Russell Square…

London’s Russell Square is home to some historic landmarks, the most notable being the Russell Hotel, an exuberant Victorian building. The center of the square is occupied by a small but enjoyable park.
Russell Square, London

Russell Square’s Park
Located in Bloomsbury in the London borough of Camden, Russell Square is situated near theBritish Museum and the main buildings of the University of London.

Past History

The square was named for the Earls and Dukes of Bedford, whose surname was Russell. The square sits on the site that once held the gardens of the Dukes’ former home, Bedford House.Historically, the square was generally lined with large upper middle class homes, many of which still stand today. It was also a favorite area of many of London’s finest writers, poets, and artists, including T.S. Eliot and Thomas Lawrence, many of whom kept homes on the square.

Russell Hotel

Hotel Russell, Russel Square, London

Hotel Russell
The most eye-catching landmark at Russell Square is Hotel Russell, which opened in 1900. Still standing, this structure was the epitome of opulence and much of it was designed by architects who had a hand in the creation of the ill-fated Titanic. The hotel’s restaurant is nearly identical to the restaurant that was aboard the ship.The building’s architecture is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture. It has a detailed red terra cotta facade with beautifully sculpted balconies. The interior is just as exuberant as the exterior, with lots of colorful marble.

Cabman's Shelter, London

Cabman’s Shelter

Cabman’s Shelter

Also on the square sits a Cabman’s Shelter, one of only about thirteen that remain within the city limits. These shelters were designed to protect the operators of early Hansom Cabs (horse-drawn carriage) from the elements. These pioneer taxi drivers could also buy refreshments or snacks at the shelters. It is a Grade II listed building, a designation which is given to particularly significant buildings of more than local interest.


Fountain at Russell Square in London

Russell Square Fountain
In the middle of the square is a quiet park that takes up most of the space. In 2002, when the park was reconfigured to resemble its original nineteenth-century layout, a fountain was added in the center, featuring jets that spray directly from the pavement. It has become a favorite play area for local children.


Lloyd’s Building…

The Lloyd’s building is an iconic modern office building that was constructed in 1986 for the Lloyd’s insurance company. At the time the construction of such a futuristic looking building in London’s historic heart was quite controversial.


Lloyd's Building, London

Lloyd’s Building
The building was commissioned in the late 1970s by the insurer Lloyd’s of London. Its name stems from the seventeenth century Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House, where shipowners and insurers met to discuss the insurance premiums.The insurer would write his name at the bottom of a paper which described the planned route and the ship’s cargo, hence the word underwriter. These dealings led to the founding of Lloyd’s in 1688 which would grow during the following 300 years to become the world’s leading insurance market.

A new HQ

To accommodate the organization’s constant growth, Lloyd’s moved in 1774 from its original location on Pope’s Head Alley to the Royal Exchange.

Side view of the Lloyd's Building in London

Side view

In 1928 it settled at its current site on Lime Street in a purpose-built structure designed by Sir Edwin Cooper. After an initial expansion across the road proved too small yet again, Lloyd’s decided to erect a new headquarters building and approached architect Richard Rogers, of Centre Pompidou fame.

Controversial Design

Rogers’s proposal for the new Lloyd’s building was just as controversial as his co-designed Centre Pompidou in Paris, due to its so-called High Tech style design, where functional elements such as pipes are moved to the outside of the building to create more interior space.The exterior is more refined than that of Centre Pompidou however, with polished stainless steel and glass instead of a cacophony of colors.

Detail of the Lloyd's Building in London

Exterior detail

Nonetheless, when Richard Rogers’s design was shown to the public in 1978 it caused quite a controversy as it contrasted sharply with the centuries old buildings in the area and in particular the adjacent historic Leadenhall Market.

The Building

The Lloyd’s building was erected between 1978 and 1986 and consists of a rectangular fourteen-story tower with a concrete frame, measuring 45 meters wide and 67 meters long (150 x 220 ft).A large barrel-vaulted glass ceiling covers a spectacular, sixty-meter high atrium. Several service towers of different height, housing staircases, pipes and glass elevators flank this central office tower. The service areas are not enclosed, creating a first impression of an oil refinery set smack in the middle of London’s financial district.


Middle Temple and Inner Temple…

Temple is a historic complex that is home to two of London’s four Inns of Court – professional associations of barristers. The name refers to the original occupants, the Knights Templars.
Pump Court, Temple

Pump Court, Temple

Middle Temple Relief

Middle Temple

Inner Temple Relief

Inner Temple
The Templars were a military order originally founded in 1118 in France to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.


Around 1160 the Templars acquired a site near the river Thames where they built a chapel and a monastery with several large halls. In 1312 the order of the Templars was suppressed and in 1324 their land was handed over to the order of St. John, who leased it to law students.King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the mid sixteenth century and the crown took ownership of the property. In 1608 King James I leased the Temple buildings to two societies of lawyers: Inner and Middle Temple. The Inner Temple uses the buildings on the east side of the Temple, while the Middle Temple occupies the west side.

The Temple Today

Today there is no visible distinction between Inner Temple and Middle Temple and the whole area is simply referred to as ‘Temple’. Reliefs of a Lamb and Flag (Middle Temple) and a Pegasus (Inner Temple) indicate to which Inn of Court a particular building belongs.The area is a bit of a labyrinth with narrow passageways and can only be accessed via a number of gates. The many buildings of the Temple – there are about twenty-five – are laid out around picturesque courtyards and gardens. The Middle Temple Garden and the Fountain Court are particularly enchanting. Many of the buildings were destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666 and again during the Second World War, but fortunately they have all either been replaced or restored.


Middle Temple Hall

Middle Temple Hall, London

Middle Temple Hall
Middle Temple Hall, built in 1562-1570, is one of the few structures that survived World War II unscathed. The historic building has served as a dining hall since the Middle Ages, and it is still used as such today. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was also used for theatre performances, and one of Shakespeare’s works, Twelfth Night, premiered here in 1602.Inside, the hall, which measures 31 meters long, 12 meters wide and 18 meters high (101 x 40 x 59ft), has a magnificent double Hammerbeam roof. The walls are lined with a carved wooden screen.

Temple Church

Statues of Templars, Temple Church, London

Statues of Templars,
Temple Church
The Temple Church was originally built in 1160-1185 by the Templars as a circular chapel. In 1240 it was expanded with a rectangular nave. On the floor at the center of the original chapel lie marble effigies of thirteenth century Knight Templars. Despite suffering extensive damage during the Second World War, the Temple Church is one of the best preserved medieval churches in London.

Temple Column

Just south of the Temple Church stands a column that marks the spot where the Great Fire of 1666 was finally put out after it had raged for four days. At the top of the column is a statue of a horse with two knights, a symbol of the Templars. It refers to the Templars’ vow of poverty; they were (initially at least) too poor to buy a horse for each knight.

Museum of London…

The Museum of London illustrates the history of the capital city of the United Kingdom, from prehistory to the early twenty-first century. The museum is one of the largest and also one of the most interesting of its kind.
Museum of London

Museum of London
The museum is housed in the Barbican, at the site of a former Roman fort. It is located at a busy intersection near London Wall, a street that follows the route of the old Roman wall around the city. You can see a part of this wall from inside the museum. The entrance to the museum is on the first floor. An escalator across the street brings you to the pedestrian highway; walk across the footbridge to get to the museum’s entrance.


The Museum of London opened in 1976 in a modern building designed by Powell and Moya as part of the Barbican, a typical post war complex with lots of concrete and several high rises in brutalist style. The museum was created by combining the collections of theGuildhall Museum and the London Museum in Kensington Palace.

The Galleries

Museum gallery, Museum of London

Museum interior
The museum has an impressive collection of objects related to the history of the city. The museum’s galleries are spread over two floors and arranged in chronological order. Visitors enter the museum from the upper floor, where the exhibitions covering the history of London from prehistoric times to the Great Fire of London in 1666 are located. The lower floor houses the galleries of modern London, from the late seventeenth century to today.

London Before London

Skull of an auroch, Museum of London

Skull of an auroch
Excavated objects and tools from prehistoric times give us an idea of life around the banks of the river Thames from before the founding of the city. You can see a 6000 year old axe head, a skull of an auroch, a tusk from a mammoth, weapons and utensils as well as the 5000 year old remains of the Shepperton woman, one of the oldest people found in the region.

Roman London

Scale Model of the Civic Center of Roman London, Museum of London

Civic center of Roman London
One of the most impressive galleries in the Museum of London is devoted to Londinium (Roman London), established in 43 BC during the invasion of Brittania by Emperor Claudius. Here you can see a beautiful mosaic floor, wall frescoes, marble busts from the Temple of Mithras and many objects such as coins, jewelry and even Roman bikinis! Scale models of the Forum and the harbor of Londinium give us an idea of the size of London during the Roman era.

Saxon and Medieval London

The Great Fire of London, Museum of London

The Great Fire
The Saxon and Medieval galleries show us the development of London after the retreat of the Romans in 410, a time when the city fell into dark times due to religion, wars and the Black Plague. The last exhibition on the upper floor shows the devastation caused by the Great Fire of 1666, which razed a third of the city to the ground.

Modern London

Victorian Walk, Museum of London

Victorian Walk

Red Telephone booth, Museum of London

Telephone booth
The lower level of the museum shows the explosive expansion of the city after the Great Fire and the many technological and social developments during the Victorian Age. An interactive map shows the wealthiest and poorest areas in Victorian London. The Victorian Walk, a completely reconstructed street with authentic nineteenth century shops, is one of the museum’s must-sees. Also don’t miss the magnificent Art Deco elevator from the Selfridges department store.
The political and social turbulences at the end of the nineteenth century and throughout the early twentieth century are also highlighted. Historic cars such as a Model T Ford and a Ford from 1936 illustrate the rapid changes in transportation; car ownership in London almost tripled from 1920 to 1930. Finally there’s a captivating exhibition about the devastation and human suffering caused by the London Blitz during the Second World War.
The gallery ‘London World City’ focuses on the development of London after the war into the modern metropolis that we know today. Technology and design are the main theme here and you can see items such as a black-and-white television, a Vespa scooter, a rotary telephone and fashion from the seventies.

Lord Mayor’s State Coach

Lord Mayor's State Coach, Museum of London

Lord Mayor’s State Coach
One of the museum’s crowd-pullers is the Lord Mayor’s State Coach, the centerpiece of the City Gallery. The gilded coach was commissioned in 1757 and is still used by the Mayor of London during the annual Lord Mayor show. The coach holds its own even in comparison with the queen’s Gold State Coach (on display at the Royal Mews), and is full of splendor, with painted panels and Baroque ornaments.

Museum of London Docklands

Only a small part of the one million items of the Museum of London’s collections is on display. In fact, the museum has so much to display that it opened another branch in the Docklands, at the West India Quay in Canary Wharf. This museum focuses on the history of London as a port.

Hyde Park Corner…

Hyde Park Corner, a large traffic roundabout situated at one of the city’s busiest junctions southeast of Hyde Park, includes a large concentration of monuments and memorials.
Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London

Hyde Park Corner
The streets that converge here include Park Lane, Grosvenor Place, Piccadilly, Knightsbridge and Constitution Hill. Thankfully, a number of pedestrian tunnels allow visitors to safely cross the high-trafficked roads that surround the roundabout.

Wellington Memorials

There is an abundance of monuments on Hyde Park Corner. Two of these were built in honor of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, who lived here, in Apsley House.

Wellington Arch

Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner

Wellington Arch
The centerpiece of Hyde Park Corner is theWellington Arch, also known as Constitution Arch. The triumphal arch was commissioned in the 1820s to celebrate the victory of the Duke of Wellington over Napoleon at Waterloo.This grand monument was designed by Decimus Burton and was to serve as a triumphal gateway to London and as a northern gate to the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Atop the arch sits a monumental sculpture group by Adrian Jones, which was installed in 1912 and is known as “The Angel of Peace Descending on the Quadriga of Victory”.


Wellington Statue

Originally a giant equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington stood atop Wellington Arch. The enormous, forty ton statue was placed there in 1846 but it was soon considered too large and out of proportion to the arch so it was removed in 1883, shortly after the duke’s death.

Wellington Statue, Hyde Park Corner

Wellington Statue

Instead, a new statue of the duke was commissioned in 1884 which was cast from cannons that had been captured from the French. When it was completed in 1888 the statue was not placed on the top of the arch, but on a pedestal. The equestrian statue shows the duke facing his former home, Apsley House. He is mounted on his favorite war horse, Copenhagen, which he rode for more than sixteen hours during the Battle of Waterloo. When the horse died in 1836 it was buried with military honors.

The statue, created by Joseph Boehm, rests on a granite pedestal. At the corners are four statues of soldiers that represent regiments that were led in battle by Wellington.

More Memorials

There are also several World War I and II memorials on Hyde Park Corner, all of a very different design.

Machine Gun Corps Memorial

Machine Gun Corps Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, London

Machine Gun Corps

Royal Artillery Memorial, London

Royal Artillery Memorial
One such memorial is the Machine Gun Corps Memorial, designed by Francis Derwent Wood and erected in 1925 to honor those members of the corps who died during World War I. It’s sometimes called the “Boy David” monument because atop it sits a statue of the young David leaning on the sword of Goliath. Four wreaths wrapped around machine guns and helmets rest on the pedestal.


Royal Artillery Memorial

In complete contrast to the allegorical Machine Gun Corps Memorial is the massive Royal Artillery Memorial, dedicated to Royal Artillery members who died in the Great War. It was unveiled in the same year, 1925, on the west side of Hyde Park Corner. The memorial was designed by the sculptor Charles Sergeant Jagger, who himself had fought in the war.The monument is defined by the stone reproduction of a howitzer that Jagger integrated in the design, which at the time was the cause of much controversy. Around the howitzer are large bronze figures of artillerymen. Remarkably, one of them is dead, his body covered with a coat and helmet. In 1949 the memorial was also dedicated in honor of the artillerymen who fell in the Second World War.

Australian War Memorial and New Zealand War Memorial

There are two more recent memorials on Hyde Park Corner that commemorate the bonds between Great Britain and two of its former territories. In the south-west corner is the Australian War Memorial, designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects and Janet Laurence.

Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park Corner

Australian War Memorial

Inaugurated in 2003, the monument pays homage to the Australians who died in the two World Wars.
It consists of a curving wall inscribed with the names of hundreds of Australian towns and, in much larger letters, the names of the places where the soldiers fought. Water flows continually over the wall’s inscriptions.

On the other side of Hyde Park Corner are the sixteen bronze beams of the New Zealand War Memorial, which was dedicated in 2006. The memorial commemorates the bond between New Zealand and the United Kingdom in the two World Wars and honors the New Zealand soldiers who perished during the wars. The memorial was designed by John Hardwick-Smith and Paul Dibble. Inscribed on the beams are symbols that are representative of New Zealand culture.

Hyde Park Corner Screen

Hyde Park Corner Screen, Hyde Park Corner

Hyde Park Corner Screen
The Hyde Park Corner Screen sits on a separate traffic island, between Piccadilly Arcade and Hyde Park. It is a thirty-three meter (107ft) wide gate with three arches connected by an Ionic colonnade. The gate was designed in 1825 by Decimus Burton as an entrance to Hyde Park.

Apsley House

Apsley House, Hyde Park Corner, London

Apsley House
The eighteenth-century Apsley House, which sits next to the Hyde Park Screen, was once the residence of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. Today the building houses a museum dedicated to the duke, who is best known as the leader of the British forces who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo with the help of Prussian forces.The museum houses a collection of paintings from masters such as Velázquez, Goya, van Dyck, Teniers and the American painter John Singleton Copley. Some of the furniture and objects that once belonged to the Duke of Wellington are also on display, most notably a three meter-tall nude statue of Napoleon.


London City Airport: Mayor rejects expansion plan…

The council said noise would be limited by flight restrictions, a noise barrier and soundproofing nearby homes

A £220m bid to expand London City Airport has been turned down by the mayor after more than 1,000 people objected to it.

Boris Johnson has instructed Newham Council to refuse the application on noise grounds.

The airport sought permission to create more parking spaces and build new taxiways for larger planes.

Planning permission was granted by the council in February but was subject to the mayor’s approval.

The council had said permission included conditions to help limit the noise disturbance, such as imposing flight restrictions, erecting a noise barrier and funding soundproofing packages for residents.


However a spokesman for the mayor said he believed the scheme would have lead to an “unacceptable increase in noise for East Londoners” without benefitting the city.

He said the mayor was also unwilling to expose East London to an increase in noise on the basis that he had already argued it would be unacceptable for West London if Heathrow Airport were expanded.

The mayor believed the “only long-term option” to balance the airport capacity issue with residents’ quality of life, was to build a new hub to the east of of the city, he added.

London City Airport said it was “perplexed and disappointed” by the mayor’s decision.

It said expansion would have increased London’s airport capacity, created up to 1,500 jobs, and attracted a further £750m for the UK economy.

John Stewart, chairman of HACAN East that campaigned against the expansion plans, said the group “salutes” the mayor’s decision.

“The airport is paying the price for being so cavalier about noise,” he said.

Canterbury Cathedral statues honour Queen and Duke…

Statues of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Canterbury Cathedral
The sculptures capture the royal couple looking more youthful and wearing garter robes

The Queen has unveiled statues of herself and the Duke of Edinburgh at Canterbury Cathedral to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

The statues, by sculptor Nina Bilbey, are the first to be installed there during the Queen’s reign.

They complement existing statues by the cathedral’s West Door of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria – the only other monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.

The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral said they were “a splendid addition”.

The Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis added: “They will be a sign of the high respect and affection that everyone at Canterbury has for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.”

The Queen accompanied by The Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury Cathedral
The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral said the statues showed high respect and affection for the couple

The sculptures by Ms Bilbey, 47, from Wells-next-the-Sea, in Norfolk, were commissioned by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral.

She did not have any formal sittings with the royal couple but instead based her work on formal portraits and “lots of pictures”.

She said the statues took six months to carve.

Sculptor Nina Bilbey puts the finishing touches to her statue of the Queen
Nina Bilbey said the statues took six months to carve

The Queen was accompanied on her visit to Kent by the Duke.

Earlier, they met some of the last surviving Battle of Britain pilots from World War Two during a visit to the National Memorial to the Few in Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone.

However, a flypast of a Hurricane, Spitfire and Typhoon which was due to take place over the English Channel had to be cancelled due to thick fog.

Queen meets Mrs K Foster (left), Wing Commander Paul Farnes (centre) and Squadron Leader Tom Pickering
The Queen chatted to a number of veterans and dignitaries

The Queen opened a new £3.5m visitor centre built in the shape of a Spitfire wing.

The Queen unveiling plaque
The Queen officially opened the visitor centre

The National Memorial was unveiled by the Queen Mother in July 1993.

The statue shows a seated pilot looking out over the English Channel at the centre of a white propeller.

School children waiting to see Queen
Many school children braved the elements while they waited to greet Her Majesty
The National Memorial
The statue shows a seated pilot looking out over the English Channel at the centre of a white propeller


Leadenhall Market…

The Leadenhall Market is a beautiful shopping gallery in the heart of the City of London. The market’s history goes back to the fourteenth century, when poultry was sold here. The Victorian-style gallery we see today was built in the nineteenth century.

Roman Forum

Leadenhall Market, London

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market is located at the site of the former Roman Forum, the commercial center of the Roman city Londinium. A basilica was built here between 71 and 85 AD, in 140 AD replaced with a larger basilica which measured an immense 52 by 167 meters (172 by 547 ft).

Poultry Market

The history of the Leadenhall Market goes back to the fourteenth century. The market was first mentioned in 1345 as the place where foreigners (ie non-Londoners) were allowed to sell poultry; the actual poultry market was for local citizens only! The market was held in the courtyard of a building known as La Ledene Hall, a fourteenth-century mansion with a lead roof, hence the name of the current market. Over time cheese and other food products were also sold at the market.The market was rebuilt between 1439 and 1447 as a garner with a central courtyard for the market.

Dome of the Leadenhall Market, London

The dome

The designer of the building was probably master mason John Croxton, who was also responsible for theGuildhall.
After the Great Fire of 1666 destroyed the structure it was rebuilt, this time as a covered market.

Leadenhall Market

The open-ended, glass-roofed shopping arcade that we see today was designed in 1881 by Horace Jones, architect of the nearby Smithfield Market and the former Billingsgate Market. The design was probably influenced by the Galleria in Milan, designed twenty years earlier and built between 1865 and 1877.The covered alley connected the former market with Gracechurch Street and Leadenhall Place. In 1885 an additional connection was made with Lime Street to the south. The entrances have beautifully sculpted fronts; the entrance on the Gracechurch Street is especially elaborate. Horace Jones’s design of the shops is colorful while the glass and wrought iron roof allows plenty of light to enter the alleys. An elegantly designed dome covers the crossing.

Even though this was originally a food market, all sorts of shops can be found here today as well as bars and restaurants.


Cutty Sark…

The Cutty Shark is a historic clipper that was one of the fasted ships of its time. Today it sits in dry dock at Greenwich in London. After a fire almost destroyed the ship in 2007, it was painstakingly restored to its former splendor.
Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London
Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London

Cutty Sark
The last clipper ship to be built as a merchant vessel, the Cutty Sark was completed in 1869. It is the only remaining tea clipper ship from the nineteenth century.It is said that the name of the ship comes from a Robert Burns comic poem, in which a beautiful witch is described as wearing a cutty sark, a Scottish term referring to a short chemise. The figurehead on the Cutty Sark would represent this witch.

History of the Ship

The ship was constructed in Dunbarton, England for Captain “Jock” Willis. It was designed by Hercules Linton, a well-known ship architect of that era. The ship has a composite wrought iron frame structure covered by wooden planking and weighs 921 tons. It is 65 meters (212 feet) long.

Clipper Races

Bow of the Cutty Sark, Greenwich

Cutty Sark’s Bow
At the time Cutty Sark was built, the tea trade between China and London was at its peak and the ship was meant to be quick so that Willis could beat his competitors across the ocean. In 1871 it won the yearly clipper competition from China to London in 107 days.However, the Cutty Sark didn’t always win. Its most famous race was against the Thermopylae the next year, in 1872. The two ships left from Shanghai on the same day but Cutty Sark lost its rudder in the middle of the journey. However, the captain continued the trip and arrived only a week after the Thermopylae. It was that race that gave the famous ship its reputation as a hearty vessel.


Interior of the Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London

The ship’s interior
The ship was later sold to a Portuguese company, and in 1895 the Cutty Sark became the Ferreira. She was sold again twenty years later and renamed the Maria do Amparo. However, Wilfred Dowman, a retired shipowner who had witnessed the Cutty Sark outpacing a steamship was determined to bring the ship back to its native land. He purchased the Cutty Sark in 1922 and restored it. After his death, the Cutty Sark was used as a training ship for more than two decades. In 1954, the ship was moved into dry dock where she remains today. It opened to the public three years later.

A Museum Ship

Lower Deck of the Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London

Lower Deck
Visitors to the Cutty Sark in Greenwichcan now enjoy the ship’s status as a museum ship.Tended by the Cutty Sark Trust, the vessel is a wonderful testament to the fine ship building of the nineteenth century and attracts tons of visitors who can get an idea of what life must have been on board of a clipper ship. There is also a unique collection of more than eighty ships’ figureheads on display at the museum.

Cutty Sark after the restoration

The Cutty Sark Today

Fire damage and Restoration

The ship suffered a devastating fire in May 2007 during restoration, though some of it was spared because important parts had been taken off-site for repairs. After a five year long, £50 million restoration project the nineteenth century museum ship was reopened again on April 25, 2012 by Queen Elisabeth II. The site was also modernised and the ship was raised more than three meters (11ft) into the air, allowing vistitors to walk under the hull of the ship.