A very pleasant little spot with friendly waitresses who were kind enough to tell me the difference between a flat white and other variants of the milky coffee branch. As one of those not so rare persons who enjoy coffee with my milk rather than milk with my coffee, I will continue to enjoy my Café au Lait, Café Latte and Cappuccino, staying clear of the much more potent and coffee rich Flat White.
After a marvellous breakfast we walked through Bloomsbury to Russell Square and up behind the British Museum before heading back again by Bloomsbury Street. On our walk through Bloomsbury, we ran across a lot of places named Bedford and I haven’t stopped thinking about that name. Probably because I mix it up with Stepford and imagine mechanical wives dotting the majestic homes of the neighbourhood. Nonetheless, I did a bit of background checking about the history of Bloomsbury and its relation to the name Bedford.
Earls and Dukes and a plea to the king
The area is recorded as Bloomsbury the first time in 1201 when it is bought by William de Blemond, a Norman landowner. Some argue that it derives from Blemondisberi, meaning the manor of Blemond. After two centuries under the Carthusian Monks of the London Charterhouse, Henry VIII granted it to Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton.
The pleasant Bloomsbury Square Garden which we enjoyed for a little while is one of the eldest parks in London and the first to bear the name Square. It was laid down in the 1660s by the 4th Earl of Southampton and as part of the early development of Bloomsbury. At the time it was understandably named Southampton Square.
However, as the 4th Earl of Southampton had no sons his estate at Bloomsbury ultimately went to the 2nd Duke of Bedford through his daughter Lady Russell. It is she who is known for attempting to save her husband Lord William Russell from execution by Charles II after his involvement in the Rye Plot. According to history she even threw herself at the Kings feet, pleading for clemency for her husband. However her pleas were to no avail and Lord William was executed at Lincoln Inn Field’s 332 years before I learned the difference between a Flat White and Cappuccino in the same place.
Yet, the marriage between Lady Russell and Lord William instigated the change of Bloomsbury from belonging to the now extinct Earldom of Southampton to the Dukes of Bedford. When Lady Russell died in 1723, Southampton Square was renamed Bloomsbury Square. Later Dukes of Bedford developed the area and particularly Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford’s demolition of Bedford House and development of Bedford Palace and Russell Square shaped the area that we know today.
Onto Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly
After crossing Oxford Street we landed ourselves at Seven Dials where we managed to steal a bench from French couple just as they were about to sit down. I know, I know, but she was just too slow and my feet were killing me, so while she was angrily looking my way I managed to change into more comfortable shoes while my boyfriend got to soak up the sunshine.
We quickly skimmed through the Covent Garden market square, which is too polished and touristy for my taste before heading off towards Trafalgar Square and Lord Nelson.
As we reached the grand square, the rain started and for the following hour we browsed the shelves of Waterstone Books. I ended up buying The Establishment by Owen Jones, while spending a lot of time figuring out which history book on London, would be the better choice ending up with the conclusion that they were all too big for carry-on luggage.
As the sun broke through, we headed off to Piccadilly Circus and a coffee and cake at Brasserie Zedel with a bit of shopping at the luxury of Fortnum and Mason for desert. Finding our way through Regent Street we made our way to the infamous Carnaby Street settling in for a late lunch at The Clachan in Kingly Street.
After lunch we headed on to Oxford Circus, joining the crowds at Oxford Street before ending up at another bench at Soho Square. With aching feet we made it the last part down across Shaftesbury Avenue to China Town and Leicester Square from where I took the tube home to the hotel, while my boyfriend continued his explorations a few hours more.
In the evening we returned to Piccadilly and a bite to eat before enjoying the Swedes beating Russia in the final at Eurovision 2015.