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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.

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The Strange History of Marble Arch


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

Many Londoners and visitors to London are confused by Marble Arch that stands rather forlorn on a large traffic island at the junction of Oxford Street, Park Lane and Edgware Road. The 19th-century white marble-faced arch was built with quite grand intentions which never really were realised.

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

John Nash was the favourite architect of the Prince Regent, later King George IV. Nash had successfully designed and planned such landmarks as Regent’s Park, Regent Street, Carlton House Terrace and parts of Buckingham Palace. Therefore Nash was the obvious choice to build a ‘Marble Arch’ which would be a gateway to Buckingham Palace and a celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars.

Nash’s original design was based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Nash had a model made which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum that illustrates his design which was approved by George IV. The arch is faced with Carrara marble with other select marble extracted from quarries near Seravezza. The various sculptures and a equestrian statue of George IV that would crown the structure were commissioned in 1828.

However, after the death of the King George IV in 1830, Nash was sacked by the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, for overspending on the project. The architect Edward Blore was commissioned to complete the works in less grandiose and more practical fashion.

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

Blore found himself with a collection of statues and panels, but decided to complete the Arch without using most of the sculpture. The Arch was completed in 1833, the central gates were added in 1837, just in time for Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.

Blore used some of the friezes made for Nash’s arch in the central courtyard of Buckingham Palace. In 1835 many of the sculptures were given to William Wilkins to use in the construction of the new National Gallery. The Equestrian Statue of George IV, by Francis Chantrey that was due to be on top of the arch now stands on a plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Blore’s revised Marble Arch was erected as a formal gateway to Buckingham Palace in the 1830s but only lasted for seventeen years because when Buckingham Palace was enlarged, the arch seemed small and insignificant.

In 1850, the decision was taken to move the Arch to its current location of Cumberland Gate where it would create a grand entrance to Hyde Park in time for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The removal and reconstruction of the Arch was overseen by architect Thomas Cubitt who completed the complex process in only three months.

With vast crowds of people arriving for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, Marble Arch was considered a grand entrance to the park. Marble Arch became a familiar landmark and played its role as an entrance for more than 50 years. However this was to change in 1908 when a new road scheme cut through the park just south of the Arch leaving it separated from Hyde Park. In the 1960s, the roads were widened still further, leaving the Arch in its isolated position and effectively cut off from the park.

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

In 1970, the Arch gained its Grade I listed status and small park created around the Arch. Since then there has been a number of ‘ideas’ to relocate the structure but it is still remains a familiar if unusual landmark near the busy roads of Central London.

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

Like many London structures, there has been a number of ‘urban myths’ related to the arch. It is often said that the Arch was removed from Buckingham Palace because it was too narrow to allow Queen Victoria’s State Coach through. In reality, Queen Victoria’s coronation procession and Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation procession passed through the Arch with no problems. The second myth is that Marble Arch was a former Police Station. It was used by the police for accommodation and surveillance but was not a police station. Part of the myth can be traced to poet, Sir John Betjeman who filmed inside Marble Arch for a 1960s TV documentary and mentioned it was a police station.

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

Marble Arch is one of London’s landmarks and has led to the area around the Arch to be known as Marble Arch with its own tube station on the Central line. The location of the Arch has been a famous site for centuries, nearby was the former site of the Tyburn gallows, a place of public execution from 14th to 18th century.

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
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A Short Guide to The Regent’s Park

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The Regent’s Park (including Primrose Hill) covers 197 hectares and like most of the other Royal Parks, Regent’s Park was part of the large area of land appropriated by Henry VIII. Marylebone Park, as the area was known, remained a royal domain until 1646. After the Civil War, the land was leased by the crown to tenant farmers until 1811 when the rapidly developing London made the area attractive to building.

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John Nash, architect to the crown and friend of the Prince Regent developed a masterplan for Regent’s Park which included a huge circle with a lake, a canal and the new royal residence inside. There was also a plan for 56 villas in the park and a series of grand Regency terraces around it.

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Although the masterplan was never completed, many elements of Nash’s scheme survived with eight villa’s and a series of grand Regency terraces built. The park was only used originally by the residents of the villas and terraces until 1835, when the east side the park was open to the public.

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The park was little changed for 150 years until formal Rose beds were developed in Queen Mary’s Gardens in 1930s.

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Running through the northern end of the park is the Regent’s Canal and it borders on London Zoo, but much of the park is open parkland with a wide range of facilities including gardens, a lake with a boating area, sports pitches, and children’s playgrounds.

See Video Review here

For more information, visit the Royal Parks 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.
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Review : Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace and Royal Childhood Exhibition 2014

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The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace is a highlight for many London visitors and this year there is an added bonus with the launch of the Royal Childhood Exhibition.

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Once in the precincts of the palace there is a tour of the State Rooms,  ‘State Rooms’ is the name given to those rooms that were designed and built as the public rooms of the Palace, in which monarchs receive, reward and entertain their subjects and visiting dignitaries. Today the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are used extensively by The Queen and members of the Royal Family to receive and entertain their guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions.

The Palace’s nineteen State Rooms were designed primarily for George IV , who commissioned the architect John Nash to transform Buckingham House into a  palace. Many of the pieces of furniture and works of art in these rooms were bought or made for Carlton House, George IV’s London home when he was Prince of Wales. Today the State Rooms are decorated with some  of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto, sculpture by Canova,  pieces of Sèvres porcelain, and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.

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The Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace is one of the highlights in which is displayed some of the greatest paintings in the Royal Collection.

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With Prince George recently celebrating his first birthday , the Royal Childhood exhibition is perhaps a timely reminder of how the Royal childhood has changed over the centuries.

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The exhibition  brings together over 150 objects both family and official gifts presented to royal children, as well as the outfits worn by young princes and princesses and the spectacular silver-gilt Lily Font, commissioned by Queen Victoria for the christening of her first daughter Princess Victoria in 1841 and used at almost all major royal baptisms since.

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A number of The Queen’s childhood toys are on display, including a pink tea set in the shape of a rabbit, a set of Knockemdown Ninepins and a wicker pram that the two-year-old Princess Elizabeth enjoyed pushing around .These will be alongside a range of toys, from jigsaws to train sets, many enjoyed by generations of royal children.

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Once you have enjoyed the State Rooms and the Exhibition, visitors can relax and have some refreshments in the Garden Café on the west terrace overlooking the gardens. There is also a Family Pavilion to entertain the children.

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Then a walk along the path takes you passed the Garden shop where you can purchase homeware, china, clothing and jewellery, children’s toys, books and postcards,  then an enjoyable stroll along near the lake before you exit in Grosvenor Road near Hyde Park Corner.

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Visiting Buckingham Palace would appeal to those visitors who wish to discover more about the functioning of a modern monarchy  , the lavishly decorated state rooms will not disappoint those looking for displays of grandeur  but its worth remembering this the public face of the Monarchy. That is why the Royal Childhood Exhibition is a welcome diversion it is refreshing to see  royal children in the multimedia displays  playing  games and enjoying being a child before the duties and responsibilities of adulthood.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Exhibition details

Saturday, 26 July – Sunday, 28 September 2014

Admission prices

Adult £19.75
Concessions £18.00
Under 17 £11.25
Under 5 Free

The ticket price includes the tour of the State Rooms, The Royal Childhood Exhibition and allows you access to the café and shop.

To find out more or to 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 January, we attract 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 Buckingham Palace

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Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837, in more recent times it has served as the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. To facilitate the small army of 450 staff, the Palace has 775 rooms.These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. Although the Palace is still used for large-scale Royal ceremonies, State Visits and Investitures, it also welcomes around 50,000 people a year who attend banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Royal Garden Parties.

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The land on which the Palace stands has been owned by Royalty since William the Conqueror however it was not until George III bought the house on the site called Buckingham House and eventually transformed it into a Royal Palace that it became a Royal residence. Using the well-known architect John Nash, George III expanded the Palace and began to furnish the interior with furniture and works of art from the nearby Carlton House.

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Despite George’s influence it was Queen Victoria who became the first sovereign to take up residence in July 1837, and in June 1838 she was the first British sovereign to leave from Buckingham Palace for a Coronation.

When Queen Victoria became a widow in 1861, Buckingham Palace was seldom used for Royal Ceremonies and was rarely visited by Victoria who prefered to stay at Windsor Castle and Balmoral.

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Victoria Memorial

When Queen Victoria died in 1901, it was decided to repair the facade and make a series of changes to the Palace. These included a new Memorial to Victoria, and developing the Mall as a ceremonial approach route to the palace.

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On the Mall

Although suffering some damage in the Second World War, it was  at the end of the War that the Palace became the focus of celebrations on VE Day.

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These scenes have been replicated in recent times for Royal Weddings and Jubilee Celebrations when the Royal Family usually make an appearance on the Palace balcony.

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After the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, The Buckingham Palace State Rooms were open to visits by the public with money raised helping to pay for the repair and renovation at Windsor.

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The Mall from Admiralty Arch

Video Review available here 

To find out more about visiting Buckingham Palace visit their website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the 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