Tag Archives: Salon for the City

Salon for the City

As the Salon for the City starts its 6th year at the Westminster Reference Library it feels like a good time to have a bit of a retrospective.

In case you hadn’t already heard, Salon for the City is a series taking a look at London through a different lens on the last Wednesday of each month at the Westminster Reference Library.

The Salon is very popular and regularly attracts 40+ people who brave all sorts of terrible weather conditions to attend (last month’s talk on London transport was beset by a snow storm that ironically shut down vast swathes of London and despite those conditions the Salon was still heaving)

The Salons always sell out and Hendricks lubricate the library each month with a specially prepared cocktail of that most London of liquors: Gin.

The salons usually take the form of two illustrated talks by invited speakers in the fields of history, the arts, business, fashion and culture. The talks are followed by a joint Q+A and conversation. We also have occasional performances, themed interviews and films.

There is time to mingle, converse, browse the amazing collection of the Library in the company of other London lovers.

We started off with this : London at the library

and grew to this :


As the 50th Salon took over the entire ground floor with 10 London experts talking about their favourite Londoner.


But normally it coexists quite well with normal library business going on around it:


If you would like to come along you can book a ticket here.

Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer


Morningwood by Kit Cox – book launch

As any regular user of Westminster Reference Library will be aware we have an excellent event on the last Thursday of every month, a Salon for the City

Every month the salon focuses on a new area of London, and has two speakers offering their own take on their speciality. Initially only intended on running for four months, the salon has blossomed and is rapidly approaching its 50th session.

The events are sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin whose host, the marvellous Kit Cox is not just an amazing bartender who makes special gin cocktails for every occasion but also an amusing raconteur who delights the salon’s audience with gin based facts at every event.

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As should not be a surprise to anyone, Kit is also an excellent author who frequently goes by the pen name Major Jack Union. For his latest book Morningwood, Kit decided to hold his launch at Westminster Reference Library and it was a wild success. Complete with cosplayers, Kit’s talk was engaging and witty and even revealed the secret behind how he chose his nom-de-plume (believe it or not, the fact that Jack Union is Union Jack is simply a fortunate coincidence!) Kit also spoke about the influences behind the book, from the fashionable streets of 60’s London into the mythology of a world of ancient deities.

Beneath the streets of trendy 60’s London an old and very cold war is about to bubble to the surface: Ancient feuds between creatures, long regarded as myth, threaten to spill back into the world of humans. Is it finally time for the Guardian of the early morning woods to step out of retirement? A ritual killing leads to a roller coaster world of espionage, brutal scooter gangs and mythical worlds as Mulberry Gale ,investigator with a point to prove, decides to call in a favour from one of the greatest protectors of humanity. Can Professor Early Morningwood (yes he’s fully aware) throw off the shackles of his self imposed exile and save not just one but two worlds from the machinations of an old foe? From the sleepy spires of Oxford to the trendy streets of sixties London and out into the wilds of Scotland It’s time to find out if this Old Goat is a myth or a Legend.


Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

London at the Library

A Salon for the City, Or: The Library is the New Coffee House
London at the Library or L@L, is a new ‘Salon for the City’ held at Westminster Reference Library on the last Thursday of the month, every other month.

Our speakers: Marcus Risdell (L) and Matthew Green (R)November’s salon, the first in the series, featured historian and journalist Dr Matthew Green on the effect of caffeine on the development of Fleet Street and journalism via London’s 17th century coffee houses. The second speaker was Marcus Risdell, archivist at the Garrick Club, who spoke on the history and tradition of London’s Gentlemen’s Clubs.

Dr Green’s illustrated, caffeinated talk, took the audience on a whirlwind tour of London’s original – and best – coffeehouses.  We heard how in 1652, a bitter black drink from Turkey transformed the face of London, brought people together and inspired brilliant ideas that would shape the modern world. We were taken back to a lost, candlelit world of flickering conviviality, intellectual enlightenment and unbridled creativity. We were confronted with the sharp contrast of today’s very different coffee culture, where people sit alone, with their iPad or phones in bland Starbucks or Costa places.

Gin punch

These events mean to be more like cultural experiences than library talks and free shots of gritty black coffee, brewed to a 17th century recipe, were tasted by the audience (yuk).  Luckily some posh gin punch (compliments of Hendrick’s) took the edge off that!

One of the images used to illustrate Marcus's talkAfter this very welcome gin punch interval, Marcus Risdell talked about the birth and development of the London Gentleman’s club, describing how the earliest London Clubs met in the coffee houses and inns of 18th century London.

Here, behind closed doors, gentlemen could enjoy each other’s sociability whilst gaining access to an exclusive network of contacts.

The subject of these talks is always and only London – planned events include London before London and London after London, Collecting London, Dying in London, London Over, London Under and so on.  Future speakers include writers Tom Bolton, Sukdev Sandhu, Craig Taylor, Anthony Clayton, Ross MacFarlane of the Wellcome Trust, Viktor Wynd, Amber Jane Butchard, Iain Sinclair, Stephen Walters and other exciting names.

One of the images used to illustrate Marcus's talkEach evening will feature two shortish talks or performances and some time for conversation. Before long we’ll be able to have one on ‘How one modern library turned into an original 17th century Coffee House’
For more information see: www.salonforthecity.blogspot.co.uk

[Rossella / Stephen]