London Historical Site Guide

Abbey Road

Visit the Beatles’ recording studio at Abbey Road.

3 Abbey Road , London NW8. Who would have thought that a 19th-century building nestled in the St. John Woods section of Northwest London would skyrocket to fame and become one of the most important landmarks of all time? You see, this structure set the stage for one of the greatest breakthroughs in musical history. Here, four bespectacled gentlemen who called themselves The Beatles recorded hits such as “Help”, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You”, among others. The Beatles went on to create a cult following and continues to be one of the finest bands of all time.

The building was originally a residential home. Then in 1931, The Gramophone Company Ltd. (now known as EMI Records) transformed the building into a recording studio. The studios were used by top orchestras, whose music was very popular at that time. Then on June 6, 1962 , the studios (and the worldwide music scene) made a turning point.

The morning started out like any other, and seemed destined to be one of those ordinary and utterly forgettable days—until a group arrived in an old white van, wearing black leather jackets and carrying battered sound equipment. They had a four-song demo session. The practices became more frequent as the group steadily rose to fame.

The studios became witness to the production of the Beatles’ blockbuster hits “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and of course, ” Abbey Road “, which performed so well at the charts that the name of the album was adopted by the studios. The fact that Paul McCartney’s house was just around the corner made Abbey Road a favourite Beatles’ hangout.

The pedestrian walkway known to Londoners as a zebra crossing was just an ordinary road until The Beatles used it for the cover of their ” Abbey Road ” album. It has become so famous that Belisha beacons (lighted globes on posts) were installed to warn drivers that they were approaching a tourist hotspot. It is no longer surprising to see visitors having their picture taken in the area, mimicking the famous Beatles’ pose.

Big Ben

The ionic tower the holds the bell, has for a long time represented London and Britain . Attached to the Houses of Parliament a must see when visiting London .

One of London ‘s most famous landmarks is Big Ben. It refers to the bell that is located inside the world-renowned Clock Tower. The structure is part of another historical monument, the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben

Big Ben weighs more than 13.5 tons or 690 pounds, and measures 13 feet. Its pendulum beats once every two seconds. It was called “Big Ben” in honour of the First Commissioner of Works.

Big Ben also signals when there are sessions being done in the House of Commons. The light at the top of the tower is lit up whenever the said activity is held.

Big Ben was built in 1858 to 1859. At the time it was built, it was considered as Britain ‘s heaviest bell. The dials of the clock are 23 feet in diameter while its minute hands are 14 feet in length and the numerical figures on every face are approximately 2 feet high. The clock’s precision is made possible by the insertion of antiquated pennies in its mechanism controls.

The area where the actual clock mechanism is housed features other items of Victorian mechanical craftsmanship that dash and ring every time the clock strikes. The bell sounds at regular intervals and its mechanism is very accurate even until now. Tourists who are interested with architecture and construction get a treat upon visiting this landmark. It is one of the truly British tourist destinations that are necessary for any vacation in London to be considered complete.

Visiting Big Ben gives tourists an idea of England ‘s engineering expertise. Unfortunately, visitors can only view the tower from outside, and are not allowed to enter it. Special group arrangements and permits must be secured in order for people to take a look on the inside of the structure.

Cabinet War Rooms

ir Winston Churchill led Britain to victory from the Cabinet War Rooms. To find out more about the Cabinet War Rooms and how to get a guided tour have a look at our guide.

“This is the room from which I will direct war.” – Sir Winston Churchill

The Cabinet War Rooms, formerly the secret underground headquarter during the First World War, is now a museum honoring the life and finest hour of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

One of the rooms of this museum is the Map Room, which was the central hub of the whole site until the end of WWI. Its name refers to the large-scale maps of the Atlantic, the United Kingdom and Far Eastern seas, as well as the Pacific route taken by the American forces.

Churchill so appreciated the value of the Cabinet War Rooms that he insisted on having the most convenient possible access to the Map Room, and had his office built beside it. It was in this room that he met with the Heads of States, military officials, and political figures for crucial decisions.

With Sir Winston Churchill presiding over meetings with the coalition (including all sides of the Parliament, his War Cabinet, and Chiefs of Staff) the Cabinet Room became the inner chamber of the British Government. It was also the room regularly used by Churchill’s primary instrument for conducting war, the Defense Committee. Because of this, the Cabinet War Rooms has seen the beginnings and end of the First World War.

Since the day the room was closed down on August 16, 1945 , every book and map has been left untouched.

Also seen in this museum is Churchill’s room. Though more comfortable than any other room in the complex, he rarely spent the night in this room, opting to retire to his official residence at Downing Street . One of the significant rooms in the complex is the Transatlantic Telephone Room that allowed the Prime Minister and the President of the United States to conduct critical war tactics in absolute confidentiality. The Cabinet War Rooms is an underground complex so vital to our global history that it is a must-visit destination of every traveler.

By visiting the Cabinet War Rooms, tourists can see some of the world’s greatest historical milestones from another perspective, and appreciate the courage of the leaders who steered the country through its most trying times.

Clarence House

Take a tour round Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales, and a historically a residence of the Royal Family. Find out more about the history of Clarence house by reading our brief guide.

Clarence House is a Royal home originally used by Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence and his wife, Adelaide . It was designed by John Nash and was built between 1825 and 1827. The Duke of Clarence who eventually became known as William IV when he inherited the Throne in 1830, preferred to live here. He felt that St. James Palace was too restrictive in terms of space, and construction of Buckingham Palace was far from complete due to renovations requested by his brother George IV. William IV lived in Clarence House until he died in 1837.

Generations of Royals

After William IV’s death, Clarence House was passed on to his unmarried sister, Princess Augusta who occupied it until she died in 1846. The succeeding occupants included Victoria, Duchess of Kent (1841-1861), Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (1866-1900) and Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (1900-1942). The two latter occupants had periods of actually living in other places due to their call of duty, but they have always used Clarence house as their London base.

Upon the death of the Duke of Connaught and Starthearn in 1942, Clarence House was used by the War Organization of the British Red Cross and Order of St, John of Jerusalem. It was returned to royal use in 1949 as the London home of Princess Elizabeth upon her marriage to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. They were known as the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh .

The Duchess acceded as Queen when King George VI died in 1952. This time the Royal couple moved to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House was prepared for the accommodation of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She moved in the House together with Princess Margaret in 1953 and continued carrying out official duties in the Clarence House until she died in 2002.

Clarence House is now home to the Prince of Wales, Charles, his second wife, the Duchess of Cornwall and his sons, Princes William and Harry of Wales. It is the family’s official London residence and the official accommodation of the Prince of Wales’ household as well, serving as support for the royal family’s official engagements. The house underwent extensive renovation before the family moved in. The principal rooms are used for receiving and entertaining official visitors to the UK . “Clarence House” when used by media refers to the Prince of Wales’ private office.

Situated in the Mall, a road running from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch on the west end and to Trafalgar Square on the east end, Clarence House is part of a wider complex of buildings around St. James Palace . It is open to visitors usually from August to October, from 9:30 am to 6:00 p.m. daily. Tickets are timed and pre-booked, and admission is by guided tour. The tours start promptly and late-comers are not entertained. Opening arrangements are subject to change at short notice as the House is a working royal residence.

This tour may be the only chance to see this historic house and the rooms where Prince Charles assume official engagements. It is also an opportunity to see magnificent collections of priceless art, furniture, porcelain and silver of the Bowes-Lyon family.

Canary Wharf and the Docklands

Canary Wharf London ‘s newest business hub with many art and cultural programmes nearby. Although not a traditional attractions, it provides a unique insight into modern London.

An old freight port that went into decline Canary Whaft was redeveloped under Thatcher and encorperates many of her ideals. Unlike almost all of London Canary Wharf is entirely new and thus is resembles something of a toy town with well planned spaces immacultly kept and shinny office blocks placed in-between. It is London ‘s second financial district and its population almost entirely consists of a commuting business class.

Canary Wharf was known initially as the Rum Quay because of its trade with the West Indies. The Wharf was renamed after one of England ‘s most important trading partners at the time, Spain ‘s Canary Islands, located just off the coast of Africa. The Canary Islands were the source of bananas, tomatoes and other products that the Fred Olsen Line brought to England ‘s shores.

Canary Wharf holds the record for being the largest single office development in the world. Its tower was the largest building in Europe . Today, tourists can also see other highly sophisticated structures that are being constructed in the area. It is slowly turning out to be the newest business district of London, and is foreseen to be the home of several blue chip organisations. The Canary Wharf Tower however, is not open for public sightseeing.

Despite such strict security policy to the Tower, tourists can still enjoy accommodations in the Cabot Hall, whose shops and restaurants hold numerous arts and cultural programmes.

There are plans for Jubilee underground lines to be extended to the area via the south bank of Thames. If the plan pushes through, commerce will definitely boom. At present, the Docklands Light Railway serves the commuters here via their ferries.

Weekends are the best time to visit Canary Wharf. As you explore it, you will experience a solemnity and quiet that you wouldn’t normally expect from a bustling trade hub. And that is part of its appeal. While the Canary Wharf may not seem like a typical tourist destination, it is an excellent way of seeing a new side of London.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is famous for its shops, street performers, bars, restaurants, theatres and the Royal Opera House. Covent Garden is an Italian-style piazza packed with restaurants, bars and fashionable boutiques. In the heart of London ‘s West End, the area is recognised as the capital’s premier entertainment and leisure destination.

The fun never stops in Covent Garden, one of London ‘s centre of recreation and entertainment. You’ll find many theatres, museums, galleries here, and if you schedule your tour appropriately, you can even attend the festivals that are frequently held in this area.

Because of this, Covent Garden is a must-see in any visit to London. Whether you feel like watching a movie or a musical, shop for souvenirs at its many boutiques and shops or spend hours admiring beautiful works of art, Covent Garden is sure to have something for you.

What’s a vacation without an all out shopping trip? Covent Garden has many shops with a variety of merchandise. Whatever your preference (or your budget!) you’ll find something to bring home. A book on London ‘s history? A stuffed toy for your child? Designer shoes or vintage blouses? Perfumes or handmade pottery for your kitchen? Music CD’s or biographies of your favourite rock stars? Go ahead and look around, and you’ll find all that, and more. And for additional convenience, most shops at Covent Garden accept major credit cards.

You can find directories for such shops are usually available from the customer service desks of your hotel accommodations, or directly at Covent Garden .

Covent Garden houses two theaters: The National Theatre and The Royal Opera House. The two theatres are the venues for a wide variety of performances, from classical opera to foot-tapping musicals to contemporary theatre. The National Theatre and The Royal Opera House are often used for concerts of visiting international artists.

To avoid any hassle, it’s best to make ticket reservations ahead of time. Schedules of the shows and performances are available through travel agencies and the customer service desks of hotel accommodation. You can also find announcements in newspapers and magazines.

Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is the world’s only surviving tea and wool clipper ship. To find out more about the ship whose name was was taken from the poem “Tam O’Shanter” by Bobert Burns, have a look at our Cutty Sark guide.

Experience the lives of 19th century seamen and come on deck the world’s only surviving tea and wool clipper—the Cutty Sark!

This fast merchant sailing ship was given a name that would become renowned throughout the seafaring world and would win a place in the hearts of the British sailors. The Cutty Sark’s name was taken from the poem “Tam O’Shanter” by Robert Burns. Described in the poem was a witch wearing only a cutty sark, the corrupted French word “courte chemise” or a short skirt. The figurehead on the prow is dressed in the similar fashion.

The Cutty Sark was a tea carrier commanded by John “White Hat” Wills in 1869. He ambitiously wanted the Cutty Sark to be the fastest ship at the annual clippers’ race to bring home the freshest tea from Shanghai to London . He achieved this remarkable feat in 1871 with a best time of 107 days.

In spite of this, the opening of the Suez Canal and the onslaught of steam power, the usefulness of sea vessels began to decline rapidly. The Cutty Sark made its last voyage in 1938 and was put on display back in its hometown in 1957.

A little less than three centuries since her launch, the Cutty Sark has long outlived the typical 30-year life expectancy of a wood clipper. The Cutty Sark is still a beautiful boat, though it has retired from sea voyage and has taken a different role as a tourist destination. Visitors can explore the feature well-restored decks and experience how the 28 merchant seafarers worked, lived, ate, and slept in cramped accommodations (a far cry from the fine and comfortable accommodations in modern luxury ships). It also has archive videos of life at sea during the 1920s and 1930s. There is also an exhibit showing the history and route of the Pacific trade, as well as a collection of figureheads from ships of the world.

An interesting destination for visitors, the Cutty Sark is open all year round from 10.00-17.00 except on Christmas.

Downing Street

While you’re in London , why not planing a quick trip to Downing Street , home of the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street has been the centre of UK government for hundreds of years, as the official residences of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

While the Prime Minister usually occupies Number 10, and Chancellor taking Number 11, current leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have chosen to switch because of personal circumstances. Blair opted to take the larger home, because of his family, while Brown (who was single when he assumed his post) agreed to take the smaller one.

Number 10 Downing Street is actually made up of two houses that were joined when the property became an official government residence. It was the official accommodation given to Sir Robert Walpole by King George II on behalf of the nation and the crown. He accepted it on the condition that the gift is not to be treated as a personal one but rather as a gift to the incumbent First Lord of the Treasury, thus enabling ownership to be passed to each person who assumes the position. This title is traditionally held by the Prime Minister.

It has since been called home by at least 50 Prime Ministers and their families. It is the venue for receiving foreign dignitaries and for holding cabinet meetings, as well as a workplace for many of the support staff of the Prime Minister. The office of the Prime Minister is headed by a chief of staff with a group of career civil servants and special advisors. Functions are also frequently held here, and a social team takes over all entertainment plans. The building also houses a particularly excellent collection of British Art on temporary loan from the Government Art Collection.

Not all Prime Ministers however, chose to live in Number 10, preferring their own personal homes which may have grander and more spacious. During the 18th and 19th centuries, 10 Downing Street was seen as an unimpressive building not befitting the stature of the occupant. The Marquis of Salisbury was the last Prime Minister not to have his accommodation at Number 10.

London Dungeon

London has an exciting, if not somewhat gory history. For a sensory journey through the history of some of London ‘s criminals and their executions, have a look at our London Dungeon guide for details.

Leave your cosy hotel bed, stretch your comfort zones, and prepare to be terrified out of your wits—welcome to the London Dungeon!

Showcasing more than two thousand years of horrendous history, bringing together more than forty gruesome exhibits, the London Dungeon is a museum that houses the darker side of British history. This is a time where whips, guillotines, and boiling oil were par for he course, and gathering in the town square to watch someone’s violent death were as normal as turning on the television.

The museum has a diverse variety of multimedia attractions for a complete sensory scare. Stomach-turning animatronics, appalling life-like waxwork, and gut-wrenching sound effects will definitely make your hair stand. Atrocities from history such as public beheadings, drowning and burning of suspected witches, and historically detailed torture will be unnerve you. And just when you think you’ve had more than you can take, at the catacombs display, equally grotesque costumed staff is pounces on unsuspecting visitors—a heart-stopping experience!

If torture and violent deaths aren’t enough, what about serial murders and unsolved mysteries? Walk down the Victorian streets to discover the truth about Jack the Ripper and his psychopathic killing spree. Everything in the museum is carefully recreated to their shocking detail in remembrance of the darker side of history.

This is a truly unique and enjoyable tour that makes modern horror films look like a Barney and Friends episode. It is enough to make you crawl back under the safety of your hotel sheets! But the museum isn’t just about getting a good scare. Equally engrossing and educational, it is an excellent and ingenious place that can cultivate anyone’s interest in history.

The London Dungeon is located at 28-34 Tooley Street and is open daily from 9:30 am to 530 pm. Because of the nature of its exhibits, it is not recommended for those with high nervous disposition or for very young children.

The London Eye

The London Eye

For a different view of London , why not try a view from the air? A ride in the London Eye enables visitors to see up to 25 miles in each direction on a good day! Our guide provides more information about the history and features of the London Eye.

The world’s largest observation wheel, The London Eye, stands proud in London ‘s Jubilee Gardens , on the South Bank of the River Thames at 135 metres and weighing1600 tonnes. The London Eye is a privately funded venture between British Airways, the Tussauds Group and London architects David Marks and Julia Barfield.

Husband and wife Julia Barfield and David Marks’ creation made them the winners of the competition for ideas to mark the Millennium. The London Eye was chosen among many other landmarks and monuments as the project to mark the new Millennium.

The London Eye uses Ferris wheels, considered to be traditional structures at great occasions of celebration, but which David and Julia thought of the perfect symbol for the turning of the century.

Situated in the heart of one of London ‘s most impressive districts, the London Eye provides visitors with a spectacular panoramic view of the city. The Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as The Palace of Westminster can be seen looking down west, Buckingham Palace is north across, and over to the east lays the Canary Wharf. On a clear day, Windsor Castle —some 25 miles away— can be seen.

Other attractions that can be seen on the London Eye include The Imperial War Museum, The Globe Theatre, The Oval Cricket Ground, The Tate Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Tower of London, St. Paul ‘s Cathedral, The National Portrait Gallery, British Museum and The Telecommunications Tower.

The Giant Observation Wheel became operational in January 2000. Visitors are treated to a gently paced half-hour ride in 32 space age capsules that can hold up to 25 people each, hopping on and off as the wheel moves. The London Eye experience lasts for 30 minutes and rotates through 360º while listening to a commentary designed to heighten the experience, giving visitors a whole new perspective on London ‘s magnificent skyline.

There are many hotels and accommodations available for visitors who wish to see the breathtaking view from The London Eye. The London Eye is accessible from the modern accommodations offered by Ashlee House using the Underground Interchange. Alight from Waterloo Station or the Westminster Pier.

Globe Theatre

Visit one of the original theatres associated with Shakespeare , England ‘s most famous playwright. An attractive building with an impressive cultural history.

If there is one bard that Britain is truly proud of, it is no other than William Shakespeare. His prolific talent for playwriting and acting has spawned hundreds of poems, sonnets and presentations that has been translated in almost every imaginable language. Because of his significant contributions in the performing arts, it is only fitting that a theatre, or in this case theatres, be named after him.

The Globe Theatre pertains to one of the three theatres in London associated with Shakespeare. There is the original Globe Theatre, which was built in 1598 by the play company that Shakespeare belonged to and burned down in 1613; the second Globe Theatre which was rebuilt in 1614 and closed down in 1644; and the modern Globe Theatre, a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre which was opened in 1997.

The original Globe Theatre, built in 1599, was the original playhouse of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (also known as the King’s Men), a group where Shakespeare was a member. It burned down in 1613 because of the flames that hit the thatched roof of the structure during a performance of Henry VIII. It was rebuilt thereafter, now with a tiled roof, and was reopened the following year.

Studies show that the original Globe Theatre was a three-storey, open air amphitheatre that was 100-feet wide. It was called the “wooden O”, mainly because of its circular shape.

The modern Globe Theatre, which now went by the name Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, was built upon the proposal of Sam Wanamaker, an American actor and director. The theatre stands 200 feet from its original site and was the first thatched roof building approved by the government since the Great Fire of London in 1666. Just like the original theatre, both the stage and the audience area are located outdoors. Plays are regularly conducted here during the summer and it is the venue for educational workshops and tours over the winter.

However, some necessary modifications were included in the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre like the addition of water sprinklers (to avert fires) and the development of a lobby and visitor’s centre. In addition, the theatre can only accommodate 1,500 people, unlike the original theatre which had a capacity of 3,000 people.

At present, an English theatre director and actor by the name of Dominic Dromgoole serves as the Globe’s artistic director.

Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace is a great place to visit to see their stunning tudor architecture, maze and gardens.

Just outside London along the banks of Thames , you will find a wonderful place to visit called as the Hampton Court . It is not as crowded as Windsor Castle . This can be more enjoyable for tourists who want to explore the place without the noise and stress of being in crowds, and want to have the serenity and quiet to drink in the sights with no distractions. Accommodations are also very personalized and intimate since there are only few guests who are attended to by its staff at any time.

Hampton Court houses a wide range of architecture that is not only stylish but also fascinating. The gardens are world renowned, it houses the oldest vine in England , it has an intriguing and challenging maze, its Tudor kitchens are very interesting, and its State Apartments are simply magnificent. Guided tours are frequently available. The accommodation also adds an air of authenticity since the guides are dressed in styles from different eras in the history of the palace.

Other must-see attractions in Hampton Court are the Clock Court that represents that astronomical clock made for King Henry VIII; its Great Fountain Gardens with triangularly cut Yew trees and colourful flower beds; and the Georgian Rooms that were designed for visiting royaly.

The Hampton Court serves as the first major example of English domestic architecture. It is an example of a castle-like country cottage with Gothic inspirations. Despite its medieval structures, Hampton Court has very modern amenities. The castle-like feature of the establishment is entirely ornamental, from its thick walls, towers, moat and drawbridge, little Gothic windows, and bulwarks.

All these and more help create the unique charm of Hampton Court . It should be on the must-see list of any tourist that is fascinated with London ‘s history and would like to experience the luxury and beauty of one of its most romantic eras.

Hatfield House

Take a tour round this beautiful Jacobean House and Garden – home of the Marquess of Salisbury.

Moving 21 miles north of London you will find the most fêted Jacobean residence called Hatfield House. It was built by the first Earl of Salisbury and Chief Minister to King James I, Robert Cecil. Its park is most remarkable and has also become the home of the Marquess of Salisbury. Some of the world’s most famous paintings, fine furniture, exquisite wall-hangings and time-tested armour can be found in its State Rooms. Excellent samples of Jacobean art are very evident in the entire house, like its Grand Staircase and the extraordinary stained glass window in its private chapel.

Hatfield House served as the home of some of London ‘s significant personalities lived and was the stage of many historic events. It was the place where Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood. Inside its wide and attractive gardens is the only existing part of the Royal Palace of Hatfield. It is also the place where her majesty Elizabeth I held her first Council of State.

A lot of historic memorabilia that were collected through time by the Cecils are displayed inside the House. This political family gathered the said artifacts as they held key positions in the government. They were either given as tokens from visiting dignitaries or were commissioned by the family themselves, who invited artists to create works of art.

A lot of significant areas in the Hatfield House are worth noting. The State Rooms can be accessed by visitors by their own any day or join on a guided tour if they come on Monday. Accommodations for private guided tours can be arranged by their staff on the Monday schedule. In addition, its Park showcases a collection of model soldiers, park trails, picnic area, children’s play area, gift shop and the licensed restaurant and tea room. Various programmes and events are also held in the Hatfield House throughout the year.

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast is a carefully preserved War ship with 9 decks of history to share. If you would like to find out more about the HMS Belfast and perhaps pay her a visit, have a look at the guide to the HMS Belfast

“This is the room from which I will direct war.” – Sir Winston Churchill

The Cabinet War Rooms, formerly the secret underground headquarter during the First World War, is now a museum honoring the life and finest hour of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

One of the rooms of this museum is the Map Room, which was the central hub of the whole site until the end of WWI. Its name refers to the large-scale maps of the Atlantic, the United Kingdom and Far Eastern seas, as well as the Pacific route taken by the American forces.

Churchill so appreciated the value of the Cabinet War Rooms that he insisted on having the most convenient possible access to the Map Room, and had his office built beside it. It was in this room that he met with the Heads of States, military officials, and political figures for crucial decisions.

With Sir Winston Churchill presiding over meetings with the coalition (including all sides of the Parliament, his War Cabinet, and Chiefs of Staff) the Cabinet Room became the inner chamber of the British Government. It was also the room regularly used by Churchill’s primary instrument for conducting war, the Defense Committee. Because of this, the Cabinet War Rooms has seen the beginnings and end of the First World War.

Since the day the room was closed down on August 16, 1945 , every book and map has been left untouched.

Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliant is the home of the British Goverment. Please see our guide on the Houses of Prliament for guided tours and Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Bitten by the political bug? Jump out of your warm hotel sheets and head to the House of Parliament for a day of British rule.

The Mother of all Parliaments, more respectively called the Palace of Westminster , houses the British parliament, which is the seat of the Government of the United Kingdom . It consists of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Under the House of Parliament, the laws, government policies and administration, and expenditures of the lands are debated daily.

Originally built in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor, the Palace of Westminster was formerly the residence of England ‘s kings until the early 16th century. In 1512 though, it ceased to be a royal abode because of a fire that consumed most of the building. It was converted into the House of Parliament.

Containing 1,000 rooms, 11 courtyards, 8 bars, and 6 restaurants, the House of Parliament only allows the public access to the Visitor’s Galleries, where one can twatch the Commons or Lords in session. However there are guided tours of Westminster Hall, which showcases a fine example of medieval design. The best activity to catch is the Prime Minister’s Question Time which is held at 15.00 on Wednesdays.

The most renowned landmark in London is found at the House of Parliament. Contrary to popular belief, the Big Ben is not the clock tower but the thirteenth bell which strikes the hour. Big Ben’s deep chimes can be heard daily on BBC radio. Named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the Commissioner of Works at the time when the bell was hung in 1958, Big Ben was the second bell to be cast for the clock—the first one cracked during a test ring. The clock on the tower is Britain ‘s largest and has been keeping almost exact time continuously since 1859.

A place of much history and power, the House of Parliament is a great destination to visit. Romanticize the stories built upon its famous landmark, the Big Ben, and get involved in the daily government dealings of the Commons and Lords.

Lincolns Inn Fields

Don’t forget to visit Lincoln ‘s Inn Fields, London ‘s largest public square at the centre of Holburn, between John Soane’s Museum and the Royal College of Surgeons

Lincoln ‘s Inn Fields is the location of Lincoln ‘s Inn, the oldest of four Inns of Court located in London . Its records go back to 1422, much earlier than records of Middle Temple (1501), Inner Temple (1505) and Gray’s Inn (1569). It is said that the founding of the Inns came about due to an ordinance Edward I made in the year 1292. Famed architect, Inigo Jones, in the 17th century, partially contributed to the layout of Lincoln Fields.

Situated in Holborn, on the border of the City of London and Westminster, Lincoln’s Inn Fields is, by far, London’s largest public square. However, it wasn’t always open to the public. From the time it was established, until the year 1895, when it was acquired by the London County Council, it was only accessible to barristers (now called solicitors), and judges and clerks of court.

Within the square, tourists can visit the Lindsey House. Built in 1640, it is the oldest building in Lincoln ‘s Inn Fields. Another surviving edifice is the Powis House, built for Lord Powis sometime during the 17th century. A fire in 1684 damaged the property but it was restored by Sir Christopher Wren. It was purchased by the Duke of Newcastle in 1705 and subsequent remodeling was done by Sir John Vanbrugh.

Other places of interest in Lincoln ‘s Inn Fields include Sir John Soane’s Museum, Cancer Research UK , Royal College of Surgeons, HM Land Registry, the home of surgeon William Marsden, and the Great Hall which, together with the other Stone Buildings, were designed by architect Philip Hardwick.

Today, Lincoln ‘s Inn Fields has tennis and netball courts, and a bandstand for outdoor events.

Lincoln ‘s Inn Fields should not be confused with the building called Lincoln ‘s Inn . A perimeter wall and a large gatehouse serve as the boundary between the two famed tourist attractions.

Leeds Castle

This is one of the most romantic castles in Britain , and is a must-see for couples. Leeds Castle was originally a manor of the Saxon royal family. Its beautifully maintained grounds, well preserved interiors and gorgeous view help bring visitors to a bygone age, when knights fought for their lady love and bards sang tribute to the romance between king and queen.

One of its key architectural features is that it is one of the the first castles with an earthwork enclosure. Its wooden palisade was converted to stone and then enhanced with two towers.

Primrose Hill

For something a bit different, why not visit primrose hill, a lovely area of London near Regents Park and Camden . You might even bump into a celebrity or two while you’re there. Check out our guide to Primrose Hill for more details.

Primrose Hill is one of the most charming and picturesque neighbourhoods in London . Rich in breathtakingly beautiful scenery, it is a haven of serenity and calm, and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The landscaped parks, luxurious flower beds, and sheltered walkways look like they’ve been lifted from a painting, and during sunny weather, it is the perfect venue for picnics and leisurely walks.

Primrose Hill is found north of Regent’s Park via the London Zoo and the bustling Prince Albert Road . It spans 61 acres of grassy hills. Primrose Hill has a children’s playground and an outdoor gymnasium. The gymnasium actually has historical significance since it has been standing since Victorian times. However, its equipment is very modern and complete, and tourists who wish to catch up on their exercise programs will not be disappointed with its facilities.

Royal Naval College

Visit the Home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and college where officers from all over the world come to train in the naval sciences. Originally a hospital, the Royal Naval college has an interesting history and is well worth a visit.

The Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, England is beautifully located by the River Thames, on the site of the Palace of Placentia where once lived King Henry VIII, who is incidentally a known naval enthusiast. When Henry VIII moved to Kensington Palace in his final years, Mary, his wife and Queen, transformed the Palace of Placentia into a hospital for the Royal Navy. The building’s architecture was ingeniously designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

It was during this era that the masterpiece of The Painted Hall was done by artist extraordinaire Sir James Thornhill. The Painted Hall is a massive dining hall that—because of its exquisite craftsmanship and artistry—can be considered one of London ‘s most unique works of art. It took 19 long years to finish. Interestingly, Thornhill was paid 3 pounds per square yard for painting the ceiling, and 1 pound per square yard for the walls.

In 1869, the hospital had to be closed down due to a significant decrease in residency. The Admiralty then took over the venue and used it as the new campus for The Royal Naval College when it transferred from Portsmouth in 1873. The National Maritime Museum was put up in the compound and most of the royal artefacts and memorabilia were moved here.

Just a few years ago, the Royal Navy moved out to join the other Armed Forces in a single location. Hence, the massive Greenwich establishment was vacant once again. The Greenwich Foundation for the Royal Naval College was then set up to assume responsibility for the estate. It was decided to lease some buildings to the University of Greenwich and the Trinity College .

Famous tourist attractions here are The Queen’s House, which is now part of the National Maritime Museum; the Royal Naval College Chapel which holds worship services for the public every Sunday at 11am; The Dreadnought Library, which used to be The Royal Naval Hospital Infirmary and later The Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital; and The Royal Observatory where the Prime Meridian can be found (a demarcation line which is the actual and official representation of zero degrees longitude).

St Paul ‘s Cathedral

St Paul ‘s Cathedral

Most people are familiar with the site of the famous dome of St Paul ‘s cathedral. Take a moment out of your tour of London to visit and appreciate this magnificent cathedral.

Another masterpiece of renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren, St Paul ‘s Cathedral is probably the most popular church in England . Ever since it was built, It has been a favourite venue for Royal Weddings. As a matter of fact, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana held their wedding here.

Built between 1675 and 1710, St. Paul ‘s Cathedral showcases various artistic styles and influences including Classical and Gothic design. An example of this is the Cathedral’s remarkable dome that dominates London ‘s skyline. The Golden Gallery, found atop the establishment, provides a breathtaking view of the city. The catch is that you will have to take 530 steps from the Cathedral floor (85 metres) before you can enjoy it. Quite a climb, but well worth it.

The building is teeming with historic and religious art, with every wall and pillar noticeably created with great detail and style. St. Paul ‘s Cathedral is definitely an experience. Miraculously surviving the gruesome devastation inflicted by World War Two, 300 years after its opening, St. Paul ‘s stood as a symbol of hope and peace for many Londoners, and the rest of the world as well.

Other attractions in the Cathedral are: The Whispering Gallery which is known for its excellent acoustics (some say you can actually drop a pin and hear it hit the floor); and the elegant crypt below which holds tombs and memorials of some significant people in British history including the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Nelson.

Come and experience the majesty and glory of St Paul ‘s Cathedral. Visiting hours are from 8:30am to 4:00pm . Galleries are open from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Guided Tours which take about an hour and a half to about two hours are available in French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish languages and commence at 11:00am , 11:30am , 1:30pm , 2:00pm .

Tower Bridge

Situated next to the Tower of London , Tower bridge is a fine example of a bascule bridge and further details on the Tower Bridge experience can be found in our guide to Tower Bridge .

The Tower Bridge of London is a bascule (or draw) bridge that crosses the River Thames. Often mistaken for the London Bridge , which is further upstream, the Tower Bridge gets its name from The Tower of London, which stands in the nearby distance.

Tower Bridge

Designed by Sir Horace Jones and opened for full operation in 1894, the Tower Bridge is definitely one of the most popular and most visited bridges all over the world, and in history. During the time of its early operations, boat traffic along the River Thames was very high due to the river’s being a main thoroughfare for trade in London . Because of this, the bridge had to be made in such a way that it would allow tall ships to pass underneath without having to build it so high above the water. The architectural genius of Sir Horace Jones gave birth to the idea of making it a bascule bridge. The center of the bridge is composed of twin bascules that could be raised when a tall ship was to pass and lowered again after the ship had passed. To this day, the same operation is still being used, though scheduled quite a few times in a week. It is still a delightful sight to behold.

This historic landmark also offers a fantastic view over the Tower of London after which it was named. In addition, a wonderful melee of river life on the Thames can also be appreciated while walking across the bridge. What’s great is that tourists can get on the bridge from the North Tower and cross the river up to the South Tower through an enclosed walkway, thus protecting them from the heat and other elements. At The Tower Bridge Experience, an astonishing display of Tower Bridge machinery and other exhibits can be beheld.

Admission rates to the Tower Bridge vary from three pounds for students with a valid ID, to five-fifty for adults. Various group packages are also available. The Tower Bridge is open 9:30am to 6pm daily from November to March, and 10am-6.30pm daily from April to October.

Tower of London

With some of the most gruesome history in London , the Tower is a “must see” on your visit to London . From the Beefeaters to the Crown Jewels there is something for adults and children alike.

Founded by William the Conqueror in 1066-7 and enlarged and modified by successive sovereigns, today the Tower of London is one of the world’s most famous and spectacular fortresses. Discover its 900-year history as a royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, mint, arsenal, menagerie and jewel house.

The Tower of London is found in east London , and is best accessed by the tube at Tower Hill.

Trafalgar Square

Visit Trafalgar Square, home to Nelson’s Column, designed to celebrate his victory at the battle of Trafalgar.

Located deep in the heart of London City is Trafalgar Square . Here stands the 145 foot high monument known as Nelson’s Column. This pillar bears the statue of Lord Horatio Nelson being guarded by four great lions. It is said that this monument marks the spot that is considered to be the actual centre of London .

This historical Square was built in honour of Admiral Nelson, following his tremendous naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar just off the coast of Spain in 1805. The four lions around the Admiral’s statue are quite noteworthy because they are made of bronze metal taken from actual cannons used during this battle. It’s a marvel to close your eyes and touch them as they bring you to the days of the Battle of Trafalgar and hearing Lord Nelson’s command.

Also significantly taking up a portion of the Square are two wonderful water fountains. It is interesting to note that some tourists and locals take advantage of the fountains during the heat of summer by taking a casual dip, turning it into a swimming pool in the centre of London . Also fascinating about the Square is the amount of pigeons that flock here. There could easily be one pigeon for every tourist that comes for a visit. During the Holiday Season, an enormous Christmas Tree can be found here blinking through the night.

With the National Gallery, St. Martin’s, and other tourist destinations including embassies surrounding the area, Trafalgar Square is indeed a fantastic place to meet people and make new friends and acquaintances. When visiting London , it is almost a priority to come to this beautiful Square to see the sights, feel the vibe, and relish the thought of being in the centre of the most popular city in England .

Madame Tussauds Waxwork Museum

One of the more famous landmarks in London is Madame Tussauds Wax Museum , where hundreds of true-to-life wax replicas of prominent sports, political and entertainment figures are showcased for the public to see and enjoy. Have a look at our guide for a brief history of Madame Tussaud and her waxworks.

One of the more famous landmarks in London is Madame Tussauds Wax Museum , where hundreds of true-to-life wax replicas of prominent sports, political and entertainment figures are showcased for the public to see and enjoy. The sculptures appear to be so full of life that not a few have actually touched them to see if they were breathing.

But who exactly is Madame Tussaud? And how did she acquire the uncanny ability to make wax figures that mimic the real personalities down to the last detail?

Born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761, Madame Tussaud gained and honed her talents in wax sculpting by working as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius. Dr. Curtius was a physician by profession, but was known for his prolific talent in making true-to-life wax figures. It was Curtius who trained the young Marie to become an expert wax sculptor. She created her first wax figure in 1778, that of popular socio-political thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Soon after, she made the wax figures Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.

Aside from creating wax figures for prominent people, Marie also ventured into the dark and sinister. Marie scoured for decapitated heads and used them as models to create death masks for some of the most important victims of the French Revolution.

When Curtius died in 1794, he left his collection of wax figures to Marie. She brought these figures, along with her own growing collection, with her when she fled to England in 1802.

Visitors who want to be star struck will not be disappointed when they see the Superstars and Legends Section. Even the most reserved of individuals find themselves acting like a fan when they see their big screen or sports idols forever immortalized in wax.

The Grand Hall, on the other hand, gathers together the figures of royalty and statesmen, from the olden up to the present times.

But by far, the most famous collection of Madame Tussauds is the Chamber of Horrors, which carries the death masks that the young Marie made, along with sinister depictions of infamous murderers like Jack the Ripper. Because of the very detailed depictions, the Chamber is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Westminster Abbey

Home of the coronation of all the English Monarchy (barring Edward V and Edward VIII who were never crowned) Westinster Abbey is a great historical and architectural monument. Why not have a look at our guide to find out a little more about the history of the Abbey before your visit?

Windsor Castle

Overlooking the Berkshire town of Windsor , Windsor is one of the largest and oldest castles that is still standing. It was actually used as the official home of Queen Elizabeth II. It was constructed during the time of William the Conqueror to safeguard the western approaches to London . Since then, it has been continuously used by Britain ‘s monarchs as one of their places of residence. Visitors can enter many parts of the castle. Windsor Castle ‘s sprawling grounds (approximately 700 hectares of carefully maintained greenery) are also a popular and picturesque destination, and can be explored through the Long Walk.

London Zoo

Visit the zoo that Charles Darwin famously visited, and have a look at over 600 different species of animals.

Sitting on 36 acres of Royal Park and housing the notable Zoological Society of London, the London Zoo officially opened in 1828. One of the zoo’s most famous (and most regular) visitors was Charles Darwin, a fellow of the Zoological Society of London since 1831. He was extremely fascinated by one of the London Zoo’s most prized exhibits at the time, the first-ever orangutan in Europe back then. Perhaps his long walks through the zoo played a key role in his formulation of the Theory of Evolution.

Darwin wasn’t the last to find creative inspiration from the London Zoo. Various Chi-Chi, the great panda of the West in 1958, was the muse behind Peter Scott’s design for the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund.

Today, people of all ages continue to flock to the zoo and visit its over 600 species, 112 of which are listed as endangered. Visitors can get up and personal with regular favorites such as lions, tigers, gorillas, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and more. And both children and adults will get a kick out of the Animals in Action display, with its 30 minutes of flying, foraging, and leaping action from animals showing off their natural skills and abilities. There is even an interactive petting zoo in the children’s section with rabbits, pigs, cows, and a bunch of much-loved farmyard animals. In the Reptile House waits an array of cold-blooded reptiles; visitors are even allowed to feed the snakes on Fridays! The London Zoo also offers other opportunities to get close to the animals; people can feed the fish in the aquarium or penguins at the spiral pool, and hop on a pony at the Riding Square.


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