W Plumb butcher's shop is only open two days a year, during the Open House weekend.
Open House's anonymous reviewer writes "Grade II listed, ornate former Edwardian butcher's shop c1900 with art nouveau wall tiling, geometric tiled floor, scrolled meat rails and mahogany cashier's booth with etched and brilliant cut glass. Very well preserved."
Preserved in aspic. The shop closed decades ago and exists behind frosted glass. The cows were painted on Hampstead Heath. When were there last cows on the Heath?
The cashier's booth is made of mahogany and looks like the inside of an expensive suitcase. Richard Travers, the owner, is American and has hopes to sell tea and cakes, when the economy picks up. He'd baked cookies for Open House visitors.
In the meantime, I think he likes the quiet. He has breakfast there and holds parties sometimes. People passing by thought of things to do: someone suggested a supper club, someone else a cake sale, someone else told a story of a place a bit like it in Leeds that had been restored to glory. He nodded, and sounded interested.
I wonder if whoever commissioned the interior felt they should have been other than a butcher, or if they thought their trade deserved its own temple, or if they dreamt of selling spare ribs in the Alhambra.
A nation of shopkeepers is a complicated thing.
Where: 493 Hornsey Road
Open: Once a year.
I just came across Jane Hobson's W Plumb set on Flickr. Her photographs are far, far better than mine, so go look at them.