Welcome to post four introducing the new Petit FOUR sampler patterns, the London Town blocks. For the past nine months Andrea from the Willow Cottage Quilt Company and I have been posting out parcels of Tilda-filled loveliness to our Block of the Month participants and taking them on a wonderful, whistle-stop tour of the British capital as they created their sampler quilt together. And now it's time to share the block patterns with you.
But let's take break from sightseeing, jump in a cab and go shopping!
The ‘black cab’ - officially known as a Hackney Carriage - has its origins in the horse-drawn hackney coaches which plied their trade on the streets of London in Tudor times. Hackney comes from the Norman French word hacquenee, a horse for hire. The rather wonderfully named Fellowship of Master Hackney Coachmen was established by Act of Parliament in 1654.
In the 19th century the French cabriolet arrived in London: faster and cheaper than the old hackney coaches, its popularity gave us the modern word ‘cab’. Motor cabs took over in the 20th century and, in the straightened years after the Second World War, were nearly always sold in black, giving rise to the nickname ‘black cab’. In 1958 the most popular model of all time – the Austin FX4 – was introduced and became the most recognisable cab in London.
Their drivers, the Cabbies, are just as famous as the cabs. To gain membership into the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers a Cabby must pass the Knowledge of London, learning 320 routes through 25,000 streets - and all the major sights in between - off by heart.
An equally iconic vehicle on London’s streets are its double-decker buses. The first double-decker was actually a two-level horse-drawn carriage introduced in 1826 Nantes by Frenchman Stanislas Baudry, who called his service the Omnibus (‘for all’ in Latin). London coachbuilder George Shillibeer began his service three years later and, unlike the long-established stage coach services, allowed his passengers to hail the vehicle at any point on the route. The idea caught on and by 1832 there were 400 horse-drawn buses operating in London.
In 1905 the pioneering London Motor Omnibus Company painted their vehicles red and used numbers to identify routes. As they merged with rival companies over the next decade the red double-decker became ubiquitous, jostling with London’s black cabs on the city’s busy streets.
A PDF Pattern for the London Transport blocks is available here.
Liberty of London, a beautiful shop full of beautiful things which stretches along Great Marlborough Street from Regent Street to Carnaby Street, is always on my sightseeing agenda, although it may not be in any of the guide books.
The business was founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in 1875 with a loan of £2,000 from his father-in-law. Selling an eclectic range of textiles and object d'art from around the globe, particularly Japan which had only recently opened up to foreign traders, Liberty's became the height of fashion and the loan was repaid within eighteen months. His eye for eastern antiques was so good that some of Arthur's finds made their way into the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
He envisioned the magnificent new mock-tudor premises as "a ship docked in the middle of London’s shopping streets, laden with art and design treasures sourced from the four corners of the globe". It reused the oak timbers from two ancient battle ships in its construction and cost 100 times that initial loan to build. Sadly Arthur didn't live to see the building's completion in 1924.
From the very beginning Liberty lead fashion rather than followed it, commissioning tableware, fabric and furniture from up-and-coming designers like Archibald Knox, Mary Watts, Charles Voysey and William Morris (with some of those timeless designs still in production today). Art Nouveau is so closely associated with Liberty that in Italy it's known as 'Stile Liberty'.
The 1930s saw the introduction of Tana Lawn - named after the lake in Ethiopia where the cotton was grown - and it has captured the hearts of fabric lovers for nearly a century. In 2017 Liberty introduced a new fabric, especially designed for quilters and crafters, called Lasenby Cotton, in honour of its founder.
A PDF Pattern for the Liberty block is available here.
If you're visiting Liberty's - or 'the mothership' as we quilters like to call it - you need an appropriate bag to stash your purchases in and I have just the thing...
I combined the Liberty block with my Petit FOUR Story Book Bag and if you'd like to do the same you can buy the PDF Pattern Bundle here.
You can find all of the London Town PDF blocks patterns collected together, along with the setting directions, here. If you'd prefer a Pattern Book, they'll be heading to the shop - and Amazon - in a couple of weeks!
In my next London Town post we're heading off to the Southbank to visit London's newest attraction and take a stroll along the river. I hope it doesn't rain...