london photography site updates

Spring cleaning

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier by Laura Loveday
I’m very excited to unveil a new look for! The header, based on a photo by James Abbe Jr, was designed by the amazingly talented Miss Laura Loveday, a designer and illustrator living in Cornwall, using a combination of hand-drawn and photoshop. I’ve known Laura for many years through the blogosphere and our mutual love for classic films and creative design. The new look was created for the anniversary of this website, which is happening on April 7. I can’t think of a better way to commemorate 5 years online than with this beautiful illustration. Thanks, Laura!

Also, just to remind everyone, if you had previously subscribed to receive an email update whenever a new blog post is made, you will have to re-subscribe to continue getting this service. When the site was recovered a couple days ago, this data was lost. I’ve re-subscribed a few people already but can’t remember everyone’s email addresses.


After a cold winter, spring has definitely arrived here in London. Last week, my friend Riikka and I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and ring in the first day of spring by going on a photo walk in the lovely neighborhood of Primrose Hill. We took the tube to Camden Town and then hopped a bus to ZSL London Zoo, just on the edge of the Hill. One of the wealthiest neighborhoods in London, Primrose is dotted with huge, colorful houses and boutiques. It is also home to many celebrities of past and present.

Our stop was Chalcot Square, former home of the poet and author Sylvia Plath and her husband Ted Hughes. Riikka is a huge Plath fan while I can only claim to have read The Bell Jar back in college. Plath also lived in another flat around the corner on Fitzroy Road, and this is where she famous committed suicide via gas oven. Irish poet William Butler Yeats also once lived in this flat and there’s now a blue heritage plaque to commemorate his residency. I didn’t mind going along to see Palth’s house. After all, I’ve coaxed plenty of people to another square in London

Stalking dead celebrities is hard work, so afterward, Riikka and I stopped by a cute little bakery called Sweet Things and treated ourselves to coffee and gourmet cupcakes. Our next stop was the actual hill in Primrose Hill. Like Alexandra Palace Park and Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill offers great views of South London. Most people come to lounge in the sun, take photographs, walk their dogs or jog around the perimeter. We got there as the sun was setting, which cast the entire hill in a peaceful golden glow.

If you ever find yourself in London on a sunny afternoon, Primrose Hill is the perfect place to bring a picnic, sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

Chalcot Square, primrose HillChalcot Square, Primrose Hill

Primrose HillPhotography pioneer Roger Fenton lived around the corner

Riikkaa Sylvia PlathThumbs up for Sylvia Plath

Kendra at Sylvia Plath'sSylvia Plath’s house in Fitzroy Road

3 Chalcot Square Primrose HillRiikka outside 3 Chalcot Square

Primrose Hill Primrose Hill at sunset

South London St Paul's Cathedral The Shard South London with St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard

South London, BT Tower, Eye South London with the BT Tower (left) and the London Eye

Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (12)

  1. Oh I wish I had taken some photos when I was on Hampstead Heath at the weekend! Am planning to make a return in the summer, so we must meet for tea and cake!

    Haha, I am reading this from the office – I was just sorting through some files on Jack Yeats, William’s famous artist brother. I am from “The Land of Hearts Desire”, Sligo, a county where William spent many of his formative and adult years – finding inspiration in the landscape,

    Speaking of inspiration, you’ve reminded me that my own wee blog is in need of a spring clean. Am in love with the new layout!!


    1. Aww, lovely, I’d love to go back to Ireland some time. A Jack Yeats pinting called “Farewell to Mayo” was recently sold at auction (and by recently I mean like 10 years ago). It was purchased by Laurence Olivier for Vivien Leigh before all the artwork was removed from the national Gallery during the blitz.

      Thanks about the new layout!

  2. Those photographs are beautiful, as are Riikka and your good self. I love stalking dead celebrities (!) and I completely blame for that. It’s so interesting to see where they lived. I’d love to see the house Judy Garland lived in in London when she died. I’m not even sure if it’s still there but it was the complete opposite of where you would expect her to live.

    I visited Sylvia Plath’s grave in Yorkshire when I was younger and it had an overbearing feeling of sadness which I wasn’t really prepared for, even though it was a cemetery and you don’t really expect them to be happy, dancing places.

    Love the layout and banner fits in so well! Thanks for the shout outs, love! xxx

  3. Thanks, Laura! Whereabouts did Judy live in London? I didn’t know Sylvia was buried in Yorkshire, which shows how much research i’ve done on her life, lol.

    Many, many thanks for the brilliant design work. I love it!

    1. The address is 4 Cadogan Lane, Chelsea. It looked like this when she was there –,Judy/house.jpg If you get to go, I’d love to know if it’s still there. Here’s something else you might like –

      Ha! Don’t worry! I was a Plath obsessive in my “difficult teens” and used to holiday in Yorkshire anyway. The natural assumption would be that she would be buried in London or the US but Ted Hughes chose to have her buried in Heptonstall. Really nice area, but as I said, her grave was grim and very overgrown and uncared for when I visited. Nice quote on the gravestone though. The stone has been damaged and replaced many times by people who steal it or chisel Hughes’ name off . Shocking.

      Ah, it was a pleasure, love! Thank you! xxxx

      1. Fascinating! It looks more like a council flat than an olde Chelsea home.

        I felt the same way when my friend and I went to Oxford and saw Tolkien’s grave. It was overgrown and full of soggy old mementoes left by fans. You’d think someone would remove that crap after a while and clean things up a bit, right?

  4. I love your photos and your lively and warm descriptions, Kendra. Italy is enchanting under spring skies (I’d be so happy to have you there! ) but I also consider myself partly a “Londoner” (is it correct?) and you bring this beloved city closer to me.

  5. Hi there..just come across iour website by gogling images of James Abbein search of a mis-named photo of Pavlova..its really Hilda Butsova! need to share with Mrs Minerva’s daughter web blog.. and spotted the drawing copied from the photo by his son James Abbe Jr in the NPG collection..also big Viv fan..working on display for her centenary in November where Monroe is now..for February our Photo of the Month in Room 31 will be Sylvia Plath..great to see the houses in your tell me more about your VL photobook..thanks Terence

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