Tag Archives: what to see in london

The Royal Watermen’s Tudor Pull – 11 May 2014

The Tudor Pull is an annual rowing event by the Royal Watermen between two great HRP Palaces, Hampton Court and H.M Tower of London.

annual events in london tudor pull
Hampton Court Palace

The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’ rowed by the Royal Watermen is escorted by Thames Waterman’s Cutters, rigged with ceremonial canopies and flags, from Hampton Court to the Tower of London in order to deliver a ‘Stela’ to the Governor of the Tower.

The ‘Stela’ is a piece of ancient water pipe made from a hollowed tree trunk which stands on a base of timber from the old Richmond Lock and bears the coat of arms of the Watermen & Lightermen’s Company. The cutters are rowed by members of the Livery Companies of the City of London and, in keeping with tradition, each must carry a passenger.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Trinity Tide gets ready to join the flotilla – Tudor Pull

The event is organised by the Thames Traditional Rowing Association who support and promote the sport of fixed seat rowing and sculling on the River Thames in Waterman’s cutters.

Each year Her Majesty’s Royal Watermen complete a marathon row from Hampton Court Palace to the Tower of London, a distance of some 25 miles.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Gloriana pulls out into the middle of the River Thames at the start of the Tudor Pull

They do this to support the apprentices system of the trade of Thames Watermen and Lightermen and to   draw attention to London’s great underused asset ~ The River Thames. They also commemorate events of 1256 when Queen Eleanor’s royal barge sank under the old London Bridge with the loss of one of her courtiers, the Lady of the Bedchamber.

The Queen has a retinue of 22 appointed Watermen with her Royal Bargemaster to oversee and organise their duties~ these consist of accompanying Her Majesty when travelling on the river, at State visits and at the State Opening of Parliament.

Men are chosen for this honour for the dedication to their trade and for their prowess as oarsmen. Several of the men in the Queen’s retinue have competed in the Olympics and many in major events within the sport of rowing.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Trinity Tide – watermen’s cutter alongside the Gloriana passing Battersea Park

After the ceremony of accepting the ‘Stela’ at Hampton Court Palace HM Bargemaster carries the emblem, made from a slice of Medieval elm water-pipe, placing it aboard the Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’.

During the Tudor Pull the barge is accompanied by traditional oar powered Watermen’s Cutters belonging to the Livery Companies of the City of London dressed in their full company regalia, the Royal Shallop ‘The Jubilant’, the Watermen’s Shallop ‘LadyMayoress’ and by other craft from organisation and rowing clubs who preserve the sport of fixed seat rowing on the River Thames ~ this wonderful Royal high-way of the City of London.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Gloriana and flotilla including Liverymen’s cutters reach the City of Westminster

Following a short stop at Richmond the crews row down to the pool of London arriving at HM The Tower of London where the pageant disembark and the ‘Stela’, escorted by Yeoman Warder of the Tower, is processed to be presented to the Governor of H.M. Towerof London.

tudor pull annual events in london
The Gloriana arrives at the Tower of London

At a short ceremony he accepts the ‘Stela’ under his protection until it is returned to Hampton Court Palace for the following years procession.

The Tudor Pull is organised under the governance of the ‘Thames Traditional Rowing Association’.

More information at: http://www.traditionalrowing.com and http://www.jubilant.org.uk

and http://www.watermenshall.org/

and http://www.thamesalive.org.uk

For more information about annual and other events in London:

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

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I have been very lucky to participate as an observer in the Tudor Pull.  The delightful craft I had the good fortune to travel on was the little ship ‘Verity’.

Many thanks to Malcolm K of Thames Alive and Peter who owns the ‘Verity’.


one photo tour of London – Christopher Wren lived here

Christopher Wren lived here

Sir Christopher Wren – FRS (20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723) is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. He used to be accorded responsibility for rebuilding 51 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710. The principal creative responsibility for a number of the churches is now more commonly attributed to others in his office, especially Nicholas Hawksmoor. Other notable buildings by Wren include the Royal Naval College in Greenwich and the south front of Hampton Court Palace.

Educated in Latin and Aristotelian physics at the University of Oxford, Wren was a notable astronomer, geometer, and mathematician-physicist, as well as an architect. He was a founder of the Royal Society (president 1680–82), and his scientific work was highly regarded by Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.

This house is to be found right next to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Bankside


Lord Mayor’s Show 2011

the lord mayors coach
The Lord Mayor's Carriage

785 years of history and this year The Lord Mayor’s Show was just as enjoyable as last year!  Not sure what folks 785 years ago thought of the show, but for sure….I can say that I loved it this year (as I did last year)!

I did not arrive as early as I had in 2010 and of course then I found myself a spot at St Paul’s Cathedral….something we could not do this year due to the ongoing unsightly ‘tent city’ that currently houses the protesters (or hanger-ons).  Due to this ongoing ‘protest’ the route had to be changed and the usual stop had to be left out.  This year I found a spot on the embankment near Temple station and my view from the pavement was interesting to say the least.

Like no other procession in the world; the Lord Mayor’s Show is nearly 800 years old. There has been a Lord Mayor of London ever since 1189, and probably the most well-known of whom was Dick Wittington.  In 1215, by charter of King John, it became one of the earliest elected offices in Britain.
Thousands of people take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show, one of London’s most spectacular annual displays including servicemen and women, vehicles, Livery Companies, charities, colourful floats, marching bands, and carriages including the glorious State Coach and of course the giant figures of the City’s guardians Gog and Magog; 3 miles of procession along 1.7 miles of city road.

gog and magog city of london guildhall
Gog one of the guardians of the City of London


The head of the procession leaves from Mansion House and follows the traditional route through the streets of the City to the Royal Courts of Justice where the Lord Mayor takes his oath of allegiance to the Sovereign before the Lord Chief Justice and the Judges of the Queen’s Bench Division.


Along the way, the State Coach and other officials usually pause at St Pauls for the Lord Mayor to receive a blessing, but this year thanks to the protesters, they were unable to do that. He then takes the oath of loyalty at the Royal Courts, after which the whole procession reforms near Victoria Embankment for the return journey to Mansion House, where the newly sworn-in Lord Mayor is greeted by the City Aldermen and Livery Company Masters.

The Lord Mayor has been making the journey every year for 785 years, surviving plague and fire and countless wars and insurrections. The modern Lord Mayor’s procession is a direct descendant of that first journey to Westminster and the pageantry of Pepys and Canaletto is recognisable today.


At the end of the Show and the beginning of a new mayoral year, London’s newly confirmed Lord Mayor starts a fantastic firework display on the river Thames at 5 o’clock.  The display, which can be seen for miles, includes more than half a tonne of giant fireworks, some of which shoot over 600ft into the sky before exploding, and takes a team of eight pyrotechnicians two days to set it all up.

fireworks at the lord mayors show
a fabulous display of fireworks at the Lord Mayors show

On the day of the Show many of the road in the City of London are closed and becomes a cyclists dream :)  Many people could be seen cycling around on the Barclays bikes.  Most sensible….I should have hired one myself. :)  A great place to see the tail end of the show is near the Museum of London as the parade and mounted soldiers make their way back after the show.

mounted guards at the lord mayors show
getting up close and personal with horses and mounted guards

A major clean-up takes place after the show and a group of people get stuck in to clear the streets of garbage, horse dung and sand by the end of day. For more information about The Lord Mayors Show for 2012, click here

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cleaning the streets of London after the Lord Mayors Show 2011

Sicilian Avenue, Bloomsbury

I recently took a group of people on a tour of Bloomsbury and one of the places we walked through was Sicilian Avenue.

sicilian avenue bloomsbury
Sicilian Avenue, Bloomsbury

Sicilian Avenue is a delightful splash of Italy tucked away on the apex of Southampton Row and Bloomsbury Way.  Designed by R.J. Worley and completed in 1910 as a pedestrianised shopping street with accommodation above the outlets, it boasts beautiful architecture with ornate carved stone facades and original convex shop fronts trimmed with dark wood.

sicilian avenue bloomsbury
Sicilian Avenue Bloomsbury, a delightful London secret

The area is still used a such to this day, and the large stone inscriptions at each end of the street give it a truly old-world Italian feel. The street contains variety of shops and restaurants, including second hand bookshops and spaghetti restaurants. The edges of the walkway are lined with flowers and bushes, and in the summer it is one of the most pleasant areas in Central London.

Just over the way from Bloomsbury Square it is a charming area to stroll through and perhaps stop off for a meal or browse along the shopfronts.  Be sure to look up at the lovely facades.  There was some construction work going on when I was there but hopefully that will soon be completed.

sicilian avenue bloomsbury

nearest tube station Holborn on the Central Line.    Alternatively if you have just visited the British Museum (probably no more than a 5 minute walk away), take a stroll through the lovely leafy streets (in spring & summer) and enjoy this delightful secret of London. p.s. you can visit in autumn and winter too! :)

one photo tour of London – The National Gallery

the national gallery london trafalgar square 3 days in london
The National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, London

Founded in 1824, The National Gallery, an art gallery on Trafalgar Square, London, houses the national collection of over 2,300 Western European paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 19th Century.
The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

It’s collection, on show 361 days a year, belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection (though not some special exhibitions) is free of charge.
The present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins from 1832–8. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains essentially unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history