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Recent activities

The Friends Visit Fishmongers’ Hall

In February, a large group from the Friends visited Fishmongers’ Hall, the home of the ancient Fishmongers’ Company, incorporated by Royal Charter in 1272 and one of the “Great Twelve” London City Livery Companies.

Our excellent tour guide, Peter Capon, Head of Collections, was knowledgeable and his numerous humorous anecdotes made the visit even more interesting. We enjoyed tea and coffee in the Court Room while Peter told us about the Company’s fascinating history.

The current hall, dating from 1864, is the third to be built on the site. The Entrance Hall has a modern chandelier made up of 743 gold plated fish. The Company has a strong relationship with the Thames and being close to Billingsgate Market, with fish mongering as well as the fishing industry in general.  Its charitable activities range from supporting Gresham School in Norfolk, primary schools in Tower Hamlets and mental health initiatives in general. It also organises the annual Doggett’s Race, the world’s oldest boat race, although its members do not compete.

There are 850 members, with a Court (board) of 34 members, each of whom having a wooden coat of arms, which are hung hang throughout the hall. The tour went up the impressive stairs to the Vestibule, the Court Dining Room, the Court Drawing Room and finally the Banqueting Hall which had been renovated in 2018.

The Company has two royal portraits by Pietro Annigoni – one of the Duke of Edinburgh and the other of Queen Elizabeth II.  Although the critics did not care for the latter, the Royal family loved it, as did the public; it was the making of Annigoni.

Overall, this was a fascinating and enjoyable tour.

Carols by Candlelight in the Tudor Courtyard

This Friends of Fulham Palace favourite in early December continues to attract a growing number of families – over the course of the occasion, an estimated 800 people of all ages enjoyed the singing of the ever-popular Addison Singers. An added bonus was sight of the newly restored brickwork in the courtyard arch and walls, which was shown to great effect by the up lighters generously provided by Effectevent.

Our thanks to all who attended and helped to create such a friendly family atmosphere on a rather grey December afternoon and who contributed generously by buying the refreshments on offer – mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies and ginger bread men, as well as making donations.

As before, the event was made possible by the participation of the Addison Singers as well as the generosity of our sponsors – Snell & Snell, Meyer Homes, Fullers Builders and Fullers Brewers.

As a result of this combined effort, the Friends raised over £2000, which will be passed on towards the increasingly evident restoration work.

Photo by Giselle Brosnahan


Light & Dark Perform in the Great Hall

In early November, the Friends of Fulham Palace presented an evening of delightful a cappella music in The Tudor Great Hall, performed by the highly- talented Fever Pitch Choir under the fluent direction of Elinor Corp.

The eclectic programme included a mix of songs – such as Night & Day, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Here Comes the Sun – designed to reflect the autumnal season, as evenings draw in, taking us through to darkness, the heat of bonfires, the excitement of fireworks and ending with a sense of light. It was a performance that was much enjoyed by the appreciative audience.

It was also satisfying to see a number of new faces in the audience and we hope they will return for future recitals and other musical events that the Friends offer.

All proceeds from the evening will contribute towards the Friends’ support of the current Fulham Palace restoration project, the results of which are becoming satisfyingly evident across the Palace.

The Friends visit Southside House

In early September, the Friends visited Southside House, a Grade II* listed building, hidden away just off Wimbledon Common. After an amusing introduction by Juan, he led us on a tour of this unique building, containing an amazing range of paintings, artefacts and not least of all, a fund of family history and anecdotes. In fact, it soon became clear that these were all intricately intertwined. As Simon Jenkins wrote in England’s 1000 Best Houses – “Southside House is not a work of art but something more precious – a house created and adorned by those who inhabit it”.

The house was owned by Hilda Pennington Mellor Munthe, who had married Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor and author of the best selling The Road to San Michelle. One of their sons, Malcolm, a decorated Second World War hero, was responsible largely for the current style and ambience of the house, created by his dreams and imagination to reflect his and his family’s life and interests.

Our tour included a range of delightful rooms – Breakfast Room; Dining Room; Entrance Hall, with its upper gallery; Library with Malcolm’s desk filled with its evocative contents; Prince of Wales Bedroom, with Malcolm’s Cabinet of Curiosities; Tapestry Room and Music Room, where regular concerts are held, which are open to the public. They all contained a range of attractive paintings, by such artists as Van Dyke and Constable, as well as beautiful artefacts, many of which had a story to tell, all ably recounted by Juan.  We finished our visit by enjoying the several “rooms” that made up the garden, which were originally established by Hilda.

Guided Walk: Soho, London’s Great Melting Pot

On a slightly chilly but sunny evening in early June, a small group of Friends met for a fascinating and informative walk around Soho. This was led by Richard Watkins, a Fulham Palace staff member and qualified City of Westminster History Guide.

After meeting amidst the noise and crowds at Tottenham Court Road Station we quickly moved to the relative peace of Soho Square, where, in front of the statue of King Charles II, Richard explained how the whole area shows the influence of the many and varied migrant communities who helped to form Soho as we know it today. Our walk encompassed the French Protestant Church and The French House; Greek Street, so aptly named; past many long-standing family run Italian restaurants; the Gay Hussar Hungarian Restaurant which has been a political meeting venue for more than 50 years; De Hems Dutch Bar & Restaurant and finally China Town which is home to over 80 restaurants, bars and cafes.

We saw the house in Frith Street where Mozart lived and the Blue Plaque in commemoration of Karl Marx’s residence on Dean Street and where numerous great migrant craftsmen and artists lived.  There was particular interest in learning of the links with Fulham Palace, specifically Old Compton Street named after Bishop Henry Compton (a vital player in helping the migration of protestants persecuted in France) and St Anne’s Church consecrated by him in 1686 where we were able to glimpse through the railings at the Cemetery which is said to hold 80,000 bodies.  Furthermore we learnt that Bishop Richard Terrick, who has two rooms at Fulham Palace named after him, had also resided in Soho while he was a preacher before becoming Bishop of London in 1764. After all the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Soho we ended the evening chatting and sharing anecdotes over a drink and a bite to eat in a local English Pub.

The Busch Trio

In April, the Friends of Fulham Palace were delighted to welcome back the Busch Trio, who had previously performed, to much appreciation, at the Palace in 2015. The Great Hall provided a perfect setting for this very talented piano trio, whose performances have continued to delight audiences and critics. The programme began with Beethoven’s Trio no.3 in C minor Op.1, followed by a truly wonderful evocation of the Shostakovich Trio no.1 in C minor Op. 8.  During the interval the audience were able to enjoy a glass of wine in the Drawing Room Café and some took advantage of the beautiful spring evening on the terrace. The recital ended with Dvorak’s Trio no. 3 in F minor Op.65.

As well as being a musical success, the evening raised approximately £2000, due mainly to very generous donations from two Friends and the kind support of Peter Woods Letting Agents. Consequently, the Friends hope to be able to make a further donation to the current restoration project before the end of the year.

Private Tour of Middle Temple Hall and Temple Church

In March, Middle Temple Hall, one of the four ancient Inns of Court, was the venue for a Friends tour.  Our excellent guide, June, gave us its history – it was named after the Templars, who originally owned the land it stands on; the land was taken over by lawyers in the 14th century to build Middle and Inner Temple. Before entering the hall, we viewed it from the gallery, as well as inspecting the magnificent double-hammer beam roof and original stained glass. The hall was completed in 1573 – it is one of London’s finest Elizabethan halls; the Bencher’s Table (high table) – reputedly a gift from Elizabeth I – is 29 feet long and made from a single oak from Windsor Park. On every chair, plate and water bottle the “lamb and flag” emblem of Middle Temple was clearly displayed. There was also a hatch cover from Drake’s Golden Hind; now a ‘cupboard’ used in the bi-annual ceremony in the spring and autumn, when members are called to the Bar.

Next was the Prince’s Room – formerly the Smoking Room – renamed after Prince William, the current Royal Bencher. Theresa, a Friend and tour guide at Fulham Palace, told us that Sykes, the building contractor working on the restoration of the Palace, was involved with work at Middle Temple in the 17th Century. We then moved to Temple Church; consecrated in 1185, it is one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in London. Called the Round Church, it is modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Theresa pointed out two interesting links with the Palace – the tomb of Geoffrey de Mandeville, who held Bishop Robert de Sigello for ransom at the palace in the 12th century; the name of Bishop Sherlock, who was Master of the Temple from 1704 to 1753.

Altogether, a very informative and enjoyable tour.

Photograph Copyright Middle Temple

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