Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

BAC celebrating 120 years of Battersea Town Hall/Battersea Arts Centre.

Posted in Battersea Arts Centre/Battersea Town Hall 120, The Great Hundred Battersea Arts Centre by sheelanagigcomedienne on January 21, 2014

This was taken on Friday 15th November 2013 at Battersea Arts Centre. This was shot from the gallery overlooking the stairs down to the foyer. Joan, the longest serving Trustee wearing red, was invited to cut the cake alongside Eddie Lister who recalled seeing the show “All the counsellors men” back in the early days of the centre. The mayor Angela Graham is behind and I am on the left of her. You can also see Geraldine James who lives locally.

BAC Great 100

We went to the members library for  some more speeches. It is on the left side of the old council chamber and has a balcony overlooking Lavender Hill from where appearances and speeches happened in the Battersea Borough Council era.

This was another event in Battersea Arts Centre’s fundraising The GREAT ONE HUNDRED.

Battersea’s former Town Hall,the home of Battersea Arts Centre, is 120 years old:1893 to 2013.
To celebrate the occasion of its birthday and helpraise funds for its future, Battersea Arts Centre is inviting the public
to nominate The Great Hundred: people who played a memorable part in the story of this great London building.
A “great hundred” used to stand for one hundred and twenty. So “The Great Hundred” of Battersea’s former
Town Hall will be a list of one hundred and twenty people selected from the building’s one hundred and twenty
year radical history.
Staff at Battersea Arts Centre have begun researching and choosing names by spending time
hunting through two archives s: the archive for former Town Hall held in Battersea’s library on Lavender Hill
and the arts centre’s own archive from the last 33 years.
As The Great Hundred list is compiled, Battersea Arts Centre will be inviting another one hundred
and twenty people  to join “
The Great Hundred Club ” helping raise money to restore the building Club.
A three year membership will mean donors :1. have their name celebrated in a specially commissioned
piece of art at the front of the building in which they can choose to be associated with one of the figures
from The Great Hundred ;
2.  gain access to an intimate and exclusive talks programme with Battersea Arts Centre’s
Patron Toby Jones in conversation with leading cultural figures in the UK
3. be part of a special opening party for the building when the renovation is complete in 2015
The Great Hundred Club will raise £360,000 towards the £13Million project for the building.
BACTown Hall
TThe motto of Battersea Borough Council was Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis.
batt arms                                                                      Battersea Bee
batt bee 2
The atrium Foyer of the Grand Hall and the hall which is regualy used for tea dances and the last great show we saw there was ORPHEUS based on the music of Django Rheinhardt which was wonderful and will be returning.It is performed as cabaret style.
grand hall
Foyer atrium at BAC           grand hall 2



I have been involved with Battersea Arts Centre since its inception. We went to Jude Kelly’s wedding there when she was the Artistic Director and The National Theatre of Brent performed which included Jim Broadbent. We have seen it evolve over the decades and I have performed there both as Sheela-naGig Sheela 06-05-2009
and more recently in Nic Green’s acclaimed TRILOGY in 2010 when I was one of the naked women dancers and enjoyed the experience immensely.Trilogy naked
This was from a male reviewer.
Nevertheless, the main reason for still recommending this play is that you are unlikely ever to experience anything quite like it. It demonstrates just how powerful theatre can be, because when at the end female audience members are invited to drop their clothes on stage and sing Jerusalem naked, a significant number do just that. Before witnessing this for myself, I would never have believed that any theatrical moment was capable of moving people to such an extent.
Find out more about the Great Hundred. I belong to a consortium of 4 in support of this known as Battersea Labour women and we are associated with the fantastic Charlotte Despard as she the Labour candidate in 1918. I played her in the Voices of Radicalism Revue which we staged in the Lower Town Hall

Voices of RadicalismCharlotte Despard played by YouTube


Other names associated with Battersea Town Hall and with Battersea Arts Centre include Caroline Ganley Labour MP 1945-1951, John Archer Black Mayor of Battersea 1913, Shapurji Saklatvala, Paul Robeson etc. The names are contained in this booklet.
john archer john archer plaque caroline ganley Saklatvala

ISSUU – The Great Hundred_Battersea Arts Centre_Book #2 by

God, Jesus and Holy Ghost-free Churhes.

Sunday Assemblies are non-religious gatherings who want a similar communal experience to a religious church. They are, usually on a Sunday but the one I attended in Crystal Palace was on a Saturday! They were founded by a pair of comedians called Jones and Evans pippa and Sanderson It was Sanderson Evans, a bearded, aran-sweatered tall chap reminiscent of an Irish folk musician from the sixties who was cheerleader at the south London assembly which was initiated by my colleague Trevor Moore.

This a picure of a sparsely attended C of E function.

empty church

This is a recent Sunday Assembly with Sanderson sporting his woolly jumper Sanderson

Their logo states their motto. A blog  Atheist Church Movement Shake Up: Ideological Battle Leads to

described it as part karaooke, part aerobics class, part comedy show.sunass Logo

And, like the many churches that detractors say Sunday Assembly tries to mimic, there’s already been a schism of sorts. New York’s Sunday Assembly split off on its own after becoming frustrated with Jones’ and Evans’ insistence that they not use the word “atheist” to describe themselves, an organizer there said. Jones is not surprised that the proverbial twit hit the fan.Sunday Assembly founders Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, in a promotional video, mocking themselves as a cult that's not really a cult.

Show caption

Sunday Assembly founders Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, in a promotional video, mocking themselves as a cult that’s not really a cult. Sunday Assembly


This poem was read which I liked. I found the singing cringe making.We sang I’m a believer

The two presentations from the local Transition Town and from our Humanist Ceremonies coordinator Isabel Russo were very absorbing and informative.

It Couldn’t Be Done

By Edgar Albert Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.
 Sunday ass
I did find it all quite alien. It seemed to me to be a happy clappy, C of E type, god free service which isn’t surprising since the
founders and most of the congreagtion would have been reared on the this kind of C of E culture just as the majority of the British
Humanist Association membership is. The problem is that Cof E atheists carry the notion that somehow the hobbity, Vicar of
Dibley establishment version of Christianity is so much better than other religions especially Islam and Cathoicism. It is this C of E
ethos , after all, that underpins British history of colonisation and the slave trade. It is not an innocuous, quaint, benign
organisation – IT IS A RELIGION – of which the Queen is the Supreme Governor. Elizabeth_II_at_a_flower_show
And like all other religions is based on supernatural beliefs in a deity and in a life after death for humans in a celestial Shangri-la.
As for Sunday Assemblies I have no desire to attend another. I just don’t need the ersatz bonhomie and need to belong to yet
another community. Apparently, some people do.


Posted in Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on December 23, 2013


Posted in Hastings trip, Net huts by sheelanagigcomedienne on December 12, 2013

We had a delightful trip to Hastings in early December when we stayed in our friend Linda’s,cosy little flat in the old town just off the High Street. Hastings flat

We have been coming to stay here for about 20 years and we love it. I certainly need my regular injections of seaside having lived my earlier life by the sea in Galway.

Hastings has so much. The charming old towncinqueports arms


Hastings house

Croft Road<a

Lavender Cottage

;hastigs pink and blue door.

the Stade with the net huts. We especially love to go down there at night after dark after been to the pub!

net huts

The busiest beach launched fishing industry in Europe.

Hastings boat

Seaside entertainment -
adventure golf

Pirate golf<a


In historical terms, Hastings can claim fame through its connection with the Norman conquest of England;
This from the wonderful Bayeux Tapestry depict the Battle of Hastings.


It played a role as an independent seaport. This is a commemoration on the side of a building in Robertson Street.

Hastings american ground

and also because it became one of the medieval Cinque Ports.

We frequented some of our favourite pubs.

The Anchor in George Street.
the anchor

The First in Last Out which had great jazz – Django Jazz.


with its fire in the middle.

FILO fire

Porters Wine Bar


which often has the famed local jazz singer Leane Carroll gigging.

We went to the Stag which featured a folk blues band in session.


and their guvnor

stag governor

I enjoye a glass ofport in the General Havelock after shopping in the charity shops etc while Dave went hiking.

Havelock ceiling

General Havelock

which has super tiled murals.

Havelock mural

Havelock tiles

We had our walks along the front to the pier which alas burned down.

hastings pier

pier fire

and saw a wonderful sunset.

We visited the Jerwood Gallery on free entrance first-Tuesday-of-the-month.


I liked this on a metal door.

Stewy dog Hastings

Here be a list of some of Hastings illustrious residents.

John Logie Baird
Elizabeth Blackwell
Sophia Jex Blake
Barbara Bodichon
Decimus Burton
James Burton
Thomas Brassey
Teilhard De Chardin
Harry Furniss
Dorothy Gardner
Rider Haggard
Sheila Kaye-Smith
Captain Sir John Kincaid
George Macdonald
George Monger VC
General James Murray
Marianne North
Grey Owl
Coventry Patmore
Robert Tressell
Sir Arthur Wellesley

Famous Residents – Hastings Borough Council

Elizabeth Blackwell 1821-1910 was the first woman to qualify as a doctor and have her name on the Medical Register. She lived at Rock House, Exmouth Place, Hastings from the 1870s to her death in 1910. She was the first professor of Gynaecology the London, now Royal Free Hospital and also practised in Hastings.

Sophia Jex Blake 1840-1912 was born in Hastings at 3 Croft Place and christened at St Clements’s Church. Having studied under Elizabeth Blackwell in the USA Sophia Jex Blake was one of the first women to qualify in medicine in this country at Edinburgh University. In 1874 she founded the London School of Medicine for Women, now the Royal Free Hospital.

Barbara Bodichon 1827-1890 was a nineteenth century advocate of women’s rights, painter and founder of Girton College, Cambridge. Barbara Bodichon was born at Whatlington and was brought up in Hastings and the surrounding area. In 1860 she built Scalands Gate on the road between Robertsbridge and Brightling where she entertained many of the leading figures of the day including Gladstone Rossetti and William Morris.

Robert Tressell 1870-1910 was author of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ written during the time he lived in Hastings between 1902 and 1910. Robert Tressell was the pseudonym of Robert Noonan who was born in Dublin and spent some time in South Africa before coming to Hastings to work as a signwriter, painter and decorator. He painted murals in St Andrews and St Johns Churches, also at Val Muscal off Gillsmans Hill and the Cadena Café at White Rock. His book is based on his own experience of the poverty and hardship suffered by workers in the building trade in Hastings in the early years of the century.




Catherine Cookson author.

Catherine McMullen took the position of Laundry Manageress at the Workhouses when she first came to Hastings in 1930. This became the Municipal Hospital. Catherine rented part of West Hill House in Exmouth Place from 1931 to 1933.
In 1932, Catherine bought The Hurst, 114 Hoads Wood Road, Hastings. Here she ran a guest house for people suffering from tuberculosis, epilepsy and other such illnesses.
She was married to Tom Cookson at St Mary Star of the Sea in Hastings High Street in 1940.


Dante Gabriel Rosetti
A poet and painter, Dante Gabriel Rosetti payed numerous visits to Hastings during his life. Having initially stayed in a local inn, he found lodgings at 5 High Street in Hastings old town, where his model Elizabeth Siddal also had rooms. Many portrait sketches of Elizabeth were made at this house and eight of his letters written from this house are still in existence.
During 1860 Rosetti visited Hastings again and stayed in The Cutter in East Parade prior to marrying Elizabeth in St Clements Church. There are still memorials to him in the church to this day.


The Duke of Wellington. Major General Sir Arthur Wellesley was Knighted for serving a very successful term in India from 1796 to 1805. Upon his return to England he was posted to Hastings in 1806 in order to take command of the brigade of infantry. His troop was based locally and he stayed at 54 High Street, using this as his headquarters.

The Swan Inn (situated opposite 54 High Street) was used for a public dinner in his honour in April 1806.

Wellesley then travelled back to his place of birth in Dublin and married Catherine Lady Pakenham, bringing her back to Hastings, where they lived at Hastings House, a beautiful Palladian Mansion at the North end of Tackleway. The plot where Hastings House and gardens once stood is now occupied by Old Humphry Avenue.
In 1829, the duke was installed as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Jo Brand went to school in Hastings
jo brand

I love the shiny silver sculptingssilverSilver octopus hastings

silver winkle

silver sculpts hastings

We went to see a quirky French film called Populaire at 11.00 am which was part of the silver screening for old folks in the bijou cinema THE ELECTRIC PALACE on the High Street. It is soo charming.



As you can gather we love Hastings and we always have the yummiest fish and chips from the Blue Dolphin.

Blue dolphin

White Weddings are past their sell by and anti-feminist.

Posted in Uncategorized, WHITE WEDDINGS ARE ANTI-FEMINIST AND PAST THEIR SELL BY. by sheelanagigcomedienne on November 27, 2013

Why do people continue with the White Wedding tradition? I find it very difficult to understand why this persists and why women want to end up looking like other brides on their wedding day, wearing a very expensive dress that only gets worn once.

From Wiki: A white wedding is a traditional formal or semi-formal wedding originating in Britain. The term originates from the white colour of the wedding dress, which first became popular with Victorian era elites, after Queen Victoria wore a white lace dress at her wedding; however, the term now also encapsulates the entire Western wedding routine, especially in the Christian religious tradition, which generally includes a marriage ceremony followed by a reception.

Here is a Mass Moonie wedding ceremony. Surely, this should put any one off from having such a ritual. MOONIE MASS WEDDINGS IS THE FIRST REASON AS TO WHY WHITE WEDDINGS HAVE HAD THEIR DAY.

Moonie mass wedding

The tradition of a white wedding is commonly credited to Queen Victoria’s choice to wear a white wedding dress at her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. THIS IS THE SECOND REASON TO ESCHEW THE WHITE WEDDING DRESS TRADITION.


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Royal brides before Victoria did not typically wear white, instead choosing “heavy brocaded gowns embroidered with white and silver thread,” with red being a particularly popular colour in Western Europe more generally. European and American brides had been wearing a plethora of colours, including blue, yellow, and practical colours like black, brown, or grey. As accounts of Victoria’s wedding spread across the Atlantic and throughout Europe elites followed her lead. Because of the limitations of laundering techniques, white dresses provided an opportunity for  conspicuous consumption. They were favoured primarily as a way to show the world that the bride’s family was so wealthy and so firmly part of the leisure class that the bride would choose an elaborate dress that could be ruined by any sort of work or spill. The colour white was also the colour girls were required to wear at the time when they were presented to the court.

By the end of the 19th century the white dress was the garment of choice for elite brides on both sides of the Atlantic. However, middle-class British and American brides did not adopt the trend fully until after World War 11. With increased prosperity in the 20th century, the tradition also grew to include the practice of wearing the dress only once. As historian Vicky Howard writes, “[i]f a bride wore white in the nineteenth century, it was acceptable and likely that she wore her gown again …” Even Queen Victoria had her famous lace wedding dress re-styled for later use.

The portrayal of weddings in Hollywood movies, particularly immediately after World War II, helped crystallize and homogenize the white wedding into a normative form.

Here are a few more weddings of British royals. First up is LIZ AND PHIL

Liz and Phil


The white wedding style was given another significant boost in 1981, when three-quarter billion people—one out of six people around the globe—watched Prince Charles marry Diana Spencer in her elaborate with a 25-foot-long train. This wedding is generally considered the most influential white wedding of the 20th century. THEY DIVORCED.

Chas and Di

SARAH and ANDY  now DIVORCED but apparently good friends

Sara and Andrew


Anne and Mark


Edward and Sophie

After the ROYALS ,  THE TRAVELLERS are the next most extravagant in the WHITE WEDDING  stakes.

tRAVELLER DRESS          Traveller bride

Traveller couple


Unfortunately, the WHITE WEDDNG  has become a fairly universal and been replacing other cultural and ethnic traditions.

chinese                                  japanese bride


Black coupleBlack couples

I too had a white wedding dress when we got married in 1967 in Ireland. I went along with the tradition in my pre-feminist days. I paid £11 for my dress and my friend Joan, who got married that same year 1967 hired her dress and ALSO  paid the same.  I later used the material from my dress to make a lampshade!! My headdress was referred to by my mother-in-law as a Dutch cap when she told her friends about it!! Our wedding photo in the car

Although women were required to wear veils in many churches through at least the 19th century, the resurgence of the wedding veil as a symbol of the bride, and its use even when not required by the bride’s religion, coincided with societal emphasis on women being modest and well-behaved. MODEST AND WELL-BEHAVED!!!

It is time that this outmoded fashion for expensive virginal white wedding dresses which are only worn once was dropped as the significance of it is so anti-feminist and so Stepford wives and Barbie.

BarbieBlack Barbies

RoyalsBarbie 2

Humanists Celebrants Conference and Leamington Spa

Posted in Leamington Spa by sheelanagigcomedienne on November 12, 2013

I attended our annual Humanist Celebrants conference at Warwick University. It is good to catch up and get a feel of where we are at. We had a jolly powerpoint presentation by Isabel  which she had actually given at her interview when she was appointed our Head of Ceremonies. Isabel is the first HOC who was/is a celebrant which I think is the ideal.  Isabel comes from a theatre background and is a member of our little SE London celebrants group. The keynote speaker was the ever entertaining Charles Cowling of the Good Funeral Guide empire. He threw down the gauntlet and challenged us to think about what we are doing when we conduct funerals. It reminded me of my assertion that the BHA, members and celebrants, reflects the CofE culture that the majority were raised in. They are mainly C of E atheists which is a British/Monarchial/Empire/Establishment/Christian Protestant culture.

One workshop that I attended was led by Poppy Mardall.

poppy mardal

Poppy is based in Fulham, London and originally set up to provide a simple, inexpensive  memorial type funeral whereby she would provide the family with the cremated ashes so that they could then conduct their own ceremony however, wherever they wanted it. This now constitutes about a third of her funerals and the rest are bespoke funerals. She does not believe in embalming nor the black garb entourage. Her pallbearers wear green fleeces.

We are a small independent company, passionate about helping you get what you want and need from a funeral. We take pride in providing the down-to-earth, practical, emotional and highly professional service you need when faced with the death of someone you love. Above all, we care hugely about getting it right for you.


We stayed in a nice B&B called Jersey Villa run by Polly. It was halfway between Warwick and Leamington Spa and we were able to walk to both. We went to Warwick on the Saturday   evening for a meal and drink and to Leamington Spa on the Friday and again on the way home on Sunday to visit the Pump Rooms Museum and Gallery and a walk in Jephson Park in the rain. It has a lovely glasshouse where we sheltered.Greenhouse plant Jephson


The function of the Royal Pump Rooms changed several times over the following years. While retaining its assembly rooms and medical facilities, around 1863 it was extended to include a Turkish bath and swimming pool, in 1875 the the Royal Pump Room Gardens   were opened to the public, and in 1890 a further swimming pool was added. The economy of Leamington decreased towards the end of the 19th century following the decline in popularity of spa towns, and it became a popular place of residence for retired people and for members of the middle-class who relocated from Coventry and Birmingham and wealthy residents led to the development of Leamington as a popular place for shopping. In 1997, the owners of the building, the district council, closed the facility for redevelopment, reopening it in 1999 as a culture centre. It now contains Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, a library, a tourist information centre, refurbished assembly rooms and a cafe. Spa water can still be sampled outside the building.

The Turkish bath Leamington.

Turkish baths

Leamington is closely associated with the founding of lawn tennis. The first tennis club in the world was formed in 1872 by Major Henry Gem and Augurio Pereira who had started playing tennis in the garden of Pereira. It was located just behind the former Manor House Hotel and the modern rules of lawn tennis were drawn up in 1874 in Leamington Tennis Club.  This is from the Leamington Museum.Tennis Pim Trophy

Dr Joshua Pim was a medical doctor from  and a renowned former World No 1 Irish amateur tennis player. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title two years in a row, in 1893 and 1894. In 1893, Pim returned to Wimbledon and won both the single and the doubles, (with  Frank Stoker a cousin of writer Bram Stoker)   championships.Joshua Pim – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia      He was descended from the quaker family that introduced Pimm’s brand of fruit cup.




During the Second World War, Leamington was home to the Free Czechoslovak Army a memorial in the Jepson Gardens commemorates the bravery of Czechoslovak parachutists from Warwickshire. Also the Ford Motor Company relocated here from Cork during the war bringing many Irish people over to follow the work. Of course, John Ford was of Irish extraction and had an affinity to the homeland.

leamington town hall

One quirky feature is the fact that a German bomb budged Queen Victoria’s statue I inch!

queen vic movedAs it is now being pointed out by Dave!

queen Vic moved my [hoto


And another snippet of Leamington lore -

Napoleon III

Few towns can claim as a resident someone whose portrait would later appear on postage stamps and on his country’s coinage.  There can be little doubt that Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the Pretender to the throne of France was the most illustrious of Leamington’s erstwhile residents. Louis, the nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte, had, like all members of the Bonaparte family been forced into exile after his uncle’s enforced abdication in 1815.

He resided at 6 Clarendon Square. Nap3-House

Lanesborough Hotel, Rosewood Hotel and St Pancras Hotel indulgent visits

Posted in Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on November 12, 2013

I visited the family of Phoebe who was 97 in St Mary Cray on a wet Friday in November. On my way back I dropped into The Lanesborough Hotel which was formerly St. George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corner and now a 5* hotel and I had a pot of tea in the Library bar which was served with hot milk which I reckon is a good idea. The chunky biscuits were delicious.

Lanesborough hotel

restaurant Lanesborough          Restaurant


Library bar

St George’s Hospital opened in the original Lanesborough House in 1733. By the 1800s the hospital was falling into disrepair. Lanesborough House was demolished to make way for a new 350-bed facility. Building began in 1827 under architect William Wilkins. The new hospital was operational by 1844, serving continuously as a hospital until transferred to Tooting, south London in the 1970s, leaving the Hyde Park Corner premises vacant in 1980. Rosewood Hotels and Resorts refurbished and re-opened the building as a hotel in 1991. Ten years later the management contract passed to Starwood’s St Regis operation as its first and only hotel in England. It is one of the most expensive hotels in London.

In 2009, The Lanesborough announced the launch of ‘Apsleys – a Heinz Beck Restaurant’. This is Chef Heinz Beck’s first restaurant outside Italy. Beck has been the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding achievement throughout a long and prestigious career. He was awarded three-Michelin stars for his cuisine at La Pergola in Rome, Italy. ‘Apsleys – a Heinz Beck Restaurant’ began service on September 7, 2009, and was awarded its first Michelin star on 20 January 2010. This is the current fastest time for a new London restaurant to get one, in fewer than 5 months. Aspley House opposite  the Lanesborough was the home

I do enjoy popping into these luxury hotels especially after work be it a family visit, a funeral or a meeting.

I attended our annual SACRE ( Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education) representatives meeting at Conway Hall recently and afterwards dropped in to the bar at the newly refurbished Rosewood Hotel formerly the Pearl Assurance Company.rosewoodlondon

The Br Rosewood Hotel

Rosewood London is a grand Edwardian edifice. The hotel is situated in one of the capital’s most historic thoroughfares, High Holborn, a road that dates back to Roman times. The Manor of Holborn was mentioned in 1086 in the Domesday Book, a land survey, and through the Middle Ages, as the City of London developed, the district took on an increasingly significant role. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Inns of Court were founded nearby, establishing the district as the centre of the British legal profession.

As the district grew in importance, so too did its residents. Former Holborn occupants include Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Thomas More, John Milton, Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers while living here, and set scenes from many novels in the area, including Pip and Herbert Pocket’s home in Great Expectations. As the 20th century approached, the area was home to William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as well as the Holborn Restaurant, an expansive eatery (it was formerly a casino) that the 1890 Baedeker’s guide to London called one of the best-known restaurants in the city.

RosewoodHistory of No. 252 Designed by H. Percy Monckton in a flamboyant Edwardian style, the extraordinary building at 252 High Holborn began construction in 1912. The first part was completed in 1914, and it was expanded upon in four stages over nearly 50 years, during which time it was the headquarters for the Pearl Assurance Company. Toilet 2Rosewood

The subsequent transformation of this historic building from Imperial-era offices into a London luxury hotel was carried out under the guidance of English Heritage, which lists the principal facades, as well as the interiors of the former East and West Banking Halls (now Holborn Dining Room and the Bar, respectively) and the Grand Staircase as the hotel’s significant heritage features.Roswwood corridor

The magnificent street frontage, which today is the entrance to Rosewood London, features a central carriageway entrance and dome leading into a grand courtyard, which provides a calm sanctuary away from the bustle of the city.

Inside, the lavish interiors are fitted out with Cuban mahogany and seven types of marble, including extremely rare types such as Swedish Green and Statuary. One of the most dramatic features of this five-star heritage hotel is the Renaissance-style seven-storey grand staircase, an architectural tour de force in marble. It ascends from either side of the entrance on High Holborn, forming a bridge on the first floor and rising through all the floors under an elliptical dome. Looking upwards, the arcades of Pavonazzo marble frame a view of the cupola that rises to 50.6 meters (166 feet), the maximum permitted height at the time of construction. Three individual heritage boardrooms are named in honour of Chairmen of Pearl Assurance Company. The Grade II-listed building is now sensitively renovated throughout to provide accommodation with the feel of a stylish London residence.


Next up is the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel formerly the Midlandst PanCRAS HOTEL.

I had a drink in the Gilbert Scott Bar and walked through to the foyer passing the magnificent staircase which leads on to the Booking Hall bar – all very sumptu0us. St_Pancras_Renaissance_Hot staircaseFoyer view-of-the-bar-ceiling-and-chandelier

St Pancras HotelGilbert scott bar

Sir John Betjeman was instrumental in the campaign to save St Pancras station from demolition. He was founding member of the Victorian Society and a dedicated campaigner and was commemorated when it became an international terminus for Eurostar in November 2007. He called the plan to demolish St Pancras a “criminal folly”. Sir John Betjeman

About it he wrote, “What [the Londoner] sees in his mind’s eye is that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill and outlined against a foggy sunset, and the great arc of Barlow’s train shed gaping to devour incoming engines, and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel seen from gloomy Judd Street.”

Do treat yourself to a visit.

Edith’s Naming Ceremony in front of Moore’s THREE STANDING FIGURES in Battersea Park.

Posted in Edith's Naming Ceremony by 3 Standing Figures Battersea Park, Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on October 2, 2013

Here is a photo of Edith’s Naming Ceremony which was held in front of Henry Moore’s THREE STANDING FIGURES which is on a mound facing the lake in Battersea Park in the tropical garden.


Here  we are Edith, Rachael, Kieran,her Mum and Dad, with me in front of the figures where we held her lovely Naming  Ceremony

Edith's Naming in front of Three Standing Figures

Here are the three of them with the view from the standing figures.

Edith and her Mum and Dad

The Good Funeral Awards

Posted in Good Funeral Awards by sheelanagigcomedienne on October 2, 2013

The Good Funeral Awards have been presented for the last three years at this event in Bournemouth in September.  Good funeral awardsThe weekend event is called the  Joy of Death Festival 2013 | The Good Funeral Guide

It provides an opportunity for those interested in funerals and the changes that are occuring in the business. Charles Cowling of The Good Funeral Guide and blog will be a guest speaker at our Humanist Celebrants conference next month and I look forward to hearing him as he is one of the most entertaining and passionate in the death and funeral business.

Pam St. Clements , the actress who played Pat Butcher in Eastenders, whose swan song was a stirring death scene which was appreciated  by millions of viewers was the presenter of the awards and the guest of honour at the event. The Oscars equivalent were the minature wicker coffins supplied by Ecocoffins.

As you can clearly see most of the winners were women although the funeral industry tends to still to be fairly male dominated. But the times- they-are-a-changing for the better

Invoice New Style_Invoice Paper.qxd

The festival included a Death Cafe. Death Cafe

There was this article on a visit to a Death cafe in London. A survey by the charity Dying Matters reveals that more than 70 per cent of us are uncomfortable talking about death and that less than a third of us have spoken to family members about end-of-life wishes. Dying Matters |

The death cafe movement: Tea and mortality

‘One of our most interesting discussions concerned the sanitisation of death and dying in Western society. No sooner have our loved ones been declared dead than they are whisked away, refrigerated, treated and (if being prepared for an open casket) covered in make-up, given plumping treatments for sunken eyes and have their mouths stitched up.’

There are now quite a few informative and fascinating websites dealing with death like Fling Fling: home of life and death decisions | Final Fling

There is The Natural Death Centre and My Last Song Blog 

Booking now open for Dying Matters’ annual Day of the Dead celebration on 1 November 2013 in London.

Day of thedia-de-los-muertos-altar Dead altar

Preparing a Humanist funeral ceremony

Posted in Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on September 23, 2013

GerberaHere is what I send to a family/next-of-kin when we are preparing for a Humanist funeral ceremony.



A Humanist funeral is a bit like the TV programme THIS IS YOUR LIFE when the biography of the person who has died would be read.   I try to get the family/next of kin to write it as they know the facts and can tell it exactly as they wish to.

Start with their date of birth, name of parents/siblings, where born and brought up, what they were like as a youngster, what they were into sports etc, school/ college/ work/marriage/ partnership/ how they met/children/ grandchilddren, interests, passions/politics/ reading/newspapers/ crosswords/holidays, pets, homes./gardening etc.

The more factual details are often followed by A DESCRIPTION OF THE SORT OF PERSON THEY WERE AND THEIR INTERESTS.

Then THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES  FROM FAMILY / FRIENDS when recollections of family, colleagues, neighbours and friends are included which have come from remarks/cards/letters/requested memories etc. HUMOUR is important.

Usually, the biography/lifestory comes first followed by tributes and memories.  You will need to decide how long/how many pages of lifestory to do. A  page of A4 font 14  takes  3 minutes to read. Typically it would be 4-6 pages

Sometimes it gets divided chronologically and contributions/tributes/memories from people who knew them at each stage would speak/have their contribution read by someone else – either because they can’t be there or would find it too difficult.

HOWEVER, I would always encourage people to speak telling them that they will not regret doing it but might regret NOT doing it. Humour/funny/honest stories/anecdotes/appraisal is important even when circumstances are very sad or tragic.


You will need to be quite aware of timings and the number of speakers/readings and music. Most crematoria state that the funeral service should last half an hour with 10 minutes to get in and out. Typically there would be about three tributes of 3 minutes each  and 1-2 readings/poems.  The order of speakers/contributions would tend to be work colleagues, friends, family ending with the most significant.. musical notes

Usually three pieces. The music as we enter when  the coffin is brought in tends to be more background and needs to be long enough for all the mourners to come in. The music as we leave tends to be lively/upbeat. The piece during the ceremony, usually after all the talking/tributes, is  a reflective piece or simply a favourite of the deceased or something that the family likes/finds consoling and would  last  for 3 to 4  minutes.



Nowadays, with Humanist funerals there is resistance to lots of flowers with  donations to charity recommended instead. However, people often decide  that  immediate family and friends or all the mourners bring a single flower/piece of greenery – unwrapped – no ribbons /cellophane – to place on the coffin as they say ‘Goodbye’ during the middle piece of music.

MEMORIAL BOOK. I  suggest that  people are invited  to send their thoughts and happy memories  of the person who has died  before or after the funeral which can be used at the funeral or are for the family to read and look back on in time to come. This can be  consoling for those bereaved  but it  can also be  cathartic for those invited to share their memories..



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