Lambeth , the old bit across the river from the Houses of Parliament, is already starting to buzz and is set to get a serious boost when Damien Hirst’s gallery complex opens in 2014. It is already being built (see photo above) though the staff have been told not to say anything about it. It is going to have a restaurant attached and will also be the HQ for Damien’s empire. It is bound to have knock-on effects on the rest of the area.
It is located in aggressively unassuming Newport Street (South of Lambeth High Street) at the other end of which is the delightful Beaconsfield Gallery which serves very good vegetarian lunches at odd times (usually Thursday to Saturday). It is housed in a Victorian “ragged school” built by local philanthropist Henry Beaufoy who, among other things, had a vineyard at Westminster not far from Waterloo Bridge.
The Beaonsfield is one of my two fave places in London to have a quiet lunch freed from the temptations of alcohol. The other, also in Lambeth, is the wonderful Garden Museum hewn out of the (deconsecrated) church of St Mary’s adjacent to Lambeth Palace where Captain Bligh of Mutiny of the Bounty is buried among thousands of others including six and a bit archbishops of Canterbury (Don’t ask . . . ). Details of these and two other Lambeth gems (the recently opened Tea House Theatre in a former strippers’ pub in the old Vauxhall Gardens and the brilliant Brunswick House cafe where it is love at first sight) can be found in our Gems of London iPhone app (click Gems icon on the right)
This part of Lambeth is an interesting place to wander around even though the road that inspired a song that made it world famous – The Lambeth Walk sung by Lupino Lane at the Victoria Palace – is a pale shadow of its former bustling self . You can still see relics if its industrial past – like the art deco grandeur of the head office of Royal Doulton (corner of Lambeth High Street and Black Prince Road) once one of the biggest potteries in the world employing 200 artists from the nearby Lambeth School of Art. Could art now be coming back to Lambeth to repay its debt.