|Apsley House, The Wellington Museum
||149 Piccadilly, W1
||An unpretentious 18th century mansion by Robert Adam,
later extended and covered in Bath stone, Apsley House was the London home of the 1st Duke
of Wellington. The house is often known as 'No 1, London', because a tollgate a little to
the west once separated Piccadilly from the suburb of Knightsbridge. Within, the Plate and
China Room contains an ornate shield presented by grateful City bankers to the victor of
Waterloo. At the foot of the Grand Staircase is a colossal nude statue of Napoleon, while
on the first floor are the splendid reception rooms - three drawing rooms, the Dining Room
and the Waterloo Gallery, covered from floor to ceiling with paintings.
||Horseguards Avenue, Whitehall, SW1
||Designed in 1619 by Inigo Jones for James I, the
Banqueting House was the first building in London to be constructed in the classical
Italian style. Though the great hall has been used for many purposes it stands
dramatically empty now, apart from four great chandeliers and a crimson throne on a dais
at one end. The most startling feature is the ceiling, which is divided by gilded ribs
into nine panels, each panel filled by a huge painting.
||Vine Lane, Tooley Street, SE1
||The last of the Royal Navy's big ships, HMS Belfast is
a survivor of the days when cruisers were the backbone of the fleet. Visitors to this
veteran of the Second World War and the Korean War follow a marked route to see every
aspect of how a fighting ship operated, from the massive turbine engines to the gun
turrets. The bridge has an array of instruments, the Operations Room and fire control
equipment are all as they were when Belfast last saw action.
||Great Russell Street, WC1
||To capture the general flavour of the place and see its
best-loved treasures en route, go first to the Manuscript Rooms where you can see such
treasures as Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Beatles' Yesterday, the
first draft of Alice in Wonderland and also the wondrous procession of stone
horsemen and mythical battles known collectively as the Elgin Marbles. Essential viewing
on the upper floor includes Coins and Medals, Clocks and Watches, the Egyptian Galleries
and the Prehistoric and Romano-British Galleries. Round the tour off with a visit to the
Early Medieval Room and relics from the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, the grave goods of an
|Cabinet War Rooms
||Kings Charles Street, SW1
||A flight of basement steps tucked away behind a mighty
buttress in Great George Street leads to an underground complex of nearly 70 rooms, built
in 1938-9 as a bomb-proof base from which the Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff could
continue conducting the war against Germany whatever the storms overhead. Today, some 15
of the War Rooms are presented as a time capsule in which nothing has changed since 1945.
The simple furniture of the Cabinet Room is baize-covered metal, apart from Winston
Churchill's wooden chair, and the tables are dotted with tin ashtrays.
|Chelsea Physic Garden
||66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3
||Chelsea sent the seeds that launched the cotton
industry in the southern states of the USA, and Dr Ward, Master of the Apothecaries in the
1850s, invented a special case in which to dispatch the first tea plants from China to
India and the first rubber plants from Brazil to Malaya. The garden remains a serious
botanical laboratory to this day, but casual visitors are more likely to be entranced by
the magnificent old trees.
|Chessington World Of Adventures
||On A243, at Chessington
||There are several worlds to be enjoyed at Chessington:
the world of America's wild west, the eastern world of Buddhas and pagodas, the charm of
an English village, the unknown world beyond the computer screen and the world of the
animals. All these attractions are set among the enclosures of the zoological gardens.
Wild animals, birds and reptiles from all over the world can be seen by wandering among
the gardens, or viewed from the height of the Safari Skyway, a monorail that gives
panoramic views of the animals.
||Off A222, near Chislehurst Station
||A guided tour of part of Chislehurst's 22 mile system
of man-made caverns casts some light on the caves' inhabitants over the centuries. The
caverns and passages have been hewn out of the chalk over 8000 years, but they contain
rare traces of even earlier times: fossils found in the caves include the thighbone of a
prehistoric ichthyosaurus. Altars allegedly used for human sacrifices by Druids remain.
The guided tour shows where, during the Civil War, Royalists used to hide themselves and
their valuables. The labyrinth became Britain's biggest air-raid shelter during the Second
||Kensington High Street, W8
||The polyglot collection of races and peoples called the
Commonwealth accounts for a quarter of the world's population. Colourful samples of the
varied cultures of more than 40 Commonwealth countries and dependencies are displayed on
three floors of the Institute. Behind the Commonwealth Institute lie the lawns and shaded
walks of Holland Park, and in nearby Holland Park Road stands Leighton House, the home of
the 19th century classical painter Lord Leighton.
||Central London, WC2
||Covent Garden began as the convent garden that supplied
vegetables to Westminster Abbey, and for centuries it was London's principal market for
farm produce. In 1980 it reopened as a combined shopping precinct and pleasure garden. In
the old covered market there are rows of little shops: boutiques, confectioners,
bookshops, art galleries, food shops, a toy theatre shop, an old-fashioned tobacconist's.
Buskers provide entertainment.
|Dr Johnson's House
||17 Gough Square, EC4
||In the garret of this re-brick early 18th century house
the scholar and lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson compiled his Dictionary. With
revisions it remained the standard English dictionary for some 100 years. In the other
rooms are relics and mementos of Johnson, including the first edition of the Dictionary.
All around the house there are paintings of his many friends, among them his biographer
|Dulwich Picture Gallery
||College Road, SE21
||A display of some 320 British and European pictures is
housed in a building that was the first in England to be designed specifically as an art
gallery; its foundations were laid in 1811. One of the most famous pictures in the gallery
is The Linley Sisters, painted by Thomas Gainsborough around 1772. There is a
wide range of works by continental masters, particularly of the 17th century. Opposite the
gallery gates is Dulwich Park.
||Gresham Street, EC2
||The City's seat of municipal government was built in
the second decade of the 15th century, but suffered considerably in the Great Fire of
London and again in the Blitz. The 152ft long Great Hall is decorated with the arms and
banners of the livery companies and has a gravity that befits the venue for the City's
great ceremonies. In the Guildhall's modern library is the museum of the Worshipful
Company of Clockmakers, which illustrates the development of clockmaking from the 15th
|Hampton Court Palace
||Hampton Court Palace remains every bit as impressive as
its builder, Cardinal Wolsey, intended it to be. Upon completion of the building in 1520,
it was handed over to Henry VIII. From the colonnade in the Court, the King's Staircase
climbs to the first floor. An allegorical painting of breathtaking size swarms up the
walls and over the ceiling, accompanying visitors to William and Mary's State Apartments.
Here is a collection of more than 3000 muskets, pistols and bayonets in the King's Guard
Chamber. Towering tapestries and paintings flank visitors as they move through the
intersecting rooms. Hampton Court's immaculately tended gardens are a delight to stroll in
and there is also a maze.
||Swains Lane, N6
||The Old (Western) Cemetery in Highgate was opened as a
private business venture in 1839. Between 1839 and the early 1970s some 166,000 people
were buried there. Then the company that owned the cemetery began to run out of money.
Maintenance was neglected and wild animals found haven there. Unfortunately, it also
attracted vandals, and in 1975 it was decided to close it permanently. Soon, however, the
Friends of Highgate Cemetery repaired the worst of the damage without spoiling the
cemetery's forlorn and overgrown charm of its appeal as a wildlife sanctuary. On the other
side of Swains Lane is the New (Eastern) Cemetery, opened in 1854.
|Imperial War Museum
||Two gigantic naval guns stand before the Georgian
portico of the building which once housed the Bethlem, or 'Bedlam', hospital for the
insane. Visitors walk through a trench system under camouflage nets, wherein are displayed
uniforms, trench furniture, periscopes, grenades, mortars, clubs, daggers, artillery and
machine guns. Life in wartime Britain is represented by displays on the Blitz, air-raid
shelters, ration books and gas masks. There are also displays on Korea, Suez, Malaya,
Aden, Cyprus and the Falklands. The museum's art galleries house paintings by famous
artists, who have seized upon moments in battle with far more immediacy than any
|Kathleen and May Schooner
||St Mary Overy Dock, Cathedral Street
||For some 60 years the Kathleen and May sailed
the coastal waters of Britain, working mostly out of Appledore in Devon where she was
built in 1900. She is the last of hundreds of wooden-built, three-masted schooners that
plied between the coastal ports carrying coal, iron, wheat, pitprops, bags of cement and
fertiliser. In the 1930s the ship had an auxiliary engine fitted and the topsails removed
because of the shortage of crews with sailing experience. Now, however, she has been
restored to her original condition, and gives an insight into how the six-man crew
||Kensington Gardens, W8
||Kensington Palace, bought by William and Mary as a
royal residence in 1689, is where the Duchess of Kent gave birth to her daughter Victoria
in 1819. It was here that in the small hours of June 20, 1837, Victoria learned that
William IV had died, and that she was now Queen. Her room is filled with memorabilia of
her favourite paintings and souvenirs, and the cot occupied by each of her nine children
in succession. The State Apartments, filled with glorious paintings, were built to
impress. At various points on the tour of the palace there is an exhibition of Court Dress
from about 1750 onwards.
||Hampstead Lane, NW3
||Kenwood is a lovely Georgian wedding cake of a house,
all tall white pillars and pediments; within, it is cream, pale grey and gold and filled
with light. The loveliest room is the Adam library, a confection in pink, blue and gold,
set off by crimson and gold furniture. The tall gilt mirrors designed by Robert Adam are
still in place, reflecting the view of the surrounding park and lake seen through the
windows. The principal treasures are the paintings.
|National Maritime Museum
||Among the treasures of Britain's naval heritage on show
at the National Maritime Museum is the coat that Nelson wore at Trafalgar; the hole on the
shoulder made by the musket shot that killed him can be clearly seen. Another is the
chronometer made by John Harrison in 1736. Much more accurate than existing timepieces,
the chronometer revolutionised navigation, by enabling longitude to be calculated
accurately from the difference in time around the world.
|Old Royal Observatory
||Charles II founded the observatory at Greenwich in
1675, and Sir Christopher Wren designed living quarters for the first Astronomer Royal,
John Flamsteed. Now topped by a time ball which drops at 1pm every day, Flamsteed House is
dwarfed by the telescope domes of the Altazimuth Pavilion and the Great Equatorial
Building. Displays about astronomy and timekeeping in Flamsteed House include an hour
glass, a Nautical Almanac and a nocturnal - used for measuring time by observation of
||The Dolmetsch Collection of early musical instruments
is housed in a late 17th century red-brick villa in Greenwich Park. The house, once the
official residence of the park's Ranger, is also home to the magnificent Suffolk
Collection with royal portraits by Sir Peter Lely (1616-80).
|Royal Naval College
||A superb chapel, rebuilt after a fire in 1779, is part
of a complex of baroque buildings which began as the King's House, built for Charles II.
William and Mary commissioned Wren to enlarge it as a hospital for naval pensioners. It
became home to the college in 1873.
|Thames Flood Barrier
||Giant roofs covered with stainless steel house the
mighty machinery needed to raise the ten massive gates from the riverbed. London's flood
protection - necessary because the sea level off south-east England is rising - is 580 yds
long, cost £535 million and was first used in 1983.
|Cutty Sark and Gipsy Moth
||A grand old lady of the tea-clipper era, Cutty Sark
still has the power to stir the blood as she stands high and dry in dock, restored in
appearance to her 19th century glory. Her mainmast towers 145ft, and 10 miles of rigging
and huge crosstrees once carried nearly an acre of sail, to give speeds of more than 17
knots. Yet her graceful hull is only 212ft long and her beam 36ft. Cutty Sark was built in
Dumbarton in 1869.
||28-34 Tooley Street, SE1
||The London Dungeon is the historic horror
experience, which dispenses fun and fear in equal doses. Visitors can
journey back to 1666 to relive the terrifying events of the 'Great Fire of
London' or take a barge trip down the River Thames towards traitors gate
on the 'Judgement Day' ride... to face a firing squad, after getting
sentenced to death. There is also a torture chamber and a chance to solve
the murder-mystery of 'Jack the Ripper'. The Dungeons are patrolled by
over a dozen scary costume characters who suddenly come to life.
|Madame Tussaud's and London Planetarium
||Marylebone Road, NW1
||Madame Tussaud's is a national institution. From the
late 18th century on, the figures become more and more convincing.The 'Super Stars'
Gallery features giants of pop and sport, and in the Grand Hall members of the Cabinet
gaze enviously upon the crowd-pulling Royal Family. The Chamber of Horrors has been
enlivened by the addition of audiovisual effects. The London Planetarium, part of the
Madame Tussaud's complex, offers half-hourly star shows in which the audience gazes up to
the dome which is transformed into the night sky. In the evening, the Planetarium turns
itself into a Laserium, in which beams of light dance and form patterns to current rock
and pop music.
|Museum of London
||London Wall, EC2
||The galleries of the London Museum are presented as
layers of London time. The story begins with the prehistoric exhibits. The Roman gallery
has reconstructed rooms furnished with articles imported from other parts of the Roman
Empire, or made by a local craftsman. Medieval London is represented by, among other
exhibits, a model of William the Conqueror's Tower, a 15th century London interior and
lead crosses buried with victims of the Black Death. Businesss and craftsmanship
flourished in Tudor London, as can be seen from a collection of jewels found in Cheapside,
while the troubled days of the Stuarts are recalled by Cromwell's death mask, a plague
bell and a realistic diorama of the Great Fire, with a commentary from Samuel Pepys'
Diaries. So the galleries continue, presenting the changing ages of London.
|National Army Museum
||Royal Hospital Road, SW3
||The blockhouse accommodating the National Army Museum
is defended by a Centurion tank, a pair of 5.5 guns and some armoured cars. Inside are two
galleries. The first tells the story of the British and Imperial armies from Henry VII's
raising of the Yeomen of the Guard in 1485 to the eve of war in 1914. The second is
concerned with the citizen, Commonwealth and professional soldiers who have fought our
battles ever since, from Flanders to the Falklands. A contrasting military presence in
Royal Hospital Road is the Royal Hospital, home of the Chelsea Pensioners.
||Trafalgar Square, WC2
||The National Gallery was opened in 1838 to house the
nation's growing collection of art masterpieces. Today it contains more than 2000
outstanding European paintings, dating from the 13th to the early 20th centuries. Just
around the corner, in Charing Cross Road, stands the National Portrait Gallery, which
contains some 10,000 likenesses of famous British men and women - any 1000 of which are on
show at any given time.
||Off A4, 2 miles north of Hounslow
||Osterley was originally built in the late 16th century
by the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange; what stands today is
largely the creation of Robert Adam between 1761 and 1780 for the banker Robert Child. The
interior today is remarkable for the richness of its 18th century decorations, statues and
wall paintings, and for its grand Georgian furnishings. The antechamber of the state
apartment is one of the few rooms anywhere to have remained entirely as it was in the 18th
|Royal Air Force Museum
||Grahame Park Way, Hendon, NW9
||For more than 70 years Hendon has been indentified with
the Royal Air Force, so it is fitting that the RAF Museum should stand in what was a
corner of the aerodrome that saw the development of Britain's military air power. The main
building is as historic as many of the aircraft it contains, being made up of two hangars
dating back to 1915. Exhibits range from the tiny Bleriot XI, one of the first aircraft
used by the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, to the mighty English Electric
Lightning which, with its powerful jet engines, could fly at twice the speed of sound. A
separate building contains the Battle of Britain Museum.
|The Tower of London
||The Tower of London has in its time been a palace, a
zoo, an arsenal, a treasury and a mint: but it is as a state prison for awkward subjects
that it is most famous. Prisoners were brought in secretly by river and then through
Traitors' Gate. The building that dominates the whole fortress is the massive, square
White Tower - the original Tower of London begun by William the Conqueror, and more or
less completed by 1097. It contains the Royal Armouries, a collection of arms and armour
from Saxon times to the near-present. Beside Tower Green is the chapel Royal of St Peter
ad Vincula where executioners' victims, including Sir Thomas More and Henry VIII's wives,
lie buried. The Crown Jewels are kept beneath the Waterloo Block next door.
||Buckingham Palace Road, SW1
||Some of the Queen's horses and most of her state
carriages can be seen in the Royal Mews, with pride of place going to the Gold State Coach
which has been used at every coronation since that of George IV. Also on show are the
Irish State Coach, which the Queen uses for the State Opening of Parliament, and the Glass
Coach used for royal weddings. Adjoining the coach house are the stables. A little way
along the road from the Royal Mews is the Queen's Gallery, a changing exhibition of works
from the royal collection.
|St Margaret's Church
||Parliament Square, SW1
||While Westminster Abbey belongs to the world, St
Margaret's belongs to London, and most especially to the City of Westminster. It is the
parish church of the House of Commons, and since before the Civil War has had a strongly
Protestant bias. The poet John Milton was married there and William Caxton, the first
English printer, is buried in the churchyard; Samuel Pepys was married in the church and
so too, in 1908, was Winston Churchill. Beneath the altar lie the headless remains of Sir
Walter Raleigh. He was executed in Old Palace Yard outside, and buried on the same day,
October 29, 1618.
|St Paul's Cathedral
||Ludgate Hill, EC4
||Built on the site of Old St Paul's - destroyed in the
Great Fire of London in 1666 - the building was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and took
25 years to complete. Wren is buried in the Crypt. Entering the cathedral, which is 515ft
long and 365ft high to the top of the cross, visitors move along the Nave past a massive
memorial to the Duke of Wellington and Holman Hunt's full-length portrait of Christ.
Overhead at the heart of the building is Wren's great Dome. Straight ahead lies the
Ambulatory which opens onto three small chapels.
||London Bridge, SE1
||A cathedral only since 1905, the Church of St Saviour
and St Mary Overie has some 2.5 million people in its diocese. The building, like so many
others in this ancient gateway to London, has had its ups and downs, as is apparent in the
variety of its stonework, ranging from 12th century fragments to the mostly late-Victorian
nave. Public subscriptions in 1911 paid for an alabaster reclining monument to William
Shakespeare, actor and playwright at the nearby Globe Theatre.
||In 1892 the old Millbank Prison was demolished to make
way for a new art gallery given to the nation by the sugar tycoon Sir Henry Tate and
opened in 1897. It houses two main collections: the Historic British Collection, ranging
from the 16th century to about 1900, and the Twentieth Century Collection. On the east
flank of the Tate is the Clore Gallery. It was opened in 1987 and contains some 300 oil
paintings and about 19,000 watercolours and drawings by J.M.W. Turner.
||Russell Street, WC2
||With the Royal Opera House and the Theatre Royal, Drury
Lane, just over the way, and half a dozen other theatres within easy reach, no better site
could have been chosen for the Theatre Museum than Covent Garden. The exhibits are
frequently rotated, though the theme remains constant. It is the story of the performing
arts - theatre, opera, ballet, variety, circus, pop - from about Shakespeare's day to our
||Manchester Square, W1
||the 18th century town house bought by the 2nd Marquess
of Hertford houses a collection of paintings and furniture collected by the Hertford
family over several generations. It was brought to England in the 19th century from Paris
by Richard Wallace, natural son of the 4th marquess, and given to the nation in 1897.
There is a large collection of Sevres porcelain, and fine gilt-bronzes, clocks and
||Parliament Square, SW1
||Two emotions draw the crowds to Westminster Abbey; love
for a medieval church of great beauty and majesty, and admiration of a building that
embodies the history and spirit of the nation in a way no other building does. The last
but one of the Saxon Kings of England is buried in it, and the first of the Norman kings
was crowned in it; so has been every monarch of England since, except Edward V and Edward
VIII. Early Parliaments shared the Chapter House with the Benedictine monks who served the
abbey, and the first royal treasury was established in the Pyx Chapel. Nearly everyone who
was anyone was buried in the abbey, generally grouped by profession or occupation:
monarchs, statesmen, musicians, scientists, poets, soldiers, sailors, lords and ladies.
||Ashley Place, SW1
||Completed only in 1903, its roofs are a succession of
domes, its walls are of banded stone and red brick, and its slender campanile soars 284ft
to its domed lantern. The interior is Byzantine rather than Italian in feeling, 342ft
long, 149ft wide and 117ft to the tops of the domes. The ceiling is dim, and from the dome
above the altar hangs a huge Crucificx, its base almost touching the pillared roof of the
Sanctuary canopy. A lift takes visitors to the top of the campanile, from which there are
views over or around the surrounding buildings to Greenwich on one side and Hampstead and
Highgate on the other, with the Houses of Parliament seemingly close enough to touch.