The Queen’s Terrace Café

Fifteen years ago, I joined a now defunct organisation called London Arts Café, a charity which had been set up with the aim of running a café that also acted as a nucleus for the promotion of urban art in general, and art about London in particular. One of oddities of this registered charitable company – of which I later became a director – was that it never quite managed to open a café, although it did produce a whole series of exhibitions, a fairly regular publication, Art & Cities, and a series of interesting visits, workshops and other events, many of which were recorded on My London Diary.

One of the highlights of many of these events was the fine food provided by the founder of the London Arts Café, Mireille Galinou, for example at this picnic at Trinity Buoy Wharf, an arts centre opposite the Millenium Dome. It was never quite the same after she gave up her position both running the organisation and catering for it.

© 2002, Peter Marshall

More recently, Mireille has produced an excellent book on St John’s Wood, Cottages and Villas: The Birth of the Garden Suburb, published last year by Yale University Press (ISBN-10: 9780300167269) and it is in St John’s Wood that she has finally realised her ambition of opening a cultural café, The Queen’s Terrace Café, just two minutes walk from St John’s Wood station, at 7 Queen’s Terrace NW8 6DX, and a few yards down Queen’s Terrace from Queen’s Grove.

The Queen in question was of course Victoria, and the café is the ground floor of a former historic pub in a rather splendid terrace built by James Sharp in 1847 (perhaps looking a little too much like a heavily decorated cake for my taste.) Pevsner‘s London 3: NorthWest mentions the fine plaque on the wall naming it as the ‘Knights St. Johns Tavern’ (as well as the nearby monstrous Eyre Court in Wellington Road.)

© 2011, Peter Marshall

The café is open to the public from today –  Monday 4 April 2011 – and is open Monday to Saturday 9.00 – 18.00. I was fortunate to have a preview yesterday, and to enjoy a fine salad followed by some excellent cheeses and coffee for lunch, as well as viewing an excellent group of four large paintings by Mark Cazalet, his Four Quartets, inspired by the poem of T S Elliot, but using urban motifs from London, including  Regents Park, the Thames at Hungerford Bridge and Westway. There were also five smaller works by him on display.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

As well as aiming to offer good food at affordable prices and a great atmosphere, the café will be arranging a series of events – exhibtions, guided walks, studio visits, workshops, talks and demonstrations aimed at encouraging local residents to discover more about the area in which they live, and its ‘historian in residence’ will offer advice to anyone interested in researching the history of their house or street.

The lighting there was rather nice, with the front wall covered by tall windows which have been white-washed to above head height, and I took a few pictures of the interior. It is a nice space for displaying large works like the group of four in the current show.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I just wish St John’s Wood was rather handier for me, but it isn’t really my kind of area and I seldom go there. But perhaps I will find my way there rather more often now.

One Response to “The Queen’s Terrace Café”

  1. chrisconder says:

    The Cafe has a Facebook page as well now –

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