Architecture of London, My London
If you visit London, you'll find it's full of surprising nooks and crannies - I love it
I am going to show you some lovely photographs of places to see in London - some you will recognize, and others might encourage you to visit London after you have seen what I have to show you. There is also a Poll about London and a poem, "Subway", written by me.
I came to live in Central London for a year when I was 17, staying with relations in Great Portland Street. Having previously lived in Central Africa, it was as different as chalk and cheese - London is bustling with life and shops and people, lots of green parks and squares, interesting architecture and museums, and you'll notice that London is never completely dark.
There are so many things to do in London and places to see. I thought it was wonderful.
My opinion hasn't changed, I still think London is the best place in the world, but I prefer to live in the leafy London Suburbs now. I am still within easy travelling distance to the centre, but can just as easily reach the surrounding countryside.
The Royal Court of Justice, Strand - Also known as The High Court
You may well recognise the Royal Courts of Justice - a grand Gothic style building which was actually built in Victorian times
The front of the building is often shown on television news, when lawyers and litigants are interviewed during and after a big court case. The 7/7 Bomb Enquiry is one of the well-known cases, and many famous injunction proceedings and divorces have taken place there, including Paul McCartney's divorce. The Appeal of Julian Assange (the Wikileaks founder) was heard there.
The Great Hall, Royal Courts of Justice
If you go through the front door, you will find yourself, after being searched and possibly frisked by Security, in the Great Hall.
And what a hall!
Tiled floor, Gothic arches, mysterious stone stairways winding up into I know-not-where, bewigged and black-cloaked barristers, anxious litigants, court staff, an air of weightiness.
Walk straight ahead until you get to the other end, and there, beyond dark oak panelled barriers, you will find the back door. And then, down a few steps and you will find yourself in Carey Street.
Images: The Royal Courts of Justice - by Diana Grant
Carey Street Behind Royal Courts of Justice
Charles Dickens knew this area well, and wrote about it in his books
This is typical Dickensian London. Charles Dickens studied law before he became a journalist, and would have known the haunts round the Central Law Courts and Lincoln's Inn Fields very well. Portugal Street, with The Old Curiosity Shop, is a stone's throw from Carey Street, and one reason why I love Dickens' book "Bleak House" is because he describes in such detail all the haunts I know so well myself, as a lawyer.
Carey Street has a special meaning for Solicitors - if you say of a solicitor "he's gone to Carey Street", it infers that he has gone to a disciplinary hearing for financial irregularities and has been struck off the Solicitors' Roll (which means he is no longer permitted to practice as a solicitor because he has indulged in conduct unbecoming to the Profession). Solicitors quake in their proverbial boots at the very mention of Carey Street!
Wildy & Son
Also in Carey Street is one of the most famous Law Book Sellers - Wildys. As well as selling new law books, they also stock second hand law books, a boon to law students, when the average new paperback law book, many of which are required reading, cost about £65 ($85). The entrance is through a little archway which leads to Lincoln's Inn.
The British Museum - One of the world's most important museums
Great Russell Street, London WC1
The British Museum houses about 7 million objects and is one of the largest collections of antiquites in the world, with historical and cultural artefacts from every continent - it houses a greater number of Egyptian artefacts than any other country, including articles excavated from Tutenkhamen's tomb, Egyptian mummies, wonderful statues and jewellery, and the Rosetta Stone, an engraved stone tablet which was the key to unravelling the heiroglyphics written in cuneiform.
Double Headed Serpent Mexico 15th-16th Century (British Museum)
I designed this bumper sticker using the photo of the snake above
Here's the Same Snake on a Shopping Bag
Image right: Assyrian sculpture, one of a pair of human-headed winged lions guarding the Gates of Balawat
Image right: - a wooden carved griffin
Image right: - a stone horse
Best of all, like most London museums, admission is free, so you can keep returning to your heart's desire.
You Need This - Streetwise London Map - Buy it before you visit the United Kingdom and get to London. Make sure you know where you're going and how to get there
You can't do without a map in London - it's so easy to get lost
Paddington Bear at Waterloo Station
Me and Paddington Bear
Purely by chance, I had my
Paddington Bear sun hat with me,
so I put it on, and then we looked like twins!
Peter Ackroyd is a brilliant writer - I haven't read this particular book, but have several of his other books, mostly relating to London or history. He knows his stuff and is a brilliant researcher.
Books About London
Plenty to read about here
London has several subways to take people across roads and avoid traffic
Below is my poem about one such underground passageway:
A long dark passage leading nowhere and everywhere
Grey stained cement walls in the half-light
Austere and unforgiving
Black rivulets running from the ceiling cracks
Pervasive smell of urine taints stale air
Openings at intervals where daylight glimmers
On upward slopes to uncertain places
Random writing on the wall
A man could sleep here in his box
Ignored by life and death alike
Just the irregular footsteps passing by
Echoing his heartbeat
© By Diana Grant
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
No list of things to see in London would be complete without mentioning Big Ben, our famous clock over the Houses of Parliament!
Houses of Parliament
Alexandra Palace, North London - Offers fantastic panoramic views over the whole of London
mage right: Fireworks at Alexandra Palace
Image below Roughly the same view - Alexandra Palace on Fire in 1980.
Alexandra Palace is a Grade II listed building, standing on one of the highest points in London. It was built in 1873 and was to be 'The People's Palace' . It was burnt down almost immediately, and quickly rebuilt.
In 1936 it became the first television station used by the BBC, with a tall radio tower which is still used.
An Edwardian suburb in North London
The whole area was purchased and developed between 1896 and 1913 by a builder and developer, James Edmonson, who designed the buildings in the main shopping area, Muswell Hill Broadway, and many of the surrounding streets, giving Muswell Hill a uniquely consistent character and appearance.
Quiet and leafy Muswell Hill is built on one of the highest points in London
Images of Muswell Hill: Diana Grant
Muswell Hill Broadway
Muswell Hill was designated as a Conservation Area in 1974 to protect the area's generally unspoilt character and in 1991 this Area was extended to further local streets
Cornwall Terrace - one of a group of buildings known as "the Nash Terraces" - Designed by the Architect Sir John Nash
One of my favourite London Buildings, Cornwall Terrace is a block of eight double-fronted houses overlooking Regent's Park. The Nash terraces are fine examples of Regency architecture and are a fitting landmark for this part of London, at the top end of Portland Place where it leads on to Regent's Park on the East side. I still marvel at its beauty, even though I have passed it hundreds of times - it never fails to give pleasure.
Sir John Soane Museum at 12-14,Lincoln's Inn Fields - What makes the Sir John Soane of particular interest is that it is the single collection of just one man
See the Sir John Soane Museum on YouTube - This is a wonderful, idiosyncratic museum and I used to visit it when I worked for a barrister, a few houses to the right of this building.
Sir John Soane was a wealthy architect and Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy, who was an extensive collector of all kinds of artefacts, from sculptures to a large collection of Hogarth's paintings, including The Rake's Progress, and many political cartoons of the 18th Century. The museum contains his personal collection, and he rebuilt or converted three adjacent houses between 1792 and 1824 to contain it, creating interesting nooks, mirrors and balconies and, in the picture room, pictures on shutters which open to reveal more pictures underneath, which themselves open to a third layer of paintings, to utilise all available space. On his death, he left the building and the whole collection to the State, with a proviso that nothing in the house could be changed from the way he had designed it.
The two enjoyable YouTube videos below will give you two different perspective of the Sir John Soane Museum.
Take This Poll about London Sights - See How You Measure Up Against Other Pollsters
Just a bit of fun!
Whether you plan to visit London or have already been there, or maybe you even live in London, stop by and vote for which place in London you think looks the most inviting?
If you didn't like the look of any of this page about London, this poll is not for you!
Which London sight mentioned on this web page did you like best?
A Beautiful Logo designed for the London Olympics - By Claire Benoit, Illustrator
Link List to other websites - About places mentioned on this web page
If you want more detailed information of a historical or architectural nature, here are some links to web pages you might find interesting:
- Sir John Soane's Museum - Wikipedia
A very interesting description of the architectural history of the museum, as well as a short biography of Sir John Soane himself and the important contents of the museum.
- Muswell Hill - Wikipedia
Lots of information about you-know-where at the top of a high hill in North London
- The British Museum - Wikipedia
Lots of interesting information about the Museum, its architecture and contents
- The Royal Courts of Justice - Wikipedia
Information about the highest court in the land
- How to Entertain Your Children Whilst Queuing at the Airport
Long airport delays are expected at London Heathrow, and other English airports. Here are some ideas for keeping your children entertained and busy whilst waiting to pass through Immigration Control. They might even remember it as an enjoyable occasi