Tag Archives: Things to do in London

The London Eye

3 days in london, things to do in london, walks in london, waterloo station, southbank, london eye
view of the London Eye from Westminster Bridge

London Eye : The largest observation wheel in the world; the “Millennium Wheel”, or the London Eye was initially erected as a temporary structure. It soon became a fixture, and now draws four million visitors a year.  Daily rides are on offer and on a clear day you can just about see Windsor Castle on the horizon. On any other day and assuming it is not pouring with rain you have a fabulous 360degree view of London.

new year in london at the london eye in london
Fireworks at the London Eye New Year 2013

The view at night is just spectacular and you can pre-book sunset rides too.  Lucky for us the London Eye hosts the New Year celebrations with a spectaular, multi-coloured display of fire-works. The best in the world :) Also to be seen next to the London Eye is the Aquarium.


Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

As you cross Westminster bridge, be sure to stop and take in the views of the river on each side and especially of the Houses of Parliament that back onto the river.

Nearest tube station: Waterloo – Jubilee, Northern and Bakerloo lines. Travel planner


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Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage

Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage

a FREE exhibition at The British Library

Extended till 19 April 2015
See why Europeans are drawn to explore the Arctic and, in particular, the Northwest Passage.the british library
Lines in the Ice examines why Europeans are drawn to explore the Arctic and, in particular, the fabled Northwest Passage. Arctic exploration has influenced our culture, changed the societies of indigenous peoples, and had a powerful effect on the making of the modern world.
The exhibition displays early European maps of the Arctic, Inuit accounts of the coming of the explorers, writings from the search for Franklin, early Arctic photography and much more. It also unearths the history of the North Pole’s most famous resident – Santa.
Uncovering the beauty, drama and importance of the Arctic, from the distant past up to the present day.
For further information please visit their website http://www.bl.uk/events/lines-in-the-ice-seeking-the-northwest-passage/
Entrance Hall, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/stpancras/

Nearest tube station: Kings Cross
National rail station: Kings Cross & St Pancras
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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Wellington Arch; Hyde Park Corner

wellington arch hyde park corner
Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner

The Wellington Arch (aka Constitution Arch), built in 1825-7 as a northern gate to the grounds of Buckingham Palace, providing a grand entrance to London, is situated in the centre of the Hyde Park Corner traffic island, a hub for some of the busiest roads in Westminster –

map of hyde park and hyde park corner
a map of Hyde Park and Hyde Park Corner

6 streets converge at the junction: Constitution Hill (south east), Grosvenor Crescent ( south west), Grosvenor Place (south), Park Lane, Knightsbridge (west), Park Lane (north) and Piccadilly ( north east).
Designed by Decimus Burton as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington, the arch was intended as a ‘victory arch’ proclaiming Wellington’s defeat of Napolean, originally topped with an equestrian statue of the Duke, sculpted by Matthew Cotes Wyatt but replaced in 1912 with a work entitled ‘The Angel of Peace’ descending on the Quadriga of Victory (ancient four-horse chariot) by sculptor Adrian Jones; the largest bronze sculpture in Europe.

the angel of peace quadriga of victory
‘The Angel of Peace’ descending on the Quadriga of Victory (ancient four-horse chariot) by sculptor Adrian Jones.
Carscapes Exhibition: the museum inside the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner
Carscapes Exhibition: the museum inside the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner

The arch is hollow inside and housed a small police station until 1992.  Contained within the Arch is the new Quadriga Gallery where you can see one of a series of exhibitions. When we visited we saw the: Carscapes: How the Motor Car Reshaped England



Besides the arch there are great number of other fascinating monuments on the island: Monument to the Cavalry of the Empire, Adrian Jones, Boy and Dolphin statue, Alexander Munro, The Wellington Monument – a smaller equestrian statue of Wellington (facing Apsley House – the home of the first Duke of Wellington), the Machine Gun Corps Memorial, the Royal Artillery Memorial, the Australian War Memorial, the New Zealand War Memorial, and a statue of Lord Byron (on an island opposite the Wellington Memorial).

The view; its amazing, you can see right along Constitution Avenue……

view from wellington arch hyde park corner
the view along Constitution Avenue from the viewing platform of Wellington Arch

you can enjoy stunning panoramas of London’s parks and Houses of Parliament from the balconies of Wellington Arch and of course you can get a really close up view of the extraordinary sculpture at the top;  ‘The Angel of Peace’ descending on the Quadriga of Victory.

If you’re lucky, the weather is good and time your visit right you can watch the Household Cavalry on their way to Changing the Guard at Horse Guards Parade.

household cavalry
Household Cavalry Horse Guards – mural in the Hyde Park Corner Underpass

The monuments are a fascinating snapshot of British and Commonwealth history.
Once you’ve enjoyed the view and seen all the monuments then head underground via the Hyde Corner Underpass….there are a number of delightful murals on the walls depicting Victorian London and other scenes…well worth the time.

hyde park corner underpass
scenes of Victorian London in the Hyde Park Corner Underpass

Items of note:
“Hyde Park Corner” was used as a code to announce the death of King George VI to the government in 1952.
The 1935 film ‘ Hyde Park Corner’ takes it’s name from the area…where it is set.
One half of the arch functions as a ventilation shaft for the London Underground network.

Across the road is the well-known Hyde Park Corner Screen; Burton’s Screen which forms the Hyde Park Corner entrance to Hyde Park and on Park Lane is the Queen Elizabeth Gate.

Queen Elizabeth Gate
Queen Elizabeth Gate

Ownership of Wellington Arch was transferred to English Heritage in 1999, the arch contains three floors of exhibits detailing the history of the arch and is now open to the public (for a fee).

For more information about the arch:

Nearest Tube Station:
Hyde Park Corner – then cross the road.
Green Park and a short walk.
Victoria Station and quite a walk.
Hyde Park corner is also within walking distance of Piccadilly Circus along Piccadilly, a great walk that takes you past the famous Fortnum and Mason Store, the Royal Academy of Art, St James’s
Church Piccadilly and much more. Be sure to look out for the clock on the facade of Fortnum and Mason’s.

Many buses service the area on the way to and from Victoria Station.   Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

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3 things to see in the area:
Apsley House

rose garden hyde park corner
The Rose Garden at Hyde Park Corner

The Rose Garden and Rotten Row at Hyde Park
Green Park and Buckingham Palace

Aldwych Underground Station Tours

aldwych underground station tours

A brilliant opportunity to visit one of London’s disused underground stations…what will we find….back in 2013 my daughter and I booked ourselves onto one of the Aldwych London Underground Station tours run by the London Transport Museum …

I love the hidden aspects of London and the fact that there is a whole world beneath our feet, much of which goes unnoticed and unseen by millions of people every day.  I found this tour to be suitably informative, interesting, on the slightly spooky side and I’m sure there are a few ghosts lingering in those tunnels and on the platforms; in a word: terrific!!! 

aldwych station underground station tours
Keep It Under Your Hat!!! this is a super tour!

If you want to book for one of these tours, you’d do well to keep a close eye on their website, the tours are VERY popular and usually booked up well in advance http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events/events-calendar#aldwych

Deep below the streets of London lie the disused platforms and tunnels the disused Aldwych Underground Station. Usually closed to the public, London Transport Museum have arranged dates for public tours to take place.

The station was originally named Strand as it was built on the site of the Strand Theatre, but was later renamed to Aldwych meaning ‘old village’.

aldwych station underground station tours
Strand Station on Strand is one of the London Underground Stations that are closed

Aldwych is one of London’s mysterious places, holding secrets and memories of London’s forgotten life and work underground. It opened to the public in 1907 was never heavily used as originally intended and closed nearly 100 years later in 1994. The station has had a varied history; it provided shelter to Londoners during the Blitz and has been used for film shoots including Patriot Game, Mr Selfridge and Atonement.

The tours started on 7 November 2013 and involve groups of up to 40 people being escorted by volunteer tour guides into the ticket hall and then down to the platforms and inter-connecting walkways – including some that have very rarely been seen by the public.

aldwych station underground station tours
Halt…who goes there?









....roll up, roll up....and book your tickets here...
….roll up, roll up….and book your tickets here…

£25 adult (£20 concession) check for latest prices. 

Tickets must be booked in advance by booking online or calling 020 7565 7298.  Please do check their website or your ticket for their latest T&C’s. 
All tickets include a free entry to London Transport Museum to be used within one month of the stated Aldwych station tour date and 10% off items in the Covent Garden shop for up to a month after their visit (on production of a valid ticket).

Important access information

  • aldwych underground dtation tours
    this non-working lift….you can see why access would not be via this baby…

    Access to the platform is by staircase only and there is no working lift in operation. 160 stairs connect the ticket hall level to the platform level – there is no step-free access.



  • Visitors should wear sturdy shoes. Guests wearing open toe sandals, shoes or high-heels will be refused entry due to a health and safety requirements.

    aldwych underground station tours
    wear sturdy shoes… :)

I so enjoyed this fascinating look at the workings of the forgotten underground, the tunnels and passages seemingly heading off into nowhere……

aldwych station underground station tours
time to go?….this Way Out!!!

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Things to see in the area:
old entrance to Strand Station – on Strand
Two island churches:
St Mary le Strand
St Clement Danes
The Royal Courts of Justice
Somerset House
Courtauld Gallery

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Cumberland Art Gallery opens at Hampton Court Palace


Canaletto. The Grand Canal Set, Royal Collection Trust: copyright Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Canaletto. The Grand Canal Set, Royal Collection Trust: copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Cumberland Art Gallery, a new gallery occupies the recently restored Georgian suite at the heart of the Baroque palace at Hampton Court Palace.

hampton court palace fountain court
Fountain Court – the Baroque Palace at Hampton Court Palace

On 20th November 2014, a stunning new art gallery opened at Hampton Court Palace, occupying the newly restored suite of rooms designed by William Kent for a Georgian prince. The Cumberland Suite – one of the earliest surviving examples of the Gothic Revival style – is situated at the heart of the palace, where Tudor meets Baroque, and will now house changing displays of artworks, principally from the Royal Collection, reflecting the palace’s long history as a destination for the work of renowned artists.

The rooms designed by William Kent for William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland, the youngest son of King George II, were the last major royal commission undertaken at Hampton Court. They will become a fitting backdrop for a display of treasures from the other legacy of Hampton Court’s royal residents: the Royal Collection. This winter, to mark the opening of the gallery, visitors will discover a selection of the Collection’s finest paintings: masterpieces by Holbein, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bassano and Gainsborough, and other artists who worked for, or were collected by, four centuries of royal patrons.

After two years of meticulous research, Kent’s Cumberland Suite has been returned as closely as possible to his original scheme. The great architect created a suite of rooms for a young prince which embraced the latest Palladian fashions, but also took inspiration from the palace’s Tudor past. One of the rooms, the Duke’s large light closet, will be opened to the public for the first time in 25 years, to display the 12 smaller ‘Grand Canal’ views of Venice painted by Canaletto at the zenith of his career.

Hampton Court Palace has a long history of displaying great works of art. Over the centuries, successive monarchs filled the state apartments with splendid works of art for the private enjoyment of the royal family, or as imposing statements of regal authority. Although the palace’s life as a royal residence came to an end in the eighteenth century, thousands of artworks, now part of the Royal Collection, are still in their original locations and form part of the story of the palace today.

Hampton Court Palace at night
Hampton Court Palace at night

The Cumberland Art Gallery is a new dedicated space for artworks from the Royal Collection, and will enable visitors to view and explore them in a gallery setting. The selection of paintings in our opening display broadly reflects the period of royal residency at Hampton Court, from the Tudor period to the middle years of the 1700s, when great royal collectors and connoisseurs, like King Charles I and Frederick Prince of Wales, assembled one of the largest and finest art collections of its kind in the world.
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace, helping everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. They raise all their own funds and depend on the support of visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and HRP manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information, visit hrp.org.uk

The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and not owned by Her Majesty as a private individual. The administration, care and presentation of the Collection are undertaken by Royal Collection Trust, part of the Royal Household, without recourse to public funds.

The Royal Collection comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 13 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. Around 15,500 works from the Collection are on long-term loan to over 150 institutions across the country. At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh, aspects of the Collection are displayed in a programme of temporary exhibitions. Short-term loans are frequently made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to public access and to show the Collection in new contexts. For more information, visit royalcollection.org.uk

The gallery is a permanent addition to the palace and will be a dedicated space for visitors who want to find out about the art on display in the State Apartments at Hampton Court in more depth.  The initial hang is a selection of master works from the Royal Collection, including pieces by Holbein, Van Dyck, Canaletto and Rembrandt.

All images used in this article are and remain copyright of “Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014”

Hampton Court Palace –

For all visiting details go to:http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/VisitUs

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 16:30

Last Admission: 15:30

Last Entry to the maze: 15:45

Plan your journey: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

Please note that all images and copy have been provided by HRP for use on this blog, and remain the copyright of HRP and “Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014” . Thank you.