Monthly Archives: July 2022

Homebaked

Scouse pie, Homebaked Bakery, Anfield, Liverpool

Photo: © Ian Stuart

Football-fixated tourists find their way to Oakfield Road, Anfield, where they discover the superb hand-made pies sold at Homebaked Bakery, in the shadow of the Liverpool FC stadium.  The fans simply call it “the Pie Shop”.

This long-established and celebrated bakery stands on the corner site of two terraced streets that not long ago were threatened with demolition.

Liverpool City Council has repeatedly and notoriously condemned solid artisan housing for redevelopment under the Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI), dreamed up by John Prescott’s Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) in 2002. 

Two particular examples, the Welsh Streets and Granby Street, both in Toxteth, aroused local people to protest against the deliberate neglect and destruction of houses that proved to be capable of economic renovation.

In Anfield, a similar HMRI began the clearance of nearly two thousand properties, intending to replace them with thirteen hundred new homes, until funding was cut and eventually the initiative was stopped by David Cameron’s coalition government in 2010, leaving the district in limbo.

Community anger and frustration about what amounted to government vandalism focussed on Mitchell’s Bakery, a long-standing family business much loved by neighbours and football fans alike.

Local people looked for a way to retain the bakery when it closed in 2011. 

2Up2Down, a creative and social initiative led by the Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, empowered members of the Anfield community to revive the bakery and establish the Homebaked Bakery Co-operative in 2012. 

The following year they created the Homebaked Community Land Trust to lease the building from the Mitchell family. 

Later, Liverpool City Council took over the freehold and leased the bakery back to the Co-operative so that they could refurbish the long-abandoned upstairs flat as social housing. 

From 2015 onwards this was extended into a larger project, Oakfield Terrace, an exciting scheme for the Trust to provide eight houses and accommodation for local businesses, driven by the intense involvement of local people in partnership with the City Council and development professionals.

All this exemplary community development is built on the pies and cakes that the bakers at Homebaked Bakery turn out daily. 

An obvious favourite is the Beef Scouse pie, billed on the menu as “the staple dish of Merseyside”.  There’s also a vegan version which must be the staple dish of vegan Merseyside.

But the star attraction is the Shankly.  Its ingredients aren’t published:  “We asked the Shankly family what his favourite dish was after a long day at Melwood, and it’s exactly what’s in our pie.”

When you eat at Homebased Bakery, or on the pavement walking to a match, you dine like football aristocracy.

Boar’s Head

33-35 Eastcheap, London EC3

As I propelled my unco-operative wheelie suitcase from Monument Underground Station, down Eastcheap to the Premier Inn, I noticed a peculiar Gothic Revival building on the opposite side of the road.

Indeed, I couldn’t help noticing it.  It shouted at me.

I’m indebted to two well-researched blog articles by Katie Wignall [About Look Up London Tours – London History Blogger & Blue Badge Guide] and Metro Girl [33-35 Eastcheap | This former Victorian vinegar warehouse is far from sour | Memoirs Of A Metro Girl] that showed me the depth of interest of this remarkable façade.

33-35 Eastcheap was designed by a rogue Victorian architect, Robert Lewis Roumieu (1814-1877) and built in 1868 for the Worcester-based vinegar manufacturers Hill & Evans.

Alongside the mostly serious Gothic Revival architects of the nineteenth century from A W N Pugin and George Gilbert Scott to George Frederick Bodley, the occasional “rogues”, such as Samuel Sanders Teulon and R L Roumieu, are more fun.

Architectural writers’ comments about 33-35 Eastcheap range from “remarkable and dramatic” (the English Heritage Grade II* list-description), to Nikolaus Pevsner’s “one of the maddest displays in London of gabled Gothic”, “the City’s masterpiece of polychromatic Gothic self-advertisement” (Gavin Stamp and Colin Amery) and “the scream that you wake on at the end of a nightmare” (Ian Nairn).

The riot of arcades, canopies and dormer windows is further enlivened by carved heads and animals, including the winged lion of St Mark and a boar’s head.

The boar’s head is significant, because it’s a reminder that this is the site of the medieval Boar’s Head Tavern, which William Shakespeare frequented and immortalised as the setting for the scenes between Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff in King Henry IV, Part 1.

This connection links with two of the carved heads which represent King Henry IV and his son, King Henry V.

The inn that Shakespeare knew perished in the Great Fire of 1666, and its much-altered replacement was demolished in 1831 to make way for a widened approach to John Rennie’s new London Bridge.

Roumieu’s jazzy façade captures this history in the details of this fortissimo office and warehouse that most of us would miss.

Palimpsest of the Peak 2

Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Haddon Hall is rightly regarded as an architectural gem, a beautiful example of a medieval fortified manor house, set in the valley of the River Wye in Derbyshire.

Like many English country houses, its present form emerged from the efforts of succeeding generations over several centuries.  It has no one architect, but a whole line of builders, and though it remained untouched through the centuries of occupation, it hasn’t come to the twenty-first century frozen in time.

It belonged to the Vernon family from before 1195 when Richard Vernon was licensed to build a twelve-foot unfortified wall around the house.  Masonry of his time survives in what is now the Eagle Tower. 

Richard Vernon’s great-great-grandson, the Crusader Sir Richard Vernon IV, significantly improved the house when he built the kitchen, great hall and now-altered solar in the cross wing that divides the two courtyards around 1370.

In the fifteenth century Sir Richard Vernon VI, his successor Sir William and his son Sir Henry, “the Treasurer” each made the place more comfortable.

Sir Henry was succeeded by his grandson Sir George Vernon, who held Haddon for fifty years from 1517.  He was the formidable personality who was known, in his lifetime, as “the King of the Peak”. 

His daughter, Dorothy, married John Manners, a son of the Earl of Rutland, and they are famed for the legend of their elopement, down a flight of steps which may or may not have been in existence at the time. 

Because Dorothy Vernon had no brothers, the couple inherited Haddon on her father’s death in 1567, and it has ever since belonged to the Manners family.

Dorothy’s husband was responsible for the Long Gallery, 110 feet long and only 17 feet wide, built around 1600, soon after the much larger, higher, colder long gallery in Bess of Hardwick’s New Hall

Sir John and Lady Dorothy Manners’ son, Sir George, undertook the reroofing of the chapel, after which no further building work took place at Haddon for nearly three hundred years, because Sir George’s son, John, who became the 8th Earl of Rutland in 1641, decided to rebuild his castle at Belvoir, and by the time the earldom was elevated to a dukedom in 1703 Haddon was simply left. 

Throughout the following two centuries, the place stood as an echoing, picturesque relic, neither inhabited nor neglected, until in 1912 the Marquis of Granby who in due course became the ninth Duke chose to restore it, with delicacy and tact, conserving its atmosphere while making it habitable for its twentieth-century owners.

A new kitchen was provided in the stable block, linked to the Hall by a discreetly-hidden underground railway;  a 50,000-gallon reservoir was constructed for water supply and fire prevention;  all necessary conveniences were installed, sometimes in unexpected places. 

Wherever possible renovations were carried out in traditional ways:  where new lead was needed it was cast from local ore with a trace of silver added;  a new hall-roof took the place of the long-lost original, and incorporates some forty tons of estate oak, each main beam cut from a three-ton timber, supporting another twenty five tons of locally-quarried stone slates. 

Much of the delight of visiting this house, quite apart from its great beauty, lies in the glimpses it offers of life in the past, details that lay dormant through recent centuries, like the manacle on the hall screen for penalising queasy drinkers, the chopping block with its gravy trough and the fully-fitted seventeenth-century kitchen. 

Yet it’s an entirely practical modern dwelling, now the home of Lord Edward Manners, brother of the current Duke of Rutland, and his family.

When I wander around Haddon Hall I hear not only lute music and madrigals, but also the Charleston played on a wind-up gramophone.

Haddon Hall is one of the houses featured in Mike Higginbottom’s lecture ‘English Country Houses – not quite what they seem’.  For further details, please click here.