London is a vast, cosmopolitan and modern city but it has also got a very rich history. It is easy to forget this fact when you’re standing among the newest skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in the very heart of London: the City of London. But that history is actually quite present. You just need to know where to look. So the next time you’re walking down the busy streets of London look up or look down and you just might spot the London Stone for example. However, the easiest way to learn about the history of London is to visit the Museum of London which is close to the Barbican center and St Paul’s.
First impressions: After visiting the Sky garden I walked down the streets of London in the direction of the Museum of London. The building itself is modern but ugly I dare say. However, as you well know the looks aren’t important, it’s what’s inside that counts. The entrance is free which is great! I entered the museum and followed the suggested route to see all the permanent exhibitions.
remains of old city wall
What can you see in the museum? The museum was established in 1976 and there are currently plans to move the museum to a new location. According to Wikipedia the Museum of London houses the largest urban history collection in the world. The permanent exhibitions include: London before London (prehistory mainly), Roman London, Medieval London, War, Plague & Fire, Expanding City, People’s City gallery (there’s an actual red phone box!), World City, The City Gallery (very small) and the London 2012 Cauldron.
Money, money, money..makes the world go round! I strongly disagree! I’m not like Carrie from SATC that my money hangs in my closet but I can still see where my money has gone..I just need to open a photo album and see all my beautiful travel photos! Thus visiting a bank museum isn’t exactly something I’d normally do.
On my recent trip to London (this May) I visited the Bank of England Museum. I have done a lot of free museums in London and when I saw that the Museums at Night festival coincides with my visit to London I decided to choose one of the museums that stayed open longer because of the festival. I browsed the Museums at Night website and I decided to go to the Bank of England Museum mainly because it was free and small and looked interesting enough.
Bank of England Museum
Of course, the Bank of England Museum is situated in the Bank of England building in the City of London. The closest tube station is Bank but even though I have walked around the City before and have certainly been on the Royal Exchange square more than once I was slightly confused to where is exactly the entrance to the museum. The Bank is to the left of the square but the museum’s entrance is in the small street Bartholomew Lane.
At the museum’s entrance you go through airport-like security and then go into a big room. It was around 7 pm (the museum is usually open until 5 pm) and there were quite a few people wandering around the museum. I was looking at some old photos of the bank building when a museum guide approached me and started speaking quickly about the bank’s history. I don’t know whether this happens usually. I guess this was because of the Museums at Night festival. I saw several other people looking amused too when they were approached by other museum guides.
There’s no better way to start a day but to indulge in a bit of commercial magic: taking my photo at the 9 ¾ platform at King’s Cross was a fun experience. After my Harry Potter’s fan moment I was ready to do something completely different. I wanted to wander around beautiful Hampstead. Armed with nothing but a printed out blog post by A Lady in London I was eager to explore an affluent London’s neighbourhood often described as a colorful charming village full of Aston Martins.
Leaving the tube station Hampstead I looked around and smiled. I could smell the promise of a great day in the crisp air. I turned right and started walking uphill Heath Street while admiring the beautiful houses and their immaculate gardens. I actually felt like I was walking around an English village. I couldn’t believe that I was still in London. It was sunny but at 10 am there weren’t a lot of people out and about. Soon I saw a sign for Holly Bush pub but I didn’t come across Church Row street which I was supposed to according to the directions that I was following.
Never mind, I continued to walk on and soon reached a sculpture of Churchill in front of a shop. Why was he there? And was that his American counterpart with him? I marched on and came to a roundabout with a small lake/pond and saw a Jack Straws Castle. Wasn’t that a pub before? Now it seemed to be some sort of fitness center. I figured I went on too far and decided to go back down the street towards the tube station to try to find the Church Row street.
I couldn’t wait for the morning to arrive so I could start my second day of sightseeing in London. It was slightly overcast and chilly. I like crisp mornings so I decided to be brave and to leave my jacket at the hotel in hope of a warmer and sunnier weather later in the day. Despite having a tummy issue the previous day I managed to walk all the way from the Sky garden to the Trafalgar square but I didn’t say hello to Big Ben. This morning I felt all right and decided to begin my day by visiting Big Ben. As soon as I saw it as I was climbing out of Westminster station my face broke out in a big smile. Yes, I was in London. And it finally felt like I was in London.
I walked to the Westminster Bridge to take photos of Big Ben and the London Eye for the eleventh time 🙂 What will be my legacy one day? Thousands of pictures of London, I presume (no, I won’t leave any chocolate or other significant material possessions). It was quite windy at the bridge and I almost had a Marilyn Monroe moment since I wore a red skirt which the wind kept pulling up. Just when I thought that I would need to get back to my hotel before I do the Tower Bridge Exhibition the sun came out and I didn’t feel the cold anymore (no need for a jacket after all). After asking some random strangers to please take my photo (yes, I don’t have a selfie stick and I’m kind of proud of it, but on this trip I did feel the need for one) I walked behind the Houses of Parliament towards the small but lovely Victoria Tower Gardens.
yes, it was that windy:)
I arrived to London on Wednesday evening (11 May). I stayed at a hotel at Norfolk square, Paddington so naturally the first thing I did in the morning was to visit the Paddington bear at the Paddington railway station (platform 1). I didn’t realize until the last evening that there was another statue of Paddington bear at the Norfolk square’s garden. Have you seen the Paddington bear movie? I remember going to the cinema with my husband on a Sunday morning in December a few years ago. We were the only adults there without the kids. Oops! Of course, the movie was based on a series of books written by Michael Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum and other artists. The first book was published back in 1958 but Paddington bear’s popularity is still very strong today.
Paddington bear at the Paddington station