WELCOME TO THE AUGUST 2016 LIST
Welcome to my list of recommendations of things that you can do in London during the coming weeks and months.
First off, my sincere apologies for the non appearance of a July list. Unfortunately it proved an incredible busy month and I simply ran out of time.
However, August, despite being half way through, is still upon us and there are some unique and unusual things happening over it's remaining weeks and on into September.
I've included a few outdoor visits this month as, hey ho, we can wish for a continuation of the summer!
September will see the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and the good folk at Guildhall Library are staging an exhibition to commemorate it.
I recently paid a return visit to one of my favourite churchyards, St Pancras Old Church and it has inspired me to include it in this month's list as it truly is a treasure.
Two secret gardens have found their way onto this month's list, as have the former home of John Wesley and one of London's most remarkable hidden museums.
I've also featured Gresham College, the headquarters of which those of you who have joined my Wednesday morning Dickens walk will have visited.
Finally, there will be the annual walk that will follow in the footsteps of the Catholic Martyrs from Newgate Prison to Tyburn.
I'll be doing my Hampstead Walk again on Sunday 11th September at 11.45am.This is a lovely walk and it explores a truly magical enclave Click here for full details..
The Inns of Court Walk is going strong and, I have to say, I'm really enjoying introducing people to this fascinating and picturesque quarter. Click here for full details.
Some of you have been asking when the next Secret London walk will be and I'm pleased to say it will take place on two dates in September and one in October. Click here for full details.
HALLOWEEN AND CHRISTMAS
The annual Halloween (I can't believe this will be my 34th!) will take place on Monday October 31st 2016 and the dates for the Charles Dickens Christmas Carol Walk are now posted. You can get full details here.
REGULAR FACEBOOK UPDATES
So, all in all, there are some great locations to get out and about to in London and, as per usual, they're all free, so enjoy.
Just to remind you that I also post updates and additional venues on our Facebook page, so you might like to join us and like us (as in Facebook likes!) to ensure you're kept fully up to date on what's happening in London during the weeks ahead.
As ever, if something changes in the weeks ahead I will put the update on the Facebook Page, in order not to bombard you with emails.
So, without further ado, here is my August list of ten things to do in London.
10 THINGS TO DO IN LONDON AUGUST 2016
A COURT ING WE WILL GO
OPEN DAY AT THE SUPREME COURT
Friday 26th August and Tuesday 30th August
9.30am to 4.30pm
The Nearest Underground Stations
Westminster or St James's Park
This magnificent building overlooks Parliament Square and is possessed of a truly exquisite exterior.
As for the interior, well, they're offering a series of open days in 2016 and, to quote their website:-
"On these special days we will be opening up the magnificent triple-height Library and Lawyers' Suite overlooking Parliament Square. We will also be providing an art trail showing off highlights from the Middlesex Guildhall Art Collection, a film introducing the work of the court showing at regular intervals, and creative activities for younger visitors."
EXPLORE THE GREAT FIRE
London, EC2V 7HH
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9.30am to 5pm
Wednesday: 9.30am to 7.30pm
Saturday: 9.30am to 5pm
Till the 30th November
Nearest Underground Stations, St Paul's, Bank, Moorgate
September sees the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and, to commemorate the auspicious occasion, Guildhall Library is staging an exhibition that explores the story of this devastating conflagration through the Library's collections, including English and foreign accounts, sermons and public records.
Their website sets the scene wonderfully:-
"Wooden buildings, stores of combustibles and overcrowding meant fires were a regular occurrence in 17th century London. Most were unremarkable.
So, when a chance fire started in a bakery on 2 September 1666, no one could know that it would wipe out most of the City of London."
But, it did and, as a result we can enjoy some great exhibitions about it 350 years later - so it's an ill-wind that blows nobody any good.
Now, I'm off for a sandwich. Wait, can you smell burning?
EXPERIENCE HEALING THROUGH KINDNESS
THE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM OF FREEMASONARY
60 Great Queen Street
Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
until April 2017
The Nearest Station is Holborn
Freemason's Hall on Great Queen Street will be instantly recognizable to anyone who remembers the televisions series Spooks as its impressive exterior stood in as Thames House (home to MI5) in said series.
The hall itself is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and is the principal meeting place for Masonic Lodges in London.
Although Grand Lodge has been in Great Queen Street since 1775, the present hall, the third building on the site, was built between 1927 to 1932 as a memorial to the Freemasons who died in the First World War, and it is considered one of the finest Art Deco buildings in England.
Obviously, there are parts of the building that are strictly off-limits to the general public, but the Library and Museum can be visited and visitors can enjoy a permanent collection as well as a series of special exhibitions.
The latest temporary exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of the Royal Masonic Hospital.
This first opened in late 1916 to take casualties from the First World War.
In 1933 the Hospital opened at a new site at Ravenscourt Park in West London where its award winning Modernist building broke new ground in hospital design.
It then played a role in the Second World War treating over 9,000 personnel.
The Hospital and its staff were pioneers of many medical treatments and its nurse training facilities were renowned.
So, all in all, well worth a visit.
FEED YOU MIND
ENJOY A FREE EDUCATIONAL LECTURE
Lectures are free
Gresham College is named after Sir Thomas Gresham, son of Sir Richard Gresham, who was Lord Mayor in 1537/38 and who conceived the idea for what is now the Royal Exchange at the Heart of the City of London.
A keen proponent of Education amongst the citizenry of London, Sir Thomas left his estate and control of his benefaction to the City of London Corporation and the Mercers' Company, which operate through the Joint Grand Gresham Committee.
Gresham College is an independent institution, governed by a Council and with the Lord Mayor of London as its President.
In addition to the free public lectures, the College runs occasional seminars and conferences, and provides support to initiatives by the Gresham Professors and others which seek to reinterpret the "new learning" of Sir Thomas Gresham's time in contemporary terms.
TAKE THE AIR IN HAGGERSTON
DISCOVER ST MARY'S SECRET GARDEN
50 Pearson Street
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Nearest Station: Hoxton. Or buses 26, 48 and 55
The John Nash designed church of St Mary's, Haggerston was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.
Although its churchyard had been laid out as a public garden by the Earl and Countess of Meath in 1882, the current garden was created when the post-war pre-fabs were demolished in the 1970's.
The local residents adopted it in the 1990's and, in 2003, it was renamed "St Mary's Secret Garden" and today it thrives as a community garden with an emphasis on social and therapeutic gardening.
It's one of those idyllic locations which, despite the proliferation of building work that London has been cursed with in recent years, typifies the secret places that the Capital does so well to protect from all but the most dedicated searcher after secret London.
The garden boasts a curious artifact in the form of a solitary street lamp that remembers the Georgian terraces that occupied the site pre World War Two.
DIAL A DELIGHT
ADMIRE THE PROTOTYPE PHONE BOX
St Pancras Old Church
8am to Dusk
The nearest Underground Stations are Mornington Crescent or King's Cross
Old St Pancras Church is one of the oldest and most delightful little churches in London. One of the treasures that you will find inside is what is reputed to be the altar stone of St Augustine
The burial ground that surrounds it is also a terrific place to while away an hour or so come rain or shine (though preferably, come shine!). The Beatles were photographed here for a photo shoot at the height of their fame
You can, for example see the water fountain alongside which the Beatles posed for a photo shoot during a "mad day out" when they were at the height of their popularity.
There's also the famed "Hardy Tree", so named because it was planted by writer-to-be Thomas Hardy when he was working as an architect for the practice of Arthur Blomfield.
But one of the most prominent features of the burial ground is the mausoleum that was designed by the architect Sir John Soane to adorn the grave of his beloved wife following her death in 1815.
It was this mausoleum that provided the inspiration for Sir Giles Gilbert Scott when he designed an entry for a competition to come up with the design for a new telephone box that would satisfy the demands of the London Metropolitan Boroughs for the new phone boxes that the post office were about to place on the streets of the UK.
His design materialised as the K2 red phone box and was destined to become as iconic a London land mark as Big Ben or Tower Bridge.
So, if you do happen to have spare afternoon or morning, I would highly recommend paying this lovely churchyard a visit, you could even phone and let me know how you got on, that is if you can find a phone box that actually works!
RELAX AT ONE OF THE CITY'S MOST SECRET SPOTS
A HOLY HAVEN
The Church of St Vedast alias Foster
4 Foster Lane
7 Days a week 10am to 4pm
Admission Free but donations are requested
The Nearest Underground Station is St Paul's
As you walk past the entrance of the stunning church of St Vedast alias Foster on Foster Lane, you pass a door that many people must pass on a daily basis and not give it a second thought.
What a pity. Because those who hurry past are missing out on one of London's hidden gems.
For, if you give the door a light push it will open and, stepping through it, the rush and the noise of modern London is left far behind and you find yourself in a delightful and secluded garden where peace and tranquility are the order of the day.
Although it is not a place I would suggest making a special journey to visit, it is a place I would most certainly suggest stopping off at if you're in the City and are looking for somewhere to sit and chill for a few minutes, to rest your weary legs and recharge your energy levels.
POP BACK TO ANCIENT EGYPT
THE PETRIE MUSEUM
London WC1E 6BT
Open Tuesday to Saturday 1pm to 5pm
Closest Underground Station - Euston Square
This real pearl of a museum tends to get overshadowed by its better known neighbour, the British Museum, and its well known, and much visited, collection of mummies.
The upside is that it doesn't attract the hoards that can make a visit to its famous neighbour a somewhat overwhelming experience.
Whereas the British Museum houses the biggies - mummification after all was reserved for the elite few - the Petrie Museum collection is illustrative of the everyday lives of the average Egyptian and its 80,000 artifacts comprise one of greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world.
STEP BACK IN TIME WITH JOHN WESLEY
AN AT HOME
49 City Road
Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. Also open on Sundays between
Admission is free, but donations are always welcome.
Nearest Underground Stations:- Old Street or Moorgate
Set away from the centre of London, and located opposite the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, where Daniel Defoe, William Blake and John Bunyan are buried, John Wesley's House is one of London's best preserved small Georgian houses.
Dating from 1779, this is where the father of Methodism wintered for the last twelve years of his life (summers would find him preaching around the country).
The house contains many of Wesley's own personal effects, such as his electrical machine and his study chair, and provides a vivid insight into the everyday workings of a small Georgian town house.
FOLLOW THE MARTYRS
WALK FROM NEWGATE PRISON TO TYBURN
St Sepulchre's Churchyard
Monday, 29th Aug 2016 at 1pm
The nearest Underground Station is St Paul's
Once upon a time - or up until the 18th century, to be precise, condemned felons would be forced to endure the journey from Newgate Prison, in the City of London, to Tyburn, around the site now occupied by Marble Arch, where they would be hanged.
Amongst those who made the journey were Catholic Martyrs and, each year, The Latin Mass Society, follows in their footsteps in a procession that wends its way from St Sepulchre's Church, which stands opposite the Old Bailey, which stands on the site of Newgate Prison.
The walk is followed by a mass at the wonderful Tyburn Convent.
I hope you find the August list useful and that you get to enjoy at least some of the things that I have suggested.
If you require further directions to any of the places suggested could you ask it via the Facebook page as that then enables me to answer quickly and, should it be something that everybody wants to know, it becomes useful to everyone.
All the best. Richard