Travel Reference
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chairman of the railway at the turn of the century, Lord Claud Hamilton. The whole room
is full of mirrors and marble, allegorical figures and paintings, and was in fact copied from
the Palais Soubise in Paris. It is remarkable that, though the décor is eighteenth-century
French, the effect is unmistakably Edwardian. It dates from 1901, and I recommend a visit,
seeing also at the same time the fantastic Victorian Elizabethan bar of the hotel, which is
so evocative that one gets the sensation of having stepped into a picture by Stacey Marks.
Many small cafés and restaurants still remain with a pronounced period flavour, but they
are a vanishing race. One of the best is the Court Tea Room (Gentlemen Only) downstairs
from a little court near Leadenhall Market. The very name 'tea room' is reminiscent of art
nouveau . The Court Tea Room is a very complete study in Edwardian comfort and décor.
The chairs here are what might be called 'early Heal' or 'early Maple', and have green
leather seats studded with nails. The tables, tiled in dark green, are splendid - dark oak
and ornamented with a little twisty bit of art nouveau ; a ledge underneath holds copies of
Punch and Country Life . In fact, the whole place has a pronounced club-like atmosphere.
Hat stands blossom upwards in shapes resembling honeysuckle flowers, and the walls are
lined with mirrors over which droop bell-shaped electric light shades. The cornice above
the mirrors is decorated with blue and white plates (Walter Crane school once more). A
Victorian fireplace with overmantel is in complete accord with the rest. Marble and tiled
fireplaces were a feature of Victorian cafés. Another occurs in one of the best remaining
small restaurants, the St Gothard Café in Fulham Road. Even the entrance door here is
exactly right, being delicately patterned with scrolls and leafage sandblasted on the plate
glass, with the owner's name and a pretty little Swiss motif in the centre. Adjoining the
door is the café counter, backed by a high wooden fixture with shelves and brackets, rather
like the behind-the-bar fitment in the pubs just discussed. But here, instead of bottles, is
an assortment of chocolates, sweets, and tobacco. Crimson plush seats, seen in my draw-
ing opposite, are a feature of this nice old café, and marble tables. Note the partitions with
little glass panels, ornamented with the word 'Bovril' in a border of Greek honeysuckle
ornament, and the little shelves above, railed off by tiny turned columns, and, of course,
the vases and aspidistra pots. Most proprietors of such cafés unload such old-fashioned
features, and move in with plastic and chromium horrors, nowadays, resulting in an utter
loss of character and interest; it is rare to find one so complete, even to the gas lights.
In the pure art nouveau style and all but complete was the Kardomah in Market Lane,
Eastcheap. Going down the stairs, you felt like an old issue of the Studio . The stairs them-
selves had dark brown verticals of wood - a design of Voysey - filled in with lozenge
glass of red, yellow, and green. From it, one could survey the mosaic-lined café, an interior
that was completely art nouveau : only the counter and the people being wrong. A blue iris
pattern appeared on the wall, and above the shelf-like dado, at intervals along the frieze,
were huge surprising bosses of burnished copper with green centres, like Viking shields.
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