WELCOME TO THE JANUARY LIST
A very Happy New Year to everybody, it's almost impossible to believe that 2015 has arrived.
But, London keeps going and, with the winter still upon us, it's great to get out and about and see London when it's not as busy as at other times of the year.
So, to that end, the January list focuses on some intriguing locations that, although you can visit them at any time of the year, it might be an idea to get out and see them before the hoards return!
I've been raving about the impending opening of the Walkie Talkie building viewing platform on the walks for the last few months and, I'm pleased to report that this has now come to pass and it opened to the public on 5th January 2015, so that is top of my list for this month.
Since it is still winter I've tried to focus on indoor pursuits (there's a great little pub on this months list).
Don't forget that I also post updates 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 near future, I put the details on the Facebook Page, that way I won't be bombarding you with emails.
So, without further ado, here is my January list of ten things to do in London.
10 THINGS TO DO IN LONDON JANUARY 2015
SEE LONDON FROM A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT
VISIT THE WALKIE TALKIE'S SKY GARDEN
20 Fenchurch Street. The entrance is in Philpot Lane.
Admission is free but advance booking is essential.
The Nearest Underground Station is Monument.
This one is already proving popular and the system is, apparently, struggling to cope with the demand for tickets.
20 Fenchurch Street, or to give it its more popular nickname The Walkie Talkie Building, has elicited mixed reactions as it is, to say the least, a prominent City of London building. Several wags have commented that the rooftop view is worth it because it's about the only place in the City where you can't see the Walkie Talkie Building!
Love it or loathe it, it is a free viewing platform (although advance booking is essential) and it offers uninterrupted views of the City of London below. Compare that with the almost £30 per person to go up The Shard opposite and a trip is well worth it.
I just find myself wondering how long it will be before the flow of eager visitors leads them to introduce an admission charge to "ease the congestion", or am I just an old cynic?
ENJOY A GLITTERING DESCENT
THE LONDON SILVER VAULTS
Chancery Lane, WC2A 1QS
Admission is free.
Opening Hours Monday to Friday: 9am - 5.30pm, Saturday: 9am - 1pm
The Nearest Underground Station is Chancery Lane.
Imagine an Aladdin's cave crammed full of more silver than most of us could focus on in a lifetime.
Well, to be honest, you don't even have to imagine it as you can experience it in these wonderful subterranean vaults beneath Chancery Lane.
From the massive, and well fortified, safe door you pass through to enter, to the shops themselves, where your eyes are dazzled by the array of glitter that greets them, you really will find yourself entranced by this underground treasure house.
You can, if the mood takes you, buy quality antique English silver at competitive prices and you might even encounter the odd rock star and, even odder, Hollywood actor, shopping for that elusive something - to add to their other elusive somethings - from the 30 specialist shops found within in its glittering depths.
TAKE A PEEK AT LONDON'S ONLY REMAINING SEWER POWERED GAS LAMP
Carter Lane, Off Strand
The Nearest Underground Stations are Embankment or Temple
Carter Lane is a non descript thoroughfare that stretches from Strand down to Embankment and which, as it descends, passes the service road for the Savoy Hotel where, incidentally, Bob Dylan filmed his Subterranean Homesick Blues footage.
On Carter Lane's Strand corner is located the Coal Hole Pub, a delightful hostelry in which to steady your nerves for the confrontation with the emissions of.. well, err, Londoners.
Because, half way along Carter Lane on the right is the only surviving gas lamp of the variety that was once powered by the gas from the sewers that Sir Joseph Bazalgette laid beneath the streets of London in the latter half of the 19th century.
How's that for natural gas?
QUAFF A PINT AT LONDON'S MOST HIDDEN PUB
YE OLDE MITRE TAVERN
Ely Court, Ely Place, EC1N 6SJ
Open Monday to Friday 11am to 11pm (Closed Weekends and Public Holidays)
Dating back to the 1540's, and tucked away in a very narrow alleyway off Hatton Garden, Ye Olde Mitre Tavern is as timeless a London hostelry as you could ever wish to encounter.
Not only is it London's most hidden pub, but it's also one of her smallest, with just two tiny bar rooms on the ground floor into which customers cram to enjoy one of the best pints in London and toasted sandwiches to die for!
SEE THE DEATH KNELL BENEATH THE BELLS OF OLD BAILEY
St. Sepulchre Without Newgate Church
Nearest Underground Station: St Paul's
Opening Times:- Usually Open 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday.
This is a fantastic City of London church and a visit is rewarded with all manner of fascinating things and memorials to look at.
Hidden behind a column on the right as you make your way up the aisle, you will find a battered old hand bell.
This is a replica of the bell that the bellman of the church used to take through the tunnel - the bricked up entrance of which can be seen in the wall to the left of the bell - to make his way to Newgate Prison, which used to stand opposite the church, on the eve of an execution to wake condemned prisoners and warn them that the end was nigh.
One point of interest about the main bells of the church is that they are featured in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons as the bells of Old Bailey that chime out with "when will you pay me," a reference to the fact that executions used to take place in the square opposite the church thus the payment to these bells was to be executed!
MOURN THE EXECUTION OF CHARLES 1ST
Friday 30th January 2015 11.40am
Inside the Banqueting House, Whitehall
11.40am wreath laying Followed by a Sung Mass with Sermon at midday
Closest Underground Station: Westminster
King Charles 1st was executed outside the Banqueting House of Whitehall Palace on 30th January 1649 and, since the 19th Century, The Society of King Charles The Martyr has honoured the feast of St Charles with a service of commemoration at the Banqueting Hall.
Wreath laying and prayers take place near the place of the martyrdom at 11.40am and there then follows a High Mass and sermon at midday inside the Banqueting House itself.
The Society's relics of St. Charles are placed upon the altar for the Mass and may be venerated and viewed after the service.
TREASURES OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY
The Sir John Ritblat: Treasures Gallery
The British Library
96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB - See more at:
Opening times: Monday 9.30am to 6pm; Tuesday to Thursday 9.30am to 8pm; Friday 9.30am to 6pm; Saturday 9.30am to 5pm; Sunday 11am to 5pm
Nearest Underground: King's Cross St Pancras
This is a true treasure chest of literature and, if you've never visited this wonderful free galley, you've missed one of London's highlights.
You can admire an original of the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays; wonder at musical materials ranging from Handel to the handwritten lyrics of Help, penned by The Beatles themselves.
There are works of literature from the likes of Charles Dickens to Jane Austen to the handwritten original of Alice in Wonderland that was given to "Alice" herself, the girl who was the inspiration for the story.
The list goes on and on, and you could easily while away a few winter hours inside sheltered from the bleak mid winter without!
The only thing missing is that Magna Carta is currently off display, but that's all the more reason for a second visit!
ADMIRE OLD LONDON BRIDGE
ST MAGNUS THE MARTYR
Lower Thames Street
Closest Underground Station: Monument
Tuesday to Friday, 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. To avoid disappointment, please contact the church in advance if you are travelling some considerable distance.
For many centuries the little church yard in front of the church of St Magnus the Martyr provided the main City side access onto old London Bridge.
The church itself is an absolute joy to visit, not least because inside you can find a scaled down model of Old London Bridge, resplendent with the houses and shops that once spanned its length across the river.
GO GOTHIC AT THE ARCHIVES
London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HB
Closest Underground Stations: Angel or Farringdon
UNTIL THE 30TH APRIL 2015
Monday 9.30am - 4.45pm (closed bank holidays)
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9.30am - 7.30pm
Closed on Fridays
Limited Saturday Opening (Check Website)
This intriguing exhibition offers visitors an enticing opportunity to explore "the darker side of life in the capital."
You'll be able to catch a glimpse of the "The Beautiful Tiger Lady", "The Giant Yorkshire Youth", and the grisly "mermaid" that was displayed at the Turf Coffee House in 1822.
There's even an opportunity to see a book from a London shoe merchant that records the outline of Boris Karloff's feet.
And, lest all that proves insufficient enticement to lure you across the threshold of this magnificently macabre exhibition, how about the chance to examine the plans for the Primrose Hill "Pyramid of Death", an early 19th century proposal for a 94 stories high pyramid that would house the mortal remains of five million Londoners!
THE HENRY MOORE ALTAR
St Stephen's Church
39 Walbrook EC4N 8BN
Normally open Monday to Friday from 10am till 4pm
Admission is free but donations requested.
Nearest Underground Station:- Bank
This lovely little church is often described as being Sir Christopher Wren's "dress-rehearsal" for St Paul's Cathedral, and the interior is truly exquisite.
In 1953 the then vicar, Chad Varah, established the Samaritans at the Church and the original phone is still on display inside.
It was Chad Varah who was instrumental in persuading the sculptor Henry Moore to carve the church's centrally placed altar, a true focal point, both physically and spiritually, which was made from travertine marble cut from the same quarry that provided the marble for Michelangelo's work.
So, there are many reasons to pay the lovely church of St Stephen's a visit.
I hope you find the January 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