Visit London Blog » secret london Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Photo of the Week: St Dunstan-in-the-East Gardens Thu, 29 Dec 2011 09:00:28 +0000

If you’ve overindulged during the Christmas festivities, why not go for a walk in the city, like Rhiaphotos who took this lovely picture in the St Dunstan in the East gardens.

The church was damaged during the Blitz and the ruins were transformed into public gardens in the 1970s.

If you take any photos of London looking lovely between Christmas and new year, don’t forget to add them to the Visit London Flickr pool.

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The Concise Dictionary of Dress at Blythe House Thu, 17 Jun 2010 13:30:10 +0000 The Concise Dictionary of Dress is an unusual exhibition in a fascinating location.

Blythe House near Olympia is the V&A’s storehouse – chock full of precious things that the museum doesn’t have room to display. The building was originally a Victorian bank and it’s not hard to imagine hundreds of sallow-faced clerks trudging to work each day through its slightly grim courtyard.

The Concise Dictionary of Dress is part exhibition, part immersive experience, and also serves as a quick whip through Blythe House’s myriad storerooms and catalogues. Security is understandably tight (it took curator Judith Clarke three years to get permission to use the space) and CDoD is shown to a maximum of seven people at a time.

The show involves 11 exhibits located at various points throughout the building – the first is on the roof, the final one is at sub-basement level, with many staircases, storerooms and security points along the way. Each exhibit takes a word associated with dressing – fashionable, loose, comfortable, etc. – and displays articles of clothing and/or accessories accompanied by a card where several definitions of the word are written (author Adam Phillips‘ contribution). You’re asked to read and observe and to not ask questions until the end.

It’s hard to describe the show itself – a lot is left to your own interpretation and experience – for example, the resin statue on the roof for “Armoured”, lit golden by the afternoon sunlight when I saw it, would seem completely different in wet weather. I’m sure some would find all this pretentious (in fact, that was one of the words) but for me it was thought-provoking and intriguing, not least due to the opportunity for tantalising glimpses of the little-seen treasures of Blythe House as we were taken through.

Concise Dictionary of Dress is at Blythe House until 27 June.

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London Sewing Machine Museum Thu, 03 Sep 2009 14:06:42 +0000 London Sewing Machine Museum

One of London’s best kept secrets, the London Sewing Machine Museum in Tooting Bec is open this weekend and you can visit for free! There’s always something thrilling about exploring a small specialist museum.

If you’re obsessed with sewing or machinery or both, you’ll be rubbing your knees with glee when you see this collection. The museum has two rooms packed with vintage machines, funny shaped bobbins, original packaging and sewing machine themed statues. You can see a sewing machine which was presented to Queen Victoria’s daughter as well as one shaped like a clown sitting at a table!

Local sewing machine experts from the sewing machine warehouse downstairs are on hand to tell you fascinating facts about the collection.

The museum is free and open between 2pm and 5pm on the first Saturday of the month. You have to be over 16 years old to visit because there’s lots of machinery about.

If your visit inspires you to get sewing, you can pop downstairs and buy your own machine.

And next door to the museum is a big haberdashery shop where you can pick up yarn, fabric and notions. On my recent visit, the haberdashery shop staff were knowledgeable and friendly, and weren’t even fazed when a customer popped in for craft supplies while walking her ferret on a lead.

For information about the London Sewing Machine Museum and shops, visit

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