Category: london

london photography vivien leigh

Final Destination: Golders Green

Golders Green crematorium

Consider this 31 Days of the Oliviers {days 10-15}.

There have been many posts around the classic film blogosphere lately documenting visits to cemeteries where the rich and famous are interred. Okay, so all of these posts have come from Meredith at Dear Mr. Gable, but they’re fascinating. I have a long-standing fascination with cemeteries, particularly victorian ones such as Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA, and Highgate Cemetery in North London (which I visited a few months ago and posted about on my photography blog). They are beautiful, somewhat creepy and endlessly fascinating. There are many burial grounds in London. Whether out in the open or inside cathedrals, if you visit one you’re almost guaranteed to spot a famous person’s grave.

Today I went to snap photos at a place that’s slightly different from your traditional cemetery. Golders Green Crematorium is one of the oldest crematoria in Britain. Its gates opened in 1902, and it has been providing non-secular cremations and funeral services for both celebrities and the general public ever since. Fans of Vivien Leigh may find it interesting because she was cremated here in 1967 before her ashes were scattered at Tickerage Mill. Some of the notable names who still remain at Golders Green include Ivor Novello, Alexander Korda, Elisabeth Bergner, Keith Moon, Sigmund Freud, Conrad Veidt, Anna Pavlova and Peter Sellers, among others.

The grounds and garden are very beautiful, especially now that the foliage has donned Autumn colors. It was very quiet and peaceful when I visited this afternoon, with only one or two people resting on the benches in the garden, taking in the afternoon sun and possibly thinking of a departed loved one. As it is a crematorium and not a cemetery, there are no grave stones. Ashes are kept in urns inside the chapels or are scattered on the lawns in the garden. Plaques adorn the walls as well as sit at the base of rose bushes and trees that have been dedicated in memory of the dead.

Golders Green Crematorium can be reached via Golders Green tube or by bus from Golders Green road. It’s very easy to find–located just across the street from the Jewish cemetery.

All photos in this post © Kendra Bean/

london photography the oliviers

Girls’ Night Out at The Savoy

The Savoy Hotel, Strand, London

My friend Zsazsa came to visit from Hungary two weeks ago. She’s a big Vivien Leigh fan, so we made some plans to see some of the places we visited back in May during the Weekend with the Oliviers (Zsazsa unfortunately couldn’t make it). One of the first things we did was have drinks at the Savoy. Three of my friends, Sami, Ali and Emma joined us and we went for cocktails at the ultra-classy Beaufort Bar.

The Beaufort Bar has the atmosphere of an upscale gin joint with its black and gold art deco furnishings. The bar itself occupies the former cabaret stage where Gershwin once performed. They still employ a piano player and cabaret singer who lend greatly to the ambiance by crooning Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne. But the best part of the experience is the booze!

The first time I came to the Savoy for my friend Shirmoa’s birthday, I had a cocktail called Grounds for Divorce:

50 ml BACARDI – Reserva Superior 8 Year Old
15 ml LILLET – Blanc
10 ml NOILLY PRAT – Original French Dry
4 ml Black Treacle Syrup
1 dash(es) Bob’s Vanilla Bitters

It was fantastic but a bit heavy. This time I decided to go for something a little more girly and ordered the Princess Ida (named after the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera):

Grey Goose
Cherry Mariner
Pressed Lemon

A nice light martini (by light I mean flavor-wise, definitely not alcohol by volume!). It was divine. I have to confess that I don’t like beer (with the exception of Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, a delicious but probably tooth-rotting beverage that can be purchased in Wetherspoon’s) and therefore always prefer a proper cocktail bar over a regular pub, particularly one where fancy dress is required!

Photos © Zsuzsa Ribai

london photography the oliviers

Puttin’ on the Ritz

The Savoy

With its cool marble walls and burnished yew paneling, the Grill Room of London’s legendary Savoy Hotel has not changed much since that evening in 1935–except that back then the men were required to wear white tie to supper. “She was sitting right there,” says the elderly gentleman, putting down his martini glass and pointing to a table for two nestled against a pillar not 10 feet away. “Except for seeing her on the stage, it was the first time I had ever set eyes on that exquisite face. Yes, she saw me, too. But she was with a young man who looked very much in love, and I supposed that they were, to put it vulgarly, ‘at it.'”

Before leaving the grill that night, however, Laurence Olivier and his first wife introduced themselves to Vivien Leigh and invited her and her first husband for a weekend at the Oliviers’ country house. “It was,” smiles Olivier, still gazing at the table through the mist of nearly half a century, “like any first act of the period, don’t you think?” —People, 1983

I walk past the Savoy Hotel on a regular basis on my way to or from the Maughan Library. Every time, I can’t help but gaze up and picture all of the famous people that used to (and probably still) frequent the place. The Savoy recently re-opened after a multi-million pound renovation, and this includes its most famous restaurant, the Savoy Grill. Everyone from Noel Coward to Marilyn Monroe, James Dean to Maria Callas wined and dined in the Grill. Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier met there, and, from the quote above, it seems Larry remembered exact details of that night for the rest of his life. The Savoy, like many other really old five-star hotels has a special allure about it.

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london photography travel

London Through the Lens


The always lovely Carley over at The Kitty Packard Pictorial made a fabulous post yesterday of photos she took with her iphone during a walking tour of LA. I’ve posted some random iphone photos here in the past. She reminded me that I had a bunch of Instagram pictures saved on my computer. I love Instagram. It’s the perfect application for snapping pictures on the go and giving them an instant vintage touch. And the best part is that it’s free! I’m addicted to the early bird and lomo-fi filters. I’ve always wanted a Diana Lomography camera. They are so adorable and take great photos. I suppose they’re pretty impractical, though, since the film is quite expensive. Well, with Instagram, who needs fancy film, anyway? I also recently downloaded another popular photo editing application, Hipstagram, which is quite similar but has different filters. I’ll try it out soon and see what the fuss is all about.

These photos were randomly taken around London in the past few months. I hope you enjoy!

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london photography

Spring Awakening (Part 1)

Spring has officially come to London. Just last week it was gloomy and cold, but scattered flowers and new green leaves signaled that dark and gloomy winter was finally on its way out. It was 73 degrees (F) today. I opened my window and briefly wondered whether London had swapped weather with California (my mom emailed me to say it’s only in the 40s there). With such blue skies and warm sunshine, it’s hard to stay inside working on papers, so I decided to join my friend Riikka for a stroll in St James’ Park before heading over to campus for a meeting. Of course such a day called for some photos!

Tomorrow is supposed to be just as warm, so Riikka and I are meeting for lunch and heading to Hyde Park for part two of the Spring Awakening photo session. I can’t wait for summer!

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