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Hidden London: Goodwin’s Court in Central London

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

For all the modern development in Central London, there are small areas which can transport a visitor into the past.

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

One of those areas is Goodwin’s Court which is an narrow alley that runs between St. Martin’s Lane and Bedfordbury, in an area, just north of Trafalgar Square.

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

Goodwin’s Court first appears in the records in 1690 and replaced Fishers Alley which had occupied a similar location in preceding years.

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

What is really unusual about Goodwin’s Court is that since the late 18th century, it has changed very little and walking in the alley you feel that are transported into London of the past. The area was once full of these type of a small, murky courts. The row of shops in the court, that have typical Georgian bowed shop windows date back to the 18th century.

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

Goodwin’s Court has been hidden away for so long that information about these shops have been long forgotten and the shops are now small offices for a number of businesses. The doors to the offices have a number of decorative door knobs, knockers, and nameplates.

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

Although Goodwin’s Court is generally off the main tourist trail, it does attract a number of photographers and rather strangely is often visited by Harry Potter fans. Although there is no obvious connection to Harry Potter, tours often describe the alley as the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films.

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

Goodwin’s Court was not just a mystery to people in the present, 100 years ago Punch magazine writer E V Lucas found the alley and wrote about it in his book Adventures and Enthusiasms published in 1920.

My second little street—disregarded by Wheatley and Cunningham altogether—has only just come into my own consciousness: Goodwin’s Court, which runs from St. Martin lane to Bedfordbury. It is not a street at all, merely an alley, one side of which, the south, is the least Londonish row of dwellings you ever saw, and the other side is the back doors of the houses on the south of New Street—that busiest and cheerfullest of old-world shopping centres, where Hogarth’s ghost still walks. New Street is famous in literature by reason of the “Pine Apple” eating-house where Dr. Johnson in his penury dined regularly for eightpence: six-pennyworth of meat, one pennyworth of bread, and a penny for the waiter, receiving better attention than most of the clients because the penny for the waiter was omitted by them. Take it all round, New Street (which has not been new these many decades) is not so different now, the small tradesman being the last thing in the world to change.

But it was of Goodwin’s Court that I was going to write, and of its odd houses—for each one is like the last, not only architecturally but through the whim of the tenants too, each one having a vast bow window, and each window being decorated with a muslin curtain, in front of which is a row of pots containing a flowerless variety of large-leaved plant, created obviously for the garnishing of such unusual spaces. Where these strange plants have their indigenous homes I cannot say—I am the least of botanists—nor do I particularly care; but what I do want to know is when their beauty, or lack of it, first attracted a dweller in Goodwin’s Court and why his taste so imposed itself on his neighbours. But for this depressing foliage I should not mind living in Goodwin’s Court myself, for it is quiet and central—not more than a few yards both from the Westminster County Court and several theatres. But it would be necessary for peace of mind first to find out who Goodwin was.

If you would a taste of ‘old’ London that recreates the world of Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes, take a trip down Goodwin’s Court.

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Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

One important Christmas tradition in London since the Second World War has been the large Christmas tree that is placed within Trafalgar Square. Every year, since 1947, the people of Norway have given the people of London a Christmas tree. This gift is in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II.

The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is generally a Norwegian spruce of around 20 metres high and 50-60 years old. It is selected from the forests surrounding Oslo with great care several months, even years, in advance.

The tree is felled in November during a ceremony in which the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo participate. It is brought to the UK by sea, then completes its journey by lorry.

The tree is decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion, with vertical strings of lights and a lighting ceremony takes place in early December with thousands of people attending.

Between the middle of December to just before Christmas, 40 carol singing groups gather beneath the famous Christmas tree to entertain visitors to Trafalgar Square.

The Christmas tree remains in Trafalgar Square until just before the Twelfth Night of Christmas, when it is taken down for recycling.

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.
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A Short Guide to Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a famous public square in Central London, its name commemorates the British victory over the French in 1805. The location has been significant landmark since the 13th century and originally contained the King’s Mews which kept the King’s Hawks. After a fire in 1534, the mews were rebuilt as stables until they were moved them to Buckingham Palace.

In the early 19th century , the site was redeveloped by John Nash and then Charles Barry until Trafalgar Square was officially opened to the public in 1844. Nelson’s Column was not part of Barry’s work and was funded by public subscription, the design selected of a 218 feet 3 inches (66.52 m) column topped by a statue of Nelson and guarded by four lions was not widely admired by the public when it was erected in 1843.

The square quickly became one of the centres of London and became a location for social and political demonstrations, The great Chartist rally in 1848 for social reforms began in the square, later demonstrations in the late 19th century led to social unrest and occasionally violence. In the 20th century, protests about Nuclear weapons and Vietnam in the 1950s and 60s . These were followed anti-apartheid protests in the 1980s and Poll Tax Riots in the 1990s.  More recently, there have been anti-war, climate change and anti austerity demonstrations taken place in the square.

The square is not only used for demonstrations, for many years it was the main focus for New Year celebrations and is used all year round for various festivals and community events. Every year since 1947 , a Christmas tree has been donated to the square by Norway and is erected over the Christmas period.

Although Nelson’s Column dominates the square, there are  fountains designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, four large bronze lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer, there are other statues dotted around the square.

A bronze equestrian statue of George IV by Sir Francis Chantrey,was installed in 1844, General Sir Charles James Napier by George Cannon Adams in the south-west corner in 1855, and Major-General Sir Henry Havelock by William Behnes in the south-east in 1861. One plinth was left empty and in the 21st century, the “Fourth Plinth”, has been used to show specially commissioned artworks.

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.
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Review: Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle in London – 28th July 2018

This weekend, cyclists take over the streets of London with the sixth edition of Prudential RideLondon which is considered the world’s greatest festival of cycling. Over the weekend of 28-29 July 2018, there will be a large number of events all over the capital.

Like the London Marathon, there is the excitement of watching the world’s best professional cyclists race in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic and Prudential RideLondon Classique. However, amateur cyclists can participate in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – a 100-mile challenge on the same closed roads as the professionals or they can ride the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 – a 46-mile sportive created specifically for newer and also younger cyclists.

The weekend started off more sedately with Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle which offers riders a wonderful opportunity to experience the fun and freedom of cycling on traffic-free roads in central London.

The event showcases the capital as part of a festival of cycling with the route open from 09:00-16:00 and takes in the Strand and Lincoln’s Inn Fields and returns to the Victoria Embankment, taking in a section of the newly opened East-West Cycle Superhighway (CS3).

The eight-mile circuit passes iconic London landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England and again goes south of the river with a loop over Waterloo Bridge, offering views of London.

More than 70,000 cyclists enjoyed the traffic-free roads of central London in 2017 and it is expected this year will see even more cyclists along the route.

If riders want to take a break from the cycling, there is plenty of entertainment at the Festival Zones in Southbank, Guildhall Yard, Leadenhall Market, St Paul’s Churchyard, Aldwych, Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Green Park. At the zones there are a wide range of bike-based entertainment and activities throughout the day.

In Green Park, top stunt rider Andrei Burton and his world class team of male and female champions take on the world championship standard course which includes a series of replica iconic buildings as obstacles.

Interest in cycling has grown and grown in the last decade and the Prudential RideLondon is a great festival of cycling with a large number of events and attractions. Like the London Marathon there is something for everyone and is a wonderful day out for everyone especially families.

For more information , visit the Event 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

 

‘The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Michael Rakowitz’ on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square

Michael started The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist project in 2006. It attempts to recreate more than 7,000 objects which have been lost. Some were looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003, while others were destroyed at archaeological sites across the country during the Iraq War.

For the Fourth Plinth, Rakowitz has recreated the Lamassu. The winged bull and protective deity which guarded the entrance to Nergal Gate of Nineveh (near modern day Mosul) from c700 BC until it was destroyed in 2015.

The reconstructions in The Invisible Enemy project are made from recycled packaging from Middle Eastern foodstuffs. The Lamassu is made from 10,500 empty Iraqi date syrup cans. This represents a once-renowned industry now decimated by war.

The inscription is written in Cuneiform, one of the earliest systems of writing, on the side of the Lamassu reads: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, had the inner and outer wall of Ninevah built anew and raised as high as mountains.”

Initial reaction to the sculpture was largely favourable with many admiring the way that it highlights the way that  destruction of important objects of a culture can have a negative effect on a population.

The Lamassu in Trafalgar Square is the 12th work to appear on the Fourth Plinth since the programme started, and will be there until March 2020.

The Fourth Plinth as it is known has quite an unusual history, it was intended to be used for a equestrian statue of William IV astride a bronze horse to match the statue of George IV which is on the other side of the square. However George IV spent so much money during his reign that there was not enough funds left for the statue.
Remarkably, considering the square is a major public area, the plinth was empty for more than 150 years. Eventually it was decided that temporary modern pieces of work would occupy the plinth. The final choice is often controversial but is a focus of interest which generates considerable media interest.

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.
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Chinese New Year 2017 in Trafalgar Square – 29th January 2017

chinese_new_year_2x1

Come and welcome the Year of the Rooster as London celebrates Chinese New Year 2017.

Taking in some of London’s most famous areas including Leicester Square, Charing Cross Road, Chinatown and Trafalgar Square, London’s Chinese New Year festivities are the biggest outside Asia.

Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival or the “Lunar New Year”.

The source of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity.” Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

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.
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All you need to know about the London New Year’s Day Parade – 1st January 2017

The London New Years Day Parade

After the massive New Year Eve celebrations in London, events for New Years Day always seem a little low key. However the London New Year’s Day Parade has grown considerably from its origins in 1987.

The London New Years Day Parade

The Parade offers an eclectic mix of pageantry, marching bands and contributions from some of the London Boroughs. Over 8,500 performers representing 20 countries world-wide will assemble for the 2017 Parade.

The London New Years Day Parade

There is always a number of American marching bands and cheerleaders who add a bit of razzmatazz to the proceedings. Although many people may be suffering hangovers from the night before, the parade regularly attracts crowds of two thirds of a million and has a large worldwide television audience.

The London New Years Day Parade

The Parade starts at 12 midday on Piccadilly at the junction with Berkeley Street near Green Park Tube Station and finishes at 3.30 pm in Parliament Square. The Parade route is – Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Parliament Street.

An important part of the parade is raising money for charity and various charities have benefitted over the years. This year there will be series of concerts before and after the event involving a selection of bands and orchestras performing in different venues.

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