Top 10 Things I Saw in London

My stay in London was a time to see things. Some of them were well known landmarks, some of them were hidden treasures, some were stumbled upon on they way to something else. Here’s a selection.

  1. Parliament House. We went on a tour, seeing the Victorian splendour of the House of Commons, the Lords, various assembly chambers and then the magnificence of the 900 year old Westminster Hall.
  2. The Banqueting House. Hidden among the big buildings of Whitehall is the tiny jewel of the Banqueting House, all that remains of a palace that was on the site. It’s a Palladian masterpiece by Inigo Jones with stunning ceiling paintings by Rubens. When I left I had a stiff neck from gazing upward and a sore jaw from it dropping open in amazement.
  3. Palm Court at the Ritz. For afternoon tea, of course! 1920s swank, showtunes from a live pianist, a dozen teas to choose from and I now know what all the fuss is about cucumber sandwiches.
  4. The Kew Bridge Steam Museum, where I saw the biggest reciprocating steam engine I’ve ever seen- and believe me, I’ve seen a few.
  5. Apsley House. The Duke of  Wellington’s London home. We were lucky enough to be there on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, so we had fascinating talks from uniformed dragoons and footsoldiers, playing their parts well.
  6. Hampton Court. Henry VIII’s river palace. Great brickwork, superb gardens.
  7. St Paul’s Cathedral. As a Chris. Wren fan, it was wonderful to explore his masterwork. Awe-inspiring. The man was a genius, and a hard-working one at that.
  8. St Stephen’s, Walbrook. Another Wren gem, this one has the most intact interior of any surviving Wren church. Almost austere, it’s an astonishing creation.
  9. Old Spitalfields Market. The best of the many markets we visited, this is packed full of innovative, individual designers their wares. A welcome relief from chain stores.
  10. The British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum. Okay, I cheated rolling these together. Each of these had major, crowd-pleasing exhibits (the dinosaurs! the Elgin marbles!) but I loved getting away into some of the more dusty reaches, where glass cabinet still ruled, with information cards that were clearly typewritten. Joy.

That was hard. Looking back, I could have had another ten instead. I’m going to have to take my time and work through things like the Bank of England Museum, the Royal Academy, Windsor Castle, Royal Albert Hall … Stay tuned.