What do I miss in London?

What do I miss in London? The glitter of gold - as a former Londoner I love the city and am bereaved since March of regular visits where I usually capture some sparkle. The Durban Court ceiling in the Foreign Office captures the splendour of India. The Victoria memorial and Coronation coach reflect regal glory. St Ermin’s Hotel round the corner from St James underground station glitters outside as well as inside over Christmas. It’s great living in Haywards Heath being able to take or leave London - but roll on the day it’s safe for recreational visits! What do I miss in London? The cast courts in the Victoria & Albert Museum. There I can pretend I’m in Florence, Rome, Santiago de Compostela or wherever with exact plaster casts of their splendid artefacts manufactured in days when European travel was for the elite. Today such travel is forbidden for recreation and even the Knightsbridge Museum is inaccessible to visitors. When lockdown fully eases I’m looking forward to catching m…

Tour 12 Knightsbridge

Take the C1 bus or tube from Victoria Station to Knightsbridge which has some of the highest property prices in the world and is home to some of the world's richest people. It’s historic Churches draw rich and poor alike to well supported musical traditions. The national museums which have free access are a great draw to people.  This tour starts outside Harrods store and proceeds to the Brompton Oratory, Holy Trinity, Brompton and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens. It returns to Harrods via the statue of Shackleton, the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum.
Brompton Oratory

The neo-classical London Oratory has association with Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890) whose statue stands facing the street. Cardinal Newman founded the English society of secular clergy or Congregation of the Oratory after the model of St Philip Neri. With its vibrant traditionalism and splendid choir Brompton Oratory is known internationally as custodi…

Tour 11 Kensington Gardens

Take a 52 bus from Victoria station to Kensington Palace at the east of Kensington Gardens which lie beyond Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James's Park, four vast parks bringing oxygen to both body and spirit as central London’s fine green ‘lung’. Tour 11 starts from the Palace Gates, heads to the statue of Queen Victoria, the Sunken Gardens behind and across Kensington Gardens to the Italian Water Gardens. From there it heads south via the statue of Peter Pan and Physical Energy statue to the Albert Memorial and Albert Hall returning via the Round Pond to the 52 Palace bus stop.

Queen Victoria

It was Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise who designed the white marble statue of her mother in coronation robes adjacent to the Palace where she was born in 1819 and from where she acceded to the throne in 1837 at the age of 18. Victoria had sad memories of the Palace with the early death of her father and the strict regime imposed on her there by Sir John Conroy, her mother's domi…

Tour 10 Hyde Park

Take the bus, underground or walk from Victoria Station to Marble Arch which once itself travelled a similar route, brick by brick, from its original site at Buckingham Palace when the latter was expanded in 1851. It stands incongruously on a traffic island north of Hyde Park the largest of four Royal Parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Green Park to St James’s Park. Our tenth tour takes in Speaker’s Corner and Reformers’ Tree, both linked to Britain’s tradition of free speech, descends to the Serpentine lake turning right then left by the Serpentine Sackler Gallery to cross the bridge, then left to view Princess Diana Memorial Fountain continuing alongside Rotten Row to The Dell.

Speaker’s Corner

‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ is a saying attributed to Voltaire. Across the road from Marble Arch there’s a public space that gets crowded on Sundays where you can hear l…

Tour 9 St James’s Palace

This ninth tour of free London sights from Victoria station starts from Hyde Park Corner accessed by bus or on foot up Buckingham Palace Road, Grosvenor Gardens and Grosvenor Place skirting the Palace walls on your right.  We start near the horseback statue of  the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) whose defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 makes him one Britain's greatest military heroes. The tour continues through Wellington Arch to the Bomber Command Memorial. From there we cross Green Park to St James’s Palace returning across the Park via the Canada memorial and Commonwealth memorial gates to Hyde Park Corner and Victoria. 

Wellington Arch

UIKEWellington Arch on the traffic island lies opposite the Duke of Wellington’s former abode at Apsley House known as No 1 London because the Arch and a previous turnpike gate were seen as the entrance to central London from the west.  Both Wellington and Marble Arch were planned in 1825 by King George IV to commemorate Britain&…