Home » London Attractions

Category Archives: London Attractions

Review: National Maritime Museum in Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum is located within the historic buildings that form part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and is run by Royal Museums Greenwich which comprises of the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House.

Greenwich has been the home to a naval-based art gallery since the early 1800s, however the idea for a National Maritime Museum goes back to the 1920s, when a public appeal was launched to develop a ‘national naval and nautical museum’. Sir James Caird purchased the A.G.H. Macpherson Collection of over 11,000 maritime prints, along with ship models and many other items, to help begin the Museum’s collection.

Over a decade later, the National Maritime Museum was opened by King George VI in 1937 and now holds some of the most important items in the world on the history of Britain at sea, including maritime art, cartography, manuscripts, official public records, ship models and plans. In the last ten years, more gallery spaces have been added and a new library and archive has been developed.

Highlights of the ground level area are the remarkable collection of figureheads from the late 17th century until the early 20th century, the stern gallery of HMS Implacable, a full size Type-23 frigate propeller and the lavish 20 metre The state barge built for Frederick, Prince of Wales and launched in 1732.

On the ground level is the Jutland 1916 gallery which was opened to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest sea battle of the First World War.

Also on this level is J.M.W. Turner’s largest painting of The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, which is one of the highlights of the museums art collection and the Voyagers gallery which tells the story of Britain and the sea and Maritime London.

Moving up to other levels, there are series of galleries and displays including the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery which explores the life and times of great British hero Horatio Nelson and the history of the Royal Navy and British people from 1688–1815. One of the highlights is the actual uniform Admiral Nelson was wearing when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Visitors can find out about Britain’s maritime trade with Asia in the Traders: the East India Company and Asia gallery and find a moments peace in the beautiful Baltic Exchange Memorial Glass gallery which commemorates World War I dead.

The museum has opened four new galleries from September 2018, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers uncovers stories of adventure and piracy, ambition and greed. Polar Worlds discover the challenges of extreme environments. From Arctic and Antarctic exploration to the impact of climate change on human lives. Pacific Encounters voyage to the world’s largest ocean and hear hidden histories of exploration and exploitation. Sea Things explores more personal connections with the sea with a series of personal stories.

The museum attracts many children and families with its AHOY! children’s gallery and you can enjoy food and drink in the Parkside Café and Terrace which features the popular Yinka Shonibare’s replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory in a bottle.

The National Maritime Museum is one of the top free museums in London and is often visited by those who wish to explore the many delights of historic Greenwich. The museum has in recent years worked to show their remarkable objects in a way that they illustrate particular stories and events. This very popular museum has been innovative in the way it uses historical objects and multimedia to tell the fascinating story of Britain’s maritime past.

For more information and tickets, visit the National Maritime Museum website here

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

 

Review: Florence Nightingale Museum in London

The Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of one of the world’s most famous nurses. The museum is located within St Thomas’ Hospital near the banks of the river Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament. The Florence Nightingale Museum collection is made up of almost 3000 artefacts relating to the life, work and legacy of Florence Nightingale and attracts visitors from all over the world who want to learn more about the ‘Lady with the Lamp’.

The origins of the collection were artefacts acquired by Dame Alicia Lloyd-Still during her time as Matron of St Thomas’ Hospital in 1913-1937. The collection was first publicly displayed for the centenary of the Crimean War in 1954 at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, then again on the centenary of the Nightingale Training School for Nurses in 1960, and the 150th anniversary of Florence’s birth in 1970. The collection was transferred into the care of the Florence Nightingale Museum Trust in 1983, who then went on to open the museum on the site of the original Nightingale Training School in 1989.

Florence Nightingale is most famous for being the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ who organised the nursing of sick and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, however the museum provides plenty of evidence of the way that Nightingale’s ideas and reforms have influenced modern healthcare.

The museum displays begins by looking at Florence’s ‘Early years’, she was born into a fairly wealthy middle-class family and soon began to show an aptitude for academic studies especially mathematics. Florence believed she had a ‘calling’ from God was destined to do something important with her life. This background gave Florence a strong sense of moral duty to help the poor and gradually began to consider that nursing may be a path to fulfil her ambitions. Paid nursing at this time had a poor reputation at this time and was generally considered a job for elderly women.

What often set Florence apart from many others was her practical approach and she read anything she could find about health and hospitals before persuading her parents to allow her to take three months’ nursing training at an hospital in Dusseldorf. When Florence was 33, she became superintendent of a hospital for ‘gentlewomen’ in Harley Street in London. However it was to be the Crimean War which would make her reputation.

The displays in the museum tell the story of how Florence was invited by the Minister of War to oversee the introduction of female nurses into the military hospitals in Turkey. With a party of 38 nurses, Florence arrived in Scutari and began to organise the hospitals to improve supplies of food, blankets and beds, as well as the general conditions and cleanliness. For centuries, soldiers were more likely to die from disease than conflict when serving overseas but little was done to deal with these issues.

By introducing the new measures at Scutari, the mortality rates declined significantly and British soldiers showed their respect for Florence by giving her the nickname ‘Lady of the Lamp’. The introduction of female nurses to the military hospitals was considered an outstanding success and Florence returned to Britain a heroine. It is this image of the ‘Lady of the Lamp’ that is ingrained in popular culture, however this overshadows her later work which many consider to be even more important. One of her greatest achievements was to transform nursing into a respectable profession for women and in 1860, she established the first professional training school for nurses, the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas’ Hospital.

For the rest of her life, she campaigned tirelessly to improve health standards, publishing over 200 books, reports and pamphlets on hospital planning and organisation. It is said that she wrote over 13000 letters as part of her campaigns and reforms. Some of the books, reports, pamphlets are included in the displays including her most famous work Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not.

Despite often being confined to her sick bed, Florence used many of her contacts including Queen Victoria to push for reforms and used statistics to provide evidence of her arguments. Despite her ill health, Florence lived till she was 90, she died in 1910.

The museum looks at Florence Nightingale’s legacy by featuring a set of ten oil paintings by French artist Victor Tardieu, which depict a field hospital during the First World War. The lesson learned in the Crimea were applied in latter wars to save millions of soldiers from disease and death from injuries.

Visitors walking around the museum may be surprised to come across a stuffed owl and dog, Athena was Florence Nightingale’s beloved pet owl which she rescued in Athens in 1850 and used to put in the pocket of her apron. The dog is called Jack and belonged to Edith Cavell, Jack helped soldiers escape from captivity during the First World War.

The Florence Nightingale Museum tells the story of a remarkable woman who transformed the nursing profession in the 19th century. The museum illustrates the life of Florence Nightingale with attractive displays, full of interesting objects that show how modern healthcare was influenced by a woman who used her celebrity to save millions of lives.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets , visit the Museum website here

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

 

Review : Discovering some of the secrets of the Charterhouse in London

The Charterhouse is a historic complex of buildings in London, dating back to the 14th century. Located near to the Barbican and Smithfield Market, the Charterhouse has an extraordinary history, as a monastery, school, mansion and almshouse, and formally opened its doors to the public last year, with the launch of a new museum.

To understand some of the complex history of the site, we joined an official tour of the site which are undertaken a number of times throughout the day

The site upon which the Charterhouse stands was acquired in the middle of the fourteenth century as a burial ground for the many victims of the Black Death. In 1371 a Carthusian Monastery was established by Sir Walter de Manny, one of Edward III’s senior advisers, a church built alongside the burial ground became the priory church.

Remarkably, parts of the Carthusian Monastery still exist, most notably in the Norfolk Cloister. The monks had quite large living accommodation on two levels with their private garden. The prior and monks were able to enjoy this relative luxury for over 150 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537. Resisting Henry VIII religious authority, the Prior, John Houghton was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn and ten monks were sent to Newgate Prison where nine starved to death and the tenth was executed at Tower Hill.

After the monastery was suppressed, the property and land was passed to the crown. Subsequently it was granted to Lord North, who began to transform the old monastery buildings into a grand Tudor mansion which was later sold to the fourth Duke of Norfolk.

Lord North built the Great Hall and the Great Chamber, such was the status of the mansion it attracted royal visitors. In 1558, Queen Elizabeth I used the house during the preparations for her coronation and James I held court here on his first entrance into London in 1603. Charterhouse was also the scene of considerable Tudor intrigue when the property was owned by Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.  For scheming to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, Norfolk was placed under house arrest at the Charterhouse. Eventually Norfolk’s involvement in the Ridolfi plot was his undoing and he was executed in 1572.

The Great Hall and the Great Chamber are still in use and are visited as part of the tour, together with a visit to Master’s Court which reveals the grandeur of Lord North’s Tudor mansion.

The next phase of Charterhouse history transforms the building from large mansion populated by the ‘movers and shakers’ of the Tudor court to an almshouse and school, endowed by Thomas Sutton in 1611. Thomas Sutton was considered the richest commoner in Britain, he was appointed Master of Ordnance in Northern Parts, but showed commercial acumen to build up a considerable fortune. Before he died, he endowed a hospital on the site of the Charterhouse and bequeathed money to maintain a chapel, hospital (almshouse) and school. The foundation he created was used to provide a home for up to eighty male pensioners, and to educate forty boys.

Before the school moved out in 1872 to Godalming, Surrey, it did have some distinguished pupils including William Makepeace Thackeray and John Wesley. Stuart and Graham may not have been famous but their graffiti from 1765 on a wooden column still remains.

Some of the historic buildings of the Charterhouse were severely damaged during the Blitz. However the restoration between 1950 and 1959 exposed some of the medieval, 16th and 17th century fabric and led to the discovery of the remains of Walter de Manny, the founder of the monastery, buried in a lead coffin before the high altar of the monastic chapel. A white stone now marks his resting place in the small garden at the front of the main entrance.

Walking around Charterhouse, you are made aware that it still continues to serve as an almshouse to up to 40 pensioners, known as Brothers, although they are no religious connotations. The Brothers dine is some splendour in the Great Hall and have self-contained accommodation around the various courts. There would be very few establishments that have provided these services for over 400 years.

The tours are a fascinating insight into one of London’s oldest and yet least known historical sites. For centuries, many of its secrets were maintained behind large walls. However, the public opening of Charterhouse provides an opportunity to explore of the intriguing stories of the past and strangely of the present.  Recent Crossrail excavations at the corner of the site have confirmed the presence of a large number of remains of people who died from the Black Death in the 14th century.  

We would recommend that you go on one of the excellent tours around Charterhouse to fully understand its historical importance, but if you have limited time, the small comprehensive museum and the chapel that includes the memorial to Thomas Sutton has free admission.

 Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

The Charterhouse

Charterhouse Square

London

EC1M 6AN

Visit the museum and chapel free Tuesdays to Sundays, 11.00am to 4.45pm

Standard tour of the main buildings: Tuesday to Saturday at 11.30am, 12:00pm and 2.00pm and on Sundays at 2:00pm and 3:15pm. £10 book in advance or on the day if there is availability

A tour guided by one of the Brothers – the residents in the Almshouse. Tuesday to Saturday at 11.30am, 12:00pm and 2.00pm and on Sundays at 2:00pm and 3:15pm. £15 book in advance or on the day if there is availability.

There are also other tours including the extensive gardens that are bookable through the website.

For more information , visit the Charterhouse website here

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

Review : Keats House Museum in Hampstead

Keats House is a museum in a house once occupied by the Romantic poet John Keats, it is located in Keats Grove in Hampstead. Keats House was originally a pair of semi-detached houses known as “Wentworth Place”. It was within Wentworth House that John Keats lodged with his friend Charles Brown from 1818 to 1820.

Although only there for a relatively short period, Keats’s wrote many of his famous poems here including “Ode to a Nightingale”. It was whilst living at the house, that Keats fell in love with and became engaged to Fanny Brawne, who lived with her family in the adjacent part of the house.

The house is a Grade I listed building which was built between 1814 and 1816 and was first occupied by Charles Wentworth Dilke and his friend Charles Brown, other members of the Dilke family lived in the adjacent house.

Keats owned very few possessions, however the museum furnishes each room with furniture of the period and has a number of portraits of the poet throughout the building. Each room tells a particular story related to the poet and other occupants of the house. 

The basement was generally the domain of the household servants and was where the food was prepared and cooked. Moving up to the ground floor, The Brawne Room provides evidence of Keats passion for poetry despite his intention to pursue a medical career.

In Keats Parlour, the furniture is arranged to match the portrait on the wall completed soon after his death which features Keats sitting in the room which was where the poet wrote some of his most famous poems. Charles Brown’s parlour was a meeting place for like minded friends, although Keats was very popular with a wide group of friends, he was not part of the literary mainstream.

Upstairs in the house, Fanny Brawne’s Room tells the story of the ill fated romance of Keats and Fanny. Keats Bedroom looks at the poet’s dreams and the realisation that he had consumption which would eventually kill him.  On the landing, pictures tell the story of Keats final journey when he travelled to Rome for health reasons but would die there of consumption in 1821.

A number of objects are on display in the house including the engagement ring Keats offered to Fanny Brawne, Keats own copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost and a copy of Keats’ death mask.

Situated in a leafy Hampstead suburb, Keats House does not look out of place with the large houses surrounding it. However, the house is a remarkable survivor from the early 19th century which allows visitors to gain some valuable insights into the life and times of one of Britain’s greatest poets.

The house is situated near Hampstead Heath and is reached easily by public transport, Hampstead Heath station is a five minutes’ walk away.

Video Review available here 

Visitor Information

Keats House opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-5pm.

Admission: Adults £6.50; Seniors £5.50; Concessions £4.50; Children 17 and under free of charge.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended 

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Keats House website here

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

A Short Guide to Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is a bascule and suspension bridge in London built between 1886 and 1894. The bridge is close to the Tower of London and has gradually become an iconic symbol of London.
In the second half of the 19th century, it was decided that a new river crossing was needed downstream of London Bridge. A traditional bridge was not considered because of the need to allow access by sailing ships to the port facilities in the Pool of London.

A public competition was held with over 50 designs being submitted, it was decided to build a bascule bridge and Sir John Wolfe Barry was appointed engineer with Sir Horace Jones as architect. Barry designed the bridge with two bridge towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges.

Construction started in 1886 and took eight years to complete with two piers containing over 70,000 tons of concrete supported the bridge with over 11,000 tons of steel providing the framework for the towers and walkways. Cornish granite and Portland stone were used for the Victorian Gothic style façade. The finished bridge consisted of two bridge towers connected together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways. The bridge was officially opened in 1894 by The Prince of Wales and his wife, The Princess of Wales.

The bridge is 800 feet (240 m) in length with two towers each 213 feet (65 m) high, The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two bascules, which can be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans are suspension bridges, each 270 feet (82 m) long, the pedestrian walkways are 143 feet (44 m) above the river.

The bridge is accessible by both vehicles and pedestrians, whereas the bridge’s twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition which opened in 1982.

Tower Bridge is crossed by over 40,000 people (motorists, cyclists and pedestrians) every day. The Bridge is opened over 1000 times a year for river traffic.

The Tower Bridge Exhibition is a housed in the bridge’s twin towers, the high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. The exhibition uses films, photos and interactive media to explain the story behind Tower Bridge. The walkways provide views over the city and the Tower of London and includes a glass-floored section.

Although Tower Bridge is considered one of the iconic sights of London today, when it was built it was not always appreciated with a number of people considered the structure pretentiousness and absurd.

Video Review here

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

Review : The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace

The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace evolved from the King’s Mews which was where the royal hawks were kept. The Mews were originally housed near Charing Cross on the site of the present National Gallery. The royal hawks were kept there from 1377 until the building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and was rebuilt as stables.

In the 1760s, George III moved some of his horses and carriages to the grounds of Buckingham House, which he had acquired in 1762. However it was not until the reign of George IV that the royal stables transferred completely to Buckingham Palace. The King commissioned the new Royal Mews from John Nash who built grand stables around the riding school, a Doric-style arch with a clock tower, leading into the quadrangle of the Mews. In the reign of Queen Victoria, up to 200 horses were kept at the stables within the Royal Mews.

The Royal Mews is part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office and provides road transport for The Queen and members of the Royal Family by both horse-drawn carriage and motor car. The Royal Mews is still a working stable but also houses the royal collection of historic coaches and carriages.

State vehicles are housed and maintained at the Royal Mews. They include the carriages used for royal and State occasions, such as State Visits, weddings and the State Opening of Parliament. Carriages from the Royal Mews are also used on roughly 50 occasions each year to convey newly appointed High Commissioners and Ambassadors from their official residence to Buckingham Palace to present their credentials to The Queen.

The most ornate of all coaches housed in the Royal Mews is the Gold State Coach, which has been used at every coronation since that of George IV in 1821.

The latest coach to join the collection of royal coaches is The Diamond Jubilee State Coach which was built to commemorate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was first used at the State Opening of Parliament on 4 June 2014. The coach has a number of unusual features, the interior of the coach incorporates items donated by over 100 of Britain’s historic sites and organisations. The seat handrails are from the Royal Yacht Britannia, and the window frames and interior panels include material from Caernarfon Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, The Mary Rose (Henry VIII’s flagship), 10 Downing Street, and the Antarctic bases of Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton, a British lead musket ball from the Battle of Waterloo and a specimen of the metal used to create Victoria Cross medals. The Diamond Jubilee State Coach also combines traditional craftsmanship and modern technology. The vehicle has an aluminium body and has six hydraulic stabilisers. The gilded crown on the top of the coach is carved in oak from the HMS Victory.

Other coaches of interest is the Irish State Coach, purchased by Queen Victoria for £858 in 1852 and the 1902 State Landau, built in 1902 for King Edward VII which has been used for recent royal weddings including that of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

A visit to the Royal Mews allows visitors to see some of the carriage horses that are stabled in the complex. The Cleveland Bays are used to escort newly appointed High Commissioners and Ambassadors to their audience with The Queen and the famous Windsor Greys  draw the private carriages of the royal family. Both set of horses must be at least 16.1 hands (1.65 metres) high and are chosen for their steady temperament and stamina.

A visit to the grand State Stables allows visitors to experience sitting in a carriage with a replica of a Semi State Landau which is decorated in royal carriage livery and has real suspension. The stable have a number of interactive displays that will entertain all the family in which it is possible to dress up as a footman or learn how to harness a horse.

Other places of interest is the Riding School, the Livery Room and the Harness Room which gives some illustration of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of many of the great Royal events.

Whilst the Royal Mews is probably not on the top of the many visitors list to visit, it is one of the most interesting royal related attractions in London with plenty of interest for all the family. Being a working stable, visitors can also witness the working day of the Royal Mews staff and watch some of training of the horses.

Video Review available here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Admission to the Royal Mews is Adult £10.00, under 17 £5.80, Under 5 Free.

For more information or book tickets, visit the Royal Collection website here

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  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

Review : Zoorassic Park at ZSL London Zoo – 22nd July to 3rd September 2017

Visitors to ZSL London will find an added attraction until September with the opening of Zoorassic Park and its collection of dinosaurs.

Explorers will pick up their passports and take a trip via a ‘time machine’ to the Mesozoic era (about 65 million years ago), where ZSL’s tour guides will introduce a range of dinosaurs to visitors.

The prehistoric world is recreated and visitors come face to face with triceratops, the armour-plated edmontonia, the giant  brachiosaurus to the tyrannosaurus rex.

Families are given their own passports for the time travel safari, which will take them on a journey of discovery into the world of dinosaurs, as well as learning all about the important work ZSL’s conservationists are doing to help prevent today’s animals from becoming extinct.

The fun trail for kids also includes fossil digs to explore and baby dinosaurs to meet.

To launch Zoorassic Park, popular TV presenter Andy Day presents a series of free live shows at the Zoo on the 22nd and 23rd July.

The trip into Zoorassic Park is included into the general Zoo admission and provides plenty of excitement for all the family. The moving models will entertain  young visitors and provide plenty of information about some of the largest creatures that have roamed the earth. If you are thinking of visiting the Zoo, this is an attraction not to be missed.

Video Review available here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets, visit the London Zoo website here

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