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More from Emma Bryning

Historic Graffiti of St Augustine’s Tower, Hackney, London

St Augustine’s Tower is the oldest building in Hackney and can be found in the gardens of St John’s Church. This Grade I listed tower is managed by the Hackney Historic Buildings Trust and is usually open on the last Sunday of each month. A church was built on the site in the 12th century and then rebuilt in the 16th century. The church became redundant following the completion of the Church of St-John-at-Hackney in 1792 and the tower is all that remains of the 16th-century church following the demolition of the rest of the building in 1798. Although the tower was also due to be demolished it was kept in order to house the church bells until they could be moved to their new location. It is also reported that the tower stayed after the contractor employed to demolish it found it to be too difficult of a job. After climbing the narrow staircase to the top of the tower, visitors are treated to a view of the City of London whilst a variety of graffiti can be found throughout, including marks left by those visiting the tower in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and drawings of houses. 

Victorian Police Graffiti on Myddelton Passage, Clerkenwell, London

Although they may be easy to miss, Myddelton Passage in Clerkenwell contains a unique historical record as a series of numbers, letters and dates can be found carved into the brickwork on the left side of the passage, many of which were scratched onto the wall by officers of the London Metropolitan Police. The practice started at some point around the mid to late 19th century and continued until around the time of the First World War, with many of the carvings referring to personal collar numbers and divisions, carved by local Police Constables.

The Trellick Tower and Graffiti Hall of Fame, Kensal Green, London

Trellick Tower is a Grade II* listed tower block on Cheltenham Estate in Kensal Green which was designed in a Brutalist style by architect Ernö Goldfinger and opened in 1972. The base of the tower is renowned as a centre for urban arts and is another example of one of London’s legal ‘Graffiti Halls of Fame’, where graffiti artists can paint without the risk of arrest and, consequently, have a safe space to hone their skills. In the Autumn of 2020, it was revealed that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council were taking steps to implement a new development onto the grounds of the Trellick Tower which would leave the graffiti hall of fame at risk of destruction. In response to the plans, Anna Gudbrands created a documentary film, ‘Trellick: The Writing is on The Wall’ highlighting the importance of both the tower and the Graffiti Hall of Fame. 

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The Barbican and the Making of the Modern Office Building – Pt. 1

The Barbican Redevelopment Scheme, comprising the Barbican Estate, Barbican Arts Centre and the office buildings around London Wall and Moorgate, is well known to people with an affection for twentieth-century architecture, and has become major cultural centre in its own right. Nevertheless, very few people are aware of how a type of plastic manufactured in rural Kent quietly revolutionised the design and construction of modern office building, in particular the curtain-walling systems that enabled open-plan offices. In the first of two viewpoints on the New Barbican, Alexander Davidson tells a story encompassing two office buildings built as part of the Barbican Redevelopment Scheme – Lee House and St Alphage House – and how the plastic Holoplast was manufactured, used in construction, and eventually came to be demonised by the City of London Corporation.