Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ghosts of Old London Town

The little wooden midshipman outside Solomon Gillis’ chandlery, 157 Leadenhall Street.

More Ghosts of Old London Town... This time, its the resonance of old signs.

Sadly, most of the beautiful & wondrous signs that used to adorn old London Town were destroyed in 1666- during the infamous Great Fire of London. It was the signs that were created latter to that date that are amongst the very few that have survived to this very day. Others that survived well into photographic record were destroyed during the Blitz, but we are fortunate enough to still be able to spot some of the very few, if we keep our peepers peeled, that is...

In the alley ways & the main streets in the heart of the City, random & now seemingly-out-of place anachronisms can still be spotted affixed to modern buildings.

Symbols alone became instantly recognisable to all- such as a dragon for an apothecary, amazingly to this very day- a spool symbol for the local silk weaver!

Over the years, meanings of signs has become rather complex. As shops seem to change ownership all the time this day & age, the arcane signs of old London that were once used as identifiers of the old buildings they belonged to, now remain alone & rather out of context, ssitting silently & beautifully above the many modern establishments that have taken over the city streets.

There's a rather sweet & famous story of arcane signage that is associated with one of the UK's most recognisable Banks... Opposite St Dunstan’s, Fleet St, you can still see a smallish sign that comprises of three squirrels. This was first erected by a Henry Pinkley, a goldsmith, in the year of 1649. He was appropriated by bankers who moved into his establishment afterwards. The symbol of the three, little squirrels still remains & continued to be used by the National Westminster Bank until the mid-twentieth century!!
The famous Lombard Street of London town was once upon a bygone era, famed for its spectacular array of magnificent signage. 18th century prints hung upon the elaborate iron brackets that clung to the brick & stone walls, outside every single premise. It wasn't until 1718, when a grand sign in Bride Street collapsed with the shop-front & tragically killed 4 unsuspecting people, that a law was passed saying that a sign could no longer hang on the old creaking & groaning like brackets that would haunt the night air with their ghoulish noises. They were immediately seized & properly affixed, flat signage was then attached to shop fronts & above. This was the birth of the our modern notion...

Three of the few of the arcane, nostalgic favourites of mine are the golden owl on the House of Fraser, a sign of a fox in Lombard Street & the sign of the Half Moon in Holywell Street! But, you'll be surprised to know that only 3, age-old, instantly identifiable signs remain in common usage today- the barbers’ pole (with its bloody red and white stripe recalling when barbers were also surgeons), the chemists’ pestle and mortar, and the pawnbrokers’ three balls – originally blue, they turned gold in the early 19th century (based upon the crest of the Dukes of Medici)... Fascinating, huh?
 Sign of a Fox in Lombard Street.
Sign of the 'Three Kings' in Lombard Street.
Sign of the Half Moon in Holywell Street, near The Strand.
A physician.
A locksmith.
The sign of the Lamb & Flag...
A few of the remaining Four Maids that once adorned Covent Garden.
The grasshopper, symbol of industry and personal emblem of Sir Thomas Gresham who founded the Royal Exchange, is to be found all over the City of London even today...
The sign of the Three Squirrels in Fleet Street.
The sign of the Bull & Mouth in Aldgate.
Child’s bank. The sign of the Marigold in Temple Bar.
Ely Place, Hatton Garden . The mitre here came from an episcopal palace & was set into the wall
of a public house...
The maid of the Mercer’s company is still to be seen in Corbet Court off Gracechurch Street.
An old sign that remains in situ outside St Paul’s tube station...
“When ye have sought the Citty round,
yet still this is the highest ground.
August 27th 1698″
                               Archive photographs copyright © Bishopsgate Institute

                            Lots of love

                                                    Lover-Doll Presley
                                                           x TCB x

Thursday, 12 July 2012

♥ Mystic & Everyday Messengers of Magick ♥

"Those who don't look forward remain behind..."

“We don't license magicians, astrologers, fortune tellers, psychics & politicians, so why the hell do we license psychologists?”

By the 1900s the circus had flourished throughout England. With the advent of circuses travelling to the country from all over Europe, new & unusual 'acts' began to appear in mystic waggons...The infamous act of 'fortune telling', the practise of predicting information about a person's life, became apart of the family circus & fairs & is still apart of them to this very day! The practise of 'divination' or 'mystysism', fortune-telling & it's folklorist reception of Renaissance magic, was originally introduced to wider audiences by Eastern Europeans & Romanical Gypsies.

Acts of fortune telling & or, as often described as, 'Magick', are usually as follows... Consisting of Crystallomancy/Scrying readings, Cheiromancy/Palmestry & Taromancy, Astrology: the movements of celestial bodies, Astromancy: by the stars, Bazi or four pillars: by hour, day, month, and year of birth. Cartomancy: by playing cards, tarot cards, or oracle cards, Ceromancy: by patterns in melting or dripping wax, Clairvoyance: by spiritual vision or inner sight, Cold reading: by using visual and aural clues, Face Reading: by means of variations in face and head shape. Even the use of Hydromancy: by water, Lithomancy: by stones or gems. Numerology: by numbers, Oneiromancy: by dreams, Onomancy: by names, Pendulum reading: by the movements of a suspended object. Pyromancy: by gazing into fire, Runecasting/ Runic divination. Spirit board: by planchette or talking board & Tasseography/Tasseomancy: by tea leaves or coffee grounds.

Legality has certainly been changeable throughout the centuries. In 1572, Augustus of Saxony, strictly imposed that the inescapable penalty for such acts was that of burning! You would have been considered a heretic & accused of witchcraft. To his very day The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bans the practise outright, considering fortune-telling to be nothing but sorcery & against Islamic practises. It has been punishable by death! 'Magick' is sorcery, sorcery 'Magick', but there is many kinds...
Fortune telling is now considere 'A Class B Misdemeanor' in the state of New York. Under State law, S 165.35:
"A person is guilty of fortune telling when, for a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers, to answer questions or give advice on personal matters or to exercise, influence or affect evil spirits or curses; except that this section does not apply to a person who engages in the aforedescribed conduct as part of a show or exhibition solely for the purpose of entertainment or amusement."
Still to this very day by many cultural groups & bands of people & religions, fortune telling is sen as an act of magic & sorcery, therefore branded in today's modern world, as evil. But 'Magick' can be referred to in many different ways... 'Magic using illusion', is the art of appearing to perform supernatural feats using sleight of hand or other methods. Think Derren Brown & Dynamo. 'Magic using the paranormal' & paranormal methods to manipulate natural forces, such as witchcraft, is another reference. 'Ceremonial magic', a somewhat ritual system of esoteric spiritual development using occult technique Then there's 'Magick' a specific system of ritual magic deriving from the religious philosophy of Thelema. 'Magick' & religion are interlinked to & have been practised for thousands of years... Did all this suddenly disappear when religion became Monotheistic? No. 'Magic & religion' can be seen as one at times, as prayer involves the intercession of deities or other spirits. We all pray for someone or wish for something, no? That is a form of 'Ritual Magick'. We are asking something or someone to influence the powers that be to alter, bend or even change our present mental, physical or spiritual state in one way or another. We often find ourselves saying "argh, I wish I was home already or I wish I had more money to buy this or that. Casually may be & lightheartedly with not necessarily any heat or belief behind it by some, a figure of speech perhaps, but we're still 'invoking' by the power of prayer and hope. Whether you believe in God or not & even if you cannot class or label your belief system, whether you even have one or not, it's still human nature to want & hope for more. Its within, its innate.

 People think that 'Magick' is all about 'spells', 'curses', equalling wart-nosed witches in pointy hats, demons, Satanists, cloaked figure skulking in graveyards. That it's something impossible, irrational & mankind's way of explaining something that is initially alien to us or unexplainable, due to the 'limited' cognitive understandings & social norms of the time. Not all forms of 'Magick' require an individual's physical intervention. Ever noticed that the simple power of thought is enough? Like when a mother suddenly gains the strength of ten men to lift a care or rubble off her injured child?! A well-coined, cliche of an example as it may be, it still retains its relevance. What about those individuals who have suffered with a chronic illness their whole lives or someone who had been diagnosed as terminally ill? Suddenly you hear of these miraculous recoveries, sometimes lengthily, but a recovery none-the-less. When questioned & probed about it, many say that they wanted to be better so bad that it sort-of naturally all fell into place for them. Mind over matter, something we all try to harness & practise, something that too can be classed as 'Magick' within itself!

'Magick' in its pure form is neutral; neither good nor bad. A state of mind & will. Like anything, can be practised physically. Like a knife, the intention behind it is only dangerous or when used with ill intent, in the hands of a misguided individual that harnesses unnatural thoughts. A knife is not going to stab someone with brute-force by itself, is it?

 I, for one, am a strong believer in spiritual gifts such as this & believe individuals can possess such powers as a birth right. Not acts against God, for it is God who gifted individuals with these powers in the first place... We are more in control of ourselves & shaping our future than we think. Yes, I believe that what is meant to be, is meant to be, fate, destiny, what will be will be & that's all that will be etc. But, I also believe that we can influence our decisions, wants & needs. We do that every day. It's the art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will, the Ego, The Higher Self, all a part of God's plan & integral to the evolution & divination of the human soul. The Way of The Esoteric Fool, if you will, from the major Arcana on a Tarot deck. 'Magick' can be utilised by a simple thought or decision & lie within it, too!

 Personally, I believe that to create life in this first place is an act of 'Magick' itself! For us to be able to create a new life with a lover, 'play God' if you will, is just as superior. 'Magick' is the subversion of 'Natural Lores', something that happens everyday through the power of nature & through us too, more often unintentionally. We influence what is around us & what is around influences us. A plant will grow from a sapling easily in nature, yet the natural development of the plant could be altered in our possession, for instance. Say for example, if you owned a potted-plant. Without you watering it, feeding it, giving it sufficient natural light it will wilt & die. We are influencing & responsible, just like nature itself. A flower blossoming, the seasons changing-all 'Magickal' in terms of the natural or influenced subversion of the natural lores, no? Global Warming is the most famous of examples.

Christians for one, believe God is Omnipresent- in everything around us & everywhere, such as in nature etc. As is 'Magick'. It too is all around us. It is a part of God's work on this planet...

That brings me to the subject of 'Alchemy', which too is considered as an act of subversion of the 'Natural Lores'. But that too is another form of 'Magick'. Something that we put into practise every, single day of our lives.I suppose in it's modern & more 'rational' term would be called 'chemestry'!

 The most common example would be making a cup of tea. We boil the cold water. Here we are heating the atom particles H2o that are few & loose, hence the liquid state, to boiling point. By simply adding a teabag, we are altering & therefore changing the physical appearance & state of the water. 'Magick', yes, unbelievable & requiring spells, certainly not! These aren't the unfounded beliefs of a mad woman, but one that is commonly expressed & felt by many. One that serves as the hope for all who feel & know that there is sooo much more to life than what we can see with the naked eye...

So, here's a few online pics I found in an old album of mine. None of these have been taken by me, nor do I own the right to any of them. They're just for fun & have some great subject matter.


A photograph taken by police of Romanian Gypsy Fortune Tellers...

Some of the Major Arcana in a deck of Tarot Cards.
Coffee grounds have been read in the Middle-East for thousands of years.
Especially in countries such as Cyprus, Turkey & Egypt...

Lots of Love
Lover-Doll Presley
x TCB x


Monday, 9 July 2012

☮♡♫♪♔‏ The 'Vintage Fashion Fair' at Cecil Sharp House ☮♡♫♪♔‏

On a lovely, Sunday afternoon my boyfriend & I made our way to 'Cecil Sharp House' in Regents Park, not too far from Primrose Hill, for a spot of vintage browsing at the monthly 'Vintage Fashion Fair', featuring accessories & textiles, as well as a wide range of impressive garments, before making our way to lunch...

The 'Vintage Fashion Fair' specialises in a huge range of beautiful vintage garments, accessories & textiles, dating from the 1800s all the way to the retro 1980s. Catering kindly for the vintage fashion needs of both ladies & gentlemen, the 'Vintage Fashion Fair' offers both bargains casual prices as well as designer. You can find them on a Sunday, once a month at various locations around the UK.
I was eager, as always, to whip-out the old camera & take a few snaps for my blog. Only one other thing kept darting through my mind which always annoys me & I often coin the well-used phrase "just because I have loads of clothes, doesn't mean that I have something to wear!!!" to back-up my indecisive nature when it comes to dressing appropriately for the weather. With this on repeat in my obsessive mind- like a faulty vinyl, I decided to contemplate whether to bring my jacket with me or not?

The rather confusing weather left the inevitable expectation of a down-pour in the air... As we pulled-up in the car, I leaned out of the window & inhaled the nostalgic scent of wet earth & grass, followed by a mouthful of stifling humidity. I looked up at the sky with anticipation to see that the once opalescent clouds that only a few minutes ago seemed to be blissfully giving-birth to a sea-blue sky & pleasant orb of sun, had slowly begun to huddle together, as if concealing & discussing some-sort of esoteric secret; but there was nothing scholarly about their discussion by any means! They were undoubtedly planning to shower their cool drops upon us all down below. The trees began to sway slowly from side-to-side, the light wind occasionally picking-up with great speed. Mother Nature herself was getting ready for her dance in the rain.... So, we excitedly made our way to the non-residential, red-brick-built, baronial building that is 'Cecil Sharp House'.

Open since 1930, this stately building was purpose-built as the intended home of the 'English Folkdance & Song Society', named after its founder Cecil James Sharp, the founding father of the folklore revival in England during the early 20th century. It plays host to a vast musical selection inspired by the original mission of Sharp himself- "to preserve & promote English folk dances in their traditional forms..." As a result, 'Cecil Sharp House' has been packed with a number of impressive & eventful barn dances over the years, Ceilidhs, traditional folk luminaries & even the odd ukulele shenanigan or two. Not to be one to exclude the modern audience, unexpected acts like Goldfrapp & Sigur Ros have also been on the bill & played there in recent years. Surprisingly, this was the first time I had ever entered the spacious surroundings, despite my father regularly attending rehearsals & auditions here when he was with the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), when I was a child.

On entry, after paying a small fee of £3 each, we were greeted by a plethora of stalls; colours, textures, that familiar smell of vintage clothing. The walls seemed to radiate a warmth, despite the grandeur of the hall's size. It must have been all the old souls that belonged to the garments, poppin' by to say hi & goodbye to their much-loved garments of their bygone eras. Dresses hung lifeless, almost tired from all their antic back-in-the-day from the wooden walls. A glowing, bright light radiated through the high windows as if God was waiting to collect the souls of the previous owners & although the light appeared so incredibly bright, it seemed to create much more of a soft haze than a blinding spectrum.

Memories seemed to be imprinted on each item-their ethereal blueprint almost, that will linger-on for many more years to come... That thought always excites me & warms me. As an archaeologist I am used to handling ancient artefacts etc, so instinctively when I hold a vintage garment, I can't help but imagine the possible person or persons who would have worn, bought, loved or even hated it! This mind-set has become second nature as it an integral part of my job!

The dresses watched us from their elevated positions, almost regal in their way- looking down upon us, judging each potential buyer that passes their way, yet at the same time, it felt as if they were entrapping us in their surrounding web of love & safety, thanking us for our interest & admiration, feeling like stars on the world-stage... The atmosphere was thick with memories past, attached to both the items for sale & the building itself. It was hard to make sense of it all at first as your mind jumps straight into the front seat of assumption, trying to decide what it wants you to think & feel about your surroundings, but I just let the room itself do that.

Slowly we began to walk from stall to stall, chatting with the owners, hearing all about their wonderful shops &  on-line stores. From Etsy to Ebay, we were bombarded with information in the most pleasant of ways...

So, without further ado, here's some of the pics I took on the day. Enjoy

Cecil Sharp House in all its red-brick glory...
 Beautiful, custiomised and hand-made garments by Ruth Milliam. Her collection included real fur coats with lace...
The dresses looked-on, like ghostly phantoms of former owners...

One of the textile stalls that were there on the day. Lashings of old lace and sparkles lay silently on the pop-up table...

By far my favourite ensemble!! This stunning outfit is rather reminiscent of an Edwardian piece,
aka Rose in the film 'Titanic' or something an understated Marilyn Monroe would wear on a day off... Simply stunning & in my opinion, worth every penny.
Should have bought it!!!

This stall & the image of the beautiful skirt-suit above, all  a part of a Ms. Nicola Chinn & her online store 'Pret-A-Vintage', vintage clothing accessories at:

Argh! It's when I see gwwwwoorrrgeuos lingerie like this that I damn the fact I am not the size of a twiglet & that I grew a lot of what my mama gave me (bloomin' boobs, that's what)!!!

Another one of my favourite stalls on the day was owned by a Miss Ava Flynn, a St. Martin's School of Art & Design graduate, who proudly attained her BA degree in Fine Art 3D Sculpture... She has put her talent to good-use & now works a milliner & sells some of her own designs here at:
"Handpicked vintage treasures from the 1920s-70s, that special injection of glamorous vintage to your wardrobe or home! Specialising in mid century clothing and collectibles, and fabulous eyewear, we are based in London UK...." at:
& her Etsy Shop at:
You can see Ava's millinery wonders at Fenwick's Millinery Department, too! Wooop-wooop!

THE most sexual pair of glasses that were ever crafted by someones sexually-charged hands! WANT!!!

The crowds started to grow come early afternoon...

Some stalls specialised solely in jewellery & accessories...
I was cornered by two rails of clothing!

I just loved this stunning corset top. The ivory embroidery was something to be both admired & envied by all!
 A gorgeous emerald green dress. Not too sure of the era? The halterneck implies 1940s/50s,
yet the giant bow screams 1980s!

A close-up of the dress...

                                                                                         Lots of Love
                                                    ♡ Lover-Doll Presley♡
                                                                x TCB x