A chance to see the'DISCOVERIES: Art, Science & Exploration from the University of Cambridge Museums' EXHIBITION at the EXTRAORDINARY TWO TEMPLE PLACE (FREE ENTRY).
We will meet first from 2.30pm at ALL BAR ONE, 6 Villiers Street WC2N 6NQ, which is very close to Charing Cross and Embankment Stations. We will head off to the exhibition venue at Two Temple Place at 3.15pm sharp.
THE VENUE-TWO TEMPLE PLACE (see details of the exhibition below)
At the end of October 2011 a new art venue opened to the public, housed in one of London's most extraordinary buildings! The venue is one of London's hidden architectural gems, an extraordinary neo-Gothic mansion built by William Waldorf Astor on Embankment. It opens up one of London's very special, and almost unknown, places to the public.
Built to elaborate specifications by William Waldorf Astor, later first Viscount Astor, in 1895 as his residence and estate office on reclaimed land following completion of the Victoria Embankment in 1870, Two Temple Place offers a unique location in the heart of central London, overlooking the River Thames.
Exterior is portland stone, interior is a testament to the skills and expertise of some of the finest sculptors of the nineteenth century, and the building combines the grandeur of a state occasion with the intimacy of a party in a private house.
John Loughborough Pearson, a pre-eminent figure in his profession, was the architect chosen by Lord Astor to build Two Temple Place. Unfettered by consideration of finance and emboldened by the full liberty of expression granted to him and materials and craftsmen of the highest quality at his disposal, he was able to create a building worthy of its distinguished owner.
From the gilded weather vane in beaten copper of Columbus's caravel, the Santa Maria (pictured), perched high above the house to the meticulously carved stonework, the grilles and screens of ornamental ironwork, Two Temple Place embodies much of the outstanding workmanship and architecture of the late-Victorian period.
The enchanting bronze lamp standards (pictured) flanking the base of the balustraded entrance steps, playfully representative of the marvels of electricity and telephone in the shape of two small boys, are a foretaste of the riches within.
The staircase hall (pictured) illustrates the original owners love of literary characters to great effect. Access to the first floor appears to be guarded by Thomas Nicholls' resplendent mahogany carvings of the main protagonists in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers perched imperiously atop the seven newel posts of the main staircase.
Panelled in oak, complemented by a chimneypiece in paonazzetto marble and a floor of marble, jasper, porphyry and onyx laid in geometrical patterns, the hall itself is overlooked by a gallery of a further six statues with American literary associations, a frieze in rilievo of eighty-two characters from Shakespeare's Othello, Henry VIII, Antony & Cleopatra and Macbeth and ten pillars of solid ebony.
The Great Hall, designed in the Renaissance style but essentially Tudor in plan, leads directly off the gallery and the room extends the whole length of the building on the river front, standing 35 feet high to the ridge and open to the roof, which is of hammer-beam type and a spectacular example of modern Gothic timber work, being all of richly carved Spanish mahogany.
The east and west stained glass windows represent Swiss landscapes at 'Sunrise' and 'Sunset' and are the work of Clayton and Bell.
The walls are immaculately panelled in irreplaceable pencil cedar and surmounted by a frieze in which a further fifty-four portraits of the heads of characters famous in history and fiction, have been modelled, carved in low relief and then gilded by the sculptor Nathaniel Hitch.
The Lower Gallery on the ground floor (opposite).
Two Temple Place is the the first London venue to specifically showcase publicly-owned art from UK regional collections and will bring the UK's regional riches to the capital city, emphasising not only the great cultural wealth of London, but that of the UK as a whole.
The inaugural show to launch the building is the William Morris exhibition.
The EXHIBITION :DISCOVERIES: Art, Science & Exploration from the University of Cambridge Museums
Two Temple Place has reopened with 'Discoveries: Art, Science and Exploration from the University of Cambridge Museums', an exhibition exploring human discovery in all its forms, selected from more than five million objects at eight University of Cambridge Museums.
An exhibition about imagination and knowledge — about the pleasures of looking, and the power of objects to generate wonder as well as new ideas — Discoveries marks the first time Cambridge’s unique, world-class collections have been drawn together under one roof. Together, they cover the span of human endeavour and exploration, from the minuscule to the majestic, transforming the atmospheric interiors of Two Temple Place into cabinets of curiosity.
The exhibition features, among many other objects: ancient fossils, fine art, modern Inuit sculpture, Darwin’s only surviving egg from the Beagle voyage, a rare dodo skeleton and a state-of-the art digital instrument that searches for sub-atomic particles in the frozen depths of Antarctica. It looks at the limits as well as the frontiers of knowledge, the intersection between art and science and the connections between visionary thinking and scientifically-observed vision.
The exhibition also features discoveries gone awry in the form of 19th century ‘Muggletonian’ prints. The Muggletonians were a religious sect who rejected the Newtonian system of the universe; instead arguing that biblical statements took precedence over claims of scientific fact, intending to prove that the sun and moon revolved around the earth. The ‘Tinamou Egg’, collected by Darwin himself on the voyage of the Beagle [masked]), proves that not even the world’s greatest scientists always get things right. The egg, thought to have been lost until its rediscovery in 2009 by a museum volunteer, was cracked by Darwin as he attempted to store it in a box too small for its purpose. One of just 16 eggs collected by Darwin on the five-year voyage, it is the only one known to survive.
Several exhibits will be leaving Cambridge or going on public display for the first time, for instance Hugh Edwin Strickland’s Chart of Bird Classification, dating some 16 years before the publication of The Origin of Species. The chart had been stored rolled up for many years before its recent conservation and mounting and has never before been on public display. Elsewhere, Cambridge’s position at the forefront of scientific discovery is highlighted in the Museum of Zoology’s exhibits at Discoveries including the actual butterflies used by Reginald Punnett in one of the colour plates of his book Mimicry in Butterflies which helped pave the way for modern genetics.
While enjoying the artwork, visitors will notice the impressive architecture of the building and it’s well worth spending some time exploring the elaborate interior of this Victorian mansion. Coupled with some impressive paintings, this exhibition is a hidden gem.
The MEETING PLACE: ALL BAR ONE
Here are two photos of the entrance to the first meeting place - All Bar One in Villiers Street.
After our visit to two Temple Place, we will head off for a drink and a meal (for those who are hungry) at Thai Silk Restaurant, to discuss the treasures we have just seen. There is also an all night HAPPY HOUR (until 11pm) at Thai Silk during which House Cocktails are £2.90 each and bottles of beer, house wines and spirits are only £2.50.