St John’s Wood cultural cafe set to teach history of the area

Historian will hold exhibitions and events for local residents at Queen’s Terrace base

A historian has launched a new-style caf� in St John’s Wood in the hope of creating a cultural hub for people to learn about the area.

The Queen’s Terrace Caf�, on Queen’s Terrace, was launched a week ago by Mireille Galinou, whose book Cottages and Villas, which was published last year, explored the development of St John’s Wood as the first ‘garden suburb’.

Ms Galinou said: “I would like to try to interest people in their neighbourhood.

“So many people walk around without having any clue what they are walking through, which is a shame, because it is enriching to know and understand the environment in which you live.”

The caf� is one of few local buildings still owned by the Eyre Estate, the family who first bought the land that became St John’s Wood in 1733.

The building still shows the large emblem of the Knight’s of St John Tavern, but has gone through a series of uses since the pub closed in the 1970s.

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“Shops here tend to struggle a little bit,” said Ms Galinou.

“Because I have worked for the Eyre Estate, when they said ‘we cannot let this shop’, I asked ‘could I have a go at setting up my cultural caf�?’

“The idea has been close to my heart for many years and they agreed to let me have the shop for a period of time.”

The cultural caf� concept includes various events based in and around the venue, starting next month.

Ms Galinou says she envisions meet-the-artist evenings, talks on London’s history and guided tours of St John’s Wood, “which I could do in my sleep”.

Paintings by the artist Mark Cazalet depicting Eliot’s Four Quartets transposed to London are currently on show.

“It has to work as a caf� in order to provide a base for the cultural events,” explained Ms Galinou.

“I have tried to create an exhibition space, not just pictures on the wall.

“The idea is to showcase things that happen in the area, though I can’t be too closed-minded about it.”

But the caf� is a short-term idea, as the building is part of the neighbouring St John’s Wood barracks site, and will be sold when planned redevelopment of the area eventually gets underway.

Planning permission to transform the historic barracks, which has housed the King’s Troop for almost 200 years, into a luxury housing development were granted last September.

Ms Galinou was born in Bordeaux but grew up in Morocco, before moving to London where she worked for 22 years as curator of paintings at the Museum of London.