May Day

May Day!

At this time of year we seem to have a flurry of bank holidays.  First it was Easter – always grateful for when Easter comes along after the long winter, then in May we are hit with a double whammy – 2 Mondays off in a month woohoo!   The first bank holiday in May (May Day) is this coming Monday and its customs go way back.  Back in the Dark Ages the Celts divided the year into four major festivals, and Beltane or the “Fire of the Bel” (May Day) represented the first day of summer and bonfires were lit in the celebrations.   These pagan festivities did not go down well with the Church or the State and in the sixteenth century May Day celebrations were banned, riots occurred and people were hanged!  Henry VIII is said to have pardoned a further 400 who had been sentenced to death.   May Day festivities were almost lost when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in 1645, which described maypole dancing as “heathenish vanity generally abused to superstition and wickedness” – and that was the end of festivities for a while!   Dancing returned to the village greens when Charles II came to power and erected a 40 metre high maypole in the Strand in London –and it remained there for 50 years.

To this day all over the country traditions are still held strong; in Oxford you will find the May Morning revellers gathering below the Great Tower of Magdalen College singing madrigals, some then will leap off the Magdalen Bridge in to the river below, although the bridge has been closed in recent years on May 1st for health and safety reasons!  Other May Day celebrations include crowning a May Queen and that oh-so-English of dances – Morris dancing!   There is the May Day Run where thousands of motorbikes drive the 55 miles from London to Hastings, this has been tradition for 30 years and is growing in popularity.  In Padstow, Cornwall they hold the annual Obby-Oss (Hobby Horse) day of festivities. This is believed to be one of the oldest fertility rites in the UK and revellers dance with the Oss through the streets accompanied by accordion players and followers dressed in white with red or blue sashes who sing the traditional May Day songs.   Whatever you choose to get up to on Monday, all of us at Davis Brown Estate Agents in Fitzrovia wish you a fun-filled day off!

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Beautiful Blooms!

If you weren’t already aware, it’s National Gardening Week and today specifically is National Open Gardens Day. Yes it’s a little damp in London today but remember it’s not about us – it’s about the nations beautiful gardens this week and without the rain we wouldn’t have them to enjoy!  Every cloud….

All over the country gardens will be opening their doors to the public today, and places which normally charge entry or are closed to the public, are opening their doors for free so take advantage and take your brolly! Many of the gardens have a magnificent building set within them, so as well as seeing an abundance of flowers, plants and trees you can also experience architecture and history at the same time.  Hever Castle in Edenbridge is one such place and was the home of Henry VIIIs most famous wife – Anne Boleyn.  At Kew Garden you can adopt a seed and be part of the world’s most important conservation project – brilliant idea!

We have some keen gardeners here at Davis Brown Estate Agents too, multi-talented us lot – I’ve tried some of the home grown fruit and veg! And whether you have acres and acres or simply a modest balcony there is no reason why you can’t grow your own.  We have had in the past many properties on our books and currently have on the market too, some fine examples of outside space from large walled gardens to balconies and roof terraces; the montage below is a collection of outside spaces from our properties in Archer Street and Lupus House in Soho, Crawford Place & Welbeck Street in Marylebone, Ordnance Hill in St John’s Wood and Clapham Common.  Just because you’re in the centre of town doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some fantastic outside space and get those green fingers to work!  Garden collage

Put a Spring in your Step in Marylebone!

Marylebone – strange name whose pronunciation has been under scrutiny for many years, but where did the name come from?   It comes from the name of the Old Tyburn church which was pulled down and relocated in 1400 to what is now known as Marylebone High Street.  The church was re-named St Marys and the areas soon became known as St Mary’s on the Bourne (“bourne” meaning small river or stream), then St Mary-la-Bourne, then St Marylebone.  So it is basically translated to “the church on the river”.   Several spellings have included Mary-le-burn, Mariburn, Mary-la-bonne and my favourite – Marrowbone!

Nowadays Marylebone is characterised by major streets such as Baker, Wimpole, Marylebone High & Harley, and is regarded as one of London’s most salubrious areas.   On buzzy Marylebone High Street and close by you will find a plethora of fabulous boutiques including hair salons, clothes shops including charity shops which are a must for anyone searching second hand designer gear!  Restaurants and watering holes, and talking of Marrowbone, even the best butcher in London – the Ginger Pig has a branch here.  Being payday for many of us, you could venture this way this weekend!  Over the years the area has drawn in all sorts of folk such as Charles Dickens, the actress Vivien Leigh, the Cambridge spies Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess and many more so keep your eyes open for those little blue plaques!

As well as all the above you will also find a delightful 1 bedroom property that has just come on to the market with us at Davis Brown Estate Agents. It’s at Melcombe Regis Court, so if this area appeals do pop in to us at 1 Margaret St in Fitzrovia and we will happily introduce you to the flat!

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Fish Friday

Following on from our Markets of London theme, Billingsgate market is one of a kind. You will never have experienced anything quite like it (unless you work on a trading floor in the City – then you might feel quite at home here.).  By the time we mere mortals arrive at work the fun and games at Billingsgate will all be over, it’s an early start here at 4am and is done and dusted by 9.30am – but the earlier you get there the better.

It’s the UK’s largest fish market, based in Poplar E14 and set within 13 acres; it covers 2 floors, with 98 stands and 30 shops including cafes, an ice making plant and freezers and other culinary paraphernalia. It’s policed by market Constables appointed by the Superintendent – this market means business!  It’s not just open to traders, restaurateurs and the like, the public are welcome too if you don’t mind the early start and its open Tuesdays to Saturdays.

25,000 tonnes of fish are sold here each year and surprisingly 40% of the fish is imported from abroad. You can buy fresh or frozen fish, and many live crustaceans too – not for the faint hearted.  Billingsgate offers a seafood training course so for those of you who feel inspired by your visit can learn how to prepare and cook delicious, nutritious meals.

Being Estate Agents in this magnificent city we are always interested in anywhere that has an historical background – and Billingsgate isn’t short of that! Before it moved to its current home in 1982, Byllynsgate (as it was originally known) was situated in the City of London and was a general market for corn, coal, iron, wine, salt and fish and it wasn’t until the 16th century that it sold fish exclusively.  The original site is now known as Old Billingsgate Market and remains a major London landmark and a notable Grade II listed building.  If I’ve piqued your interest and you fancy making the trip to Poplar, make sure you have £2 in change for the car park and be sure to don your wellies!FISHPIC

Portobello

Portobello

One of my most favourite things about London is its markets; it’s easy to while away hours and hours on a weekend rummaging around stalls, finding yourself a bargain, or simply sitting al fresco at a café watching the world go by. This time of the year – when the days start to elongate and Spring is just around the corner is prime time to visit.  The diversity of our London markets means there is something for everybody, but my favourite has to be Portobello Road – which translates from Italian as “Beautiful Road”.  It’s nestled in one of the trendiest areas of London –Notting Hill, it’s a hotspot for tourist and visitors flock from all over the world.

Although it is predominantly known as an antiques market with over 1000 dealers, Portobello is open to everyone, you can buy yourself a kilo of oranges as well as a vintage Rolex watch. It is loosely split into 5 sections: clothing, household essentials, fruit and veg and the largest part – antiques and it stretches over a few different roads.  There are plenty of pubs along the route to quench your thirst, and sate your hunger, you could even try their very own Portobello Gin, distilled locally!

Up until the 1940s, Portobello Road market was like many other London markets and mainly sold food and other essential items, still being sold today. However in the 1940s, ‘rag and bone’ men started selling their wares and were soon joined by other traders specialising in brick-a-back and antiques and this part of the market grew to what it is today.   Saturday is the best day to visit.

Davis Brown Estate Agents in W1 have sold and let in this area including properties in Hereford Road, Moorhouse Road and Hatherley Grove. It truly is a fabulous place to live with pretty tree-lined streets, you will never be short of things to do, plus transport to central London is quick and easy!

Home of the famous antique market.
Home of the famous antique market.

A Flurry of Flowers!

Florists all over the country will have been working away all week for one of their busiest times of the year, why? You hadn’t forgotten surely!  It’s Mothering Sunday on 6th March.  So where did this tradition come from?  Buried somewhere beneath the cards and flowers lies a Christian tradition that goes back centuries.  In America Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May – and was official proclaimed “Mother’s Day” by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This resulted from a campaign by Anna Jarvis whose own beloved mother Ann Reeves Jarvis died 9th May 1905. The first unofficial celebration was in 1908 when Anna held a memorial for her mother in West Virginia.  The tradition then came to Britain when Constance Smith who was a high Anglican, was inspired after reading an article about Anna’s campaign and decided that it should be celebrated in England in the 4th Sunday of Lent.  And so it became oh so commercialised!

Flowers are a delightful and fail-safe way to show your love, appreciation and gratification to the woman who bore you. There are so many places in London to grab a bunch of flowers including several florists near us Davis Brown estate agents, making Fitzrovia a brighter and more beautiful place to be! But if you want a real floral experience you could get up early on Sunday morning and head to Covent Garden Flower Market (confusingly situated in Vauxhall), or you could have a more leisurely mooch around Columbia Road flower market. Awash with colour and floral scents, it’s open each Sunday from 8am to around 3pm come rain, wind, snow or shine – a really fabulous day out in the east end of London.  Columbia Road has plenty of great places to go for lunch too, my favourite being the Royal Oak, but make sure you get there early!

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Music Mania!

Anyone who knows anything about popular culture will know that Adele cleaned up at the BRIT awards on Wednesday night.  Other winners included James Bay, Justin Bieber and of course the BRITs couldn’t pass by without a tribute to the late David Bowie, and this was taken on by the talented singer Lorde whose rendition of Life on Mars was performed with Bowie’s touring band from 2004.

There are plenty of areas around London that are synonymous with music – Abbey Road of course would spring to mind, made famous by the Beatles album cover with the four of them walking across the zebra crossing there.  We have a plethora of musical theatre in and around central London and one notable new production is Motown which is at the Shaftsbury Theatre now!  Perhaps less well known to the general public but very well known if you’re in the industry is Denmark Street, WC2.  Denmark Street was originally residential but became used for commercial purposes in the 19th century.  It was first popular for the metalwork trade, and then became increasingly music-oriented, housing numerous music publishers and offices.  In the swinging 60s music shops and independent recording studios moved in and over the years many popular bands have recorded here including the Rolling Stones and The Kinks.  Of course every musician needs a place to go for their coffee fix and they did this at Giaconda Café at number 9 Denmark Street; famous patrons included The Small Faces, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie.  A blue plaque fittingly now hangs above the café.

I bet you’re wondering how we here at Davis Brown know so much about the music industry, well apart from the fact that amongst us we have collected a diverse array of historical knowledge of the area; we also have a fantastic 1,485 square foot office suite to let just around the corner in Lupus House, Macklin Street.  So if you fancy viewing the property and getting a guided tour of the area at the same time please feel free to call or pop in to us at Davis Brown Estate Agents in Margaret Street, Fitzrovia.

 

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TV Talent in Fitzrovia

It seems to be at this time of year when the best films are released, and that’s not a coincidence, unless you’ve been hiding under a stone the last few weeks you’ll have noticed that we’re in the midst of Bafta and (soon to be) Oscar fever. Each year, the film industry’s top talent gather to recognise and award the stars who have lit up the silver screen.  People may not be too sure what the difference is between the two awards so let me enlighten you..The Baftas are the biggest film and television awards in Britain; the academy was created in 1947 by a group of British film producers and it aims to celebrate film, television and games.  The Oscars are, some might say the most prestigious and coveted film awards in the world, oh yes every actor wants to get their mitts on those attractive little gold statues!  It was set up in 1927 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with 36 members, now there are more than 6000 members.  Why “Oscar”?  Well no-one really knows for sure, but rumour has it that one member thought the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar – and so it stuck.

Did you know that Walt Disney has won more Oscars than anyone else? He was nominated for 64 and won 26!  The youngest ever is Tatum O’Neal who was ten when she won best supporting actress for the film Paper Moon which was directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

We at Davis Brown estate agents often rub shoulders with some of those talented folk who have helped to create some of the best British television and film in. We have a few local talents who are tenants of ours, in Goodge Street we have Pozzitive Television who specialize in comedy and entertainment, whose credits include comedy greats such as French & Saunders, Spitting Image, The Young Ones.  Our neighbours in Margaret Street include Green Room Entertainment which is run by Nick Hamm and Isabel Freer. Currently in post-production on the feature film The Journey which is directed by Hamm and starring top Brit actors Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and John Hurt.  In Great Portland Street we have Sneezing Tree Films, around the corner in Eastcastle Street we have Genie Pictures who create jaw-dropping documentaries, and last but not least we have DAA Management – a talent agency in Wells Street.  Date for your diary, The Oscars are being held on 28th February this year.

 

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Dilapidations – A helpful Guide to Tenants

Don’t delay, contact your Landlord’s representative in good time

Instruct a Surveyor to assist you

Look at your Lease in detail to ensure you are aware of your repairing, redecoration and reinstatement liabilities

Ask your Landlord’s representative for approved contractors to carry out the works

Promptly contact your Landlord’s surveyor should you have any queries on the Schedule that has been served

Inform your cleaning contractors that a “deep clean” to the premises will be required once all works have been completed

Don’t forget to instruct gas, electric and asbestos surveyors to supply you with relevant certifications

Allow plenty of time for the works to be carried out before your Lease expires

Talk to your Surveyor if you are unsure of your Lease obligations

Inform all relevant utility companies of your final day

Open dialog between all parties will maximise the chances of a hassle free process

Note the improvements you have made and discuss with your Landlord’s representative

Surveyors are there to help. Ask for their guidance. They will be happy to help

 

Davis Brown is a chartered surveyors and commercial agents in London for letting, buying and selling properties. We also offer a full search service and property acquisition service for private buyers, charities and many other organisations including limited companies. Dealing with the whole process from the initial search to the completion of the purchase or sale, we are the professionals you can depend upon. With extensive experience in the regional property market, at Davis Brown we have many contacts with both sellers and buyers and can often find a property that has yet to reach the open market. This gives you the advantage if you are after a particular set of premises.

As the leading commercial property agents in London, the staff at Davis Brown have the expertise, experience and knowledge to ensure that you get the property that you want and the one that is right for your needs. We deal with all sizes of commercial properties and can provide valuations, surveys and property management services as well as acting as estate agents. All properties need to have an energy performance certificate before they can be offered for sale and we are able to provide this resource in addition to the many other commercial services we have available. Ring us on 0207 637 1066 for more details about the leading commercial property agents in London.

 

 

 

Matters of the Heart

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us – whether we love it or loathe it, think it’s romantic or cheesy, at this time of the year we are bombarded with heart shaped chocolates, red roses, and a general overload of “love”. However, the origins of Valentine’s Day were not quite so rosy.   In 207AD Roman Emperor Claudius II had made marriage illegal, he thought that men falling in love and consequently getting hitched stopped them from joining his army.  St Valentine was a Roman bishop from Terni not too far from Rome, he believed in marriage and love so strongly he continued to marry people illegally.  Because of his breaking the law he was beheaded on February 14th 207 AD, and has been celebrated each year since in the name of that all-encompassing emotion of love!

You might be of the opinion that Estate Agents are not the romantic sort, but believe me the gushings here at Davis Brown estate agents have really turned that notion on its head! We have been discussing our favourite romantic thing to do, including taking a walk on Hampstead Heath followed by pint at a cosy pub, wandering around the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly and admiring the wonderful paintings, staying at home and cooking a slap up meal for a loved one (or being cooked for). The winner of the most romantic of gestures however goes to one of our Commercial agents, he proposed to his girlfriend at the London Aquarium by getting someone to dive into the tank surrounded by sharks and stingrays, holding up a sign saying “Will you marry me?”!  She said yes.  Nothing says romance quite like that folks!

 

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