Tag Archives: London Attractions

Richmond 7

World Rivers Day 28 September

I discovered yesterday via twitter that today is World Rivers Day.  London (England), to my mind, boasts one of the loveliest rivers in the world: the River Thames.

world rivers day - river thames london
The Thames is liquid history – John Burns

The River Thames;  centuries old and first identified as a discrete drainage line as early as 58 million years ago, has seen invaders, pirates, wars and plague, the Great Fire of 1666 and many others besides, been part of Naval celebrations and seen both military and pleasure craft sail into the Pool of London and moor alongside her banks from source to sea.

world rivers day - river thames london
HMS Enterprise

The longest river entirely in England, from a tiny stream in the Cotswolds to the vast stretches of the Thames Estuary between Essex and Kent, the River Thames, at approximately 215 miles, flows through many famous villages, towns and cities; Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Reading, Windsor and of course lovely London.

world rivers day - river thames london
QRB – Gloriana

She has carried Saxons, Romans, Kings and Queens, statesmen, architects, poets both up and downstream, as well as the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee Flotilla and the 2012 Olympic torch along her reaches.

world rivers day - river thames london
The Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge; London 2012

The River Thames contains over 80 islands ranging from large esturial marshlands; Isle of Sheppey and Canvey Island to small tree-covered islets like Rose Isle in Oxfordshire and Headpile Eyot in Berkshire.
Islands are found all the way from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent to Fiddler’s Island in Oxfordshire.
Some of the largest inland islands, for example Formosa Island near Cookham and Andersey Island at Abingdon, were created naturally when the course of the river divided into separate streams, while Desborough Island, Ham Island at Old Windsor, and Penton Hook Island were artificially created by lock cuts and navigation channels.   In the Oxford area the river splits into several streams across the floodplain; Seacourt Stream, Castle Mill Stream, Bulstake Stream and others, creating several islands like Fiddler’s Island and Osney.

world rivers day - river thames london
one of the many islands in the Thames, scene in Richmond

Historically interesting islands include Magna Carta Island at Runnymede, Fry’s Island at Reading, Pharaoh’s Island near Shepperton while Chiswick Eyot is a familiar landmark on the Boat Race course, and Glover’s Island forms the centrepiece of the spectacular view from Richmond Hill….a protected view. More recently Platts Eyot at Hampton was the place where MTBs were built, Tagg’s Island near Molesey was associated with the impresario Fred Karno, and Eel Pie Island at Twickenham was the birthplace of the South East’s R&B music scene.

world rivers day - river thames london
a foggy day on the river; mid-stream is Eel Pie Island

Historically famous Westminster Abbey, the Royal Church and the Palace of Westminster (commonly known today as the Houses of Parliament) were all built on what was known as Thorney Island, which used to be an eyot, and the London Stone at Staines, built in 1285 marked the customs limit of the Thames and the City of London’s jurisdiction.

world rivers day - river thames london
Palace of Wsstminster & Big Ben built on an area once known as Thorney Island

The River Thames has historically frozen over on many occasions ( link to a website with dates).  Frost fairs were held at London on the tideway of the River Thames when the river froze over during some winters between the 17th and early 19th century; a period known as the Little Ice Age. During that time the river was wider and slower, impeded by Old London Bridge and British winters more severe than now, one of the earliest accounts of the Thames freezing comes from AD 250, when it was frozen solid for nine weeks.

world rivers day - river thames london
Behold the liquid Thames now frozen ore…

The River Thames is managed by the Port of London Authority, covering 95 miles of the River Thames between Teddington Lock and the Estuary.

I first set eyes on this fabulous old lady in 2012 from the back of a taxi cab as we drove across Lambeth Bridge from Victoria to New Cross Gate on my very first day in London!  The second time I saw this wonderful river was from the ramparts of London Bridge when I ventured into the city on my own for the very first time.  I was immediately entranced.

world rivers day - river thames london
the River Thames as seen from London Bridge looking downstream

EARTH has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth

I have since enjoyed many a happy hour either walking, strolling or meandering along her banks, sailing up and downstream on a tall ship,

world rivers day - river thames london
Tall Ships 2014

kayaked from Chelsea Harbour to Westminster Bridge and back again, taken a lunch cruise with City Cruises, sailed across the river via the Hammerton’s Ferry, the Emirates Cable car and walked beneath the river via the Greenwich Tunnel, seen in a New Year from the decks of a boat in 2011, followed the QRB Gloriana during the Tudor Pull in 2013 and 2014, watched the Great River Race, Admiral of the Port’s Challenge, Thames Barge Driving Challenge, The Doggetts’s Coat & Badge Race and the X-Changing Boat Race, seen the Gloriana sail majestically beneath Tower Bridge during the Lord Mayor’s Show in 2012 & 2013, and the cherry on top; I have travelled from St Katherine Docks to Bankside in the ever so delightful Trinity Tide (ever grateful thanks to @rowjoelane ).

I have visited a number of towns and locks along the Thames, Moseley Lock, Teddington Lock and Richmond Lock

watched the tide come in and go out from numerous points, watched high tide swamp the banks at Greenwich, Richmond, Twickenham and Hampton Court filling the moat of Hampton Court Palace in early 2014,

walked along the beaches at Gabriel’s Wharf, Tower of London, beneath Cannon Street Bridge and viewed the river from all the bridges from Hampton Court Palace to Tower Bridge, chased the sunset across each bridge from Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge and saw in the first day of the New Year’s 2014 by walking across each bridge from Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge between 7am and 11am.

I have viewed the river from the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, Tower Bridge walkways, Tate Modern, the O2, the London Eye, and The Shard and watched ships sail through the Thames Barrier.

Wherever you go in London you are in one way or the other in contact with the river and the lifeblood of the City depends on this river and has done since Roman times and before.  London Bridge, although not the oldest bridge across the Thames is located in most certainly the oldest river crossing and the subject of an age old nursery rhyme: London Bridge is falling down.

world rivers day - river thames london
London Bridge

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair Lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair Lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair Lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair Lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair Lady.

Set a man to watch all nigh,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair Lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair Lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair Lady.

A great number of organisations are connected to and linked to the River Thames; The Worshipful Company of Watermen, Thames Alive, Port of London Authority, RNLI (who rescued 372 people in 2013 – enough to fill four of London’s double decker buses), Totally Thames (an annual series of events in September), Thames21, Thames Traditional Rowing Ass, Trinity House (located on Tower Hill) and many more.

For more information about World Rivers Day.

world rivers day - river thames london
The River Thames London

 

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beating retreat london 2014

Beating Retreat 2014

After 12 years in London/UK I finally found myself in a position to be in London for Beating Retreat!

beating retreat london 2014
Hooray!!! Beating Retreat 12 June 2014, Horse Guards Parade, London

I had seen the posters, read the web, been to Trooping the Colour a number of times but not yet, despite so badly wanting the opportunity, been to watch Beating Retreat.

A few weeks before the event, and after I had already booked my ticket, whoo hoo!!! I read in the Evening Standard that ‘no-one ever went to what was quoted as being London’s best kept secret’.

Hmmm, not too sure you can believe what you read in the papers….I knew about it!! :)
and so did a great many other people as it turned out….the stands at Horse Guards Parade were quite literally packed out…altho I did see sections of unoccupied seating on the farrrr side of the stands, I’m not sure they were even meant to be utilised and were probably to accommodate the audience for Saturday’s Trooping the Colour (which I am so going to apply for next year!). As for the most expensive seats in the house….not one was empty!! (mind you one family who have a front-row seat is himself; the PM and his family – the back of the house overlooks the parade ground)

beating retreat london 2014
bright and early for Beating Retreat 2014 :)

So on with Beating Retreat…….
First off, let me say this….if you have not yet been, GO!!! It’s terrific. A not to be missed event. If you love all the pomp and ceremony of the UK’s Ceremonial Troops when the Massed Bands of the Household Division (with a history spanning over three centuries) gather together with units from other divisions, then this is a must see. Right up there with, and as spectacular as Trooping the Colour, albeit quite different. Beating Retreat is held each year on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings preceding the Queen’s Birthday Parade, or “Trooping the Colour” at Horse Guards Parade

beating retreat london 2014
The Union Jack flies at Horse Guards Parade

Scottish pipes and kilts, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, Massed Bands and Drums, Mounted Horse Guards, and on and on….Beating Retreat is a magnificent display of pomp and pageantry that Britain does so well; spirited marches, military music, precision drill, cannon, fireworks and colour set in the very heart of London. Besides our fabulous bands and troops we were also treated to the Vancouver Police Pipe Band from Canada.

beating retreat london 2014
The Massed Bands and Corps of Drums of Her Majesty The Queen’s Household Division – combining 250 Foot Guards and Mounted Cavalry musicians and choral accompaniment from the Royal Choral Society.

The participants of Household Division Beating Retreat are drawn from the bands of the two Household Cavalry Regiments and the five Foot Guards Regiments which make up the Household Division. Not only do they participate in Beating the Retreat, they also play a part in: Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the State Opening of Parliament and of course Trooping the Colour; the Queen’s Birthday Parade held each year on the 2nd Saturday of June.

This year was particularly poignant. The 100th anniversay of the First World War and 70th anniversary of D-Day. On the parade ground were troops dressed (inadequately may I add!) as they would have been for that terrible war, and the bands played tunes such as ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ (at which memory I’m getting all emotional) and a number of other fantastic tunes so reminiscent of the spirit of the men and troops of that era, the fighting spirit that although smashed into the ground, never broke. A terrible war by all accounts but the spirit of the men was what in my mind makes it the Great War.

There were so many amazing spectacles that night, I am quite unable to say which was the best…fireworks and cannon fire accompanied some of the music, loud explosions with vivid clouds of red and white…sounds and sights that I’m sure sent the chill of terror coursing through the veins of the men who heard them for real on those battle fields so far away.

I got there really early…7pm on the dot.

To my dismay I did not have enough money with me to buy a programme :( I didn’t realise, but should have known really that they would have programmes and souvenirs. Anyway, the event was superb!! They had a lone Piper play a haunting tune on the Cenotaph with five life-size bronze figures representing the Foot Guards Regiments (Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Welsh and Irish). The inscription is by Rudyard Kipling. located at the head of St James’s Park, which very nearly had me sobbing. I was so thrilled to be there and so adore the bagpipes that it was quite overwhelming. A truly unforgettable evening with hundreds of musicians, drummers and pipers.

One of the most remarkable things about these events is that they start at exactly the time they say on the tin!! If they say the Queen will arrive at precisely 1pm, she arrives at precisely 1pm. Big Ben could set his watch by her! ;)

The salute is usually taken by Her Majesty The Queen or another member of The Royal Family. This year her Majesty wasn’t at Beating Retreat….but…..we were treated to a glimpse of William!!! Yes, our lovely, lovely HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards (amongst many other titles) took the salute. And how dashing he looked in his wonderful uniform. Okay so I won’t go on at length here about the lad…suffice to say I am a HUGE fan!!! of him, his brother and now his wife who is such a credit to the ‘family’ and of course the latest addition…Prince George.

beating retreat london 2014
Arriving for Beating Retreat 2014; HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge & Colonel of the Regiment Irish Guards

The Senior Director of Music was from the Irish Guards and the concert this year was performed by the Massed Bands and Corps of Her Majesty the Queen’s Household Division that combined 250 Foot Guards with Mounted Cavalry Musicians and the gun carriages of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

beating retreat london 2014
The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery

They were accompanied by the Royal Choral Society and three guest bands: The Troupe de Marine Band and Band of the Legion d’Etrangere (Foreign Legion) from France and the aforementioned Vancouver Police Pipe Band from Canada. We were treated to wave after wave of troops, bands, gun-carriages, pipes and vivid spectacles, so many that I have quite lost count…..I am so planning on going again next year! In fact, I may just go every year now till I leave this mortal plane.

Beating Retreat is held on two days June and tickets go on sale a few months beforehand. If you happen to be in London over that period and haven’t been able to book a ticket, then just hang around The Mall between oh say 7.30pm-8.30pm…..the troops have to come from somewhere…..and they do….right along The Mall!!! In fact, besides the displays and spectacles on the parade, you would likely have a better view of them as they march to the parade grounds….which, now that I have sat on one of the stands, is a heck of a lot bigger from that perspective than I imagined. Thankfully there was commentary throughout and two big screens on the parade grounds for us to get a larger view of what were quite tiny little figures from where I was sat! I have also cased out the joint in terms of viewability and I know just where I am going to book my seat for 2015!! See you there :)

Now a bit of history:
“Beating Retreat has its origins in the early years of organised warfare when the beating of drums and the parading of Post Guards heralded the closing of camp gates and the lowering of flags at the end of the day”.
Beating Retreat; refers to a military drum call that traces its origins back to the 16th century, an age-old ceremony, the ‘Retreat’ has its origins from the early days of chivalry when beating or sounding retreat put a halt to the days fighting and recalled nearby units to the garrison. The drummer would sound ‘the retreat’ and soldiers who had just minutes before been fighting would break off fighting and ‘retreat’ from the fields and return to the safety of camp, mount the guard for the night, then gather wood to prepare fires, cook food and settle for a night’s sleep before heading back onto the battle fields.

From their website: An order from the army of James II of England, dated to 18 June 1690, had his drums beating an order for his troops to retreat and a later order, from William III in 1694, read:
“The Drum Major and Drummers of the Regiment which gives a Captain of the Main Guard are to beat the Retreat through the large street, or as may be ordered. They are to be answered by all the Drummers of the guards, and by four Drummers of each Regiment in their respective Quarters”.

Military Beating Retreat concerts have a tradition dating back to the 1690s, however, today, Beating Retreat, a pageant marking the lowering of the Regimental flag at sunset, is a major event in the Army’s ceremonial calendar. An evening concert with participants drawn from the Household Cavalry Regiments and the five Foot Guards Regiments that make up the Household Division. Beating Retreat cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

This is an absolute must see event on the London summer calendar. I am already trying to persuade my sister to come over next year for the 2015 event!!

For more information and to keep an eye on future dates, visit The Household Division website

The tickets will give you the details of which entrance to use.

So for the convenience of spectators who want to see the bands but are not on the parade ground:
Nearest tube: Westminster – Jubilee and Circle & District lines. St James’s Park – District & Circle lines. Green Park – Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly lines. Leicester Square – Northern & Piccadilly lines. Or slightly farther afield you can also use Charing Cross – Bakerloo & Northern lines.
These stations will all give you access to The Mall or St James’s Park (where there is a small area from where you can watch proceedings on the Parade Ground, although the view is not terrific).

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

National Rail: Charing Cross or Waterloo – plan your journey: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk

What you can see in the area – there is so much to see here, so a few of the highlights:
St James’s Park, Green Park, Buckingham palace, Admiralty Arch, The Mall, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, King Charles Street, Parliament Square, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Supreme Courts and the Jewel Tower.

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London Events, Exhibitions, Locations, Embassies & much more

A note for overseas visitors: From July 6th buses on all London routes will no longer accept cash.
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/buses/cash-free-buses?intcmp=17374

Please check their website for details of how to buy a ‘Visitors’ Oyster (travel) card.
http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/oystercard/product/oyster-card.html

Types of refund
Oyster cards no longer needed
If you no longer need your Oyster card they’ll refund any remaining pay as you go credit, the remaining value of any Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket and the deposit, if you paid one.
To get a refund you can:
Take your Oyster card to a Tube station ticket office
Post us your Oyster card
Call Customer Services 0343 222 1234
08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday including public holidays
Please note this does not apply to Travel Cards, one day or otherwise. It is only for Pay as you go Oyster Cards.

Please note too that I am not an agent for TfL, I have added this for your information only. If you have an enquiries please head over to their website. Have a great stay in London.

More about the Guards Memorial

LEGO Advent Calendar and Christmas at Covent Garden, London

What do you get when you mix a LEGO Advent Calendar, a towering Christmas Tree, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, a Jack Daniels Barrel Tree and petting reindeer with lots and lots of baubles and balls?    Why! You get Christmas at Covent Garden of course :)

I recently did a guest post for Nika of @myLondontours and liked it so much I decided to write another one with more about some of the fun events and of course Christmas at Covent Garden….

covent garden market christmas lego advent calendar
Christmas at Covent Garden Market

I love going to Covent Garden and thoroughly enjoy the historical aspects of the market area and the beautiful St Paul’s Church (not to be confused with St Paul’s Cathedral – which is my favourite building in London) :)

covent garden market christmas
a mecca for tourists and Londoner's alike...

 

 

As I said in the article for Nika, Covent Garden at Christmas time in London is a hive of activity with so many things to do and see! An ancient site with a history longer than your arm…..Covent Garden is usually a mecca for tourists and Londoner’s alike at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

christmas at covent garden, great christmas pudding race
The Great Christmas Pudding Race

 

 

Covent Garden hosts events like The Great Xmas Pudding Race, an annual event in December, most amusing with much hilarity and people running around in silly costumes…a must on the Christmas calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

faberge big egg hunt covent garden
the fabulous Fáberge Eggs

 

 

The fabulous Fáberge Big Egg Hunt in the Spring of 2012 when after 40 days all the eggs were collected together from around London and gathered together in one spot for us to enjoy and admire…that I can tell you brought masses of people….the piazza was so crowded by 11am you could barely move!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

btartbox covent gardens
BT Art Box at Covent Garden

 

 

Covent Garden also played host to some of the BT Boxes, a marvellous collection of the iconic UK telephone box artistically decorated and ‘hidden’ around London for us to find…a bit like a treasure hunt! Loads of fun that was.

So much else happens at Covent Garden that I could compile a huge list…but for now I won’t, suffice to say much happens all year round, and of course you can always find a busker or two in the area as well….they are highly entertaining and some just a wee bit crazy!! Like the chap who juggles with the buzz-saw…like I said…a wee bit crazy!!!

 

 

 

 

This year at Christmas we have the UK’s biggest LEGO Advent Calendar. Built by Duncan Titmarsh, the UK’s only certified LEGO professional, the calendar features a new window that opens each day at 4pm to reveal a 3D LEGO surprise. :) It has been good fun to pop by and see what’s in the next box; a delightful selection of scenes, why not pop along between now and the 24th to see what each window holds.

LEGO advent calendar at covent garden
the UK's biggest LEGO Advent Calendar at Covent Garden
rudolph at covent garden christmas
Rudolph with your nose so bright......

 

 

Besides the lovely advent calendar we have a massive reindeer out front; the erstwhile Rudolph I believe! Well he does have a red nose so it must be him!!…..and there are even real live reindeer to be seen and petted. Check the Covent Garden calendar and Click here for more details. The reindeer will be on the East Piazza Saturday from 12pm to 4pm  Last day is tomorrow; Saturday 22nd I believe…. so get there quickly :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jack daniels barrel christmas tree
the towering Jack Daniels Christmas 'tree'

 

 

This year you can also see the Jack Daniels first ever ‘barrel’ festive tree: a 26ft, nine-tier monolith that stands proudly in the piazza until the first week of January 2013.     It glitters with gold, towering above shoppers, revellers and Rudolph alike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

covent garden xmas tree
the beautiful Christmas Tree at Covent Garden

 

 

And of course at Christmas you would expect to see a Christmas tree….and in the piazza in front of St Paul’s Church, is an ever so beautiful, towering Christmas tree decked out in bright sparkly baubles and balls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

covent garden apple market at christmas
Covent Garden Apple Market at Christmas

The Apple Market is a very popular venue at Covent Garden but at the moment the stalls are overshadowed by the huge red balls that hang precariously from the ceiling, vying with the glitter balls to be brightest of all.

Be sure to look at the back of the LEGO Calendar too!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS :)

covent garden merry christmas lego advent calendar
Merry Christmas.....from 3 Days in London and LEGO :)

Be sure to include Covent Garden in your itinerary this Christmas and if you have enjoyed this post, please would you retweet it.

You can find me on twitter where I tweet about the history of London, things to do in London, events that are happening and post photos from my frequent #walkabouts.  You can also join my facebook page if you wish where I post more links to what’s happening in the city and regularly upload photo albums of scenes and the goings-on of this marvellous city; London!! :)   See you there and thank you for dropping by.

For more about Nika and @myLondontours click here

Westminster Cathedral

The first time I saw this Cathedral my eyes nearly fell out my head!!!

Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Cathedral - off Victoria Street London

I was startled and amazed; startled at the sheer beauty of the building and amazed that I never knew it existed.   I stumbled upon this fabulous cathedral quite by accident one day whilst walking towards Victoria Station.  I went back last week for a proper visit.

Westminster Cathedral is situated on a piazza just off Victoria Street, sitting prettily amongst newer buildings, it takes your breath away….leaving you in no doubt that it is way superior to any of the newer buildings that have sprung up in the area.

Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Cathedral London

Although the cathedral is still young in comparison to other cathedrals in London City, it takes it place with ease and is surely amongst the top London things to do, and most assuredly worth a visit on any 3 days in London.

Westminster Cathedral, opened in 1903 is the mother church of Engand’s Roman Catholics, designed by J F Bentley in a glorious pink and white striped Byzantine style, is a working cathedral and open to the public most of the day.  The Campanile, 273ft (83m) high, situated on the corner of the cathedral offers a stunning view of the city (on a good day).

Westminster Cathedral
the campanile is 273ft (83m) high and offers stunning views of London

With the widest nave in England, an extraordinary dark, bare brick roof of four high domes that soar into blackness and chapels decorated with a rich tapestry of mosaics, this Cathedral will take your breath away.

the widest nave in England
Westminster Cathedral
glorious mosaics line the chapel ceilings

A collection of artefacts, that spans centuries, mainly acquired for use in the cathedral,  includes a fragment of silk from the tomb of Edward the Confessor, a 13th C ceremonial cross, a chalice used during the period when celebrating mass was considered treason, amongst others.  The Treasures of the Cathedral exhibition is a permanent feature of the cathedral and open Monday – Friday 9.30am-5pm and weekends/holidays 9.30am to 6pm.

Getting there: nearest station Victoria Station - National Rail and Tube – Victoria, District & Circle Lines.  Leaving the station make your way along Victoria Street towards St James’s Park, it will be on your right hand side.   Along the way, situated on a traffic island, stop to admire ‘Little Ben’, a 30ft (9m) replica of Big Ben. 

Little Ben
Little Ben - a replica of Big Ben

Across the road is the Victoria Palace Theatre; currently showing ‘Billy Elliot’.

Victoria Palace Theatre
Victoria Palace Theatre - currently showing 'Billy Elliot'

Please note Westminster Cathedral is a working church and photography is not allowed during services.   Entrance is FREE and a donation would be welcomed for future preservation of this fabulous building.

London’s Square Mile

The City of London is actually only a small area east of central London, also known as the Square Mile. (See City of London Boundary Map.)

City of London - map of the Square Mile
City of London - Square Mile boundary map

The Square Mile, heart of the City of London

City of London's Square Mile - heart of the city
this spot marks the Heart of the City of London

The Square Mile is the financial and business center of London and where you’ll find the suit-wearing bankers and stockbrokers dashing around. The City of London becomes really quiet at the weekend when the workers aren’t there. It’s well worth a visit as it’s full of historical buildings next to modern additions. City of London - regeneration in the Square Mile

There’s loads to do and some of the places you can visit for free.

The Museum of London
The Bank of England Museum
St Paul’s Cathedral - free entrance to: St. Dunstan’s Chapel; The Crypt Area; Attend a Service – There are services every day in the Cathedral and all are welcome to attend.  Personally I would seriously recommend the entrance fee and the cost of the Super Tour is well worth every penny.
Paternoster Square
Gresham College
Free Lunchtime Recitals at St. Olave’s Medieval Church
Prince Henry’s Room
The London Stone
Guildhall Art Gallery
Roman London’s Amphitheatre – Beneath the Guildhall Art Gallery and discovered in 1998, the site is now a protected monument.
Whitefriars Crypt
The Clockmakers’ Company
The Clockmakers’ Museum
St Sepulchre’s Church

St Sepulchre's Church - Holborn Viaduct, London (near Old Bailey)
St Sepulchre's Church in the Square Mile of London (near Old Bailey)

Although the Tower of London is just beyond the boundary, this could be fun to do:
The Ceremony of the Keys at The Tower of London is a 700 year old tradition that takes place every night. Essentially it’s locking all the doors to the Tower of London and the public are allowed to escort the warden, as long as they apply in advance.  As the Tower must be locked – it houses the Crown Jewels! – they never miss a night because you can’t leave the door open, can you?

What’s in the Square Mile?
Middle Temple Lane
Blackfriars Bridge
St Paul’s Cathedral  

St Paul's Cathedral in the heart of the Square Mile
St Paul's Cathedral in the heart of the Square Mile - viewed from Dean's Court

Ludgate Hill
Fleet Street
St Sepulchre’s Church
Old Bailey
Bank
Finsbury Circus
Liverpool Street Station
St Mary Ax/The Gerkin 

The Gerkin viewed from Bishopsgate
The Gerkin viewed from Bishopsgate

London Bridge
The Guildhall
Bishopsgate
London Wall
St Martin’s Le Grand
St Brides Church 

St Bride's Church - City of London
St Brides' Church - City of London

Mary Le Bow Church
The Monument ( to the Great Fire of London 1666)
Southwark Bridge
Millenium Bridge  (although not strictly ‘in’ the Square Mile it leads from within the Square Mile over the Thames to Tate Modern.

Millenium Bridge
Millenium Bridge

The Barbican Centre
Mansion House
Leadenhall Market  

Leadenhall Market off Gracechurch Street in the heart of the Sqaure Mile
Leadenhall Market - City of London's Square Mile

Museum of London
London Stock Exchange

Tube Stations within the Square Mile
Blackfriairs – District & Circle Lines
City Thameslink –
Barbican – Metropolitan; Hammersmith & City & Circle Lines
Moorgate – Metropolitan; Hammersmith & City; Circle & Northern Lines
St Pauls – Central Line
Mansion House – District & Circle Lines
Cannon Street – District & Circle Lines
Monument – District & Circle Lines
Bank – Central; Northern; Waterloo & City & the DLR Line 

Bank Tube Station - in the heart of The Square Mile
entrance to Bank Station

Liverpool Street – Central; Metropolitan; Circle & Hammersmith & City Lines
Aldgate – Metropolitan Line
Tower Hill – District & Circle Lines
Tower Gateway – DLR

Overland Stations within the Square Mile
Blackfriars
City Thameslink
Moorgate
Liverpool Street
Cannon Street
Barbican
Fenchurch Street

The Square Mile’s PAST:

•Cheapside is home to the church of St. Mary Le Bow, which has played a part in London’s cockney heritage. It is said that a true Londoner must be born within earshot of the Bow bells ringing 

Mary le Bow Church - in the heart of the City of London's Square Mile
Mary le Bow Church in the heart of the City of London's Sqaure Mile

•In the nursery rhyme, ‘Oranges and Lemons’ chanted by children for over 300 years, it was the “great bells of Bow,” which were said to be those that Dick Whittington heard in Highgate as he was leaving London. They told him to “turn around Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London” 
•By the 16th century, the English antiquarian John Stow documented both the production and retailing of silk here: “There were more silk shops in Cheapside during the latter years of Elizabeth reign than there had formerly been in all England” 
•Bread Street is the birthplace of 17th century English poet John Milton (Paradise Lost)
•Geoffrey Chaucer grew up around Cheapside and there are a scattering of references to the thoroughfare and its environs throughout his work
•In 1797 William Wordsworth was inspired to write a poem about the tree on the corner of Wood Street and Cheapside, in which the earliest City documents describe it as “ancient” – it remains there to this day
•When Charlotte Brontë arrived for the first time in the City of London she professed herself to be “deeply excited.” The West End “amused” her but the City “seems so much more earnest” 
•In the 1951 tale of Dr Doolittle, there was a cockney sparrow called Cheapside who visits to give the doctor news and tell stories
•Historically, the Lord Mayor of the City of London travelled by river each year to Westminster to swear allegiance to the crown (the origin of today’s Lord Mayor’s Show). Nowadays, he travels by road, but it was these river journeys that gave birth to the word “float” which describes vehicles in parades and shows today
•Until comparatively recent boundary changes, the City had no roads – none of its highways or byways use the word “road” within their names. Even now, with the exception of Goswell Road, all thoroughfares in the City use “street”, “lane”, “gate”, “wall” or some other word. The reason is thought by some to be that – as the old definition of a road was “a way between places” and the City is at the heart of the capital (and thus our nation) –  it is not “between” anywhere but the at the start or end of any journey

PRESENT

•The City – the world’s leading financial and business centre – has the unusual ratio of 40 times more workers than residents 
•The Square Mile is a location like no other – linked to a staggering one in six jobs in the capital
•The City has 12,000 firms, 7,855 of which are in finance or business – there are 264 foreign banks and 618 legal firms
•340,000 people work in the City of London, and 112,000 of those are based within a 10 minute walk of One New Change
•69% of workers  in the City are aged 20-39 – and 18% are 40-49 years old
•9, 200 people currently live locally within the City (80,000 living on the fringes) 
•Of the 12.95 million annual footfall at St Paul’s station, 5.1 million (39%) occurs outside peak commuting times. 32% of off-peak exit and entries are at weekends.

All information on this post obtained from various sources on the internet, except the photos which are mine.