Plaques route 1
Starting at St Johns Wood station – finishing at South Hampstead station
Come out of St Johns Wood station, cross the Finchley Road at the traffic lights and turn right to the end of Eyre Court. On the furthest side wall facing the road is the plaque to
Oscar Kokoschka CBE 1886 – 1980 Eyre Court
Painter lived here
Oscar Kokoschka was an Austrian artist, poet and playwright, particularly noted for his expressionistic portraits and landscapes. He studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna where he developed an original style of innovative oil painting anchored by earlier traditions, and in 1926 visited London where he painted the Thames and the Zoo in Regents Park. He had an affair with Alma Mahler and although they broke up after a few years he never stopped loving her. Having fled to Prague to escape the Nazis he then had to flee to England with his girl friend Olda, thirty years younger than himself. They lived in Boundary Road and in 1941 married in an air raid shelter that was being used as a makeshift registrars’ office because of the air raids. He taught at the Anglo French Art Centre in St John’s Wood and received the CBE in 1959. He lived at Eyre Court from 1946-1953.
Retrace your steps to the traffic lights, cross Grove End Road and walk straight ahead to Circus Road. Turn right and take first on left into Cavendish Avenue. A little way down on the left is No 1
Billy Fury (1940 – 1983) 1 Cavendish Avenue
Billy Fury (born Ronald Wycherley) was an English singer and song writer and early rock-and-roll star, who equalled the Beatles by having 24 hits in the 1960s. He spent 332 weeks on the UK chart but never had a chart-topping single or album.
Retrace steps back to Wellington Rd and cross at the traffic lights, turn right and walk down to No 24, opposite the BP petrol station
Marie Tussaud 1761 – 1850 24 Wellington Rd
Artist in wax lived here 1838 -1839
Marie Tussaud was born in Alsace Lorraine and her widowed mother was employed by Dr Philippe Curtius, a physician and wax sculptor who taught Marie the art of wax modelling. She created her first figure, Voltaire, in 1777. Until the French Revolution in 1789 she created famous portraits of celebrities and was on good terms with the French royal family. She was arrested during the Terror and only saved from being guillotined at the last moment. She was then employed to make death masks of the victims such as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Marat and Robespierre. In 1802 she left for London and travelled with her collection throughout Gt Britain and Ireland. Her catalogues were really informative with details of the lives of the wax figures and her admission prices appealed to the expanding middle class – 6d for the exhibition, 6d for the catalogue and 6d for the Chamber of Horrors. She was helped by her two sons and In 1835 she established her first permanent exhibition in Baker Street; her fortune was made when Napoleon’s Waterloo carriage was shipped over from France and exhibited there in 1841.
Continue along Wellington Rd, turn left into Wellington Place and walk along with the St Johns Wood church gardens on your right. Turn left up the High Street with its numerous cafes and restaurants until you reach No 45, opposite the Ivy restaurant.
(Edward) Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten OM CH (1913 – 1976)
Peter Pears (1910 – 1981 ) 45 St Johns Wood High Street
Britten was a composer, conductor and pianist, and one of the central figures of twentieth century British classical music. He showed his talent from an early age, composing prolifically as a child. He collaborated with the poet W.H. Auden on several compositions, including Hymn to St Cecilia. Britten and his partner Peter Pears, the tenor, followed Auden to America, spending the early years of the war there. While in America, Britten wrote his first music drama. Paul Bunyan, an operetta to a libretto by Auden, and the American period was also remarkable for a number of orchestral works, including the Violin Concerto Op. 15 and Sinfonia da Requiem Op. 20 for full orchestra.
In 1940 he composed Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo Op 22 which was premiered at the Wigmore Hall in September 1942. Britten and Pears had returned to England in spring 1942, Britten completing Hymn to St Cecilia and a Ceremony of Carols Op 28 while crossing the Atlantic . On arriving in England Britten and Pears both applied for recognition as conscientious objectors. This was granted on condition they gave recitals under the auspices of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts.
From 1943 until 1947 they lived at 45A St John’s Wood High Street, where visitors to the flat included Erwin Stein and his daughter Marion, (later the Countess of Harewood and Mrs Jeremy Thorpe) who took refuge there after their flat was ruined by a fire. Britten began work on his great opera Peter Grimes, which was premiered at Sadlers Wells in 1945.
Walk along Allitsen Road at the side of the Ivy until you reach Charlbert Street. Turn right and on the wall of the Howard de Walden building you will see a plaque to
Mickie Most (1938 – 2003)
Michael Most (Michael Hayes) was a record producer who achieved more world wide No 1 hits than anyone in the history of recording. His talent spotting included Lulu and Herman and the Hermits ( with their song I’m into something good) on RAK records label. He purchased the Howard de Walden building in St Johns Wood in 1976 and sold it very profitably when he sold his company to EMI . He was in the top 500 richest people in England in 1995.
Retrace steps up Charlbert Street until you reach St Johns Wood Terrace. First right turn up Ordnance Hill, crossing Acacia Road, until you reach Queens Grove. Turn right and at No 32 is the home of
Sir George Frampton R.A. 1860 – 1928
Sculptor lived and worked here 1894-1908
Sir George was a leading member of the New Sculpture school. He trained at the Royal Academy schools and in Paris and taught at the Slade in 1893. He preferred polychromatic sculpture to “white” sculpture – for example his Lamia had an ivory head and bronze clothing. His studio was at 32 Queens Grove from 1893-1908 when he built a new studio at 90 Carlton Hill in order to have a beautiful garden. His sculpture of Peter Pan was created there.
Retrace steps along Queens Grove until you reach an old station building on the corner of the Finchley Rd. Turn right and 2 houses along is No 28, now a Pilates studio.
Thomas Hood 1799 – 1845
Poet lived and died here
An editor, publisher, poet, and humourist, Thomas Hood was born in London, the son of a bookseller. After his father died in 1811, Hood worked in a counting house until an illness forced him to move to Dundee, Scotland, to stay with relatives. In 1818 he returned to London to work as an engraver and then had some success with his poems which included Eugene Aram and the Song of the Shirt, which he wrote while living at 17 Elm Tree Road from 1841 – 44; he then moved to 28 Finchley Road, jokingly calling himself “Hood of the Wood”. Having survived years of poverty he was at last earning £300 p.a. as editor of the New Monthly magazine. He was a much loved husband, father and friend and the public subscription after his death raised £1386 15s 6d for the benefit of his family.
Retrace your steps back to the corner traffic lights and cross Finchley Rd. Turn right into Marlborough Place and first right into Marlborough Hill. Walk along with the school on your right until you reach No 31
Sir Bernard Spilsbury 1877 – 1947 31 Marlborough Hill
Forensic pathologist lived here 1912 – 1940
Sir Bernard Spilsbury was a forensic pathologist who was involved in many notorious murder trials, including the trial of Dr Crippen in 1910, the Brides in the Bath trial in 1915, the trial of Herbert Rowse Armstrong, the solicitor convicted of poisoning his wife with arsenic, and the Brighton Trunk murder. He was responsible for devising the Murder bag, the kit used by detectives attending the scene of a suspicious death. He also played a crucial role in the development of Operation Mincemeat, a deception operation during the Second World War which saved the lives of thousands of Allied service personnel by persuading the Germans that the Allies were going to land in the Balkans rather than Sicily (and which featured in the film The Man Who Never Was) by choosing the body for the imaginary man. He died by committing suicide at his laboratory at University College, London.
Continue along, turn left at Boundary Road and first right into Loudon Road, then over the railway to South Hampstead Station on your right.
Walk – about 45 minutes 2.6 miles /4.2 km