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Wandering around Bloomsbury on my first day in London this June, I happened upon the Morton Hotel.

I wasn’t exactly looking for it. But Ann Martin of the University of Saskatchewan had planted the name in my mind with an offhand comment at this year’s Woolf conference. Upon hearing that I would be alone in the capital city for a few days, she remarked, “You could have tea at the Morton.”

And so I did. I had written about tea at the Morton before — back in 2014 — but I had forgotten the details. Consequently, my afternoon relaxing in the hotel’s Library bar and lounge was full of a series of lovely surprises, all with a Bloomsbury touch.

I chose a seat in front of the fireplace, where I set in for a good read as well as refreshment. I relaxed with a selection of books about Bloomsbury laid out on a sofa table and the Morton’s traditional afternoon tea, which is truly lovely and reasonably priced at £15. It included a tiered dish of tiny crustless sandwiches, pastries and fresh fruit, along with scones served with jam and clotted cream.

All around me — from entry to ladies room — were photo collages of Bloomsbury figures as well as reproductions of art by the Bloomsbury group and Hogarth Press book covers designed by Vanessa Bell.

Next time you’re in London, take tea at the Morton. It’s open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Meanwhile, take a look at what you’ll find.

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Entry to the Morton Hotel, 2 Woburn Place, in Russell Square

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The chandelier in the entryway features Hogarth Press book covers.

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Once inside the entry, look to your left and “take the lift to the basement.”

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The cozy sitting area in front of the fireplace, my chosen spot.

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Books ranging from Bloomsbury Rooms to Bloomsbury Portraits are available for browsing.

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Traditional afternoon tea: as delicious as it looks.

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Collages of Bloomsbury photos decorate the walls.

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This sitting area nestled into a corner featured art by Vanessa Bell.

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Even the hallway to the ladies room — as well as the ladies itself — was decorated with Bloomsbury art.

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After an unforgettable time at the Woolf Conference in Leeds, my boyfriend and I treated ourselves to a short stay in London as a reward for ourselves. I successfully presented a paper at the conference (and didn’t pass out from being so star-struck over all of the scholars!), while he had successfully completed chapter two of his Ph.D dissertation.

We tried to pack in as many literary trips as we could, and we couldn’t leave England without making a trip to check out the Dalloway Terrace, named after Clarissa Dalloway herself.

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Menus and a Woolf book outside of the restaurant.

The Dalloway Terrace restaurant is located in The Bloomsbury Hotel which is in a fantastic location in the heart of Bloomsbury. The hotel is a three-minute walk to the British Museum, seven-minute walk to Russell Square, and ten-minute walk to many Woolf sites, such as the lovely statue in Tavistock Square dedicated to the author.

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A view of the terrace.

The dreamy atmosphere is the highlight of this outdoor restaurant. Marble topped tables are surrounded by benches which are made comfortable with big pillows. Each chair on the terrace is draped with a wool blanket in anticipation of the ever changing English weather. Candles flicker on tables which are separated by big pots of lush, green plants. It is absolutely lovely.

The servers were kind, helpful and highly attentive, and the food was delicious. The restaurant offers several different menus, including breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner menus, along with a tempting cocktail menu. The afternoon tea at the Dalloway has been getting rave reviews, and many Londoners suggest making a trip to the Bloomsbury Hotel specifically to enjoy the tea service.

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Cake and cream at the Dalloway.

We ordered a few British specialties, such as fish and chips, and we couldn’t skip the delectable dessert menu, from which we ordered a few ice creams and cakes. Everything was presented very elegantly, and every bite was full of flavor. We decided that the old cliche about British food being bland is highly incorrect and dated!

After a few Bloomsbury-themed afternoon cocktails, we started to feel that Clarissa herself might enjoy this restaurant; one could almost see her among the twinkling lights, charming friends between the spatter of rain drops on the clear dividers—planning her next party perhaps.

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Afternoon tea on the terrace (image from TripAdvisor.com).

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The dissertation felt worlds away while at the Dalloway!

The meal was delightfully regenerating and the terrace was a perfect place to take a break from enjoying one of the most exciting and literary cities in the world. One could easily spend a few hours on the terrace, sipping cocktails, enjoying small cakes, and discussing the importance of Modernist literature. We did this several times during our trip!

My partner and I enjoyed the Dalloway Terrace so much that we dined there multiple times while in London–and we are already dreaming of our next meal at the this beautiful and delicious restaurant. Enjoying yummy food in such a dreamy environment was a highlight of our trip. We highly recommend making a trip to visit this lovely retreat in the heart of London.

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A happy Yankee on a London terrace.

We did not make reservations for our dining experiences, but the restaurant highly recommends reservations, especially on the weekends.

The Dalloway Terrace accepts reservations for individual dining, group dining, and private events.

If you are in London you can find the Dalloway Terrace inside of the Bloomsbury Hotel located at 16-22 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3NN, or phone the restaurant at +44 (0) 207 347 1221.

You can find information about booking a room at The Bloomsbury Hotel here.

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This 18-minute video produced by the British Library for its twentieth-century literature site and featuring Elaine Showalter is an excellent introduction to Mrs. Dalloway for first-time readers. But it will also enlighten those who have read the novel over and over again.

In it, the American critic and writer takes us to London for a discussion of Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel. We view 1920s London streets and traffic; take a look inside 46 Gordon Square, Woolf’s first home as an independent woman; and get a look at the novel’s original hand-written manuscript.

In addition, Showalter explains the artistic, social and historical context for the groundbreaking novel that takes place on one day in June in 1923. You can also read her article on the topic, “Exploring consciousness and the modern: an introduction to Mrs Dalloway,” on the British Library website. At that link, you can view 165 images of Woolf’s notebooks for the novel and for her essays published in The Common Reader (1925).

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I’m guessing that many Virginia Woolf common readers and scholars will be traveling to London Sign PostLondon this year and next, since the 2016 and 2017 Annual International Conferences on Virginia Woolf will be held in England — this year in Leeds and next year in Reading.

No doubt they’ll be looking for Woolf’s London, including all of the places she lived and the streets Clarissa Dalloway walked.

So now is a good time to share a few fun resources that will help visitors eat, sleep and shop as Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group did.

For more tips on traveling in the steps of Virginia Woolf, visit In Her Steps. This page includes travel tips for London and beyond. It also includes links to Woolf tours, both audio and in-person.

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The Charlotte Street Hotel in the Bloomsbury district of London evokes the Bloomsbury Group with its art, its feel and its look, according to this video in which Kit Kemp explains the concept behind the drawing room.

The video begins with a Virginia Woolf quote from “Street Haunting,” goes on to explain the importance of the Bloomsbury Group, and mentions the art — of the Bloomsbury and artists of today — that is displayed on the walls. Of particular note is the Roger Fry painting that takes pride of place in the hotel library.

Special thanks to Helen Harrison of Chicago for sending Blogging Woolf the link to this information.

 

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Wednesday 9 January [1924]

At this very moment, or fifteen minutes ago to be precise, I bought the ten years lease of 52 Tavistock Sqre London W.C. 1—I like writing Tavistock. Subject of course to the lease, & to Providence, & to the unforeseen vagaries on the part of old Mrs Simons, the house is ours: & the basement, & the billard room, with the rock garden on top, & the view of the square in front & the desolated buildings behind, & Southampton Row, & the whole of London – London thou art a jewel of jewels, & jasper of jocunditie – music, talk, friendship, city views, books, publishing, something central & inexplicable, all this is now within my reach. – D2, 282-3

Thanks to Elisa Kay Sparks for finding and posting this quote in the Woolf Group on Facebook today.

 

Tavistock Hotel

Part of the Tavistock Hotel is on the site of Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s property at 52 Tavistock Square, on the south side of the square, three houses from Southampton Row. It was the Bloomsbury house where Woolf lived the longest. It is also where she wrote most of her novels. The Woolfs occupied the top two floors before the property was destroyed during WW II. 

 

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Editor’s Note: Westrow Cooper, who will lead the Mrs. Dalloway walking tour London Sign Postnext Thursday evening, contributed this post.

It was a bright June morning when Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Setting off in her footsteps on a dark November evening may therefore seem a little perverse. But, after all, how many bright spring mornings can one count on in England? And when is not a good time to walk and talk about Mrs Dalloway?

So if you’re in London next Thursday evening, 26th November, come and do a bit of night walking, through a city getting ready for a party, in the footsteps of Mrs Dalloway and Virginia Woolf.

‘Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.’ But even as she steps out into the clamour and commotion of the street, the squeak of the hinges casts her mind back to her youth and the fateful summer at Bourton when she stood ‘on the theshold of her adult life.’ Just as the past is always present in the fabric of the city, so our own past reverberates throughout our lives as individuals.

Westminster, St James’s, Piccadilly, Bond Street, Oxford Street, Harley Street, Fitzrovia and then across to the famous squares of Bloomsbury. This walk takes us through the historic centre of the dynamic metropolis, brought to life on the page so vividly in Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece.

Few books convey the sheer wonder, the miracle of being alive, here, now and in the city as vividly as Mrs Dalloway. This walk, in the footsteps of Mrs Dalloway and Virginia Woolf, provides the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the city and the novel. To immerse ourselves in a London busy, crowded and lit up for Christmas; a London, in other words, getting ready for a party.

As Virginia Woolf wrote in her essay Oxford Street Tide – ‘The charm of modern London is that it is not built to last; it is built to pass.’

Meet at 6 p.m. outside Westminster Abbey Gift Shop. Details and booking here: https://goo.gl/odXuxG

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