Westminster Abbey in London

August 1st, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, London

Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, seen from London Eye © Tebbetts

Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, seen from London Eye © Tebbetts

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of EnglandRoyal Peculiar“—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.   read more…

Temple Church in London

May 2nd, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, London

© geograph.org.uk - John Salmon/cc-by-sa-2.0

© geograph.org.uk – John Salmon/cc-by-sa-2.0

The Temple Church is a late 12th-century church in the City of London located between Fleet Street and the River Thames, built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. During the reign of King John (1199–1216) it served as the royal treasury, supported by the role of the Knights Templars as proto-international bankers. It is jointly owned by the Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns of Court, bases of the English legal profession. It is famous for being a round church, a common design feature for Knights Templar churches, and for its 13th and 14th century stone effigies. It was heavily damaged by German bombing during World War II and has since been greatly restored and rebuilt. The area around the Temple Church is known as the Temple and nearby formerly in the middle of Fleet Street stood the Temple Bar, an ornamental processional gateway. Nearby is the Temple Underground station.   read more…

Chelsea in London

March 7th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, London

Clabon Mews © flickr:com - Cristian Bortes/cc-by-2.0

Clabon Mews © flickr:com – Cristian Bortes/cc-by-2.0

Chelsea is an affluent area in West London, bounded to the south by the River Thames. Its frontage runs from Chelsea Bridge along the Chelsea Embankment, Cheyne Walk, Lots Road and Chelsea Harbour. Its eastern boundary was once defined by the River Westbourne, which is now in a pipe above Sloane Square tube station. The modern eastern boundary is Chelsea Bridge Road and the lower half of Sloane Street, including Sloane Square. To the north and northwest, the area fades into Knightsbridge and Brompton, but it is considered that the area north of King’s Road as far northwest as Fulham Road is part of Chelsea. The football club Chelsea F.C. is based at Stamford Bridge in neighbouring Fulham.   read more…

The Savile Row in London

February 2nd, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, London

Gieves & Hawkes © Gryffindor/cc-by-sa-3.0

Gieves & Hawkes © Gryffindor/cc-by-sa-3.0

Savile Row is a street in Mayfair, central London. Known principally for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men, the street has had a varied history that has included accommodating the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society at 1 Savile Row, where significant British explorations to Africa and the South Pole were planned; and more recently, the Apple Corps office of the Beatles at 3 Savile Row, where the band’s final live performance was held on the roof of the building. Savile Row runs parallel to Regent Street between Conduit Street at the northern end and Vigo Street at the southern. Linking roads include New Burlington Place, New Burlington Street, Boyle Street, and Clifford Street.   read more…

Strawberry Hill House

August 28th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, General, London, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks

© panoramio.com - Maxwell Hamilton/cc-by-sa-3.0

© panoramio.com – Maxwell Hamilton/cc-by-sa-3.0

Strawberry Hill House—often called simply Strawberry Hill—is the Gothic Revival villa that was built in Twickenham, London by Horace Walpole (1717–1797) from 1749 onward. It is the type example of the “Strawberry Hill Gothic” style of architecture, and it prefigured the nineteenth-century Gothic revival. Walpole rebuilt the existing house in stages starting in 1749, 1760, 1772 and 1776. These added gothic features such as towers and battlements outside and elaborate decoration inside to create “gloomth” to suit Walpole’s collection of antiquarian objects, contrasting with the more cheerful or “riant” garden. The interior included a Robert Adam fireplace; parts of the exterior were designed by James Essex. The garden contained a large seat shaped like a Rococo sea shell; it has been recreated in the 2012 restoration.   read more…

Design Museum London

July 7th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, Design & Products, General, London, Museums, Exhibitions

© designmuseum.org

© designmuseum.org

The Design Museum is a museum founded in 1989, originally located by the River Thames near Tower Bridge in London, and later relocated to Kensington. The museum covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design. The museum operates as a registered charity, and all funds generated by ticket sales aid the museum in curating new exhibitions. Entrance is expected to be free to the museum’s permanent collection display, “Designer Maker User”. In June 2011 Sir Terence Conran donated £17.5 million to enable the Museum to move in 2016 from the warehouse to a larger site which formerly housed the Commonwealth Institute in west London. This landmark from the 1960s, a Grade II* listed building that had stood vacant for over a decade, was developed by a design team led by John Pawson who made the building fit for a 21st century museum, whilst at the same time retaining its spatial qualities.   read more…

Trafalgar Square in London

June 7th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, London

© flickr.com - Vibin/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Vibin/cc-by-2.0

Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar. The site of Trafalgar Square had been a significant landmark since the 13th century and originally contained the King’s Mews. After George IV moved the mews to Buckingham Palace, the area was redeveloped by John Nash, but progress was slow after his death, and the square did not open until 1844. The 169-foot (52 m) Nelson’s Column at its centre is guarded by four lion statues. A number of commemorative statues and sculptures occupy the square, but the Fourth Plinth, left empty since 1840, has been host to contemporary art since 1999. The square has been used for community gatherings and political demonstrations, including Bloody Sunday, the first Aldermaston March, anti-war protests, and campaigns against climate change. A Christmas tree has been donated to the square by Norway since 1947 and is erected for twelve days before and after Christmas Day. The square is a centre of annual celebrations on New Year’s Eve. It was well known for its feral pigeons until their removal in the early 21st century.   read more…

Notting Hill Carnival in London

April 28th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, London, Events

© Romazur/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Romazur/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event that has taken place since 1966 on the streets of Notting Hill, and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, each August over two days (the August bank holiday Monday and the preceding Sunday). It is led by members of the British West Indian community, and attracts around one million people annually, making it one of the world’s largest street festivals (others are the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin and the Summer Carnival in Rotterdam), and a significant event in British culture. In 2006, the UK public voted it onto the list of icons of England. Despite its name, it is not part of the global Carnival season preceding Lent. Professor David Dabydeen has stated: “Carnival is not alien to British culture. Bartholomew Fair and Southwark Fair in the 18th century were moments of great festivity and release. There was juggling, pickpocketing, whoring, drinking, masquerade — people dressed up as the Archbishop of Canterbury and indulged in vulgar acts. It allowed people a space to free-up but it was banned for moral reasons and for the antiauthoritarian behaviour that went on like stoning of constables. Carnival allowed people to dramatise their grievances against the authorities on the street… Notting Hill Carnival single-handedly revived this tradition and is a great contribution to British cultural life.” Bartholomew’s Fair was suppressed in 1855 by the City authorities for encouraging debauchery and public disorder. The roots of the Notting Hill Carnival that took shape in the mid-1960s come from two separate but connected strands. A “Caribbean Carnival” was held on 30 January 1959 in St Pancras Town Hall as a response to the problematic state of race relations at the time; the UK’s first widespread racial attacks, the Notting Hill race riots in which 108 people were charged, had occurred the previous year. The 1959 event, held indoors and televised by the BBC, was organised by the Trinidadian Claudia Jones (often described as “the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival”) in her capacity as editor of Britain’s first black newspaper The West Indian Gazette, and directed by Edric Connor; showcasing elements of a Caribbean carnival in a cabaret style, it “featured among other things the Mighty Terror singing the calypso ‘Carnival at St Pancras’, a Caribbean Carnival Queen beauty contest, the Trinidad All Stars and Hi–fi steel bands dance troupe and a Grand Finale Jump-Up by West Indians who attended the event.”   read more…

Clarence House in London

April 1st, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, House of the Month, London, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks

© ChrisO/cc-by-sa-3.0

© ChrisO/cc-by-sa-3.0

Clarence House is a royal residence in London, situated on The Mall, in the City of Westminster. It is attached to St. James’s Palace and shares the palace’s garden. For nearly 50 years, from 1953 to 2002, it was home to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. It has since been the official residence of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Clarence House also served as the official residence for Prince William from 2003 until his 2011 marriage and for Prince Harry from 2003 until 2012. It is open to visitors for approximately one month each summer, usually August, and is one of many royal buildings in London. Since 2003, the term “Clarence House” has often been used as a metonym for the Prince of Wales’s private office. The term “St. James’s Palace” had been previously used. Clarence House is Grade I listed on the National Heritage List for England.   read more…

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