnings season has also progressed well across the pond: seven percent of the Standard & Poor’s five hundred companies that reported results have beaten expectations. Lower
Words / Alice Tozer
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B E L G R AV I A R E S I D E N T S ’ J O U R N A L