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A Walk along the Regent’s Canal in London

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Although the River Thames dominates the centre of London, there are other waterways that offer plenty of interest to visitors to London. The Regent’s Canal in the north of London takes walkers into London’s industrial past, past the famous Camden market, through Regent’s Park, past London Zoo and ends with a colourful collection of narrowboats at Little Venice.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Regent’s Canal links the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal in the west, to the Limehouse Basin in the east. This section is around 13.8 kilometres (8.6 miles) long. However it is the section from King’s Cross to Paddington that is the most popular with walkers.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Regent’s Canal was designed by famous Regency architect John Nash who named the canal after his main patron, the Prince Regent, son of King George III who later become George IV. The canal was opened in 1820 and from the the mid 19th century, the canal had become busy and profitable. It was especially important for bringing timber, building materials and coal to King’s Cross Station from the industrial north. A new retail park behind King’s Cross Station called Coal Drops Yard uses some of the old storage warehouses. The canal as a working highway declined in the late 20th century and is mainly used now for leisure cruising and the tow path is used extensively by walkers and cyclists.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Many walks start from behind King’s Cross Station near to the Camley Street Natural Park where the towpath goes to Battlebridge Basin, home of the London Canal Museum.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Gradually you come across to the vibrant Camden Lock, Camden markets are world famous and one of London’s major attractions. It is great place to take a break and enjoy the wonderful selection of street food.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

After the delights of Camden comes the more peaceful Cumberland Basin, with its moored boats and quick succession of low road and rail bridges.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

From the scenic, we go exotic with a number of wild animals on the other bank inside London Zoo, high above the towpath is a huge aviary designed by Lord Snowdon.

Look out for ‘Blow Up Bridge’, a boat full of gunpowder exploded here in 1874 demolished the bridge and the bridge had to be rebuilt.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A more peaceful section take you around Regent’s Park, a number of white mansions line the canal with large gardens running down to the water.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The relative quiet of Regent’s Park is replaced by the more busy Warwick Avenue with plenty of moored boats before finishing at the pool of Little Venice which is a picturesque open space lined with boats and surrounded by Regency houses. Boat trips run from here, there is a boat café and even a Puppet Barge theatre.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

If you are looking for something different away from the usual tourist trails, a walk along Regent’s Canal offers a great deal of variety in a walk through the north of London.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
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Hidden London : Secrets of Ely Place

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Near Holborn Circus stands two rows of houses known as Ely Place. The road does not lead anywhere but the calm and pleasant nature of the road belies the history of the area which is steeped in over 700 years of change.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The present Ely Place and some of the surrounding area was the site of the town house or mansion of the Bishops of Ely. The story of Ely Place begins with the death in 1290 of John de Kirkeby, Bishop of Ely. He left land and buildings in Holborn to his successors that would be known as the London residence for the Bishops of Ely.

Ely Place – 16th Century

His immediate successor, William de Luda used the land to build the chapel of St. Etheldreda, later bishops built the mansion with a vineyard, kitchen-garden, and orchard. By the 16th century, Ely Place was considered one of the grandest of London’s mansions. Between the 13th and 16th centuries, the site was home to many notable people including John of Gaunt who died here in 1399. Other nobles who lived here were Henry Radclyff, Earl of Sussex and the Earl of Warwick.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The gardens that surrounded Ely House were famous for their fruit especially fine strawberries. Shakespeare mentions these strawberries in his play Richard III.

“My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
I saw good strawberries in your garden there;
I do beseech you, send for some of them!

It was in the reign of Elizabeth I that the attractions of Ely Place came to the attention of Sir Christopher Hatton who would become ever associated with the location. Hatton had entered one of the inns of court and studied law, but it was his great ability as a dancer that caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth who promoted him to Lord Chancellor. Although not widely admired, Elizabeth’s obsession with him led to him taking advantage of his royal patron.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In 1576, to oblige Queen Elizabeth, the Bishop of Ely, allowed Hatton the use of the gate-house of the mansion and parts of the garden. Once Hatton moved in, he borrowed money from his royal patron to rebuild part of the house and garden. Unsatisfied with just part of the premises, he petitioned Queen Elizabeth to allow him to have the whole house and gardens. The Bishop of Ely were desperate to maintain the Church property, but Elizabeth insisted he must hand over the land.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The victory for Hatton was short-lived, it was said his debt to the Queen was around forty thousand pounds. Perhaps she got tired of his dancing because she asked for settlement of the debt. Hatton was horrified because he did not have the funds to pay. He never recovered from this setback and he died in Ely House in 1591, some say from a ‘broken heart’. The Bishops of Ely did eventually regain their land but eventually transferred to the Crown all its right to Ely Place in the 18th century.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The days of the nobility in Ely Place were numbered, in 1642, the palace and church was requisitioned by Parliament for use as a prison and hospital during the English Civil War. During the 17th century, many of the palatial buildings were pulled down and the land and gardens used to build Hatton Garden, Great and Little Kirby Streets, Charles Street, Cross Street, and Hatton Wall.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The present Ely Place was not built till about 1773. But remnants of its former glories remain. Mitre Court, which leads from Ely Place to Hatton Garden is the location of Ye Olde Mitre pub which claims to be the tavern site that goes back to the days of Ely Palace and in the bar is a piece of wood that was allegedly part of a tree that Elizabeth I and Christopher Hatton used to dance around.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Remarkably the chapel of Ely Place dedicated to St. Etheldreda still stands and retains much of its original aspects. The chapel was once used as a school-room before 1874 when was bought by the Roman Catholic Church.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Ely Place is the last privately owned street in London, having been originally an enclave of Cambridgeshire, the location of the medieval abbey at Ely for the Bishops of Ely and the playground for the dancing Lord Chancellor, it is now managed by its own body of commissioners.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Hidden London: The St Pancras New Church Caryatids

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Euston Road is one of London’s busiest roads both with traffic and pedestrians moving between the main railway stations of King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston. Therefore, it is perhaps no surprise that the St Pancras New Church is often ignored but for those who are willing to investigate further there is plenty to discover.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Unlike many churches, the building of St Pancras New Church was influenced by what was known as the Greek Revival architectural movement. The movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries tried to revive the style of ancient Greek architecture, in particular the Greek temples. Part of the movement’s appeal was that it offered a classical style that appealed to local civic authorities and even a few church organisations. For a while it was very popular in  Britain, Germany and the United States.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The New Church was built primarily to serve the new built up areas around Euston Road, especially the nearby district of Bloomsbury. The building of St Pancras church was agreed in 1816 and the designs of local architect William Inwood and his son Henry William Inwood were accepted.  Henry William Inwood happened to be in Athens at the time that the plans their St Pancras were accepted, and he brought back to England plaster casts of details of the Erechtheum on the Acropolis. Inwood was also influenced by the Tower of the Winds in Athens which he used for a model of the church’s octagonal tower.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
However the church’s most celebrated features are the two sets of caryatids that stand above the north and south entrances to the Crypt. The  original figures are well known from their location on the Acropolis, the St Pancras caryatids are different in respect that they hold an extinguished torch or an empty jug, reflecting their position as guardians of the dead.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Another difference is that the St Pancras caryatids are made of terracotta, constructed in sections around cast-iron columns, they were modelled by John Charles Felix Rossi.
The first stone was laid by the Duke of York at a ceremony on 1 July 1819 and church was consecrated by the Bishop of London on 7 May 1822. When it was completed, the church was considered one of the expensive church’s to be built in London since the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral. Although the church was closed for two years in the 1950s for structural renovation, St Pancras is still in use as a place of worship. It is now considered one of the most important 19th-century churches in England and is a Grade I listed building.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Its position, next to Euston Road has led to its splendours being diminished by pollution and attempts to clean have exposed staining of the Portland stone.
One of the stories related to the St Pancras caryatids is that when they were due to be installed it was found they were too large and some of their middle had to be chopped away. As with most of these urban myths it is difficult to determine fact from fiction.  But if you are looking for a piece of Classical Greece, make you way to St Pancras New Church.
London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Hidden London : Shad Thames

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

With all the modern development on London’s waterfront, it is easy to forget that for many centuries, the Thames was the main highway to bring in and send out goods.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

For a reminder of working London, it is worth taking a walk to Shad Thames which is a historic riverside street next to Tower Bridge. The street known as Shad Thames goes back at least to the 18th century, although Shad Thames was only one street, the whole area was often known by the same title. The street starts near Tower Bridge and runs along the south side of the River Thames, behind a row of converted warehouses; it then takes a turn south along St Saviour’s Dock.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Nobody really knows what ‘Shad’ really means but could a corruption of ‘St John at Thames’, a St John’s Church once stood on the street. In the 19th century, the area had one of the largest warehouse complex in London.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The complex completed in 1873 was full of warehouses which held huge quantities of tea, coffee, spices and many other commodities. As well as the warehouses, there was many wharves, mills, and factories in the area.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Throughout the 20th century, the area went into decline as shipping began to unload goods further east and the last warehouses closed in 1972.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Like much of the London riverfront, Shad Thames and the surrounding area was regenerated in the 1980s and 1990s, when the disused warehouses were converted into luxury flats with restaurants, bars and shops on the ground floor. One of the leading figures in this regeneration was designer and restaurateur Terence Conran who was involved in founding the Design Museum (now relocated to Kensington) and opening a number of riverside restaurants including the Le Pont de la Tour.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Despite the development of the new flats, the converted warehouses retain many of their original characteristic features of brickwork, winches and large signs. One of most striking features of Shad Thames are the walkways high above the street. They were originally used from transferring goods between the warehouses.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

With its picturesque buildings, cobbled streets and proximity to the river, it is not surprising that Shad Thames is a popular location for films and TV programmes. Films which have used Shad Thames include The Elephant Man (1980), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), A Fish Called Wanda (1988), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001). The original Oliver! (1968) was filmed in the area, Charles Dickens used the slum area Jacob’s Island which was located near Shad Thames for the home of villian Bill Sikes and where he meets his bitter end.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Although it is near Tower Bridge, Shad Thames is largely overlooked by visitors but is used mainly by residents and office workers. However if you want a taste of 19th century London, it is well worth taking a stroll down the cobbled streets of Shad Thames.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Hidden London: London’s Lighthouse in Blackwall

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Thames has been a highway for shipping for centuries, however the river is not considered a dangerous river to navigate. Therefore it is a suprise that near Blackwall which is around six miles from the centre of London is a lighthouse.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The lighthouse is located in Trinity Buoy Wharf which for centuries was occupied by the Corporation of Trinity House and used for storing buoys and other marine equipment with workshops for testing, repairing and making equipment.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In the 19th century, a lighthouse was built, not to aid the Thames river traffic but as an experimental lighthouse. In the original lighthouse built in the 1850s,famous scientist Michael Faraday carried out tests in electric lighting for lighthouses. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1864 and was used to experiment with electric light and different coloured lights, the results being checked at Charlton across the river. After the Second World War, the lighthouse was used for the training of lighthouse keepers.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The lighthouse and the workshops were closed in 1988 and the area was acquired by the London Docklands Development Corporation. In 1998, Urban Space Holdings Ltd took control of the site on a long lease. The site has been, and continues to be, developed as “a centre for the arts and cultural activities”.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Inside the Lighthouse is the Longplayer installation, which has been running since the 31st December 1999. In addition to the listening post, there are 234 singing bowls, used as a part of the 66-foot-wide orchestral instrument to perform Longplayer Live, are on display. The steel structure, designed by Ingrid Hu, was commissioned to display and store the bowls and was installed in autumn 2012. Each tier of the structure, containing 39 bowls positioned sequentially, corresponds to one of the six concentric rings of the Longplayer Live instrument. Longplayer is programmed so it will not stop until 2999.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Lighthouse is the main attraction in Trinity Buoy Wharf but there are a number of other attractions including a small installation in shed called the Faraday Effect, an old Trinity lighthouse ship which has been turned into a Music Recording Studio, Old shipping containers have been painted and made into office blocks called Container City.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

But perhaps the last thing you would expect to find in such a place is the Fatboy’s Diner, a genuine 1940s American Diner from New Jersey that was bought over from the States then had a few short stays in different parts of London before finding its present site. The Diner itself is a bit of a celebrity featuring in the film Sliding Doors, music videos and magazines.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Trinity Buoy Wharf is located near to the financial district of Canary Wharf and visitors can enjoy great views of the Thames and the O2 whilst drinking a milkshake at an original American Diner next to a lighthouse.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Hidden London: The Strange Story of Bleeding Heart Yard

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
There are places in London that on the surface are quite ordinary and not worth a second glance but scratch below the surface and you may be surprised by what you find.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Bleeding Heart Yard is one of these places, it is a fairly anonymous cobbled courtyard off Greville Street in the Farringdon area of the City of London. The courtyard was probably named after a 16th-century inn sign displayed on a pub called the Bleeding Heart. It was said that the sign showed the heart of the Virgin Mary pierced by five swords.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
There is still a Bleeding Heart Tavern in front of the courtyard and visitors will notice the heart motif as they wander around. It is not by accident because the area was known for the gruesome ‘murder’ of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, relative of Sir Christopher Hatton (known as the dancing ‘Chancellor’ during the reign of Elizabeth I). He lived in nearby Ely Place and owned much of the area around Hatton Garden. It is said that her body was found here in 1626, “torn limb from limb, but with her heart still pumping blood.”
The origins of the legend is not known but a well known version of the story was published in the early 19th century as one of the Ingoldsby Legends by Richard Barham. In a story entitled  The House-Warming!!: A Legend Of Bleeding-Heart Yard.
In this version, Sir Christopher Hatton marries Alice Fanshawe, who is suspected of having made a deal with the Devil so that her husband will have success at the court of Elizabeth I. Sir Christopher success leads to him becoming Lord Chancellor, and the Queen forces the Bishops of Ely to give Sir Christopher the keys to their London residence at Ely Place.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
However, when the Hattons celebrate their good fortune at their housewarming they have an unwelcome visitor who wants to dance with Alice, the Devil it seems wants Alice to pay her part of the contract.
Of poor Lady Hatton, it’s needless to say,
No traces have ever been found to this day,
Or the terrible dancer who whisk’d her away;
But out in the court-yard — and just in that part
Where the pump stands — lay bleeding a LARGE HUMAN HEART!
And sundry large stains
Of blood and of brains,
Which had not been wash’d off notwithstanding the rains,
Appear’d on the wood, and the handle, and chains,
As if somebody’s head with a very hard thump,
Had been recently knock’d on the top of the pump.
Like many legends, there are elements of truth and more than a splash of fantasy. While it was true that Sir Christopher Hatton did benefit from Queen Elizabeth’s patronage and did receive Ely Place from the Bishop of Ely.
Other parts of the story are a confusion of the various Christopher Hattons and Lady Hattons, no Lady Hatton was murdered in Bleeding Heart Yard in 1626.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Richard Barham was not the only author attracted to this peculiar corner of London, Bleeding Heart Yard features in the Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit as the home of the Plornish family. Dickens describes the yard and its name.
Bleeding Heart Yard was to be found; a place much changed in feature and in fortune, yet with some relish of ancient greatness about it. Two or three mighty stacks of chimneys, and a few large dark rooms which had escaped being walled and subdivided out of the recognition of their old proportions, gave the Yard a character. It was inhabited by poor people, who set up their rest among its faded glories, as Arabs of the desert pitch their tents among the fallen stones of the Pyramids; but there was a family sentimental feeling prevalent in the Yard, that it had a character.
As if the aspiring city had become puffed up in the very ground on which it stood, the ground had so risen about Bleeding Heart Yard that you got into it down a flight of steps which formed no part of the original approach, and got out of it by a low gateway into a maze of shabby streets, which went about and about, tortuously ascending to the level again. At this end of the Yard and over the gateway, was the factory of Daniel Doyce, often heavily beating like a bleeding heart of iron, with the clink of metal upon metal.
The opinion of the Yard was divided respecting the derivation of its name. The more practical of its inmates abided by the tradition of a murder; the gentler and more imaginative inhabitants, including the whole of the tender sex, were loyal to the legend of a young lady of former times closely imprisoned in her chamber by a cruel father for remaining true to her own true love, and refusing to marry the suitor he chose for her. The legend related how that the young lady used to be seen up at her window behind the bars, murmuring a love-lorn song of which the burden was, ‘Bleeding Heart, Bleeding Heart, bleeding away,’ until she died.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The Bleeding Heart Yard of today is more sedate than its fictional past but there are still reminders of the legends of the past.
London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Hidden London: Southbank Undercroft Skate Space

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Many visitors to the London Southbank may be surprised by skateboarders doing their tricks under the Southbank Centre. They may even more surprised that skateboarders have been using this space for nearly 50 years and it has gained a reputation as London’s iconic skateboarding site.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

For many years, the skateboarders were tolerated but not encouraged and in plans to redevelop the Southbank Centre, it was considered to use the space for other uses. However a long running campaign and a successful fundraising exercise has bought official recognition.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The local community of skateboarders, BMXers, Graffiti Writers and other creatives approached Southbank Centre in 2013 and 2014 and a partnership was formed to develop the space. After planning permission was granted, £1.1 million was raised in a joint fundraising campaign. From July 2019, Long Live Southbank (LLSB) and the Southbank Centre have opened sections of the Southbank Undercroft Skate Space which have been closed to the public since 2005. This marks a joint commitment to reopen and promote the space as a skateboarding site.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The work has restored Southbank’s little banks, one of the most important sites in UK skateboarding history. The work will also restore the wooden ledge, a large area of flatground and create a new jersey barrier for skaters to use in the space.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Various events have been planned to celebrate this official opening of the new areas and plans are being developed to consider the skateboarding future of the space.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here