Westminster Abbey and SSGB in Greenwich

Tomorrow I am at Westminster Abbey, one of my absolute favourite places in London. So often on a Monday morning I am heading for Greenwich (Iknow, it’s a tough life, but heyho, someone has to do it), another fabulous place to spend time just outside the centre of London.

Last week in Greenwich it looked like the army had come to town.

Army presence

Army presence

Then when we looked closer, it took on a more sinister aspect. A hangman’s noose stood beside the entrance to the Painted Hall.

Gallows

Gallows

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All Kinds of Everything: This Week’s Public Walks

What’s your taste? London icons; ancient monuments; a cathedral town?

I’m covering all these on public walks this week, as well as a sortie in a local neighbourhood, my neighbourhood, on Saturday to coincide with artists’ Open Studios and Open Squares weekend.

Tomorrow, Monday 8th June, I shall be guiding Westminster Abbey, the church of coronation and royal marriages. Meet me outside Westminster tube exit 4 at 10.45.
The tour costs £10, £8 concs, plus entrance to the abbey.

In the afternoon, I shall be at the British Museum. Entrance is free, so this time you pay for the tour only. Meet outside Holborn tube station for 2.15.

On Tuesday 9th June it’s an early start from Waterloo railway station to spend the day at Salisbury and Stonehenge. That first sight of the Standing Stones as we approach never fails to move me, and Salisbury is a gem of town with one of the most celebrated cathderlas in England. It also has a jolly good café, and must be one of the only cathedrals in the country to get rave reviews about its toilets.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge


Meet me opposite platform 16, outside the ticket office. The full price is £77, which includes all travel, tours and entrance fees.
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Public Walks 9th-13th February

London has been utterly gorgeous today with blue skies and sunshine; warm enough to go out without even a coat. Fabulous. What a wonderful time to get out and about and explore the capital.

Tomorrow morning, Monday 9th, I shall be guiding Westminster Abbey. It is one of my favourite places, a beautiful church with abundant history, and a choir that is celebrated across the globe.

John and Peter, Marshalls

John and Peter, Marshalls


We’ll meet at Westminster tube exit 4 for a 10.45 start. Continue reading

Public Walks 10th to 17th November

I’ll ‘fess up; I forgot to say that I was doing the Greenwich walk yesterday. However, I shall be leading it prett often over the next few months, as well as the Bermondsey walk, so I shall add those into Dates for Your Diary.

This Saturday 15th November it’s your once in six month chance to join me on the public Vauxhall tour, Viva Vauxhall!

Vauxhall is so much more than a transport hub and multi-lane pedestrian nightmare. Think Lily Savage, pleasure gardens, James Bond, community spirit, hymns ancient and modern. Throw in a garden designed with the help of Dan Pearson, mosaics hidden in railway arches, alpacas, and cake, yes lots of cake. Or Welsh rarebit and real tea served in cosy-covered teapots. Yum!

We meet at 10.45 outside Vauxhall tube, exit 2.James Bond logo

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King’s Cross: A Great Arts Centre, and a Homage to Fanvaulting

King’s Cross railway station in London used to have a pretty poor reputation. The area was a byword for prostitution and drug dealing. Much clearing up, local campaigning has led to the attractive and successful arts and education hub, Kings Place. I’ll pay tribute here to an ex-colleague, poet and photographer, Angel Inglis, who was one of the earliest camaigners to keep what was best and create an arts centre that would rival any in London.
The railway station also looks pretty wonderful these days. The concourse has been revamped and the station can now hold its head up high alongside its swanky neighbour St Pancras International. The new roof looks rather like the one by Norman Foster at the British Museum, and maybe both are a homage to fanvaulting, a style of architectural detail peculiar to England. One of the best examples is in the Henry VII chapel in Westminster Abbey. You are not allowed to take photographs inside the abbey, so this image is courtesy of http://www.studyblue.com.
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The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey

Tomb of the Unknown Warrior
anonymous photographer


It is one of the most famous tombs in London, just inside the west doors of Westminster Abbey. Below the black Belgian marble lie the remains of an unknown warrior who represents all those who have lost their lives in the service of their country and lie in anonymous graves.
I defy anyone to visit the Garden of Remembrance on the north side of the abbey and be unmoved. Every year, people place poppies on crosses, crescent moons and stars of David to commemorate the dead of many nationalities and services. Continue reading

Westminster Abbey and Her Marshals

I was at Westminster Abbey today. You can’t take pictures inside the abbey, but two of the lovely marshals, John and Peter, let me take their photograph by the West Door.

 

John and Peter, Abbey Marshals

The marshals are a friendly bunch. I haven’t guided the abbey for a while, and inside I enjoyed catching up with some old friends. I didn’t see the lovely Ben, alas. Ben is the verger who became famous around the globe last year when footage of him cartwheeling down the nave after William’s marriage to Kate Middleton was published. He’s a font of dreadful jokes. The choirboys pass him their old joke books when they have finished with them. Continue reading