Sunday, 25 September 2011

London - continued

Monday was taken up catching up with my cousin in Dagenham. Boy was it a long way out of London itself, by the time we left and headed back home it was early evening.
Regents Park
The next day we walked through Regents Park which still had beautiful roses in bloom and beds of colourful flowers even though it is autumn there. The park was started in 1812 and was designed by John Nash. There is a lake which attracts many water birds which also have breeding areas there .Queen Mary’s Garden was still a wonderful sight in autumn though must be spectacular in summer.
We then came to Regents canal, a tow path and followed that along to Little Venice, so called because a number of canal boats a moored along the banks. Many people actually live on the boats as they have a number plants, outdoor furniture and barbecues beside their craft on the land.

After lunch we decided to go out to Hampton Court. This was Cardinal Wolsey’s palace which was built in 1514 which was intended as his riverside home. He later offered it to King HenryVIII.
It is a magnificent piece of Tudor architecture, which includes a Renaissance picture gallery and the Royal Chapel with its Tudor pendant vaulted ceiling which is stunning.
Hampton Court
On the ground floor there is a huge kitchen and food preparation area. The main food seemed to be meat and more meat, about1200 oxen and 8000 sheep as well as slightly smaller quantities of pigs, poultry and deer were consumed per year. You certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be a vegetarian in Tudor times.  
Our last day was spent going out to Hampstead Heath. Actually the town of Hampstead itself was quite delightful and we enjoyed wandering around it for a while. We then walked to Kenwood House taking in a brief walk through the heath, as it is huge and you would need a whole day just to wander many of the paths.
Kenwood House
Kenwood House is a beautiful old house which is filled with many paintings, including those of Vermeer, Turner, Rembrandt and Reynolds. I think some of these small galleries are often nicer as there is a wide variety of works without the huge numbers as in the large galleries, which can tend to be overwhelming.

Friday, 23 September 2011


Five days in London went very quickly. We were able to stay with at a friend’s flat which overlooked Primrose Hill Park which is next to Regents Park. We would sit in the lounge having our breakfast watching the passing parade of people walking their dogs, joggers using the hill for a good workout as well as those off to work.
We were lucky with the weather as it remained fine and mild while we were there. On our first day we went to Portobello Road which is famous for its antique wares and market. We enjoyed fossicking around but purchased nothing.
Royal Geographical Society
As it was Open House weekend many buildings became open to the public. We decided to go to the Royal Geographic Society. We had a very interesting talk and some of the artifacts which they have were on display. These included Stanley and Livingstone’s hats, a hand drawn map by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), a watch of Mallory who made one of the first attempts on Everest and died in the process. His body was only discovered recently. There were some water colour sketches by Samuel Baker as well as his rifle, shopping lists for expeditions. These people were once again brought to life.
The building with its dark wood panelled walls, meeting room and library reflects the gentleman’s club that it was of old. It now houses a great collection of maps, artifacts, documents and books. It is a private organization and gets no government support. Anyone for a small fee can access to these for research.
The following day saw us go to two more buildings, the first being the Bank of England. This is a very popular building to visit as there was a long line had developed early in the morning. The building is Huge and takes up a whole block. The Bank of England as such from 1694, in 1734 it moved to Threadneedle Street and was the first purpose built bank in Britain.
The rooms are magnificent the corridors have beautiful mosaic floors; the cantilever staircase is reputed to be the longest of its type in Europe. There is also a Garden Court which was originally the churchyard of St. Christopher-le-Stocks.
Apothecaries Guild Hall
No expense was spared initially and this can be seen in the various rooms that have kept their original decorations and furnishings.
The Grocers and Apothecaries Guild is the oldest guild in London the origins being traced back to the Guild of Pepperers in 1180. Eventually the London Apothecaries agitated to break away from the Grocers because of their specialist skills and eventually succeeded in 1617.
The society was involved in regulating the medical profession and examinations. The building is constructed around a courtyard and houses many treasures which it have been given to the Society over the years.
Our first two days were thoroughly enjoyable and interesting.