15 July 2013

What to do with a River in your basement: The lost Tyburn River, Grays Antique Store

London has existed in some form or another at least since the 2nd Century BC (and evidence to suggest much earlier. The first major settlement was founded by the Romans in 43 AD and the name Londinium kind of stuck (possibly taken from a hypothetical Celtic placename, Londinion, which may have been derived from the personal name Londinos, from the word lond, meaning 'wild'.)

All of the experts do however agree that settlers stayed here because of the Thames Rivers rich natural resources. What you may not realise, is that in addition to the Thames, 21 other rivers and tributaries also run under the busy streets of London (the largest being The River Fleet lending it's name to Fleet Street).
 
 
  
Housed in beautiful Terracotta buildings a stones throw from Oxford Street, Grays Antiques is made up of a litany of close to 200 individual stalls selling everything from Oriental Fans to 18th Century Furniture and War memorabilia.
 
 

"Bolding & Son was founded in 1822 and was in the ‘water closet’ business.  He was a direct competitor with Thomas Crapper and this building was the firms showroom and headquarters. The mews section was built in the early 1900s and was taken over by Bolding & Son in 1931. The firm took over Crappers firm in 1966, but went broke in 1969. The building was abandoned and became derelict. Purchased by Bernie Gray, it was restored and reopened in 1977." Londonunveiled.com

(If you like historical lavs, check out London's oldest here or a very unique coffee shop here...)

I'm pretty fascinated by all the beautiful stuff, but especially the bottle shaped like a cat?



 I could have spent hours in here just wandering, looking at everything.
 
On your travels around the stalls, in the second (non-interconnecting) building downstairs in the basement is a whole 'nother level of quirkiness. When the building was renovated in the 1970s, the basement was underwater, and is thought to be the culverted Tyburn River (or a tributary). It's claimed that here in Gray's basement is the only place you can see it as running water, and so a decorating genius decided to make it into a water feature.


Add a few goldfish, and et voila!



Fact for the day: Oxford Street used to be called Tyburn Road.

At the time of writing, the fish lounge in Grays Mews, set slightly back compared to the mother building; 58 Davies Street & 1-7 Davies Mews, Mayfair, W1K 5AB and the closest tube is Bond Street.

It's totally free, and will astound your family and friends as a true London quirk.

 
Ps. I finally got into the shop where the London Stone lives for a close up. I astonished my friend as I asked the shop guy if I could disappear behind one of the stands to have a look. My friend said it's quite the most random thing she's ever gone into a shop for! I've updated the post with the pics :) 

7 comments :

  1. I had no idea this existed! I must go have a look (very dangerous for my wallet)

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    1. Go really in the day, and then only half of the stalls are open. It's the only way my wallet escaped in one piece!

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  2. I love having a good rummage through antique stores! Will have to put this one on my list :)

    Dannielle | Chic-a-Dee

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    1. The antique stores were such a fascinating bonus.

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  3. Extraordinary that river! Very interesting post.

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    1. Thanks Sally, just another weird London thing which is why I adore this city!

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  4. This looks so fun! Going to add this to my bucket list.

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