Theme parks, pubs and ‘human zoos’: how the Victorians invented leisure

Entrepreneurs came up with increasingly elaborate ways to part Londoners from their money, inventing many staples of the modern leisure industry Whether it was visiting a human zoo, taking a bull on a hot-air balloon ride, or singing risqu songs about rhubarb, Victorian Londoners loved to have fun. As entrepreneurs and impresarios came up with increasingly elaborate ways to make money from the capitals huge potential audience, Victorians effectively invented the modern leisure industry including theme parks, pubs and professional football. As a new book by historian Lee Jackson explains, the hunt for profit took place against the backdrop of typical Victorian concerns surrounding morality, class and empire. So where did Victorians go for fun? And what still exists today? …

David Chipperfield’s Berlin temple: ‘Like ascending to the realm of the gods’

Twenty years in the making, this dazzling synthesis of the classical and modern takes Museum Island to new heights Friedrich Wilhelm IV described his vision for James Simon Gallery stands as a 134m (120m) Parthenon-on-Spree, forming a handsome new entrance to one of the worlds most important repositories of cultural treasures. We were quite nervous, says Chipperfield, standing in the lofty new ticketing lobby, where stripes of sunlight flood in between the row of slender white columns outside. The challenge was how to create something that was of its context and also of our time, in this incredibly sensitive location. He had good reason to be anxious. His first design, unveiled in 2006, was slammed by German critics as grossly …

Italy’s new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting

Overgrown and weathered, many historical monuments are disappearing as public funds for culture fail to match modern Italys inheritance Legend has it that the grotto hidden among the craggy cliffs on San Marco hill in Sutera in the heart of Sicily holds a treasure chest full of gold coins. In order to find it, three men must dream simultaneously about the precise place to dig. Treasure or no treasure, the grotto itself is an archaeological gem, its walls adorned with a multi-coloured Byzantine-esque 16th-century fresco depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saints Paulinus, Luke, Mark and Matthew. One of the first mountain oratories in the world, it was built by Basilian monks in the 9th century. But time has weathered …

The art deco pub, the library and Poldark manor: Britains architectural gems at risk

As Save Britains Heritage campaign highlights historic buildings that could be lost to the nation, Cornish estate owners vow to take action For viewers of a certain age it is instantly recognisable. Botallack Manor, on the Penwith peninsula in western Cornwall, doubled as Nampara, the home of Ross Poldark and his family, in the original 1970s Poldark television series. Today, the Grade II-listed house, built in the 17th century and boasting spectacular views of the has enjoyed a new lease of life, the same cannot be said for the house. For the past five years it has lain empty and in an increasing state of neglect, so much so that it has been included in the latest (30th) edition of …