It’s Easter, and the last day of March. 2018’s weather has been a pile of bullshit – I’m yet to wear shorts except when running, ffhs – but nonetheless we go again, out and about in London. Our quest to visit each of the 32 boroughs throughout the year finishes the first quarter slightly ahead of schedule inside number 9: Hammersmith & Fulham.
The first of our double-barrelled boroughs, Hammersmith and Fulham is a small sliver of the inner west poking up from the river looking shiftily up towards Brent.
Due to having moved house over the last couple of days – I’d been living with Helen in her Thames Ditton cottage for the previous 4 weeks, but we’ve now both moved into a newly painted, decorated, and just generally refurbished flat in Surbiton – preparation was poor for this trip. At some point we’d made a start on looking up some “interesting” facts but quickly got put off by the sheer amount of them, since Hammersmith & Fulham seems to have quite the set of claims to fame. Eventually, after a recap, we settle on:
- Hammersmith was one of the last places to still see heart burials, a tradition which sees a dead person’s heart dealt with separately to the rest of their body
- The first ever speed bump was laid down within the borough’s border
- Hammersmith Bridge is so weak only one bus at a time is allowed on it
I like the first one but the other two nag at me for being a bit crap.
Hammersmith & Fulham
For numerous reasons we were able to head out at a leisurely 11.35am, what with Saturday meaning parkrun, the proximity of our destination, and the improved transport regime living in Surbiton provides. While I spent a disappointing hour taking my “sorry we missed you” Royal Mail slip to the local office who told me they couldn’t find it, Helen got cracking with the picnic, about which she would like to say the following:
Apologies for the lack of sandwich creativity. This is a temporary glitch due to spending so much time unpacking. Normal service will be resumed shortly.
With that in mind, behold the shapeless (well, only in the shape of “slices of bread”) wonder of “Full-ham”.
At Earl’s Court we admire the wonderful old destination board still in use, and hop across to the “westbound” platform. I have a problem with Earl’s Court describing the district line as only east- and westbound, given trains from here go east, west, north and south. But whatever. There’s a service waiting for us and a few stops later we decant ourselves above the streets of Stamford Brook.
If anything the property gets bigger just before we reach the noisy main road, under which we must walk via a subway with an excellently defaced signpost, and one which doesn’t look or smell like piss whatsoever. I had very little idea such underpasses existed.
Back inside, we’re shown the bedroom used by the last resident of the house - Dorothy Walker’s companion, who inherited the place and eventually set up the Emery Walker Trust before her death in 1999. An exquisitely made bedspread is there; it was used as a funeral pall for Walker, his daughter, and the companion.
I’ve missed tons out, but it was all just so fascinating. Oh, that’s right, in one room there was a tray of stuff from William Morris which included a small box full of insects deemed to be the greatest source of the colour red there is.
Back in the Phone Room we get our bags back and are on the verge of buying a Dove typeface tea towel, with a capital T and everything else in a block. T towel, see? Julie, the guide, tells us Cobden Stephenson would be horrified and that totally puts us off buying one, so instead we get some notelets and envelopes, and bugger off.
Whew. That was honestly completely fascinating. I know I’ve barely talked about the actual interior, but Helen absoultely fell in love with every room. Nicest house she’s ever seen, she reckons.
We’re not there for long, because the next item on our itinerary is only a five or so minute walk away. Past yet another fucking blue plaque, we’re at the William Morris society. Told you he and Walker were near neighbours; next door to Morris’s Kelmscott House, it’s a small exhibition of a bit of his stuff including the original and still working printing press (there’s a much bigger William Morris thing up in Walthamstow).
There’s loads of gumpf about other places to visit, plus Morris’s writing.
Giant Morris & Co wallpaper pattern books keep Helen’s attention for a good while.
All this art and craft is thirsty work, so after buying a tea towel that would not make the designer spin in his grave we pop to the Dove. This happens to be a world record holding pub, having as it does the officially “smallest public bar room”. As luck would have it there’s no-one there when we arrive, so we get it to ourselves.
We’d noticed how high the river was, which makes the “floods in 1920-odd reached here” mark a little worrying. Maybe we should skull this booze and get going. I’m actually surprised at how big this smallest room is, and it’s in no way cramped when an old geezer perches alongside us at the other end of the bar.
By now we’re almost at Hammersmith tube station. Despite being in charge of the main itinerary, Helen’s utterly refusing to head up to Westfield shopping centre near Shepherd’s Bush. She works near there, but also it’s shit anyway. I want to go there because we’re meant to be going to Grate Beer, but with all her bloody moaning plus my feeling that we’re a bit Hammersmith-heavy and Fulham-light, I have found an alternate venue for craft beer just a bus ride away – assuming we can navigate our way through the Broadway centre to find the right stop.