An October 2002 trip
to London by zabelle
Quote: London is a city that can be visited time and time again and never lose it's magic. This was visit 14 for us and we combined a few old favorites with some new friends and can’t wait for our next visit.
My most memorable moments: when two different people told me they couldn’t tell I was American by my accent. Yikes, an Anglophile’s dream come true.
My best advice to anyone going to London is to be flexible. Have alternate plans in case you run into a problem as we did with the gales that hit England during our visit.
Train and tube service was disrupted in some areas for several days due to weather. Also, always check closing dates and times for anything you plan to visit. Even with my best plans I had several surprises this trip.
Attraction | "WIlliam Wallace Memorial and More"
I was expecting perhaps a little more than the large plaque on the wall giving the details of his life and death but it was gut wrenching all the same. With the shrieks from the movie resounding in my ears I was very aware that this was a place where one of Scotland’s great heroes gave up his life. Somehow it almost felt like a holy place.
While you are in the area take the time to visit the two St. Bartholomew Churches, the Great and the Less. To enter St. Bartholomew the Great you pass through the gatehouse. This is a wonderful timber frame building that is one of the oldest surviving in London.
St. Bartholomew the Great was originally part of the Augustinian Priory founded in 1123 by Raheen one of Henry I courtiers. St. Bartholomew Hospital grew out of the priory’s care for the sick in the area. The grave of Raheen in located in the church in a beautiful tomb. The church had a pervasive smell of incense, from the funeral, which had, just finished I’m sure, but it certainly added to the atmosphere.
St. Bartholomew the Less is a hospital church. It has 2 surviving 15th century arches but the main reason to visit here is the 14th century brass memorial plaques on the floor. They are under a carpet that you must move and they are of William and Alice Markeby.
To get here take the circle line to Barbican stop. Come out of the station and turn right then turn right again. Walk down Long Lane until you see Cloth Fair, this is a very scenic street with some nice old half-timber houses. Cloth Fair will take you along the side of St. Bartholomew the Great right up to Smithfield Market.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 13, 2002
London, England W1M 6BN
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St. Bartholomew’s is one of the oldest hospitals in the world. A monk named Raheen, a former courier at the court of Henry I, founded the hospital. He had made a vow to found a hospital in London in exchange for surviving an illness he contracted while in Rome. Well needless to say he received his favor and he founded the hospital.
Watt Tyler was allegedly a patient here (he started the peasant revolt) at least for a brief time before he was dragged out and executed. In 1539 Henry VIII dissolved the priory but the hospital continued on. In 1544 the hospital was granted to the City of London. The church of St. Bartholomew the Less stands on the site of the hospital chapel.
The museum consists of cases of medical and surgical instruments. I was fascinated and appalled by the "lunatic restraints" and an amputation kit, ugh!!!! St. Bartholomew ‘s is also the home of a fine medical college and the nurses at St. Barts were considered among the best trained. It was at St. Barts that physician William Harvey discovered the circulatory system. There are two displays that have audio information one on the medical school and one on the nursing school.
St. Barts even has an art treasure. There are two huge paintings by William Hogarth on the hospitals Great Staircase. You get to view them through a doorway.
This is a small but interesting museum and we had a very enjoyable visit.
Entrance is free and the museum is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm.
Take the circle line to Barbican. Leave the tube station and take a right and then another right. Cross the street and go down Cloth Fair to Smithfield market. Go left around the market past the Wallace Memorial and go through the gate and past St. Bartholomew the Less Church. Under the inside archway there is a door on the left, this is the museum.
St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum
Many museums in London have benefited from a new scheme that makes entry into them free. The Museum of London is one of these, though I have to add that the first time I visited this museum many years ago, entry was free, and later a rather steep entry fee was instituted. At the moment, there is quite a lot of construction going on, and the entrance is rather difficult to get to, but go ahead and bear with it; it’s well worth the effort.
I’m sorry to report that photography is no longer allowed in the museum, and I was not able to get a permit. I believe, however, that I have photos from some of my earlier visits, and I am going to try to locate them.
The exhibits are set up chronologically. You begin your journey through prehistory to the Roman City of Londinium. You will learn about the Roman occupation and the cult of Mithras. There is an exhibit of the fragments of the temple that was excavated in 1954. The exhibit combines pictures, writing, and artifacts in cases.
A particularly interesting exhibit was a limestone sarcophagus unearthed in 1999 in London. The limestone was indigenous to Lincolnshire. It contained a 5'4" female in her mid-twenties. Her face has been reconstructed from the bones; it was fascinating to imagine the life this young woman lived almost 2,000 years ago.
We then travel through Saxon London or Lundenwic. No trace remains above ground of the Saxon time period, but there have been extensive underground finds. Most recently, some graves were found near Covent Garden on Floral Street. Among the treasures, there was a copper brooch. Part of the problem in locating the Saxon City was that it was not built in the same location as the Roman, but farther west.
Room 1066 portrays a defining day in London’s history, and it’s passed on the way to Tudor London. This room of the museum is very effective, with music playing softly in the background. There are exhibits on the architect Inigo Jones, Henry VIII’s Nonesuch Palace, a miniature Rose Theater, and the Great Fire.
The most popular exhibit, though, is downstairs. It is the Lord Mayor’s Coach. It is an impressive sight! You can see Lord Nelsons Sword, a cell from Wellclose Prison, and listen to music from a virginal in the Georgian Room. All in all, this is a very interesting museum, and you will come away with a real appreciation for everything you are going to see during your visit to London.
Take the circle line to the Barbican exit and then follow the signs.
Museum of London
150 London Wall
London, England EC2Y 5HN
+44 (207) 814 5613
Now, having explained all the difficulties in visiting here, why would one want to bother? It is a lovely sight--a pretty walled herb garden that has been expanded to include exotic plants, as well as many of the usual lovely English variety. It was founded in 1673 and is the second-oldest Physic Garden in England. Physic Gardens were originally founded to teach the medicinal use of herbs, and that is still a part of its function today.
At 3pm on the day we were there was a guided tour of the garden, which we missed, but I can imagine that it would have been very informative. We were given a map with our paid entry that showed us what each part of the garden contained.
There are about 5,000 plants growing in the garden. In October, the color was not as bright as I am sure it is in earlier months, but still, there was much of interest to see. We spent some time at a bed of herbs that are cancer fighters. There was a plaque describing the uses and which cancer each plant can help. There were other beds in this pharmaceutical area, and we spent quite a bit of time there after which we wandered through the more exotic plants in the greenhouses.
By this time, we had worked up quite an appetite, and we headed to the tearoom for a brief respite, which turned into a full-blown tea. We were delighted with the fresh egg-mayonnaise sandwiches and the wonderful cakes; we sampled the banana, the coffee walnut, and the Victorian sponge. The staff here was very friendly and the service very casual. We drank several cups of tea and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
There is also a nice shop on the grounds, and several times a year, they sell plants. It was tempting to buy some of the seeds they were selling, but I wasn’t sure if we would be allowed to carry them back to the States.
Allow yourself several hours to visit the gardens, as there is much to see and enjoy.
Chelsea Physic Garden
66 Royal Hospital Road
London, England SW3
+44 20 7352 5646
Attraction | "The Queen's Gallery"
The exhibit was entitled Royal Treasures and what a treasure it is. You come up the formal stairway and are greeted by a bust of Her Majesty. There was a young man stationed beside it who was more than happy to gush on about it, but I was more interested in getting into the gallery.
The first gallery, the Pennethorne Gallery has bright green walls that make a dramatic back drop for Van Dykes monumental equestrian portrait of Charles I. It grabs your attention as soon as you enter the room. Opposite it stands a magnificent boulle secretaire made of ash, oak, pine, brass, copper, tortoise shell ebony, rosewood etc. from the collection of George IV, I’m sure you can get the picture. A small room off this gallery contains a cabinet of miniatures including three by Holbein that are particularly beautiful. I have to admit that miniatures are a real favorite of mine.
The depth of the Queens Collection is obviously immeasurable. On the right wall you have Vermeer’s Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman and Cranach’s Apollo and Diana and across from them is George de la Tours St. Jerome. In a second cabinet room are Grannies Chips the 3rd and 4th largest Cullinan Stones 63 and 94 carats. Also in this cabinet are the necklace that the Queen wore to her coronation and also her collection of Faberge. I am only touching on the surface of what was here. This is truly magnificence on a magnificent scale.
The Nash Gallery has bright red walls and again they are the perfect backdrop for the paintings chosen for display here. Hogarth, Copley, Stubbs, Zoffany, and Viger LeBrun. It is however Sir Joshua Reynolds portrait with the red jacket, Sr. Thomas Lawrence’s Pope Pius VII with his red cape and chair and Thomas Gainsborough’s Johann Christian Fisher in a maroon suit that really play to the room’s color. These three paintings are all on one wall for maximum affect.
There is a room of sketches that includes a DaVinci, a Michaelangelo and a Raphael. I was impressed. The only jarring moment came when confronted by the hideous Lucien Freud portrait of the Queen.
Even the bathrooms here are luxurious. Make sure you pay them a visit. The gift shop is extensive and expensive. This time I chose to look but didn’t buy.
This particular exhibit will be on through January 3, 2003. But if the past is any indication this is just one of many that the Gallery will have to offer.
Buckingham Palace Road Pall Mall
London, England SW1A 1AA
+44 (207) 321 2233
We actually have attended Mass here many times but after attending Mass on Wednesday morning I decided to actually look at the Cathedral as if I were a tourist instead of just a communicant. We attended morning Mass in Our Ladies Chapel and frankly it was hard for me to concentrate on the Mass with so much going on on the ceiling and walls. It’s phenomenal, all gold and glitter, but distracting to say the least.
On the opposite side of the Cathedral be sure to look for the grave of Saint Robert Southworth. He was a Catholic priest who was drawn and quartered for saying Mass during the reign of Elizabeth I. He was the last secular priest to suffer this fate. His parish was close to this site so in 1930 his remains were brought back here so that he could again be among his people.
Back on the side near the Lady Chapel is the St. Andrew Chapel. The gorgeous scenes on the upper walls are of 6 towns that are associated with St. Andrew. I took a photo of the one of Constantinople. There is also a thistle worked into the gate to the chapel since St. Andrew is the patron St. of Scotland. Right now there is an exhibit in the Chapel celebrating the Bicentenary of the birth of Cardinal Wiseman a former archbishop of Westminster.
The Cathedral has Stations of the Cross by sculptor Eric Gill which are quite famous and is also well know for their Choir, which has earned worldwide recognition. If you have the time take the life up into the bell tower. It offers spectaculars views from all sides. The Cathedral has a very nice gift shop and if you arrive between 10 and 4 you can catch a quick snack in the Cathedral Kitchen.
Be warned however that this is an area where you will be pan handled. It seems to make sense that if you are visiting a church you will want to help the poor. There is a very nice soup kitchen at the convent where we stay just around the corner so you can feel justified in sending them to St. Vincent if they seem to be hungry or just send them on their way firmly.
London, England SW1P 1QW
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Running from Hyde Park in the west to Piccadilly Circus in the east Piccadilly has one of the most eclectic selection of attractions anywhere in London.
With an afternoon to spare Al and I head for the tube and began our adventure. Take the Bakerloo or the Piccadilly line to Piccadilly stop. Get off on the south side of Piccadilly. (There are a lot of different exits from the tube station)
St. James Piccadilly- This Christopher Wren Church makes a good first stop especially if it is lunch time. Aroma Café offers a nice selection of fresh sandwiches and also soup. Eat in or take your lunch out into the churchyard to eat. If you are lucky as we were you will be able to attend a lunchtime concert in the church. The piano recital, which lasted 50 minutes, included selections from Brahms and Ravel among others. This was a Monday , on Tuesday there is an antique market held in the churchyard and an arts and crafts market on Wednesdays-Saturdays.
Hatchard’s Bookstore London’s oldest bookstore(1797) is also my favorite bookstore in the world. I can get lost in here forever. If you are interested in English History in particular their selection is outstanding. Everything is first class here from the selection to the very knowledgeable staff. They promise to be able to get you any book in print and I’m willing to bet that this isn’t a vain promise.
Fortnum and MasonThis is London’s premier luxury grocer and so much more. You can buy the best jams and jellies here, pastries that will make you swoon, teas and coffees, biscuits and crackers, chocolate, fresh fruit, fresh flowers, smoked salmon, caviar and just about anything your heart desires.
Once several years ago a friend sent me to London with a list of rare Scotches, he dared me to find even one for his bar. I wasn't having any luck locating them, even at Harrods. On a lark I called Fortnum and Mason and guess what, they had one of them. They delivered it to my hotel in a cab. Now that is service. It also impressed my friend no end.
Add to that, floors of fine china, designer clothing and several stellar restaurants (the dark chocolate ice cream soda at the Fountains Restaurant is to die for) and even if the staff wasn’t dressed like a butler you would be impressed.
Princes Arcade while not quite as select as the Burlington Arcade across the St. this arcade is still very impressive. Upwards of 40 small stores in a covered walkway between Piccadilly and Jermyn St. dating from the early 1800’s. Even if you can’t afford to buy, it is always fun to look.
Lladro, Wedgwood, Royal Dalton while I hate to lump them together, all these beautiful china stores are represented as you work your way down the south side of the St. One good piece of news, prices are fixed so if you expect to find these fine china cheaper somewhere else, you won’t unless it is not perfect or you can find it at duty free.
RichouxIf you have worked up an appetite and are not dressed for tea at the Ritz which is coming up you may want to stop at this restaurant which is one of several in London. Prices are good and the food is varied and appealing. The waitress’ wear costumes that are what tourist expects a wench to look like.
Green Park If you would like to take a brief rest, rent a chair and enjoy the wonderful green spaces of Green Park. If you cross over the park you will have a great view of Buckingham Palace.
Hard Rock Café, You have to cross over Piccadilly to get to the Hard Rock but if you have never been to one it’s a unique experience and even if you have been to one this is the original and deserves a least a brief visit. They have a wonderful new store here just down the street from the restaurant and it’s easier than ever to shop in.
There are many stores in between those I have mentioned, these are just the ones that I consider my favorites. You may take the stroll and form a totally different list. Either way it’s an enjoyable way to spend a beautiful October afternoon, in my case walking hand in hand with my main squeeze.
Now that you have done the south side, you can choose to go up the north side and visit the Burlington Arcade, The Royal Academy and finish up at Tower Records or you may prefer take a bus back up to Piccadilly Circus. If you cross back over the street, you can take a bus to Victoria Station or wherever your next destination is.
Sunday: Gales hit England and most of Northern Europe. We, being unfamiliar with gales, thought it was just a little wind and headed off to Gatwick to pick up our rental car. We had an uneventful Gatwick Express trip, and here another new lesson was learned. Never accept the rate you were quoted before you arrived as the best deal you can get. I had my Avis voucher in hand and a rate fully inclusive for a midsize automatic car of 99pds for the day. At home, this is the best rate I could find. At the counter, I asked if they offered a AAA discount or if they had a cheaper daily rate, and voila, the total rental went down to 65pds. It never hurts to ask. So far, the day was going fine.
We headed off out of the airport, Knole being our first stop. We arrived about 30 minutes later, only to find that it was closed. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. Okay, onto the next plan: Penshurst Place was close by, and we thought it would make an excellent replacement. Driving was starting to become dicey, with trees and brush down in the road, but we were unfazed. We had a great visit and stopped at their restaurant for tea.
We hit the road again and encountered more downed trees and brush, but the weather was still bright and windy. Hever was open until 5pm, so it would be our last stop. We arrived at 3:45, and since the last entrance to the house was at 4pm, we hurried down, thinking we could visit the gift shop when we left. Wrong again--it closed 15 minutes before the house. This was the only real aggravation I suffered all day, and it is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. There is no way to know it closes that early unless you go over to the door of the shop. Okay, well, I saved money!
It was getting dark when we left, and it had really become a chore to drive on unfamiliar roads that had trees on them. It seemed as if trees only fell after blind corners. Once we made it back to the highway, it was smooth-sailing, and we were back in London in time for dinner.
Monday: We realized that nine people had been killed in England and 30 in Europe. Call it dumb luck on our part. The gale wasn’t quite through with us yet, however. Monday was the day we planned to visit Hampton Court; since three of us had been there many times, we decided that it would be fun to take the boat trip down the Thames. We hopped on the tube and got off at Westminster and headed down to the Pier. Guess what? The last boat trip of the season to Hampton Court had been on Sunday. Okay, we can take the train from Waterloo Station. We got there, bought our tickets, and even got onto a train before we realized that nope, no trains were running to Hampton Court. It was now noon, and we had no plans. Well, okay, so we each headed off in our own direction. This is how Al and I spent the afternoon: strolling romantically down Piccadilly, an enjoyable and relaxing option.
Okay, I bet you figure nothing else could happen to us. Wrong again. We decided to go to Westminster Abbey for Evensong, and when we arrived, we were told that we could go in but there would be no music--the choir was on tour. Since we were already there, we went to the Westminster Abbey gift shop, and I found a book I had not found in stock at Hatchards, so the trip down Victoria Street hadn’t been a total waste.
Tuesday: We decided not to trust the train, so we would take a bus to Hampton Court. Well, it sounded like a good idea, but there isn’t a bus to Hampton Court. So we grabbed a cab and headed to Waterloo again, and guess what? The trains were running, and we had a great day.
We had tickets to Mama Mia for Tuesday night. It was a fabulous show. Right in the middle of the most amazing scene, everything stopped, and the actors left the stage. Someone in the stalls had become ill, and the play was delayed for half an hour. This was a first for me.
Wednesday: Just to make our trip complete, when we got to Heathrow on Wednesday for our non-stop flight to Boston, scheduled to arrive at 1:45pm, we were told that the flight we had tickets for had stopped flying as of Sunday, and now we were going via Dulles and would arrive in Boston at 7:30pm. Add a two-hour drive home, and we would be up for an amazing 20 hours. You have to love the airlines. When we checked in, no one mentioned that our return flight no longer existed. When I called in the day before I left, no one told us. There was no message from Orbitz in my email. Anyway, here I am today, and even after the return flight from hell, I would do it again in a heartbeat. So the moral of my story is to be flexible, roll with the punches, and have plenty of alternate plans, because you never know when you will need them.