The London Adventure: explorations into hidden literary

London EH-A and Lady Margaret Hall

Presented by Dr Joan Navarre
Saturday, 12 June 2004

Joan Navarre at the Royal Academy leading the Heron-Allen walk

Joan Navarre at the Royal Academy
leading the Heron-Allen walk

A group of about twenty, mainly from literary clubs, and three EH-A Society members assembled at 3pm. Close to to St. Mary Abbotts Church in Kensington on the anniversary of the day that Edward Heron-Allen read the horoscope of Cyril Wilde, Oscar's eldest son.

The area is where EH-A based part of his novel "Princess Daphne", he talked of the 'boy' artists who lived in the area, such as Walter Crane and the artist Edward Linley Sambourne (who was a noted photographer and cartoonist for "Punch"). EH-A and his wife Marianna often visited his house. It is now open to the public.

The walk took us to the quiet of Holland Street and Stafford Terrace. In spite of it being a busy Saturday, we all managed to catch the same No.9 double-decker bus to the Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly. Here Joan explained that EH-A would come, to the Linnean Society, the Geological Society and the London Library all in close proximity. A walker explained that readers at the Bodleian Library wanted a library where readers could smoke, so the London Library was founded, and it is there that EH-A donated all his many volumes of Omar Khayyam. The library is now non-smoking.

Across the road was Hatchards, Fortnum & Mason's, places he must have frequented, as well as being home to his clubs and rooms in No.2 Ryder Street, where he resided after he left home. We walked to Wardour Street where George Chanot had made violins: EH-A would have paid many visits from the family law firm of Allen & Son, 17 Carlisle Street, Soho, while his father was away, learning how to make violins from the craftsman.

Next stop was St. Anne's churchyard: the Allen family had been Vestry Clerks of the parish for over 150 years. Here EH-A married his first wife, Marianna Frederika Lehmann on 1 July 1891. The church was bombed in 1940 and only the tower remains of this Wren church. Now the Soho Society meet there.

Passing Royalty House, 76 Dean Street, formerly a theatre that EH-A had attended, to outside 53, Dean Street, where the first floor room of the building is called "The Allen Room" (the venue for our Symposium in 2003). Final port of call, a room in the "Golden Lion" for refreshments opposite 53 Dean Street, where walkers could glance across to see the art nouveau windows dedicated to the Allens with their coats of arms. Our stay was short-lived as the manager of the hostelry, despite the booking of the room months before, had been made a better offer for a stag night!. So the grand afternoon broke up with us going our separate ways. Thank you Joan for a splendid afternoon, seeing and learning about a different London.

Venetia B.N. Jones