In this changing and uncertain world it is nice to know some things stay the same and there is comfort in stability and traditions. That’s what I think of when I look back at these pictures and one of the many things I love about London. Even if the weather is damp and the skies are grey, that is part of London and you just have to consider it atmosphere.
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace has been a tradition since the 1600’s. It takes place everyday at 11:30 in the summer and every other day in the winter months, weather permitting. That’s a lot of guard changing and who knows how many people have come to see it. For the best view you need to arrive early enough to be in the front row right behind the gate of Buckingham Palace, as most of the ceremony takes place in the palace courtyard.
This time of year it is not as colourful as their grey coats cover up their bright red jackets. There is a lot more to the life of the guards other than guarding the palace, not to mention – can you imagine trying to march and balance the tall heavy hats on your head, and stand still for endless hours while tourists point and take photos?
A British Bobby on horseback stands guard during the ceremony. The Bobbies have been on patrol since 1829. Bobbies or Peelers as they are sometimes called get their names from Sir Robert Peel who founded the police force. They were originally dressed in top hats and tails to blend in with the crowd.
The Household Calvary with roots dating back to the 1600’s rides by on their way to Horse Guards Parade. This mounted division, The Blues and Royals wear red plumes in their helmets and ride black horses except for the Trumpeter which rides a grey horse. To me always a striking and impressive sight to see.
On the street leading up to Big Ben you can count on numerous photos being take at one of the red phone boxes, sometimes you have to wait in line. On this day we watched a photo shoot in action.
As it was Veterans’ Day this was a nice transaction when the smartly dressed Veteran was asked to join for a photo.
Crossing over the Thames on Westminster Bridge, built between 1739-1750, an iconic view of Parliament and Big Ben.
Origins of the Union Jack also date back to the 1600’s. Nowadays you can count on seeing it in many forms. This young man attired in Union Jack from head to toe was handing out discount coupons for fish and chips.
It must have been an exciting time in London around 1600 as the original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 where this one now stands. And how can one not connect Shakespeare with London and England?
Speaking of fish and chips, time for lunch at the Anchor Bankside along the Thames. A tavern has stood on this location for over 800 years.
My friend wanted to visit the oldest pub in London. I’m more of a tearoom lady these days but I must admit visiting these historic pubs was really interesting. Pubs originally started out as public houses and more of a place to meet and socialise, often the heart of the community. Sometimes they took on the form of an inn or accommodation for travellers.
The George Inn is tucked down an alley off Borough Street near the Borough Market. Now under the care of the National Trust, it is significant because it is the only surviving galleried coaching inn in London. By gallery meaning the balcony-like walkway pictured below, which was once common on inns.
There is a nice atmosphere inside with layers of history.
Next destination was the walkie talkie building as it is called because of it’s shape, the new building at the end of the photo. It is actually 20 Fenchurch Street and home of the Sky Garden. I like to see the historic buildings and their golden painted signs as you walk up the street. The Sky Garden is free to go up, you just need to make a reservation online and take a printed copy with you when you go.
Viewing from the Sky Garden you know you will see the Tower Bridge which has provided a crossing over the Thames since the 1890’s. I once saw some alternative proposals for the bridge and one option was a rotating bridge. I have been curious about that ever since and I’ll have to go back to the Guildhall where I think I saw that exhibit and investigate further. I can’t imagine any other bridge being here as a symbol of London.
The dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral always recognisable on the London skyline. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, construction started in 1675.
The Shard might be new, but at over 1000 feet high and the tallest building in Europe someday people will look at The Shard, a new symbol of London and think wow, that was built way back in 2012!
And let’s not forget the River Thames an important part of London since the beginning of the city.
Back on the street and onto our oldest pub tour, we were taken by the unusual shape and sight of The Blackfriars Pub. It was so busy in here, we didn’t stay, but just had a quick glance.
Inside the pub friars appear everywhere, in sculpture, mosaics and reliefs, as it was built on the site of a Dominican Friary.
Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, might be my favourite pub of the night. There has been a public house here since 1538 at 145 Fleet Street. The current pub was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Which is rather ironic as when we visited there had just been a fire at the building next door and the pub had been evacuated. There was no damage to the pub and it was unusually quiet as it had just reopened for business.
There are several floors, rooms, bars and eating areas to take in the moody atmosphere. There is a long list of literary figures who are have said to visited and dined here. Perhaps Dickens or Samuel Johnson had a meal at the table under the window as has been suggested.
The menu and atmosphere seemed very appealing and I should perhaps one day return to sample on of their fine offerings. The shavings on the floor are from the resident parrot. For around 40 years the pub had a parrot named Polly, which was so famous that upon her death the obituary was printed in over 200 newspapers worldwide.
Here was a change of pace. Who knew Ping Pong was founded in London? Apparently on this very spot in 1901 it happened here at a place now called Bounce at 121 Holborn Street.
Inside it was a hopping place, they have a great restaurant too. A fun little aside.
Again down an indistinctive little alley to find the entrance to Ye Old Mitre. All of these pubs have an interesting history (not always cheerful and sometimes gory) and stories to tell. Most of them have an informational paper to read about the pub if you ask at the bar. This bit is from the website:
Built in 1546 for the servants of the Bishops of Ely, The Ye Olde Mitre is famous for having a cherry tree, (now supporting the front) that Queen Elizabeth once danced around with Sir Christopher Hatton. The pub was actually a part of Cambridge (Ely being in Cambridge) and the licencees used to have to go there for their licence. Set in a part of London steeped in history, it’s near where William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered at Smithfield, along with martyers and traitors who were also killed nearby.
One last pub stop at the Citte of York, which was a former counting house and also a coffee house in Holborn. Little cubbyhole booths line the side and it claims the longest public bar in the UK. Loved the architecture in here.
Some of these pubs are not open on weekends as they are in business areas where there is not much traffic on Saturday and Sundays, so check the hours first. It is nice to have innovative and forward thinking, but also comforting to hold true to old traditions and know they will be here for future generations to enjoy.
As for todays post I’ve finally reached the end -and Vat’s All Folks! Thanks for reading.