london for returning travelers

Sep 11th, 2006, 10:48 AM
  #1  
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london for returning travelers

My husband and I are visiting London for about the fifth or sixth time, though we haven't been there together for a number of years. We aren't interested in doing standard tourist sites that we've already done--no Tower, no Westminster, for example. But we would like to try some new things that are a bit off the beaten path. We like art, and historic houses, and history in general, and walking. I was thinking of the Imperial War Rooms, perhaps the British Library (haven't been there since the collection moved away from the Museum). Probably a return to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery to see what's new since 2000. Not sure what else. Suggestions welcome. (We'll be going in October.)
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Sep 11th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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Here's a must do -- especially by candlelight on a Monday night:

http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/

Take the tube to Richmond and walk along the Thames stopping at Petersham for a wonderful lunch. Maybe cross the river back in town and see Marble House. If you're really ambitious, you could go all the way to Hampton Court.

Have you done the Kenwood House in Hampstead?

Spencer House?

Marlborough House?

The Geffrye Museum and Almhouses?

A backstage tour of the Royal Opera House and/or Royal Drury Lane Theatre?

We've probably spent about 30 weeks in London over the past 12 years and we never seem to run out of things to do (although admittedly our evenings and many afternoons are usually taken up with theatre).

 
Sep 11th, 2006, 11:19 AM
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I have only been to London twice, but am planning a return trip in 2007. I can share what's on my still-to-do list!

Sir John Soane's museum (also has candlelit hours on first Tuesdays):http://www.soane.org/ Soane was an architect, and a collector of art and antiquities.

Courtauld Gallery: http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/
This small collection has old masters and impressionist paintings, prints and drawings. Courtauld manages the Hermitage Rooms http://www.hermitagerooms.com/ which contain exhibits that rotate in from the Hermitage in Russia.

Queen's Gallery, with rotating items from the royal collection.

Hampstead/Kenwood

Hampton Court

Things I have done that I heartily recommend:

The British Library - The Treasures room really is amazing. I can't wait to see it again.

Burroughs Market - on Fridays and Saturdays on the South Bank - London Bridge tube station.

Tate Britain - I was amazed by this museum, and would return in a heartbeat (of course the same applies to the National Gallery!)

The Cabinet War Rooms have the new (since 2004) Churchill Museum and really make for a fascinating 1/2 day.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 11:59 AM
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I definitely second recommendations for Sir John Soane's museum.

I'd also suggest having a look ast some of the English Heritage or National Trust properties in London. Their websites list them. The former - www.english-heritage.org.uk - includes Kenwood, Marble Hill House, Chiswick House, Apsley House, Eltham Palace,and the fabulous Wernher collection at the Ranger's House, Greenwich. The NT - www.nationaltrust.org.uk - has a number of places, mostly more low-key, but I'd specially recommend William Morris's Red House in Bexleyheath and Osterley Park.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:04 PM
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cabinet war rooms would get my vote. If you are an art lover perhaps look at the auction houses and see if there is an auction scheduled during your visit. (Christies Bonhams, Sothebys)
Have you been to greenwich? A great day out!
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:14 PM
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< The British Library - The Treasures room really is amazing. I can't wait to see it again. >

Wonderful place and as it's within a few minutes walk of St Pancras & Kings Cross, it's a good place to go if you arrive a bit early for your train.

I'd also recommend going to Greenwich by the Docklands Light Railway BUT get off at Island Gardens so you can look at Greenwich from the other side of the Thames. You can then take the pedestrian tunnel to Greenwich & have a meal at Goddard's Pie House

I'd also get a copy of Time Out magazine when you arrive so that you know what the latest expeditions are
alanRow is offline  
Sep 11th, 2006, 02:15 PM
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If you check out the National Trust properties and find several you might like, I'd urge you to join the Royal Oak Society. 2 adults living at the same address can join for $80.00 which would more than cover entry fees, they send a very nice magazine and and offer specials throughout the year.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 03:36 PM
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Canal cruise on the Regent's Canal from Little Venice to Camden Market and then staying to explore the Market.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 04:14 PM
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I thought the Church of St. Stephen Walbrook was magnificent - a Wren building that isn't mobbed by tourists.

You wouldn't need a lot of time to see it (no "tours," no shop, no crowds), but it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Personally, I'd also take a variety of the London Walks - especially the less popular ones (no "Ripper," no "pub walk," etc.).

I also enjoyed the "Britain At War" museum. Others have posted that they weren't impressed, but I (and the other three ladies in my group) really liked the personal glimpse into the lives of those in Britain during the war (WWII). You can sit inside a small "bomb shelter," read letters from soldiers, and get and up-close-and-personal look at everything from advertising to rationing cards to clothing.

The other suggestions you've gotten are great, too.

Gayle
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Sep 11th, 2006, 04:15 PM
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Oh, yes, and how could I forget the Royal Mews (near Buckingham Palace)?! I have been there twice and thoroughly enjoyed it both times.

Gayle
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Sep 11th, 2006, 04:18 PM
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Treat yourself to a copy of "England's Thousand Best Churches" and pick a few to explore. In London we particularly enjoyed St. Bartholomew the Great, St. Paul's Covent Garden, Temple Church, St. James Picadilly and the rarely mentioned St. Mary Abbot. You'll find history, beauty, and sometimes a concert as well. Many of the churches also have fascinating church yards with charming gardens.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 04:40 PM
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That 1000 Best Churches book is fascinating. I can't wait to try it out in the English countryside. The other book that is pretty good is "The Amateur Historian's Guide to Medieval & Tudor London" by Kettler and Trimble (the authors have two similar books for other parts of England). In London we visited St. Bartholomew the Great - near the Smithfield Market, and also St. Etheldreda's which is a little gothic gem in Holborn.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 06:00 PM
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The Dulwich Picture Gallery (a short train ride from central London -- there are directions on the Gallery's website, http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/)

The Foundling Museum, in Bloomsbury: an odd, but interesting, mix of social history (about the Foundling Hospital, an 18th-century home for abandoned children), art (Hogart, Gainsborough, Reynolds, etc.), and Handel memorabilia.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 06:02 PM
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And of course I know that should be "Hogarth" -- blast the lack of an "edit" function for misspelled posts!
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Sep 11th, 2006, 06:27 PM
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There are many good ideas so far. For my part, I keep a note on disc, and have pleasure in giving it now. Please write if I can help further. Welcome to London.

Ben Haines
[email protected]

SECOND AND THIRD VISITS

Places to see, places of national importance, but perhaps not international

Churches
We lost many medieval churches in the Great Fire of London in 1666. If I think of what remains, Westminster Abbey of course leads. Otherwise I suggest these
The Temple. Temple tube. 12th century.
St Barthomolew the Great. Farringdon tube. 12th century
St Johns Chapel, 12th century, and St Peter ad Vincula, 15th century, both in the Tower, admission only on a Warders tour. Tower Hill tube
St Helen Bishopsgate. Liverpool Street tube. 13th century
Southwark Cathedral. London Bridge tube. 14th century
St Bartholomew the Less. Farringdon tube. 15th century
St Ethelburga Bishopsgate. Liverpool Street tube. 15th century
All Hallows by the Tower. Tower Hill tube. 17th century

Houses
If you ask Google for web sites for English Heritage and the National Trust for London places you find these great and interesting houses
Ham House, near Richmond, 17th century, and Orleans House, 18th century,
just over the river by foot passenger ferry
Carlyle's House in Chelsea, home of the great Victorian writer and thinker.
Fenton House to the north in Hampstead, 17th-century
2 Willow Road, Hampstead, home of the Modernist architect Ern Goldfinger, 20th century
Chiswick, Kenwood, and Rangers Houses, 18th century
Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington, 19th century
Eltham Palace, The 15th and 20th century
In Bexleyheath: the Red House reached by train from London Bridge,
from the 1850s, and important in the history of domestic architecture.
I add Charles Darwins House, south of Bromley and Eltham Palace, south of Eltham, each reached fast from London Bridge station.
Out in Kent, but easy to reach by train from from London Bridge is Downe House, home of Charles Darwin, an interesting and friendly place
Still owned by the Duke of Northumberland is Syon House, a magnificent 17th century house

Otherwise, if I think of south London from west to east to west I think also of
Lambeth North: Imperial War Museum
Dulwich Gallery and Dulwich Park
Nationally known places on the South bank: National Theatre, Old Vic Theatre, Young Vic Theatre, concerts at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Florence Nightingale Museum in St Thomas Hospital,
Southwark: HMS Belfast, the Design Museum, Borough Market of fresh farm food, especially Thursdays and Saturdays, Shakespeares Globe, Southwark Theatre (fringe), Rose theatre partially dug out,
Deptford: St Pauls Baroque church
Greenwich: the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, the chapel of the Royal Naval Academy, the second hand books market on Fridays, St Alphege Church

London has many small and specialised museums. In the arrival lounge of your airport you can buy at a newsagent the A-Z London Atlas and Guide, about five pounds, pocket sized, spiral bound, with good and full cover of times and prices for museums, churches, and other sights, both famous and little visited. In the same shop you can buy Time Out magazine, to help you plan theatre and music (unless can you buy it in your departure airport).

About five on a weekday you may want to exercise your mind and rest your feet, and for that I suggest you set Google to London lectures Ben Haines to see what is on while you are in town. Lectures run to May, and thin out for June. They can be remarkable: you could get an idea if you find the page now. They are free, and people are welcome.

You can draw all of these into one list, west to east, thus:
Ham House, near Richmond, 17th century, and Orleans House, 18th century, just over the river by foot passenger ferry
Syon House, a magnificent 17th century house, still owned by the Duke of Northumberland
Carlyle's House in Chelsea, home of the great Victorian writer and thinker.
Fenton House to the north in Hampstead, 17th century
2 Willow Road, Hampstead, home of the Modernist architect Ern Goldfinger, 20th century
Chiswick, Kenwood, and Rangers Houses, 18th century
Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington, 19th century
Lambeth North: Imperial War Museum
The Temple. Temple tube. 12th century.
St Barthomolew the Great. Farringdon tube. 12th century.
St Bartholomew the Less. Farringdon tube. 15th century
St Helen Bishopsgate. Liverpool Street tube. 13th century
St Ethelburga Bishopsgate. Liverpool Street tube. 15th century
All Hallows by the Tower. Tower Hill tube. 17th century
Southwark Cathedral. London Bridge tube. 14th century
St Johns Chapel, 12th century, and St Peter ad Vincula, 15th century,
both in the Tower, admission only on a Warders tour. Tower Hill tube
Dulwich Gallery and Dulwich Park
South bank: National Theatre, Old Vic Theatre, Young Vic Theatre, concerts at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Florence Nightingale Museum in St Thomas Hospital,
Southwark: HMS Belfast, the Design Museum, Borough Market of fresh farm food, especially Thursdays and Saturdays, Shakespeares Globe, Southwark Theatre (fringe), Rose theatre partially dug out
Eltham Palace, The 15th and 20th century
Deptford: St Pauls Baroque church
Greenwich: the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, the chapel of the Royal Naval Academy, the second hand books market on Fridays, St Alphege Church
In Bexleyheath: the Red House reached by train from London Bridge, from the 1850s,
and important in the history
of domestic architecture.
I add Charles Darwins House, south of Bromley and Eltham Palace, south of Eltham,
each reached fast from London Bridge station.
Out in Kent, but easy to reach by train from from London Bridge is Downe House,
home of Charles Darwin, an interesting and friendly place

If you have a specific interest in mind please tell me, and I shall see what I can suggest to respond. My address is [email protected]

In a Fodors correspondence in July 2006 people gave further ideas for use during second and third visits.

A backstage theatre tour. There is a list at
http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/home/tour/tours

A pub-crawl with a theme. You could search out places: that are the oldest in London; where famous people drank; Victorian, Art Nouveau, haunted, etc. Here's one idea:
http://www.teleport-city.com/spirits...-part-one.html

A place where eccentrics might congregate. You might pick from a google search (+meeting +club +london). A result was
http://www.soroptimist-gbi.org/clubs/london_mayfair

Dim sum crawling.

Eat each evening at a restaurant from a different Indian state, in each case using the Time Out Guide to London Eating and Drinking.

Research a topic then walk the research. A former poster suggested coalhole covers at http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34458611. In fact that Fodors thread probably gives you enough other suggestions to fill up a reasonable amount of London time

http://www.londonlostandfound.com/ On this site are free events, film reviews, a gig guide, bar listings, exhibitions, film festivals, and plenty of unusual ideas.

The waterbus trip along the Regent's Canal from Little Venice to Camden Lock. It is London in the slow lane and is picturesque as it chugs along through Regent's Park, the Zoo and environs and ends up in bustling Camden markets. It is a good rest for the feet.

The Camden markets are great on Sundays and fun to watch people watch there too. Each main weekly market has its own character: Time Out magazine lists them, as does the AZ map and guide. There are also local weekly markets, often strong on ethnic food, clothes and music.

The Old Bailey: our day there had eccentric people standing in line, and we heard a case where much yelling 'you're fittin' me up' went on. It was a hoot. A Scotland Yard detective gives some good information about visiting on this site:
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=484803
ben_haines_london is offline  
Sep 11th, 2006, 06:33 PM
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Amen to 1000 Best Churches and also to 1000 Best Houses but to simplify I'd get a copy of Churches and Cathedrals of London, ISBN 0-658-01724-1.

If you haven't been to the Wallace Collection and to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest public picture gallery in the country, visit them.

The V&A also has an excellent collection of art in the Henry Cole Wing. One of the treats for me on one trip was to visit the print room (library) and request William Nicholson's 1898 Almanac of Sports. They brought it along with white cotton gloves.

The Science Museum has a fascinating collection of historical medical equipment. Makes you appreciate you live in 2006 and not 1806.

Another interesting place is the Museum of Garden History near the Lambeth Palace, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury when in London. The garden also contains the grave of Admiral Bligh. You could combine this with a visit to the Imperial War Museum and the Florence Nightingale Museum. Continue across the Lambeth Bridge and visit the Tate Britain with the connected Clore Gallery for JMW Turner.

A Michelin Green Guide of London is a great companion.


jsmith is offline  
Sep 13th, 2006, 07:39 PM
  #17  
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These are wonderful suggestions--thank you so much!

We've been to Sir John Soane's and the Courtauld Gallery, but it's been some years, and we'll consider a return. The British Library is a definite. I also like the idea of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the idea of exploring medieval and Tudor London, and so many other things you've all mentioned that I wish we were going to be there for two weeks instead of only four days or so.

They'll just have to be very full days, I guess!
penel523 is offline  
Sep 13th, 2006, 08:05 PM
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What a great list, Ben Haines. But what should we do the SECOND day????
 
Sep 13th, 2006, 09:44 PM
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I don't think anyone mentioned one of my favs, The Museum of London. Quite a gem, especially as you're interested in history. Like all the public museums, entrance is free.
Clematis1 is offline  
Sep 14th, 2006, 02:35 AM
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Here's one I've never seen mentioned, even on Ben's lists.

The Ragged School Museum...history of the East End.

http://www.raggedschoolmuseum.org.uk/about.shtml
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