First I must introduce you to the warring factions. High Bohemians are wealthy people (usually women) who are drawn to bohemian art and the bohemian ethos. They believe that bohemia can be purchased. London has three strongholds of High Bohemia, Shorditch, Chelsea and Soho- each are different from one another and each deserves an article. This is northern Soho (southern Soho is the Center of Low Bohemia). High Bohemia is seeking to expand and Beak St is the current front line.
We start in Beak St, the dividing line between high and low Bohemia. The blue archway is the gate between the two worlds. Behind me (when I took the photograph) was the red light district and ahead of me is a gateway to the far more upmarket world of high Bohemia.
The two worlds exist side by side to one another but seldom meet.
Kingly court leads to other courtyards and passageways. One is led to feel one is exploring a secret world although this is an illusion. Eventually we are arrive here. Notice the signs warning tourists to keep their purses and bags close. Low Bohemia lives only a street away!
Carneby st, a place of independent retailers such as this chocolate cafe where the cakes are a work of art. Note the paring of death and beauty that is quite a common Bohemian theme.
Carneby has a pub, of course. Bohemia prides itself on heavy drinking and Shakespeare was drunk most of the time.
Carneby street came to represent 1960's London. Why was it significant? It introduced the idea of fashion to men. Until that point fashion was purely for women and a man who dressed differently from the norm was viewed with suspicion.
We come at last to Liberties of London. The highest of high Bohemia. It is a department store that will, at a price, sell Bohemia to anyone with a credit card.
As ever, the vaguely sinister is blended with the beautiful. The shop was actually built from the wreck of two warships and beady eyed animals look down on the shoppers like gargoyles.
Pretty much everything that can be bought there can be bought nowhere else.This short tour will give you some idea of High Bohemia. I include it as a contrast to the Low Bohemia that lays in wait across the other side of Beak St. This is where the war is currently taking place.