Top Ten London: Top 10 Things to Do in Barnet, London

On the most northern edges of Greater London, the Borough of Barnet is not only one of the largest in landmass at roughly 33.5 square miles, but also one of the largest in population with 387,800 residents.  Being further out from the center of the city, though, it hasn’t got as much to attract visitors as Westminster, Chelsea, and the City of London, amongst other parts of London.  However, that doesn’t mean it is devoid of places to visit.  Whether you’re looking for peaceful greenery or a chance to step into history, Barnet has a little bit of everything for everyone.  We’ve identified our ten favorite sites to see below, and you can let us know your own in the comments.

GATE OF HONOR

One of the city’s many monuments to the honored dead, the Gate of Honor at Mill Hill School is a memorial to soldiers of the first and second World Wars.  It was built in 1920 and opened in 1924, with WWII soldiers’ names added to it later on.  The monument is Grade II listed.

GOLF

Golfers rejoice, for you will find your paradise in Barnet.  The borough has no shortage of golf courses including the Metro Golf Center, North London Golf Course, North Middlesex Golf Club, the Shire, and more.  For those who maybe want a bit more fun, there is also Dinosaur Safari Adventure Golf.  Honestly, there are more courses here than I have seen in any other part of the city.

CLOWN TOWN

If you need a place to wear out your kids, Clown Town is it.  The name might give you the impression of a circus, but the only clowns here are the ones painted on the walls.  With ball pits, jungle gyms, and tons of play areas, Clown Town will help get some of that energy out to help you get through your trip and give your kids something fun to do amidst the museums and monuments of the city.

HAMPSTEAD HEATH EXTENSION

As the name might suggest, this is a part of Hampstead Heath that extends up into Barnet.  Unlike the rest of Hampstead Heath, the extension did not originate in the heath itself but in farmland that was gifted by Henrietta Barnett.  The traces of its farming past can be seen in the boundaries of the extension as evidenced by the farming boundaries, hedgerows, and trees that are still found in this part of the park.

GLEBELANDS LOCAL NATURE RESERVE

Glebelands Local Nature Reserve is a Grade I Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation.  It was formed out of the old Finchley Common and is filled with plants of different varieties, including a number of rare flowers that bloom there, including the lesser water plantain, for which GLNR is the only known site in the city.

ARTSDEPOT

Perhaps the premiere performing arts venue in Barnett, artsdepot comprises two theaters as well as dance and drama studios, a gallery space, and a café.  The venue has been open since 2004 and puts on a number of productions including traditional plays, contemporary dance reviews, stand-up comedy, and more.  Checking the performance calendar will surely find a show you’ll want to see.

BELMONT CHILDREN’S FARM

There are plenty of farms throughout Greater London that exist primarily to teach, and Belmont Children’s Farm is no different.  Well, maybe it is since the farm contains a variety of exotic animals that you won’t find at other London farms.  Besides the normal cows, sheep, and typical farm animals, Belmont also hosts owls, rodents, and other animals that are important to farm life.

BARNET MUSEUM

Local museums are a great place to learn about the area, and the Barnet museum is no exception.  Found in a Georgian house on Wood Street in Chipping Barnet, the museum has exhibits dedicated to the borough’s history.  Some permanent exhibits include the important Battle of Barnet, fairs, local businesses, and important discoveries.  For those wanting to trace roots to the area or discover more about Barnet, it is going to be the best place for research.

WELSH HARP NATURE RESERVE

The Welsh Harp Nature Reserve and reservoir straddles both the boroughs of Barnet and Brent.  Besides the lush flora throughout the reserve, the primary attractions include the number of birds, fowl, and animals that live within the area.  It can also be a very popular place for water sport or a bike ride, though walking through the reserve will be the option to see everything at nature’s own pace.

RAF MUSEUM

The greatest attraction in Barnett, though, is the RAF Museum.  Dedicated to the history of the Royal Air Force since its formation in 1918, the museum not only includes exhibits for this illustrious armed force but a number of flying craft that the RAF has used over the decades, including the famous Spitfire and Hurricane planes.  Any aircraft of military enthusiast will want to make this museum a must-visit location in London.

Top Ten London: Top 10 Things to Do in Barnet, London – Londontopia – The Website for People Who Love London

#london, #uk

New Afternoon Teas To Try In London This Month: May 2019

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,
Summer Garden Afternoon Tea at the Egerton House Hotel

London’s awash with afternoon teas, from the traditional to the quirky to the vegan. And new ones are always being added to the selection too — take a look at the menus making their debut in London this month, including special Chelsea Flower Show afternoon teas. Some of them are only around for a short time, so book quickly if they take your fancy.

St James’s Afternoon Tea at The Stafford

We’re kicking things off with a playful offering this month — the St James’s Afternoon Tea takes inspiration from the area of St James’s, with nods to the luxury shops and boutiques that surround the hotel.

Lock & Co. hatmakers, tailor Henry Poole & Co, and James J. Fox cigar shop are all represented in the all-important top tier via an edible bowler hat, tuxedo and cigar respectively. The cheddar and chive scones use cheese from local cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield too.

St James’s Afternoon Tea at The Stafford. £45, or £58 with a glass of champagne.

Available: Daily, 12pm-7pm.

Gin Afternoon Tea at Conrad London St James

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

Why nobody has come up with the heavenly crossover of gin and afternoon tea before is beyond us, but those wizards at Emmeline’s Lounge have finally done it.

The Gin Afternoon Tea was created in partnership with the City of London Distillery, and offers gin infused treats, washed down with cocktails.

For example, notes of juniper berries, fresh orange and lemon and coriander seeds in the Square Mile Gin have been paired with a charred lemon and pink grapefruit tart with rosemary meringue. The Six Bells Gin is served alongside the elderflower jelly honey cake and pear mousse delice. Freshly baked scones, a selection of sandwiches and teas from Lalani & Co also make an appearance. But really, we’re here for the gin.

Gin Afternoon Tea at Emmeline’s Lounge, Conrad London St James. £45 per person with a glass of champagne or three cocktail tasters, or £100 for two with a bottle of champagne.

Available: Daily, 1.30pm-6pm

Summer Garden Afternoon Tea at The Egerton House Hotel

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

The entirety of the Egerton House Hotel has been given something of a floral makeover in advance of the Chelsea Flower Show — and that includes the food.

The traditional English afternoon tea has been replaced with a summer garden version, including rosewater chocolate brownie, summer fruit vanilla tart, marigold macaroons, lavender posset with poppy seed biscuit, blueberry tower and a spinach, blackcurrant and edible flowers cupcake.

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free afternoon tea options are available, and botanical cocktails are on the bar menu throughout the summer too.

Summer Garden Afternoon Tea at The Egerton House Hotel. £48 per person/£64.50 per person with champagne.

Available: until September 2019

English Country Garden Afternoon Tea at 108 Pantry

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

108 Pantry launches an English Country Garden Afternoon Tea — its first afternoon tea that’s available in a fully vegan option, with floral flavours and seasonal ingredients leading the menu. Savouries include smashed avocado, roasted piquillo peppers and rocket, or barbecue baked sweet potato, coriander, lime and cashew mayo on onion bread.

Lemon drizzle cake, cashew & blueberry ‘cheesecake’ and salted caramel slice with toffee popcorn are among the sweet options, but the highlight, at least for originality, is a lollipop encasing an edible flower.

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

English Country Garden Afternoon Tea at 108 Pantry. £32 per person/£42 with a glass of sparkling wine.

Available: Monday-Friday, 2pm-6pm. Saturday-Sunday 12pm-6pm.

Floral-Inspired Afternoon Tea at 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

Located so close to the event, it’s no surprise that 100 Queen’s Gate is getting in on the Chelsea Flower Show action, by temporarily transforming its traditional afternoon tea into a floral offering.

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

The meal is hosted inside Botanica, the hotel’s new plant-filled tea room, and consists of pickled baby carrot, baby beetroot and courgette flowers, along with botanical-inspired pasties, and cakes served on a bed of edible chocolate soil. Savouries include gin and tonic smoked salmon and cream cheese, on flower-shaped dark rye bread.

Chelsea Flower Show afternoon tea at 100 Queen’s Gate. £35 per person.

Available: 13 May-30 June 2019.

Traditional afternoon tea at The Green Room at The Curtain Hotel, Shoreditch

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

With all these themed, limited edition afternoon teas, it’s refreshing to see someone sticking with good old-fashioned tradition.

The newly-launched afternoon tea at The Green Room — located within the Curtain Hotel — promises traditional afternoon tea with all of the trimmings, including plain & fruit scones with jam and clotted cream, a selection of fine tea cakes, smoked salmon bagel, gin & tonic cucumber sandwich and devilled eggs.

Even better, the venue has partnered with local social enterprise Hackney Herbal to curate a bespoke blend of teas and infusions to accompany all that nosh.

Afternoon tea at The Green Room. £30 per person/£40 with champagne.

Available: 1pm-4pm, Friday-Sunday

Crosstown Doughnut afternoon tea at Bluebird Chelsea

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

Doughnuts? Did someone say doughnuts? Crosstown Doughnuts teams up with Bluebird Chelsea for a floral afternoon tea, tying in with the Chelsea Flower Show. The three-tier afternoon tea is piled with Crosstown doughnut bites, cakes, scones and sandwiches, including red velvet and rose petal cupcakes and neroli blossom and strawberry macaroons. Centre stage is Crosstown’s bespoke vegan orange blossom dough bite.

Choose from tea, coffee or champagne to wash it down.

Bluebird in Bloom afternoon tea at Bluebird Chelsea. £29.50 per person.

Available: 21-25 May 2019.

Sweet Pink Afternoon Tea at Maitre Choux Chelsea

Usually, afternoon tea is only served at the Soho branch of choux pastry bakery Maitre Choux — but to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show, it’s coming to the Flower Room of the King’s Road branch.

They’ve certainly stuck to a theme, with Spanish raspberry pink éclairs, pink champagne, and a whole wall of pastel pink flowers — definitely one to book if you’re as interested in photographing your food as you are eating it.

Sweet Pink Afternoon Tea at Maitre Choux, Chelsea. £22-£36 per person.

Available: 21-25 May 2019

Quintessentially British Afternoon Tea at Roast

Borough Market restaurant Roast launches an afternoon tea focusing on traditional British ingredients. The menu is subject to change due to its reliance on fresh, seasonal produce, but a sample includes coronation chicken and cucumber, cream cheese & mint sandwiches, scones with strawberry preserve, and Victoria sponge cake. Tuck in inside that gorgeous conservatory-like dining room overlooking the market.

British Afternoon Tea at Roast, Borough Market. £25 per person, or £0 per person with champagne.

Available: Monday-Saturday, 12pm-6pm

Afternoon Tea Academy at Plate, Old Street

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

Don’t be misled by the name — you won’t be making your own meal at the Afternoon Tea Academy. Instead, the team at the upmarket restaurant have worked with tea company P.M. David Silva & Sons to pair each tier of the traditional stand with a tea, and an expert is on hand throughout to talk through the pairings.

The food menu errs on the fancy side of traditional, with roast chicken, beetroot hummus and peppered beef pastrami sandwich fillings, buttermilk scones, and handmade pastries including rhubarb and custard mille-feuille.

Afternoon Tea Academy at Plate. £39-£49 per person.

Available: Selected dates from 11 May.

And finally…

afternoon tea, afternoon tea in london, london afternoon tea, 2019, may 2019, spring 2019, high teas, afternoon tea menus, london afternoon teas 2019, new afternoon teas, themed afternoon teas,

It’s not brand new, but the Filipino Afternoon Tea at Romulo Cafe has only just come to our attention. It launched in March, designed for two people to share, and blends traditional English tea with Filipino twists — think Filipino style light brown, crumb-speckled buns, served with Cornish clotted cream and purple yam jam. The sweet section of the menu includes traditional Filipino dessert made with dulce de leche buttercream, cashews, chewy and sweet meringue, and a mango float.

#london, #londonist, #uk

Things To Do Today In London: Monday 13 May 2019

Siobhan Miller performs live in Clerkenwell

Things to do

LAST CHANCE: It’s the final week of National Portrait Gallery’s Elizabethan Treasures exhibition, which brings together miniature paintings from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. See the works of Nicholas Hilliard and his pupil Isaac Oliver, who created impressively detailed miniature portraits of high society and royalty. National Portrait Gallery, £10, book aheaduntil 19 May

LONDON WINE WEEK: Good news vino lovers — London Wine Week begins today. Register for a free digital pass to take advantage of the special offers running all week at venues all over the capital, including £6 flights of tastings of three wines, and food and wine pairings in certain restaurants. See all venues taking part. Various locations (hub at Flat Iron Square), digital pass is free, book ahead13-19 May

Time’s running out to see the Elizabethan Treasures exhibition

LIFE BEGINS AT 40: Midlife crises are the topic at the Royal Society tonight. Professor Mark Jackson looks at what causes a midlife crisis, and why societal changes have caused them to become more common in recent years, including deepening anxieties about economic decline, political instability. The Royal Society (St James’s), free, just turn up, 6.30pm-7.30pm

THE RED SHOES: 1948 drama film The Red Shoes is screened at Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s the tale of a rising ballerina who is forced to choose between her art and love, knowing the decision will have consequences. Dulwich Picture Gallery, £10/£8, book ahead7pm

LAB RATS: Dan Lyons, author of Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable, discusses how the hypocrisy of the working environment in Silicon Valley has spread out worldwide. It’s increasingly common for even low-grade employees to be expected to view their jobs with a cult-like fervour, despite diminishing prospects of promotion — and Lyons asks what can be done to reverse this change. The Water Rats (King’s Cross), £7/£5, book ahead7pm

LEARN TO ROLLER SKATE: Get your skates on — quite literally — and learn how to roller skate at this beginners’ class for adults. Learn the basics, and combine skating with fitness in the low-impact, high-intensity workshop. Skate hire and protection pads included. Balham (location provided on booking), £13, book ahead7pm-8pm (sponsor)

MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH: Rotimi Akinsete — author of new tome This Book Could Help — wrote it in collaboration with charity Mind, and aims to offer advice on how to achieve balanced mental health and defeat the outdated ideas that can stop men from looking after themselves. Tonight, he speaks about why men should make mental health a priority, and why we should all be talking about mental health more. Foyles Charing Cross Road, make a donation to Mind on the door, book ahead7pm-8pm

BOUQUET MAKING: Ever fancied your chances as a florist? Join professionals from Moyses Stevens for a hand-tied bouquet making workshop, and create a masterpiece of spring blooms to take home. Canapes and drinks from bar No 11 Pimlico Road are included. 11 Pimlico Road, £50, book ahead,7pm-8.30pm

Enjoy drinks while you try bouquet making

CHARITY COMEDY: Josh Widdicombe, Kerry Godliman and John Robins are among the impressive line-up at Cracking Comedy in aid of Women And Children First. Money raised goes to the charity which helps support women, children, mothers and babies in the world’s poorest communities. Leicester Square Theatre, £22, book ahead, 7.30pm

NEON LIFE DRAWING: It’s life drawing, but not as you know it. The models are covered in reactive paints which glow under UV lights, and you’re provided with neon pastels to recreate what you see. The session begins with quick drawing exercises to get you warmed up, before you’re given free rein to be as creative as you like — the less traditional, the better. Queen of Hoxton, £14, book ahead7.30pm-9.30pm

LIVE MUSIC: Traditional Scottish singer Siobhan Miller performs an intimate gig, showing off her soulful voice and self-penned lyrics. She’s won several folk music awards, and performed in venues as diverse as the  National Theatre of Scotland, Broadway in New York, and Cambridge Folk Festival. The Slaughtered Lamb (Clerkenwell), £14, book ahead8.15pm

Tube ponderings with Barry Heck

Our resident tube fancier dishes out daily thoughts on the London Underground.

The first London Underground line opened in January 1863, with the section from Paddington to Farringdon. That much is well known. But do you know where spade first hit dirt in the construction of that first line? It seems to be outside Euston station, according to this newspaper article from January 1860. Seymour Street is modern Eversholt Street, so I think the first dig took place as shown on the map below.

Follow Barry Heck on Twitter @HeckTube.

Good cause of the day

Comedians Pierre Novellie, Harriet Kemsley, Bobby Mair and Kate Barron come together for a fundraising night of comedy in Hackney tonight, in aid of mental health charity Mind. Find out more and book tickets.

#london, #londonist, #uk

London Protests – Extinction Rebellion

I take a lot of photos of #London. As well as photos for the blog, I also take photos of buildings, street scenes, the river, views from the top of buildings, protests and demonstrations, and indeed as many events as I can fit in with work and other commitments. Probably far too many photos, however I have realised a number of things whilst working through my father’s photos.

I wish he had taken far more, there are so many other places that I would love to have seen how they looked after the war and in the following decades. The constraints of photographic film limited the number of photos that it was affordable to take.

It is also the ordinary scene that I find interesting. Not the carefully crafted photo, but photos which show normal, day to day events, street scenes, buildings etc.

Last Sunday’s post was an example. I started photographing London in the late 1970s and the photos of the South Bank in 1980 were just ordinary photos of an ordinary London day – however for me, they tell part of the story of how London continues to develop and change. Both physically, but also in the way London is used by people. I also wish I had taken more photos, but until the arrival of digital photography I was also limited by the cost of film and developing (and time).

On the same day as my walk along the South Bank, the Extinction Rebellion protests were underway, and as usual, I photographed the event, as I have with many other different protests and demonstrations over the years.

Whenever I photograph London, I try to take an impartial view. Whether a protest, or new buildings – it is the ongoing life and development of London that I find fascinating.

My father’s first photos of protests were taken in 1953, when the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsman marched through Oxford Circus:

London Protests

London is obviously a magnet for protests and demonstrations. The capital of the country, seat of government, assured media visibility for anything that happens in London, these and many other factors play a role in why many of these take place in London.

I have photographed many over the years, and to start, here is a view of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, photographed on Saturday 20th April 2019.

Waterloo Bridge

Waterloo Bridge was blocked and had been closed off to traffic for a number of days:

London Protests

London Protests

The camps of people across the bridge included large numbers of plants.

London Protests

Catering:

London Protests

Lorry used as a performance stage:

London Protests

On top of the lorry:

London Protests

London Protests

Campaigning:

London Protests

Slogans on the side of the bridge:

London Protests

Meetings:

London Protests

London Protests

London Protests

On the Saturday the protest was lightly policed, this would soon change when the bridge was cleared.

London Protests

London Protests

London Protests

Compelling slogans:

London Protests

London Protests

Parliament Square

Up until recently the area around the Houses of Parliament were the scenes of pro and anti Brexit demonstrations with the world’s media occupying College Green. With the delay to October the media and demonstrators have left – almost certainly to return at some point later this year. For now, Parliament Square was also closed to traffic, with the Extinction Rebellion protesters occupying many parts of the square. It is perhaps not a surprise how much better the streets of London are without traffic.

London Protests

David Attenborough was a feature of the Parliament Square protests:

London Protests

As with Waterloo Bridge, the roads around Parliament Square were covered in chalked slogans and campaigning:

London Protests

London Protests

London Protests

Very relaxed scenes across the square:

London Protests

The People’s Podium:

London Protests

London Protests

In Broad Sanctuary, alongside Westminster Abbey:

London Protests

London Protests

Between Parliament Street and Square:

London Protests

There were other protests at Marble Arch and Oxford Circus – I ran out of time to get to these as I was also exploring some locations in the City for a future blog post.

Whether or not you agree with the method, the message was important, and as ever, London takes on the role of providing a stage for these events.

London Marathon exchanges plastic bottles for edible seaweed pouches

At the #London Marathon on Sunday, runners weren’t just handed plastic water bottles to quench their thirst — they also had the chance to try a new, edible pouch made from seaweed extracts filled with a sports drink.

Organizers wanted to do something about the amount of plastic that is left at the end of the marathon, and decided to try the Ooho capsules, created by the London-based startup Skipping Rocks Lab. Their edible capsules are made from the “building blocks of seaweed,” co-founder Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez told CNN. “We remove all the green stuff and the smelly stuff.” The resulting pouch is tasteless, and can hold a variety of liquids.

The casing is edible, but also biodegradable; while it takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose, it only take six weeks for the Ooho pods. More than 41,000 people ran in the London Marathon, and organizers said they were able to reduce the number of plastic bottles from 920,000 last year to 704,000 this year. The Ooho capsules are cheaper to produce than plastic bottles, and Garcia Gonzalez said he hopes the marathon is proof that the seaweed pouches “can be used at scale in the future.”

Top Ten London: Top 10 London Buildings of Sir Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren is quite possibly the most famous name in #British architecture.  The structures across the United Kingdom that he designed are amongst the country’s most lauded and beautiful places.  Wren lived in interesting times, seeing the #English Civil War, the Restoration, and the Great Fire of #London.  The last of these events really elevated his career to legendary status, as the fire burned away 436 acres of the City of London, including 13,200 homes and 87 churches such as Old St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Wren was the face of London’s rebuilding after the fire, and many of his structures in the city remain standing.  We’ve identified our ten favorite Christopher Wren-designed buildings below, and you can let us know your favorites in the comments.

TEMPLE BAR

The main ceremonial entrance to the City of London on the Westminster side, the Temple Bar gate was one of many structures damaged by the Great Fire and subsequently rebuilt by Wren.  King Charles II commissioned the new gate from Wren and was built between 1669 and 1672.  In 2003 it was taken down and painstakingly reconstructed in Paternoster Square.

ST. VEDAST FOSTER LANE

Many of the churches destroyed by the Great Fire were rebuilt by Christopher Wren, and though St. Vedast was not totally destroyed, it did require substantial reconstruction between 1695 and 1701.  The spire is emblematic of Wren’s work and similar to many others he designed while rebuilding the City of London’s churches, combining neoclassical and gothic elements.  The church had to be rebuilt again following the London Blitz but retained many of Wren’s changes.

MARLBOROUGH HOUSE

Once home to the Duke of Marlborough and now the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations, Marlborough House was constructed by Wren and his son in 1711.  Their design was quite outstanding, using primarily brick with rusticated cornerstones that make for a striking contrast.  Much of the design was done by the younger Wren, but both got the sack when the Duchess was displeased with their progress and oversaw the rest of the construction herself.

MONUMENT TO THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON

Perhaps the simplest structure designed by Christopher Wren, it’s also one of his more famous works in the city.  The design was a simple Doric column with an observation platform with flutes and topped with a copper ball that had flames coming out.  The monument was a true collaboration between Wren and fellow architect Robert Hooke.  The monument’s height puts it as many feet tall as the distance it is from Thomas Farriner’s bakery where the fire began.

ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA

A retirement and nursing home for veterans of the British Army, the Royal Hospital Chelsea was founded by King Charles II, who commissioned Wren to design the building.  Wren’s design was for enough buildings to cover housing and offices and had to expand his plans to include two quadrangles that are now known as Light House Court and College Court.  He’s also responsible for the design of the Great Hall, which is a magnificent part of the hospital.

KENSINGTON PALACE

Kensington Palace was originally built in 1605 and became known as Nottingham House in 1619 after it was purchased by the First Earl of Nottingham.  When it came into the possession of King William III and Queen Mary II, they tapped Christopher Wren to expand the house so that it would be fit to become their new Kensington Palace.  Wren added three-story pavilions to the corners to provide more accommodation for the monarchs’ guests.  He also designed the Orangery which served as the palace greenhouse.

ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH

 

 

King Charles II’s interest in astronomy led him to commission the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in 1675.  As Surveyor of the King’s Works, Christopher Wren chose the site for the observatory as well as designed the building.  Working again alongside Robert Hookie, the two developed the first building purpose-built for scientific discovery in the United Kingdom.  The observatory was partly constructed out of the remains of Duke Humphrey’s Tower and remains a lovely and scientifically important place.

HAMPTON COURT PALACE

A significant portion of Hampton Court Palace was constructed long before Christopher Wren was alive, but he still got the chance to make his mark on it after William and Mary came to power.  As with Kensington, they wanted Wren to modernize parts of the palace, and he ended up demolishing half of the Tudor structures, and he would have done more if money permitted.  Instead of completely rebuilding the demolished portions, he had to content himself with constructing new apartments for the king and queen as well as residences in the south and east parts of the palace.

OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE

Having constructed the Royal Hospital Chelsea for veterans of the British Army, Wren also designed the fantastically splendid buildings of the Old Royal Naval College that served originally as the “Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich.”  Working with frequent collaborator Nicholas Hawksmoor, Wren built upon his designs for RHC and combined them with inspiration from the Hotel des Invalides in Paris.  His original plan called for a single dome, but when Queen Mary stated her intention to have her view of the river from Queen’s House unspoiled, Wren created the split, two-domed structure we know today.

ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL

Earning the top spot on this list, St. Paul’s Cathedral is arguably the greatest contribution Christopher Wren made to London.  Wren had already been tapped to revitalize Old St. Paul’s in 1665 before it was destroyed in the fire the following year.  His design went through five stages, with the final design resembling a more Baroque version of St. Peter’s Basilica, including the double-shelled dome that was as tall as the tower of Old St. Paul’s while being visually stunning.  Even with the skyscrapers going up around it in recent decades, St. Paul’s still manages to cut a striking figure in the London skyline and typically the first building anyone associates with Sir Christopher Wren.

Top Ten London: Top 10 London Buildings of Sir Christopher Wren – Londontopia – The Website for People Who Love London

Top Ten London: Top 10 Charming London Alleyways To Pass Through On Your Next Visit to London

In America, we’re used to wide roads, streets, paths, and alleyways.  Oftentimes, an alley is used as the backend of a building, a place to keep the garbage bins, or just a pass through to another street.  However, in London, alleyways take on a life of their own.  They may include homes, shops, pubs, restaurants, and more.  They are also some of the prettiest places in #London.  We’ve identified ten charming London alleys that you should check out the next time you visit.

NEAL’S YARD

One of the most colorful alleyways in London, Neal’s Yard’s buildings, shutters, and doors, and painted in every color of the rainbow.  It’s also filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes, so you can marvel at all the colors while you sit down for a cup of tea or coffee and a snack.

GOODWIN’S COURT

Goodwin’s Court is a perfect example of London’s alleys that are lined with shops.  So perfect, in fact, that it’s said to be the basis for Diagon Alley in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  Originally built in 1690, the shops and offices feature elegant windows, wood trimmings, and iron and brass fixtures that give Goodwin’s Court a classic look.

CRAVEN PASSAGE

CRAVEN PASSAGE, CHARING CROSS

Named for William Craven, Craven Passage is mostly a tunnel that goes under Embankment Station, but in the open-air portions, you can find the Ship and Shovel, a pub that’s been around since the 16th Century.  Under the tunnel is The Arches Shopping Centre, which includes bars, restaurants, a comedy club, and a theatre.

WINE OFFICE COURT

Tucked away off Fleet Street, Wine Office Court is an alleyway that is home to one of London’s oldest pubs.  Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was founded in 1538 and the current building constructed after the Great Fire of London, opening in 1667.  The Cheese is a grand old traditional pub and the main attraction for Wine Office Court, but there are other monuments here to spy as well.

ELY PLACE

The only gated alley on this list, Ely Place is the last privately-owned street in London.  It’s also home to another of London’s oldest pubs—Ye Olde Mitre.  Mitre, of course, isn’t just a great classic pub for a drink and a traditional British meal, it’s also part of the Campaign for Real Ales even though the pub is owned by Fullers, but CAMRA members get an extra 15% off each pint.

CECIL COURT

A great example of a Victorian alleyway, Cecil Court is lined with shops that were built during the period and is wide enough that the sunlight really lights up the street.  It’s also the location of one of the city’s famous blue plaques, this one dedicated to composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who lived in the home of a barber with his family when he was eight years old on his tour of Europe. It’s also a place where many of London’s secondhand and antiquarian bookshops are located.

ST. MARTIN’S COURT

St. Martin’s Court is one of the more beautiful shopping alleys in London.  It’s a little more modern than the others on this list, but it is decorated with greenery and art that help make it a top shopping destination.  It’s also home to very high-class shops and restaurants like The White Company and Jamie’s Italian from famed chef Jamie Oliver.

ROPE WALK

Running along the train lines in Bermondsey, Rope Walk is best known as the home of the Maltby Street Market. Lining the alleyway are old warehouses that have been turned into shops, wine bars, cafes, and restaurants that will make your trip down this not-so-secret path memorable.  It may not be as pretty as the others, but it has its own certain charm.

ST. CHRISTOPHER’S PLACE

Another of London’s beautiful alley shopping centers, St. Christopher’s Place features a number of high-end shops and eateries.  It’s also almost always decorated for some occasion or home to an event, be it a concert, charity drive, or public art exhibit.  It’s arguably one of the most happening alleyways in all London, so you don’t want to miss it on your visit.

DANSEY PLACE

In the heart of London’s Chinatown, Dansey Place brings the charm of the city’s Chinese community to London’s alleys.  While part of Dansey Place resembles what we think of as a traditional alley, the rest of the alley is filled with Chinese art and architecture including pagodas, gateways, and paper lanterns.  It is perhaps one of the best ways to see the Asian influence on the city by observing how different this alley is from its kin.