Friday, September 9, 2011

Healing in Ealing

Thursday morning I joined a group of AWC ladies for a "Walk & Talk" in Ealing, which, like Wimbledon, was once a separate city, but was incorporated into Greater London as it grew and spread out.  Ealing is one of the other western endpoints of the District Line (along with Wimbledon and Richmond), so I have to take the Tube northeast into central London, transfer to another District Line train, and then go back out west -- an hour-long journey.  While I have been to Richmond a few times, I haven't yet had any reason or motivation to visit Ealing, so this seemed like a good opportunity to explore a new part of London.

The walk was lead by an AWC member who lives in Ealing.  She had done some research online and plotted out a walking route that took us on a loop through the main part of town.  I didn't take many photos because we moved at a pretty brisk pace and I was holding a cup of tea for part of the walk, but I did capture a few points of interest...

St. Mary's Church:  There has been a church on this site for over a thousand years, but the current structure was built in the 1730's and enlarged in the 1860's.  It was the first church built in this area.
St. Mary's Church
 Santa Maria Pizzeria (next to the pub):  This little pizza place has won many local awards and is considered by several publications to be the best pizza in London.  Perhaps another trip to Ealing is in order...
Santa Maria pizzeria
 Ealing Studios: The oldest continuously operating film studio in the world!  It has changed hands a few times during its 100+-year history and was owned by the BBC for many years, but is now an independent film studio once again.  Popular movies that were filmed here include Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Ladykillers (1955), An Ideal Husband (1999), Notting Hill (1999),  The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), and Shaun of the Dead (2004).  TV series such as Dr. Who, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Downton Abbey were also partially filmed at Ealing Studios.  Sadly, they do not give tours, but as you walk around Ealing, you might recognize some of the locations that have been used in movies and TV programs.  Ironically, there are no movie theaters in Ealing...
Ealing Studios
Pitzhanger Manor: This large manor house and its gardens are now owned by the Ealing District Council.  It was designed by reknowned London architect Sir John Soame in the early 1800's, and is in the process of being restored to its original splendor.  Part of the manor also houses an art gallery.  Due to its proximity to Ealing Studios, it has made a few cameo appearances in their productions, including Dr. Who and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Pitzhanger Manor
Walpole Park: The Pitzhanger estate once stood on 28 acres.  The grounds and gardens are now a lovely public park.
Walpole Park
Much of the park was under restoration, so some areas were fenced off, but we did get to see parts of it as we passed through.
Walpole Park
We also walked along the High Street, which was one of the areas hit by looting, arson, and vandalism during the riots last month.  While much of the damage has since been repaired and most of the shops and restaurants are back to business as usual, one large corner shop is still boarded up and surrounded by scaffolding.  The building was set on fire during the riots and is now structurally unsound.  A couple who lived in the flat above the shop lost everything but the wife's violin.  Across the street a few doors down is a gate covered with dried flowers.  A man was attacked at this spot after confronting a group of youths who had started a fire in a trash can.  They knocked him down, and he hit his head on the pavement.  He died in the hospital a few days later.  A 16-year-old boy has been charged with his murder.

Our walking tour ended right at noon, so we decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants in the affected area.  We had yummy Middle Eastern/Italian food at a cafe that also sold natural/organic products and freshly-squeezed juices, and then some of the ladies in the group went to a baby store next door to shop for gifts.  It's hard to imagine why someone would trash a baby store, but this is the second one I know of that suffered at the hands of the rioters.  Sheesh!

The rest of us headed to the Tube station, only to discover that both the District and Piccadilly lines were experiencing delays due to a "trespasser on the tracks."  I guess that's what you call someone before they become "a person under a train."  Fortunately, trespassers seem to be a bit easier to remedy than someone who has been hit by a train, so I eventually made it home -- although I seriously regretted not using the restroom at the cafe after lunch.  Note to self: always pee before getting on the Tube, even if you don't have to go.

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