Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Steppin' into Stepney Green

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments




After a half-hour of travel along the Northern and District Lines of the Tube, we arrived at Stepney Green. We walked out onto a pavement lined with various ethnic restaurants and shops geared toward a Middle Eastern population. Trying to better understand the population of the area, we passed restaurants including A’la Pizza, Halal Bite, and Rama Thai restaurant. The women dressed in full or partial hijabs gave some indication of the local population as well. We searched for a literal Stepney Green or park as we walked down the moderately busy street. The locals we asked could not point us in the right direction, so we set off on our own.

On the way, we discovered several interesting aspects of Stepney Green, including several private colleges, residential areas, elementary schools, and unique alleyways opening up to even greater neighbourhoods.



Speaking to a doctor of marketing, we learned more about the Royel College of London and the London Crown, two of many private colleges in the area. These two housed 300 and 400 students, respectively, and provided a liberal arts education. The location of the colleges did not give any prominence to the building itself, though. Rather, each college was tucked in a obscure alleyway marked by graffiti and garbage. The signs blended in so well with the business signs dotting the building facades that we had to take a closer look just to notice them.


Still searching for Stepney Green, we wandered off the main road through a desolate tunnel into a rather lovely residential neighbourhood. We first saw a loading dock and an unglamourous site undergoing renovations. This opened up to two rows of tidy homes and ornate gardens (Amy even befriended a black cat along the way!).

There are many monuments erected in the honor of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. His founding of the organization began in Stepney Green at an Almes House, which opened in 1695. Captain James Cook is also immortalized in a series of plaques in front of his home in Stepney Green (Cook was a famed circumnavigator and explorer during the mid-1700s).


"On this site stood a house occupied for some years by Captain James Cook, R.N., F.R.S. 1728-1779 Circumnavigator and Explorer"
“On this site stood a house occupied for some years by Captain James Cook, R.N., F.R.S. 1728-1779 Circumnavigator and Explorer”

Our trip through the residential areas led us to an elementary school and adjoining playground. The high brick walls and gated backyard gave an impression of safety and comfort. This suburban area directly contrasted with our experience on the main road of town, which seemed more “run-down” and tired. There were no people in these residential areas, whereas people congregated on the main road for lazy conversation and commerce.


So what of the actual Stepney Green? We were ready to board a bus home in defeat when we realized (thanks to a bus map) that the actual Green was behind us the entire time. We wandered toward Stepney Green Road (go figure), which led us to a wide gated entrance to the park. Lined by tall trees, benches, and houses, the park stretched for as long as we could see. We stopped to take a break from our arduous journey (and to celebrate) and headed back home via bus. Walking the rest of the way from Tottenham Court Road, we arrived safely at the Arran House.


We expect to see more of these juxtapositions of poorer, run-down neighbourhoods and more surburban, gated communities. These proved to us how London is truly multi-faceted and cannot be defined by one’s initial  perception.

Tags: Amy · Brandon

Greenwich and the Maritime Museum

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

I love UNESCO world heritage sites and am thrilled to be able to count Maritime Greenwich among those I have visited!  I honestly didn’t know what to expect before going to Greenwich this morning.  I knew that there was an observatory, which meant that there was at least one really big hill, and the Prime Meridian, which my mother had requested I take a video of myself dancing on (yes, I did and it’s a long story). 

What struck me first at the observatory was the practical elegance of the buildings.  The original observatory, designed by Christopher Wren, had a beautifully decorated dome that was perfect for viewing the sky, but it also had the necessary living quarters for the Royal Astronomer.  My favorite exhibit in the observatory museum was of the clocks.  I found it really interesting to see the progress of clocks over time and the timepieces used in specific jobs to this day (ex. the diver watch and the Underground/Bus driver clock).  I didn’t know that wristwatches were seen as feminine before WWI, but were found to be more practical in the trenches, causing men to adapt them. 

After lunch, Chelsea and I headed over to the Maritime Museum and spent a fair bit of time wandering around the exhibits.  In one of the rooms there was a really neat display that showed Butler’s Wharf (which we passed on the boat) as it was in 1937 and then again in 1997.  It was very clear to see the development that happened over that 60 year span.  In 1937 it was a heavily worked dock and warehouse area, while in 1997 it had been converted to luxury apartments.  That display illustrated the expansion of the upper-middle class city into what had been a very working class area. 

One of the other rooms in the Maritime Museum that I found fascinating was the reconstructed stained glass from the Baltic Club.  The Baltic Club was a high-end club in the center of London and it was bombed in 1992. This exhibit showed the damage that had been done to the windows and what the conservationists had to do in order to restore them to their original state. 

Greenwich Market was a curious place.  It had just about everyone and everything you can think of: different languages being spoken,  ethnic crafts, clocks made out of vinyl records, jewelry, lots of soap/incense places, and, of course, food.  It didn’t take me too long to get through the market, but it was very charming.  After the market, Chelsea and I, after much searching and walking, managed to find a 188 bus stop that was not closed for construction. Neither of us had really been on a bus in London, so we figured it was as good a time as any to figure out the system.  A very long bus ride later, we got the Russell Square and made our way back to the hotel.

Tags: Kelley · Markets · Museums

Like a Virgin

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Today started off with the most amazing breakfast I have possibly ever had.  Of note were the mushrooms, which were simply fantastic and attained an effect I have never been able to achieve in my many months(i would not be so bold to say years) of culinary inquisary.  The Orange Juice was a little odd, but it is what it is. When then hurried off to Embankment to catch a boat.  After taking a few pictures of Big Ben when got on the boat where we were bombarded with 80’s pop music and our own personal singer to boot, which was also amazing.  When we got off the boat we wound through a few streets, being mocked by a grandmother at one point, until we came to a park. The park, although hilly, seemed to be populated by several dog owners and surprisingly little else.  When we finally arrived at the top of this ginormous hill we had arrived at the meridian line and a few museums. 

     I had read the time article on the plane, and thus retension was not at the highest it has been. Nevertheless, it was neat to apply some of the ideas I did remember.  I’m sure this line will get old very quickly but as a cultural anthropologist in the making( in itself a paradoxical statement of anthropological perportions) I am always intreged to look into another cultures life– see how they view the world. There is no better way to do that than through the value people put on time and the control people try have over it.  The british are quite obessive when it comes to keeping time, and it has a lot to do culturally with what they consider as proper behavior.  As a whole they consider utility of human existance, I believe. A person who isn’t working with the machine is working against it. Londoners walk briskly whereever they go, and scaff at those people who prefer the more leisurely stride. Of course this is a hastey observation and one that needs more field research to verify. But it should also be noted that the pace at which people speak is also indicative of how they consider time and the importants they weigh on it. One example that comes to mind is that of the southern drawl: a slow methodic pace which is found in the agrarian areas of the South, a place(at least at one point) where time was based around harvesting.

But i digress. The planet show was amazing, much better than Dickinson’s and the guy was a lot funnier than my astronomy professor.  We went to a pub for lunch to get finger food, which i seem to be eating a lot of lately, and I had the Scrumpy Jack. On the whole I think I prefer the Scrumpy Jack to the Strongbow, but again further research is required.  I think a lot can be said about a cultures food and alcohol. If anything you can learn more sitting in a pub than sitting in a museum. In a museum everything is there for a reason, there are no blemishes unless they are put there on purpose. But in a pub or market, you get everything: you get the bad, the beautiful, the bacalonious. And I think that is more important than any historical thing, but then again I’m not a historian.

We traveled through the tunnel under water which uneventful for the most part.

Going along with two statements ago, we decided to venture into Camden Town to search out a proper english pub.  We ventured off the main road and into the Good Mixer, where we found much hussle and bussle. We also found Captain Jack Sparrow. I tried  yet another hard cider although i did not know the name of this one from all the noise– sadly it is my favorite thus far.  We chatted a bit on the different perceptions tied behind alcohol, comparing good old D’son to that of London. No Natty light, to my grave disappointment (I guess Guiness will just have to do). I also realized why there were less drunk people around in London than I was used to seeing in Philly was because alcohol was so damn expensive you couldn’t afford to get pissed.

Anyway, cheers

Tags: Andrew R

Liverpool Street: A History Forgotten

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Liverpool Station

Liverpool Station

To arrive at Liverpool Street, we took the red Central tube line from Tottenham Court Street directly to Liverpool Street. On the way to our destination, in the Tottenham Court station, we saw a blues performer. We later learned at these station performers, who are called Buskers, were licensed and had to pay to perform there. Once on the tube, we saw a mix of many different people, mostly on their way to or from work. Since both of us are from New York City and make use of the public transportation often we couldn’t help but to compare the London tube to the New York City subway stations. The tube was definitely more organized with large maps and accessible directions, cleaner and more colorful. Large advertisements and walls decorated with mosaics of musical instruments occupied walls of the tube stations.

It took us about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the Liverpool station, unlike our return trip by the 8 bus, which took 30mins to an  hour. As we left the train we were immediately confronted with flower shops, new stands, and people. We exited the below ground portion of the station into what can only be described as a beautiful classical architecture masked by modern McDonalds and commercial facades. This area was similar to Penn Station in New York. There were large departure and arrival boards for all kinds of trains, as well as coffee and food shops, boutiques, and crowds of people quickly on their way.

Modern & Classic

Modern & Classic

As noted, the original architecture of the building appeared to be a large hotel with huge Corinthian columns and arches over the station. However, the roof and interior or the building was glass and metal, the new architectural style of London. This juxtaposition of old and new was possibly the most interesting part of the Liverpool Station.



As we wandered out of the station we saw a constant stream of buses and heard many unfamiliar languages being spoken. We found a bench to sit on and observed the flow of people in the area. In this predominantly commercial area, we saw various classes and ethnicity of people, however the area was lacking young people from the junior high to high school age group. The stores and commercial buildings must target and older more corporate audience.

Despite our wandering and watching, we still had not discovered a monument. So we reentered the station and looked for a back exit. What we discovered was that almost the whole station was a monument that no one seemed to notice! High above and surrounding the back (or front) entrance of the station was a huge plaque which read, “To the glory of God and in grateful memory of those members of the great eastern railway staff who, in response to the call of their country, sacrificed their lives during the great war” dated 1914-1919.



Below this plaque were columns of names, and below these names were several  relief sculptures of prominent war figures. The most interesting thing about this monument was that as we stood taking pictures, the travelers around us only then seemed to notice this huge piece of the station’s history. This matches the juxtaposition of modernism and ancient architecture. In the rush to push forward and create a modern station, this important part of this country’s history got left behind. In the rush to make a train at Liverpool station, history is forgotten.

Tags: Jeyla · Megan


August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

After a short tour of Tottenham Court Road, Paul and Chelsea set off for Barbican from Goodge Street station. Barbican and Goodge Street aren’t located terribly far away from each other, but because of the way the Underground system is laid out, we had to go all the way down to Embankment to meet the Circle Line in order to take it to Barbican, and the Tube journey alone probably took twenty minutes or so in itself.

The Barbican station surprisingly was outdoors, unlike most other stations we had seen. It lets out onto a fairly busy street, and we headed straight across it for Beech Street (which is actually a sort of tunnel), not knowing we were heading away from the Central Markets and the Museum of London. We ended up in a mostly residential area full of “estate houses,” which we thought meant low-income housing, but many of the buildings looked decent and well kept-up for the most part, making us question if that’s really what “estate houses” meant. We came across a small park and an elementary school, as well as an old building marked as a “free library,” which turned out to actually be offices for UBS and not a library at all. This building was a tall red-brick building with elaborate arches and ledges, which was in stark contrast to the concrete block apartment building right across the street. In addition, we found a Welsh church, but couldn’t glean much information besides the fact that it had been established in 1774 due to the fact that the signs were written in Welsh. The majority of the people we saw walking around were white and middle class in appearance, even though it was probably a more lower-income area. However, the area seemed very quiet and there were very few people on the street.

Walking only a block away from the residential area, we came to the Square Mile City and were dwarfed by the massive high-income office buildings. This area was in direct contrast to the estate houses simply on the other side of the street. The farther on we walked,  there were more and more modern glass and steel buildings, as well as men in suits and boutique shops. Deciding to head back, we found Moorgate Tube station and took a different route back home, taking the District Line and ending up at Tottenham Court Road and a short walk to the hotel.

We’re having technical difficulties getting the pictures up, but we hope to have that worked out soon.

Tags: Chelsea · Paul

The Thames and Greenwich

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Upon leaving the hotel at 8:30 sharp we went to the Goodge Tube stop and took the tube to Embankment. We then walked down to the boat launch were we were to get on the boat. Prof. Qualls then led a discussion about the Thames and its importance in the development and history of London.
The “Embankment” reminded me of home. Being from Pittsburgh I have a lot of experience with rivers. Before this trip I did not realize why rivers were channeled by large cement walls.
We then went onto the boat and started the journey down the Thames. During the boat ride I took MANY pictures that I have finally finished uploading onto facebook.
When we exited the boat in Greenwich we started the long and exhausting trip to the observatory. At the top of the hill we saw an amazing parametric view of the city. We then took pictures on the Prime Meridian. I am having a really hard grasping the fact that I was standing on the Prime Meridian mostly because I am having a hard time realizing that I have left America. Having never been on a plane before this experience, went I think of the miles I have traveled I am in complete and utter disbelief.
After that we quickly walked through the clock museum, stopping to look at what the time was at home on the globe and placing our finger tips on over our homes.
After that we went to the planetarium show. The presenter was absolutely hilarious!! He started the presentation by instructing us to go home and look at the sky from our “garden”. He then started talking about what the stars look like from the London perspective. This made me wounder what constellations I would be able to see from my backyard.
Today I learned that I know nothing about my home. Every time I learn something knew about London I wonder about home. I have probably learned more in the past two days in London than I have spending all my life in Pittsburgh.

Tags: Uncategorized

London Day One Adventures

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

We started off our first adventure in London by taking a boat ride down the Thames River.  It was the first time I really felt like I was IN LONDON. Seeing the London Eye and Big Ben from a distance, really set me into reality.  As we rode down the river it was fascinating to see the old architecture and homes along the river.  Upon arriving in Greenwich we walked through the park and arrived at the Prime Meridian. After straddling the line so I was in two hemispheres at once, and wandering around the museums we decided to take advantage of the planetarium.  After more walking around Greenwich and having lunch (which despite my picky eating habits was surprisingly delicious), I went with a small group to the Queens House.

To me the most impressive thing about the Queens House was the size and the architecture. Wandering from room to room I couldn’t even focus on the paintings that covered the walls, I was shocked by the beauty of the crown molding and wainscoting.  And it continued from room to room to room. As we left Greenwich we walked through the tunnel that went under the Thames and took the railroad to the Tube and took the Tube home.

I felt that the boat ride down the Thames was a good introduction to London seeing some of the major sight-seeing sites, I’m looking forward to seeing more though. I enjoyed hearing about the area of Greenwich, but what I’m especially looking forward to is seeing some modern art, dance, and plays. I know it’s coming, and I know I need to seek it out and I can’t wait!CIMG1639CIMG1614

Tags: Amanda

I spy a llama in Millard Park

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

This morning we took a combination water and walking tour. We took an enjoyable voyage down the Thames that provided a number of opportunities for photos. After disembarking in Greenwich we climbed the hill to the Meridian Line and enjoyed the two museums found at the top of the hill. The first provided insight on the difficulties sailors faced before ships could accurately keep time. The second had an illuminating show in the planetarium. I was struck by the importance that we place upon time in our society and how our every action is dictated by what time it is. After visiting the Meridian Line and Observatory we commenced with a walking tour of the area that included a walk down the Thames and a visit to the Greenwich University.

After our walking tour and lunch Kim, Alli, Sarah, and myself stayed in the area to explore the Greenich Market and the local churches. The Greenwich Market was a a fabolous mix of booths and stores. Some were typical flee market booths and others sold organic teas, jewelry, framed photographs, and ethnic cuisine. The market was U-shaped with permanent stores on the three sides making up a courtyard that was filled with rows of booths. After leaving the market we crossed under the Thames to catch the DLR and were distracted by the park directly across the street from the station. My original impression of the park was a playground to the side for children and then a wide open field bordered by a walking path, however less than halfway around the path was the entrance to another side of Millard Park. After entering we found that this side of the park was home to a stable and various animal enclosures. We found sheep, horses, cows, llamas, and one lone pig who was very friendly with Kim. The area was mostly hilly fields and in the background you could see the London skyline, underlining the fact that we were still within London.

Tags: Uncategorized

Don't Defecate on London: a unique and variant experience in Elephant and Castle (lacking pictures)

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Our day started at the Goodge Street tube stop (no, that is not a bodily orafice).  We took the northern line south three stops to Charing Cross, and jumped lines to the Bakerloo for four stops, and we had arrived at Elephant and Castle in the borough of Southwark.  We had been warned that it was a questionable area.  The reality was far more shocking.  Immediately upon exiting the tube, we were approached by a man with a bloody face (no, not that kind of bloody, but a gruesomely literal BLOODY face) asking repeatedly for help.  After evading what seemed like a potential mugging (considering that the “victim” didn’t ask the nearby policeman for help) we set off through Elephant and Castle.

A walk through the painfully modern local University ensued.  Being a college area there were many take-out and ethnic restaurants.  In fact, the area seemed to be predominately lower class, dominated by Afro-Caribbean immigrants.  Their culture was further depicted by the murals painted in the subway tunnels (which are walking tunnels, not tubes).  We continued our walk into nearby Lambeth, where we found a large obelisk dedicated to King George.  Though hesitant to approach and take pictures of the monument as there were several tramps hanging about, we eventually overcame our apprehension.  On nearing the structure we were immediately greeted by the bare bum of a homeless man, having just unloaded on said monument.  Luckily, he didn’t make it into any of our pictures, though the memory will be burned into our traumatized memories forever.

After this troubling experience we decided that if we didn’t find anything nice within a block, we were returning to central London.  Fortunately we stumbled upon a beautiful Tibetan Peace Garden, ironically adjacent to the Imperial War Museum.  The center was dominated by a large metal Mandala design.  However, the main attraction was off to the side.  A pillar quoating the XIV Dalai Lama in four languages (Tibetan, English, Chinese, and Hindi) read as follows:

“We human beings are passing through a crucial period in our development.  Conflict and mistrust have plagued the past century which has brought immeasurable human suffering and environmental destruction.  It is in the interest of all of us on this planet that we make a joint effort to turn the next century into an era of peace and harmony.  May this Peace Garden become a monument to the courage of the Tibetan people and their commitment to peace.  May it remain as a symbol to remind us that human survival depends on living in harmony and on always choosing the path of non-violence in resolving our differences.” -May 13, 1999

Considering its location in a diverse community it is especially prominent.   The message conveyed by the garden gives hope to the minorities who experience discrimination, not just in London, but throughout the world. 

Leaving the gorgeous garden and its Ice Age Tree Path (we’re not sure either), we entered the Imperial War Museum.  Located in the building that once housed Bethlem Hospital, it is now a wide open space filled with various instruments of destruction.  We chose to explore the morbid and depressing Holocaust Exhibit, which was appropriately desplayed in an age restricted corridor.  Though tastefully done it left us feeling rather sad.  We left.  Returning to the tube station in an attempt to figure out why the stop got its name, we asked a security person whose response was “That’s just its name”.  The only clue was a pub located next to the station called The Elephant and Castle.  The area was, in fact, named FOR said pub, but admittedly we didn’t know this at the time.  We did however make up a highly amusing story to explain the name that we had only ever heard of in Harry Potter.  Ask us about it later. 

Our return was made on the number 68 bus to Russell Square, and we continued on foot to our hotel, where we collapsed in heaps of exhaustion on our beds and had to be pried off our beds with a shoe horn in time for discussion.    Unfortunately, our designated camera had forgotten its memory card reader in its laptop case, so our pictures are currently marooned on said camera.  They’ll come up sometime on Monday or Tuesday.

Tags: Anthony · Campbell · Sarah

Finsbury Park and other wanderings

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

One word to describe the environment that we explored: DIVERSE. When we got on the Piccadilly line at the Euston station and made a change over to the Victoria at King’s Cross St. Pancras to head towards Finsbury Park Station, little did we expect to encounter a place filled with people (who appeared to be) from various diverse backgrounds. It was a busy street, and as we walked by the shops and street vendors we observed how everyone interacted with each other and the environment. Every shop was unique in what was sold and in their atmospheres. We were impressed to see such a large variety of shops together on the same street and Flow was blown away by the fact that platanos were being sold on the street! There were also residential areas along with the interesting meeting ground of shops, restaurants and homes. In our exploring of the area, we found the Capital Ring. This is a trail that runs through parts of the city and besides the sounds of passing cars, seemed to be a trail in the country. Our return trip was an experience. We ended up riding around on the buses for a few hours. This allowed us to see the city from a different viewpoint than being on the ground walking or underground riding the tube. It took four buses to find our way back. Three of these buses were headed in the opposite direction of the hotel…not helpful. Yet it ended up being a good experience for our first day. We didn’t end up completely lost and found a part of London that we did not expect to find when we set out on our first adventure!DSC00713

Tags: Flow · Kimberly · Uncategorized